The Second Empire style did not take off in Maine as it did in other parts of New England (and the U.S. for that matter), so it’s always a treat to spot one driving the backroads of the Pine Tree State! This house in Denmark, Maine, was built around 1870 for E. A. Boothby, who worked as Assistant Engineer of the Maine Central Railroad. The Second Empire style is evident here from the mansard (French style) roof, bracketed eaves, and a hooded double-door entry.
Margaret Barker Sigourney was the wife of Boston lawyer Henry Sigourney (1783–1849). In 1864, just as the Civil War was coming to a close, Sigourney purchased a piece of land on Bellevue Avenue in Newport soon after the time that Newport had been rediscovered as a tourist destination for the elite class. Sigourney wanted to make a splash as a single woman summering in Newport, so she hired local architect George Champlin Mason to design her cottage in the fashionable Second Empire style. The refined facade is more academic, while the rear and side facades exhibit porches with delicate bargeboards and trim. Sigourney spent summers at her cottage with her only son until 1873 when he and his family perished and were lost at sea aboard the Ville du Havre, when it collided in the Atlantic with another ship, killing a total of 226 aboard the ships, many of which drowned and their bodies never recovered. Alone, Margaret Sigourney continued to spend her summers in Newport until her own death in 1885.
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.
Collinsville, a village in Canton, Connecticut, sits along the Farmington River and is one of the most charming New England villages I’ve been to. The village sprung up around the Collins Axe Company, a manufacturer of edge tools, such as axes, machetes, picks and knives. With the company’s growth (more history on the company in a later post), immigrants moved to the town, and lived in workers cottages built by the factory owners. Churches, stores, schools, and parks came soon after, creating the dynamic village we see today. Nathan L. Polk moved to the village and built this charming Second Empire style cottage, walking distance to his apothecary shop. By 1872, Nathan died and the house was sold to Ulrich Haury. Haury was born and raised in Germany and settled in Collinsville by 1862, working at the Collins Axe Company. From his earnings, he opened up a grocery in the village, spending his earnings bringing his family for vacations to his homeland in Germany. The home remains in excellent condition.
The Brick Tavern was an important stopping point on the old Union Turnpike, and the original two-story brick structure was completed about the time of the turnpike construction by Paul Willard, who with his heirs, operated the inn for 25 years. In the first years of the 1800s, the Union Turnpike Company planned and built a road providing a link for travel from Boston to Albany. Realizing the possibility for an inn along the first leg of the route, Willard financed this substantial brick building for travellers to stop, eat and spend the night. The tollroad was later made free, and less people stayed at the inn. After subsequent ownership, the building started to suffer from deferred maintenance and it was sold to a local Quaker group. The Quakers modernized the building by constructing the mansard roof and updating the interior. They never occupied it, but rented it to tenants for income. After, it was a hospital, boarding house, and in WWII, as a barracks of sorts for soldiers training nearby at a military base. The building is now a house!
Architecture and history is often layered, so it’s always a treat to find a building that showcases different eras in design. This cute house on Main Street in Lancaster was built in 1827 for a James Carter. The home was a side-hall two-story gable end house, with a Federal style fanlight over the front door (which remains). By 1847, the property was sold to Captain Francis Hussey, a sea-captain from Nantucket who seemingly wanted to get away from the sea, settling in central Massachusetts. He is likely the one who added the corner pilasters, giving the home an update in the Greek Revival style, which is very common on his native Nantucket. Hussey died in 1863 and the home went through the hands of a couple owners until Anna Henshaw Whitney purchased the property in 1887. Ms. Whitney was born in Cambridge, and after attending private schools, she moved to Lancaster in the 1860s as an assistant at Lancaster Academy, teaching there until her retirement in 1889 at 45 years old. It was Anna Whitney who constructed additions to the home, and the beautiful mansard roof which we see today. In her retirement, Anna farmed the massive property and opened one of the finest kennels for Saint Bernard dogs in the world. From this, she became the first woman judge with the Westminster Kennel Club.
After sharing the old Central Fire Station building in Lancaster (last post), I couldn’t help myself but to share another mini-mansard fire station constructed in town! Located in North Village, this station was built in 1888, and provided fire service to the more rural part of town. The wood-frame structure features a central tower which may have been used originally as a hose-drying tower. In the 1940s, the building was occupied by volunteers of the Ground Observer Corps, an American civil defense organization. The building’s tower provided unobstructed views of airspace where one could keep their eyes open for invading German aircraft. After the War, the Town of Lancaster sold the building, which then converted to a private residence. Sadly, a fire in 2015, damaged much of the interior of the building, but she survives!
Located on sleepy Main Street in Lancaster, Massachusetts, this cute mini-mansard building caught my eye immediately, and I had to take a picture! The building was constructed in 1836 for the Lancaster National Bank. The brick building was just one story with storefront windows and a central entrance, and was the only bank in the small town. When the neighboring town of Clinton saw a large increase in population due to industrial growth, the Lancaster National Bank decided to relocate to be closer to a larger clientele. They sold this building to the Town of Lancaster in 1882 and moved out. Within a year, the town added the mansard roof to the building, being careful to preserve the original cornice (now where the brick meets the roof), and converted the building to a fire station with double doors. The Central Fire Station was in operation here until 1967 when a new building was built nearby, with doors large enough to easily house modern engines. The building was then used as storage and offices for the Lancaster Water Department. Sadly, the replacement fire station doors really diminish the appeal of the building.
Located next to the famed Stephen King House in Bangor (last post), this stunning Second Empire house was purchased by Stephen and Tabitha King in 2004, creating a small historic house campus in one of the nicest neighborhoods of the city. The Brown Mansion was constructed in the early 1870s for Charles P. Brown, an attorney who became involved in land speculation in the west. During and immediately following the Civil War, Brown purchased large land holdings in the “western frontier” in Minnesota and farther west, and re-sold the land years later at a huge profit when development began. He was thought to be one of the richest men in Maine upon his death in 1892, but it was discovered that many land holdings possibly vanished (or he lied about having much more land to his family), leaving his executors of his will very upset. The man who was estimated of having a net-worth of over $1,000,000 in 1892 (more than $31,000,000 in dollars today), left just $16,000, split between his two daughters, leaving nothing to his sister, whom he had been living with for the final two years in his life.
Located a short walk from the Stephen King House in Bangor, this stunning Second Empire style house shines just as bright! This house was built in 1866 for Joseph C. White, a dry goods merchant in town. Just years after it was completed, he sold the mansion, possibly due to upkeep. The two-story mansard-roof house is clad in wood siding, scored to resemble stone rustication, a method to make the home appear more expensive. The corner entrance with later enclosed second-floor porch, massive brackets, and scrolled dormers add a lot of Victorian flair to the home. Would you move in here?