The Oliver Walker House in Kennebunkport Village is one of the better examples that shows how overlapping architectural styles can work really well on an old house (when done right)! The original house was constructed around 1809 for Oliver Walker (1788-1851), a sea captain who later accepted the call and became a deacon for the South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport. Walker died in 1851 and the Federal style property was inherited by his only surviving child, daughter Susan, who had married Portland native, Captain John Lowell Little. Under their ownership, the traditionally designed Federal house was modernized with fashionable Italianate style modifications of the decorative brackets and an enclosed round arched window in the side gable. A later Colonial Revival projecting vestibule adds to the complex, yet pleasing design. I have a feeling the interiors of this house are just as spectacular as the exterior.
Roswell B. Fitch House // c.1850
Roswell Burrows Fitch (1833-1908) was born in the seaside village of Noank to parents Elisha and Mary P. Fitch. At twelve years of age he commenced to be self-supporting, and from then until he was fourteen, occupied a clerkship in a general store in town. In his teens, summers were spent aboard ships fishing for a livelihood, and his winters attending school. Upon completing his education, he became clerk in a store, and was afterwards engaged to assume the management of a union store which was erected for the special purpose of being placed under his charge. The store, located on Main Street in Noank, was eventually fully purchased by Fitch, and he did well financially. He may have had this house built or merely bought it years after it was built in the mid-19th century. When he sold his business in 1890, he “Victorianized” the classically designed Greek Revival style house with Queen Anne embellishments. The renovations in 1890 included an octagonal tower, an elaborate porch, a two-door entry likely replaced the sidelights and transom, brackets and applied decoration at the gable and cornice, and a Palladian window which was a Colonial-inspired addition. Hodge-podge or eclectic houses are some of the most fun!
Robert Henry Peckham House // 1872
Another of Noank’s stunning Victorian-era seaside cottages is the 1872 Robert Henry Peckham house which is located across the street from the village’s most ornate cottage, the Deacon Robert Palmer House (featured previously). The house exhibits a gambrel roof which reads as a mansard roof at the side elevations. A round arched window is set into the gable end. Decorative cut bargeboards add much complexity to the design. It appears that in the early 20th century, as Noank was re-establishing itself as an artist colony, the owners added the small wrap-around porch and stone garden wall.
Harrishof Houses // 1899 & 1900
I think I found it… My favorite street in Roxbury. Harrishof Street is a surviving streetscape that shows the beauty and potential of the Washington Park district of Roxbury, a surviving span of houses that dodged the wrecking ball during a period of Urban Renewal. This section of the street runs a stone’s throw from the ruins of the 1857 Horatio Harris Villa (featured previously) and was laid out by Horatio’s heirs who developed the former sprawling estate into multi-family housing, to cash in on suburbanization caused at the turn of the 20th century thanks to electric trolley lines in the neighborhood. The development is credited to Alexander Colin Chisholm (1868-1941), a Canadian-born architect and developer who grew up in Roxbury. He specialized in small residential enclaves of similar houses, including these houses on Harrishof Street, and later on Elm Hill Park. The two-family houses blend Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles in such a fun way that pushes the boundaries of academic architecture. The houses on the street are all slightly different and have had varied alterations over time, but this is a great candidate for a historic district!
De La Salle // 1884
The Weld family has long been a prominent family in Boston, with ancestors dating back to the 17th century in New England. One of these men was William Fletcher Weld, a merchant, later making investments in railroads and real estate. By the time of his death in 1881, he had an estate of approximately $20 million, or more than half a billion in today’s dollars, and he left nearly all of it to his family. His eldest son, William Gordon Weld II, received a large inheritance and he began construction on this summer “residence”cottage” in Newport. The house was designed by local architect Dudley Newton, who had the estate built of locally-quarried granite. Architecturally, the dwelling is eclectic in style with Dutch Renaissance gables with conical roof forms seen typically in Queen Anne and Romanesque buildings. Weld spent his summers here for over a decade until his death in 1896. His widow Caroline, summered in the mansion until her death in 1918. By this point, Newport was beginning to fall out of favor as a wealthy resort community, and the many Gilded Age mansions were increasingly viewed as costly white elephants from a previous era. This property was sold by the Weld family in the early 1920s and became the De La Salle Academy, a Catholic school for boys, and remained in use until it closed in the early 1970s. After the school closed, the mansion was converted to condominiums and some townhomes were built on the expansive property.
Belair Stable // c.1875
Just past the Belair Gate Lodge (1870), you w5ll find one of the most eclectic and interesting buildings in Newport, Rhode Island. This structure was built around 1875 as the stable to the larger Belair estate, just a stone’s throw away. When it was built, local papers stated the building was “probably one of the most expensive stables in the city.” It was designed by Newport architect Dudley Newton at the same time he redesigned the main mansion and furnished plans for the new gate lodge for owner George H. Norman. Architecturally, there is A LOT going on here. The 1½-story, rough-face-granite-ashlar building is capped by a hexagonal-tile slate mansard roof. On the left is an octagonal tower with an out-of-scale roof pitch and at the other side of the carriage door is a circular-plan tower with battlemented parapet. At the center is a really unique trefoil gable with trefoil window centered within. So cool to stumble upon this!! Oh, and it’s now a single-family home. Swoon.
Thomas M. James House // c.1900
When the Waban section of Newton got a rail line connecting it to Boston, development boomed! Architects who lived in other parts of the Boston area saw an immense opportunity, not only for work, but for a bucolic setting where they could also reside. One of these architects that lived and worked in Waban was Thomas Marriott James, who in the early 20th century, designed and moved into this house on Pine Ridge Road. James was also born in Cambridge but received no academic architectural training. By 1893, Boston directories record that he was a draftsman at the office of Eugene L. Clark, a prolific
designer of suburban homes. His residence in Waban blends the Shingle and Colonial Revival styles under a broad gambrel roof. The verandah is inset and has segmental bays with shingle posts as supports. The kneewall is also shingled, adding to the composition.
Lamont Residence // 1907
In 1907, William F. Lamont and his family moved into this beautiful turn-of-the-century home in the rapidly developing Waban Village in Newton, Massachusetts. The extension of the circuit railroad connected this part of Newton (which had previously been farmland) to Downtown Boston, opening up the area to development for middle-income families who sought land and fresh air in the suburbs. The first house on Alban Road in Waban was built for the Lamont Family, and it perfectly blends multiple architectural styles under a gambrel roof.
What is your favorite feature of this house?
Ernest Zeiss House // 1897
Another eclectic house in Waban is this beauty, a blending of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles under an impressive gambrel roof. The home was occupied by Ernest L. Zeiss, a salesman. Waban, which was once a neighborhood within the reach of the middle-class, has since become one of the most desirable neighborhoods in one of the most exclusive towns in the Boston metro. It is safe to say an ordinary 9-5 salesman would not be able to afford a house like this today!
Baker-Mason House // 1897
Eclectic homes that can not be pigeonholed to a single architectural style are among my favorite as they blend features elegantly into a single, unique composition. This house on Windsor Road in the Waban village of Newton, Massachusetts is an example of an “eclectic” late 19th century home. This old house exhibits elements of the Queen Anne and Tudor Revival styles. The house was built in 1897 for Daniel and Ida Baker. After their death, the home was purchased by a James H. Mason, who got it for an estimated $25,000 in 1909. A listing at the time mentions the property included a 14-room house and large stable, the latter still stands at the rear of the lot (since converted to a car garage).