Denmark Odd Fellows Hall – Denmark Arts Center // 1884

This two-and-a-half-story building sits on Main Street in the small town of Denmark, Maine, and has contributed to the town’s cultural life since it was built in 1884. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal group that promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity. It was founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, evolving from the Order of Odd Fellows founded in England during the 1700s. New buildings sprouted up all over the United States in the 19th century, in cities as large as New York City and towns as small as Denmark. This IOOF Hall is Italianate in style, with brackets at the cornice and hoods and round arched windows in the gable end; it also shows some Greek Revival details with corner pilasters and the pediment. When Raymond Hale, the last member of the IOOF Lodge passed away, the town purchased the old Odd Fellows Hall. The city could not maintain the property and had no good use for it. Residents in town voted in 1991 to sell the building rather than demolish it. Local residents bid on and won the building with the aim to convert it to a local arts center. In August 1994 the owners signed over the deed of the Odd Fellows Hall to the Denmark Arts Center, a non profit organization. From that time until present, the old building, now the Denmark Arts Center, has again served as a community focal point, providing cultural activities for the people of Denmark and surrounding towns.

Cunningham Block // 1896

The Cunningham Block in Millbury was constructed by, and named for Winthrop P. Cunningham (1820-1895), and his son and business partner, Russell Clark Cunningham (1845-1907). Winthrop Cunningham had come to Millbury in about 1837 and worked for Waters, Flagg & Harrington prominent gun manufacturers in town. His foundry work there brought him into a partnership with Matthias Felton in the Millbury Foundry Company. The Cunningham Block is sited on a prominent corner lot and built into the slope of the hill which drops down toward the river. I am especially fond of the curved corner facade and repetition of the paired round-arched windows on the second floor.

Valley House // 1868

This massive Second Empire structure on Main Street in Collinsville, CT, was built in 1868 by the Collins Company, the major industry in town as housing and stores. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, large industrial employers often provided affordable housing for workers in close proximity to factories to incentivize the long days and difficult working conditions. The Valley House was known as a hotel, but was essentially an apartment hotel, where workers and visitors could reside in a room without a set lease or contract. At the ground floor, retail shops would provide goods and services to residents of the building and the greater village. Today, the rooms have been converted to condominiums.

Adams-Pickering Block // 1871

Main Street USA! I just love historic Main Streets and Downtowns in New England, so many are full of old buildings and were designed for pedestrians, not cars (though some towns and villages have definitely caved to the automobile). Erected in 1871, the Adams-Pickering Block building was one of several grand, mansard roofed commercial structures which local architect George W. Orff designed for Bangor’s business district in the 1870’s. With its first-story cast iron front and its granite facade, from stone quarried nearby in Hallowell, Maine, the Adams-Pickering Block and its similar contemporaries were the most sophisticated Victorian commercial buildings in Eastern Maine. The Bangor Fire of 1911 and subsequent urban change, especially urban renewal in 1968, destroyed most of the city’s nineteenth century business district. The Adams-Pickering Block is a rare survivor and shows us how old buildings at a human scale can create vibrant, people-centric places.

Murray Store // c.1825

Arguably the cutest little store in Newmarket is the Murray Store, right on the town’s vibrant Main Street. The brick building is one of the earliest such structures on the street and is a great example of a narrow Federal style building with a lunette in the gable end. The structure was built before 1830 and was occupied by a Ms. Charlotte Murray as a millinery (women’s hat store). Main Street USA! What is your favorite Main Street in New England?

Mathes Store // c.1835

Next door to the Mathes Block (previously featured) this stone commercial building is one of many such buildings that make Newmarket so beautiful and unique. Stone was harvested from the shores of the Lamprey River nearby and the beautiful coloring made them perfect for buildings in town. This building was constructed in the 1830s for Benjamin Mathes, a developer and businessman in town. The structure was occupied by the town post office in the early years, and now houses a restaurant.

Chester Tin Shop // c.1830

Located on the edge of the Chester Town Green, you can find this beautiful Federal style commercial building. The use of blind arches at the facade is a fairly common feature found in brick Federal style buildings in Vermont. The structure was built around 1830 and has served a variety of uses through its existence, the most notable being the tin shop owned by various members of the Miller and Hadley families that sold stoves and hardware during the latter half of the 19th century. The tin business in New England grew rapidly after 1820. Tin shop owners imported tinplated sheet iron from Great Britain, shaped it into a variety of forms, and distributed their finished goods through peddlers and country stores. They also sold tinware in their shops. Colanders, dippers, dish kettles, funnels, measures, and pans were in greatest demand. Other common items included lanterns, foot stoves, teapots, coffeepots, “tin kitchens”, skimmers, and sconces. After its use as a tin shop, the building was occupied as a telephone exchange and electric utility company office. It presently is home to an antique store.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church // 1871

Next door to the Inn Victoria, the beautiful St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Chester, VT, stands out as one of the only Gothic Revival buildings in the town. A small group of residents gathered in the 1860s to found a Episcopal church in the town, which already had a dominant Congregational church. They furnished money which was matched by the diocese, and Merrick Wentworth was named senior warden. Members of his family and that of Frederick Fullerton, his son-in-law, formed a large part of the congregation. Frederick and Philette Wentworth Fullerton donated a building site across the street from their home (featured previously), and Mr. Wentworth’s nephew, Boston architect, William P. Wentworth, contributed plans for a Gothic-style frame church, which includes a tall corner belltower.

Bristol YMCA Building // 1899

In 1899, the Bristol Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) selected architect Wallis E. Howe to design this five-bay, gable-roof, Tudor Revival building as its headquarters. Architect Howe created a rich effect with red brick and white mortar in combination with Tudor half-timbers in green, and buff-colored stucco. The building is a rare example of the Tudor style in Bristol, but is one of the most successful in the state (in my opinion), due to its strong presence and massing working with the use of materials and colors. The large central archway led upstairs to a library and gymnasium for use by YMCA members, while the ground floor featured four small businesses. In 1967, a new entrance and lobby, was constructed, linking the original YMCA to the since abandoned Bristol Customs House and Post Office.

Beverly Odd Fellows Hall // 1875

Located on Cabot Street (the main commercial street) in Beverly, Massachusetts, the Odd Fellows Hall showcases the Victorian Gothic architectural style many main streets saw pop up in the mid-late 19th century. The Odd Fellows Hall in Beverly was completed in 1875 by plans from local architect Joshua Ober, as a multi-use building with a meeting/ritual hall on the upper floor with commercial uses at the ground floor. The building is constructed of brick with granite and freestone detailing, most notably the freestone tablets on the upper floor, with each side depicting a different ritual symbol. The Cabot Street tablet shows the “All Seeing Eye” with the date of construction and the Broadway facade has the “Heart in Hand” with links below, a bow and arrow and quiver are located on the upper corners. Growing up, I always thought the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was one of those secret societies that would be featured in a movie like National Treasure, but it actually, “promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity, by implied inspiration of Judeo-Christian ethics”. We can still imagine though.