Hall-Balcom House // 1810

This historic house in West Millbury, Massachusetts, began in the end of the 18th century as a one-and-a-half-story wood-frame farmhouse. By 1810, the home was rotated 90 degrees and a more substantial, two-story brick house was constructed facing the street. The Federal style home was owned by Thaddeus Hall (1779-1855), and after his death, it was owned by his son, Orson Eddy Hall, who possibly rented the property for income while he resided in New Orleans and ran the iconic St. Charles Hotel there. The property was later acquired by Willard Balcom and remained in the family. Oh what I wouldn’t do to see the paint come off this old brick house!!

Alexander Jack Jr. House // 1811

Newport in 1774 had approximately 153 free Black residents residing in 46 households comprising of thirty-percent of Newport’s population at this time. One of these free Black families was the Jack family who resided around Levin Street (Memorial Boulevard today). The Jack Family appears to have been from Antigua and may have had ties to the Redwood Family (the namesake of the Redwood Library), who owned a plantation on the island and resided in Newport. Alexander Jack, Jr. was a free African American whose trade was a cordwainer or shoemaker. He bought his land in 1811 and is thought to have begun construction almost immediately. Jack heirs remained on this property until 1881. The Newport Restoration Foundation purchased the house in 1969, moved it that same year to Mill Street to save it from urban renewal and the widening of Levin Street as Memorial Blvd.

Langley House // 1807

Smack-dab in the middle of Newport, Rhode Island’s dense network of downtown streets, you’ll find Queen Anne Square, a rare bit of open space in a web of alleys and ways. Did you know that this park is only 50 years old? It’s true! In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Newport (and many cities all over New England) were grappling with suburbanization and dwindling tax revenue with people and businesses moving out. Their solution was “urban renewal”, which entailed the razing of buildings and sometimes, neighborhoods which were deemed “blight”. Historic buildings and communities were destroyed with modern planning (high capacity roads and high-rises connected by open space) to take its place. In Newport, this saw the form of America’s Cup Avenue and Memorial Boulevard, which cut through the city to allow for more cars and less-congested side-streets. Years later, planners realized that Newport was without a traditional town common like many New England towns, so they cleared buildings in front of Trinity Church to provide that traditional feeling. At the time, preservationists were trying to save significant buildings, with the Langley House being one of them. This house was set for the wrecking-ball, from Memorial Boulevard’s construction but moved and restored by Newport Restoration in the last hour to the south side of Church Street. Seven years later when Queen Anne Square was built, this house was moved to the north side, saving it once again. This house is a survivor!

Old Brick Tavern // 1804

The Brick Tavern was an important stopping point on the old Union Turnpike, and the original two-story brick structure was completed about the time of the turnpike construction by Paul Willard, who with his heirs, operated the inn for 25 years. In the first years of the 1800s, the Union Turnpike Company planned and built a road providing a link for travel from Boston to Albany. Realizing the possibility for an inn along the first leg of the route, Willard financed this substantial brick building for travellers to stop, eat and spend the night. The tollroad was later made free, and less people stayed at the inn. After subsequent ownership, the building started to suffer from deferred maintenance and it was sold to a local Quaker group. The Quakers modernized the building by constructing the mansard roof and updating the interior. They never occupied it, but rented it to tenants for income. After, it was a hospital, boarding house, and in WWII, as a barracks of sorts for soldiers training nearby at a military base. The building is now a house!

Newhall-Lane House // 1809

The Newhall-Lane House (could be the home of many wives) was built in 1809 by Pliny Newhall, a bricklayer. He purchased the land here at a prominent crossroads in Lancaster in 1808 from his employer who owned a brickyard across the street. At a previous home in town, Newhall’s wife Patty died giving birth to their son, at just 23 years old. Their son also died during childbirth. He remarried and had a full family to grow into the couple’s new house. They relocated to Lincoln and the home was sold to Captain Anthony Lane, who was the son of Deacon Jonas Lane, an important figure in Lancaster town history. Jonas had four wives, outliving three of them. Captain Lane himself, was married twice while living in this house; he had no children from either marriage. Although he was a talented craftsman and cabinetmaker, Captain Lane listed his occupation as farmer. The house is significant architecturally, as a fine example of Federal style architecture in Lancaster . Its sophisticated design is reflected in the graceful entrance. One of the unique features of the house is the pedimented gable of the facade which in combination with the narrow plan of the house, creates a delightful massing in this distinctive combination of Greek Revival and Federal styles.

Pickman-Rice Mansion // 1796

In 1814, wealthy Salem businessman, Benjamin Pickman transformed a modest, mostly un-finished 1796 Lancaster farmhouse into an exquisite showpiece worthy of his bride-to-be. The farmhouse was built by Merrick Rice, an attorney, who was hoping this gift would earn her hand in marriage. It didn’t. So the second act of this home is more romantic I guess! Using the finest carpenters in the area, he added a Federal façade and four grand front rooms with soaring ceilings, elongated windows, and superb moldings. The grand Federal style home was known locally as “the mansion” and the owners hosted grand parties, with many Salem and Boston socialites attending. Fast-forward to 1981, when antiques specialist Stephen Fletcher was looking for a place to call home. By that time, the property desperately needed a savior. “It was dark and so moist that condensation had frozen on the walls,” says Fletcher, now Skinner auction house’s director of American furniture and decorative arts and a regular commentator on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. The home sold in 2014 and the interiors are just… wow!

Carter House and Publishing Company Building // 1820

Here is a two-for-one post! These two absolutely gorgeous Federal style buildings on Main Street in Lancaster were built in 1820 for George Carter and his brothers who ran a publishing company in the sleepy town. The Carter family was very active in the Swedenborgianism, a very small church in the general realm of Christianity, and they helped create a small enclave of worshippers in town. The brick, Carter and Andrews Publishing Company building (on the other side of a dead end street from this house) was built at the same time as the Carter home. The company was extremely popular in publishing children’s books, textbooks, and maps. One of my favorite publications the company made was “Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation”, now say that three times fast!

Joseph Howard House // 1808

Salem, Massachusetts is probably the best town in the country to see amazing Halloween decorations everywhere and possibly the largest collection of high-style Federal period homes, a perfect pairing! This brick Federal home on Brown Street was built in 1808 for Joseph Howard (1780-1857) after his marriage to Anstiss Smith when they were in their 20s! Joseph worked as a shipping merchant in town. Together the couple had 11 children, with the last three dying in infancy. In 1827, the family relocated to Brooklyn, New York, and there, with his son, John Tasker Howard the two established the shipping and commission house of J. Howard & Son, with offices on South Street, and later at 34 Broadway. The family lived the remainder of their lives in New York. This house in Salem was sold to Thomas Downing, a dry goods dealer with a store nearby on Essex Street. Sadly, Downing suffered with severe depression in the later years of his life until 1859 when he took his own life in the stairwell of the eastern tower of the East Church in Salem (now the Salem Witch Museum). The Brown Street home was willed to his widow.

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.

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.