Hall-Balcom House // 1810

This historic house in West Millbury, Massachusetts, began in the end of the 18th century as a one-and-a-half-story wood-frame farmhouse. By 1810, the home was rotated 90 degrees and a more substantial, two-story brick house was constructed facing the street. The Federal style home was owned by Thaddeus Hall (1779-1855), and after his death, it was owned by his son, Orson Eddy Hall, who possibly rented the property for income while he resided in New Orleans and ran the iconic St. Charles Hotel there. The property was later acquired by Willard Balcom and remained in the family. Oh what I wouldn’t do to see the paint come off this old brick house!!

Longley Farmhouse // 1819

Backroads in New England are just amazing! When driving through Millbury on my way to visit one of the finest examples of Federal style architecture in the state, I stumbled upon this gorgeous rural Federal style farmhouse, and had to snap a picture! Millbury is best-known as a mill town (hence the name), but you can find dozens of rural farms dispersed between the mill villages in the township. The Blackstone River cuts through the town, and during the Industrial Revolution, it provided much of the water power to the town’s many textile mills and factories. Like many former mill towns, the shifting of the economy away from manufacturing towards the service sector, harmed the economy of Millbury in the 20th century. Many mills were abandoned and demolished, others adaptively reused. Before we get to some industrial history, I wanted to share this charming farmhouse. This home was built for Nymphas Longley upon the time of his 1819 marriage to the love of his life, Nancy Bond. They ran a farm on over 80 acres, with Nymphas also serving as a town selectman, an overseer of the poor, and led recruitment efforts in town at the start of the Civil War. Like many farms, this one saw suburban development take some of the former land, but this home still sits on over 9 acres, not bad for being so close to Worcester!

Unity Church Parsonage // 1878

Architects William Robert Ware and Henry Van Brunt designed this parsonage in Easton, Massachusetts for the Unity Church in town (featured previously). The Victorian Gothic house is constructed of polychromatic stone, wood trim, slate and copper roof surfaces, and terracotta finials. The architecture is very well-developed and stands toe-to-toe with the other architectural landmarks in town, just a short walk away.

Oakes Ames Shooting Lodge // c.1905

Located near the banks of Leach Pond in Borderlands State Park, this handsome stone structure set the style for one of the most iconic and beautiful buildings in Easton, the Ames Mansion. The one-story concrete and stone structure was designed and constructed under the supervision of Blanche Ames, and may have been a prototype for the construction technique used in the Ames Mansion, built just years later. Blanche was an amazing woman. She was an artist, political activist, inventor, writer, and prominent supporter of women’s suffrage and birth control. In 1900, she married Harvard University botany professor Oakes Ames (no relation). She took the married name Blanche Ames Ames. She illustrated her husband’s botanical research on orchids, and later got involved in designing the family’s country retreat. Originally designed as a warming hut during hunting season, this lodge was originally minimally designed with exposed stone walls. In the 1930s, the lodge was renovated to contain a living space, a kitchen, and a bedroom. When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acquired the Ames Estate in the 1970s for a state park, the Lodge was restored to its original condition. The hunting lodge is open to the elements and the public, who can warm themselves in one of the two six-foot fireplaces.

Old Brick Tavern // 1804

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!

Swedenborgian Church of Lancaster // 1881

This beautiful old building was constructed in 1881 in Lancaster, MA as a Swedenborgian Church. The congregation in The United States has always been much smaller than other prominent religions, but Lancaster had a sizable group of believers. Some wealthier residents bankrolled for a new church building, which would and could not compete with the Unitarian Church designed by Charles Bulfinch. Architect Francis Ward Chandler from the Boston firm of Cabot & Chandler designed the modest, yet beautiful building in the Queen Anne style. The congregation died off and in 1923, the building was purchased by members of the Current Topics Club, seemingly a debate and social club in town. The old church sold in 2020 as a residence.

Carter House and Publishing Company Building // 1820

Here is a two-for-one post! These two absolutely gorgeous Federal style buildings on Main Street in Lancaster were built in 1820 for George Carter and his brothers who ran a publishing company in the sleepy town. The Carter family was very active in the Swedenborgianism, a very small church in the general realm of Christianity, and they helped create a small enclave of worshippers in town. The brick, Carter and Andrews Publishing Company building (on the other side of a dead end street from this house) was built at the same time as the Carter home. The company was extremely popular in publishing children’s books, textbooks, and maps. One of my favorite publications the company made was “Peter Piper’s Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation”, now say that three times fast!

Carter-Hussey-Whitney House // 1827

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.

Elias Danforth House // 1832

On the southern end of Center Village in Lancaster, MA, this gorgeous late-Federal style home holds a stately presence built into and atop a sloping hill. The home was built for Elias Danforth (1788-1868) in 1832 and has been so little-altered in the nearly 200 years since. The house features amazing full-length side porches with bold columns, an early sign of the emerging Greek Revival style. The home sold a couple years ago for just over $600,000, which is a STEAL for the location and high-quality house and interior. Wow!

Judge John Sprague Second House // 1785

When Judge John Sprague built his first home in Lancaster (see last post), he was just 31 years old and built a modest attorney’s home at the beginning of his career. After the Revolutionary War, Judge Sprague was one of the wealthiest residents in town and as a result, built a more substantial house on Main Street on the banks of the Nashua River. Eli Stearns and Jonathan Whitney, Lancasters most talented carpenters and craftsmen, were responsible for the construction with stunning detail inside and out. After John’s death, the home was willed to his only child, Ann Austin Sprague Vose and her husband Peter. The home remained in the family until the 1870s. Later, it was purchased and given as a parsonage to the local Unitarian church “fully furnished and equipped” by Col. John E. Thayer, who maintained it for 25 years. In 1933, the year Thayer died, it was bequeathed to the church. Besides the mid-late 19th century window replacements, the home looks much like it would have when built. Swoon!