Doe’s Garrison // c.1690-1938

On Doe’s Neck (now Moody Point) in Newmarket, NH, a peninsula at the terminus of the Lamprey River where it meets the Great Bay, has long been a highly desired and contested piece of land. Towards the end of the 17th century, the land here was owned by the Doe Family, who built a Garrison House here. The house was used as a defensive structure to protect those living nearby from Native American attack. The Doe family resided here until after the Revolutionary War. The saltbox building was later altered with full-length porches by later owners, to take advantage of water views. By the Great Depression, the garrison house was suffering from severe neglect, but before it was demolished, it was documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).

William G. Low House // 1887-1962

One of the many significant losses to American architecture is the demolition of the Low House, a perfect encapsulation of the Shingle style of architecture by one of the most prolific designers in American history. The William G. Low House was constructed at the southern tip of Bristol, Rhode Island by esteemed architect Charles Follen McKim (my personal favorite) of the firm McKim, Mead & White. The Shingle style, which took off in the Northeast United States, primarily in seaside communities in the late 20th century, the homes of the style often had a strong horizontal emphasis. The style contrasts the other Victorian-era styles, de-emphasizing applied decoration and detailing in favor of complex shapes wrapped in cedar shingles. The Low House, formerly located on Low Lane, stood out for its 140-foot long gable which appeared to protrude right from the hilly outlook. The home was demolished in 1962, but was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey program, which documented the home inside and out before it was a pile of rubble. Architectural historian Leland Roth later wrote, “Although little known in its own time, the Low House has come to represent the high mark of the Shingle Style”.

Goddard Mansion // 1859-1981

This shell of a former mansion was built in 1859 for Colonel John Goddard (1811-1870), a Civil War Union Army Officer. Goddard was a “lumberman” who amassed substantial wealth before the outbreak of the Civil War, and he hired architect Charles A. Alexander, to design an estate house for him and his family. The home appears to have been constructed of local stone with white granite trim and featured a prominent tower, emulating an Italian Villa. The home was purchased in 1898 by Judge Joseph W. Symonds, who presided over the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Just two years later in 1900, during the expansion of Fort Williams, the estate was acquired by the Federal government. The home was used for housing married enlisted men and their families while stationed at Fort Williams. The basement was converted into the fort’s Non-Commissioned Officers’ Club. At the time of the town’s purchase of the Fort in 1964, the mansion was already in serious disrepair and its future was uncertain. People routinely broke in and damaged the interior, which suffered numerous small fires over the years, until the town decided in 1981 to hold a controlled burn of the home, leaving the shell. The shell remains a significant architectural landmark and a massive opportunity for the town.

William Ingersoll Bowditch House // c.1855-1939

Once located in the Aspinwall Hill area of Brookline, the William Ingersoll Bowditch House stood alone in a sparsely developed section of metro Boston. Located on Tappan Street, this house was built by 1855 for William I. Bowditch (1818-1909), the son of the famous navigator Nathaniel Bowditch. William Bowditch’s successful career as a lawyer allowed him to support the liberal ideals and causes in which he believed, which were emboldened by forward-thinking citizens of Boston. He was an ardent abolitionist and a great friend of William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown. Bowditch was active in hiding run away slaves and aiding their safe escape via a small home on Toxteth Street in Brookline. Bowditch also advocated for women’s rights as at a Brookline town meeting in 1881, he suggested “That the town ask the legislature to extend to women who are citizens the right to hold office and vote in town affairs on the same terms as male citizens.”

After Bowditch’s death in 1909, the home was willed to his widow Sarah Rhea Higginson who resided their until her death ten years later. The home was occupied by heirs of Bowditch family lived in the home until 1938 when it was sold after the death of James Higginson Bowditch to John Richmond who razed the home and built seven homes along Tappan Street in its place.

Edmund Hartt House // c.1740

This gambrel-roofed home was likely built before the American Revolution by Alexander Baker, a caulker who worked on ships in the harbor just blocks from his home. His home would be located at 24 Hull Street in the North End neighborhood of Boston, adjacent to the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. The home was eventually bought by Edmund Hartt (1744-1824), a master carpenter who’s story is heavily overshadowed by his neighbor Paul Revere.

Ca. 1895 image of Hartt House courtesy of Boston Public Library. Note: Copp’s Hill Burying Ground fence in foreground.

Captain Edmund Hartt built a shipyard in the North End (there were no Government-owned navy yards at the time). At his shipyard, the USS Constitution was constructed in 1797, he later went on to build the USS Boston (1799), USS Argus (1803), and USS Independence (1814). Hartt died in 1824 and was buried across Hull Street in the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. His family continued to own the home until the 1890s, adding the lean-to addition on the side in the mid-1800s, and the home was demolished (as with many historic wood-frame homes in the neighborhood) for a larger, brick apartment building to house the growing immigrant population in the city.

Sparhawk House // 1742-1967

Often called Sparhawk Hall, this massive Georgian mansion was built at the end of Sparhawk Lane in Kittery, just down the street from the Pepperell House and Lady Pepperell’s dower house. The Sparhawk house was funded by William Pepperell as a wedding gift for his daughter Elizabeth and her new husband Nathaniel Sparhawk.

Sparhawk House ca.1900. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Nathaniel Sparhawk was a merchant from lavish means, but was habitually in debt, so his marriage to the daughter of one of the richest men in the state, re-established himself financially. With a new mansion, and father-in-law to pay off his unsettled debts, Sparhawk continued his business dealings in Portsmouth and Boston. After his safety net that was his father-in-law passed away, he saw himself again in financial difficulties, and declared bankruptcy.

Getty Images photograph of Sparhawk House, undated.

Sir William died in 1759.  Although he had a close relationship with Nathaniel Sparhawk, who often helped him to manage his business affairs, Pepperrell’s will suggests that he didn’t quite trust his son-in-law to provide for his family. The will left many parcels of land formerly owned by Nathaniel to Nathaniel’s various children, but not to Nathaniel himself.  It seems that when Nathaniel went bankrupt, William Pepperrell bought up many of his properties, with the intent of keeping them in the family.  Also telling is the fact that in an age when women lacked a legal identity apart from their husband, Sir William was quite clear that while income from certain properties would go to Nathaniel for “the support of his wife and children,” the property was not his to sell or mortgage, with the will stating that Elizabeth was “required to sign all receipts and to have sole power to bequeath her legacy.”

Ca. 1930 image of Sparhawk House entry. Historic New England image.

By the 1960s, the home was occupied by a Sparhawk descendant, who had difficulties heating and maintaining the large mansion and grounds. Many interior features were sold off to the highest bidder (some preserved for public consumption at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, NH). The home was razed in 1967. The doorway was saved at the eleventh hour and was gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and is displayed in the Art of the Americas Wing.