Monthly Archives: August 2011

First Congregational Church of Amherst (1868)

The Congregational Church in Amherst dates back to 1739, when the future town was still a part of Hadley. There have been four successive meeting houses for the church. The original meeting house, built around 1740, stood on the hill where the Amherst College Octagon would later be built. It was replaced, on the same site, by a more elaborate building, completed in 1788. The third meeting house was built across South Pleasant Street in 1829; since remodeled, it is now owned by Amherst College and is known as College Hall. The current First Congregational Church was built of Monson granite in 1867-1868. The architect was George Hathorne of Springfield and the local contractor was C.W. Lessey, who lived nearby; neighbor William Austin Dickinson supervised the construction. The same team would then begin construction of Walker Hall at Amherst College in 1868. Since its construction, the church has been much altered over the years, both inside and out.

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Three Cod Inn (1680)

At 82-84 Front Street in Marblehead is a 1680 gambrel-roofed building known as Three Cod Inn. It was a tavern in the colonial period and a meeting place for patriots during the Revolutionary War. According to tradition, in 1775 the British frigate Lively fired several warning shots onto the shore, one of which struck the tavern. The cannon ball remained embedded in the wall for many years until it was later found and then placed with the Marblehead Historic Society. Known for many years as the Old Tavern, the building has more recently been used as a restaurant.

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Posted in Colonial, Marblehead, Taverns | 1 Comment

Amherst Depot (1853)

Although today hidden down a side street, Amherst’s small brick train station was once surrounded by a hub of activity, including factories, a hotel and a bank. Built in 1853 by Robert Cutler, the Amherst Depot originally served the Amherst & Belchertown Railroad and later the New London Northern Railroad and the Central Vermont Railroad. Restored in 1976, it continues as a passenger station today.

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Israel Parsons House (1800)

Built in 1800 (or perhaps 1816), the Israel Parsons House is an end chimney Federal-style residence on Main Road in Granville. Israel Parsons was born in Springfield in 1762 and his family came to Granville in 1766. He served during the Revolutionary War and, according to a compilation of Chapter Sketches, published by the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution in 1904,

In 1783 he acted as Commissary at New Windsor, near West Point, in room of Commissary Post, who was taken sick and finally retired from the station. Israel Parsons was personally known to General Washington, and was ordered to his headquarters and directed to furnish the necessary provisions to the troops. By great personal and fatiguing exertions he succeeded in complying with the objects and desire of the Commander-in-Chief, in such a manner as to elicit from him testimonials of his satisfaction, with the highest commendation of his conduct.

Parsons married Mary Marvin in 1787, served several terms as a Representative in the Massachusetts General Court and died in 1846.

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West Experiment Station, UMASS (1887)

Across from the East Experiment Station on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst is the West Experiment Station, built a few years earlier in 1886-1887. The building was designed by architect Emory Ellsworth and resembles a Queen Anne style house. The West Experiment Station, originally located on the northern fringe of campus, was built to serve and continues as the home of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMASS)’s chemical research division.

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John Holton House (1692)

At 27 Centre Street in Danvers, in what was the old Salem Village of the Salem Witch Trials, is a house built in 1692 by John Holton, a cooper. He died in 1721 and the house passed to his widow Mary and then to Joseph Buxton, the son of his sister Elizabeth. Buxton, also a cooper, died in 1750 and his son, Anthony, sold the house in 1777. The house has a Beverly jog.

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Amherst Town Hall (1889)

On March 11, 1888, the Palmer Block, in downtown Amherst, burned down in the middle of a blizzard. Because town meetings had been held in the building, the town acquired the land and built a new Town Hall in 1889-1890. The building was designed by H.S. McKay of Boston in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. As described by Frederick H. Hitchcock in his Handbook of Amherst (1891):

The town hall is a picturesque building of brick, red sandstone, and granite. It was erected by the town in 1889 at a cost of $58,000, H. S. McKay of Boston being the designer. In addition to a handsome hall, seating eight hundred and fifty persons, there are rooms for the town officers, the district court, the town library, and several business men.

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