Fosdick-Calder Double House // c.1745

This 2 ½-story, five-bay house was built for Benjamin Fosdick (1713-1801) and his family on Nantucket. After Benjamin died in 1801, the house was inherited by two of his surviving sons and they divided the house into two, creating a double-house for them and their own families. The symmetrical home was divided down the middle at the central chimney, and two front doors provided access to the two dwellings. The right section was once the home of Capt. William Calder, who escaped shipwreck at Cape Horn
on his first voyage at age 13. He later was captured by the British during the War of 1812, and escaped from Dartmoor Prison in England, making his way back to Nantucket. The double house has retained much of its original design since 1801 until the 1960s when the projecting entrance porch was added.

United Methodist Church of Nantucket // 1823

The United Methodist Church of Nantucket stands prominently at the top of Main Street on land was obtained from Peleg Mitchell in 1822. Construction on the site began in 1823 with the massive structure originally built with a pyramidal hip roof of enormous timbers brought to the island on whaling vessels. In 1840, the roofline was amended with the present gable roof, constructed over the original hip roof. The church is a highly significant example of Greek Revival architecture on the island and a more rare example of the temple-front form seen there. Deferred maintenance threatened the building to the point that in 1995, the building was listed as one of the most endangered buildings in Massachusetts. A restoration was undertaken funded by private contributions and the Massachusetts Preservation Project Fund, preserving the building for another 200 years.

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.

Dr. Grouard Cottage // c.1897

Dr. John Shackford Grouard (1867-1927) was a physician and surgeon born in Allegheny County, Penn. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1889. In 1891, he moved to Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he established his own general medicine and surgical practice. Years after establishing his practice, he built this beautiful Shingle/Queen Anne style cottage that is dominated by a massive gambrel roof and is located adjacent to the Nantucket Hotel. He served as the Town Physician and medical examiner, on the Nantucket School Board, and as president of both the Nantucket Civic League and Citizen’s Gas, Electric, and Power Company. Dr. Grouard also co-founded the Nantucket Cottage Hospital in 1911, but more on that later. Dr. John Shackford Grouard died in Boston in 1927, one week after surgery for a gallbladder inflammation.

Ellen Banning Ayer Country Estate – “Ledgebrook” // c.1905

Ellen Banning Ayer (1853-1918) of Minnesota married Frederick Ayer in 1884 and her life completely changed. Frederick Ayer was one of the richest men in New England and he was involved in the patent medicine business, but is better known for his work in the textile industry. After buying the Tremont and Suffolk mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, he bought up many textile operations in nearby Lawrence, combining them in 1899 into the American Woolen Company, of which he was the first president. The couple had at least three houses in Lowell, Boston, Pride’s Crossing and had three children (one of whom Beatrice, later married the famed general George Patton). As the Ayer Mansion on Commonwealth Avenue was being built, the family was looking for a country house near the city. One year, Frederick asked Ellen what she wanted for a gift and she said “roses”. Frederick purchased an old farmhouse on Nahanton Street in Newton and had greenhouses and a stable built immediately, followed by a Colonial Revival country house for his wife Ellen. The mansion held lavish parties for the Ayers, who loved to entertain and it was passed down to their eldest daughter Katharine Ayer Merrill. After her death in the 1980s, the large site was eyed for redevelopment. The architectural firm of Dimella Shaffer was hired, and they restored the Ayer House, and designed forty residential units on the site, all tucked into the woods gently peering out here and there.

Coney House // c.1870

Located on Church Street, the best architectural stretch of buildings in Ware, Massachusetts, you’ll find this absolutely charming mini-Mansard house. The property was built after the Civil War and historic maps show it was owned by a J. Coney. Upon further research, it seems J. Coney is John Coney (1809-1884), a farmer who retired in 1870 and was later referred to as a carpenter in census’. It is likely that Mr. Coney built this mansard cottage around his retirement and relocation to Ware’s industrial village, building it himself. The home features gabled dormers with round-headed sash projecting from the mansard roof. A two-story tower has paired, round-headed windows with oculus windows. Perfection.

Manley-Lefevre House // c.1820

The last (but certainly not least) building in Dorset, Vermont I’ll be featuring is the Manley-Lefevre House aka. Marble House! This stunning Federal period home was built around 1820 by Martin Manley (1783-1856) on land originally owned by his father George. The house is constructed of ashlar marble that was quarried with hand tools from the lower quarry located approximately 200′ behind the site of the house with dressed marble finished in town and brought back for installation at the lintels, sills, and door surround. In 1907, Edwin Lefevre, Sr. (1871-1943) traveled by train from Bronxville, New York to Dorset at the suggestion of the artist Lorenzo Hatch, with the intention of locating a summer residence for his family. They purchased this home, which became known as “The Old Stone House” and hired Eugene J. Lang, a New York architect, to remodel the house, design a kitchen wing and remodel the barn into a garage (1909). While in Italy, Lefevre fell in love with the formal gardens there, and wanted something like this for his country estate. Upon his return, he retained garden designer Charles Downing Lay to design the gardens that surround the house. The country estate is now home to The Marble House Project, a multi-disciplinary artist residency program.

Musser House // 1906

The former Dorset Methodist Church sat on this property from about 1840 to 1900 until they merged with the United Church of Dorset. A Philadelphia physician, Dr. John Herr Musser (1856-1912), built this vacation home in 1906, and passed away just six years later. His widow Agnes Harper Musser (1856-1941) and their children continued to vacation here until after WWII. The home is a rare example of the Shingle style in Dorset and was painted the bright white to fit in with the more traditional New England village vibe, but it would be better-suited with a period- and style-appropriate paint scheme. The home is now offered for short-term/vacation rentals.

Houghton House – Dorset Historical Society // c.1830

One of my favorite houses in Dorset I saw was this beautiful cottage, which is now home to the Dorset Historical Society. The home was originally built around 1830, but not in Dorset… It was built in Hebron, New York, two towns away. The house was moved to Dorset in 1928 by Charles Wade, a resident for Agnes Houghton. Wade was born in town and worked his whole life to maintain the village’s charm even through economically difficult times. He salvaged historic buildings all over the region and brought them to Dorset, helping to revitalize the town. New York City artist Elsa Bley used the house as her residence, studio, and art school from about 1950 until 1990, when she bequeathed the building to the Dorset Historical Society, which has been located here since 1991.

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.