I love Rockport because every time I walk the winding, narrow streets, I find something new. This time, I stumbled upon this absolutely amazing mansion, built at the height of the romantic period of architecture. The home was built in 1851 by Solomon Torrey and his wife, Susanna Norwood. Susanna was the daughter of Charles Norwood, a descendant of Joshua Norwood, who owned much of the land in this part of town and lived in the c.1680 cottage down the street (last post). Solomon Torrey was the son of a quarry owner in Quincy, who seemingly moved to Rockport to continue in the family trade (the “Rock” in Rockport). Solomon and Susanna were gifted some land from her father to build a fine home, when the couple were still in their 20s! Before this, Solomon traveled west to partake in the California Gold Rush, his newlywed wife Susanna kept a diary, while he was away, mentioning her dream “stone cottage” where she and her family would live a long life together. When Solomon returned, the couple built their dream home, and had two daughters, Aria and Susannah. Sadly, Solomon lived only 5 years after his return from the Gold Rush and died at just 33 years old. Susannah was aided by her family, raising her two daughters, never remarrying, living in her dream home without the love of her life until her death in 1908, at 81 years old.
Calvert-Marin House // c.1845
In 1843, George Henry Calvert (1803-1889) and his wife Elizabeth Steuart moved to Newport, Rhode Island from Maryland, not long after built or purchased this home. George was the son of George Sr. a plantation and slave-owner in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Maryland. His plantation house, Riversdale plantation, also known as the Calvert Mansion, built between 1801 and 1807, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997. From his wealthy upbringing by unsavory means, George was able to attend Harvard and spent time travelling to Europe. There, he met poets Goethe and William Wordsworth. He lived in Baltimore and served as editor for the Baltimore American, the largest local paper in the city. He worked on poetry and eventually moved to Newport, RI, possibly seasonally. This home was built in the Gothic Revival style for Calvert and his family. Years later, he was elected Mayor of Newport. Calvert hired Fannie Jackson Coppin as a servant for the household. Coppin was born a enslaved in Washington D.C., but gained her freedom when her aunt was able to purchase her at the age of twelve. She went on to become an advocate and leader in Black education. Historic maps show two properties owned by the Calvert’s. A nearby building, presently 38 Kay Street was possibly built as a barn or stable for the Calverts. This home was purchased in the 1880s by Captain Mathias Candelaris Marin, a sea captain who fought in the Mexican and American Civil wars. Marin likely modernized the Gothic House, adding the shingle siding and large Queen Anne additions to the rear. The Marin Street at the side of the house is named after him.
Reverend Hanson House // 1853
This Carpenter Gothic house in Gardiner, Maine, was built in 1853 by Reverend J.W. Hanson, author of the 1852 History of Gardiner, Pittston and West Gardiner and the second minister (1850-54) of the Universalist Church (last post), after its organization in 1843. Hanson was likely inspired by the design of his church when having his own home built, as he followed the Gothic mode. His house features board-and-batten siding, bargeboards, and trefoil windows and carvings in the said bargeboards. Reverend Hanson lived in the home until 1868 when he moved to Dubuque, Iowa. The home is very well preserved and one of the best examples of the Carpenter Gothic style in the state.
David Forrest House // c.1857
This home in Schenectady’s Stockade Historic District appears to have been built in the mid-19th century, and is an excellent example of a modestly sized Gothic Revival cottage. The house was occupied around 1860 by David P. Forrest, who served one term as Mayor of Schenectady in 1859, later becoming an Inspector of State Prisons from 1860 to 1862. The amazing Gothic bargeboard and other trimmings have remained and add so much intrigue to the home’s design. And that lancet window in the gable end! Swoon.
Justin Morrill Homestead // 1851
One of the most stunning Gothic Revival homes in New England has to be the Justin Morrill Homestead in the tiny town of Strafford, Vermont. The home was designed by and built for Senator Justin Smith Morrill (1810-1898), who was born in town and worked with his mentor Jedediah Harris at the local store. He later expanded and owned numerous stores in the area and diversified, investing in railroads, banks and real estate in the region. He retired in the late 1840s and became a gentleman farmer, building this Gothic Revival home in town. In 1854 Morrill was elected to the Thirty-fourth Congress as a Whig. He was a founder of the Republican Party, and won re-election five times. In 1866, Morrill was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Union Republican, serving until his death in 1898. Morrill is best known for sponsoring the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant College Act. This act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and established federal funding for higher education in every state of the country. Senator Morrill primarily used this house as a summer residence, as he spent much of his time in Washington, DC. The property remained in the Morrill family, until World War II. The house was eventually acquired by preservationists, who sold it to the state in 1969 for use as a Historical Site and museum.
Sturges Cottage // 1840
In the 1840s in New England, one architectural style commanded a large majority of all new house styles, Greek Revival. A divergence from the Classical designs of the Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival styles which dominated at the time, the Romantic movement began its first true breaths across New England. The Gothic Revival and Italianate styles are often thought to be the first couple styles which brought the frills and detailing personified by Victorian-era architecture.
This home in Fairfield, Connecticut was built in 1840 to a design by Joseph Collins Wells, it is one of the oldest-known and best-documented examples of architect-designed Gothic Revival architecture. The home was built for for Jonathan Sturges (1802–1874), a businessman and patron of the arts. It is one of the earliest known examples of architect-designed Gothic Revival architecture, a style more often taken by local builders from pattern books published by the style’s proponents. The home was likely a pre-cursor to architect Joseph Wells later commission, the famous Roseland Cottage.
Frederick Sears House // 1851
The oldest extant house (and my favorite) in the Cottage Farm development of Brookline is the Frederick Sears House. This house is significant as one of the major surviving examples of Gothic Revival domestic architecture that was part of the original Cottage Farm development. David Sears laid out the parks and squares in the Cottage Farm neighborhood in 1849 on land he acquired from Uriah Cotting in 1818. He also built houses for himself and his children. His own house, erected in 1843, stood at the comer of Pleasant Street and Freeman Street. Sears built houses for his daughters, Ellen, Harriet, Anna, and Grace, all of which are no longer extant. Only the house he built for his son Frederick at 24 Cottage Farm Road survives among the Sears family houses.The large Gothic Revival home was constructed from Roxbury Puddingstone with granite trim. Possibly a work by George Minot Dexter, it is the highest style Gothic home, equipped with bargeboards, quoins and trefoil and quatrefoil windows.
Dexter-Hall House // 1851
The stunning Dexter House at 156 Ivy Street in Cottage Farm was designed by renowned architect George Minot Dexter as his own residence. Dexter was hired by Amos A. Lawrence who subdivided his large land holding in Brookline to develop cottages on large lots for rent. Lawrence hired Dexter to design multiple homes in the area and even sold him a lot, as opposed to renting a building on the grounds. Dexter built this Gothic Cottage in 1851, and used local Roxbury Puddingstone and brick with a slate gambrel roof. By the 1870s, it became home to Minna B. Hall, a founding member of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Hall became an advocate for the comings and goings of birds at the pond behind her house and plotted a strategy with her cousin, (and neighbor) Harriet Lawrence Hemenway, to halt the cruelty to birds and end the use of plumes adorning women’s hats. Before her death, Hall sought to conserve the pond behind her house and offered it to the Town of Brookline, who refused. It was partly developed and reduced in size, and nearly subdivided into four house lots in the 1970s, until a group of citizens rallied to have the land be preserved through federal and state grants. It was the first acquisition of land by the town for conservation purposes, fulfilling Minna’s last wish. It is called Hall’s Pond.