One thing I really love about small towns in New England is the prevalence of amazing old homes on the winding back roads. Located in Boxborough, MA, the Jacob Littlefield Farmhouse showcases the agricultural character and charm seen in the town. The farmhouse and outbuildings were built by Jacob Littlefield, who likely hired a housewright from town as the home is a near match to a home built on a nearby street. Mr. Littlefield was a farmer from Wells, Maine with seven children and a wife named Anna. After his death, his wife Anna owned the farm, until her death in 1896. Their son Albert ran the farm from about 1896-1922, after which time Jacob’s grandson Earl was the owner. Earl was taxed in 1928 for ownership of two horses, 17 cows, a bull, the house, barn and shed, tool house, ice house, root house, hen house, garage, and a second house on 101 acres. He resided here until 1929 when it was sold out of the family. Since then, subsequent owners have restored the home and the various outbuildings to maintain the architectural and historic integrity of the property. We need more stewards of old homes like this!
George Otis Draper (1867-1923) was born in Hopedale and attended MIT to prepare to help run the extremely busy Draper Corporation in town, a family business (featured previously). With his position at the company, he had the money in the late 19th century to build a massive country estate known as The Larches. The shingled Colonial Revival style home featured a massive castellated tower and appeared like a castle in the countryside. George O. Draper sold this home to his aunt Hannah Thwing Draper Osgood in 1909, and within a month, the home burned to the ground. Around the time her husband died, she rebuilt the Larches and lived here with her daughter until they both died in 1929. The “new Larches” is a stunning blending of Colonial Revival and Craftsman styles. The home was likely designed by Robert Allen Cook, who was based out of nearby Milford, MA. The property today is run by Crossroads Clubhouse, an employment and recovery center that offers people with mental health conditions opportunities to achieve their full potential.
Anyone that has followed me for long knows I am obsessed with two architecture styles, Dutch Renaissance and Colonial, and Tudors! Set back way off the street in Hopedale, Mass., sits this rambling Tudor Revival country estate. Built in 1926 for Eben Sumner Draper Jr. (1893-1959), the son of Massachusetts Governor and Draper Corporation owner Eben Sumner Draper, the home provided a secluded escape for the rich millionaire. The home was designed by Boston architects Bigelow & Wadsworth, and replaced his father’s Shingle style country mansion “The Ledges”. The new Draper mansion was highlighted in numerous architectural magazines shortly after it’s construction, which highlighted the amazing brickwork, layout, and interior finishes, all of which remain to today! This spectacular home is over 14,000 square feet and has 17 bedrooms, several located in the staff wing, 10 full baths and 4 half baths, an in-ground swimming pool, gazebo, tennis court, and landscape design attributed to the notable landscape architect Warren Manning. In the 1960s, the home sold out of the family and was used as a home for adults living with developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, physical disabilities, the facility has since sold the Draper mansion and occupies the former carriage house.
This 2-1/2 story wood frame house in Acton, Massachusetts was built in 1760, and is one of the town’s best-preserved colonial-era houses. It is an unusual double house, consisting of one section with a square plan, and the other with a typical colonial “half house” plan, having three bays and an off-center chimney. The house was built by Jonathan Hosmer, Jr., a bricklayer whose workmanship is evident in the house’s many fireplaces. Hosmer was also prominent in civic and military affairs; he served (along with his son, who was killed at 17 years old) in the 1777 Battle of Bennington. The home was later owned by Jonathan’s son Simon, who may have added the attached dwelling, creating the double-house form we see today. In 1974 the property was acquired by the Acton Historical Society, which rents one of the units, and operates the rest of the property as a museum. The home is a great example of a Georgian double-house with a saltbox roof.
One of three pre-1725 houses in South Acton, the Faulkner Homestead is the best preserved First Period house in the area and displays elements from its First Period construction date of 1707 and from the later Georgian period. The home was built for Ephraim Jones, who was one of the first millers starting what was to become the Faulkner mills located near the old homestead. The home was known as a Garrison House, built as a refuge for the settlers in times of Indian raids, but there is no record that it was ever used for that purpose. In the 1730s, the home was rented by Ammi R. Faulkner (1692-1756), who purchased it years after he moved in. The Faulkner Homestead remained in the Faulkner Family for over 300 years, when it sold our of the family in the 1940s.
Settlement of South Acton (by colonialists) was begun in 1701 when the Jones and Knight families purchased 600 acres of a private land grant. Over the next 26 years, members of the two families established and operated mills near the Fort Pond Brook, which provided running water for operations. Samuel Jones built a home here in 1732, which as originally built, was a simple, four room central entry Georgian home with gable roof, typical of many eastern Massachusetts homes at the time. In 1750, Jones opened a tavern and general store in his house, enlarging it with a two story addition now visible on the left side. Samuel’s son Aaron Jones, a Harvard graduate and soldier who fought at the Battle of Concord nearby, took over the tavern from his father. In 1818, Aaron more than doubled the size of his establishment when he built a large, 5-bay extension and rear kitchen ell directly behind the existing structure. In addition to enlarging his property, Aaron also had it “modernized”, inserting sash windows (replacing the casement windows) throughout and adding fashionable Federal style door and window surrounds. The additions gave the building two major entries, as well as secondary access to the communal taproom. The property was then willed to his son Elnathan Jones, who operated the establishment until 1845 as both a tavern and hotel. The building remained in the Jones family until it was sold in 1946, and divided inside into multi-family use. The house was sold for salvage in 1964 after years of neglect, but was saved by Iron Work Farm, Inc., a non-profit who maintain the property to this day.
Perched high on a hill in Acton, Massachusetts, this once grand Italianate mansion has been slowly deteriorating without a caretaker. The home was built in 1861 for George C. Wright (1823-1910), a wealthy coffee and spice merchant at Dwinell, Hayward, and Co., a powerhouse in the coffee industry in Boston. In 1855, he was overworked in Boston and fell ill for two years, which worried his wife, who convinced him to relinquish some of his work and move back to Acton, which he did. Soon after he built this house, not too far from the village train depot which would give him easy access to Boston. In papers, he stated, “I felt that good air and a plenty of sunshine would do more for my health than anything else. For this reason, we built upon a hill and arranged the rooms of the house so as to get the sun to its fullest degree.” Wright later served as a State Representative, and remained active in local politics in the suburban town. His home was connected to a large barn (since demolished) and featured a large belvedere (removed after a hurricane) to provide sweeping views from his house on the hill. In recent years, an absentee owner did not appear to maintain the home and it has deteriorated, but good news! The house sold the week that I took these photos, so hopefully it will be restored to its former glory soon!
In 1912, a group of under twenty young mothers of Acton, Massachusetts, formed a club to provide a space to discuss issues ranging from child-rearing to larger topics like prohibition and women’s right to vote. The women began meeting at their homes before it was determined that they would need a permanent home. In 1915, the Acton Women’s Club acquired the old Dr. Cowdrey House (last post) next door occupying it and the attached barn. The 1829 Chapel for the Evangelical Society in Acton was part of the property and deteriorating. The Acton Women’s Club decided to sell the historic Cowdrey Home and use those funds to restore and occupy the old brick-end chapel. In 1940, the Club ceremoniously held a Mortgage Burning Party, having proudly paid off its debt. Today, the Acton Woman’s Club is the oldest and last standing brick- ended Federal structure in town.
Located in Acton Center, the Dr. Harris Cowdrey House represents the emergence of Acton, Massachusetts from a sleepy rural town to a wealthy suburban town. This home was built in 1830 by Dr. Harris Cowdrey (1802-1875) as a 1 1/2-story gable end Greek Revival home. It was evidently enlarged to its present size decades later, possibly around the time Dr. Cowdrey and his wife Abigail growing their family. The Cowdreys had two children , Arthur who became a physician, after serving in the Civil War as a surgeon, and a daughter Helen who married a doctor herself, Dr. Charles Little also of Acton. After Dr. Harris Cowdrey died in 1875, Helen Cowdrey Little (who’s husband died young at just 32 years old) remained in Acton living with her mother in this house until 1886 when both women died. The home was later occupied by the Acton Women’s Club, who ran a crafts school for children out of the barn. The house showcases the original Greek Revival form, but features mostly Italianate detailing from the brackets, to the wrap-around front porch supported by turned posts.
This gambreled Georgian cape house was built around 1744 and first occupied as a tavern. Local tradition holds that in this house, the town officials held meetings and managed governmental duties. After the Revolution, a new town hall was built and the tavern reverted back to its former use. It was occupied by Samuel and Olive Lovell until Olive’s death in the 1840s, she possibly ran the tavern alone for the thirty years she outlived her husband. The home is an excellent example of a pre-Revolutionary Georgian home, with a cedar shingle roof to top it all off!