The Meetinghouse at the former Harvard Shaker Village, which existed from 1791 to 1917, is one of ten built by the Enfield Shaker Moses Johnson (for instance, he also built the Shirley Shaker Meeting House, now located at Hancock Shaker Village). The frame of the Meetinghouse was raised on June 8, 1791 and the first Sabbath meeting was held inside on January 22, 1792. The Shakers moved the building southwards to its present site (82 Shaker Road) in 1857. At that time, they enlarged the original gambrel roof to a gable roof and added a stairway ell on each end of the building. The building is now a private residence.
The town of Harvard was once home to the second Shaker community in the United States and the first in Massachusetts. Religious dissenters in the town had built the structure known as the “Square House” in 1769. They were followers of Shadrach Ireland, a “New Light” Baptist preacher who died in 1778 (an event that astounded his followers, who believed him to be immortal!). Mother Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, visited this dissenting community in 1781-1782 and brought them into the United Society of Believers (Shakers). The Square House then became her base for two years as she went on missionary trips to establish other Shaker communities in New England. The house was used for various purposes by the Shakers until the community closed in 1917. The building‘s original hipped roof was replaced by a gable roof in 1845, at which time the Shakers also added a porch, a third floor and an addition. The house (94 Shaker Road) is now a private residence. The picture above is not a good view, but I have used it due to the building’s great historical and religious importance.
In the 1760s, Quakers, mostly from the area of Smithfield, Rhode Island, began to settle in the area that would be incorporated as the Town of Adams in 1778. In 1781, the East Hoosuck Meeting of the Society of Friends was established. The following year the Society began construction of the Quaker (Friends) Meeting House at the corner of Friend and Maple Streets in Adams. The building, which took four years to build, is located in Maple Street Cemetery, where many Quakers are buried. The building‘s plainness reflected the religious ideas of the Quakers, who shunned ostentatious display and followed a code of strict simplicity. In 1827 the Society was split between the orthodox believers and the followers of Edward Hicks. Many Quakers began to move west in search of better economic opportunities. The Society of Friends held their last official meeting in the old Meeting House in 1842. A number of images of the building can be found here. Read More
The original Meetinghouse at Hancock Shaker Village was built in 1786. To gain more space, its first roof, a gambrel, was altered to a gable roof in 1871. By the late nineteenth century, the Shakers primarily used the meeting room in the Brick Dwelling for worship services. In the early twentieth century the Meetinghouse was being used for storage. It was taken down in 1938. In 1962, after Hancock Shaker Village became a museum, it acquired the Meetinghouse from the former Shaker Village in Shirley. The Shirley Meetinghouse was then moved to Hancock. Built in 1793 by by Moses Johnson, who had constructed the Hancock Meetinghouse (among many others), the Shirley Meetinghouse is the only eighteenth-century Shaker Meetinghouse to remain unaltered in its original firm.
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was a major poet and for 50 years was editor and publisher of The New York Evening Post. He was born in a log cabin in Cummington. When he was two, Bryant‘s father, Dr. Peter Bryant, moved the family to a house in Cummington that the doctor’s father-in-law had built in circa 1783-1785. The house became young William Cullen Bryant‘s boyhood home and is now called the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. In 1865, after the old farmhouse had been out of the family for 30 years, Bryant purchased and extensively altered it in to reflect Victorian stylistic tastes. He began by raising the original section of the house, creating a new ground floor. He also added a gambrel-roofed study, a replica of his father’s medical office, which projects from the front facade, and constructed an addition to the house’s original rear ell. The renovated house would serve as his summer home until his death. It is now owned by the Trustees of Reservations and can be toured by the public. Read More
It’s not a great picture above, but since Watertown is making headlines I’m featuring one of its most historic buildings. The Browne House at 562 Main Street in Watertown was built in 1698 by Captain Abraham Browne (1671-1729). The earliest section of the house is located on the far left of the image. On the right is the north ell, which was built in 1725. Browne descendents lived in the house until 1897. The house became dilapidated. It was purchased by preservationist William Sumner Appleton in 1919, just days before it was to be demolished. He restored the house, which is considered to be one of the best examples of a “First Period” New England residence. Appleton had founded the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England) in 1910, but the trustees had not thought the house could be salvaged. Having purchased and restored it, Appleton gave the house to the Society in 1922, subject to a mortgage that was finally discharged in 1949. With its unique architectural features, it is now used by Historic New England as a study property.