Young Men’s Library Association Building of Ware // 1881

The first library in Ware, Massachusetts was organized in 1796. Operating on a subscribers system, books were lent out to those who paid the most at the time. The Society flourished for 26 years until it abruptly disbanded. In 1824, a second library was organized, called the Mechanics and Manufacturers’ Library, which was loosely managed by the manufacturing companies in town. In 1872, an act providing for the formation of library corporations was passed in Massachusetts. The Ware Young Men’s Library Association was the first to incorporate under the new law. They established a location in a commercial space in town until it was outgrown. In 1879, the present lot at the corner of Main and Church streets was donated by a local businessman. Funding was acquired and Springfield-based architect Eugene C. Gardner was hired to design the building. In 1923, an addition was built onto the side by architects Gay & Proctor in the Jacobethan Revival style, which blends well with the original Queen Anne building. The building remains home to the library and is the town’s public library.

Oscar and Maud Rice House // 1895

In 1895, when the Queen Anne style was no longer in vogue among architects and builders in the Boston area, the Allston Real Estate Company took a gamble and built this house in a scarcely developed section of Waban Village in Newton on spec, hoping to find a buyer. They found one in Oscar Raymond Rice and his wife Maud Lois Sargent Rice. Oscar worked as a salesman, and Maud volunteered locally with various causes. The family home is a great example of Queen Anne Victorian architecture with varied siding styles, asymmetry, a tower, rounded bay window, porch with turned posts, and applied decoration in the gables. The house underwent a large renovation about five years ago and it still looks great! The listing from 2017 gives me serious house envy.

Frederick Colony House // c.1885

When you look up Queen Anne architecture on Google, this house in Wilton, NH should pop up! The Frederick Colony House was built around 1885 for the mill-owner who built a large cotton mill (last post) in town at the same time. Frederick Colony (1850-1925) was from a prominent textile and cotton mill-owning family based in Massachusetts and Keene, New Hampshire. Colony purchased land along the Souhegan River and built a new mill, there to make his own fortune, and that he did! The Frederick Colony House remains as one of the best-preserved homes in Wilton, and recently sold. Those interiors!

Wilton Town Hall and Theater // 1885

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.