Constructed in 1811 as a guest house for the Canterbury Shakers, this beautiful structure follows the Georgian, center-hall residential floor plan constructed in the Federal period. Shaker records indicate that in 1849, the building was converted to an infirmary and the next year, the roof was tinned and the portico over the front door, called a “jet” by the Shakers, was added. After 1892, the first floor housed the nurses’ quarters, pharmacy, nurses’ sitting room and office and the dentist’s office. Upstairs, the patients’ rooms were fitted with lavatories and running water. The attic was used to store medical supplies and as a mortuary. All for the growing Shaker community here. Following the death of the last nurse in 1937, the building ceased to be used as an infirmary and was used as living quarters for sisters.
The original purpose served by this small clapboard building in the Canterbury Shaker Village, built in 1837 and measuring just 12 x 25 feet is subject to some debate, although it was definitely used as a drying house. Early writings indicate it was built as an apple-drying house while others state that the original purpose was to dry lumber. The present off-center gable-roofed cupola on the gable roof served as a ventilator. In 1865, the building became the headquarters of the bee keepers of the local Shakers.
When Benjamin Whitcher donated his farm for the beginnings of a utopian Shaker community, the land and buildings became the catalyst for the next 200 years of Shaker life in the community. It is known that Benjamin Whitcher constructed his farmhouse sometime between 1775 and 1782. With the arrival of the first Shakers in 1783, Whitcher allowed families to reside on the farmland, with the 1790 Census counting 35 people on the Whitcher property. This structure was one of the original structures on the old Whitcher Farm, and is possibly the oldest extant building in the Shaker village today. The building was moved to its present location in 1841 and was used for distilling sarsaparilla syrup for medicinal purposes by members of the community.
As wealthy citizens from cities like Boston, Philadelphia and New York, began building summer cottages on Mount Desert Island in Maine, an influx of carpenters and tradespeople from Ireland followed to construct and work on them. Realizing this, cottager DeGrasse Fox along with Brooks White of Philadelphia, donated land for a new Catholic church building. Maine architect, William Ralph Emerson, donated plans for the church. A masterpiece of Shingle style design, the church, which seated 300 people, was deemed too small for the growing village’s summer congregation. A new, stone church was built closer to town (featured previously). The spire and belfry resemble another church Emerson designed in Beverly, MA, St. Margaret’s Catholic Church. Sadly, St. Sylvia’s burned down in 1909.
My favorite Georgian style house in Rochester, MA is the Delano-Clapp House set far off the street, behind a stone wall. The house was built in 1735 for Jonathan Delano, a weaver. Jonathan’s son, Jonathan, Jr., sold the house and land to Ebenezer Clapp, in 1755. The property remained in the Clapp Family for nearly 250 years, when it sold out of the family in 1990. This house is testament to the fact that you can find great architecture in every corner of New England!
Rochester’s First Congregational Church is the oldest extant building still standing on the Town Green in Rochester Center and is the fourth house of worship to occupy the site. Constructed in 1837 to the designs of architect, Solomon K. Eaton, the beautiful Gothic Revival church building is among the most beautiful in the state. Eaton was well-known for his ecclesiastical structures, but also designed other prominent civic buildings in Southeastern Massachusetts. A fun fact about Eaton is that at age 55, he volunteered for the Union Army during the Civil War and his unit saw action in North Carolina, he returned home after the war and lived out his final days. The church stands out to me for the quatrefoil windows on the bell tower, the pointed finials and comer posts, and large lancet windows. Swoon!
Built in the mid-19th century this former home in Chester, VT, exhibits the range in tastes seen from the Classically inspired Greek Revival style to the ornate and over-the-top Queen Anne style. The original 1850 Greek Revival design of the house survives in its temple form and classical details, augmented by a visually dominant overlay of Queen Anne features. The house was acquired sometime after 1870 by the Haselton family, whose daughter Hattie married John Greenwood. The Greenwoods undertook a major renovation of the building about 1900, adding the elaborate front porch and other features, giving it the wedding cake or lace-like appearance we see today. The home was converted to apartments in the 1960s, but retains much of its architectural details, it is best known as the Gingerbread Apartments.
The Sippican Tennis Club in Marion, Massachusetts, was established in 1908 for the purpose of athletic exercise and a place for social gatherings in town. Historically, the town’s population surged in the summer months when wealthy city residents would flock here and stay in their waterfront mansions for a few months a year. The large hipped roof rectangular building was constructed just before the club opened in 1908, and it is flanked by eight tennis courts. Charles Allerton Coolidge, a principal in the well known firm, Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, was one of the original shareholders as well as the architect for the building. He also was a summer resident himself (his home was previously featured). The building is constructed of concrete and features paired, tapered columns which run the perimeter of the structure, supporting a deep porch. The broad elliptical arch and exposed rafters add to the Craftsman style flair of the building.
This stunning Gothic Revival church was built in 1843, on the site of the blockhouse, erected 80 years prior for the settlers of the area from native attack. In the 17th and 18th centuries, many rural parts of New England had blockhouses erected to allow the settlers a defensive fort from attack. The blockhouses were often garrisoned wooden structures with small windows on all sides to allow for gunfire to attackers below. The structure would protect those inside from arrows and melee weapons. This building however, was constructed later for the Universalists, who believed in “universal salvation,” who had been meeting since 1821 in a schoolhouse beside the town common. The church, in its original state with its steeple and clock, was an extremely sophisticated example in wood of the Gothic Revival style with its pinnacles, lancet windows and pilasters. Sadly, the steeple and clock were removed in the early 1920’s for safety reasons as the structure could not support it without significant engineering. The church and congregation changed to the United Church of Christ-Congregational denomination in 1964. After that, the building was occupied by a brewery (believe it or not), before being reverted back to a church by the current congregation.
Possibly my favorite building type, the local town library buildings of New England, always amaze me with their small scale, yet architectural variety and intrigue. The library in Gardiner, Maine is no exception! This library building was constructed in 1881 from plans by Henry Richards, who was actually born in town in 1848. Henry graduated from Harvard in 1869, and soon after, took a post-graduate course in architecture at MIT. After completing schooling, he was a draftsman with Ware and Van Brunt. Soon after, he was a draftsman with Peabody and Stearns from 1872 to 1876, and then practiced architecture briefly on his own in Boston. During this time he married Laura Elizabeth Howe, daughter of Samuel Gridley and Julia Ward Howe. They moved to Gardiner, Maine and settled in a Federal house (featured previously), to learn more about Laura Richards and their house, check out the last post. Henry lived to be 100 years old! The library building is Queen Anne and Romanesque in style with a round corner tower with conical roof, brownstone and brick construction, and a stained glass ocular window with ogee parapet at the gable end roof. The small local library was added onto numerous times to hold a growing collection which includes works from Laura E. Richards, and Edwin Arlington Robinson, both Pulitzer Prize winning authors who lived in town.