Architectural losses are numerous in cities and towns all over New England, but few evoke such sadness for me than the demolition of the Charles G. Loring House of Beverly. The house was built as a summer cottage in 1881 for Charles G. Loring (1828-1902) on family land, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, perched high on a cliff. Loring hired architect William Ralph Emerson to design the home, which was perfectly harmonious in its siting and design with the rugged landscape it sat upon. William Ralph Emerson (1833-1917) was a leading architect credited with originating and popularizing what came to be known as the Shingle Style of architecture. The man who coined that term, Vincent Scully, called the Loring House “the very best of all the houses along this coast and considers that it “may well be the finest surviving example of the Shingle Style“. Additionally, the property’s landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who designed the Emerald Necklace park system in Boston, the landscape plan for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, among dozens of other iconic designs. In 2012, the property was sold by heirs of the Loring Family to Helen Greiner, a co-founder of iRobot, the company best known for its robotic vacuum cleaner Roomba. She proposed a plan to demolish portions of the house, which according to the local Historical Commission, would be “no different from demolition” and completely destroy the architectural integrity and significance of the home. A one year delay was enacted on the property, but it was razed soon after the delay was over.
SAVE THIS HOUSE!
Located adjacent to the former H.H. Richardson House (also threatened with demolition), this home in Brookline may eventually face the wrecking ball… The rear ell of the building appears to have been constructed prior to 1844, possibly as an outbuilding or the main house as part of Samuel Perkins’ estate. The property was later subdivided and had numerous owners who bought and sold it in quick succession until 1858, when it was purchased by Francis A. White (1825-1910) a partner of Frederick Guild (1826- ) in the Boston tanning firm of Guild & White, Co., until 1871, when White retired to devote full time to his real-estate investments in the Boston area. It is likely that White updated and enlarged the home in the 1870s, with the massive corner tower, as a testament to his proficiency in real estate development and design. Francis lived in the home with his wife and four children until his death in 1910, when the home was willed to his late wife Caroline. After her death, the home was owned by their daughter Sophia, who had married John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), a prominent landscape architect and nephew of Frederick Law Olmsted, who lived just down the street. John and Sophia lived in the home, renovating and enlarging the home at least once, and John would walk down the street to his office, now the Olmsted National Historic Site. John was the first president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, founded in 1899, and was active in the formation of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. Sadly, a demolition permit has been applied for to raze this home, the Richardson House and a Techbuilt house by a developer. It is likely a demolition delay will be enacted, but advocacy on the two older houses preservation should be the first and only option for the site.
Located on Main Street in Easton, the Oliver Ames Jr. House exemplifies the romanticism of the Italianate style in the mid 19th century. Built in 1864, the home, known as “Unity Close”, was designed by George Snell, a Boston-based architect. Oliver Ames Jr. was a son of Oliver Ames Sr., who along with his brother, Oakes Ames, joined the family business at the Ames Shovel Works in town. The home has a massive garden at the side yard, originally designed by the Olmsted Brothers, John and Frederick, the sons of the great Frederick Law Olmsted.
The residential neighborhood of Fisher Hill in Brookline was laid out in 1884 by Frederick Law Olmsted, – who lived nearby – and is considered a masterpiece of curvilinear planning. The neighborhood was made up of successful Boston area businessmen, including lawyers, doctors, and bankers. It was expected that the new owners would build their homes to conform to the affluent character of the neighborhood. This house built in 1891 was no different.
Located at 73 Seaver Street, this Queen Anne mansion was designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge of Boston, which operated from 1886 to 1915, growing out of the practice of Henry Hobson Richardson after his death in 1886. The house was built for Charles Perkins, a lawyer in Boston at the law firm of Perkins and Lyman. The home at the time of the photo (June 2020), is undergoing a renovation which includes yet another boring gray paint scheme… Bleh. Hopefully the interior, exterior trim, and historic windows will be restored.