One of the most visually striking homes in little Chester, Vermont, is the Durand House. Sited prominently on a hill, the 1861 home resembles a wedding dress in bright white with intricate spindles that look like lace. The house was seemingly built for Urban Durand, one of the proprietors of the successful Durand Brothers Market in Chester village. The home has an elaborately trimmed full-front porch with a second-story polygonal balcony, and a three-story corner tower with a shallow mansard roof, all possibly later additions. The house stands out in the village, which is largely dominated by classical Federal and Greek Revival houses.
Built in the 1890s by Dr. A.W. Rice, the ground floor of this Queen Anne style house served as the physician’s office, and he lived with his family in the upper floors. The home stands out as a fairly uncommon example of the Queen Anne style in Marion, a town dominated by Shingle style homes in that period. An enterprising Danish immigrant named Viggo V. Petersen, purchased the home and adjacent carriage house in 1921 and opened an ice cream parlor in it. When Viggo V. died in 1941, his son, Viggo C., attempted to carry on, until wartime cream shortages and rationing forced him to close for the duration of the conflict. Thereafter, Petersen’s ice cream resumed production and remained a Marion fixture until its final closing in the 1970s. The home is now occupied by two offices, and the former carriage house is home to the Mary Celeste Wine and Whiskey Library, a fun place that educates about wine and whiskey, offering tastings and events.
You know a town is fancy if it has its own music hall! The Marion Music Hall was (you guessed it) largely funded by none other than Elizabeth Taber the prestigious benefactor of Tabor Academy, the Library, and more in her hometown. This building was first envisioned after Ms. Taber was dismayed by the poor quality of “worldy theatricals” that were taking place in the only such venue at the time, the Congregational Chapel. Her last gift to the town via a provision in her will, allotted money for the construction of a “suitable building for a lecture and music hall”, costing a total of $23,000. Her go-to architect, William Gibbons Preston, was hired to design the Music Hall, which is a pleasing late-Victorian, Queen Anne-Romanesque Revival building constructed of brick. The Music Hall’s lawn was deemed worthy as the site of a handsome cast-iron Soldiers Monument which was dedicated during the summer of 1894 and remains on the site today.
Next door to the Fanny Weld House (last post) and the iconic Loring-Greenough House, this Queen Anne home in Jamaica Plain, Boston, packs an architectural punch, but is kind of hidden from the public view. The home was built in 1883 for Edward Sherwin, an agent for the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company, who seemingly marketed their coal to the Boston area. The company was the largest producer of anthracite coal in the United States from 1871 through the 1920s. He married an Elizabeth B. Van Brunt in 1882, likely the same Elizabeth who was the sister of famed architect Henry Van Brunt. Therefore, its likely that Henry Van Brunt designed this home for his sister and her new husband as a wedding gift! This is one of the homes that I would LOVE to see the interior. The woodwork is probably immaculate!
The First Reformed Church of Schenectady is the oldest congregation in the city. Founded by Dutch settlers, Schenectady’s first colonists, the first church lasted over a decade until it burned in the Schenectady Massacre in 1690, when a party of more than 200 French and allied Mohawk warriors attacked the unguarded community of Schenectady, destroying most of the homes, and killing or capturing most of its inhabitants. Sixty residents were killed, including 11 enslaved Africans. An expanding congregation after, outgrew its second and third buildings, replacing them with larger structures. The fourth was lost in Schenectady’s Great Fire of 1861, causing yet another building campaign. The present church building, an architectural landmark in Gothic design, was completed by the highly regarded Victorian-gothic architect Edward Tuckerman Potter in 1863. Potter is also known for his designs of the Nott Memorial Building (previously featured), in Schenectady, and Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, CT. A fire in the church gutted it in 1948, but the community at large banded together to fund the restoration efforts of the amazing architectural landmark.
The 16-sided Nott Memorial Hall is one of America’s most dramatic High Victorian buildings, is the centerpiece of the Union College campus (and a major reason for my stop in Schenectady when driving through New York). Union was the first non-denominational institution of higher education in the United States, and the second college established in the State of New York. Eliphalet Nott became college president in 1804, and envisioned an expanding campus to accommodate a growing school. In 1806 a large tract of land was acquired to the east of the Downtown Schenectady, on a gentle slope up from the Mohawk River. In 1812 French architect Joseph-Jacques Ramée, equally skilled in landscapes and structures, was then hired to draw up a comprehensive plan for the new campus. Ramée worked on drawings for about a year, and construction of two of the college buildings proceeded quickly enough to permit occupation in 1814. The Union College campus thus became the first comprehensively planned college campus in the United States! As part of Remee’s plan for the campus, a round, Neo-Classic “pantheon” building was proposed at the center of campus (a prescendent for Thomas Jefferson’s plans for the University of Virginia just four years later). The building never materialized in Unions early days. Construction finally began on the building in 1858, based on designs by Edward Tuckerman Potter, grandson of President Nott, but apparently took nearly 20 years to complete due to the Civil War and funding issues. The Nott Memorial as completed, is 89 feet in diameter and capped with a ribbed dome. The dome is sprinkled with 709 small colored glass windows, making it one of the finest buildings on a college campus in the United States!
Located in the Foss Beach section of Rye, NH, this Victorian summer cottage stands out among the later new construction of lesser detailed and quality late 20th century homes seen here lately. The home, known as “Tower Cottage” was built at the end of the 19th century and exhibits Victorian Gothic elements with a massive center tower. The steep wood shingle roof is punctuated by two rows of delicate dormers which add detail and views to the ocean. The massive wrap-around porch is also a must for such a prime location fronting the Atlantic Ocean!
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.
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.
In 1894, Hiram P. Dinsmore, a clerk at the nearby Tewksbury Almshouse, purchased land not too far from his work to build a home for his family. The well-designed late-Victorian home features a wrap-around porch, a corner tower, twin sunburst or flower motifs, and the use of shingle and clapboard siding, all hallmarks of the Queen Anne style. After Hiram’s death, his wife and children lived in the home, and it was later willed to his daughter Beatrice and her husband, both of whom worked at the Tewksbury Almshouse (since renamed Tewksbury Hospital). The home has seen some deterioration with large sections of siding completely open to the elements unobscured by paint and a sagging porch roof. Hope to see this beauty restored.