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.
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.
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 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!
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!
This modest country church in North Canton Village, CT is a fine example of a restrained Stick style church building. The simple plan, steeply pitched roof, adorned woodwork trim to resemble the bracing underneath, and the central spire all work together to create such a beautiful architectural composition. The building was constructed in 1871, and formally opened for its first service one year later.
In the mid-to-late 1800’s, Rye Beach on the coast of New Hampshire was a popular summer residences for wealthy families from New York, St. Louis, Chicago, and other mid-western cities. Church services were important to these summer residents who united together to build this chapel, which before its construction, had to go to services at the casino in the colony (not ideal). Generally, wealthy summer residents here brought their household staffs, who lived in the many hotels and boarding houses along the beach. Some of these servants and employees of the hotels were African-Americans, who used St. Andrew’s for their own worship services and meetings. The summer chapel was built in 1876, completed that next year and is one of the most stunning chapels I have seen in New England. St. Andrew’s was designed by the architectural firm of Winslow and Wetherell. It is a unique example of a small rural stone chapel embellished by wooden trim and owes much to both the Stick and late Gothic styles. English country parish churches clearly inspired the chapel’s design and the use of rubblestone construction (likely of stones that were taken from the site) makes the building pop! Oh and that rose window at the facade!
This house was built and first occupied by George G. Lougee, owner and proprietor of the Sea View House Hotel (demolished) across the street. Before building his own hotel, Lougee was a clerk at the Atlantic House, another summer resort. Lougee eventually worked his way up and ended up managing that hotel. Lougee’s success managing the Atlantic and later, the Farragut, enabled him to pursue his own enterprise and build his Sea View Hotel. When Lougee sold the Sea View hotel, he also sold this house with it. His former Stick style home was then converted to additional rooms at the hotel until it closed in the 20th century.
One of the earlier grand hotels in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, was Mount Pleasant House, built in 1875 after the arrival of the railroad through Crawford Notch. The hotel was located on a small hill where the Lodge at Bretton Woods is currently sited, across the street from the iconic Mount Washington Hotel. It was built by lumberman and investor John T.G. Leavitt and opened the following year. It was then a simple, almost box-like structure with only forty rooms, later expanded and “modernized” to accommodate the growing waves of affluent visitors from New York City and Boston every year. In 1881, Leavitt sold the hotel to Oscar Pitman and Joseph Stickney, the latter eventually became sole owner and acquired land across the street to build the Mount Washington Hotel in 1900. Possibly as a practice for his larger endeavor across the street, Stickney hired one of Portland’s leading architects, Francis H. Fasset, to design the additions and alterations. When Stickney died in 1903, just a year after his larger hotel was built, both properties were willed to his wife, Caroline. She ran the company through changing economic conditions and when she died, in 1936, the hotels were left to her nephew, F. Foster Reynolds. Reynolds decided that the Mt. Pleasant was not worth the expense needed to maintain it, and in 1939, ordered the building demolished, replaced decades later with the present building.
Built around 1880, this modest Victorian-era house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972, as the only surviving structure associated with the life of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935), who occupied it as a summer home from 1909 until his death. The Holmeses divided their time between this house and a residence in Washington, D.C., generally staying here between June and October. While here, Holmes would continue to work on cases, and would entertain legal and political luminaries, including Louis Brandeis, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Albert Beveridge. Noted for his long service, concise and pithy opinions, and deference to the decisions of elected legislatures, Holmes is to this day, one of the most widely cited United States Supreme Court justices in history. Holmes retired from the court at the age of 90, an unbeaten record for oldest justice in the federal Supreme Court. The house is now in private hands and well-maintained.