Monthly Archives: December 2008

First Congregational Church of Hadley (1808)

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The current meeting house of the First Congregational Church of Hadley, on Middle Street, was built in 1808. The congregation dates back to 1659. The original meeting house was not built right away: although the town had planned to construct it in 1661, work did not begin until 1663 and it took seven years to complete. “Probably during this time meetings were held in the home of some leading church member.” By 1713, “The little old first edifice was falling in pieces,” and the Town decided to build a new church, completed in 1714. This was later replaced by the current building at the same location.

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The Allen House (1734)

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The colonial saltbox known as the Allen House was renovated in 1945 to become the Deerfield home of Henry and Helen Flynt, the founders of Historic Deerfield. They believed the house had been built around 1705, just after the Deerfield Raid of 1704. Current research indicates it was built around 1734. The land was originally owned by Simon and Hannah Beaman, who had been captured during the raid. The house was occupied by the Bardwell family and then by the Allen family, after the 1842 marriage of Catherine Elizabeth Bardwell and Caleb Allen. In 1896, Caleb Bardwell’s nieces, Frances and Mary Allen, with their mother took possession of the house. The Allen sisters were photographers, famous for their Deerfield scenes. They sold their work out of a shop in the house. During the nineteenth century, the interior of the house had been completely changed, leading the Flynts to gut it and recreate an eighteenth century plan. Open to visitors, the antiques-filled interior decoration of the house remains as it was when the Flynts were in residence.

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Massachusetts State House (1798)

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The Massachusetts State Capitol building in Boston, designed by Charles Bulfinch, was completed in 1798. The government of Massachusetts had previously used the Old State House, so the current building is sometimes called the New State House. It was built on Beacon Hill, on land once owned by John Hancock. The site on Beacon Hill was lowered 50 feet for the construction, with the excavated dirt being used as landfill. Bulfinch modeled his design on William Chambers‘s Somerset House and James Wyatt‘s Pantheon, both in London. The capitol building‘s dome was originally made of wood, which soon leaked. In 1802, it was covered with copper by Paul Revere’s company. Originally painted gray, to resemble stone, it was later painted yellow and, in 1874, gilded with gold. It was most recently regilded in 1997. The building was expanded with the addition of a yellow brick annex in 1895 and the two massive marble wings, on each side, in 1914 and 1917. The State House underwent a restoration in 2000. Today, this important structure, which Oliver Wendell Holmes once called, “the hub of the solar system,” is open to the public for tours.

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Old South Meeting House (1729)

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Built in 1729, Boston’s Old South Meeting House was the largest building in the colonial town. The congregation began in 1669, when it separated from Boston’s First Church (becoming the Third Church of Boston). In the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the American Revolution, citizens would gather in the Old South Meeting House to debate and argue in the aftermath of events like the Boston Massacre. On the night of December 16, 1773, over 5,000 colonists, angered over the tax on tea, met at Old South and after hours of debate, Samuel Adams gave a secret signal which began the famous Boston Tea Party. During the war, occupying British troops took revenge for the Tea Party by ripping out the church‘s pews and using the building as a riding stable. They also set up a bar on the first balcony. The church continued to be used as a house of worship, but after it was nearly destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, the congregation built the New Old South Church at Copley Square. In danger of being torn down, pioneering preservation efforts led to the restoration of the building, which has been a museum and historic site since 1877. It is also a stop on the Boston Freedom Trail. The steeple has been replaced twice, after storms in 1804 and 1954.

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The Benjamin W. Crowninshield House (1812)

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Built 1810-1812 on Derby Street in Salem, the Benjamin W. Crowninshield House may be based on a plan by Samuel McIntire, but completed after his death by his son, Samuel Field McIntire. Benjamin Williams Crowninshield was a congressman and Secretary of the Navy (1815-1818) under presidents Madison and Monroe, the latter of whom once stayed in the house. Brigader General James Miller, a hero of the War of 1812, lived in the house while he was serving as collector at the Custom House next door from 1825 to 1829. The house’s Greek Revival front porch was added after 1820 and the building was expanded in the rear in 1906 and 1916. The house has been used, as noted on a panel on the front facade, as a “Home for Aged Women presented by Robert Brookhouse in 1861″

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The Simon Forrester House (1790)

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In 1791, Capt. Simon Forrester acquired an unfinished house on Derby Street in Salem. The three-story hipped-roof house has been attributed to Samuel McIntire and the east parlor mantelpiece, carved by McIntire, is now in the Peabody Essex Museum. Forrester was a Irish born ship captain, brought to America by Capt. Daniel Hathorne, the grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Forrester is mentioned in The Scarlet Letter). Forrester married Capt. Hathorne’s daughter and became wealthy during the Revolutionary War. Many of the house‘s architectural details were removed or altered after the First World War, but more recently the house has been restored to a more original appearance.

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The Derby-Ward House (1738)

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The Derby-Ward House, on Derby Street in Salem, was built around 1738 by the sea captain Richard Derby. He was the father of the wealthy and celebrated merchant Elias Hasket Derby, the statesman Richard Derby, Jr. and the ship captain John Derby. The gambrel-roofed house has an enclosed entry porch, similar to those on other homes of wealthy Salem families, which was added after the house was built. The house was purchased by the Ward family after the Revolutionary War. Update: Check out the recent article on the house at SalemPatch.

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