Dana Mansion // c.1808

Sadly, many towns and cities in New England do not have provisions to stop historic homes and buildings to suffer from demolition by neglect. The common ordinance to prevent this from happening is a minimum maintenance bylaw, which requires owners to maintain their home within reason. This historic home in Chelsea Vermont was built around 1808 for Josiah Dana was a descendant of Richard Dana who settled in Cambridge, Mass., in 1640. Josiah was born in Barre, Mass., and was a son of a Congregational clergyman, and first appeared in Vermont records as representative of Chelsea in the General Assembly of 1803 which office he had also in 1806, 1808, and 1809; he was a Delegate in the Constitutional Convention of 1814; and Orange County Judge from 1812 to 1820. His home in Chelsea is a great example of the Federal style and features a unique detached Palladian window capped by a louvered fan. According to Assessing information, the home is owned by the next door neighbor and they do not appear to have the means or desire to restore the clearly significant home back to its former glory.

Mason Barney Estate // c.1812

Arguably the most grand house in Swansea, MA is the Mason Barney Estate, built in 1807. The home was constructed by shipwrights for Mason Barney (1782-1868), who had taken ownership of the shipyard following his father’s death in the early 1800s. Under his ownership, Mason had established a large enterprise with over 200 men working to build boats at the shipyard. His estate included the shipyard, a general town store, and housing for some crew members, among other proprietary establishments.. The Mason Barney Shipyard in North Swansea (later known as Barneyville) had an international reputation and he built an estimated 137 ships, until it ceased operations in 1860 with the advent of steam-powered ships and the Civil War on the rise. The home stayed in the same family for over 100 years and depicts the grand architecture and wealth seen in the early 19th century in New England. The Federal home features paired chimneys, fluted corner pilasters crowned with Corinthian capitals, three pedimented dormers with elaborate Palladian details. The home in recent years has been foreclosed on and as of 2019, was owned by Fannie Mae, selling recently. The home has been decaying for some time now, just waiting for a brave soul to bring her back to her former glory.

Derby Summer House // 1793

The Derby Summer House is a rare and excellent example of a formal eighteenth century garden house designed with, the lightness of detail which, characterized the Federal Style. It was built in 1793-94 by Samuel Mclntire, the noted craftsman-carpenter of Salem. The structure was built in Elias Hasket Derby’s farm garden in present-day Peabody (now the site of a shopping mall) and featured two figures on the roof; a Milkmaid and Reaper, designed by John and Simeon Skillin of Boston (removed at the time of the photos). The Derby Farm eventually purchased by Mrs. William Crowninshield Endicott, a descendant of the original owner, and she had the summer house transported to Glen Magna Farm 4 miles away. The structure is now a National Historic Landmark.

Frank Cousins photograph of Derby Summer House, seemingly before its move to Danvers.

Lady Pepperell House // 1760

Lady Pepperrell was born as Mary Hirst in 1704 to a merchant in Boston. She married Captain William Pepperell, a merchant and major landowner in what is now southern Maine (but was then part of Massachusetts), in 1723, and settled into their massive gambrel Colonial house in Kittery.

After William Pepperell died in 1759, Lady Pepperell built a dower estate just down the street as her son, William Pepperell Jr., moved into the old family estate. It is believed that Mary Pepperell hired architect Peter Harrison, a British architect who is credited with bringing the Palladian style to the thirteen colonies. His major works in the region include: The Touro Synagogue in Newport, King’s Chapel in Boston, and both the Christ Church and the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House in Cambridge.

The home is similar to the Longfellow House in Cambridge with its symmetrical facade, center hall plan, and a two-story central pavilion which is flanked by Ionic pilasters with a pediment above.

The home was eventually sold off and by the 1970s, gifted to Historic New England, who operated the estate as a house museum. It was under-visited and later sold to private owners with intense deed restrictions to preserve not only the exterior, but landscaping and interior spaces.