Breeze Cottage // 1896

The marriage of Anna Perkins Pingree to Joseph Peabody in 1866 was a merging of two of the most influential and wealthy families of Salem, Massachusetts. The marriage however did not meet the mark, as the couple eventually had a large falling-out after purchasing a mansion in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in 1877. In her time away from her estranged husband, Anna became heavily involved in the arts, collecting hundreds of paintings and decorating her homes in Boston, Ipswich, and her new summer cottage in Bar Harbor. In 1896, she had her Bar Harbor cottage built on West Street, a road of substantial summer homes right next to downtown. The Colonial Revival “cottage” sits on the waterfront of Frenchman Bay and has only 12 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, in 12,500 square feet.

Hopedale Community House // 1923

Hopedale in the 1920s oversaw a civic building campaign led by George A. Draper (1855-1923), then treasurer of the Draper Corporation. Draper often talked about the need for a community center in Hopedale for his workers, and in 1919 decided to build one at his own expense. He commissioned architect Edwin J. Lewis, Jr. of Boston to design the Hopedale Community House which was intended to serve as a social and civic center for all Hopedale residents, as well as Draper Corporation employees residing in other towns. The building was opened in 1923, but sadly George Draper died before he could see it used. The Community House included an assembly hall, a banquet hall that doubled as a gymnasium, a kitchen, rooms for smoking and cards and billiards, a ladies’ social room, the Knights of Pythias club room, and candlepin bowling lanes in the basement, all of which exist to this day.

Henry Tuttle House // 1873

This large Italianate house in Acton was built in 1873 for Henry Waldo Tuttle (1847-1916), who ran a grocery store business in town with his father, James Tuttle. The business did quite well as Henry built this massive home around his 26th birthday, likely around the time of his marriage. The exuberant Italianate home features a wide central gable and a projecting central entrance porch accessed by double entrance doors. The home has a detached stable to the left of the home too!

Acton Town Hall // 1863

Acton, Massachusetts, was once part of Concord, the first inland colonial town established in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. 100 years later in 1735, land that we know today as Acton, separated from Concord to become their own town. Acton’s second Meetinghouse was located here in Acton Center, which was selected for its location more accessible to all houses and farms in the town. The Second Meetinghouse was built in 1806, and burned to the ground in 1862. Immediately after, a town committee was formed to construct a new town hall. Opening in 1863, Acton’s Town Hall stands as a stunning Italianate building with tripartite arched windows, corner quoins, a two-stage cupola with clock, and a bold (and historically appropriate) paint scheme. Acton’s Town Hall remains as one of the finest extant in the state.

Merwin House // 1825

In about 1825, Francis and Clarissa Dresser built this charming brick Federal house in the rural town of Stockbridge, MA. Just 25 years later, the railroad arrived to town, connecting it to Connecticut and New York to the south, opening the town up as a leisure destination for wealthy city dwellers looking to escape the noise and congestion of the city. The period following the Civil War through World War I saw the Gilded Age reach the Berkshires. With artists, writers, financiers, and industrialists flocking to the rural hills of western Massachusetts for seasonal escapes. In 1875, William and Elizabeth Doane, wealthy New Yorkers, purchased Merwin House from the Dresser family to use as a summer retreat. As the Doane family grew to include two young daughters, Vipont and Elizabeth, they added a Shingle Style side addition to the original brick structure. The home became known as “Tranquility”, even after the home was willed to daughter Vipont. After a couple marriages, Vipont married Edward Payson Merwin, a New York stockbroker. Historic New England acquired Merwin House in 1966, shortly after the death of Marie Vipont deRiviere Doane Merwin, known as Vipont. It was her desire to leave Merwin House as a museum, as her will states, “as an example of an American culture which is fast becoming extinct.” The space is occasionally open for tours and is partially occupied by the Housatonic Valley Association.

Eli Smith House // 1794

This house on a prominent lot opposite the Town Green in Hollis, NH, was constructed in 1794 for Reverend Eli Smith (1760-1847). In 1794, Rev. Smith married Ama Emerson, the daughter of Rev. Daniel Emerson, then the minister of the Congregational Church in Hollis. After Rev. Emerson’s death, Eli Smith took over the church and became the second minister of the town. Eli’s brother Andrew, a skilled carpenter, is said to have built the stunning Georgian house. After his death in 1847, the property was subdivided and another home was constructed, likely for a member of the family, while Joseph Emerson, one of Eli’s sons lived in the former family home. It remains one of the best-preserved late 18th century homes in the area.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Waban // 1896

For the small population living in the farming village of Waban in Newton, MA, every Sunday, they had to take a horse and carriage or walk to church in a nearby village. The Waban Christian Union was the first religious organization to be established in Waban, 1894-1895 after seeing a suburbanization of the village. The church was to be for services of the Protestant Episcopal Faith, though the group claimed no allegiance to the Diocese, nor was it organized according to the laws of the church. It was independently owned by a corporation that felt the need for a religious association in the community. This church structure was constructed in the
summer of 1896 at a cost of $5000 with William F. Goodwin, a charter member of the group (and resident nearby), donating his services as the architect. The organization leased the space to a pastor for $200 a year, later selling it to the congregation, known now as the Church of the Good Shepherd.

The Kedge // 1887

Located in the Cape Arundel Summer colony in Kennebunkport, this Shingle style cottage, built in 1887 sits perched on a hill with views of the Atlantic Ocean. Built for John Bach McMaster, a historian who was also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the house was the first of two he owned in Kennebunkport, where he summered. The son of a former Mississippi plantation owner, McMaster grew up in New York City and worked his way through the City College of New York. Although he obtained a degree in civil engineering in 1873, he was deeply interested in American history. He worked briefly as a civil engineer in Virginia and Chicago in 1873, but he returned to New York the following year and earned a meagre living by tutoring.

McMaster was appointed assistant professor of civil engineering at Princeton University in 1877. Meanwhile, he planned to write a broad-scale history of the United States. In the summer of 1878 he led an expedition to the American West, an experience that impressed on him the pioneers’ efforts and the need for a social history of the West. His inspiration materialized in 1881 with the completion of the first chapter of A History of the People of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War. The earnings from the series gave him substantial wealth and he then bought a summer residence up in Maine seen here.

If anyone knows the architect of this house, please share!

Fisher Hill Reservoir Gatehouse // 1887

Located at the center of Fisher Hill, an Olmsted-designed neighborhood in Brookline, is a 10-acre park with raised earth and a depression in the middle. At first glance you may think its just been playing fields and open space for as long as the neighborhood has been around, but upon closer inspection (and geeking out over the gatehouse), you can learn much more!

The Fisher Hill Reservoir was built in 1886-87 as an early component of the Boston Water Board’s expansion of its high service system. The gatehouse was likely designed by Boston City Architect, Arthur Vinal, who also
designed the Chestnut Hill High Service Pumping Station (now the Waterworks Museum) completed the same year. The gatehouse has a granite substructure, stone main floor, and brick second story. Brownstone is used for quoins and window heads, including the oversized voussoirs above round-arched openings in the main floor.

Aerial photograph of Fisher Hill Reservoir in 1931. Courtesy of Digital Commonwealth.

Providing water for the area for over 60 years via a large open reservoir, the land was eventually abandoned by the state as newer facilities were constructed and distribution changed after WWII. The site and gatehouse sat abandoned for decades until the Town of Brookline purchased the parcel from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for use as a municipal park. The landscape architecture firm of Klopfer Martin Design Group kept the earth structure as a historic reference to the site’s context within Brookline and greater Boston, and conveyed the site’s history as a reservoir, using both spatial and interpretive elements and signage, as well as delivering a contemporary, and programmatically rich park, worthy of its Olmstedian context.

Preserved Gardner Farmhouse // ca.1820

This old farmhouse in Swansea, MA, was built by 1820 for Preserved Gardner (1795-1873), one of five sons of Peleg Gardner, who owned much of Gardners Point. Preserved lived in the home until his death in 1873, and the home and acres of farmland were willed to his only son to live past childhood, Ira Gardner (1836-1901). Ira donated a large tract of land adjacent to the farmhouse to the town in 1882 for a cemetery, in which his father was buried. Later, the farm was purchased by Thomas D. Covel a bank president of Fall River who operated it as a gentleman’s farm and made the house his summer home. A ‘gentleman farmer‘ utilized their farms for pleasure rather than for sustenance or profit. After WWII, the land was purchased by the town to be used as a park and the property is still owned by the town. The Federal home with its veranda that wraps around the side has been neglected by the town for decades while the parks adjacent are maintained adequately.

The town has weighed various options for the home ranging from demolishing it, to preserving the front facade and converting it to a garage and storage shed (with a small museum on the second floor). I hate that idea personally. This seems like an ideal candidate for the town to allow a private individual or developer to move the home and restore it back to its original grandeur. Thoughts?