Whitman House // 1881

Built in 1881 for William Henry Whitman, this stunning Victorian house remains one of the better-preserved in the town of North Adams. William Whitman was a successful shoe manufacturer in town that lived modestly until his late 40s when he had this home built. The brick home is trimmed with freestone and features a very prominent three-story corner tower with conical roof. The house is a blending of the Stick and Queen Anne styles, under the umbrella of the ‘Victorian’ classification.

Walker House // 1882

This house was built in 1882 for Frank Walker, a merchant who owned a feed and grain store in Downtown North Adams, Massachusetts. The Stick and Queen Anne style home was designed by architect Marcus F. Cummings, who also designed the Blackinton Mansion. The brick and freestone home was converted to multi-family sometime in the mid-20th-century due to the changing demographics of the town. Since then, the home has seen weathering and deferred maintenance, but retains much of its original detailing and character.

Blackinton Woolen Mill // 1917

On the outskirts of North Adams, in the village of Blackinton, you will find this massive decaying mill complex slowly being overtaken by Mother Nature and time. The complex is the Blackinton Woolen Mill, which was founded by Sanford Blackinton, who started his woolen mill on the banks of the Hoosic River in 1821 (later building his mansion closer to town). The mill increased production yearly and produced cloth during the Civil War for the Union cause. After, the mill increased production and ran 24 hours a day with the only time the mill would close down would be for mill fires, machinery repairs, or low water supply. In 1869, 162 men, 105 women, and 35 children worked in the mill with the length of the working day being eleven hours! After Blackinton’s death, the mill was succeeded by William Pomeroy, his son-in-law, who had marketed the Blackinton product through his own woolen goods store in New York. In 1917, the present main mill building was built; it is three stories high, with large windows in recessed bays between vertical brick members, resembling pilasters, which rise from the ground to the flat roof. The tower and parapet on the end facing the street are decorated with ornate castellation giving the complex a high-style design. The mill was constructed behind the weave shed (1908) which is a long one-story structure fronting the main street, decreasing the mill’s presence. As is the history of industry in New England, the mill struggled after WWII with a national shift to a service economy away from production. The building has been vacant since the late 1980s and has been eyed for redevelopment into loft and artist studios since.

Fingers crossed!

Blackinton Mansion // 1865

This mansion in North Adams, MA was built in 1865 for Sanford Blackinton. Blackinton was said to be the first millionaire in North Adams, and his mansion was the most elaborate home ever built in the city. His mill produced woolen goods during the Civil War including cloth for the Union forces. After the Civil War, many factory owners no longer lived amongst their workers, as they formerly had done, but instead built luxurious mansions in other neighborhoods, away from their factories. These large residences were designed in extravagant modern styles to impress the public and reflect the stature of their owners. European materials were even imported to grace these homes, such as the Italian marble fireplaces in the Blackinton Mansion.

Sanford Blackinton built his mansion in the hopes that it would become the ancestral home for his descendants. However, after the death of his widow (their four children died by the 1870s), the mansion was put up for sale in 1896, and was bought by North Adams’s first mayor, A.C. Houghton.
He in turn donated the mansion, along with $10,000 for renovations, to the city, to be used as a public library and as a meeting place for the local historical society. He requested that the building be known as the Andrew Jackson Houghton Memorial after his late brother. The home, designed by architect Marcus Fayette Cummings, is a high-style Second Empire mansion with a prominent tower, constructed of red brick with brownstone trim.

North Adams Universalist Church // 1893

Tucked away off Main Street in North Adams you’ll find this charming little church. The Universalists were organized in North Adams in 1842, restoring an existing church near the Hoosic River. The congregation chose a site for a new church in 1852, and erected a white wooden chapel. It is unclear if the church was outgrown or a fire destroyed it, but the Unitarian society voted to build this church for a cost of approximately $25,000 in 1892. Architect Henry Neill Wilson of Pittsfield drew the plans, and the firm of Porter and Harnam of North Adams constructed the church. Due to the declining population in town in the mid-20th century, the church struggled and was sold to a private owner. The building began to decay by the 1970s and was later sold in 1996 to Barbara and Eric Rudd to house artist Eric Rudd’s installation entitled “A Chapel for Humanity”. The building is currently used as the Berkshire Art Museum Annex.

Penniman House // c.1885

Edmund Burke Penniman (1841-1929) was born in North Adams, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund B. Penniman. His father an established lawyer, and mother died, leaving the young boy with a sizable estate. Just before the Civil War broke out, he developed a mill, which had to shut down when the war began. After the war, the company had no orders to fill and they sold the property. Penniman became treasurer for the North Adams Manufacturing Company, and later served as President of the Hoosac Savings Bank. He and his family resided in this Stick style home until his wife’s death in 1909. The home features a brick ground floor and clapboards (now aluminum) above. The Victorian home has a rusticated arched entryway protected by a projecting porch with stickwork. A large corner tower gives the house a large street presence.

Church Street Tenements // 1872

Industrial cities and towns all over New England drew in thousands of European immigrants looking for work. Due to the massive influx of workers and families, many towns and companies constructed tenement housing and other worker’s housing to provide living spaces close to factories and mills. This six-unit tenement house was built in 1872 and is a high-style Second Empire example of worker’s housing in North Adams. The use of brick, mansard roof, and window hoods was likely a concerted choice by the developers as they were located on a street lined by mill owners houses and the who’s who of North Adams.

Gallup House // 1894

William A. Gallup was born October 28, 1851, in North Adams. He worked primarily for the Arnold Print Works beginning in 1870 before becoming a charter member, elected clerk, and director of the company. He went on to work for and own a few more mills in North Adams by the end of the 19th century. Gallup hired H. Neill Wilson, a Western MA based architect to design a mansion for his family on Church Street, near his father in-law and business partners (A.C. Houghton) house.

Charles Cutting House // 1881

This stunning Stick style house in North Adams was built for Charles Cutting (1850-1940), founder of the C. H. Cutting Company, a prosperous clothing company in town. The company started as a partnership between 20-year old Cutting and a Mr. Silsby, who retired just a year after co-founding the company. Cutting used his business connections to help establish other local clothing companies including the Bay State Clothing Company in Adams, the Orange Clothing Company in Orange, MA, and the Athol Clothing Company in (you guessed it) Athol. With his wealth, he had this amazing Victorian home built on East Main Street where he lived until his death in 1940.