Monthly Archives: January 2012

Herreshoff Castle (1926)

There are a number of interesting castles in Massachusetts. Herreshoff Castle, at 2 Crocker Park in Marblehead, was built in 1926 by artist Waldo Ballard and his wife. Ballard restored many old houses in Marblehead. The castle was originally called Castle Brattahlid and was intended to recreate Erik the Red‘s castle at Brattahlíð (“Steep Slope”), in Greenland. In 1945, the Ballards sold the castle to L. Francis Herreshoff, son the yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff. After Herreshoff died in 1972, he left the castle to a longtime assistant. The present owners bought it in 1990 and operate the castle‘s similarly Gothic-style attached carriage house as a one-unit bed & breakfast.

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J. Stebbins Lathrop House (1848)

Jere Stebbins Lathrop, from West Springfield, became a merchant in Northampton and then in Savannah, Georgia, where he remained until the start of the Civil War. He spent summers in his house at 57 Bridge Street in Northampton, which was built in the 1840s from plans in a book of southern architecture brought north by his wife, Elizabeth. The plans for the house (also known as the Lathrop-Butler House) were executed by architect W.F. Pratt, who would design a similar house using the same plans in 1855 for lawyer Osmyn Baker at 78 Pomeroy Terrace. Not wanting to fight a brother in the Confederate army, Lathrop and his family spent the Civil War in Canada, where he was suspected of supplying goods to Southern blockade runners. The Federal government confiscated his house, which was then bought at public auction by Osmyn Baker, who returned it to Lathrop after the war. J. Stebbins Lathrop continued as a business man in Northampton until his death in 1894.

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Plimpton House, Amherst College (1914)

The building at 82 Lessey Street in Amherst was built in 1914 by the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity of Amherst College. It replaced the fraternity’s two earlier connected buildings on the site. One of these had been purchased on land acquired in 1883 from Col. W.S. Clark, President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMASS Amherst) and the second was built next to it in 1886. The new Georgian Revival fraternity house was designed by Lionel Moses II of the firm of McKim, Meade & White and has a doorway modeled on that of Westover, the eighteenth-century Virginia plantation house of William Byrd II. The fraternity house became an Amherst College dormitory, named Plimpton House, in 1984.

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48 Pomeroy Terrace, Northampton (1850)

The house at 48 Pomeroy Terrace in Northampton was built around 1850, or perhaps as early as 1847. Its first resident was Rev. Rufus Ellis (1819-1885), a Unitarian clergyman who rented the property. In 1853, Edward Clarke sold it to Mary Ann Cochran and the house became known as the Miss Cochran Cottage. According to tradition, the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad. In the 1850s, the house’s cupola had differently colored panes of glass and fugitive slaves were said to have known whether it was safe to proceed based on which pane was lit. The house is now used for the offices of the neighboring College Church.

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Old Town House, Marblehead (1727)

This is the 500th Post for Historic Buildings of Massachusetts!!! The Old Town House in Marblehead was built in 1727. The upper level contained the town hall and the lower level was originally used as a market. The building is sometimes called “Marblehead’s Cradle of Liberty” because of meetings held there before the Revolution where such leaders as Elbridge Gerry and General John Glover debated independence. The building‘s lower level, originally at ground level before the addition of a granite foundation to the structure in 1830, served as the town’s Police Station from 1853 to 1961 and is now home to the Marblehead Police Museum. The second floor also has a Grand Army of the Republic meeting hall maintained as a museum.

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Isaac Damon House (1813)

Isaac Damon, a prominent builder based in Northampton in the early nineteenth century, built his own house on Bridge Street in 1813. Today the house contains the administrative offices of Historic Northampton, with a modern addition housing a museum and gift shop.

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Amherst Cinema Building (1926)

In 1926, an old livery stable, built in 1879 on the site of where the old Amherst Academy (attended by Emily Dickinson) had once stood, was rebuilt as the Amherst Cinema. The Cinema, at 28 Amity Street, continued in operation until 1999, by which time the building had already been in a deteriorating condition for some years. The vacant theater was then acquired by local residents who were seeking to turn it into a cultural and performing arts center. Developer Barry Roberts and architect John Kuhn relocated the three-screen cinema to the rear of the building and adapted the rest for retail, restaurant and office space. The Amherst Cinema Arts Center opened in 2006. A new mural has recently been added to the west side of the building, joining the vintage graffiti that reads “Save the Drake” and “For Willy, for humanity.”

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