Matthew Livermore (1703-1776), a native of Watertown, Massachusetts and a 1722 Harvard graduate, came to Portsmouth in 1726 to teach grammar school while studying law, and in 1731 became the first college-educated lawyer to practice in New Hampshire. He would build this Georgian mansion in Portsmouth in 1735. Later, the property was owned by Samuel Coues, a leader of the shipbuilding industry in Portsmouth during the 19th century, and leader of the American Peace Party in the 1840s. Fitz John Porter was born in the house in 1822. General Porter would become one of the Union’s most talented leaders at the beginning of the Civil War. After the U. S. Army dismissed him for disobeying what would be a suicidal order during the Second Battle of Bull Run, he spent the rest of his life fighting the charges. The army cleared his name in 1879.After this, the home was occupied by General Fitz John Porter, a United States Army general who served in the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War. The building was moved in 1900 when Haven Park was created by the City of Portsmouth, and it had already been moved in the 19th century to front the newly laid out Livermore Street. The Livermore-Porter House was eventually converted into condominiums in 1983, and it showcases how condo conversions aren’t a bad thing! More people can live in this house now, win-win!
National Register of Historic Places
Samuel P. Tilton Cottage // 1880
One of the most well-designed and least-pretentious summer cottages in Newport is this charming dwelling on a dead end street. The Samuel P. Tilton Cottage was designed in 1880 by the prestigious firm of McKim, Mead & White as an idiosyncratic blending of Queen Anne and Shingle architectural styles. Mr. Tilton was a milliner (maker and seller of women’s hats) with stores in Boston and Paris, France. He had this cottage built to summer close to the nation’s wealthiest, likely marketing some hats at elaborate Gilded Age events. The facade is assertively Queen Anne with its massing and decorative panels, with shingled side elevation seemingly sprouting from the earth. The architectural terminology for these unique decorative panels is “sgraffito” where here, cement or plaster siding is set and adorned with shells, pebbles, colored glass, and pieces of coal into a cartouche design. The house is one of the finest in Newport, and shows that bigger isn’t always better!
Dutton Farmhouse // c.1840
Another one of the Landmark Trust USA properties in Dummerston, Vermont is the Dutton Farmhouse, a meticulously restored Greek Revival farmhouse from around 1840. The gable-roof farmhouse was possibly an addition to an earlier dwelling built decades earlier as a one-and-a-half-story center-chimney home, seen at the rear today. The first known owner of the farmhouse was Asa Dutton who farmed off the large orchards. Generations later, the farmhouse served as a dormitory for migrant laborers who worked nearby, with the interior being altered. The property was eventually gifted to the Landmark Trust USA, who began a massive restoration project on the home, uncovering original detailing and even historic wallpaper! The house has since been meticulously restored and preserved and is available for short-term rentals! The charming interiors and near silence outside is a perfect getaway from city life.
Brookline Round Schoolhouse // 1822
Historic schoolhouses in rural New England are often one-room wood-frame buildings, but not in Brookline, Vermont! The Brookline Round Schoolhouse is constructed of brick and… you guessed it, ROUND! The iconic building sits on the same road as the Baptist Church in town (last post) and likely built from bricks made at the same brickyard. The school was built in 1822 to replace a log school house originally built nearby. The plan for the round design was apparently made by Dr. John Wilson. Wilson, known as “Thunderbolt”, was reputed to have been a robber and highway-man who came from Scotland to escape punishment. He eventually settled in Vermont and had many occupations but settled on saying he was a doctor and began practicing. He eventually took up teaching and somehow convinced the town he should design the new school building. Local legend asserts that Wilson designed the school house round so that he could see from any position, all possible intruders. At the interior, the single-room originally contained sixty oak benches and desks arranged in a circular position facing a teacher’s desk near the door. The building is capped by a conical wood shingle roof, which appears in great condition. The structure functioned as a school until 1929, when a new school was built which conformed to state codes. At this time the round school was turned over to the town for use as a Town Hall, a use it held until the 1980s.
Brookline Baptist Church // 1836
Brookline, Vermont is home to just 540 people but has one of the most beautiful brick churches in the state! The Brookline Baptist Church sits along a quiet road in town and is an excellent example of vernacular Gothic Revival architecture in the Vermont. Brookline’s first organized church congregation were Baptists, who established a formal organization in 1785 out of local homes and barns. By 1836, enough funds were gathered to erect a church, but of brick, a more substantial building material than traditional wood-frame buildings. The church remained active throughout the nineteenth century, and the vestry addition was constructed off the rear in 1895 to provide space for community gatherings and meals. Dwindling membership led the church to become mostly used for weddings, funerals, graduation ceremonies, and craft fairs by the second half of the 20th century. The Town of Brookline presently owns the significant structure, and while preserved, it does not appear to get much use.
Jamaica Plain District 13 Police Station // 1873
The District 13 Police Station was built in 1873 in response to the needs of a growing community. Located in what is now Jamaica Plain, it was originally intended to serve the town of West Roxbury, which was itself annexed into Boston within the year it took to construct this building! The town of West Roxbury appropriated funds for a larger police station in the dense core of their town, but only acquired land in Sumner Hill, which was a rapidly developing neighborhood with large, upper-class mansions on large lots. To appease the neighbors, the town hired architect George Ropes to design this brick Victorian Gothic building with slate roof, punctured by a number of dormers. The building is one of the best-designed civic buildings in the present city of Boston and appears much as it would have when built 150 years ago. After West Roxbury was annexed, the City of Boston constructed an addition at the rear, designed in 1892 by Edmund M. Wheelwright, architect for the City of Boston, to serve as a municipal court building. The ornate building continued its use as a police station until the early 1980s until it was deaccessioned by the City of Boston and sold, subsequently converted to condominiums. I wonder if they kept the jail cells!
Oliver Wendell Holmes House // c.1880
Built around 1880, this modest Victorian-era house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972, as the only surviving structure associated with the life of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935), who occupied it as a summer home from 1909 until his death. The Holmeses divided their time between this house and a residence in Washington, D.C., generally staying here between June and October. While here, Holmes would continue to work on cases, and would entertain legal and political luminaries, including Louis Brandeis, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Albert Beveridge. Noted for his long service, concise and pithy opinions, and deference to the decisions of elected legislatures, Holmes is to this day, one of the most widely cited United States Supreme Court justices in history. Holmes retired from the court at the age of 90, an unbeaten record for oldest justice in the federal Supreme Court. The house is now in private hands and well-maintained.
Chesterwood // 1901
Chesterwood is the former summer home, studio and gardens of American sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850–1931), who is best known for creating two of our nation’s most powerful symbols: the Minute Man (1871–75) at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, John Harvard in Harvard Yard, and Abraham Lincoln (1911–22) for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Daniel Chester French was one of the most successful artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, producing more than 100 works of public sculpture. In the fall of 1895, he and his wife drove by horse and buggy and discovered the resort town of Stockbridge. They returned the next summer and purchased the Marshall Warner farm from the family who had purchased the land from Mohican Native Americans. The French family and two maids moved into the white clapboard farmhouse the next summer. To ensure that his summer would be productive as well as restful, he improvised a studio in the barn. He asked his friend and colleague, architect Henry Bacon, to design a studio for him (Bacon would later work with French on the Lincoln Memorial). Soon, in spite of renovation, the original farmhouse was deemed inadequate and French commissioned Bacon to design a residence, completed in 1901. The family owned the home for decades, even after Daniel Chester French’s death. Much of the credit for Chesterwood’s preservation and metamorphosis from summer retreat to public site belongs to Margaret French Cresson (1889–1973), the sculptor’s daughter. After her parents’ death, she maintained the property and began to use it year-round, assembled the work of her father, and established the estate as a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
SAVE THIS HOUSE!
Located adjacent to the former H.H. Richardson House (also threatened with demolition), this home in Brookline may eventually face the wrecking ball… The rear ell of the building appears to have been constructed prior to 1844, possibly as an outbuilding or the main house as part of Samuel Perkins’ estate. The property was later subdivided and had numerous owners who bought and sold it in quick succession until 1858, when it was purchased by Francis A. White (1825-1910) a partner of Frederick Guild (1826- ) in the Boston tanning firm of Guild & White, Co., until 1871, when White retired to devote full time to his real-estate investments in the Boston area. It is likely that White updated and enlarged the home in the 1870s, with the massive corner tower, as a testament to his proficiency in real estate development and design. Francis lived in the home with his wife and four children until his death in 1910, when the home was willed to his late wife Caroline. After her death, the home was owned by their daughter Sophia, who had married John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), a prominent landscape architect and nephew of Frederick Law Olmsted, who lived just down the street. John and Sophia lived in the home, renovating and enlarging the home at least once, and John would walk down the street to his office, now the Olmsted National Historic Site. John was the first president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, founded in 1899, and was active in the formation of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. Sadly, a demolition permit has been applied for to raze this home, the Richardson House and a Techbuilt house by a developer. It is likely a demolition delay will be enacted, but advocacy on the two older houses preservation should be the first and only option for the site.
Dr. Aretus Rising House // 1854
Dr. Aretus Rising was born in Suffield, CT in 1801, part of one of the oldest families in town who settled here. His father was a farmer of modest means who could not afford the ability to let his eight children attend school routinely as he needed help on the family farm. He eventually moved to Western MA where he graduated the Berkshire Medical School in 1826, soon after opening a practice in Florida, NY before moving back to Massachusetts. He operated a doctors office in Suffield starting in 1845, running it until 1871, stopping due to poor health and failing sight. He lived most of his later years in this modest Italianate home. The house features broad overhanging eaves and a porch supported by stunning lattice columns.