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!
The Captain Nathaniel Stone House in Farmingdale, Maine was constructed in 1872 on a small plot of land overlooking the Kennebec River. The charming home was constructed by Nathaniel Stone (1797-1884), a retired ship chandler,(a dealer in supplies or equipment for ships) who moved back to his hometown after making his fortune in Boston. He lived here with his wife, Martha, and his adopted son, Uriah, in this fashionable Second Empire style. Nathaniel died in 1884, outliving his wife by two years. The property was willed to his adopted son Uriah, who quickly sold the home on account of him seeing ghosts inside, he refused to live there because of it. The home was acquired by William Ring, a businessman who owned real estate in nearby Gardiner, Maine. Between 1886 and 1912 he and his family resided at the former Stone House, but by the turn of the Twentieth-century he grew increasingly in debt, and on several occasions he borrowed against his property to meet his obligations. Before the home went up for auction in 1912, a massive fire broke out in the home, destroying all the interior woodwork, and William perished inside. Although significantly damaged, it was largely rebuilt to its original appearance by its eventual buyer and has been an architectural landmark on the Kennebec River ever since. Now that I think of it, maybe Uriah Stone could see the future and saw William Ring as a ghost!
The Dutcher Temple Company was incorporated in 1867 and founded by Warren W. Dutcher in Hopedale, MA. Dutcher was an extremely ingenious inventor, taking out 20 patents, mainly on temples and machines by which to manufacture them. Temples are adjustable stretchers used on a loom to maintain the width and improve the edges of the woven fabric. The company merged with Draper later on, but after Dutcher built this stunning Second Empire home perched atop a hill. What is your favorite part of this house? The roof and dormers? The porch? The paint scheme?
In 1873 Elnathan Jones, Jr.(1829-1904) purchased house plans from a friend in Groton, adapted the plans, and built these two houses, in Acton. One home for himself, and one for his business partner Jonathan Wetherbee (1832 1926). Also near these two houses is the Tuttle House (featured last), in a different style. All three of these men were family by marriage, and ran businesses in the village of South Acton. The Jones and Wetherbee houses were built as sister houses, identical; but over the years, the Jones House has seen some unsympathetic alterations which diminish its architectural significance. The Wetherbee House (yellow) retains its original detailing and corner, towered mansard roof.
Located on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the Hooper Mansion represents one of the most elegant examples of Second Empire architecture style in the city. This home was actually constructed as a double-house for Samuel Hooper and his wife Anne, with a separate, semi-detached home for his son and his own family. The double-mansion was designed by esteemed architect Arthur Gilman, who used pressed brick contrasted with the tan sandstone on the home. Additionally, he designed the dentillated cornice, lavish door and window surrounds, and octagonal bays, all capped with a mansard roof with many windows laid inset to the roof, a stunning feature. The house was designed symmetrically, with entrances on each side elevation. In the early 1890s, later owners extended the eastern half of the façade so that it would be on the same plane as the western half, with an entrance at street level (seen in the right of this photo). Today, the double house is broken up into four large condominium units. When the conversion was approved, the developer wrote into the deed that the open space at the corner, used as a garden, would remain open space in perpetuity.
“Highwood”, was completed in 1845, and is likely credited to architect Richard M. Upjohn the son of Richard Upjohn Sr., who was known best for New York City’s Trinity Church, who was building a church for the Episcopal congregation in Stockbridge at the time. The home sits near Tanglewood, both since being absorbed into the Tanglewood Music Center campus today. The home was built for 27-year-old Samuel Gray Ward (1817-1907) an American poet, author, and minor member of the Transcendentalism movement. He was also a banker and a co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among his circle of contemporaries were poets and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller. He desired country living with his family and became a “gentleman farmer” while he wrote in his home, overlooking the large lake. The family lived here year-round until he was called back to Boston to assist his father in business ventures. In 1857, the Wards realized their time at Highwood had come to an end and sold the estate to another Boston couple, William Story Bullard and his wife, Louisa Norton Bullard who settled into their new home, which they were not afraid to alter, including the addition of a mansard roof. The home was occupied by the family 1960. The home was later acquired by John Mason Harding, a New York lawyer and his wife, Mary Riker Harding. Idyllic summers did not last long for the Hardings as in the late 1970s, Tanglewood and the BSO sponsored rock concerts began playing. Mr. Harding complained that he didn’t expect to have Woodstock in his backyard and brought suit against the BSO to limit the length and noise level of the concerts. The home was eventually purchased by the BSO in 1986.
In 1870, when Boston’s new Back Bay neighborhood was being developed, Hollis Hunnewell and his wife Louisa, decided to erect a mansion to establish themselves in the burgeoning neighborhood. Hollis was the first son of Horatio Hollis Hunnewell, the businessman and railroad tycoon who made a fortune, eventually developing a family compound in nearby Wellesley. The couple hired esteemed architect Charles Brigham to design a home on the prominent corner lot that would live up to the Hunnewell name, and he did not disappoint. Just three years after the home was completed, they added a one-story addition, adjacent to the alley to quell a wind-tunnel effect that was occurring down the alley. In December, 1876, a fire broke out in the home, trapping maid Annie O’Hara at the top floor where she died. After the fire, the Hunnewell’s decided to renovate the home, adding the prominent corner tower with cresting. Hollis died in 1884, leaving his wife and two children alone in the home (along with the housekeepers, maids, and other help) until her death in 1890. The home is an excellent example of late Second Empire architecture in Boston, and it showcases the immense wealth some distinguished families had in the region in the 19th century. Today, the 13,000 square foot home is occupied as a single family home, assessed at over $17.5 million!
This home in Brookline was built for Lewis Perrin in about 1869 in the fashionable Second Empire style, which dominated New England in the 1860s. Perrin was a commission merchant and partner in Newman and Perrin, his father‘s company. Lewis was given a parcel of land adjacent to his father’s home to erect his own home. He ended up renting the home as a double house as he moved into a larger home nearby. By the 1890s, the home appears to have been converted to a single family home, and the double entry was replaced by a large Federal Revival entryway with sidelights and fanlight over the door.