Hawthorn Hill Estate // 1903

The only estate in Lancaster that can rival the Nathaniel Thayer Estate in size and grandeur is the OTHER Thayer estate, built for Bayard Thayer. Sitting on over 55 acres of forests and gentle rolling fields, Hawthorn Hill is one of the most impressive mansions in Central Massachusetts. The property is so secluded that I had to rely on real estate photos to share! The listings mention that there are over 40 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms… Bayard Thayer (1862-1916) is the grandson of Nathaniel Thayer, Unitarian minister of the First Church of Christ in Lancaster and son of Nathaniel Thayer, a banker. When his brother was willed the family estate (featured previously) after the death of their father, Bayard used the opportunity to build a modern estate high upon a hill in town. The mansion was built in 1903-1904 under the direction of Guy Lowell, a renowned Boston architect of the time. In 1907-1908, Little and Browne were commissioned for landscape alterations and in 1914-15, Ogden Codman Jr. was commissioned to renovate the interiors. Bayard died one year later, and the property remained in the family until around WWII. In 1953, the property was acquired by the Boston Cenacle Society, who added a massive dormitory addition to the building. Recent plans were unveiled to subdivide the land and build house lots on half the estate, which gives me mixed feelings.

Hamilton Community House // 1921

Located in southeastern Essex County, Hamilton was a small agricultural town throughout most of its history. There were few permanent residents in the town until the 18th century. The town grew, but still maintained its rural character much so to this day. The town became home to some established families, who used their money to better the town, one such couple was George Snell Mandell and his wife Emily. George Mandell enjoyed financial success running the Boston Transcript, the city’s principal afternoon daily newspaper, published from 1830 until 1941. George Mandell, grandson of founding partner William Henry Dutton, was the controlling force behind the newspaper from about 1889 until his death in 1934. He built a fine estate in Hamilton, where he bred and raised horses, and was an active member of the nearby Myopia Hunt Club, one of Essex County’s oldest and most distinguished country clubs. The Mandells, whose son Samuel was a WWI pilot killed in action, not only wanted to provide local residents with a community center, but they had the additional goal of creating a memorial for their son and seven other local soldiers who lost their lives in the recent war. With assistance from Community Service, Inc., a private national organization that was
established in 1919 to assist communities in establishing and financing recreational facilities, the Community House was funded and the Mandell’s hired famed Colonial Revival-specialist architect Guy Lowell to design the building for the town. Lowell studied at Harvard, MIT, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He enjoyed an illustrious career in architecture and taught landscape architecture at MIT. He opened an office in Boston in 1899, and by 1906 was also operating a branch office in New York. Friends of the Mandells secretly commissioned artist Anna Coleman Watts Ladd (an amazing woman, I encourage everyone to read about her prosthetic work and art) to create a bronze sculpture of son Samuel Mandell as a gift to his parents.

Walnut Hills Cemetery // 1875

Walnut Hills Cemetery is located in South Brookline, and covers about 45 acres of rolling hills and mature trees. Paved and unpaved roads and paths wind through the cemetery, following the contours of the terrain. The cemetery is an example of the Rural Cemetery movement which began in 1831 in the United States at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Walnut Hills began in 1874, when the town of Brookline authorized the purchase of land for a new cemetery, as its Old Burying Ground was filling up, it was consecrated a year later. The town retained two landscape architects, Ernest Bowditch and Franklin Copeland, to oversee its layout. Just inside the entry gate, the superintendent’s cottage (1901), designed by Guy Lowell, and the receiving tomb (1901) to a design by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr. add much to the bucolic landscape. Of the number of notable burials in the cemetery, the most notable is likely Henry Hobson Richardson, one of the premier architects of the 19th century.