Wauregan Mill // 1853

Located in the Wauregan Village of Plainfield, Connecticut, this massive mill complex is a lasting memory of a neighborhood which once thrived. Like hundreds of mill villages all over New England after WWII, the mill and surrounding neighborhood saw decline with the shift from manufacturing to service jobs paired with the globalization of the U.S economy.

Wauregan, which means “Pleasant Valley” in Mohegan (a native tribe in the area), began in about 1850 when Amos D. Lockwood, bought water privileges and land on the east side of the Quinebaug River in present day Plainville. The Wauregan Mills Company became well-known for their specialty cotton goods, with an emphasis on cotton flannel sheeting. The first mill building was constructed in 1853 of local stone and comprised of a singular four-story building. Within five years, Lockwood sold the mill and the surrounding land for much more than he invested to James S. Atwood, who sought to develop a “model hamlet” around the mill building which would allow factory employees to live and shop near their work.

Worker housing in the village included 104 company-owned buildings containing 255 tenement apartments for rental to workers, plus two boarding houses for unmarried female workers. A railroad station was built in 1859 and a post office was established in 1860. Atwood also expanded the mill at this time and constructed a near-identical structure behind the old building and a small connector between.

On August 1955, torrential rains from Hurricanes Connie and Diane caused many dams along the Quinebaug River to break, including the one at Wauregan. The mill was flooded to the level of the first floor ceilings. Workers tried to salvage as much cloth, raw materials and machinery as they could but ultimately the company lost more than $1,500,000. In 1957, James Arthur Atwood III, grandson of James S. Atwood, and the rest of the company directors decided to cease all operations resulting in the company’s final closing. The building remains vacant to this day.

Motif Number 1 // 1840s

The building in Rockport that best exemplifies the town’s rich history from fishing village to artist colony is Motif Number 1. The iconic red building was originally constructed in the 1840s to house fishing supplies and daily catches of local fishermen in the area around Bearskin Neck. As the neighborhood shifted towards an artists colony, the building was used by artist John Buckley as his personal studio. The bright red building was commonly the focal point in paintings for the artists nearby, and the building gained international notoriety. In 1945, he gifted the building to the Town of Rockport to stand as a memorial to those who served in the Armed Services. Sadly, the building was destroyed in the Blizzard if 1978, but was rebuilt within the year thanks to funds from the town and citizens.

The building’s name, Motif Number 1 is believed to have been coined by painter Lester Hornby, who referenced it as being the favorite subject of the town’s artists.

St. Mary’s Hall – Boston College // 1917

After the completion of Gasson Hall at Boston College, the Jesuit faculty commuted from the old college in Boston, to Chestnut Hill by automobile and streetcar. The new college sought to make their second building on the new campus, a faculty residence. St. Mary’s hall incorporated apartment units and even a chapel, which was used by a local parish. The building was named after St. Mary’s church in Boston. Like Gasson Hall, this gorgeous building was designed by Charles Maginnis, with similarities to the earlier building.

North Terminal Garage and the Great Brink’s Robbery // 1925

Thousands of Bostonians and tourists alike stroll through the charming streets of the North End every day, many of which even parking within one of the only parking garages in the area, the North Terminal Garage, on Commercial Ave. The advent of the modern parking garage was the direct result of the automobile becoming the principal means of transportation in the early 20th century. Into the 1910s, trolleys, ferries and, trains were the vehicles of choice for Boston commuters. By 1915 automobiles quickly gained popularity as they became more available and affordable, providing travelers with greater independence and mobility. In response, a growing number of automobile-related businesses sprang up throughout the city.

Constructed in 1925 for the North Terminal Corporation, the garage was designed by architects Little & Russell and built by the Aberthaw Company. According to building permit records, the garage was constructed at a cost of $400,000 and could accommodate 700 cars. At the time it was built, the garage was one of the largest in Boston. Although it was only three stories, its unique design allowed for large capacity in a relatively small amount of space due to the lack of interior ramps. This was possible because of the steep sloping site which provided street-level access at each floor. The 1929 Boston city directory advertises the North Terminal Garage as the largest in the East without ramps or elevators. As was typical of early garages, it not only included parking but also areas for automobile repair and a tenant gas station.

In its more recent history, the North Terminal Garage was notable as the location of the infamous 1950 Brinks Robbery. Brinks armored car and delivery service occupied space at the rear of the second floor from about 1948 until about 1958. Not only did they store their trucks in the garage but this was also the location of their main vault. The space was partitioned into several rooms, including various money counting and sorting rooms where they would prepare their deliveries of payrolls and cash to local banks. In January of 1950 eleven masked thieves entered the Brinks space, tied up several employees, and stole $1.5 Million dollars. It was the largest robbery ever perpetrated in the country at the time. Although the men were eventually convicted and imprisoned for the crime, little of the stolen money was ever recovered.

Detective examining Brink’s vault after robbery. January 1950. Photo courtesy of Leslie Jones Collection at Boston Public Library.
Detectives investigating scene of the crime. Courtesy of Associated Press.

Jabez Sargent Jr. Tavern // 1797

This building was constructed by Jabez Sargent Jr., the son of one of the original settlers of what is today known as Chester, Vermont. Jabez was a farmer who worked on the fields surrounding what would become his estate for years until he realized that his property was an ideal location for a tavern to host travelers making the journey between Boston and Montreal.

The Sargent House, also known as the Jeffrey House, is a rare example of the Georgian style in Vermont. The state of Vermont was actually contested land between nearby New Hampshire and New York, and the state was scarcely developed by the time Georgian architecture was in vogue. The building apparently featured a tavern in the raised basement and a ballroom on the middle floor. Jabez and his family would have occupied the upper story. The home is vernacular in that it has the scale and form of a Georgian style property, but lacks many high-style detailing besides the Palladian windows.

C.L. Griswold Mill // 1850

Located in the center of Chester, CT, this historic mill located on the Pattaconk Brook, a tributary of the Connecticut River, stands as a lasting example of a traditional wood-frame mill building in Connecticut. The C.L. Griswold Co. mill was the third industrial complex on this site, all sought the valuable location for the ability of water power from the river.

The shop produced auger bits, wood screws, corkscrews, reamers and other light hardware before closing in 1919. A Masonic Lodge bought the mill in 1924 and over the years, made some less fortunate alterations and deferred maintenance which left its future uncertain.

In 2000, the mill was purchased by the Chester Historical Society which was converted to a museum in 2010, which features Chester’s history.

Mitchell-Pratt House // 1820 //

This absolute stunner of a home was built for Abram Mitchell, who received large amounts of Continental Army money in notes from his father. The most prominent owner was Dr Ambrose Pratt, a Yale Medical School graduate who practiced hydropathology and used his personal home as a sanitarium.

The most interesting feature is the oval window above the portico. The spider web pattern of the glazing has an eagle at the center (look closely)! The home has been basically unchanged from 1820 besides being moved in 1966 to save it from demolition as it was on land owned by the church nearby. Phew!

Wellesley College- Jewett Arts Center // 1958

One of the most stunning buildings in the Boston area is the Jewett Arts Center at Wellesley College.

The main architect of Jewett Arts Center was Paul Rudolph (1918-1997) who
studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) where he received his Master of Architecture in 1947. Rudolph served as Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University where he designed several buildings including the Yale Arts and Architecture School in his signature corduroy concrete.

Jewett was built to replace the Farnsworth Art Building which had been
constructed in 1889 and was reaching its capacity in the early 1900s.
As early as 1923 Ralph Adams Cram, supervising architect to Wellesley
College was asked to plan a fireproof addition to the Art Building.
From 1950 more discussions about additions to Farnsworth occurred and
several schemes were considered, but they landed on the construction of a new building which would frame out the Academic Quad.

George Frederick Jewett pledged the necessary funds to construct an arts
center in 1954. At that time his wife, Mary Cooper Jewett ’23, was a Trustee
of the College. Jewett’s initial contribution was for an arts building; he learned of the need for a music facility as pledge to include an arts center of two parts: an arts building for his wife, and a music building in memory of his mother.

The main exterior material of the Arts Center is brick, matched in color to the brick of the surrounding structures. Rudolph considered structural
elements and scale to create the appropriate embellishment. The quad can be entered by a sheltered approach through the building with cantilevered stairs on the sides. A staircase opens to the quadrangle and acts as a picture frame for the historic structures surrounding.

One of the wings on the building, which was intended as art studios on the upper floors, called for larger expanses of windows for increased natural light. The addition of brise-soleils adds texture architecturally and functionality for the interior spaces.

Wellesley College- Tower Court // 1915

Tower Court, a U-shaped dormitory at Wellesley College, was built in 1915 on College Hall Hill, at the former location of College Hall which burned down a year prior. At the time, an anonymous donor required that any design for a dormitory complex here had to be planned before the first building could be constructed and the buildings were to be built of fire-proof construction. She also preferred the Gothic Style of architecture and requested it be designed in the style. Once these condition s were met, Ellen Stebbins James of New York, who had no connection to the college, donated $500,000 for the construction of Tower Court. Architects Coolidge and Carlson were also requested by the donor and selected by the College.

ca. 1916 photo of completed Tower Court dormitory. Courtesy of Wellesley College digital archives.
1973 aerial of Tower Court, courtesy of Wellesley College digital collections.

Following the fire in 1914 and the advice of a Faculty Committee, a
supervising architect had been appointed to review all plans of future
buildings. Frank Miles Day of Day and Klauder was the supervising
architect for one year, until 1916. At that time his firm became the
executive architects for the Academic Buildings on Norumbega Hill and
Ralph Adams Cram, a titan in Gothic Revival architecture became supervising architect, reviewing the plans for dormitories on College Hall Hill.

The contractor, J . W. Bishop and Company, was instructed to use
remnant building materials of College Hall whenever possible. Many of the
red bricks were reused as were granite stepping stones and foundation
stones, including the cornerstone. The convergence of the old and new was important to the symbolism of the planners.

The Great Hall in Tower Court ca. 1920. Courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

Wellesley College- College Hall // 1875-1914

College Hall full view ca. 1880 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

The first building at Wellesley College, College Hall, was built in 1875 to house students, faculty, staff, classrooms, laboratories, art, and more, all in a single monumental structure. Perched atop a steep hill above Lake Waban, the monstrous Second Empire complex was among the largest buildings in the United States when it opened.

College Hall ca. 1880 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

The inspiration to build College Hall most likely came from studying two of the most well-known and highly regarded women’s colleges at the time: Mount Holyoke Seminary and Vassar College, where each of their campuses was dominated by one large building containing nearly all of the classrooms, dormitories, and administrative offices.

College Hall ca. 1880 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

The Second Empire building was designed by architects Hammatt Billings and his brother, Joseph Edward Billings who together created the firm Billings & Billings. The brothers worked out of an office in Boston and designed many prominent buildings in the state, many of which are no longer extant.

1908 photo taken by Detroit Publishing Company

On March 17, 1914 at at about 4:30 AM a fire started in the building. In only four hours, almost the entire building was reduced to rubble. Shockingly, everyone escaped the fire alive! The only part of the building that survived the blaze was a small two-story wing that housed the kitchen. It was separated from the rest of College Hall by a fire-door, which was installed to prevent fires from spreading beyond the kitchen. The cause of the fire has never been determined.

College Hall during 1914 fire, image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.
College Hall 1914 fire damage, image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.

By the fall of 1915, only a year and a half after the fire, the first new building, Tower Court, had been built on the site of College Hall. Others on campus would soon follow, spread out in large part to minimize the possibility of another thoroughly devastating fire. Five columns were salvaged from the wreckage and later installed along a walkway near the steps to Tower Court’s quadrangle. They were planned with a plaque donated by the class of 1917, which reads “The last class to know the original Wellesley College”.

Interior of College Hall. Ca. 1900 image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.
Detail of damage from College Hall fire 1914, image courtesy of Wellesley College Digital Collections.
Columns from College Hall above Lake Waban were re-installed at the walkway in front of Tower Courts, photo 2020.