Hawthorn Hill Estate // 1903

The only estate in Lancaster that can rival the Nathaniel Thayer Estate in size and grandeur is the OTHER Thayer estate, built for Bayard Thayer. Sitting on over 55 acres of forests and gentle rolling fields, Hawthorn Hill is one of the most impressive mansions in Central Massachusetts. The property is so secluded that I had to rely on real estate photos to share! The listings mention that there are over 40 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms… Bayard Thayer (1862-1916) is the grandson of Nathaniel Thayer, Unitarian minister of the First Church of Christ in Lancaster and son of Nathaniel Thayer, a banker. When his brother was willed the family estate (featured previously) after the death of their father, Bayard used the opportunity to build a modern estate high upon a hill in town. The mansion was built in 1903-1904 under the direction of Guy Lowell, a renowned Boston architect of the time. In 1907-1908, Little and Browne were commissioned for landscape alterations and in 1914-15, Ogden Codman Jr. was commissioned to renovate the interiors. Bayard died one year later, and the property remained in the family until around WWII. In 1953, the property was acquired by the Boston Cenacle Society, who added a massive dormitory addition to the building. Recent plans were unveiled to subdivide the land and build house lots on half the estate, which gives me mixed feelings.

Joseph Andrews House // 1831

In 1831, Joseph Andrews married Thomazine Phillips Minot and the young couple moved into this newly constructed Greek Revival style home. Joseph worked as an engraver for the Carter and Andrews Publishing Company (featured in the last post). The company failed shortly following Thomazine’s unexpected death in 1834, she was 23 years old. Joseph moved to Boston, remarried and started a new life there, selling his Lancaster home back to the builder. The temple-front house, oriented south, is one of the finest in town, but was sadly only lived in for less than three years by the young couple.

Carter House and Publishing Company Building // 1820

Here is a two-for-one post! These two absolutely gorgeous Federal style buildings on Main Street in Lancaster were built in 1820 for George Carter and his brothers who ran a publishing company in the sleepy town. The Carter family was very active in the Swedenborgianism, a very small church in the general realm of Christianity, and they helped create a small enclave of worshippers in town. The brick, Carter and Andrews Publishing Company building (on the other side of a dead end street from this house) was built at the same time as the Carter home. The company was extremely popular in publishing children’s books, textbooks, and maps. One of my favorite publications the company made was “Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation”, now say that three times fast!

Mary Johnson House – Perkins School // 1910

Lancaster isn’t known as a town of summer retreats, but there are a handful of gorgeous historic summer houses built for urban residents of Boston and Worcester to escape the hustle-and-bustle of city life and to take in the natural Massachusetts scenery. One of these houses is the Mary Johnson House, built in 1910. When Mary E. Johnson mapped plans for her summer mansion to be built in 1909, her husband had been dead for 14 years.The Norwegian-born Iver Johnson was a successful businessman. He made guns, bicycles and motorcycles for many years in Worcester and Fitchburg. Iver Johnson firearms gained some notoriety when they were used in assassinations in the United States of President William McKinley and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and in an attempt on the life of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Johnson firearms were also issued to all the Moscow mounted police in Russia in 1907 – 10 years before the Russian Revolution. The Arts and Crafts mansion built for Iver’s widow was designed by Herbert Langford Warren, founder of the School of Architecture at Harvard University. She died in 1915 and the property was taken over by the McAlister-Hawk School, a prestigious preparatory school for boys. In 1934, the school was sold to Dr. Franklin Perkins, who moved what was originally known as the Hillbrow School in Newton to Lancaster. The school, renamed in Dr. Perkins’ honor, occupied the 120-acre Johnson estate, serving children with developmental disabilities and emotional and mental health needs.

Potter House // 1909

Murray Potter (1871-1915), a professor of Romance Languages at Harvard, purchased an older Shingle-style house at this location in Lancaster with the desire for it to become his summer residence with wife, Bessie. They deemed the 1895 house too small and decided to raze the 14 year old dwelling and construct a larger, more academic home. Bessie was born and raised in Salem, and her upbringing was likely the inspiration for their Lancaster house. This home was designed as a copy of the 1782 Pierce-Nichols House in Salem, designed by Samuel McIntire. Murray died at just 44 and Bessie lived at the homes for just a couple summers alone (they did not have children) until she sold or gifted the house in Lancaster to the Perkins School as a dwelling for the unmarried female teachers. It remains owned by the private school.

Nathaniel Thayer Estate // 1846

The largest home in Lancaster (and possibly all of Central Massachusetts) is the old Nathaniel Thayer Estate, an 1846 country house built for Nathaniel Thayer II. A house was built on this site in 1798 when Reverend Nathaniel Thayer (1769-1840) constructed his parsonage in South Lancaster. Thayer was the town’s Congregationalist minister for 47 years. His son Nathaniel, who had made a fortune in business, took down the original home and developed the estate in 1846, building the core of the present house. It was enlarged and remodeled in 1902 by the architect and interior designer Ogden Codman Jr. to 42 rooms for Nathaniel Thayer III. After being sold out of the Thayer family and having its furnishings sold at auction, the house was sold to Atlantic Union College in 1943 at a cost of $12,500. It was used as the school’s administration building between 1945 and 1951, and then as a dormitory until about 1970. From 1973 to now the Nathaniel Thayer estate is now home to Thayer Conservatory. What do you think of this home??

Founder’s Hall // 1883

The centerpiece of of Atlantic Union College‘s campus in Lancaster, Massachusetts, Founder’s Hall is significant not only for its architecture, but as the oldest educational building constructed for a Seventh-day Adventist school in the United States. The school was constructed in 1883 as South Lancaster Academy, the school was established Stephen N. Haskell, an elder of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. Haskell financed the school by floating a stock issue of $75,000 among the 15,000 Adventists of the time. Wood for the building’s construction was cut locally and much of the labor to build it was donated without charge. The architectural firm of Barker and Nourse designed the Queen Anne/Stick style building. South Lancaster Academy changed names, first to Lancaster Junior College, and then to Atlantic Union College, the name which it retains today. The building is presently used as administrative offices.

Elias Danforth House // 1832

On the southern end of Center Village in Lancaster, MA, this gorgeous late-Federal style home holds a stately presence built into and atop a sloping hill. The home was built for Elias Danforth (1788-1868) in 1832 and has been so little-altered in the nearly 200 years since. The house features amazing full-length side porches with bold columns, an early sign of the emerging Greek Revival style. The home sold a couple years ago for just over $600,000, which is a STEAL for the location and high-quality house and interior. Wow!

Burbank Homestead // c.1800

Do you like McDonalds french fries? If you do, you can thank Luther Burbank, who was born in this house!

Image courtesy of Lancaster Historical Society

This Federal style home formerly in Lancaster, MA, was built around 1800 by housewright Simon Willard. The brick farmhouse saw generations of the Burbank Family live, marry, and die here. In 1849, Luther Burbank was born in an upstairs bedroom, as the 13th of 15 children of Samuel Walton Burbank and his three wives (not at the same time). Growing up on the farm, Luther enjoyed the plants in his mother’s large garden. When his father died when he was 18 years old, Burbank used his inheritance to buy a 17-acre plot of land in nearby Lunenburg. There, he developed the Burbank potato. He soon after sold the rights to the Burbank potato for $150 and moved to California, where he spend the remainder of his life. Today, the Russet Burbank potato is the most widely cultivated potato in the United States. The potato is popular because it doesn’t expire as easily as other types of potatoes, and it is the most commonly used potato for McDonalds iconic fries. In his life, Burbank created hundreds of new varieties of fruits (plum, pear, prune, peach, blackberry, raspberry); potato, tomato; ornamental flowers and other plants. He did more than I could possibly list, I highly suggest reading about him online. He was even so inspiring that Frida Kahlo painted Burbank as a tree/human hybrid, sprouting out of his corpse underground (seriously). In the 1930s, Henry Ford came to Lancaster and negotiated with the Dexter family, who then owned the house, to move the wood-frame ell to his museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where it remains to this day. The brick house was demolished by the Federal Government when the nearby U.S. Army Base at Fort Devens was expanded in the site.

Lancaster Industrial School for Girls Chapel // c.1840

The Lancaster Industrial School for Girls was a self-sustained campus of housing, dining, farming, and functional buildings giving the State of Massachusetts little need to worry about its day-to-day function or funding. In 1838, the First Universalist Society in South Lancaster (then known as New Boston), built a house of worship for members living there. When the southern part of Lancaster reincorporated as the separate town of Clinton, members of the church relocated a short distance to the new manufacturing-oriented community for prosperity. This church was closed, but was purchased by the Industrial School for Girls, who moved the building 1.5 miles to their campus, for use as a chapel. The building was added onto and altered a couple times, but has sat deteriorating since the school closed.