Prentiss House // 1843

This past weekend, I took a little “stay-cation” in Cambridge, and I am so glad I did! I stayed at the Prentiss House, a highly significant Greek Revival house near Porter Square. The Inn is operated by Thatch, a company that offers short-term hotel stays, long-term apartments, and co-living arrangements in the Boston area. They recently acquired and renovated this amazing old house and its a great place to stay!

The home was built in 1843 by William Saunders a well-known housewright for his son, William Augustus Saunders about the same time as his first child, Mary was born. Sadly, Mary died at just six years old and was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery with her grave guarded by a tiny stone dog. The Saunders Family resided at the home for over 50 years until William and his wife’s death at the end of the 19th century. The original location of the mansion on Massachusetts Avenue necessitated its move to the newly laid out Prentiss Street to save it from commercial development pressure and the wrecking ball. The home was moved to its present site in 1925 for the erection of a one-story block of stores on Mass. Ave. In 1992, the home was purchased by local artist, Charlotte Forsythe and she began the journey of transforming the home into the Mary Prentiss Inn. An addition by Bell/Fandetti added rooms and subterranean parking to the building at that time. The Inn was purchased by Thatch in 2021, who modernized the rooms.

The house reads like a Greek Temple, not with a full portico, but by using colossal applied pilasters and an entablature carried across the gable, suggesting a classical pediment. Ornamental wreaths adorn the full-length porch and interior mouldings.

Elijah Waters House // 1845

Elijah Waters (1773-1846), a hardscrabble farmer in West Millbury inherited his father’s large farm and resided there for over thirty years before wanting something more his style. Unmarried and without children, Elijah (who was 72 at the time), had this impressive Greek Revival farmhouse constructed near his old family homestead. He was possibly looking to spend money saved up and without a wife or heirs to will it to. The massive temple-front Greek Revival mansion has a stunning doorway and six columns supporting a projecting pediment. Within a year after the home was built, Elijah died. The home was willed to his nephew, Jonathan Waters. The house is for sale for $384,000 which is a STEAL!

Zebulon Smith House // 1832

The Zebulon Smith House in Bangor is one of the earliest temple-front Greek Revival homes built in the state of Maine. The house was constructed in 1832 for Zebulon Smith, a businessman who moved to the Maine frontier in the early 19th century, likely to get involved with a lumberyard as this section of the state shipped timber all over the region. The substantial home was built just south of downtown Bangor, and has survived fire and urban renewal. It sits alone in a sea of parking lots and industrial buildings in what was once likely a lovely neighborhood.

Peter Grant House // 1830

The this 1830 home in Farmingdale ranks as one of the first Greek Revival temple style residences in Maine. Situated on a rise overlooking the Kennebec River, the house reflects a dignity befitting the commercial success of its original owner, Peter Grant. Peter Grant was born in 1770 in Berwick, Maine. He was a fourth generation descendent of an earlier Peter Grant, born in Scotland in 1631, and one of 3,000 Scots taken prisoner by Cromwell’s army at the Battle of Dunbar. In 1650, he was sent as a convict laborer to the iron works in Lynn, Massachusetts, for a term of seven years. A number of the Grant family settled in Berwick, Maine, and from there, Peter, builder of this house, and his father, Capt. Samuel Grant, moved to Gardiner. Peter Grant soon involved himself successfully in land speculation and shipping in the area. In 1796 he and a group of associates, purchased a large tract of land along the west shore of the Kennebec River, which later became Farmingdale. Grant became sole owner of better than 200-acres of this land in 1800 and built a substantial house soon after. The original house was destroyed by fire and was replaced by Grant with the present house in 1830 six years before his death in 1836.

Francis M. Dimond House // 1838

Built in 1838, just three years after the Talbot House in Bristol, Rhode Island, (just two houses away), the Dimond House remains as the other of the two remaining Greek, temple-front homes in town. Like the Talbot House, this home was also designed by Russell Warren, but is unique as it is in the tetrastyle (with four columns) and utilizes the Ionic order with the capitals featuring volutes (scrolls). Additionally, a polygonal bay can be seen on the right side of the home. Images show that the bay features stunning lancet windows! The home was designed for Francis Moore Dimond (1796-1859), who was born in Bristol, and later traveled to the Caribbean and served for several years (1832-1835) as the United States consul at Port-au-Prince. It is entirely possible that Dimond was involved in the slave trade, but I wasn’t able to find more than a couple articles referencing his connections to the infamous DeWolf Family. From 1842 to 1849, Dimond was United States Consul to the Mexican port city of Veracruz. When he returned to Rhode Island, he promoted the Southern Pacific Railway and presided over its construction. He was elected lieutenant governor of Rhode Island in 1853. He became the governor of Rhode Island when Philip Allen, then Governor, resigned to become a Senator. He held the governor’s office just one year. He moved back to Bristol and lived out his final days at his home.

Josiah Talbot House // 1835

Anyone that has followed this account for a while knows at least one thing, I LOVE Greek temple-front homes. Designed by famed architect, and Bristol-native, Russell Warren, this 2-story, 3-bay, gable-roof Greek Revival house is one of the finest in the state. Its facade has a pair of fluted Corinthian columns, set in antis (where the side walls extend to the front of the porch). A simple side-hall entrance is framed by heavy Doric pilasters, supporting a broad, plain entablature, making this such a head-turning Greek Revival home. The walls are sheathed with horizontal flush boarding at the facade to give a smoother look and clapboards on the side and rear. The home was built for Josiah Talbot, a sea captain. The house is excellently preserved to this day, almost 200 years later.

Perry House-Trinity Church Rectory // 1832

I have a thing for temple-front Greek Revival homes, and this is no exception. This marvelous home was built in 1832 for Francis Dimon Perry (1809-1884), who inherited some of his father’s wealth and became President of Southport National Bank in town. He was a devoted member of Trinity Church throughout his life. Upon Mrs. Perry‘s death in 1893, couple left their residence to the Trinity Church to be used as the parish rectory.

Pomfret Methodist Church // c.1850

Located across the street from the Congregationalist Church (now Town Hall) in Pomfret Center, the Methodists in Pomfret Vermont built this church building just a couple years after their neighbor was completed. Replicating the Greek Revival style seen across the street, the building showcases a templed form with projecting portico, as an excellent vernacular example of the style. Similar to its neighbor, this church was sold to the Town of Pomfret in the 1880s, modernized in the early 20th century, and converted to a district schoolhouse.

Saint Elizabeth’s Center // 1838

The only two-story temple-front Greek Revival home in the Upper Falls Village of Newton, MA stands on Elliot Street, on the same block as the Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Catholic Church and Rectory. The home was built in 1838 at the present location of the church, but was moved in 1908 to its present location at the opposite end of the block for the erection of the large church. The original owner was Dr. Samuel Whitney, the village doctor who also operated his office out of the large house. By 1844, he moved to Dedham and sold the home and practice to Dr. Abraham D. Dearborn who ran his practice out of the home until the mid 1850s. After successive ownership by mill owners, the property was acquired by the Archdiocese of Boston who moved the home and used it as a rectory until the Colonial Revival rectory was built. The home has since been used as a parish center, but has not been well maintained over the years. Plans were unveiled in 2015 by a long-time resident to purchase the home from the Catholic Church for conversion of a community center with offices for non-profits, but it has not materialized sadly. Its future is unclear.

White Columns // 1853

The majestic Greek Revival house on Maine Street in Kennebunkport was built in 1853 for Eliphalet Perkins III, a member of the Perkins Family, one of the earliest families to settle in the area known today as Kennebunkport. Eliphalet apparently sold the home to his son, Charles, who moved in within the year with his new wife Celia Nott. The couple decorated the ornate home inside and out with furnishings still retained inside after the Kennebunkport Historical Society acquired the building in 1955. The home is now known as White Columns, and houses the First Families Museum. One interesting thing I noticed is the rounded arch windows in the pediment, an awareness to the Italianate style which took over in the 1850s-1870s throughout New England, though this home is quintessentially Greek.