The City Hall in Portland, Maine is among my favorite civic buildings in New England and is the third that was built on this site. The previous city hall on the site of the present City Hall, completed in 1862, burned in Portland’s Great Fire of 1866. It was reconstructed in 1867 by designs of Francis H. Fassett, a Portland-based architect. In 1908, it burned again. So much damage was done that the building had to be removed. The present Portland City Hall was designed by the New York architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings, assisted by local Portland architects John Calvin Stevens and his son, John Howard Stevens who together, oversaw day-to-day changes and work to the building. Interestingly, John Carrere is quoted as saying he would rather have his reputation rest on the Portland City Hall than upon any other building he designed (and he designed MANY great buildings). The impressive structure was inspired by the New York City Hall, which was built about 100 years prior in 1803-1812. The Portland City Hall remains today as a great visual anchor for the revitalizing downtown area of Portland.
Historic New England
The Elms – Mrs. Berwind’s Bedroom // 1899
On the second floor of The Elms mansion in Newport, you will find two separate bedrooms for the owners Edward and Sarah Berwind, a husband and wife of high society. The larger of the two bedrooms was for Mrs. Berwind as you know what they say, “happy wife, happy life”. Mrs. Berwind’s bedroom has cream-colored woodwork covered with custom-woven celadon green damask with borders of coordinated green, gold, and cream material. She had an adjoining bathroom and her chambers had access to her husband’s chamber along with a shared fireplace.
The Elms – Dining Room // 1899
The Dining Room of the Elms Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, is represents the Gilded Age in all the best ways. The room sits just off the ballroom and like all of the other rooms in the summer residence of the Berwinds, it was designed by famed interior designer Jules Allard. The dining room was specifically to display a collection of early18th-century Venetian paintings purchased by Mr. Berwind from the Ca’ Corner estate in Venice (the Berwinds were avid collectors of 18th century French and Venetian paintings). The iconic coffered ceiling is not of wood, but of molded plaster, grained and painted to imitate oak. Each coffer is decorated with the winged lion of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Pour custom-made crystal chandeliers hang in the four corners of the room. At the end of the room is a stunning green marble, agate and onyx fireplace that is framed by a ceiling-high pediment supported by carved Ionic columns. Could you see yourself entertaining in this dining room?
Richard Gardner Homestead // pre-1688
In 1690, Richard Gardner Jr. (1653-1728) received the land and dwelling house from his late father Richard Gardner (1622-1688) who was born in England and settled in Nantucket by way of Salem upon his death. The primitive, First Period home was occupied by subsequent generations of the Gardner family, and altered and expanded to fit the growing needs and wealth of the family. By 1840, the house was owned by George C. Gardner, a whaling captain and descendant of Richard Gardner. The original home was located on what is now Lowell Place, just off Main Street, and the Gardner Homestead was converted to a carriage house for the more modern George Gardner Home. By 1927, Ms. Gladys Wood purchased the deteriorating and heavily altered structure, and moved it to its current location on Main Street. Ms. Wood hired architect Alfred Shurrocks, who summered on the island and was restoring the Jethro Coffin house nearby, to restore the former Gardner Homestead, but this one was all based on conjecture and historical precedent. The home looks much like a 17th century saltbox and has stood the test of time.
Crocker Tavern // c.1754
One of the largest pre-Revolution houses in Barnstable is this stunning Georgian manse, known as the Crocker Tavern. The c.1754 home was built along Main Street in Barnstable Village by Cornelius Crocker (1704-1784), who operated it as a tavern along the Old King’s Highway, the main stagecoach route through Cape Cod. Cornelius died in 1784, and he left the eastern half of his house and land to his grandsons Robert, Uriah, and Joseph Crocker; the western half of land and house went to his daughter Lydia, widow of Captain Samuel Sturgis who died at 25, she never remarried. The house was “to be divided through by the middle of the great chimney“, a feature which was likely removed under separate ownership. Lydia eventually acquired the other half of the house, and continued operation of the tavern as her father did before her, though it was known as Aunt Lydia’s Tavern. The property was passed down through the family until 1925, when the property was left to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (later renamed Historic New England) as a historic house museum. The Georgian house and property were eventually de-accessioned by Historic New England and the tavern can be rented out on AirBnb!
Gregg House // 1869
Located in the western part of the East Village of Wilton, New Hampshire, this stunning Italianate manse stands out as one of the most architecturally grand in the area. The home was built for David Gregg (1816-1880), a merchant who was engaged in lumber dealing in Michigan as an investment. His company was based out of Nashua and manufactured wooden blinds, doors, window sashes and was co-owned by David and his son, David Jr. David was likely retiring from business by the late 1860s and built this large home on a hill outside the village. At about this time, he became involved with local politics, which he was involved with until his death in 1880. The Italianate style home features round arched windows, brackets, a belvedere at the roof, and what appears to be an attached, converted carriage house. The home was eventually turned into a bed and breakfast, but it has since been converted back to a private home.
Scott Farm – Cow Barn // 1862
Historic barns really are the most charming buildings, and luckily, Vermont is home to soooo many great examples. The Cow Barn at Scott Farm in Dummerston, VT was built in 1862 and constructed into the slope of the land. The barn has a brick and stone foundation, barn board siding, and a roof sheathed with small dark slate. It is built into the slope of the land and has a single-story shed roof addition (c.1915) off the west facade to give the building a saltbox form, and a single story gable roof milk house addition off the east facade. The rear facade has a more rustic appearance and has a large entrance to the space inside which is occupied by The Stone Trust, with the mission to preserve and advance the art and craft of dry stone walling. The organization holds classes and trainings where people can learn how to build a traditional or modern stone wall and more! The barn (and the rest of the buildings on the Scott Farm property) is owned by the Landmark Trust USA.
New England Telephone Building, Providence // 1917
This towering Georgian Revival building in Providence is definitely one of my favorites downtown. The 8-story building was constructed in 1917 for the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, who outgrew their other facility just blocks away. The design is credited to the firm of Clarke & Howe, local architects. The two-story arcaded marble base is surmounted by a six-story brick tower, which is an architectural landmark in Downtown Providence. The building appears to retain its original windows and looks much as it did when built over 100 years ago. At the rear, a larger 1970s wing was added and shares little in terms of architectural detailing with the original structure.
Captain John Gott House // 1806
One of the best-preserved homes I have seen in Rockport is the John Gott House, an 1806 Federal style property just blocks from Rockport Harbor. The home could be from the 1700s, as the central chimney normally is a feature of earlier homes, but the marker on the house states the 1806 date, so we will go with that! John Gott is a popular name in Rockport, but this home appears to have been built for Captain John Gott (1780-1845), a sea captain who was the son of (you guessed it) John Gott, who lived just down the street. This property retains its historic barn and an absolutely charming out-building which I cannot figure out what it was used for.
Bacon-Sampson House // 1814
Rufus Bacon, a lawyer, moved to Assonet in 1814 and built a modest Federal Cape house on the town’s Main Street. Rufus worked in town at a law office for over a decade until he moved to New York, selling his property in 1828 to Earl Sampson, who ran a profitable corner store just down the street. Sampson completely modernized the home, adding the Greek Revival doorway, chimneys, and south-facing veranda. After Sampson died, the home was either purchased or gifted to the Assonet Congregational Church, and occupied as a parsonage. The property has since been deaccessioned by the church and is a private home.