Category: New England Architecture

Revolutionary Timekeepers

The Willard House and Clock Museum in North Grafton, MA.

From the information board at the site:
The family of clockmakers who lived and worked in this house helped revolutionize timekeeping in America. The Willard family was one of the premiere clockmaking families during and after the American Revolution. The Willards held several patents on clockmaking innovations, and their work made clocks more widely available–while increasing their reliability.
The saltbox, a popular colonial house design, was a frame dwelling with two stories in front and one behind and a roof with a long rear slope.

Simon Willard invented the popular banjo clock, a wall clock with a banjo-shaped case.

A 1685 Garrison House

Standing for over 300 years, this sturdy house provides a glimpse into an important architectural style of Early America.

The Houghton Sprague Garrison House, Harvard, MA
“Garrisons, or fortified houses, were built in almost all New England towns.…Like an ordinary house in plan and appearance, garrisons were used in times of peace as one-family dwellings but were strongly built and capable of protecting a number of families in times of danger, like the American Revolution.” –The History of Garrison Colonials, by Ray Wiese

A Colonial Style Summer

A walk through the small historic district of Holden, MA allows time to view many details of colonial architecture and landscaping.

This home in the historic district of Holden, MA, displays the simple beauty of early American design and decoration. Lilies, phlox and daisies, traditional New England perennials, become the “front lawn”. No mowing needed.
The rest of the “lawn” is dominated by common ferns. Look closely to the left of the door. A golden colored “guard” is on duty there.
Door guards such as this one have been popular in China for centuries. This might be a representation of a lion, dragon or dog. Although I was unable to find direct links from this style of ceramics to early America, The Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum notes that: In 1741, ships belonging to the British, Danish, French, and Swedish brought a total of 1,200,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain into the European ports. A good portion of those pieces ended up in the fine homes of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. I welcome comments if you have expertise in this area!
A recent trend in primitive decorating is the use of gourds. Here, eye-catching Italian gourds (or possibly small snake gourds) hang on the side door underneath panes of traditional bull’s eye glass. The five-pointed star atop the door was a symbol of good luck in colonial America. A side lantern in colonial style utilizes faux candles.
The smaller golden guard of the side door sits next to a pot of basil. Basil was brought to the New World in the 1620s. Along with flavoring food, it was used as a strewing herb. Additionally, the leaves were dried for use in snuff to relieve headaches and colds.
Whitewashed picket fences were popular in colonial days. These fences were expensive and harder to maintain than plain wooden fences, so they became a symbol of prosperity.
This rooster weather vane, with its tail perfectly shaped to catch the wind, stands proudly atop the house. Weather vanes were popular in colonial times, but were first used centuries before this era.

A Grand Design: Beaver Architecture

Beavers build lodges from woven sticks, grasses, and moss plastered with mud. These architectural marvels can be up to 8 feet wide and 3 feet high inside. A lodge is designed with at least two underwater “doors” to provide instant swimming access, while a “skylight” hole at the top lets in fresh air. There are two main rooms inside – one near the entrance that is used for eating and drying off and another used for sleeping and raising the young. On average, between four and eight beavers live in a lodge.

Beaver Lodge, Wildlife Pond, Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA

Historic Yankee Barn Design

Information posted at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary’s Crocker Barn states:

“Built in 1925 by the Crocker family, this barn formerly housed a herd of prize-winning Milking Shorthorn cattle. It was designed by farm manager Paul Beardsley and was state-of-the-art for its time, featuring a ground floor milking parlor, a trussed, gambrel roof that provided vast interior space to pile loose hay (hay balers were not yet invented), and an overhead tramway system to easily move manure to a separate barn for storage. No longer present, but visible in the historic photo notice the twin silos, the four rooftop ventilators, the additional hay wagon ramp, and the small milk house in the foreground.

Currently, the Cow Barn provides storage for the materials, tools and equipment needed for sanctuary habitat management, and to maintain our trail system, buildings and grounds. Planning is underway to fundraise for renovations that would allow us to welcome visitors and program participants into this wonderful and historic space.”

The Crocker Barn, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, MA.

Information posted at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary’s Crocker Barn states:
“Built in 1925 by the Crocker family, this barn formerly housed a herd of prize-winning Milking Shorthorn cattle. It was designed by farm manager Paul Beardsley and was state-of-the-art for its time, featuring a ground floor milking parlor, a trussed, gambrel roof that provided vast interior space to pile loose hay (hay balers were not yet invented), and an overhead tramway system to easily move manure to a separate barn for storage. No longer present, but visible in the historic photo notice the twin silos, the four rooftop ventilators, the additional hay wagon ramp, and the small milk house in the foreground.
Currently, the Cow Barn provides storage for the materials, tools and equipment needed for sanctuary habitat management, and to maintain our trail system, buildings and grounds. Planning is underway to fundraise for renovations that would allow us to welcome visitors and program participants into this wonderful and historic space.”
The barn circa 1925.
Doors to a former hay wagon ramp.
Attention to detail is shown on this simple but effective shingle design.
The cow barn is massive compared to the nearby sheep barn.
Fieldstone foundations are featured on both barns.
A section of the outsized doors, commonly found on New England barns.
The barn overlooks a meadow that leads down to wetlands.

This side of the barn will soon feature an all-persons viewing deck.

A Red Barn For All

This barn dating back to the 1800s is a Holden, MA landmark. The structure, with almost eight surrounding acres and a pond, was donated to the town in 2000. Now maintained by the non-profit organization, The Friends of the Red Barn, it is a center that helps people understand New England’s agricultural past while encouraging the appreciation of nature.

Six gardens are maintained on the plot by member/volunteers, and markers around the site educate visitors about the farm’s history. Farm Days offer a wide variety of events to experience farm life close up.

Over the Walls

The little town of Hardwick, MA is celebrated for its miles of historic stone walls, some of them massive. Recently, on a bitterly cold day with threatening skies, the view from the Great Meadowbrook Farmlands was stark and alluring.

From 2000- 2004, Great Meadowbrook Farm was the site of the Over the Walls Horse Trials, one of the premier equestrian events in the United States.

An Old-Fashioned New England Christmas

Old Sturbridge Village, the largest living museum in New England, recreates life in rural New England during the early 1800s. A recent visit during the Christmas season featured wagon rides, demonstrations of period arts and crafts, and a chance to experience what life in a simpler time might be like.

Hard-working horses were the main means of transportation.
The lamplighter at his nightly job.
Chestnuts roasting on a open fire.
Candles in the windows and evergreens brighten up the season.
Muddy roads!
Victorian Singers
The Cobbler’s Shop
The Potter’s Kiln
Potters at work.
Just for fun– Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present.
The interior of a well-to-do home.
Windows needed heavy curtains to keep the cold out.
Oxen were vital for working the rugged New England landscape.
Visitors gathered in the church to hear songs and stories of the season.
https://www.osv.org/