W. W. Dutcher House // c.1870

The Dutcher Temple Company was incorporated in 1867 and founded by Warren W. Dutcher in Hopedale, MA. Dutcher was an extremely ingenious inventor, taking out 20 patents, mainly on temples and machines by which to manufacture them. Temples are adjustable stretchers used on a loom to maintain the width and improve the edges of the woven fabric. The company merged with Draper later on, but after Dutcher built this stunning Second Empire home perched atop a hill. What is your favorite part of this house? The roof and dormers? The porch? The paint scheme?

Paine’s Furniture Factory // 1871

Founded in 1835, Paine’s Furniture Company was at one time the largest furniture manufacturer and dealer in New England and had a nationwide business. The company was founded by Leonard Baker Shearer, who was joined in business in 1845 by John S. Paine, his son-in-law. Upon the death of Shearer in 1864, the name of the firm was changed to Paine’s Furniture Company. The company occupied a couple wooden and metal buildings on this site in the Bulfinch Triangle until a fire destroyed the complex. The growing firm took this opportunity to hire one of the most successful architect Gridley J. F. Bryant who worked with a colleague, Louis P. Rogers, to design the fire-proof building. The Second Empire style building with mansard roof was split into three sections with the rear two rented out to other companies, while Paine’s occupied the south-facing (main) facade. When Paine’s moved to their new building in the Back Bay, they sold this building and later alterations severely diminished the original design of the building. The current hodgepodge of alterations creates a mess of what was once an undeniable architectural landmark.

Jones & Wetherbee Houses // 1873

In 1873 Elnathan Jones, Jr.(1829-1904) purchased house plans from a friend in Groton, adapted the plans, and built these two houses, in Acton. One home for himself, and one for his business partner Jonathan Wetherbee (1832 1926). Also near these two houses is the Tuttle House (featured last), in a different style. All three of these men were family by marriage, and ran businesses in the village of South Acton. The Jones and Wetherbee houses were built as sister houses, identical; but over the years, the Jones House has seen some unsympathetic alterations which diminish its architectural significance. The Wetherbee House (yellow) retains its original detailing and corner, towered mansard roof.

Hooper Mansion // 1860

Located on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the Hooper Mansion represents one of the most elegant examples of Second Empire architecture style in the city. This home was actually constructed as a double-house for Samuel Hooper and his wife Anne, with a separate, semi-detached home for his son and his own family. The double-mansion was designed by esteemed architect Arthur Gilman, who used pressed brick contrasted with the tan sandstone on the home. Additionally, he designed the dentillated cornice, lavish door and window surrounds, and octagonal bays, all capped with a mansard roof with many windows laid inset to the roof, a stunning feature. The house was designed symmetrically, with entrances on each side elevation. In the early 1890s, later owners extended the eastern half of the façade so that it would be on the same plane as the western half, with an entrance at street level (seen in the right of this photo). Today, the double house is broken up into four large condominium units. When the conversion was approved, the developer wrote into the deed that the open space at the corner, used as a garden, would remain open space in perpetuity.

John Brown Herreshoff House // c.1870

John Brown Herreshoff, a fully-blind ship-builder, and later Founder and President of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, built this house at the head of Burnside Street, overlooking his boat works (no pun intended). The home sits next to the stunning Codman Place mansion, featured previously, and takes architectural cues from its neighbor. The home is reported to have been built by J.B. Herreshoff, who despite being completely blind, developed his other senses to a high degree to overcome the handicap of sightlessness, and became renowned for his design skills in his ships. The home has a mansard roof with a central projecting entrance bay, capped with a steeply pitched roof, and a barrel-vaulted dormer and ocular window inset. While the house is now condo units, it retains its architectural integrity at the exterior.

Citizen’s Hall // 1870

Citizens Hall, which was built in 1870 in a small village within Stockbridge, MA, is a small-scale version of the civic buildings constructed in the Second Empire in American towns and cities following the Civil War. The building is the architectural epicenter of Curtisville (now sometimes referred to as Interlaken), a small community within the Town of Stockbridge, which grew up around twelve mills. The mills are gone but several significant structures remain, also retaining their rural character. Citizens Hall was designed by Charles T. Rathbun, and inside, the two rooms on the first floor housed the public school and the second floor was the community assembly hall. The building was threatened with deferred maintenance in the mid-20th century and its future was uncertain until 1975 when a local group worked with the State Historic Preservation Office and acquired a grant to make needed repairs on the building. Today, the structure is maintained and houses the Art School of Berkshire (now known as Interlaken School of Art). Look at that historically appropriate paint scheme!

Hollis Hunnewell House // 1870

In 1870, when Boston’s new Back Bay neighborhood was being developed, Hollis Hunnewell and his wife Louisa, decided to erect a mansion to establish themselves in the burgeoning neighborhood. Hollis was the first son of Horatio Hollis Hunnewell, the businessman and railroad tycoon who made a fortune, eventually developing a family compound in nearby Wellesley. The couple hired esteemed architect Charles Brigham to design a home on the prominent corner lot that would live up to the Hunnewell name, and he did not disappoint. Just three years after the home was completed, they added a one-story addition, adjacent to the alley to quell a wind-tunnel effect that was occurring down the alley. In December, 1876, a fire broke out in the home, trapping maid Annie O’Hara at the top floor where she died. After the fire, the Hunnewell’s decided to renovate the home, adding the prominent corner tower with cresting. Hollis died in 1884, leaving his wife and two children alone in the home (along with the housekeepers, maids, and other help) until her death in 1890. The home is an excellent example of late Second Empire architecture in Boston, and it showcases the immense wealth some distinguished families had in the region in the 19th century. Today, the 13,000 square foot home is occupied as a single family home, assessed at over $17.5 million!

Lewis Perrin House // c.1869

This home in Brookline was built for Lewis Perrin in about 1869 in the fashionable Second Empire style, which dominated New England in the 1860s. Perrin was a commission merchant and partner in Newman and Perrin, his father‘s company. Lewis was given a parcel of land adjacent to his father’s home to erect his own home. He ended up renting the home as a double house as he moved into a larger home nearby. By the 1890s, the home appears to have been converted to a single family home, and the double entry was replaced by a large Federal Revival entryway with sidelights and fanlight over the door.

Mary Pomeroy House // 1868

Mrs. Mary Pomeroy, the widow of one of Southport’s industrious and wealthy shipping merchants, Benjamin Pomeroy, built this large residence for herself and her daughters, soon after her husband’s death. Mr. Pomeroy was a merchant who also served as a Senator. In 1866 with ailing health, he took a doctor on a private ship to try various remedies in the West Indies, to no avail, he died at 48 years old. Ms. Pomeroy appears to have taken the money her and her husband had saved and built a large mansion to cement her position in town as the most eligible bachelorette in town. While she never remarried, she sure showed the town what good taste looks like! The facade of the Pomeroy house is symmetrical with a projecting three-story central pavilion, all surmounted by a mansard roof with cresting. Rounded dormers with twin round-headed windows pierce the roof’s multicolored slate surface, making this Second Empire house one of the nicest in a town full of historic homes!

Blackinton Mansion // 1865

This mansion in North Adams, MA was built in 1865 for Sanford Blackinton. Blackinton was said to be the first millionaire in North Adams, and his mansion was the most elaborate home ever built in the city. His mill produced woolen goods during the Civil War including cloth for the Union forces. After the Civil War, many factory owners no longer lived amongst their workers, as they formerly had done, but instead built luxurious mansions in other neighborhoods, away from their factories. These large residences were designed in extravagant modern styles to impress the public and reflect the stature of their owners. European materials were even imported to grace these homes, such as the Italian marble fireplaces in the Blackinton Mansion.

Sanford Blackinton built his mansion in the hopes that it would become the ancestral home for his descendants. However, after the death of his widow (their four children died by the 1870s), the mansion was put up for sale in 1896, and was bought by North Adams’s first mayor, A.C. Houghton.
He in turn donated the mansion, along with $10,000 for renovations, to the city, to be used as a public library and as a meeting place for the local historical society. He requested that the building be known as the Andrew Jackson Houghton Memorial after his late brother. The home, designed by architect Marcus Fayette Cummings, is a high-style Second Empire mansion with a prominent tower, constructed of red brick with brownstone trim.