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.

Dr. Skinner “Lottery” House // c.1800

In 1794, four men from Acton, Abel Conant, Dr. Abraham Skinner, John Robbins and Horace Tuttle, jointly purchased a $5.00 ticket in a lottery run by Harvard College to raise funds for the construction of Stoughton Hall in Harvard Yard. This house, built for Dr. Abraham Skinner, is one of the four, and is the most grand of the four. Dr. Skinner was the third physician to practice in Acton and the first to arrive from out of town. He came to Acton in 1781 from Woodstock, Connecticut, and continued in practice until his death in 1810. The Federal style home is nearly square with five bays on all sides, with the facade and rear being slightly less crowded. The main entry includes a pediment with dentils, 4-pane side lights and a 4-panel, wooden door with elongated, rectangular, top panels. A similar entry, without sidelights, centers the south elevation. Time to buy some lottery tickets!

Baldwin-Geleg House // c.1810

This perfect country home was built around 1810, likely for Eli Baldwin (1782-1832) and sits in the Iron Works Village of Brookfield, CT. Eli and his wife Lucy had 10 children at the home before Eli died at just 52 years old. Lucy lived at the home until the family sold the house and she moved into the home of one of her children. In the early 20th century, the property was purchased by Andrew Gereg, who immigrated to Connecticut from Hungary. It remained in the Geleg family until the 1980s. The story is one of the “American Dream” where today, it seems less attainable as 90% of the children born in 1940 ended up in higher ranks of the income distribution than their parents, only 40% of those born in 1980 have done so. This is paired with the limiting of immigration into the country compared to the early 20th century, a symptom of xenophobia, which has impacted immigrants here for centuries. Anyways, here is a well-preserved, historic house!

Amory-Ticknor House // 1803

This house overlooking the Boston Common, was the first of several erected on Park St. from the plans of premier architect Charles Bulfinch, though the only one extant on the street today. Bulfinch is thought to be the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession. The home was designed in 1803 for merchant Thomas Amory Jr. The new mansion was referred to as “Amory’s Folly” because of its unusually large size and pretentiousness. As Amory was completing the house, he suffered major losses at sea, and this plus other business setbacks and his extravagant building ruined him financially. The house was soon after rented to Catherine Carter as a fashionable boarding house popular among lawmakers, due to its location across the street from the State House. The home sold to George Ticknor in 1829, and he owned the home until 1871. Ticknor was an academic who worked for years as a professor at Harvard. He was a world traveller who acquired rare books for his own personal library, later gifting it to the newly established Boston Public Library in 1852, an organization he had a large part in creating. In the 1880s, the house was converted to commercial use due to the shifting demands for the neighborhood (many wealthy Bostonians moved to Back Bay). In 1884, the large oriel (bay) windows, dormers, and storefronts were added to give the house the look it retains today.

Richmond-Herreshoff House // c.1803

Located on Hope Street, just south of the downtown area of Bristol, Rhode Island, this beautiful Federal-style home overlooks the water, and once oversaw a large ship-building empire. The home was built by Lemuel Clarke Richmond (1782-1876), possibly in response to his marriage to Hannah Gorham in 1803. Richmond was a wealthy whaler who owned nearly twenty ships, including the Empress, a Bristol-built bark. The Federal style home features a five-bay facade with central entry. A modest portico surrounds the door which has a fan light transom above. Oh, and there are some gorgeous 12-over-12 windows on the home, at the ground floor the windows have flared lintels above. The home was sold by Richmond in the early 1850s and rented out to Charles and Julia Ann Herreshoff, who resided there with their eight children! It was here where sons John and Nathanael overlooked the water as young boys and became consumed by the beauty of the ships that sailed by their front yard. The brothers later ran the internationally renowned Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, which occupied land all around the home (and was featured previously). The home was acquired by the family in the 1860s, and often changed hands within the family over the next decades until it was inherited by Norman F. Herreshoff. A collector of Americana, Norman Hcrreshoff completed a series of renovations to the family home, including remodeling of the kitchen to be “old-fashioned” and replacement of the front porch with the small Ionic portico which we see today. The home is owned by the Herreshoff Marine Museum, but has seen better days.

Unitarian Church, Burlington // 1816

The building that gives Burlington’s iconic Church Street its name is this, the Unitarian Church of Burlington. One of the most stunning Federal style churches in New England, the church is the oldest surviving place of worship in Burlington, built in 1816. The church was designed by English architect Peter Banner (possibly with assistance of Charles Bulfinch), years after his crowning achievement, the Park Street Church in Boston was completed. From the head of Church Street, the church oversaw the growth of Burlington from a small lakefront town to the largest city in the state. In August 1954, the church steeple was struck by lightning, causing it to shift over two feet in a matter of months, unknown to the congregation and public. It was decided that due to concerns the steeple may collapse through the building, it was selectively demolished and reconstructed. The church remains an active part in the city and architectural landmark for Burlington.

Beverly Town Hall // 1783

Originally part of Salem, the area we now know as Beverly, was first colonized in 1626 by Roger Conant who came down from Gloucester, Massachusetts. They decided to settle in what was then called Naumkeag, part of the Agawam Native Territory. Two years later, a new wave of English colonists arrived, led by John Endicott, who was sent by the Massachusetts Bay Company to govern the tiny settlement, replacing Conant. In 1635, a few settlers petitioned the town of Salem for a land grant on the other side of the river. This grant was approved and each man was allotted 200 acres of farmland, totaling 1000 acres in all. These men and their families soon settled the new region, building homesteads in what eventually became Beverly. The town’s population grew slightly until after the Revolutionary War, when Beverly became an important seaport, with vessels trading all over the world. In 1839, the railroad arrived in Beverly, which brought more people and allowed parts of town to develop into a summer colony for wealthy families to construct large summer estates on the waterfront.

This stunning brick building, now the Beverly Town Hall, was built in 1783 for Andrew Cabot (1750-1791). Cabot was a merchant who owned many ships, trading between the colonies, Caribbean and Europe. After Cabot’s death at the age of 41, the mansion was purchased by Israel Thorndike, merchant and privateer who made his fortune during and soon after the Revolutionary War by being a legal pirate, looting British ships along the coast and in the Indies, selling the goods back in Massachusetts. After his death, the home was acquired by the town for use as a town hall, opening as such in 1841. It has operated as the Beverly Town Hall for almost 200 years. The home originally featured a hipped roof, which was altered into a mansard roof in the 1870s, and was eventually removed for a flat roof.