Murray Store // c.1825

Arguably the cutest little store in Newmarket is the Murray Store, right on the town’s vibrant Main Street. The brick building is one of the earliest such structures on the street and is a great example of a narrow Federal style building with a lunette in the gable end. The structure was built before 1830 and was occupied by a Ms. Charlotte Murray as a millinery (women’s hat store). Main Street USA! What is your favorite Main Street in New England?

Old Durham Town Hall // 1825

Durham, New Hampshire, sits beside Great Bay at the mouth of the Oyster River, an ideal location for settlement, like the Western Abenaki and their ancestors who’ve lived in the region for an estimated 11,000 years. By 1633, English colonists were spread along the tidal shores of the Oyster River, and brought non-native livestock aboard their ships, “thousands of cattle, swine, sheep, and horses,” requiring them to clear acres merely for pasture. Formerly un-molested fields, carefully cultivated across centuries, were trampled and their crops destroyed. Due to this, violence between the native people and colonizers erupted, and livestock were frequently killed. The Abenaki saw them as a direct threat to their food supply. The Oyster River Plantation (as it was originally named by colonizers), was so named Durham in 1732 when it was incorporated, after County Durham in England.

Built in 1825 by Joseph Coe, local merchant and shipbuilder, this brick building was constructed as a prominent corner store with two stories of windows for commercial use and a top floor apartment. The brick structure is an excellent example of Federal style architecture in the Great Bay area of New Hampshire, and its location at the end of Main Street, where it converges with Dover and Newmarket roads, historic routes to the town’s neighbors, provided a lot of traffic of potential customers.After years of meeting in taverns and schoolhouses, the town selectmen voted in 1840 to purchase Coe’s Store for use as a town hall. They purchased the building, later opening the top two floors into one large meeting space. The town outgrew the building and relocated across the street, and since 1961, the building has been occupied by the Durham Historic Association and Museum.

Handy’s Tavern // 1812

Before the days of cars and even trains ruled, people in New England would get around by horseback or stagecoach (horse-drawn carriages) from town to town. Due to the long travel times to get everywhere, many New Englanders built taverns, which served as inns and bars for the weary traveller on their journey. In 1812, a recently married Caleb Handy built this house to serve as a residence and source of income, as a tavern for travellers on the Plymouth-New Bedford stagecoach route. He married Sophia Dexter in 1811, who died just two years later at the age of 22. Two years after the death of his first wife, he married Sophia’s sister, Mary, who just turned 18 (he was 33). The tavern had a ballroom for local dances and a room for serving drinks, based principally on West Indian rum, that was shipped in from sugar plantations, owned by many wealthy white families in New England (many of whom exploited the slavery abroad). The Tavern was later owned by Benjamin Handy, who continued to operate it as a Tavern until the railroad made the stagecoach route obsolete in the middle of the 19th century. It then became a family home. The house was sold to the Sippican Women’s Club in 1923, who renovated and restored much of the building, and held luncheons and events inside. They maintain the building to this day.

Major Rowland Luce House // c.1790

Built around 1790 for Rowland Luce (1756-1835), this Federal home oozes character and charm, and is located right on Main Street in one of my favorite towns, Marion, Mass. Luce was born in Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard into a very religious family. While studying to become a Deacon like his father, the Revolutionary War broke out, and Rowland served to fight the British, leaving service as a Major. He eventually settled in Marion’s Sippican/Wharf Village and worked as a Deacon for the Congregational Church. The simple house is clad in cedar shingles and has two chimneys, a departure from earlier homes with one, large central chimney.

“Old Parsonage” // 1813

The “Old Parsonage” was built in 1813 by Capt. John Pitcher, brother of Elizabeth Pitcher Taber, benefactress of the town of Marion. The side of the building that faces the street (what we see) is actually the back of the original dwelling. The Federal period house sits on a raised stone foundation with a central door and shingle siding above. Behind his home, a large pasture was situated where his sheep and cows grazed on fields. Pitcher used to hang a ship’s bell from the branch of an oak tree and ring it every evening at 9 p.m. as a curfew bell for the town. The bell is now located in the Marion Natural History Museum. When Capt. Pitcher died, he left his house to the Congregational Church, which used it as a parsonage for many years. It was sold in May of 2021 and is likely a private home now.

Dr. Andrew Harris House // c.1815

I was going through some images on my phone, and stumbled upon some Canterbury, CT buildings I never posted! This Federal style house was built around 1815 for Dr. Andrew Harris one of two physicians in Canterbury in the early 19th century. He was born in Rhode Island and lived on a farm until he took up in the medical profession. He was known throughout eastern Connecticut as one of the most distinguished operative surgeons in the state until his death at the young age of 53. The large home features a Palladian window above the entrance with some Victorian era alterations, including the front porch, elongated 2-over-2 windows at the ground floor, and double-door entry. Oh, and the house is across the street from the iconic Prudence Crandall House.

Gardiner Almshouse // 1834

This large brick Federal house was built on the outskirts of Gardiner, Maine, in 1834. Ebenezer Moore, the builder, worked as a carpenter and house-wright in town and showcased his skill on his own brick mansion, selling it to a C.E. Bradstreet. By the late 1840s, the town of Gardiner decided that it would need a new almshouse, city-provided housing for the poor, so they purchased the Bradstreet house and 14-acres of land. In the 1848 town report documents noted, “The establishment is a brick one, of two stories, containing thirty-six fine rooms, including seven fitted for the insane in the most admirable manner, together with a spacious hall. The building is every way a most excellent one for the purpose, and is a monument of the humanity and generosity of the city.” The almshouse served as a working farm where the poor could harvest their own crops and contribute in a small, closed society. The almshouse burned in 1909, and was immediately rebuilt using the outside brick walls. In the Colonial Revival manner, a gambrel roof replaced the former gable roof, which added a third story to the almshouse. The building was eventually sold, as new housing models for low-income residents took off. The former almshouse was converted to an apartment building in 1970, a use that appears to continue to this day.

Peter Wheeler House // 1832

This cute brick house in Boxborough, MA, was built c. 1832 by the Revolutionary War veteran Peter Wheeler where he lived until his death in 1847. The home sits on a heavily trafficked street, yet retains much of its architecture and even historic windows, despite its conversion to commercial use! The brick house features e 6/6 double-hung units on the first story and 3/3 in the second, with the central window featuring stunning stained glass.

Dr. Daniel Robbins House // 1804

Damn I just love old brick Federal houses! This home in Boxborough, MA was constructed in 1804 for Dr. Daniel Robbins, who owned a one-story wooden home on the site in 1798. As building materials were expensive at the time, Robbins likely incorporated that structure as one of the side additions to this new brick house you see here. Robbins served as a town doctor until his death in 1837, and would treat patients in his home or ride on horseback to treat sick residents nearby.

Parsons Homestead // c.1800

The Parsons Homestead in Rye, contains some of the most interesting early Federal-style design elements in the coastal towns of New Hampshire outside of the principal towns of Portsmouth and Exeter. When the Parsons House assumed its present appearance at the turn of the nineteenth century, Rye was a coastal farming community, but despite its rural character, the town developed distinctive preferences within the Federal style. There is no architect listed for the home, but it is highly likely a housewright took cues from William Pain’s “The Practical Builder” (1774, published in Boston in 1792). This book, inspired directly by the designs of British architect Robert Adam, allowed carpenters to take plans from one of the earliest “do-it-yourself” manuals ever published. The builders’ manuals and pattern book offered carpenters and other construction workers important resources for designs and techniques in house design and construction. Those unable to afford an architect’s services could feel confident in the good taste of their residence by selecting designs from a pattern book style in southeastern New Hampshire. Records show the land here was purchased in 1757 by Samuel Parsons (1707-1789). The property was acquired by his son Captain Joseph Parsons (1746-1832), who was a Doctor and Captain in the Revolutionary War. It is likely that he or his own son built this “modern” Federal home, and incorporated some of the old features of the family home inside.