Monthly Archives: July 2011

Grace Episcopal Church, Amherst (1865)

As related in The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts (1896):

Sept. 20, 1864, a number of men residing in Amherst met at the residence of Mrs. Mary H. Jones, to consider the practicability of forming in Amherst a parish of the Protestant Episcopal church. [...] Rev. Frederick D. Huntington, at that time rector of the Emanuel church in Boston, was present at the meeting: it was largely owing to his efforts that the parish was formed. Being invited to give a name to the parish, he selected that of “Grace church.”

At a meeting on May 26, 1865,

it was voted that the parish build a stone church, a committee of five being appointed to have charge of the work. Work on the building was begun that year, and was carried on so rapidly that the parish held a meeting in the basement of the church, April 2, 1866. The building was consecrated by the Bishop of the diocese, July 17. It was designed by Henry Dudley of New York, the type of architecture being 13th century English. It was built of a gray gneiss, quarried in Leverett.

The tower, part of Dudley’s riginal plan, was added to Grace Episcopal Church in 1868.

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Wesley Methodist Church, Amherst (1878)

In 1972, architect Tullio Inglese and his wife Judith rescued the old Wesley Chapel, at 592 Main Street in Amherst, and converted it into their home and studio. Today, the former church houses the offices of TIA Architects and the Nacul Center for Ecological Architecture. According to The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts (1896):

The Methodist church at Amherst center was organized in 1868 as a branch of the church at North Amherst. It was composed, in part, of members of the latter organization, together with a few members from the church in Pelham. It was organized as a separate society in August, 1875, when the first quarterly conference was held.

A church was soon constructed:

The cornerstone of the church was laid. Oct. 17. 1878, and the work progressed so rapidly that services were held in the vestry, Jan. 26, 1879. In 1880, a committee was appointed to superintend the building of sheds on the church lot. In 1886, the grounds about the church were graded and improved. A bell was procured in 1887.

The United Methodist Church serving Amherst is now located at 98 North Maple in Hadley.

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Octagon at Amherst College (1847)

A distinctive building on the campus of Amherst College is the Octagon. Built in 1847-1848 and designed by Henry A Sykes, its wood exterior walls were covered in stucco, originally scored and painted to resemble large blocks. College president Edward Hitchcock requested that the building have an octagon shape, a decision that was initially controversial. The Octagon originally housed the Woods Cabinet, the College’s scientific collection, and the Lawrence Observatory. The attached octagonal tower contained the observatory telescope. An 1855 addition housed a geology lecture room and a galley for the College’s Assyrian reliefs. After a new observatory was built in 1905, the Octagon housed other departments. In 1934-1935, the second floor of the Woods Cabinet was remodeled by architect James Kellum Smith as a meeting room, known as the Babbott Room.

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Jones Library, Amherst (1928)

Jones Library, 43 Amity Street in Amherst, was begun in 1927 and dedicated in 1928. An earlier library had been located in the town hall. The Jones Library, named for its benefactor, Samuel Minot Jones, was incorporated in 1919. From 1921 to 1926, the library rented rooms in the Amherst House, which stood at the corner of South Pleasant and Amity Streets. After the Amherst House burned down in 1926, the library briefly moved its operations into the Whipple House on North Pleasant Street, until the current library building, built of Pelham field stone, was completed. The Jones Library has notable collections of material relating to Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.

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The Evergreens (1856)

The Evergreens is a house in Amherst built in 1856 by Edward Dickinson for his his son, William Austin Dickinson, who had just married Susan Huntington Gilbert. Austin Dickinson was a lawyer and succeeded his father as treasurer of Amherst College, serving from 1874 until his death in 1895. He is also known for his longtime affair with Mabel Loomis Todd, who would edit early collections of poetry written by Austin’s sister, Emily Dickinson. The Italianate-style Evergreens, designed by Northampton architect William Fenno Pratt, was built next to the Dickinson Homestead, where Emily resided with her sister, Lavinia. The Evergreens became a social and cultural center in the town. After Austin and Sarah Dickinson died (the latter in 1913), the house was lived in and preserved by their daughter, Martha Dickinson Bianchi (died 1943), who left the house to her secretary, Alfred Leete Hampson, stipulating in her will that if Hampson and his family chose not to live in the house, it should be torn down. Hampson’s widow, Mary Landis Hampson, made arrangements in her own will to preserve the house under a trust for public use. Since 2003, it has been owned by Amherst College and, along with the Emily Dickinson Homestead, forms part of the Emily Dickinson Museum.

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Phoenix Row (1838)

The first great fire in Amherst swept through the center of town in February 1838. Out of the ashes was built a new commercial block with the appropriate name: Phoenix Row. The building, located at 4-16 Main Street, survived another fire in 1872, which started in the outbuildings to its rear. It soon underwent renovations that significantly altered its appearance, most notably with the addition of a new flat Italianate style roof with decorative brackets and gable. Phoenix Row has survived other fires in 1883 and 1989 and continues as a business block today.

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Lysander H. Allen House (1886)

Lysander H. Allen, a wire goods manufacturer, built his house, at 599 Main Street in Amherst, in 1886. In later years it was the home of his son, Harry Allen, who taught at Amherst College. The house, which is a notable example of the stick style of architecture, was the winner of the 1991 Amherst Historical Commission‘s Preservation Award. It is now a bed & breakfast known as the Allen House Inn.

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