One of the finest Federal homes in southern New Hampshire is this residence that sits in the middle of Wilton Center. The home appears to have been built for Richard Taylor Buss, or another member of the Buss Family who settled in Wilton in the 18th century. By the second half of the 19th century, the property was owned by George A. Newell, who built a gorgeous Victorian era stable on the property. Swoon!!
The Wilton Public and Gregg Free Library is the public library for the town of Wilton, New Hampshire and is among the town’s most grand architectural designs. The library was the gift of David Almus Gregg (1841-1928), a native of Wilton who owned a successful building parts business in Nashua manufacturing doors, window blinds, and window sashes with his father, David Sr., who lived in the home featured previously. Gregg was significantly involved in the design and construction of the building, providing the highest quality building materials and contractors to the project, which was estimated to cost $100,000 when completed in 1907. The architectural firm of McLean and Wright was commissioned to design the building, who completed it in the Classical Revival style, like many of their other library designs in New England.
Welcome to Wilton, New Hampshire! With a population less than 4,000, the tiny New England town sure packs a lot of old buildings into its borders. The town was first part of a township chartered as “Salem-Canada” in 1735, by Colonial Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts, which then claimed this area. The land here was granted to soldiers from Salem, Massachusetts, who had served in 1690 under Sir William Phips in the war against Canada. “Salem-Canada” was one of the towns on the state’s border intended to provide protection against attack from native tribes. In 1762, residents of the town petitioned New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth to incorporate the town as Wilton, likely named after Wilton, England. The town prospered as a sleepy farming town, largely concentrated around Wilton Center. By the 1860s, the village of East Wilton developed around the Souhegan River, with mills and businesses centered there. The town decided to relocate their town hall “closer to the action”. Land was acquired on a triangular piece of land in the center of the village, which was recently cleared by the destruction of Whiting House, a hotel that formerly occupied the site. The architectural firm of Merrill & Cutler of Lowell, MA, were hired to design the building, which blends Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne styles perfectly on the difficult site, opening in 1885. Silent movies were first shown in the auditorium in 1912 and by the 1930s, the auditorium was used most often as a movie theater. A large part of the building has since been occupied as a theater for the community.
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!
As Cavendish and other rural towns of Vermont became summer destinations for the rich of the urban centers of the northeast, large estates began to sprout up, replacing old family homesteads. Allen Miller Fletcher was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the grandnephew of Josiah Fletcher, one of the original settlers of Cavendish in September 1853. He was the son of a successful banker and became a banker himself, building homes in Indianapolis and New York City. In 1881, he built a summer home in his ancestral home of Cavendish, taking the train up to relax and breathe in the clean air. While living most of the year in New York, Fletcher became involved in Vermont politics, winning the Republican nomination to serve in both the Vermont House of Representatives and the Vermont Senate in the early 1900s. During his time as a Vermont state senator, Fletcher commissioned architect Samuel Francis Page of the Boston-based firm, Fehmer and Page, to bring his vision to life. Page used English Cotswold-style architecture for his inspiration, and when completed in 1906, the home was the first in Vermont to be fully wired for electricity and equipped with an elevator! Fletcher also hired Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to design the landscaping on the property. Fletcher would spend the rest of his life at his country mansion, going on to work as the Governor of Vermont from 1912 to 1915. Today, Fletcher’s beautiful mansion now lives as a magnificent holiday retreat known as the Castle Hill Resort & Spa.
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.
Proctorsville Village (in present-day Cavendish, Vermont) was established in last decades of the 18th century along the Black River, where the slope allowed for suitable locations for small water-powered mills. The community grew slowly for the early part of the 19th century as farmers, craftsman and merchants established enterprises around the handful of small mills built along the river. The establishment of the Central Vermont Railroad through the village aided manufacturing expansion, and by the late 1800s, Proctorsville was home to many large mills. As employment in the mills grew, the local economy shifted from the barter economy of a farming community to a cash-based economy generated by wage employment. The general store was essential to this transition supplied the townspeople with essential goods via the railroad, and the major store in Proctorsville was the Pollard General Store. Don Carlos Pollard (1840-1921) was born in Plymouth, Vermont and opened his first store there under his father’s name. He moved to Proctorsville in 1860 and opened a general store in the village. The store was an immediate hit, and later managed by Don’s two eldest sons, Fred and Park out of a brick building. A fire destroyed the brick building in 1895, but construction began of a new building immediately that same year. The present wood-frame building exhibits the retail presence and early commerce in many small villages in New England. It blends Italianate and Classical Revival details with the bracketed eaves and one-story corner pilasters and dentils. Swoon!
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is one of the most charming towns in New England to explore by foot, largely due to its walkable network of streets and tight blocks filled with preserved Revolution-era homes. Like many other cities all over the region (and nation), Portsmouth was hit by Urban Renewal, a planning tool used nationwide to provide Federal funds to address “urban blight” and revitalize downtown cores after decades of suburbanization and loss of tax revenue. An urban renewal district for Portsmouth was its North End neighborhood, which similar to Boston’s, was home to a vibrant Italian-American population.
In 1964, federal funds were allocated to the North End project area in Portsmouth, for urban renewal. Prior to redevelopment, the North End was a mix of residential and commercial buildings, with many older houses converted into storefronts with apartments above. In the mid-1960s, the area was considered overcrowded, run down, and a fire hazard. As a result, the Portsmouth Housing Authority proposed the destruction of approximately 200 buildings, a school, and a church and redevelopment for commercial, industrial, and public use, rather than for residences. The project would displace approximately 300 families as a result. In 1968, Portsmouth Preservation Inc., a preservation organization was formed to attempt to save some of the historic building stock in the area slated for redevelopment. After bitter fighting and preservation advocacy, just fourteen houses were saved and mostly moved to an area known today as “The Hill”. This building is one of them. It was constructed around 1725 for Rev. Jabez Fitch, the new minister of the North Church in town. Fitch graduated from Harvard College in 1694 first settling in Ipswich, MA, before becoming minister of the North Church in 1724, a position he held until his death in 1746. The house was one of the few in the urban renewal area to not have been moved.