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?

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 fa├žade 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.

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!

Henry P. Kent House // 1871

Located on South Main Street in Suffield, Connecticut, this stunning Second Empire mansion showcases the tobacco wealth seen in the town in the mid-to-late 19th century. In 1810, a Cuban man who seemingly drifted into town, was hired by a local farmer to grow tobacco and roll cigars for sale. Decades later, dozens of farmers in Suffield erected tobacco barns and cultivated tobacco to be rolled in cigars and sold. One of the first to box the cigars as a pack for shipping and sale was Henry Phelps Kent (1803-1887). Kent’s business did very well and he eventually hired local architect John C. Mead to design a mansion to display his success in business. The large Second Empire mansion features flush-board siding, full length porch, and a projecting mansarded tower with convex roof. The home was later owned by Samuel R. Spencer, a politician who served as a Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, the first as a blind man. The home is now operated as a bed & breakfast “Spencer on Main”.

Judge Wells House // 1870

The Cottage Farm neighborhood of Brookline developed as a suburban community with the growth of Boston and the opening of the Boston-Worcester Railroad in the 19th century. The man primarily responsible for this development was Amos A. Lawrence (1814-1886). In 1850, Lawrence purchased 200 acres from David Sears, developer of Longwood and
moved his family from Boston to Brookline. By this time, many wealthy Bostonians built estate houses in the suburbs and also held large homes in Beacon Hill, closer to their businesses. Amos and his brother William soon began to subdivide and build up the Cottage Farm area, selling lots to their friends and esteemed members of society.

One of the buildings constructed in the second wave of development after the Civil War was the large brick Second Empire home for Judge Jonathan Wells (1819-1875). Wells was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts and served until his death. After his death, residing at the home for just 5 years, the property appears to have been purchased next by Amos Lawrence’s widow Sarah E. Appleton where she lived until her death. Today, the home stands on one of the largest lots in Cottage Farm and features amazing brickwork with the corbeling, belt course, and staggered quoins at the corners.

Armitage Estate // c.1865

This large Second Empire house was built by 1865 for John Armitage and his wife Nancy. Not long before they built this large estate, which was once on over five acres of land, John became a partner in Edward Pranker & Co. (also known as the Iroquois Mills) in Saugus. In 1838, Edward Pranker, an English-born textile manufacturer from Salem, New Hampshire purchased a vacant mill property on bond and established a flannel and bed sheet manufacturing business. He renovated the mill and installed new machinery. Although the conditions of the wool business in general were extremely poor during the mill’s first years of operation, the business was a success. In 1840, he was able to pay off the bond on the property. By 1846, Pranker’s business had grown so much that he had to build a second mill. Pranker died in 1865 and Armitage left the company soon after, beginning his career in politics. In 1870, he served as a district representative for some Essex County towns. After Pranker and Nancy’s death, the house was willed to their two youngest (and unwed) daughters Carrie (a dressmaker) and Laura (a teacher).

This house is an excellent example of the Second Empire/Italianate architecture style. For one, it has a Mansard roof. Additionally, it has a bracketed cornice which is interrupted by a central gable. Ornate window and door trim paired with a color scheme to accentuate the details, make this home stand out, even though its obscured by shrubs.

Sea Lawn // 1875

Located next to the former Narragansett Pier Casino, Sea Lawn (aka the Reading Room) is an excellent example of a Second Empire structure with Stick style detailing. Built in 1875, The Reading Room was originally constructed as a summer cottage, Sea Lawn and was located on a nearby street and moved shortly after the completion of the Narragansett Pier Casino owners as an amenity of the new resort. The building was a men’s club where the elite residents and guests of Narragansett Pier could meet, drink and discuss books over cigars. The building was restored by Lila Delman Real Estate office, who now occupies the site with some private apartments.

Lemuel Cleveland House // 1871

One of the most grand homes in Plainfield, CT is the Lemuel Cleveland House on Norwich Road. The Second Empire style home was built for Lemuel Woodward Cleveland (1841-1919), an heir to an Ohio real estate fortune. Lemuel’s great-uncle was apparently one of the original settlers of Cincinnati. Lemuel and his wife lived at the home until their deaths.

The home is a high-style Second Empire masterpiece with flush-board front facade, triptych of round arched windows set within a deeply recessed central opening, and a concave mansard roof. The symmetrical facade and amazing attention to detail (paired with owners who clearly appreciate the architecture of their home) make the property one of the best examples of the style in the region.