The Oliver Walker House in Kennebunkport Village is one of the better examples that shows how overlapping architectural styles can work really well on an old house (when done right)! The original house was constructed around 1809 for Oliver Walker (1788-1851), a sea captain who later accepted the call and became a deacon for the South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport. Walker died in 1851 and the Federal style property was inherited by his only surviving child, daughter Susan, who had married Portland native, Captain John Lowell Little. Under their ownership, the traditionally designed Federal house was modernized with fashionable Italianate style modifications of the decorative brackets and an enclosed round arched window in the side gable. A later Colonial Revival projecting vestibule adds to the complex, yet pleasing design. I have a feeling the interiors of this house are just as spectacular as the exterior.
The Elms – Dining Room // 1899
The Dining Room of the Elms Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, is represents the Gilded Age in all the best ways. The room sits just off the ballroom and like all of the other rooms in the summer residence of the Berwinds, it was designed by famed interior designer Jules Allard. The dining room was specifically to display a collection of early18th-century Venetian paintings purchased by Mr. Berwind from the Ca’ Corner estate in Venice (the Berwinds were avid collectors of 18th century French and Venetian paintings). The iconic coffered ceiling is not of wood, but of molded plaster, grained and painted to imitate oak. Each coffer is decorated with the winged lion of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Pour custom-made crystal chandeliers hang in the four corners of the room. At the end of the room is a stunning green marble, agate and onyx fireplace that is framed by a ceiling-high pediment supported by carved Ionic columns. Could you see yourself entertaining in this dining room?
The River House // c.1820
Sitting on the banks of Utley Brook, which meanders through the Clarksville village in Landgrove, Vermont, you will find this gorgeous Cape home in a perfect yellow color (seemingly to blend in with the turning leaves every Fall). The home dates to the early 19th century, possibly earlier, and was owned by the Harlow Family, who operated a saw mill across the street. The house was listed for sale in 2019 and is absolutely stunning inside and out!
Bernard Jenney House // 1908
This stunning home in Brookline’s Cottage Farm neighborhood was built in 1908 for Bernard Jenney, the assistant treasurer of the Jenney Oil Company. Stephen Jenney, had founded Jenney Oil Company in Boston in 1812, as a kerosene, coal and whale oil producer. By the 1860s, Bernard Sr. and his brother Francis took over the company which became known as the Jenney Manufacturing Company. The newly established company focused primarily on production and distribution of petroleum products for factories and businesses. The Jenney Manufacturing Company took off in the early 1900s due to the proliferation of personal automobiles in Boston and they expanded a new manufacturing center in City Point, South Boston, which had a capacity of 500 barrels of oil a day. Jenney auto oil and gasoline became a major supplier and after Bernard Sr.’s death in 1918, under Bernard Jr.’s leadership, the company began to develop gas stations in New England. The company continued into the 1960s when it was acquired by Cities Service, later rebranding as Citgo. Jenney resided here until his death in 1939. According to the 1935 Brookline street list, the occupants included his daughter’s family Mary & Francis Brewer, three maids and a laundress. The house was acquired by Boston University in 1963 and has long served as the home of former president John Silber.
The architectural firm of Kilham & Hopkins was hired to design the home, which is French Renaissance Revival in style. The home itself is an architectural landmark. When it was published in ‘The American Architect’ in 1910, the house was described as, “A Study in French design of the Louis XVI period”. Additionally, the home (of course) featured a vehicle garage as the family must have had some cars based on the line of work. The home is now listed for sale for a cool $4,888,000 price tag!
Levi F. Hartshorn House // c.1853
This Greek Revival home in Reading, Vermont was built around 1853 for Levi Fay Hartshorn, and is an excellent example of a vernacular Greek Revival house in Central Vermont. Levi F. Hartshorn moved to Reading, Vermont and opened up a store, also built this home for his family. It appears that Mr. Hartshorn gifted the village one of his shops to be used as a local library, before the present building was constructed.
William Boynton House // 1890
This stunning Queen Anne house in Brookline showcases everything that is synonymous with the term “Victorian” in architecture. This home was built in 1890 for William Boynton, a flour merchant who had offices in downtown Boston. The home features an assortment of siding types, sunburst motifs, an asymmetrical facade, and a large corner tower with an onion dome. The home is painted to showcase all the fine details and intricacies seen in the design.
Stone’s Inn // 1734
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.
Rev. John Hale House // 1694
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.
Cummings-Abbott House // c.1735
Samuel Cummings (1709-1772) married Prudence Lawrence (1715-1796) and moved to Hollis, NH from Groton, MA. The couple had a home built in town and raised at least four children, Samuel Jr., Mary, Sibbel, and Prudence. The original house built by Cummings was a single-story, four room, center chimney type. After his death in 1772, the property passed to Cummings’ son, Samuel Cummings, Jr., an acknowledged Tory. Interestingly, Samuel’s sister Prudence was an ardent patriot, who moved to Pepperell, MA and married a militia man, David Wright. While the Revolutionary War was raging, Prudence visited her brother in the old family home, when she overheard her brother Samuel talk to his friend, a British army officer about passing information to the British. Prudence returned to Pepperell and gathered the women of the town. Then a 35-year-old mother of five, she organized 30 or 40 of them into a militia called ‘Mrs. David Wright’s Guard.’ The women dressed in their husbands’ clothes and carried whatever they could for weapons. As the men had probably taken muskets with them, the women probably used farm implements such as pitchforks. The women patrolled the roads leading into town. The group eventually captured two British soldiers on horseback and let them go only once they agreed to never come back to the colony. Due to this event, Prudence never spoke to her loyalist brother again.
In the 1850s, the house was owned by Superintendent of Schools, Levi Abbott and his wife, Matilda. It was the Abbotts who reportedly added a second story to the house with a hip roof, cornice and corner pilasters, giving it the appearance we see today.
Austin Perry House // c.1830
One of the nicest examples of residential Greek Revival architecture I have ever seen is the Austin Perry House (c.1830) in the Southport area of Fairfield, CT. Austin Perry (1798-1864) was a member of a prominent merchant family, holding businesses in Fredericksburg, Virginia, before returning to Southport to manage a general store. He retired in his forties and resided at this home until his death. His home is a balanced, symmetrical design with massive Corinthian columns surmounted by a carved anthemion motif ornamenting the gable pediment.