While Everett’s population had remained small compared to nearby towns throughout much of the nineteenth century, its close proximity to Boston resulted in dramatic population growth between 1885 and 1915. During this late industrial period Everett’s population was one of the fastest growing in the state, doubling between 1870 and 1880, nearly tripling from 1880 to 1890 and doubling again between 1890-1900. The City of Everett immediately went about erecting a new schoolhouse to educate its youth. Architects Loring & Phipps were retained to prepare plans for the new high school. Ground was broken in August 1892 and the building was dedicated just over a year later in September 1893. The school was opened to 175 students on Monday, October 2, 1892 with a capacity of 550 students (as it was realized that the city would continue to grow). The building is high-style Queen Anne with red brick and mortar and light sandstone trimming. In 1905, the capacity of the high school was nearly doubled by the construction of an addition on the west end of the original building. Even doubling the size of the school did not prove adequate as the building was outgrown less than a decade later. From this, the Second Everett High School was built a block away. The First Everett High School is now known as the Whitney Lorenti House, a low income, elderly housing complex.
Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant (1833-1890) was born in a poor Maine farming family and began working as a shoemaker to make ends meet. He devised a crude machine used in shoe manufacturing and moved to Boston in 1856 seeking backing for further development, thus began his career as an inventor. In his travels around shoe factories, Sturtevant was troubled by the airborne wood dust created by the machines wanted to invent a way to eliminate the dust and its resulting health effects. In 1867, he patented a rotary exhaust fan and began manufacturing the fan and selling it to industrial buyers across the country. He built a factory in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood that manufactured his invented air blowers, fans, and pneumatic conveyors. The factory in the 1870s was the largest fan manufacturing plant in the world. From his success, Ben Franklin Sturtevant built a house in the fashionable Sumner Hill neighborhood of Boston. The home was likely built in the Second Empire or Stick style, both popular at the time. When Benjamin died in the home, the home was willed to his widow until her death in 1903. In that time, the home was likely updated in the Queen Anne style, with Colonial embellishments. The couple’s youngest daughter, Lilla, occupied the home with her husband Eugene, who was previously hired to the B. F. Sturtevant Company by her late father. Eugene Foss, who married Lilla, was a member of the United States House of Representatives, and served as a three-term governor of Massachusetts. No biggie.
Tucked behind the St. John Episcopal Church in Sumner Hill, Boston, the Thomas Sherwin House sits atop the peak of the hill, and likely has views of downtown Boston from its upper floor. The house was built in 1883 for Thomas Sherwin, an auditor, and possibly the man of the same name who was a Brigadier General in the American Civil War. The home was designed by the powerhouse architectural firm of Ware & Van Brunt and spans two major architectural styles of the period; Stick style and Queen Anne. The home is one of the best examples in the neighborhood and is very well preserved!
In the early 1780s, Leonard Proctor and Salmon Dutton and their families, moved from Massachusetts and settled in present-day Cavendish, Vermont and gave their names to the two major settlements on the Black River, Proctorsville and Duttonsville. Leonard Proctor was born in Westford, Massachusetts and fought in the Revolutionary War at a young age. He settled in Cavendish in 1782 and built a modest house/tavern, and underwent developing the village in his name, Proctorsville. By the early 1800s, Leonard was a highly esteemed member of town and had the funds to erect the finest Federal style manse in the village, to showcase the stability and wealth of his community. The home exhibits scalloped cornice moldings and the carved wood flowering vines springing from urns on the upper pilasters that have a folk/Federal quality that stands out as a very unique design detail. Carved Adamesque bell flowers that flank the door suggest Asher Benjamin’s Windsor influence. Elliptical sunbursts above the pilasters, elaborate guilloche friezes, and the broad semielliptical attic light have a later Federal character. It is possible that Leonard had this house built, and it was “modernized” by one of his heirs.
When you think of the quintessential New England Village, what do you think of? These villages of white houses around a town green, usually anchored by a congregational church with a tall, white steeple, have been the subject of myriad photographs and memories for decades. Why are so many like this? Well, historically, the bright white we know of as a common house color was not available until the 1920s. Before the early 1900s, “white” paint was more cream or off-white as we would describe it. Many such villages started seeing white paint proliferate as Titanium Dioxide was mixed with pigments to generate the bright white, about at the same time Colonial Revival style homes saw a second resurgence in popularity. The bright-white paint was more expensive and represented stability and prestige. Publications like Yankee Magazine showed photographs of these charming villages blending into the freshly fallen snow or fall foliage and the romanticization of New England truly began. Newfane, Vermont is one of these villages, which are dominated by the bright white paint. It is an obvious choice, especially due to the number of classically inspired Greek Revival style houses.
Rural New England towns like Dummerston, Vermont long relied on agriculture as a means of life. From this, local farmers and their families would organize in regional Grange Halls through the The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, an agricultural advocacy group. Many rural communities in the United States still have a Grange Hall and local Granges still serve as a center of rural life for many farming communities. The local Evening Star Grange was organized in Dummerston Center in 1874 with 32 members, growing by the end of the 19th century. This building would have held meetings where farmers could share trade secrets, make deals, and “talk shop” regarding farm life. Such buildings are significant as community centers for agricultural communities and should be preserved for future generations.
The First Congregational Church was first established in Ridgefield, Connecticut just four years after the establishment of the town. Civic leaders in October 1712 successfully petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly for permission to levy a tax for “the settling and maintaining of the ministry in the said Town of Ridgefield.” Rev. Thomas Hauley, the first minister, also served as town clerk and school teacher. The first meeting house, on the town green, opened for worship in 1726. Plans for a new meeting house were drawn up in 1771 to fit a growing population, but construction was not complete until 1800. The second church was built in a more traditional style with a steeple. With a shift in the towns demographic from rural homeowners to ritzy exurb to New York City, a more suitable church was required by the end of the 19th century. Josiah Cleaveland Cady, one of the many great New York architects at the time was hired to design a new church suitable for the wealthy New Yorkers who summered in town to consider a neighbor, and he did not disappoint! The building blends many styles from Queen Anne, to Victorian Gothic, to Romanesque Revival in a way that isn’t clunky as in some other versions.
This towering Georgian Revival building in Providence is definitely one of my favorites downtown. The 8-story building was constructed in 1917 for the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, who outgrew their other facility just blocks away. The design is credited to the firm of Clarke & Howe, local architects. The two-story arcaded marble base is surmounted by a six-story brick tower, which is an architectural landmark in Downtown Providence. The building appears to retain its original windows and looks much as it did when built over 100 years ago. At the rear, a larger 1970s wing was added and shares little in terms of architectural detailing with the original structure.
This house in Freetown, MA literally made me turn the car around to get a photo (it’s a sickness, they need a rehab for old house addicts). The house was built in the early 1800s and is a stellar example of the Federal style, which took over architecture in New England after the Revolutionary War until the 1830s. The style often features intricate designs and complex geometry, which previously would have been too difficult for the majority of builders or designers to accomplish. From pattern books by influential architects like Asher Benjamin, the style was built in forms and places from urban townhomes in Boston and New York, to rural, rambling farmhouses in Vermont and Maine. Publications by Asher Benjamin including The Country Builder’s Assistant and The American Builder’s Companion opened up high-quality, architectural landmark designs to the masses, and is a significant reason New England architecture is so iconic. Benjamin included drawings and diagrams which builders could copy, from column styles and dimensions to chimney and moulding details.
Welcome to Freetown, Massachusetts, a town I had not really heard about until recently (don’t come after me)! The land here was originally occupied by the Wampanoag Tribe, who lived off the earth well before colonization. In 1659, twenty-six Plymouth Bay settlers bought from the local native leaders the large tract of upland meadow thereafter called the Freeman’s Purchase, which includes much of Freetown and parts of adjacent towns. The land was divided into lots the following year, but settlement did not occur in earnest until the 1680s. Fall River used to once be a part of Freetown until it separated in the early 19th century, believe it or not! Freetown today is divided into two villages, which historically developed almost entirely independent from one another: Assonet and East Freetown. Assonet became the major “downtown” or populated area of the town and it is named after the River upon which is straddles. East Freetown was always more rural and today retains that charm. Due to Assonet’s location, a new town hall building was proposed in the last decades of the 19th century there. This structure was built and designed in 1888 by Charles C. Marble from Fall River, who combined the Queen Anne style with elements of the Colonial Revival style. The building contained the town offices as well as the fire station. Its wide double doors originally opened onto North Main Street have been replaced with windows, with flared eaves.