Robert Palmer Jr. (1856-1914) was born in Groton, Connecticut as the son of Robert Sr., a prominent businessman and Deacon in Noank’s seaside village (his house was featured previously). Robert Sr. established the Palmer shipyard, which became the largest business enterprise in Noank. Jr. would later join his father’s business and did well for himself financially, eventually marrying and building this Neo-Classical mansion on Church Street in town. The company, under Sr. and Jr.’s leadership, built many seafaring vessels that were internationally renowned until the company closed in 1914 after the death of Robert Jr. This house is unique in town for the monumental two-story portico, Palladian windows at the first floor, and a projecting entry vestibule.
House History Blog
Moses Latham House // c.1845
Noank is a charming seaside village within the town of Groton that is centered on a peninsula at the mouth of the Mystic River where it spills out into the Long Island Sound. Historically, the area was known as Nauyang (meaning “point of land”) and was a summer camping ground of the Pequot people, but they were driven out in 1655 following the Pequot War. White settlement was slow here until the mid-19th century, when the shipbuilding and fishing economy took off here. As a result, houses, stores, churches and industries were built, and an entire village was formed. Most extant homes here were constructed starting in the 1840s as the village (and nearby Mystic) saw economic growth from the maritime trades. This house, the Moses Latham House, was constructed for Mr. Latham in about 1845. The house is Greek Revival in style with flush-board siding, a fan light in the gable which reads as a pediment, and a simple portico supported by fluted Doric columns.
Woods-Gerry House // 1860
There are always those houses that just stop you in your tracks… For my last post (for the time being) on Providence, I wanted to share this significant property, known as the Woods-Gerry House, perched atop College Hill. Owner Marshall Woods, who married into the Brown family and was active in the affairs of Brown University. Locally he was also involved on the building committee for St. Stephen’s Church where he was a factor in selecting renowned architect Richard Upjohn to design the church. He must have liked Upjohn so much (or got a good deal) that he hired Richard Upjohn to design his new home on Prospect Street. The exterior of the three-story brick building stands out amongst the other Italianate mansions built in the same decade nearby, but is elevated design-wise with a bowed centerpiece on its east elevation with the handsome new front entrance renovated in 1931 by then-owner, Senator Peter Gerry, who was a great-grandson of Elbridge Gerry, the fifth Vice President of the United States (who had given his name to the term gerrymandering). Today, this significant building is owned by the Rhode Island School of Design and houses the Woods Gerry Gallery. The grounds are also very well designed.
Rose and Howard K. Hilton House // 1900
Tudor Revivals may just be my favorite style of house. The interesting roof forms and gables, the use of stone, brick or stucco, and the presence of garrisoning and half-timbering in designs are always so charming. This enchanting Tudor Revival home in Providence, Rhode Island, was built in 1900 by local architect Howard K. Hilton (1867-1909) as his personal residence with wife Rose. He first worked in the office of H. W. Colwell and continued his training under Ellis Jackson joining him in partnership (Jackson & Hilton) and under the firm name was identified with the design of several churches, schools, hospitals and various other buildings in his native city before he retired in his final years. This home is very unique for its site on a narrow urban lot with the door at the side, brick first floor with jettying at the second floor of wood construction with half-timbering. While writing this, I noticed that there are also projecting gargoyles which serve as water spouts to send water away from the structure during rainfall events. Tudors are really the best!
Benjamin Bliven House // 1849
Although Benjamin Bliven built this house, he never owned the property, but the name lives on! This house on Angell Street in Providence was originally constructed in 1849 in the Greek Revival style, popular at the time. Bliven, a musician, rented the property to tenants until the deed was transferred to Abby W. Watson, wife of Robert W. Watson (owner of the property next door and featured on this account previously). The first owner-occupants were Grace A. and Eugene H. Greene, who bought the property in 1898. The house was completely remodeled in the early decades of the 20th century with Regency/Colonial Revival detailing. Changes including the former roof with its gable-end facing the street boxed off, a new modillion cornice with parapet above; recessed attic story with balustrade; small wing to the east. The stucco siding and Federal entry is icing on the cake!
The Carlisle // 1880
In 1880, Jonas Gerlusha Smith (1817-1893) received a permit to erect a multi-family apartment building on Warren Avenue in present-day South End. The lot was close to his personal residence at 13 Warren Avenue and would have been easy to maintain and oversee tenants in the building. Mr. Smith hired 26-year-old architect Arthur H. Vinal, who furnished the plans for the handsome Queen Anne building. Vinal would later become the City Architect of Boston from 1884 to 1887, designing the High Service Building at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir just seven years after this building. By the late 1880s, the building was known as The Carlisle and it remained in the Smith family holdings under Walter Edward Clifton Smith until the 1930s. Walter attended the Cambridge Episcopal Theological School and later worked at various churches in the Boston area, serving as pastor in his later years. He lived on Follen Street in Cambridge while he held the Carlisle for additional income. Under new ownership in 1950, a retail storefront was added to the first floor which was occupied as a florist for some years. In 1979, after years of deferred maintenance, the property was purchased by Louis G. Manzo and his son David W. Manzo, who meticulously restored the building over time into the time-capsule that it is today!
Harrishof Houses // 1899 & 1900
I think I found it… My favorite street in Roxbury. Harrishof Street is a surviving streetscape that shows the beauty and potential of the Washington Park district of Roxbury, a surviving span of houses that dodged the wrecking ball during a period of Urban Renewal. This section of the street runs a stone’s throw from the ruins of the 1857 Horatio Harris Villa (featured previously) and was laid out by Horatio’s heirs who developed the former sprawling estate into multi-family housing, to cash in on suburbanization caused at the turn of the 20th century thanks to electric trolley lines in the neighborhood. The development is credited to Alexander Colin Chisholm (1868-1941), a Canadian-born architect and developer who grew up in Roxbury. He specialized in small residential enclaves of similar houses, including these houses on Harrishof Street, and later on Elm Hill Park. The two-family houses blend Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles in such a fun way that pushes the boundaries of academic architecture. The houses on the street are all slightly different and have had varied alterations over time, but this is a great candidate for a historic district!
Isaac Cary Estate // 1850
Isaac Harris Cary was born in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts on November 3, 1803, the seventh child of Jonathan and Mary Cary. In 1824, Isaac and his brother William formed a partnership and ran a fancy goods imports business, Isaac H. Cary & Co. on Washington Street in Boston. The brothers opened a store in New York and William moved there full-time. In 1831, Isaac married Phebe P. Pratt of Roxbury and they would have three children, two of them living to adulthood. After doing business in New York City and later in New Orleans, Isaac and his family settled in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, purchasing large land holdings and developing real estate. One of the finest lots he owned was developed for his country estate in 1850, an Italianate/Second Empire-style mansion perched atop an outcropping of Roxbury puddingstone. The large home with a rear three-story tower remained in the Cary family under his single daughter Susanna’s ownership until her death in 1913.
Giddings Homestead // c.1800
This old gambrel-roofed home sits on the beginning of Pautipaug Hill Road just outside the industrial village of Baltic, in Sprague, Connecticut. The house’s history is a little unclear, but it shows up on historic maps as being owned by W. Giddings. This appears to have been Walter Giddings (1788-1854). Walter may have built or inherited this property from his father Nathaniel, who died in 1809. Walter married Laura Lucretia Fillmore in 1811 and they had four children. Laura died in 1827 at just 37 years old and Walter remarried within a year to Lydia Lathrop Ladd. The property remained in the Giddings Family at least into the second half of the 19th century. It was later “Victorianized” with two-over-two windows, side and front porches, and a octagonal bay window. The home has been suffering from deferred maintenance for over 15 years (as far back as Google maps goes) and was listed for sale, so here’s to hoping this old beauty survives!
Dr. Ashbel Woodward House // 1835
The Ashbel Woodward House in Franklin, Connecticut was built in 1835, on land purchased by Doctor Ashbel Woodward, a prominent local physician, a year prior. Woodward, was a graduate of Bowdoin College, and he began practice in Franklin in 1829, serving as the town’s primary medical practitioner until his death in 1885. Though in his 60s at the outbreak of the Civil War, Woodward perhaps lent his greatest service to his country when he served as a battlefield surgeon and medical facilities inspector for the Union army. Besides his work in medicine, Woodward collected literature and numerous artifacts pertaining to Franklin’s past and eventually wrote a book detailing the town’s history. The Ashbel Woodward House is an excellent example of the Greek Revival architectural style in a five-bay form. Interestingly, there are semi-elliptical windows in the pediment gable ends on the side elevations, seemingly a nod to the Federal style that was waning out of style at the time. The property is in use today as a museum, documenting the life of Dr. Woodward and the people of Franklin, Connecticut.