Welcome to Franklin, Connecticut, which frankly (pun intended) I had never heard of before driving through it not long ago! The town is located in New London County and was originally a part of Norwich, Connecticut and was called West Farms village. The town incorporated in 1786, creating its own town at that time, and the citizens decided to name their new town after Benjamin Franklin. I wonder if there are more place names in the United States after Benjamin Franklin or George Washington…
This house in Assonet Village in Massachusetts has SOOOO much potential, I just want to save her! The Cudworth House was built at the end of the 18th century, possibly for John Cudworth a mariner who owned a wharf just across the street. By the mid-late 19th century, the home was renovated, given the steep gable, bracketed details, and projecting entry. The house has seen better days, and needs some serious TLC to bring it back to livable conditions.
The most iconic house in Norway, Maine has to be the Evans-Cummings House (also known locally as the Gingerbread House) on Main Street. The ornate Victorian era home was originally built in 1855 for Richard Evans, who was born in Portland in 1805 and after training as a carpenter, moved to Norway in 1833 for work. He and his wife, Mary Warren Hill, had eight children and they resided in the home until their death. In 1890, Charles B. Cummings bought the house in 1890 and hired local architect John B. Hazen to remodel the house. Hazen added the gingerbread adornments for which the house is now known colloquially. The home attracted a lot of attention in the region, and the later heirs continued that whimsical appeal. When the home was willed to Fred and Cora Cummings, they were said to have kept a stuffed peacock at the top of the stairs, which delighted children when they toured the home. The house eventually became used as storage by the owners of the local Advertiser Democrat newspaper, and its future was threatened. Since 2012, a local group, Friends of the Gingerbread House, have poured tens of thousands of dollars and an equal amount of time restoring the iconic home to her former glory! Preservation is important!
Located in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the Thomas Safford House has stood for over 220 years, but is slowly decaying. Built in 1799 for Thomas Safford, a baker, the house is an excellent example of a Federal-style homestead that appears much like it did when built (besides the neglect). After two subsequent owners, the property was purchased in 1890 by Pauline Revere Thayer, a direct descendant of Founding Father, Paul Revere. Pauline added a large wrap-around porch and balcony to the house, which served as a vacation home for working girls from Boston. She appropriately named the house “Goodrest” where the girls could enjoy their summers, without working in poor conditions. After she died in 1934, the property was acquired by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the residence for the head of the Lancaster Industrial School for Girls. The Lancaster Industrial School for Girls was a reform school and the country’s first state reform school for girls, opening in 1856. This school paved the way of social reform, moving away from child imprisonment for “delinquents” towards a correctional paradigm. This was in part achieved because of the observed benefits of environmental change in children, as well as the importance of education. The bucolic, open-air setting was believed to be beneficial for childhood development, compared to a prison setting common before-hand. In 1935, the Safford House was restored to the original appearance, and the porches removed. The State of Massachusetts owns this house and the rest of the severely deteriorating buildings on the campus. It is a shame to see such significant buildings intentionally left to rot.
The Frederick W. Lewis Mansion in Newport, New Hampshire is a unique, late-Second Empire home constructed of brick. The home was built in 1876 for Frederick W. Lewis, a merchant who climbed the ranks as a young man, eventually purchasing the store he worked at as a 14-year-old. In 1862, he became cashier of the Sugar River Bank, and held the position until 1865, when the bank was re-organized as a national bank, taking the name of “The First National Bank of Newport.” He then leveraged his position to get into local politics, and took an active role in the development of the town, even incentivizing the railroad to build a stop in town. From this wealth and position, he built this large home. After his death, the home went to his son. By the 1940s, a group of over 30 residents of town purchased the home as a Veteran’s Home. By the end of the 20th century, the home was occupied by the Newport Earth Institute, a school created by esoteric historian and researcher Reverend Vincent Bridges, who died in 2014. The property appears to be vacant now and the home is in much need of some TLC.
Built c.1803 by Samuel Gardner Perkins, a Boston merchant and avid horticulturist as a summer escape from the city, this house with its two-story columned porch and a natural ravine at the rear, was one of a handful of so-called “Jamaica Planter” style houses unique to Brookline. After a subsequent owner, the home was purchased in 1864 by Edward W. Hooper as a summer estate. In May 1874, the renowned Henry Hobson Richardson moved to Brookline, Mass., to supervise construction of Trinity Church. He rented this home from his Harvard classmate and fellow Harvard Porcellian Club member, Edward Hooper. The house, it is said, reminded Richardson of the plantation houses of his native Louisiana. Richardson established his office in the home, adding wings at the rear and sides for drafting rooms and a library (demolished after his death in 1886). In the home, dozens of fledgling young architects worked under one of the greats, including: George Shepley, Charles Rutan, and Charles Coolidge, who later would grow out of Richardson’s practice after his death. Just down the street, world-renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for designing Central Park in Manhattan, lived and worked in his own office/home setting, with the two often collaborating on important projects. Richardson died in 1886 at the age of 47, with substantial debts even being one of the premier architects of the country; his widow stayed in the house at a nominal rent until she acquired it in 1891. The Richardson family owned the home until 2000, following the 1998 death of his grandson, H. H. Richardson III. Presently, the home, and two other significant homes sit on a single, 4.5+acre lot currently being eyed for redevelopment. The current owner is petitioning to have all three homes on the lot demolished for a single family home. A demolition delay is almost guaranteed, but all three homes’ future is very uncertain.
Located adjacent to the former H.H. Richardson House (also threatened with demolition), this home in Brookline may eventually face the wrecking ball… The rear ell of the building appears to have been constructed prior to 1844, possibly as an outbuilding or the main house as part of Samuel Perkins’ estate. The property was later subdivided and had numerous owners who bought and sold it in quick succession until 1858, when it was purchased by Francis A. White (1825-1910) a partner of Frederick Guild (1826- ) in the Boston tanning firm of Guild & White, Co., until 1871, when White retired to devote full time to his real-estate investments in the Boston area. It is likely that White updated and enlarged the home in the 1870s, with the massive corner tower, as a testament to his proficiency in real estate development and design. Francis lived in the home with his wife and four children until his death in 1910, when the home was willed to his late wife Caroline. After her death, the home was owned by their daughter Sophia, who had married John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), a prominent landscape architect and nephew of Frederick Law Olmsted, who lived just down the street. John and Sophia lived in the home, renovating and enlarging the home at least once, and John would walk down the street to his office, now the Olmsted National Historic Site. John was the first president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, founded in 1899, and was active in the formation of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. Sadly, a demolition permit has been applied for to raze this home, the Richardson House and a Techbuilt house by a developer. It is likely a demolition delay will be enacted, but advocacy on the two older houses preservation should be the first and only option for the site.
This old farmhouse in Swansea, MA, was built by 1820 for Preserved Gardner (1795-1873), one of five sons of Peleg Gardner, who owned much of Gardners Point. Preserved lived in the home until his death in 1873, and the home and acres of farmland were willed to his only son to live past childhood, Ira Gardner (1836-1901). Ira donated a large tract of land adjacent to the farmhouse to the town in 1882 for a cemetery, in which his father was buried. Later, the farm was purchased by Thomas D. Covel a bank president of Fall River who operated it as a gentleman’s farm and made the house his summer home. A ‘gentleman farmer‘ utilized their farms for pleasure rather than for sustenance or profit. After WWII, the land was purchased by the town to be used as a park and the property is still owned by the town. The Federal home with its veranda that wraps around the side has been neglected by the town for decades while the parks adjacent are maintained adequately.