My favorite home in Marion, Massachusetts is this summer cottage on Water Street, overlooking Sippican Harbor. The home is said to have been built from a c.1840s house and enlarged by Reed as a summer home in the fashionable Shingle style. H. R. Reed, an agent for the Revere Sugar Refinery in Boston was well-connected in town and hosted President Grover Cleveland with Rev. Percy Browne ( a summer resident) at his cottage during the summer months. Evidently, Reed added the rubblestone elements, modified the porch, added a tower on the south elevation, the massive dormers at the roof, and is responsible for the exquisite Colonial Revival-style interior, from architect James Templeton Kelley. The home is arguably best known as the summer White House of Grover Cleveland, the only U.S. president to marry in the White House and the only two-time president to serve non consecutively – from 1885-89 and from 1893-97. The Cleveland’ Family summered in Marion between their time in the White House. In 1891, the President hoped to purchase the home, but could not settle upon a reasonable price, so he bought Grey Gables, a summer cottage in nearby Buzzards Bay (no longer extant).
Benjamin Waters Houses // c.1895
Benjamin E. Waters (1863-1962) was a local businessman and real estate developer in Marion by the end of the 19th century. He acquired a large property not far from the beach, in the middle of a high-class residential enclave and developed the property, running a small dirt path through the middle, known today as Pie Alley. He built three large Shingle style homes and appears to have rented them out to wealthy residents. The homes are all situated very well on their lots among large lawns framed by stone walls, just a short walk from the beach.
Austin Cottage and Moon Gate // 1885
This “cottage” on Water Street in Marion, Massachusetts was designed by William Gibbons Preston and built for Judge James Austin in 1885. By 1919, the property had passed into the hands of Herbert Austin and his sister Miss Edith Austin, the latter, a benefactress of many local causes. In 1921, Edith Austin’s best friend June Butler married Parker Converse and honeymooned in China. Upon her return, June shared photographs of moon gates to her best friend Edith. Moon gates are circular opening in a garden wall that acts as a pedestrian passageway and is a traditional architectural element in Chinese gardens. Upon seeing these, Edith had one built as a formal entrance to her massive gardens. The stones were pulled from the grounds and shoreline, and the top piece was apparently purchased in China and shipped to Marion. The open cornice and ducks that adorn the top symbolize wealth and marital bliss. The infamous 1938 New England Hurricane heavily damaged the Austin cottage, but seemingly spared the moon gate. The property was later subdivided.
“Point Rock” Cottage // c.1890
“Point Rock” is one of the smaller summer cottages built during the end of the 19th century for wealthy city-dwellers to escape for summers from the stress and pollution of city life. This home was built around 1890 for David W. Lewis, a concrete and stone dealer in Boston. The home is sited in the middle of a waterfront lot, overlooking Sippican Harbor and Buzzards Bay. The house is a great example of the Shingle style, popular in the late 19th century, and features a strong horizontal emphasis and continuous shingles from the roof to the foundation. The chippendale porch balustrade is a great added touch.
Frederick Cutler Cottage // c.1890
One of the most interesting houses in Marion, Massachusetts, is the Frederick Cutler Cottage, at the corner of Water and Lewis streets. The home was built in the 1890s for Frederick B. Cutler, partner in the firm of Stetson, Cutler & Company in Boston, a building materials company who sold everything from long lumber and shingles to lime. The Shingle style mansion was occupied by the Cutler Family between their time in Brookline and Marion for summers until the 1920s. In 1972, the owner separated the structure into two parts that now sit on adjacent lots as 4 and 8 Water Street.
Sippican Tennis Club // 1908
The Sippican Tennis Club in Marion, Massachusetts, was established in 1908 for the purpose of athletic exercise and a place for social gatherings in town. Historically, the town’s population surged in the summer months when wealthy city residents would flock here and stay in their waterfront mansions for a few months a year. The large hipped roof rectangular building was constructed just before the club opened in 1908, and it is flanked by eight tennis courts. Charles Allerton Coolidge, a principal in the well known firm, Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, was one of the original shareholders as well as the architect for the building. He also was a summer resident himself (his home was previously featured). The building is constructed of concrete and features paired, tapered columns which run the perimeter of the structure, supporting a deep porch. The broad elliptical arch and exposed rafters add to the Craftsman style flair of the building.
“Fair Oaks” // 1903
One of the most grand Summer estates on the coast in Marion, MA, is “Fair Oaks”, a 1903 Tudor Revival mansion across the Sippican Harbor from the village. Horace B. Shepard was the president of the Shepard and Morse Lumber Company, which was headquartered in Downtown Boston. The company was a wholesale dealer in all kinds of lumber including: white pine, spruce, hemlock, North Carolina pine, yellow pine, poplar, and various oaks. Given Shepard’s line of work he not surprisingly called his summer estate “Fair Oaks”, and his house’s building materials
were undoubtedly supplied by his company. He appears to have hired Charles Allerton Coolidge, who lived nearby in his own summer cottage (featured previously) to design the Tudor mansion. The “cottage” is almost 13,000 sq.ft. and has 11 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms. Wow!
Dr. Angier House // c.1900
After Charles Allerton Coolidge built his summer home in Marion, on an undeveloped peninsula, investors saw the potential for the waterfront sites nearby, plus they had a local renowned architect who could be hired to furnish designs of new homes. Boston physician Albert Edgar Angier worked with Charles A. Coolidge on his proposed summer house by the turn of the 20th century. The house is in a V-shape and exhibits late 19th century architectural elements of the Shingle style with a large polygonal section to provide sweeping views of the harbor.
George House // c.1929
This Georgian Revival house was built in the mid-late 1920s for the George Family, who ran a construction company based out of Worcester, Massachusetts. The home was a summer retreat for the family, who acquired a prime lot on Butler Point in Marion, MA, from the Butler’s Point Associates, a group of men who developed the peninsula with the Kittansett Club and desirable house lots from plans by the Olmsted Brothers, landscape architects. The house is prominently sited and is one of the best examples of the Colonial Revival style I have seen in the seaside town. It is clad in cedar shingles as a nod to the vernacular coastal homes and larger Victorian-era summer homes seen in the village.
Rev. William Percy Browne Cottage // 1881
In 1881, Henry Hobson Richardson furnished plans for this modest, shingled cottage in the town of Marion, overlooking Sippican Harbor. At the same time, he was also completing designs for Austin Hall at Harvard and overseeing the construction of Albany City Hall in New York, both in his iconic Richardsonian Romanesque style. This Shingle style home in Marion was designed for Reverend William Percy Browne (1838-1901), who was educated at Kenyon College in Ohio alongside John Cotton Brooks, the youngest brother of Phillips Brooks, who would become the Rector of Boston’s Trinity Church and briefly Bishop of Massachusetts. Brooks would hire H.H. Richardson to design Trinity Church in Boston in the early 1870s. From this connection and being members of the St. Botolph Club of Boston, Reverend William Percy Browne and H.H. Richardson began a working relationship designing Browne’s summer cottage in Marion. The legend is that at the club, Browne bet Richardson that he could not design a small house for $2,500. Browne lost. This modest house was completed in 1882 and represented an early, significant example of a Shingle style home in Massachusetts. Browne died in 1901 and the house was sold to Sidney Hosmer, a Boston electrical engineer. Under his ownership, the home was expanded and altered, somewhat obscuring Richardson’s original design. The cottage was eventually purchased by Tabor Academy, who in 2019, pulled a demolition permit for the house. Architects and historians quickly rallied and advocated for the preservation of the cottage, saving it from the wrecking ball. The academy is undergoing alternative plans, which were stalled due to Covid-19.