Category Archives: Vernacular

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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Shaker Office, Fruitlands Museum (1794)

Shaker Office

The Shaker community in Harvard began in the 1780s and flouished in the mid-nineteenth century. After the Harvard Shaker Village finally closed in 1917, the original Shaker Trustee’s Office, built in 1794, was moved in 1920 by Clara Endicott Sears to the Fruitlands Museum to become a Shaker Museum.

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Judge Bailey Aldrich House (1930)

89 Shaker Rd., Harvard

The house at 89 Shaker Road in Harvard was built around 1930 on the site of one of the former dwellings of the Harvard Shaker Village. Judge Bailey Aldrich designed the house with the builder Harold Bigelow to reflect the Shaker tradition of simplicity.

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South Maple Street School (1888)

Westfield Grange Hall

The former South Maple Street School, a two-room brick schoolhouse built in 1888, is located at 89 South Maple Street in Westfield. The school was in continuous use until 1918 and was then unoccupied until 1931, when it became a Grange Hall for Westfield Grange #20. An entryway to the cellar kitchen was added to the building’s front facade around 1960.

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Horse Barn, Hancock Shaker Village (1850)

Horse Barn

At the Hancock Shaker Village is an original Horse Barn. It originally stood on a nearby lot owned by the Shakers. It was dismantled and reerected at its current location in 1850 by Matthew Criteden, a non-Shaker. The barn was known as Elder Louis’ barn because Elder Louis Basting kept teams of carriage horses in the barn. The slate roof probably dates to 1876, when a number of buildings at the village were re-roofed in slate.

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Laundry and Machine Shop, Hancock Shaker Village (1790)

Laundry and Machine Shop

The oldest part of the Laundry and Machine Shop building at Hancock Shaker Village dates to 1790, when the structure may have been used as a dwelling by the Goodrich family, whose owner became a convert. The Shakers positioned this building to take advantage of the penstock, or incoming water supply pipe. The building was moved in 1829 to make room for the brick dwelling. The Laundry and Machine Shop is unusual in that both the Shaker Brothers and Sisters did their work under the same roof, albeit separated into the female laundry and the male machine/woodworking shops. Both groups utilized power provided by an 1858 water turbine. An addition was built on the machine shop in 1839. (more…)

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Ice House, Hancock Shaker Village (1894)

Ice House, Hancock Shaker Village (1894)

The Shakers at Hancock Shaker Village had a number of ice houses constructed in the nineteenth century, but the one that survives was built in 1894 to replace an earlier one of 1866. Sister Emoretta Belden described the new ice house in the Shaker Manifesto of December 1894:

We have long anticipated the possession of a new ice-house, with modern improvements. Within the last two months it has been erected. The building is 22×34 ft. with brick walls 18 ft. high, laid in red-colored mortar. One half of the lower story is finished inside with Southern pine, to be used for cold storage. The ice-hall and chamber will hold about two hundred tons of ice. The outside wood-work is painted a light gray color, and presents quite a nice appearance. There are rooms for vegetables, fruits, meats, and any things that we may wish to keep for a long or short time.

Built into a hill side to use the natural insulation of the earth, the south side of the Ice House is smaller than the cooler north side, to minimize the sun’s impact. Cool air from the ice chambers vents directly into food storage rooms, and a cupola on the roof allows the warmer air to escape. For insulation, the building has double and triple hung doors and on the lower level are triple-glazed windows. (more…)

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