Oliver Johnson House // 1905

Prairie style architecture is not nearly as common in New England as it is in the Mid-western United States. The style was almost always seen in early 20th century residential designs and is characterized by horizontality, low slope roofs, overhanging eaves, and open interior floor plans. This New England vernacular version of the Prairie style employs some Arts and Crafts influence with Tuscan columned porch and wood frame construction, rather than the more bulky and bold use of brick and stone. This residence sits on a busy state route in the sleepy town of Franklin, Connecticut. This house appears to have been built for Oliver Johnson who was about seventy by the time the house was built. Do you know of any other Prairie Style houses in New England?

Folger House // 1807

There is so much to love about this house! The lot here was purchased by Paul Macy and Gideon Folger in 1807, and they had this house built on the site that year. Paul Macy and, Gideon Folger were two major shareholders in the ill fated whaling schooner “Essex”. In 1820, while at sea in the southern Pacific Ocean under the command of Captain George Pollard Jr., the ship was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale. Thousands of miles from the coast of South America with little food and water, the 20-man crew was forced to make for land in the ship’s surviving whaleboats. The men suffered severe dehydration, starvation, and exposure on the open ocean, and the survivors eventually resorted to eating the bodies of the crewmen who had died. When that proved insufficient, members of the crew drew lots to determine whom they would sacrifice so that the others could live. Seven crew members were cannibalized before the last of the eight survivors were rescued, more than three months after the sinking of the Essex. This ordeal was inspired Herman Melville to write his famous 1851 novel Moby-Dick. The Folger House was owned for some time by Walter Folger, a lawyer who served in the state senate.

Hodge-Weeks House // c.1790

One of the oldest extant houses in Dorset, Vermont, this gorgeous Federal Cape house adds so much charm to the village. The house is possibly the homestead of James Abel Hodge (1756-1826) who settled in Dorset from Connecticut after serving in the Revolutionary War. Hodge settled in the town when it was but wilderness, opening up a store in the village and helping the infant township grow into a thriving marble manufactory. This house was later owned by stonecutter I. W. Dunton and after, by “Grandma” Annette Weeks (1841-1925). Like many Cape houses, it probably evolved, adding wings to the right and left as the family inside grew.

Gilbert Sykes House // c.1850

This stunning Greek Revival house in Dorset Village was built around 1850 and was long the home of Gilbert Mortier Sykes (1834-1920). Gilbert Sykes operated a general store in Dorset and held various public offices in town and later in the Vermont House of Representatives and Senate. The house has fully embellished entrance with paneled pilasters carrying an entablature and an amazing triangular window with diamond panes in the gable.

The River House // c.1820

Sitting on the banks of Utley Brook, which meanders through the Clarksville village in Landgrove, Vermont, you will find this gorgeous Cape home in a perfect yellow color (seemingly to blend in with the turning leaves every Fall). The home dates to the early 19th century, possibly earlier, and was owned by the Harlow Family, who operated a saw mill across the street. The house was listed for sale in 2019 and is absolutely stunning inside and out!

Benjamin H. Davidson House // 1897

Benjamin H. Davidson, a wool merchant had this stunning property built in Waban for his family in 1897. Benjamin and his architect envisioned a large, Shingle style mansion, set back off the street. The house obviously exhibits shingle cladding along all surfaces including stone piers coming up from the ground at the porch, giving the house an organic feeling. The design also includes a large stairhall Palladian window, which is obscured from the street by a balustrade.

Cross-Kimball House // 1804

In 1803, sea-captain John J. Cross (1768-1804) began building a large Federal style house on land he purchased from his success on the open sea, largely working for the Hoopers. Sadly, before the home was finished, Captain Cross and all his men aboard his ship, the “Traveller” died at sea. The home, which was to be finished by the time of his return was left abandoned when news got back to the shore of the ship’s loss. His wife and three children were devastated and likely sold the property not long after. The property was owned later by Edmund Kimball, a sea-merchant who married into the Hooper Family. Kimball did well for himself and eventually owned multiple vessels. After his first wife, Mary Hooper Kimball died bearing him six children, Edmund remarried to Lydia Mugford Russell. The family home across from the town’s common has been very well preserved since and is an excellent example of a vernacular three-story Federal home on the North Shore.

Atherton Farmstead // c.1840

This beautiful farmhouse in Cavendish, Vermont is located along a winding dirt road and has ties to one of the town’s original family’s. A home was built here in 1785 and changed hands numerously over the first few decades of its existence. The farmhouse that was built also served as a tavern for travellers along the newly laid out Wethersfield Turnpike. It is possible that the cheap land and rural character of the new town was appealing to some, but reality away from true commerce may have made many sell the farm after a few years, which could explain why the property was bought and sold so often early on. The property was purchased by Jonathan Atherton, a Revolutionary War veteran, farmer, surveyor and lawyer, who acquired large landholdings in Cavendish. In 1821, Jonathan Atherton was sued in court by his neighbor, Jedediah Tuttle for beating Tuttle’s wife Lydia. In order to finance the bonds, Atherton mortgaged all his real estate in Cavendish to his brother Joseph, and Elihu Ives, Jonathan Atherton Jr.’s father-in-law. Atherton St. lost the case and had to pay a fine. The property was eventually inherited by Stedman Atherton, the youngest son of Jonathan, who seems to have demolished the old homestead and constructed the present home on the site. The original dwelling was also the childhood home of Henry B. Atherton, a staunch abolitionist and soldier in the American Civil War, who later served as a lawyer and state legislator for New Hampshire, and his sister Eliza (Atherton) Aiken, a Civil War nurse who has been referred to as America’s own “Florence Nightingale”. The old Atherton farmstead was recently renovated.

Glimmerstone // 1845

What a treat it was to stumble upon one of the most beautiful homes in Vermont, and all the best houses have names! Glimmerstone is located in the small town of Cavendish, and is possibly the finest Snecked Ashlar constructed home in the state. The house was built in 1845 for Henry Fullerton, manager of the Black River Manufacturing and Canal Company mill in Cavendish. The stone used to build the house was quarried less than a mile away, and hauled to the site. The construction style consists of stone facing on either side of rubble fill, with slabs and snecks sometimes laid across the fill to provide strength, a method brought to the region by Scottish immigrant masons. The house’s design is by a local carpenter, Lucius Paige, and is based on designs published by Andrew Jackson Downing, who depicted many Gothic style designs in pattern books which were built all over the country. The house has had a number of owners after Mr. Fullerton died. During the prohibition era, Art Hadley, who would later become extremely wealthy as the inventor of the expansion bracelet, used the home as part of a rum running operation. Glimmerstone was purchased in 2010 by the current owners, who underwent a massive restoration of the home, converting it into a bed and breakfast, allowing the public to experience the property as well.

The Tower Cottage // 1880

Tower Cottage was built in 1880 and is one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in the town of Ridgefield, CT. The home was designed and built by Charles Betts Northrup, a carpenter and builder who grew up in town. The home was eventually occupied as a summer retreat for Maude Bouvier Davis, who would spend some summers at the house away from the big city. In Ridgefield, Maude was sometimes visited by her niece, Jackie Bouvier, later known as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, First Lady to President John F. Kennedy. Maude owned the property until 1972 and the home has been lovingly preserved since.