Fletcher-Hildreth House (1869)

8 Ayer Rd., Harvard

The French Second Empire house at 8 Ayer Road in Harvard was built in 1869 on the site of the Bigelow-Willard House, which was moved at 18 Ayer Road. The house was built by George H. Fletcher (b. 1833) and his wife, who moved to Clinton in the 1880s. The house was then occupied by tenants until it was acquired by Emily E. Hildreth, who made alterations the building, which included erecting the two-story entrance porch. Hildreth called the house Sunny Side and held weekly summer lectures there from 1888 to 1910. Miss Hildreth‘s sister, Mrs. F. E. Farwell next lived in the house, which was sold in the 1930s to the Dodge family.

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Fruitlands Farmhouse (1825)

Fruitlands Farmhouse

For seven months in 1843-1844, a farmhouse in the Town of Harvard served as the home of the Utopian agrarian commune called Fruitlands. Founded by Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane and based on Transcendentalist principles, the experiment was not a success, failing due to the participants‘ inability to grow sufficient food. Alcott soon moved his family, including his daughter, the future author Louisa May Alcott, back to Concord, where he later purchased Orchard House to be the family home.

After the commune broke up, its land was bought by one of its former members, Joseph Palmer, who for 20 years used it as a refuge for reformers called Freelands. Clara Endicott Sears bought the property in 1910 and opened it as a museum in 1914. It is today part of the Fruitlands Museum. The farmhouse is described in its National Register of Historic Places nomination as typical of the late eighteenth-century. The Historic American Buildings Survey documentation describes it as an early 18th century farmhouse. The Fruitlands Museum website describes it as having been built in 1825.

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Asa Colton House (1775)

44 Colton Place

The various sections of the house at 44 Colton Place in Longmeadow were built at different times, but its earliest section, dating to 1775, is attributed to Asa Colton. He was a veteran of the Colonial Wars who fought at the Siege of Louisbourg in 1748. Some sources say the house was later the home of Daniel Burbank, a veteran of the Civil War, while another states that it was sold out of the Colton family in 1865 to D. Erskine Burbank, son of Daniel Burbank (died 1865), the local butcher. Erskine Burbank served in the state legislature during the Civil War and was Justice of the Peace for 28 years. Around 1900, the house was moved from its original location, at the current site of the Center School Annex on Longmeadow Green, to its present address.

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Albert A. Sawyer House (1893)

Albert A. Sawyer House

The house at 9 Elm Street in Harvard was built in 1893 by Albert A. Sawyer. He served as Town Selectman from 1885 to 1890 and as assessor in 1893. The house was later home to his sister-in-law, Mrs. Eli Hosmer, and Mrs. George Morse. In 1952 the house became a two-family residence but is now single-family again.

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Central Exchange Building (1896)

Central Exchange Building

The Central Exchange Building at 301-315 Main Street in Worcester stands on the site of the Old Central Exchange Building. This predecessor was built in 1830, burned down in 1843 and was rebuilt the following year. The current Central Exchange Building was constructed in 1895-1896. Designed by architect W.G. Preston, its first owner was Elizabeth Davis Bliss Dewey, wife of Francis H. Dewey II, a trustee of the Mechanics’ National Bank and the Worcester Mechanics’ Savings Bank, which would be early tenants of the building. In 1902, an additional section of the building, 301-303 Main Street, was added, designed by Fuller & Delano. Continue reading

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E. A. Dexter House (1898)

Dexter House

The E. A. Dexter House at 194 Summer Avenue in Springfield is an example of the Mission Revival/Spanish Colonial Revival style featuring a tile roof and wide overhanging eaves.

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Joseph Willard House (1730)

Joseph Willard House

The house at 175 Still River Road in Harvard was built around 1730 with a saltbox form, but was later altered to a full two stories. Standing at the northern edge of Still River Village, the house was built by Joseph Willard (1685-1761) and remained in the family until it was sold to other owners in the early nineteenth century. It was bought back by Luther Willard in 1830 and it passed to Luther’s son, Frederick, in the 1860s. Frederick served as town selectman in 1876, and later operated a brickyard. Following his death, the farm passed to his brother, Rev. John Barstow Willard (1822-1900), and two sisters. Rev. Willard served as minister in Westford from 1848 to 1850 and his background is described in the History of the Town of Westford, in the County of Middlesex, Massachusetts, 1659-1883 (1883), by Rev. Edwin R. Hodgman:

Rev. John B. Willard was born in New York city, April 1, 1822. His parents, Luther and Mary (Davis) Willard, were born in Harvard, Massachusetts. He graduated at Brown University in 1842, and then studied law three years, partly in Syracuse, New York, and partly in Boston, but never entered the legal profession. He studied theology with Rev. Washington Gilbert, then of Harvard.

As related in the History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts, 1732-1893 (1894) by Henry S. Nourse:

The guests at the first Harvard ordination in 1733 were entertained at the house of Joseph Willard, son of the first Henry. This dwelling stands in excellent preservation, in North Still River, at the junction of the Groton and Harvard roads, being now the home of Reverend John B. Willard and his sisters. They are direct descendants of the first owner. The roof at the rear originally sloped to a single story, and other alterations have given the house a somewhat modern appearance. In making these changes it was found that the outer walls were lined with brick laid in clay; and upon beams and joist were several memoranda dated between 1730 and 1740, and one or more dates of the previous century. The south-west room was known as the “dower room,” being fitted for the residence of the dowager with a special stairway to cellar, and oven and closet conveniences. This feature was quite usual in old country houses. The mansion, if a new one when Joseph and Elizabeth Willard began housekeeping, was built about 1712; but there is some reason to believe that it dates from about 1730, though very probably in part a reconstruction from the materials, or built upon the site, of an older edifice.

In the early twentieth century the house was acquired by James Murchie, a cattle dealer, and in the early 1920s by H. E. Drury, a retired navy paymaster.

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