Rochester’s First Congregational Church is the oldest extant building still standing on the Town Green in Rochester Center and is the fourth house of worship to occupy the site. Constructed in 1837 to the designs of architect, Solomon K. Eaton, the beautiful Gothic Revival church building is among the most beautiful in the state. Eaton was well-known for his ecclesiastical structures, but also designed other prominent civic buildings in Southeastern Massachusetts. A fun fact about Eaton is that at age 55, he volunteered for the Union Army during the Civil War and his unit saw action in North Carolina, he returned home after the war and lived out his final days. The church stands out to me for the quatrefoil windows on the bell tower, the pointed finials and comer posts, and large lancet windows. Swoon!
In 1679, three years after the end of King Phillip’s War, an armed conflict in 1675–1678 between indigenous inhabitants of New England and New England colonists, land that would become Rochester, Mattapoisett,
Marion, and Wareham was purchased from King Phillip, and immediately divided among 32 proprietors of “Old Rochester.” The first white settlers took up residence in 1680, and the Town of Rochester was incorporated in 1686. Rochester town center was formally established in 1697 when land was set aside for a meetinghouse, burying ground and training field. Rochester’s first meetinghouse, built in 1699, served as a church and town building. A larger meetinghouse was built in 1717, and a third in 1760, doubling in size every time as the town’s population grew. The old buildings were insufficient for the growing farming town, and wealthy widow Elizabeth Leonard funded half the cost of a new town hall building. The current structure on the town green was built in 1892 and is an uncommon example of a Queen Anne style town hall in Massachusetts. The building originally was painted a darker color, common in the style, but was given a bright white paint scheme to blend in with the older buildings on the Green.
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.
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.
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.
Main Street in Marion, Massachusetts is a house lover’s dream. The street is lined with perfect 18th century capes and old whaling captains houses. This little cape house was built in 1790 for a J. Blankinship, one of the prominent local whaling families in town. By the early 1900s, Henry M. Prichard, an accountant, lived here. Born in New York City, Prichard and his family moved to Massachusetts. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the 25th Massachusetts Volunteer infantry and was part of the Burnside Expedition. According to his obituary,“he was wounded so seriously at the Battle of Cold Spring Harbor that he never fully recovered.” An “ardent devotee of canoeing”, Mr. Prichard retired to Marion, having spent most of his life in New York City and lived out his final days. It was likely he who added the large dormer windows as fresh air and light were seen as cures to ailments in the time. His widow, Abby and daughter, lived here until at least the mid-1920s.
This late 19th century home in Marion was built for Florence and Walton S. Delano, a descendant of the great Delano family in Massachusetts. Walton worked in nearby Wareham at A. S. Gurney and Company, dealers in coal, grain and flour. The house is unique as it is in the American Foursquare form, a type of home built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The hallmarks of the style include a basically square, boxy design, two-and-one-half stories high, usually with four large, boxy rooms to a floor, a center dormer, and a large front porch with wide stairs. This example stands out for the shingle siding, flared eaves and rubblestone foundation. Swoon!
Built during the 1890s for real estate agent Harvey W. Everest, this home in Marion has such a stately presence even as a cottage. The Colonial Revival home features a large gambrel roof with two shed dormers and one central gable dormer. Mr. Everest in was active in town affairs, he petitioned to build a section of sea wall in town to help protect the buildings from storms and flooding during inclement weather. After building this home, he lived out his final days here, until the old age of 92. There is a horse hitch near the street too!
Built in 1885, Marion’s Congregational Chapel represents one of Elizabeth Pitcher Taber’s last substantial gifts to her community. Born in Marion in 1791, Mrs. Taber taught grammar school in Marion as a young woman, marrying, Stephen Taber, clock maker and whaling ship-owner in 1823, subsequently living in Acushnet and New Bedford. She refocused her interest in Marion after the death of her husband in 1862. A wealthy, childless widow, Mrs.Taber funded a library/natural history museum, music hall, and during the mid-late 1870s, she set about the daunting task of founding a private academy in Marion which still thrives in the town as Tabor Academy. Three years before her death in 1885, Mrs. Taber, in one of her last acts of generosity to her church and town, purchased a vacant lot owned by her Tabor Academy’s principal and her downstairs neighbor in Tabor Hall, Clark P. Howland. She paid him $300.00 for his land and subsequently had the Congregational Chapel built in the up-to-date Shingle Style. Composed of rubble stone, the church features a south-facing wall with a trio of polygonal bays that add depth and provides the hallmark cedar shingle siding in the style. The church is one of the most rustic and beautiful in the state of Massachusetts. The church here also runs Penny Pinchers Exchange, a church-run thrift shop.
I do love a good adaptive reuse story! This Marion, Massachusetts church building was constructed in 1830 for the town’s growing Universalist congregation. Architect Seth Eaton was hired and furnished plans, likely relying on neighbor, Warren Blankinship, a carpenter and congregant, to construct the building. It blends together the Greek and Gothic Revival styles well, but in a less sophisticated form. By the mid 20th century, membership of the church dwindled, and it finally shuttered its doors. With the building’s future uncertain, at a time where demolition for surface parking lots was the go-to solution, Marion residents Andrew and Dorothy Patterson, purchased the building and soon after worked with local artists in town to restore the building for use as an art space. The Marion Art Center was thus founded in 1957, and to this day, serves as a non-profit community cultural organization dedicated to promoting the visual and performing arts.