Schenectady City Hall // 1931

Buildings of New England travels! Welcome to Schenectady, a great city in upstate New York, with an hard to spell and pronounce name! The name “Schenectady” is derived from the Mohawk word skahnéhtati, meaning “beyond the pines”. Schenectady was founded on the south side of the Mohawk River by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, many of whom were from the Albany area. In 1664 the English seized the Dutch New Netherland colony and renamed it New York. They established a monopoly on the fur trade around Albany, and issued orders to prohibit Schenectady from the trade through 1670 and later. The town grew mostly as an inland agricultural town until the Erie Canal was built in 1825, creating a navigable water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, cutting through Schenectady. The town grew and became an industrial center, attracting a very diverse population of immigrants in the 19th century and African Americans as part of the Great Migration out of the rural South to northern cities for work. The community struggled (like many) in the mid 19th century but has seen a large resurgence as of late!

This building is the Schenectady City Hall, a massive architectural landmark which made my jaw drop when I saw it! The City of Schenectedy outgrew their old City Hall, and in the late 1920s, held a nationwide contest to select designs for a new City Hall. The contest was won by the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White. It appears that the designs were furnished by James Kellum Smith of the firm, the often overlooked genius of the MMW practice. The exorbitant cost of the project, which was undertaken during the Great Depression, caused the building to be dubbed “Fagal’s Folly” after Mayor Henry C. Fagal, who allowed all the cost increases while the city’s future was uncertain. He was not re-elected after this building was completed. The building is a pleasing mixture of Colonial and Classical Revival styles and features bold pilasters and a towering cupola

Susan Lord House // 1913

This home was built in 1913 and is a high-style Neo-Classical example of a “beach cottage”. The home is located in the fashionable Rye Beach colony in New Hampshire, which developed in the mid 19th century through the first half of the 20th century as an exclusive enclave for vacationing elite. The home was purchased by Susan Bailey Lord just years after its completion as a summer retreat from her home in Malden, MA, just outside Boston. She purchased the home just years after the death of her husband, who was thirty years her senior. It’s safe to say that Susan let loose up on the beach and had a “hot girl summer”.

Josiah Talbot House // 1835

Anyone that has followed this account for a while knows at least one thing, I LOVE Greek temple-front homes. Designed by famed architect, and Bristol-native, Russell Warren, this 2-story, 3-bay, gable-roof Greek Revival house is one of the finest in the state. Its facade has a pair of fluted Corinthian columns, set in antis (where the side walls extend to the front of the porch). A simple side-hall entrance is framed by heavy Doric pilasters, supporting a broad, plain entablature, making this such a head-turning Greek Revival home. The walls are sheathed with horizontal flush boarding at the facade to give a smoother look and clapboards on the side and rear. The home was built for Josiah Talbot, a sea captain. The house is excellently preserved to this day, almost 200 years later.

Burlington City Hall // 1928

One of the largest, most grand buildings in Downtown Burlington, Vermont is its City Hall building, constructed in 1928, just before the Great Depression. The brick facade with extensive carved marble trim is Neo-classical in style, with virtually all the finish materials – brick, marble, roofing slate, and granite produced in Vermont. The building replaced the 1850s City Hall, which was poorly constructed and suffered from deterioration, exacerbated by an earthquake in 1925. Architect William M. Kendall was hired to complete the designs of the large, bold Classical building. Kendall spent his career with the New York firm of McKim, Mead & White, the leading American architectural practice at the turn of the century, and showcased the best of that firm with the design of this building.

Beverly Public Library // 1913

The Beverly Public Library was established in 1855 as one of the earliest public libraries in Massachusetts, succeeding a private subscription library that was organized in town in 1802. Between 1855 and 1913, the town’s library was housed in the Town Hall building. When it was determined the cramped library space was insufficient, a new site was acquired nearby and funding was received for a new impressive structure. Cass Gilbert of New York, one of the premier architects of the time was hired to complete designs, he was paid a total of $651.81 for his work. Charles Greeley Loring (1881-1966) of Gilbert’s office (and a Beverly native) apparently worked out much of the details on the project and likely had a large part in the designs, probably because Cass Gilbert was working on designs for his iconic Woolworth Building in Manhattan at that same time. The walls of the library are clad in brick with a Flemish bond pattern and are trimmed with marble. At the main entry, double doors are framed by a classical surround, which is set within a concave curved recess/apse with a half-dome ceiling. The dome is embellished with terracotta moldings in a diamond pattern in which are centered small bas-reliefs in classical motifs. I can’t get over how gorgeous this library is!

Market School // 1904

In the small town of Tunbridge, Vermont, it is impossible to not be impressed by the rustic landscape, historic architecture, and vast farmland. The town was established in 1761 and today has a population of under 1,200. In rural Vermont towns, small one room schools were often scattered all over to service the dispersed students who mostly lived on farms or in small villages. By the turn of the 20th-century, the town center began growing larger and the need for a slightly larger consolidated school was apparent. The Market School was the first Tunbridge two-roomed schoolhouse. Built in 1904 at a cost of $2,600, the facility consolidated two school districts and was used as a school until 1954 when Tunbridge Central School was built. It is now occupied by the Town Offices and a meeting room for town boards and commissions. The school can be classified as Classical Revival with a hipped roof, paneled corner pilasters, and a recessed central entrance under a gable with a lunette window.

Porter House // 1906

Built for “the best-known real estate operator in the city [Boston]”, this stunning townhouse, while narrow, packs a punch among the gorgeous homes on Marlborough Street in the Back Bay. This home was designed by the architectural firm of Winslow & Bigelow and built for Alexander Sylvanus Porter, Jr., and his wife Henrietta Goddard Wigglesworth. Mr. Porter was a partner of J.K. Porter & Co., auctioneers and real estate brokers. He was crucial for the development of many iconic buildings in Boston and New York, including the Touraine Hotel, the Boston Stock Exchange, the Brazer Building, and more. The townhome can be classified as Classical Revival with the symmetrical facade with central door, use of classical pilasters at the central bay, and decorative stone ornamentation on every floor.

Brookline Public Library // 1907

The stunning Brookline Public Library building was constructed in 1907 is actually the second library building on the site. Before a separate library building was constructed in Brookline, a space was utilized in the Town Hall, until the city grew large enough to warrant a separate building. A Second Empire style library was built in 1869 later expanded, next door to the Town Hall. The building was later replaced for a larger structure in 1907 after an architectural competition concluded with architect R. Clipston Sturgis winning the commission. The Classical Revival building is constructed of brick with limestone trim and quoins. The amazing columned portico at the second floor is my personal favorite feature.