Hall-Balcom House // 1810

This historic house in West Millbury, Massachusetts, began in the end of the 18th century as a one-and-a-half-story wood-frame farmhouse. By 1810, the home was rotated 90 degrees and a more substantial, two-story brick house was constructed facing the street. The Federal style home was owned by Thaddeus Hall (1779-1855), and after his death, it was owned by his son, Orson Eddy Hall, who possibly rented the property for income while he resided in New Orleans and ran the iconic St. Charles Hotel there. The property was later acquired by Willard Balcom and remained in the family. Oh what I wouldn’t do to see the paint come off this old brick house!!

Bull-Mawdsley House // c.1680

One of the oldest houses in Rhode Island, this beautiful home has a full history that will be hard to fit in a post, but here goes! The earliest, two-room rear part of this house was built around 1680, probably by Jireh Bull near the time of his first marriage to Godsgift Arnold, the daughter of Benedict Arnold, the first Governor of Rhode Island. After Bull’s death, the wealthy businessman and privateer Captain John Mawdsley acquired the house and he enlarged it in keeping with his prominent social status, adding elements inspired by the Georgian classicism. Mawdsley in 1774 owned 20 slaves, many of which likely worked on his ships as crew or cooks. He was a Loyalist, and fled Newport during the American Revolution. During the winter of 1780-81, this was the home of French Major-General François chevalier Beauvoir de Chastellux, who was third in command of French forces in America under the French expeditionary force led by general Rochambeau. After the War, Mawdsley was actually allowed to return to Newport, and resided at the home until his death in 1795. In 1795, after Mawdsley’s death, the house was purchased by slave ship captain and wealthy merchant Caleb Gardner, who is said to have brought thousands of humans in bondage to the shores of Rhode Island and in the Caribbean. Gardner is responsible for the Federal period entry and marble front steps we see today. The home was purchased by Historic New England in the 20th century, and was documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey. It is now a private home.

Alfred Smith House // c.1843

Alfred Smith (1809-1886) was known as “Newport’s Millionaire Real Estate Agent”, working in the mid-late 19th century to get some of America’s most well-connected upper-class acquire properties to build their summer cottages. In his early days, he prospered by assisting prospective developers and buyers to purchase house lots on newly platted streets, including Bellevue Avenue. By the time of his marriage in 1843, he built this stunning Greek Revival mansion, equipped with stunning proportions and corner pilasters. Decades later, to “keep up with the Joneses”, he modernized the house by extending the eaves and adding brackets and the addition of a belvedere at the roof. He was instrumental in much of Newport’s later development, even bankrolling the erection of a stone bridge on Ocean Avenue, to allow carriages and subsequent developable lots to extend in the previously untouched land in south and west Newport. He suffered a stroke in 1886, and died a year later, two years after his late wife. He funded a monument to the family, hiring Augustus St. Gaudens to furnish a stunning memorial “Amor Caritas” which stands in Island Cemetery in Newport. Mr. Smith’s estate was mentioned in the New York Times and stated there was no will, and his four living children would each get upwards of $1 Million (nearly $30 Million a piece based on inflation today)!

Newhall-Lane House // 1809

The Newhall-Lane House (could be the home of many wives) was built in 1809 by Pliny Newhall, a bricklayer. He purchased the land here at a prominent crossroads in Lancaster in 1808 from his employer who owned a brickyard across the street. At a previous home in town, Newhall’s wife Patty died giving birth to their son, at just 23 years old. Their son also died during childbirth. He remarried and had a full family to grow into the couple’s new house. They relocated to Lincoln and the home was sold to Captain Anthony Lane, who was the son of Deacon Jonas Lane, an important figure in Lancaster town history. Jonas had four wives, outliving three of them. Captain Lane himself, was married twice while living in this house; he had no children from either marriage. Although he was a talented craftsman and cabinetmaker, Captain Lane listed his occupation as farmer. The house is significant architecturally, as a fine example of Federal style architecture in Lancaster . Its sophisticated design is reflected in the graceful entrance. One of the unique features of the house is the pedimented gable of the facade which in combination with the narrow plan of the house, creates a delightful massing in this distinctive combination of Greek Revival and Federal styles.

Lancaster First Church of Christ // 1816

The First Church of Christ in Lancaster, Massachusetts, (also known as the Bulfinch Church) is one of the finest Federal style religious buildings in America. The history of First Church goes back to the beginnings of the town of Lancaster in 1653. By Massachusetts law, a town could not be established without a church and a minister. First Church was founded as the official town church. The current building is the fifth of the congregation and was designed by Charles Bulfinch, who is regarded by many as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession. The church building is rectangular in plan with a projecting front section supporting a two-stage tower. At the facade, an arcaded and pedimented portico with three high openings with round-arch tops, frame three entry doors. The arches are separated by pilasters, which rise to an entablature and a fully enclosed gable pediment. The church is so pleasing to look at! To the side, the old horsesheds remain, where members would keep their horses during church services.

Stephen King House // 1854

Stephen King, the world-renowned author of some of the most popular horror novels, was born in Maine, and has used the state as the setting for many of his stories. From blood-soaked Carrie, to the haunted hallways in The Shining, to the evil clown Pennywise in “It”, Stephen King has long been one of the leaders in horror, terrifying millions with his books and film adaptations. Instead of living in a larger metropolitan area, he has long resided in Bangor, Maine, in one of the most visually striking homes in the state. The home was built in 1854 for William Arnold, who operated prosperous livery stables in town. The home is a rare example of an Italianate Villa in the state. While Stephen King now spends most of his time at his home in Florida, his Bangor mansion with its iconic wrought-iron gate ornamented with spiders and webs, bat-winged creatures, and a three-headed reptile are much more fitting of the horror author’s essence.

William Jelly House // 1905

Ernest Machado, the Cuban-American architect mentioned in the last post is credited with designing this massive Colonial Revival mansion on Beckford Street in Salem. The house was constructed in 1905 for William Jelly, a teller at the Salem Five Cent Savings Bank. William’s family-owned property on the street before he acquired the property, seemingly from his father. Ernest Machado was a locally significant architect who designed stately city mansions and enchanting country estates for some of Boston’s wealthiest families in the late 19th- and early 20th centuries. This home is setback off the street and faces the side, a common practice for larger homes in narrow urban lots. The house has a five bay symmetrical facade facing south, with clapboard sheathing, rusticated quoins, and a modillion cornice. It is topped by a gambrel roof, which has two large interior brick chimneys at the ridge. A Chippendale patterned balustrade stretches between three pedimented dormers which rise above the roof on main facade. Who else loves Colonial Revival houses?!

Willey Hotel // pre-1822

Originally an old tavern/inn, this wood-frame building in Newmarket, NH, was built for a member of the Rundlett Family who settled in town from nearby Portsmouth. The old building was known as Rundlett’s Tavern for a number of years, later renamed the Washington House, and eventually Silver’s Hotel by 1870. Under owner Joseph B. Silver, the Federal style building was updated with Victorian-era flair, marketing to visitors of town who had business with the Newmarket Manufacturing Company across the street. After Silver died in 1898, the building was purchased by George H. Willey and renamed the Willey Hotel/Willey House. He oversaw renovations in the 1920s to give it the Colonial Revival appearance we see today. The building is now apartments.

Delano-Clapp House // 1735

My favorite Georgian style house in Rochester, MA is the Delano-Clapp House set far off the street, behind a stone wall. The house was built in 1735 for Jonathan Delano, a weaver. Jonathan’s son, Jonathan, Jr., sold the house and land to Ebenezer Clapp, in 1755. The property remained in the Clapp Family for nearly 250 years, when it sold out of the family in 1990. This house is testament to the fact that you can find great architecture in every corner of New England!

Peter Wanton Snow House // c.1830

This Greek Revival home with a one-story full-length porch was built in 1839 for Peter Wanton Snow, one of the unluckiest men in Providence. Born the son of a leading China trader and the son of a granddaughter of a former governor of Rhode Island, Peter W. Snow (1788-1843) was born into privilege and like many of such stature, could enter the family business with ease and make a lot of money. Peter first sailed for Canton (Guangzhou, China) with his father in 1803. Doubtless because of his father’s position and trading connections, young Snow became the partner of Edward Carrington who, within fewer than a dozen years, was to become one of the richest and best merchants dealing in Chinese goods in Rhode Island, if not in the entire country. Carrington wanted to retire and have Peter Snow take over his agency in China, but Peter did not seem to like it there and always wanted to go back home to the United States. He got the chance for a few years beginning in 1814, but upon returning home, he learned that his only son, Charles, had died a year earlier at the age of five years, and to compound his personal tragedy, Snow lost two baby daughters in the next three years. By 1816, he returned to China but never seemed to be able to get out of debt, while trying to provide for his last two remaining children. Tragedy struck again when his last living daughter died, while he was in China. Peter’s business partner and friend R. B. Forbes before letting Peter know the bad news wrote this.

Mr. Snow is now in as good health as he has been since his arrival in China, still he is weak in body, and a very little trouble or disappointment breaks him down and reduces him completely unable to do anything. Poor man, his countrymen here feel much sympathy for him, and fear the result of this news on him. This daughter has appeared to be the only thing which could induce Mr. Snow to make any exertion, and he often spoke of her with all the feelings of a Father who centered all his happiness, in this world, in making her comfortable and happy, and in the expectation of returning to America and of ending his days in her arms”

While in debt, he somehow had this home built in Providence, likely from assistance from family and colleagues. The land here was purchased by Peter’s wife Jeanette, and the home was likely built soon after. Peter died in 1843, virtually penniless.