The Second Empire style did not take off in Maine as it did in other parts of New England (and the U.S. for that matter), so it’s always a treat to spot one driving the backroads of the Pine Tree State! This house in Denmark, Maine, was built around 1870 for E. A. Boothby, who worked as Assistant Engineer of the Maine Central Railroad. The Second Empire style is evident here from the mansard (French style) roof, bracketed eaves, and a hooded double-door entry.
Margaret Barker Sigourney was the wife of Boston lawyer Henry Sigourney (1783–1849). In 1864, just as the Civil War was coming to a close, Sigourney purchased a piece of land on Bellevue Avenue in Newport soon after the time that Newport had been rediscovered as a tourist destination for the elite class. Sigourney wanted to make a splash as a single woman summering in Newport, so she hired local architect George Champlin Mason to design her cottage in the fashionable Second Empire style. The refined facade is more academic, while the rear and side facades exhibit porches with delicate bargeboards and trim. Sigourney spent summers at her cottage with her only son until 1873 when he and his family perished and were lost at sea aboard the Ville du Havre, when it collided in the Atlantic with another ship, killing a total of 226 aboard the ships, many of which drowned and their bodies never recovered. Alone, Margaret Sigourney continued to spend her summers in Newport until her own death in 1885.
Collinsville, a village in Canton, Connecticut, sits along the Farmington River and is one of the most charming New England villages I’ve been to. The village sprung up around the Collins Axe Company, a manufacturer of edge tools, such as axes, machetes, picks and knives. With the company’s growth (more history on the company in a later post), immigrants moved to the town, and lived in workers cottages built by the factory owners. Churches, stores, schools, and parks came soon after, creating the dynamic village we see today. Nathan L. Polk moved to the village and built this charming Second Empire style cottage, walking distance to his apothecary shop. By 1872, Nathan died and the house was sold to Ulrich Haury. Haury was born and raised in Germany and settled in Collinsville by 1862, working at the Collins Axe Company. From his earnings, he opened up a grocery in the village, spending his earnings bringing his family for vacations to his homeland in Germany. The home remains in excellent condition.
After sharing the old Central Fire Station building in Lancaster (last post), I couldn’t help myself but to share another mini-mansard fire station constructed in town! Located in North Village, this station was built in 1888, and provided fire service to the more rural part of town. The wood-frame structure features a central tower which may have been used originally as a hose-drying tower. In the 1940s, the building was occupied by volunteers of the Ground Observer Corps, an American civil defense organization. The building’s tower provided unobstructed views of airspace where one could keep their eyes open for invading German aircraft. After the War, the Town of Lancaster sold the building, which then converted to a private residence. Sadly, a fire in 2015, damaged much of the interior of the building, but she survives!
Located next to the famed Stephen King House in Bangor (last post), this stunning Second Empire house was purchased by Stephen and Tabitha King in 2004, creating a small historic house campus in one of the nicest neighborhoods of the city. The Brown Mansion was constructed in the early 1870s for Charles P. Brown, an attorney who became involved in land speculation in the west. During and immediately following the Civil War, Brown purchased large land holdings in the “western frontier” in Minnesota and farther west, and re-sold the land years later at a huge profit when development began. He was thought to be one of the richest men in Maine upon his death in 1892, but it was discovered that many land holdings possibly vanished (or he lied about having much more land to his family), leaving his executors of his will very upset. The man who was estimated of having a net-worth of over $1,000,000 in 1892 (more than $31,000,000 in dollars today), left just $16,000, split between his two daughters, leaving nothing to his sister, whom he had been living with for the final two years in his life.
Located a short walk from the Stephen King House in Bangor, this stunning Second Empire style house shines just as bright! This house was built in 1866 for Joseph C. White, a dry goods merchant in town. Just years after it was completed, he sold the mansion, possibly due to upkeep. The two-story mansard-roof house is clad in wood siding, scored to resemble stone rustication, a method to make the home appear more expensive. The corner entrance with later enclosed second-floor porch, massive brackets, and scrolled dormers add a lot of Victorian flair to the home. Would you move in here?
Built for an A. Veazie, this mini-mansard cottage stands out as the oldest home on Bar Harbor Maine’s beautiful West Street. The 1871 Second Empire style home was located elsewhere in the village, but moved to the current site in 1886 by new summer resident, William Sterling. The cottage was modified in 1916 by Maine Architect Fred Savage for William and his family. The stunning windows inset into the mansard roof are especially noteworthy.
One of the most prominent homes in Jamaica Plain is the Riddell House, built in 1873. The Second Empire style house was built for Samuel S. Riddell, who is listed in directories as a merchant with offices in Downtown Boston. After the Civil War, it was common for those with money, to build larger mansions outside the city and commute in via horsecar or train. Boston at the time was an industrial powerhouse with coal stacks and horses spewing waste all over, so a respite from the urban conditions of Boston was a selling point for many to build homes farther out. Interestingly, Second Empire style homes by the 1870s were starting to wane in popularity, but the owner decided to have the home constructed in the style anyway. Besides the amazing siting on the hill with lush landscaping, the house features a large belvedere at the roof, which would allow Samuel the ability to see Boston in the distance, along with all the pollution at the time.
Otis Brewer (1809-1888) worked as editor and owner of the Boston Cultivator, the nation’s second agricultural paper. The paper ran from 1838-1876 and included articles on livestock, labor-saving machines, and the best methods of cultivation. In addition, there were sections devoted to trade and commerce, moral and religious pieces, listing of marriages and deaths, proceedings of the Massachusetts legislature and Congress, and after 1843, a Young Men’s Department, and a Ladies’ Department, which featured tales and items on marriage. With the paper’s success in the mid 19th century, he had this large home built by housewright Stephen Heath, in the fashionable Second Empire style, known for its mansard roof. The home remained in the Brewer family under his son’s ownership at least until his death in 1934.
One of the most striking homes in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, is this Second Empire house built in 1870. The home was constructed for Francis B. Beaumont, who served in the Civil War as Colonel and returned to Massachusetts, settling in Jamaica Plain, around other returning vets with deep pockets. He commuted into Boston, and worked downtown as a clerk. He and his wife Clarissa had three children, two girls and one boy. Their son William, worked as a doctor in town. In 1897, he caught Scarlet Fever and died soon after. When Francis and Clarissa died in 1903 and 1905 respectively, the home was willed to their eldest daughter, Ethel. The house itself is a high-style example of Second Empire residential architecture in Boston and features decorated window surrounds and flush-board siding at the ground floor to look like granite. The home was purchased by Craddock Builders who are undergoing a large restoration project and gave the home a striking paint scheme, highlighting the many architectural details. The project is not yet complete (the front porch/steps are still being installed), but I can’t wait to see the final project, inside and out!