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.
Located right on Main Street in the beautiful village of Chester, Vermont, this historic inn has been a landmark in town since it was built in the mid 19th century. The house was constructed around 1850 for Dr. Abram Lowell (1794-1876), the village doctor. Dr. Lowell conducted his medical practice in a small building next to the main house and resided in the home, which originally had a side-gable roof. Tributes printed in regional newspapers at the time of his death called him an eminent physician, accomplished gardener, “eccentric in his ideas,” and “the wealthiest man in town.” After his death, the home was inherited by his daughter and her husband, George Hilton. They immediately “modernized” the home, adding the mansard roof, which provided an extra full story of living space. The home was converted to a bed & breakfast in 1998, and has been one of the most intact, Victorian era inns in the state since! It is known as Inn Victoria, so named after Queen Victoria and the Victorian period of architecture in the United States.
One of the most interesting homes in Durham, NH, sits right on Main Street, and while lacks much of its original grandeur, the house still has a story to tell. When mining engineer, Hamilton Smith met and married Alice Congreve while working in London, the couple envisioned and planned for a sprawling gentleman’s farm in New England to retire to. In 1895, the couple purchased the 1780 Rev. Blydenburgh home on Main Street, a large Federal style mansion. When Alice and Hamilton retired to the Red Tower in 1895, they set about renovating the estate into a jewel of the Gilded Age. They added a three-story tower to the rear of the home, large additions and Colonial Revival alterations, and they purchased large land holdings behind the house for a working farm. On the farmland, they built a carriage house, creamery, and men’s and women’s accessory buildings (a billiards building and tea house, respectively). Hamilton could only enjoy the home for a couple years until his death in 1900. His widow created the family cemetery at the farthest extent of the property and built the stunning Smith Memorial Chapel (last post). In the 1940s, much of the property was sold off and developed for a residential neighborhood for UNH faculty, and the Red Tower mansion was converted to an apartment house for students.
One of the oldest homes in Sippican/Wharf Village in Marion, Mass., this beautiful Cape house with gambrel roof dates to 1784 from deed research. The house was constructed by two owners, Barnabas Luce, innholder, and Stephen Cunningham, a mariner, seemingly as an inn for sailors who would dock their ships in the harbor just behind the property. It was later acquired by Edward Sherman (1790-1867), a shipwright and carpenter who built schooners at the wharfs in town. In 1868, his son Edward Franklin Sherman (1821-1907), also a ship carpenter, sold the waterfront property after his father’s death to Andrew A. Harwood, an admiral in the United States Navy, Commodore of the Washington Navy Yard, and through his mother, Elizabeth Franklin Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin! The property remained in the Harwood family until, 1955, when the property was sold to the Beverly Yacht Club. The yacht club was originally named after the town of Beverly, north of Boston, when members broke from the Eastern Yacht Club of Marblehead which was more prestigious. For the first 23 years, the club had no fixed location, but eventually settled in Bourne, and merged with the local Sippican Yacht Club. The Great Hurricane of 1938 destroyed their clubhouse and they were “homeless” for years until moving into this 1784 home, later expanding it to meet growing needs.
Captain Elisha Luce (1786-1850) was born in Massachusetts and from a young age, loved the sea. The son of Rowland Luce, Elisha spent his childhood in the family home (featured in the last post). Captain Luce moved into half of this double-house by 1813, right after his marriage to Jane Hiller, when he was 27 and she was 19. I don’t know many 27 year olds that could afford a house like this today! Captain Elisha E. Luce’s best known ship was the Persia, which made numerous profitable trade missions and whaling excursions from her home port of New Bedford. His wife, Jane died at the young age of 29, and he quickly remarried the next year to Lucretia Clark; they had three boys. In the other half of the home, Captain Noble Everett Bates who co-owned the schooner Marmion and went on his own voyages from his wharf in town. The home was locally known as the “Two Captains House”.
Built around 1790 for Rowland Luce (1756-1835), this Federal home oozes character and charm, and is located right on Main Street in one of my favorite towns, Marion, Mass. Luce was born in Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard into a very religious family. While studying to become a Deacon like his father, the Revolutionary War broke out, and Rowland served to fight the British, leaving service as a Major. He eventually settled in Marion’s Sippican/Wharf Village and worked as a Deacon for the Congregational Church. The simple house is clad in cedar shingles and has two chimneys, a departure from earlier homes with one, large central chimney.
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!
Across from the Marion Town Hall (last post), this perfect little cottage showcases what makes coastal New England so special. Built around 1840, by and for Warren Blankinship, a carpenter in town, the home represents a well-preserved example of a modest Greek Revival home. The home is clad in cedar shingles, a hallmark of many coastal homes in New England. White Cedar shingles are so popular historically as the species is such a hard wood that pieces are naturally insect and rot resistant and hold up amazingly well to salt air. Early colonists noted the use of the tree for canoes and other objects by Native people and followed suit, constructing homes from the native tree. The shingles were usually left exposed, and they would eventually weather over time. The exposed, cedar shingles have been a classic look in coastal homes since and even today, evoke a strong sense of place when seen on an old home here.
Grace Church was built in 1835 for a growing congregation in Beacon Hill. The absolutely stunning Gothic style church was designed by William Washburn (1808–1890), an architect and city councilor in Boston. The church was constructed of granite and had massive stained glass windows and soaring towers with decorative embellishments. Inside, a massive central window flooded the interior with natural light, and illuminated paintings from Mario Bragaldi, a Milan artist. In 1865, the building was sold to the Methodist Episcopal Society. 1873, it merged with Hanover Street, and took the name First Methodist. The church was variously referred to as First, Grace, or Temple Street, sometimes all at once! This church was occupied until 1962, when it merged with Copley to form First-Copley, which appears to have then occupied the Old West Church. The building was soon after acquired by Boston University and demolished for the building on the site today, a true loss to one of Boston’s most beautiful buildings.
The simplicity and proportions of old Georgian houses are just so pleasing to me. This c.1765 home was built before the United States of America was even a country, a fact that always boggles my mind when doing research on buildings. These four walls have survived numerous wars, pandemics, families, and storms, and will continue to do so for (hopefully) hundreds of more years in the future. This Canterbury house was built for John Carter (1708-1776) and his family, which included a wife and over 10 children in all. The house retains its double-width doors, 12-over-12 windows, central chimney (though likely reduced in size), and stone foundation.