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.
This refrigerator white painted house in Jamaica Plain was built in 1880 for Charles Hardon, an executive with C.A. Browning & Co. a millnery goods company (making and selling women’s hats). Business must have been good because Hardon was able to buy a large house lot from the Greenough Family and hired esteemed architect William Ralph Emerson to design a Queen Anne house for him and his family. The home was eventually purchased by Henry F. Colwell, a stock broker at the Boston Stock Exchange. The massive home is notable for the asymmetry, different siding types, and inset porches, all hallmarks of the Queen Anne style of architecture. If you owned this house, would you paint it differently?
In the 1890s, Charles Strong Guthrie and wife Frances Amelia Lampson Guthrie began vacationing at Pequot Colony, a resort community in New London, CT, with considerable social cachet and popular with wealthy New Yorkers like themselves. Charles Guthrie was an industrial mogul who served as President of the Republic Iron and Steel Corporation. In 1901, the couple acquired 12-acres of land overlooking the Long Island Sound, and hired renowned Summer home architect William Ralph Emerson to design a mansion with the Olmsted Brothers commissioned to design the site and landscaping. Upon completion in 1902-03, the estate became known as “Meadow Court”, taking its name from the six-acre wildflower meadow overlooking the Sound. The home was a landmark in the Mission/Spanish Revival style, which became popular in the early 20th century, coinciding with other architectural revivals. Charles Guthrie died prematurely in 1906 at age 46, and not long after, Frances began spending summers on Long Island. In the 1920s, she sold off some of the land to a developer, who constructed more modest summer cottages, and sold the mansion, which soon after re-opened as the Lighthouse Inn. The summer hotel flourished through the mid 20th century, boosted by great management and luxury events. A fire in 1979 destroyed some of the building, but it was restored. It closed in 2008 and sat vacant until recently, when a new owner has begun the long process of restoration, looking to restore the light back to the Lighthouse Inn.
This funky house in Beacon Hill was built in 1802 actually as a stable, for United States Senator Jonathan Mason (who lived on the next street). Set out around 1800, Pinckney Street was originally a glorified service alley lined with the stables for the larger homes on the South Slope of Beacon Hill, and served as a buffer street between the mansions of the Brahmins who lived closer to the Boston Common, and the working-class neighborhood of the North Slope. From the 1880s until 1920s, Thomas Bailey Aldrich and his heirs owned the old Mason stable. Aldrich was an author and the editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and rented this stable building. He eventually hired noted architect William Ralph Emerson to redesign the main facade of the old stable in the manner of a picturesque Queen Anne cottage. The house has windows of varying sizes and forms and creates a complex composition which surprisingly works. The deeply recessed panel doors and some inset windows give the house depth. It has been known locally as the “House of the Odd Windows”, a name that perfectly fits.
Located not far from the demolished Loring House in Beverly, a stunning church in the same Shingle style, by the same architect remains, a sort of consolation prize for architectural historians. Primarily an architect of houses, William Ralph Emerson is recognized as one of a group of Boston-area architects whose work was important in the development of late nineteenth century American architecture. In the vanguard of those architects who designed in what has become known as the Shingle Style, Emerson was considered by many of his contemporaries to be its inventor. St. Margaret Roman Catholic Parish was established in 1885 as a mission of St. Mary Star of the Sea of Beverly, as Beverly Farms and Prides Crossing, summer colonies of wealthy of Boston residents developed and owners sought a place of worship in the Catholic faith. The church constructed a rectory in the early 20th century, which is constructed of reddish-orange stone, quarried from the site. Additionally, a school was constructed adjacent to the church in 1929 and designed by architect Edward T. P. Graham, who also designed the rectory, in a similar style, also with stone quarried from the site.
Architectural losses are numerous in cities and towns all over New England, but few evoke such sadness for me than the demolition of the Charles G. Loring House of Beverly. The house was built as a summer cottage in 1881 for Charles G. Loring (1828-1902) on family land, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, perched high on a cliff. Loring hired architect William Ralph Emerson to design the home, which was perfectly harmonious in its siting and design with the rugged landscape it sat upon. William Ralph Emerson (1833-1917) was a leading architect credited with originating and popularizing what came to be known as the Shingle Style of architecture. The man who coined that term, Vincent Scully, called the Loring House “the very best of all the houses along this coast and considers that it “may well be the finest surviving example of the Shingle Style“. Additionally, the property’s landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who designed the Emerald Necklace park system in Boston, the landscape plan for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, among dozens of other iconic designs. In 2012, the property was sold by heirs of the Loring Family to Helen Greiner, a co-founder of iRobot, the company best known for its robotic vacuum cleaner Roomba. She proposed a plan to demolish portions of the house, which according to the local Historical Commission, would be “no different from demolition” and completely destroy the architectural integrity and significance of the home. A one year delay was enacted on the property, but it was razed soon after the delay was over.
This distinguished Shingle style home in the Pill Hill neighborhood of Brookline, MA was designed in 1882 and completed two years later for Thatcher Loring. Mr. Loring worked as the Treasurer of the National Dock & Warehouse Company in Boston. Loring’s house was designed by William Ralph Emerson, who at the time, was at the peak of a career that specialized in Shingle Style houses, particularly large summer cottages, primarily in New England. The home features a brick first floor with shingle siding above, and a recessed entrance with stunning wood paneling.
One of the jewels of the Cape Arundel summer cottages in Kennebunkport is the Rock Ledge Cottage, sited prominently on a hill overlooking the Atlantic. Rock Ledge was a cottage built in 1887 for Elon Dunbar Lockwood (1836-1891) of Philadelphia. Lockwood was a merchant who started a dry goods business with his brother, forming W. E. & E. W. Lockwood. Elon became a highly respected businessman in Philadelphia and later became a member of the Committee of Fifty, a group formed to devise measures for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia which would showcase the city for the first ever World’s Exposition in the United States. Elon’s wife Elizabeth died in 1884, and a couple years later, he had this summer cottage built, where he would apparently entertain, giving him the designation as a womanizer until his death in 1891 at the age of 54. The cottage was designed by William Ralph Emerson, one of the busiest architects in New England at the time, with commissions all over the region, including many summer cottages in Maine.