Built in 1923 as a summer home for Ellery Sedgwick and his family, “Long Hill” was designed in the Georgian Revival style by the architectural firm of Richardson, Barott and Richardson, in the northern part of Beverly, Massachusetts. Some of you may remember a post I did a while back on Theodore Sedgwick and his house in Stockbridge, Mass, where he lived while he won the case Brom and Bett vs. Ashley (1781), an early “freedom suit“, for two escaped slaves in Western Massachusetts, a case that assisted in the abolishment of slavery in the state two years later. Ellery Sedgwick, a descendant of Theodore, was editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1908-1938, turning circulation from less than 10,000 in 1908 when he purchased the magazine to readership of more than 125,000 decades later. The success was largely due to his inclusion of works by many young authors that other publications overlooked, including: Ernest Hemingway and James Hilton. The magazine, now known as The Atlantic is now one of the leading publications in the nation. Sedgwick summered here with his first wife, Mabel Cabot Sedgwick, an accomplished horticulturist, gardener, and author of The Garden Month by Month, and his second wife, Marjorie Russell Sedgwick, a rare plants specialist—both of whom created a delightful, enchanting landscape, surrounded by more than 100 acres of woodland. In 1979, Sedgwick’s children gifted the family summer estate to The Trustees of Reservations, who maintain the immaculate property and landscape to this day.
Located not far from the demolished Loring House in Beverly, a stunning church in the same Shingle style, by the same architect remains, a sort of consolation prize for architectural historians. Primarily an architect of houses, William Ralph Emerson is recognized as one of a group of Boston-area architects whose work was important in the development of late nineteenth century American architecture. In the vanguard of those architects who designed in what has become known as the Shingle Style, Emerson was considered by many of his contemporaries to be its inventor. St. Margaret Roman Catholic Parish was established in 1885 as a mission of St. Mary Star of the Sea of Beverly, as Beverly Farms and Prides Crossing, summer colonies of wealthy of Boston residents developed and owners sought a place of worship in the Catholic faith. The church constructed a rectory in the early 20th century, which is constructed of reddish-orange stone, quarried from the site. Additionally, a school was constructed adjacent to the church in 1929 and designed by architect Edward T. P. Graham, who also designed the rectory, in a similar style, also with stone quarried from the site.
Architectural losses are numerous in cities and towns all over New England, but few evoke such sadness for me than the demolition of the Charles G. Loring House of Beverly. The house was built as a summer cottage in 1881 for Charles G. Loring (1828-1902) on family land, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, perched high on a cliff. Loring hired architect William Ralph Emerson to design the home, which was perfectly harmonious in its siting and design with the rugged landscape it sat upon. William Ralph Emerson (1833-1917) was a leading architect credited with originating and popularizing what came to be known as the Shingle Style of architecture. The man who coined that term, Vincent Scully, called the Loring House “the very best of all the houses along this coast and considers that it “may well be the finest surviving example of the Shingle Style“. Additionally, the property’s landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who designed the Emerald Necklace park system in Boston, the landscape plan for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, among dozens of other iconic designs. In 2012, the property was sold by heirs of the Loring Family to Helen Greiner, a co-founder of iRobot, the company best known for its robotic vacuum cleaner Roomba. She proposed a plan to demolish portions of the house, which according to the local Historical Commission, would be “no different from demolition” and completely destroy the architectural integrity and significance of the home. A one year delay was enacted on the property, but it was razed soon after the delay was over.
The Beverly Farms Library was built in 1916, replacing its previous quarters in a GAR Hall in the village. The land on which the library stands was donated by Katharine Peabody Loring and her sister Louisa Putnam Loring, daughters of William Caleb Loring (1819-1897) and his wife Elizabeth. The wealthy, socially prominent, and philanthropic Loring family built some of the earliest summer estates nearby. The architect for the Beverly Farms Library was the Loring sisters’ first cousin, Charles Greely Loring (1881-1966), partner in the firm of Loring and Leland. He was born in Beverly and graduated form Harvard in 1903 and MIT in 1906, later working in the Boston office of prominent Boston architect Guy Lowell. He went on to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and was afterwards employed in the New York City office of architect Cass Gilbert. While he was employed by Cass Gilbert, he was tasked with overseeing the designs and construction of Beverly’s Main Library (1913). The library is an excellent example of the Colonial Revival style for civic use and it was expanded one hundred years later, with an appropriate Modern addition.
In 1712, Robert Haskell married Mary Leach in Manchester, where their first son, William, was born in 1713. Soon after, Haskell bought from his grandfather the 50-acre parcel his family owned since 1688 and built a home for his new family. The couple had numerous other children over the next years at this property overlooking the ocean. Upon his death in 1776, Robert left two-fifths of his real estate, including his “dwelling house and barn,” not to his first-born William, but to his second son, Paul. He also left one room in the house to his daughter Ruth, who apparently lived there into adulthood. The home remained in the family until the 19th century when the home was willed off in halves as the eastern and western portions. Late in the 19th century, the land was sold and subdivided to allow building lots all around, the Haskell House now sits on less than one acre of its former 300 acre parcel. The home is a great example of a modified Georgian house, which was added onto over time.
One of the oldest extant homes in the country is this home in Beverly, Massachusetts constructed around 1679, one hundred years prior to our country’s founding. John Balch was born in Bridgewater, England in 1579! He and his first wife, Margaret, were part of a group sent to New England by the Dorchester Company to establish a fishing industry. The Dorchester Company first landed in Weymouth in 1623, then moved north to Gloucester in 1624, but the settlement there was not successful. When the company was recalled to England, the Balches, and a small group known as “The Old Planters” stayed in Massachusetts and moved south to Naumkeg, now Salem, in 1626. At this point, modern day Beverly was a part of Salem. John Balch first gained title to the land here through the “Thousand Acre Grant” in 1635 and apparently was living on this property by 1636. His house was small – built a story and a half high – one large hall on the main floor plus a loft upstairs. He chose a site on a hill that looked down on the nearby Bass River, where he had easy access to salt marsh and to his pasture land and orchards. By the 1670s, the home needed to be enlarged and was to the current configuration, later additions were added as housing demands changed. The Balch Family owned the house in to the early 20th century and the home was acquired by William Sumner Appleton, founder of Historic New England (who arguably did more for historic preservation in New England than anyone). He hired Norman Isham, a popular preservation architect, to evaluate the house. After finding original rafters in the attic, he recommended that the back lean-to be ripped off and the southern half of the house be dismantled (see historic photo before restoration). In 1932, the property was gifted to the local historical society, now Historic Beverly who maintain the house to this day.
This home in the Fish Flake Hill Historic District of Beverly, MA was built around 1734 for Zachariah Stone, a sea captain. The home was used as an inn which catered to privateer crews prior to the Revolution and Continental soldiers during. Privateers were sailors aboard an armed ship, owned and officered by private individuals holding a government commission and authorized for use in war, to capture enemy merchant ships and shipments. The privateers would be out at sea for months at a time, and come back to port to accept money from the government. Many would stay at local inns and taverns like this between voyages. Zachariah Stone died in 1734 the same year it was probably built, and the inn was managed by his widow Jane and their children after. According to his will, the estate was given to Jane along with 883 British Pounds and two slaves. The home appears to have been converted to a duplex and was given shingle siding, likely in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.
Hugh Hill was born in 1740 in Ireland. At the age of fifteen, he left home to join the English navy as a cabin boy. Without any formal schooling, Hill managed to acquire a rudimentary school education through the help of sailors. Upon leaving the naval service, Hill went to Marblehead, Massachusetts, where he married Hannah Goudy in 1766 at the age of 25. Not long afterward he moved to Beverly to the north where he found work as a mariner. In 1775, he was named captain of the privateering vessel Pilgrim by the Cabot brothers of Beverly (I featured their homes earlier in this series) and was sent to disrupt British activity in the Atlantic by capturing ships and taking cargo. In that same year he captured the British ship Industry, which he delivered to George Washington as a gift of war. Many of his successful captures were made off the coast of Great Britain and Ireland, and he earned a notoriously infamous reputation among British captains stationed near there as a “scourge of the British coast. He brought back ships full of British military goods which helped turn the tide during the Revolutionary War. Interestingly, in 1781, he captured the ship Mars in the Irish Channel which had on board the extensive and famous Philosophical Library of Dr. Richard Kirwan of Dublin, Ireland. Upon bringing the plunder to Beverly, the library was auctioned off and later became a basis for the foundation of the Salem Athenaeum!After the War, Captain Hill settled down and had this large home built, near the ocean he loved so much.
This stunning house was built in 1694, possibly with structural members from an earlier parsonage, by Beverly’s first minister, Rev. John Hale (1636–1700). Hale is now best remembered for playing a significant part in the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692. Hale’s theory was that demons impersonated the accused and appeared in their forms to the afflicted. He probably most likely changed his views about those executed for “being witches” due to the fact that his own wife (the second one) was accused as being a witch, though never prosecuted. Hale served as the minister of the First Parish Church of Beverly (last post) until his death. This home, just a short walk to his church, was the finest in town at the time. The house featured numerous additions and alterations over its time including the gambrel section added in 1745. The Hale House remained in the family for 12 generations, and was eventually gifted to the local historical society, now known as Historic Beverly in 1935. It now operates as a house museum.
In the 17th century, present-day Beverly was still a part of Salem and those who lived on the “Bass River side” of town found it difficult to attend church in Salem proper. As crossing by boat or of travel by land was tough on the residents here, paired with the fact the increase of population in this part of town, it was justified that a new church should be erected here. The first church in Beverly was erected in 1656, likely with mud and log walls with a thatch roof. The building was replaced with a more suitable place of worship in 1672, after the church was formerly recognized and headed by minister John Hale. Hale was born in Charlestown and attended Harvard College as a young man. He was ordained as the minister of the first parish church here and oversaw the churches separation from Salem Parish. Interestingly, John Hale was one of the most prominent and influential ministers associated with the Salem Witch Trials, being noted as having initially supported the trials and then changing his mind and publishing a critique of them. The church grew with the population of town and a new building was constructed in 1770, just before the Revolution. The church was renovated in 1835 to give it the Greek Revival appearance we see today.