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?

Chester Tin Shop // c.1830

Located on the edge of the Chester Town Green, you can find this beautiful Federal style commercial building. The use of blind arches at the facade is a fairly common feature found in brick Federal style buildings in Vermont. The structure was built around 1830 and has served a variety of uses through its existence, the most notable being the tin shop owned by various members of the Miller and Hadley families that sold stoves and hardware during the latter half of the 19th century. The tin business in New England grew rapidly after 1820. Tin shop owners imported tinplated sheet iron from Great Britain, shaped it into a variety of forms, and distributed their finished goods through peddlers and country stores. They also sold tinware in their shops. Colanders, dippers, dish kettles, funnels, measures, and pans were in greatest demand. Other common items included lanterns, foot stoves, teapots, coffeepots, “tin kitchens”, skimmers, and sconces. After its use as a tin shop, the building was occupied as a telephone exchange and electric utility company office. It presently is home to an antique store.

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.

Laura Richards House // 1810

This stunning Federal style house in Gardiner, Maine, was built about 1810 by Ebenezer Byram, who had purchased the land from Robert Hallowell Gardiner, a descendant of Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, the “founder” of the town. Dr. Gardiner was a resourceful Boston druggist, who was one of the principal owners of the Kennebec Purchase, known as the Plymouth Company, who purchased land on the west side of the Kennebec River in Maine. Dr. Sylvester Gardiner had been attracted to the Gardiner area for a number of reasons, primarily because of the depth of the water of the river to the point of Gardiner as the head of navigation for ships here. This house overlooking that river was purchased in 1878, by Henry and Laura E. Richards. Laura Richards (1850-1943) was the daughter of Samuel Gridley Howe, an abolitionist and the founder of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind. Her mother, Julia Ward Howe wrote the words to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, a tune that I am sure most of you have heard of, but never knew the name. Henry and Laura moved to Gardiner in 1876 after suffering financial reverses in Boston, where Henry worked at his family’s paper mill, and it was about that time that Laura Richards began her writing career. At this house in Gardiner, Laura wrote more than 90 books including biographies (including one on her mother), poetry, and several children’s books. Even more impressive, Laura was awarded one of the first four ever Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for her biography on her mother, years before women were even afforded the right to vote!

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.