Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant (1833-1890) was born in a poor Maine farming family and began working as a shoemaker to make ends meet. He devised a crude machine used in shoe manufacturing and moved to Boston in 1856 seeking backing for further development, thus began his career as an inventor. In his travels around shoe factories, Sturtevant was troubled by the airborne wood dust created by the machines wanted to invent a way to eliminate the dust and its resulting health effects. In 1867, he patented a rotary exhaust fan and began manufacturing the fan and selling it to industrial buyers across the country. He built a factory in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood that manufactured his invented air blowers, fans, and pneumatic conveyors. The factory in the 1870s was the largest fan manufacturing plant in the world. From his success, Ben Franklin Sturtevant built a house in the fashionable Sumner Hill neighborhood of Boston. The home was likely built in the Second Empire or Stick style, both popular at the time. When Benjamin died in the home, the home was willed to his widow until her death in 1903. In that time, the home was likely updated in the Queen Anne style, with Colonial embellishments. The couple’s youngest daughter, Lilla, occupied the home with her husband Eugene, who was previously hired to the B. F. Sturtevant Company by her late father. Eugene Foss, who married Lilla, was a member of the United States House of Representatives, and served as a three-term governor of Massachusetts. No biggie.
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.
Originally constructed in 1787 on Newfane Hill, the main block of this historic inn was moved in 1825 for owner Anthony Jones, to its present site overlooking the Common in Newfane, Vermont. The Federal style building was oriented towards the main street, with its length extending along the town common. The inn was a busy stop for lawyers and judges who worked at the courthouse across the street. Porches were added likely in the early 20th century. After a period of neglect, the inn was restored by decorator Christoph Stumpe Castou, and later sold. The inn was run for 42 years in the second half of the 20th century by Eric and Gundela Weindl, a couple who were both from Germany, yet met at Stratton Mountain in Vermont in 1963, marrying in 1968. They operated the inn until 2011.
In 1849, Jacob Weld Seaver (1820-1914) married Sarah Abby Weld and built this Greek Revival home, perched on a hill near the burgeoning Forest Hills Cemetery. The property originally extended all of the area of Orchardhill Road and the dead end streets that extend off of it, and included a stable, caretakers cottage, and at least two rental properties (this house may have been one of them). Jacob Seaver grew up in the neighborhood and attended Harvard, graduating in 1838. He became involved with the drygoods business and must have met his future wife from her father George F. Weld, who was a commission merchant in Boston. He went on to become the director of the Second National Bank of Boston, commuting into the city from the Forest Hills station. In the early 20th century, Seaver sold this property to a Thomas Minton, who subdivided some of the lot and built houses on the estate.
One of my absolute favorite homes in Rockport (there are many) is this mansion, which sits away from busy Bearskin Neck and the hustle-and-bustle of the village. The John Dearborn Sanborn Mansion was built around 1865 and is an elegant example of the Second Empire style of architecture in Rockport. John Sanborn was born in Hampton, NH, and eventually moved to present-day Rockport, marrying Laura Tarr of a prominent local family. Sanborn appears to have been a merchant and ship-owner. It appears that Sanborn was involved with the California Gold Rush, and is thought to have been one of the first men to send gold via the Pony Express, a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, and mail using relays of horse-mounted riders that operated from 1860 to 1861. It is possible that his investments with gold allowed Sanborn to build this stunning estate in Rockport, set behind an iron gate and perched upon a hill. I like to think that his wife Laura would sit in the tower and look towards the sea from the windows.
Captain Job Lawton (1795-1860) was a sea captain and wharfmaster in Assonet Village, in Freetown, Mass. I could not locate much on him other than a note about his skill on the sea, highlighted in a history of the town of Freetown. “Captain Job Lawton, on one of his many voyages across the ocean, lost his rudder at sea. With commendable ingenuity, he made a temporary one from old ropes, hung and managed it by chains passed over the stern and either side of the ship, and by his cool determination and never tiring perseverance brought his sloop safely into port. For this remarkable feat, he received high public commendation, and a substantial recognition from the insurance companies interested in his vessel and her cargo. Several models of this rudder are now in existence, one being on exhibition at the National Museum in Washington. He married Polly, daughter of Captain Charles Strange.” Lawton, in the later years of his short life, appears to have built this home, which elegantly blends both Gothic and Greek Revival styles.
When Robert Strobridge turned of age, he inherited his father’s estate, which was split between him and his sister. When he was in his 20s, Robert appears to have built this stunning Federal style home, largely from his inheritance, probably around the time of his marriage in 1812 to Betsey Porter. Strobridge ran a popular store in town and he became a popular figure there, being elected four times to the state legislature. His business partner was the first postmaster of Assonet, and when he resigned, Mr. Strobridge succeeded him, and continued in the position until his death in 1822 at just 37 years old.
After the Revolutionary War, Assonet became a prominent village for shipbuilders and sea captains, who loved the inland location but easy access to the sea via the Taunton River. This transitional Georgian-Federal style home was built in 1789 for Jonathan Bowen, a ship master, who likely also had a shipyard in the village. In the 19th century, the property was purchased by Augustus Barrows, another mariner. The home is extremely well-preserved and sits on a hill just outside the main village. The narrow door surround features a transom and is flanked by pilasters which support a triangular pediment with dentil trim. The traditional Georgian central chimney is a nice touch as well!
At the end of the War of 1812, Captain John Nichols settled in Assonet and appears to have had this Federal style house built soon after. The house remained in the family for at least two successive generations, seeing little exterior modifications during that time. After John’s death in 1848, the property was inherited by his second-born son, Thomas. Dr. Thomas Nichols left town as a young man and studied medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and returned to Freetown to begin the practice of medicine in 1847, likely to assist his ailing father. In Freetown, Thomas was involved with the local church, politics, medicine, and worked for a local gun manufacturer. After Dr. Nichols died with paralysis, his son, Gilbert inherited the family home. The family home is a great example of the Federal style with a symmetrical facade, low hip roof, twin interior chimneys, and central doorway with sidelights and blind, elliptical fan above. The side porch was likely added in the early 20th century.
In 1895, Winfield S. Carr (1849-1911) purchased land on Windsor Road for a residence from William S. Strong, a horticulturist and developer of Waban Village. The lot is located at the peak of Moffat Hill, and provided sweeping views of undeveloped farm and marshland and possibly Boston in the distance. As a young man, Carr moved to Fall River from Maine, and was employed in the dry goods business. He eventually moved to Boston and opened up a toy shop, which clearly became a large success. The firm sold fireworks and children’s toys from the downtown location. The Queen Anne style home was occupied by Carr and his wife (they don’t appear to have had children) for less than a decade, when the couple downsized and moved to an apartment on Comm. Ave. in Allston.