Peckham Houses // c.1855

On a little stretch of Kay Street in Newport, you can find four strikingly similar Italianate style houses, all neighbors. Upon further research, it turns out they were designed by the same man, Job Peckham. Job Almy Peckham (1807-1885) was a descendant of one of nearby Middletown’s “founding” families. He ran a lumberyard and began working as a housewright, building homes. He was a believer of the philosophy “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, so he built many of his houses in a sort of cookie-cutter way, but each showcasing slight design changes. One of the most impressive features of these homes is the massive overhanging eaves with scrolled brackets. Peckham’s own house (bottom right) is included in the bunch. What do you think of these homes?

Case-Crowley House // 1840

Built in 1840 for Titus Case, this old house looks very different than it would have been when first constructed. The house was originally Greek Revival in style, probably with a gabled roof, common of the region and style. Case died in 1845, and the home was later purchased by Jeremiah Crowley who ran the Canton Creamery nearby. After the Civil War, he “modernized” the house in the then fashionable Italianate style, with a low-sloped roof with overhanging eaves, large brackets, a cupola, and a wrap-around porch.

Lancaster Industrial School for Girls – Rogers Cottage // 1855

The Lancaster Industrial School for Girls in Lancaster, Massachusetts, was was established in 1854 as one of the most progressive correctional institutions of its day, and the first in the U.S. for girls. Throughout the 19th century, state governments struggled with how to best deal with youthful law-breakers and vagrants. Some states began to provide correctional facilities, often known as “Industrial Schools,” while other states continued to incarcerate “delinquents” in prisons alongside adults who often were charged with much more heinous crimes. Institutions like the Lancaster Industrial School led the way in social reform, copying a cottage system created in France that emphasized a wholesome, family-like atmosphere and the opportunity to rise above the “low life” slums from which Victorians assumed delinquent children came from. All girls who were under 17 years old at the time of commitment, were housed in one of eight “cottages” where they would each have their own rooms and chores. The Rogers Cottage seen here was one of a handful of the earliest cottages, all identical in design. Matrons and teachers taught the girls the domestic arts, including how to cook and sew. The Industrial School closed in the 1970s and has been used in an ever-diminishing role by the State of Massachusetts ever since. There have been talks about this complex being sold for redevelopment with some old buildings saved, but I am not holding my breath.

Joseph Low Mansion // 1857

The neighbor to the iconic Thomas Hill Standpipe (last post), this pre-Civil War Italianate mansion predates the water tower and has long been one of the most grand homes in Bangor, Maine. The house was constructed in 1857 for Joseph W. Low, a businessman and trustee of the Bangor Savings Bank. The house he had built is one of eastern Maine’s outstanding Italianate residences, designed by Boston architect Harvey Graves, who was born in Maine. Soon after the Civil War, Graves moved west to California, likely seeking additional wealth from the spurned from the success of the Gold Rush. He appears to have lived out the remainder of his life out west, giving his family in Maine this home. The house exhibits flushboard siding with scored wood to resemble ashlar masonry, gorgeous window hoods and mouldings, and a large belvedere at the roof, which would have provided sweeping views of the Maine frontier when built, atop one of the highest hills in Bangor.

Stephen King House // 1854

Stephen King, the world-renowned author of some of the most popular horror novels, was born in Maine, and has used the state as the setting for many of his stories. From blood-soaked Carrie, to the haunted hallways in The Shining, to the evil clown Pennywise in “It”, Stephen King has long been one of the leaders in horror, terrifying millions with his books and film adaptations. Instead of living in a larger metropolitan area, he has long resided in Bangor, Maine, in one of the most visually striking homes in the state. The home was built in 1854 for William Arnold, who operated prosperous livery stables in town. The home is a rare example of an Italianate Villa in the state. While Stephen King now spends most of his time at his home in Florida, his Bangor mansion with its iconic wrought-iron gate ornamented with spiders and webs, bat-winged creatures, and a three-headed reptile are much more fitting of the horror author’s essence.

Bertram Mansion – Salem Public Library // 1855

One of the most substantial homes in Salem, Massachusetts has to be the Bertram Mansion, built in 1855 for Captain John Bertram (1796-1882). The high-style Italianate dwelling was erected on a parcel formed from four house lots upon which several buildings
had stood (they were all either moved or demolished). Captain Bertram, who became Salem’s most wealthy citizens, was born
into a family of moderate means on the Isle of Jersey off the coast of France. He and his family came to the United States in 1807, but their language barrier and the economic fallout in Salem from the embargo of goods from the War of 1812, left the family impoverished. At the age of 16, he had begun work as a sailor aboard merchant vessels and by 28, he had become a shipmaster. His desire to be successful led him to invest his earnings on very risky investments and deals, almost all were successful. Due to this, he was able to retire from the sea in 1832, at the age of 36. Growing up in poverty, Bertram in his adulthood used his wealth to help the less fortunate. An early gift of $25,000 and a brick mansion in Salem led to the creation of the Salem Hospital in 1873. After his death, in keeping with his tradition of philanthropy, his heirs donated the family home to the City of Salem for use as a public library in 1887. The brick mansion with brownstone trim and quoins has been used as a library ever since, and is thus, one of the nicest libraries in the state!

James Braden House // 1867

One of the most stunning homes in Salem (and obviously has the best Halloween decorations every year) is the James Braden House on Federal Street. This Italianate style home was built in 1867 for James Braden, a tanner who made his fortune in manufacturing leather which coincided with Salem’s shifting from maritime trade hub to industrial center. The home he built packs a lot of architectural detail and intrigue into a typical box form. The faux ashlar wood facade and corner quoins make the house appear like stone giving it weight and a strong presence on the street, while the recessed entry with a large, highly-ornamented door hood on scroll bracket give the home the traditional Victorian flair. James Braden died in 1895, and his mansion was willed to his widow Margaret, who rented the home until her death in 1907.

Haskell House // c.1854

One of the more high-style houses in rural Rochester, Massachusetts, is the Weld-Haskell House. The house was built around 1854 in the Italianate style for a recently widowed Susan Haskell. Susan was the daughter of Jesse Haskell, who was a state representative and served in the War of 1812, and a descendant of one of the town’s earliest colonial settlers. The home remained in the Haskell family until the second half of the 20th century.

Blaisdell House // 1868

This Italianate style house was built in 1868 for Augustus and Laura Blaisdell, natives of New Hampshire who moved here to Chester, Vermont, in 1860. The Blaisdell’s operated a company that manufactured fireproof roofing and paint at their home base in New Hampshire, and built this building on a prominent site in the village to promote sales, which were conducted from a storefront on its ground floor. The location of the Blaisdell House alongside the tracks of the local railroad depot, was strategic in order to provide ease in the transportation of goods to the village of Chester Depot from the New Hampshire-based headquarters of A.H. Blaisdell & Co.The home and store is significant in the local economy and is itself, a significant example of the Italianate style in town.

Tabor Hall // c.1880

This beautiful Italianate building was constructed around 1880 for the newly established Tabor Academy, which was founded in Marion, Massachusetts by Ms. Elizabeth Taber in 1876. After Ms. Taber funded the constructed of a town library and museum and oversaw construction of the new academic building for her school, she endowed money for Tabor Hall, which was to house the school’s Principal, some boarding students, and most importantly, herself. The structure was located on Spring Street, just north of the library, until 1937, when the “Tabor Swap” was finalized. The swap was a deal between the academy and the Town of Marion, who exchanged properties in 1937. The town received the library building, the academic building (soon after converted to Town Hall) and land where this building once sat. The town erected Sippican Elementary, a public school on the land, and Tabor Academy moved this building a block over.