Perched on the highest hill in the coastal village of Noank, Connecticut, you will find this absolutely enchanting gingerbread Victorian mansion. The house was built in 1884 for Deacon Robert Palmer (1825-1913), a wealthy man who wasn’t only deacon of the village’s Baptist church, he was the owner of a flourishing shipyard, and it was his shipyard workers who built him, with loving care, a house he could be proud of! Robert ran the shipyard in town first with his brother, and then with his son. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the shipyard was the largest facility for building and repair of wooden vessels in southern New England, employing over 300 men. The yard specialized in building railroad car floats, schooner barges, and dump scows as well as fishing smacks. Robert Palmer and Son went out of business in 1914 with the passing of the Robert. The Stick style mansion with mansard roofed tower remained in the Palmer family until the early 2000s when it sold and was restored to her former glory. The residence features exposed rafters, a pagoda-like second story balcony, a frieze with geometric cut-outs, and a wrap-around porch which provides sweeping views of the ocean. I can only imagine how beautiful this old Victorian is on the inside!
Dimock Center – Cary Cottage // 1872
The New England Hospital for Women and Children (known today as the Dimock Community Health Center), is comprised of eight major buildings on a nine acre site located on a small hill in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, close to the border with Jamaica Plain. The complex is significant for its role in the history of women in medicine as both a teaching and a practicing hospital, as well as for its architecture. The facility was incorporated as the New England Hospital for Women and Children in 1863, almost five years before Roxbury was annexed to Boston. The Hospital was founded by Dr. Marie E. Zakrzewska together with Lucy Goddard and Edna Dow Cheney in order to provide women with medical care by competent physicians of their own sex and to educate women in the study and practice of medicine. As such, it was one of the first hospitals of its kind in America. The oldest building in the complex is the Cary Cottage, pictured here. The charming building was constructed in 1872 by the architecture firm of Cummings & Sears. The Cary Cottage served as the hospital’s original maternity cottage, and is also important as an almost intact example of Stick Style architecture. The building was intentionally detached from the general surgical facilities to minimize the dangers of infection during childbirth.
“The Lodge” // 1870-1899
Believe it or not, but Newport, Rhode Island was once a “tear-down town”. Despite having arguably the largest extant collection of Gilded Age mansions, many older, properties were razed and redeveloped as tastes changed between the mid-19th century and the turn of the 20th century. And then there was the 1960s… But that’s for another time. This stunning mansion formerly on Bellevue Avenue was built in 1870 for Elizabeth Underhill Coles (1813-1891), the widow of William F. Coles of New York City by the high-society architect Richard Morris Hunt. The “cottage” was their summer residence and one of the finest Stick style residences built in the seaside town. The irregular layout, half-timbering and complex roof forms show the influence on the emerging Queen Anne style. The mansion was sold out of the Coles Family after Elizabeth’s death and was razed by 1900 for the second mansion on the site (next post).
“Morningside” // 1872
While many of the summer cottages in Newport retain much of their architectural and historical integrity, it is not always the case. This cottage, named “Morningside” barely resembles its original 1873 design. The summer home was built for William Barton Rogers (1804-1882), a scientist, educator, and best-known as founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He sought a place of rest and leisure, away from the stresses of Boston and running a new college, so he hired the Boston firm of Cabot & Chandler to design a Stick style cottage for him to spend the summer months at. In his diary for October 11, 1872, Mr. Rogers wrote, “Removed [from Cliff House Cottage] to our new home on Gibbs Avenue, at 4.30 o’clock. I have decided to name the place ‘Morningside.'” The house was his respite from stresses and he loved to spend time here with his family. President Rogers died after collapsing during a speech at MIT’s 1882 commencement exercises. His last words were “bituminous coal.” After the property sold out of the Rogers estate, the house was remodeled with stucco siding and much of the original Stick detailing was removed or covered. Morningside is now divided into condominiums.
The Anchorage Cottage // 1878
This charming Victorian cottage in Newport was built in 1878 for Henrietta and Dr. Stephen Cambreleng Powell as their summer cottage. The well-connected couple hired New Haven architect David R. Brown to design the residence, which is an excellent example of the Queen Anne and Stick/Eastlake architecture styles. David Brown, the architect, apprenticed under the famed Henry Austin for years in New Haven, Connecticut before becoming a partner of the firm. As any good summer cottage needs a fun name, the couple named their cottage “The Anchorage”. The cottage is now known as the Old Beach Inn, and is among Newports many charming old inns.
David Whiting House // c.1875
David Whiting (1810-1892) was one of the most prominent men in Wilton, NH in the 19th century. He was involved in local business and politics, eventually using his prominent land at a convergence on Main Street to erect the Whiting House, a large hotel. The building burned down in 1874, along with his other buildings nearby. He donated some of the land to the town, who built the present Town Hall, and he built a new home on another part of the site. This house was likely built for David Whiting as his own residence, shortly after the fire. The house was designed in the fashionable Stick style and represents the best in Victorian-era architecture.
Whitman House // c.1870
In 1870, the Annisquam Cotton Mill in Rockport, Massachusetts was sold at auction and acquired by a group of local investors and businessmen. One of those men was G. P. Whitman, who served as a local agent for the reorganized firm. Whitman built this home just a short walk to the mill, which stands prominently in the village. The home is a great example of the Stick style, using some Italianate forms and detailing. The Annisquam Mill saw less than ideal revenue as in 1877, it was announced that the workers would get a cut in pay to avoid closing the mill. G. P. Whitman realized the threat of fire to woolen mills, and operated a fire station nearby. Sadly, in 1883, a fire destroyed much of the mill, even with local fire companies doing their best. A portion of the mill and the old Whitman House stand as lasting remnants of the Annisquam Cotton Mill Company in Rockport.
Stephen Cummings House // 1886
One thing about Victorian-era houses that I love so much is the fact that it’s so rare to find two houses that are the same! The uniqueness and detail is just amazing and stalking these homes never gets old! This 1886 beauty was built as a double-house for Stephen Cummings of Norway, Maine. Cummings was a member of the family which built many of the grand homes in town as they ran a woodworking and carpentry company. Architect John B. Hazen designed the Stick style home with a octagonal bay at the facade, capped by a tower, giving the home a sort of pagoda effect.
John N. A. Griswold House // 1863
John Noble Alsop Griswold (1822-1909) was born into wealth, with his family business involved in land speculation in New York as well as the N. L. & G. Griswold Company, which imported sugar and rum from the Caribbean on clipper ships. In his 20s, John traveled to China for a trade and within a year of that trip, was appointed United States consul at Shanghai, serving in that role until 1854. Upon his return to America, he helped develop several prominent railroads, serving as president of the Illinois Central Railroad and chairman of the board of directors of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. He eventually settled in Newport and helped shape the sleepy town into a summer resort town for high-society. His statement-piece in town was his own mansion on Bellevue Avenue, built in 1863 from designs by Richard Morris Hunt, and completed that next year. It was the first of Hunt’s many notable works in Newport, and is considered a prototype work of the Stick style of architecture in America. Hunt would go on to design Ochre Court, The Breakers, and other Gilded Age mansions in Newport and all over the northeast. Griswold died in the house in 1909; it remained vacant until 1915, when it was acquired by the Art Association of Newport, which now uses it as a museum gallery. I really want to see the inside of this beauty!
“Rest Haven” – “Le Chalet” // 1870
Bellevue Avenue in Newport is best-known for its massive summer cottages, many of which are built of stone and look more like art museums than a house. “Rest Haven” is one of the most stunning summer cottages in Newport and can stand toe-to-toe with the later mansions which neighbor it. The Stick style cottage was built in 1870 as a spec. house for merchant and financier John N.A. Griswold, who had his own cottage farther up the street (last post). Similar to his own house, he hired world-renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the house, which was to be sold soon after completion for a profit to Anna Gilbert of New York, a wealthy widow who wanted to keep up with high-society in Newport. Anna Gilbert’s son, Charles Pierrepont Gilbert, was a New York architect who trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He and his wife, Clara, summered at Resthaven until 1916. The home was likely renamed “Le Chalet” by a subsequent owner. The cottage was altered over the years, but restored a number of years ago by Newport Collaborative Architects and Behan Bros, and looks stunning!