Located in downtown Millbury, MA, the town’s local post office stands as a great example of Art Deco and Colonial Revival architecture styles, showing how well different styles can be incorporated into a single, complimentary design. The Millbury Post Office building was constructed in 1940 from plans by Louis Adolph Simon, who served as Supervising Architect in the Office of the Supervising Architect for the U.S. Treasury from 1933 until 1939, when the office was moved to the Public Works Administration / Works Progress Administration. The post office was designed at the tail end of the New Deal programs to help stimulate local economies by building infrastructure and providing jobs to locals. Inside, a mural “An Incident in the King Philip’s War, 1670” was painted by Joe Lasker and installed in 1941 and was “revivified” in 1991.
Elijah Waters (1773-1846), a hardscrabble farmer in West Millbury inherited his father’s large farm and resided there for over thirty years before wanting something more his style. Unmarried and without children, Elijah (who was 72 at the time), had this impressive Greek Revival farmhouse constructed near his old family homestead. He was possibly looking to spend money saved up and without a wife or heirs to will it to. The massive temple-front Greek Revival mansion has a stunning doorway and six columns supporting a projecting pediment. Within a year after the home was built, Elijah died. The home was willed to his nephew, Jonathan Waters. The house is for sale for $384,000 which is a STEAL!
In western Millbury, the Grass Hill school was constructed to provide a place of learning for children in the agricultural section of town. The district school, a remnant of the system of autonomous school districts that characterized the educational system of Massachusetts in the 19th century, this is a larger example of many of them. West Millbury had many wealthy farmers and they financed a district school here as far back as 1814. After two earlier, smaller school buildings, this two-story school was erected and was one of the most substantial. At one time, students in eight grades taught there, all at the same time, with grades 1-4 downstairs and 5-8 upstairs. As there weren’t many students, each grade only took up one or two rows. The building remained as a school for the town until 1968, and the building was leased to the Millbury Historical Society long term. They just completed a massive restoration project for the building, it looks great!
This farmhouse is unreal… Located on a rural back road in Millbury, I came across this rambling old Cape house with a stone wall and everything! The home appears to have been built in the late 18th or early 19th century, possibly as a half-cape (with the door and two windows to the right) for Emery Bond, or possibly his father, Oliver Bond. The home (like many Cape houses) was added onto as the family grew and finances could necessitate a more substantial house. It likely added the two bays to the left of the front door next, then bumping out the sides by the 20th century to give it the present, elongated appearance. It’s not often that a once-modest Cape house stops me in my tracks!
Completed in 1880, the Newport Casino building is one of the best examples of Shingle style architecture in the world, and despite its name, it was never a gambling facility. Planning for the casino began a year earlier in August, 1879. Per legend, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the influential publisher of the New York Herald and a summer resident of Newport, bet his polo partner, Captain Henry Augustus Candy, a retired officer of the Queen’s 9th Royal Lancers and skillful British polo player, to ride his horse onto the front porch of the exclusive gentlemen’s-only club, the Newport Reading Room. Candy took the dare one step further and rode straight through the clubrooms, which disturbed the members. After Candy’s guest membership was revoked, Bennett purchased the land across the street from his home, on Bellevue Avenue, and sought to build his own social club. Within a year, Bennett hired the newly formed architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, who designed the U-shaped building for the new club. The Newport Casino was the firm’s first major commission and helped to establish MMW’s national reputation. The building included tennis courts, facilities for other games such as squash and lawn bowling, club rooms for reading, socializing, cards, and billiards, shops, and a convertible theater and ballroom. In the 20th century, the casino was threatened with demolition as Newport began to fall out of fashion as a summer resort. Saviors Candy and Jimmy Van Alen took over operating the club, and by 1954, had established the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the Newport Casino. The combination of prominent headliners at the tennis matches and the museum allowed the building to be saved. The building remains a National Landmark for its connections with gilded age society and possibly the first commission by McKim, Mead and White, who became one of the most prominent architectural firms in American history.
Built in 1887 for John O’Brien, a direct descendant of Brian Boru, the High King Of Ireland, “Inchiquin” in Newport stands out for its bold stone exterior and proper siting. The mansion was named after Inchiquin, a barony (or state) in Ireland, likely where O’Brien’s ancestors were from. The cottage was designed by John Dixon Johnston, a well-known Newport architect, who designed the stone mansion in a sort of hodge-podge of styles, which actually work well together somehow! In 1901, Inchiquin was acquired by The Baroness Seilliere, the adopted daughter of John O’Brien. She was a daughter of Mrs. O’Brien by a former husband. After her first husband died she married the Baron de Seilliere, brother of the Princess de Sagan. Like some other massive, expensive mansions in Newport, this home was converted to condos.
If anyone knows me, I absolutely LOVE Tudor and French Norman style houses, but they are much less common compared to the Colonial Revival style, which dominated residential architecture in New England for nearly a century. Located on Ledge Road, at the southeasternmost peninsula of Aquidneck Island in Newport, you’ll find this absolutely giant estate as you conclude walking Newport’s iconic Cliff Walk. “The Waves”, was built in 1927 by architect John Russell Pope (1874-1937) as his own residence. He built it over the ruins of the former Gov. Lippitt Mansion which was previously built on the site and demolished by Lippitt’s heirs. In designing The Waves, Pope wanted to focus on the natural, rocky site and build a structure that would blend in. The Tudor style mansion features stucco and stone siding, half-timbering, and a complex roof covered in slate, all in a U-shaped form. Years after completing his home in Newport, Pope would become even more well-known for designing major public buildings in Washington D.C., including the National Archives Building (1935), the West Building of the National Gallery of Art (1941), and the Jefferson Memorial (1943). After Pope’s death, the massive home became the first mansion in Newport to be converted to condos, a great preservation tool that maintains these massive mansions, and allows for them to be utilized today.
Built about 1758, this Georgian house in Newport was the home of John Tillinghast, a representative to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1744 and 1749, and a wealthy merchant and ship owner. It is not unlikely to assume that Tillinghast was involved in the slave trade and transportation of goods in the Indies, like many other wealthy Rhode Island merchants at the time. During the American Revolution, General Nathanael Greene was quartered in this house. Greene was born to a Quaker family in what is now Warwick, Rhode Island, but because of his military affairs, the pacifist Quakers disowned him. After several decisive victories against the British in the Carolinas, Greene was named Commander of the Southern Army, second in command to George Washington! Also during this time, two of Greene’s aides are said to have visited him while he resided at the house. One was the Lithuanian General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, an engineer who designed fortifications along Delaware River and West Point. Another was the Inspector-General of the Continental Army, German-born Friedrich von Steuben. This house is significant and shows the international nature of the War for Independence, which saw American forces joined by French forces and German mercenaries to fight the British. In the early 19th century, the home was occupied by William C. Gibbs, Governor of Rhode Island from 1821-1824. The high-style Georgian home has been enlarged over the years, but remains one of the most significant properties in the town!
Newport in 1774 had approximately 153 free Black residents residing in 46 households comprising of thirty-percent of Newport’s population at this time. One of these free Black families was the Jack family who resided around Levin Street (Memorial Boulevard today). The Jack Family appears to have been from Antigua and may have had ties to the Redwood Family (the namesake of the Redwood Library), who owned a plantation on the island and resided in Newport. Alexander Jack, Jr. was a free African American whose trade was a cordwainer or shoemaker. He bought his land in 1811 and is thought to have begun construction almost immediately. Jack heirs remained on this property until 1881. The Newport Restoration Foundation purchased the house in 1969, moved it that same year to Mill Street to save it from urban renewal and the widening of Levin Street as Memorial Blvd.
Located just a short walk from the oldest extant Jewish synagogue in the United States, Touro Synagogue (last post), the Touro Jewish Cemetery and stately gate, showcase the significance and position Jewish residents held in Newport, going back to Colonial times. The earliest Jews in Newport arrived from Barbados, where a Jewish community had existed since the 1620s. They were of Spanish and Portuguese origin; their families had migrated from Amsterdam and London to Brazil and then to islands in the Caribbean. After the completion of the synagogue in 1763, the Jewish community in Newport realized the need to acquire land for a Jewish cemetery. Two of the original immigrants, Mordechai Campanal and Moses Pacheco purchased the lot at the corner of what is now Kay and Touro Streets for this purpose. In 1843, the cemetery funded the erection of a cemetery gate and fencing to surround the plot. They hired architect Isaiah Rogers to design the gate, which he took inspiration from his design at Boston’s Granary Burying Ground, completed just two years earlier. The Egyptian Revival gate is a very rare example of the style in the United States. On the granite gate, the torches turned to face downward are an acknowledgement of the ending of life’s flame.