Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (2024)

Dow-Starr House //c.1858

March 18, 2024March 3, 2024Buildings of New England1 Comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (1)

A big departure from the plain, yet classically proportioned Federal period homes in Warren, this Gothic Revival on Main Street turns heads when people pass by. A quintessential Gothic “cottage,” the facade of the Dow-Starr House in Warren has also been graced by a three-sectioned Gothic Revival porch as illustrated in Alexander Jackson Downing’s plan books from the 1840s. As completed, this house followed almost exactly Andrew Jackson Downing’s Design II as illustrated in Cottage Residences 1842 ; it differed only in its use of speckled fieldstone over coursed ashlar. The house was later acquired by and used as a convent for the St. Jean Baptiste Church in Warren, who also built a school building behind. The house has seen some alterations, but remains an important architectural landmark of the town.

Warren Baptist Church //1844

March 10, 2024February 28, 2024Buildings of New EnglandLeave a comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (2)

Stone churches are some of the most entrancing and imposing buildings, so I always have to feature them when I see them! This is the Warren Baptist Church on Main Street in Warren, Rhode Island. Built in 1844 from plans by famed architect Russell Warren, the Gothic style edifice features randomly laid rubblestone which adds to the intrigue. This is the third church building on this site. The first (1764) was burned by the British in 1778; its replacement in 1784 was demolished for the present building in 1843. Interestingly, this is the site that the predecessor college for Brown University began! The Baptist school, an institution parallel to those of the Congregationalists at Harvard and Yale and the Presbyterians at Princeton, was first known as Rhode Island College. In 1770, the school moved to Providence, the home of Baptism in this country and where Baptists promised more financial support than those in Newport , and changed its name to Brown University in 1804. This Baptist congregation is still very active in town and they maintain the building and its stunning stained glass windows very well!

Head Tide Church //1838

February 5, 2024January 30, 2024Buildings of New EnglandLeave a comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (3)

In the early 19th century, Head Tide was a bustling village within the Town of Alna, Maine, supported by mills at the dam, agriculture and apple orchards, boat building, fishing and forestry. As Head Tide grew in population, village leaders determined to build their own Congregational church so they would not have to travel the three miles to the 1789 Meeting House in Alna Center. The Head Tide Church in Alna, Maine was dedicated in November 1838 and sits on a hill overlooking the village. The Head Tide Church is a handsome rural Maine house of worship which exhibits a combination of Federal style, Greek Revival, and Gothic Revival elements in its design. The facade displays the outline of a Grecian temple front with its six pilasters and strongly accented triangular pediment. The Federal fan motif appears above the two facade windows as well as in the center of the pediment and the Gothic Revival influence is felt in the two pointed arch windows on either side of the church and in the simple pinnacle at the top of each corner of the belfry. The church is a high-style building for the rural Maine village and is kept very well by the community. The congregation disbanded, but the church remains an important part of the town and is rented for memorial services, events, weddings.

Weare Town House //1837

January 11, 2024December 28, 2023Buildings of New EnglandLeave a comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (4)

Weare, New Hampshire has a pretty cool history. Located at the northern edge of Hillsborough County, the land presently known as Weare was granted to veterans of the Canadian wars in 1735 by Governor Jonathan Belcher, who named it “Beverly-Canada” after many of the veteran’s hometown, Beverly, Massachusetts. After various disputes over the settlement and naming of the town, it became known as “Weare’s Town” before being incorporated by Governor Benning Wentworth in 1764 as Weare, after Meshech Weare, who served as the town’s first clerk and later went on to become New Hampshire’s first Governor. The town grew slowly during the 18th and 19th centuries around five major villages, with farmland and forests connecting them. Near the geographic center of town, this Town House was built in 1837 to be a government and religious center of the town. Originally, town meetings were held on the first floor and the Universalist Church met on the second floor and the local high school was installed on the second floor in 1919. The building remains the town offices with event space for rent inside today. The building is a great example of a vernacular Greek/Gothic Revival town house of the period with a two-stage tower with pinnacles at the corners of each stage and a louvered belfry at the bell.

Yale University – Alumni Hall //1851-1911

January 8, 2024December 31, 2023Buildings of New England1 Comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (5)

Alumni Hall at Yale was designed and built between 1851-1853, at the northwest corner of Yale’s Old Campus. Its was designed by Gothic specialist architect Alexander Jackson Davis, who completed Dwight Hall (the Old Library) a some years prior. The building had a large, open floorplan on the first floor for large gatherings as well as the entrance examinations, along with the biennial examinations that every student had to take at the end of his sophom*ore and senior years. As the building turned 50 years old, the campus around it was already looking very different. Shifting priorities for dormitory space in the yard necessitated its demolition for Wright Hall (next post). Alumni Hall was razed in 1911, but its two crenelated towers were salvaged when the building was demolished. They were incorporated into Weir Hall which has been incorporated into Jonathan Edwards College, one of Yale’s residential colleges.

Yale University – Dwight Hall //1842

January 1, 2024December 18, 2023Buildings of New England2 Comments

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (6)

One of the most architecturally significant college buildings in the United States, Dwight Hall was designed to house the growing book collection of Yale College as its library. The former Yale College Library, now Dwight Hall, represents a significant shift in Yale’s campus architecture from Georgian and Federal brick buildings to the Gothic mode which the campus is largely known for today. Dwight Hall was designed by local architect Henry Austin with the guidance of esteemed architects Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis, both experts in early high-style Gothic buildings in America. The design, to me, resembles the 1443 King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. The structure is constructed of brownstone from Portland, Connecticut, and it is composed of a central block with two smaller flanking wings on either side connected by smaller linking spaces. At the yard facade, two octagonal towers with domed copper roofs rise, flanking a large, pointed lancet arch window that extends above the doorway. The library was outgrown fairly quickly, necessitating an annex next door and eventually collections were transferred to Sterling Memorial Library in 1930, the Old Library was converted to a chapel and community service building and is known as Dwight Hall.

Dixmont Corner Church //1834

December 4, 2023November 22, 2023Buildings of New EnglandLeave a comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (7)

Dixmont, a small rural town in central Maine was originally originally a land grant by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (of which Maine was then a part) to Bowdoin College, which sold the first settlers their land for profit to build on their campus. As a result, the town was originally called “Collegetown”, which was obviously short-lived. Dr. Elijah Dix (1747-1809) of Boston, who never lived there but took an interest in its settlement, encouraged others to settle there, and when the town was officially incorporated in 1807, it named itself after Dix, as Dixmont. A “malignant fever” broke out among the settlers in the early years, also killing Elijah Dix while in Dixmont on a trip there in 1809, he was buried in the Dixmont Corner Cemetery. Elijah was the grandfather of reformer and nurse Dorothea Dix. The early settlers had this church built by 1834 by Rowland Tyler, a local master builder whose only other documented work is the 1812 City Hall of Bangor. The Dixmont Corner Church is one of Penobscot County’s oldest Gothic churches and also exhibits some Greek/Classical elements.

Troy Meeting House //1840

December 3, 2023November 22, 2023Buildings of New EnglandLeave a comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (8)

Located in the rural town of Troy, Maine, the 1840 Troy Meeting House is a classic example of a type of meeting house or church that was built by some rural communities in the state in the decades prior to the Civil War. Built as a Union Church, without a specific denomination, the building served the members of the Troy Meeting House Society, and by extension as the only church in the town. The building features both Greek Revival and Gothic Revival stylistic details on the exterior and its design is similar to others in the surrounding towns, likely being from the same builder.

Westover School //1909

October 2, 2023September 20, 2023Buildings of New EnglandLeave a comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (9)

At the heart of the rural community of Middlebury, comprised largely of Connecticut farmers, far from the hustle and bustle of the world, Mary Robbins Hillard (1862-1932) sought to create a girls school to “provide young women with a liberal education in a community which would contribute to the development of their character, independence and sense of responsibility.” To accomplish this, they needed a school, and Mary hired her good friend (and architect) Theodate Pope Riddle to design the private girl’s school campus and main buildings on a site fronting the town green. The school opened in 1909 with125 pupils, slightly over capacity. For the design Theodate Pope Riddle – who was one of the first American women architects and a survivor of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania – took inspiration from English Arts and Crafts and historical precedence in English schools with large open courtyard plans. Originally finished in a gray stucco, the building enclosed a quadrangle at the rear. Inside, administration offices, reception rooms, living rooms, a library, gymnasium, chapel, dining rooms, infirmary, and (of course) classrooms lined the interiors on a closed loop to allow students and teachers access to all parts of the building without ever stepping outside in the cold New England winters. The Westover School remains active and one of the highest ranked private schools in the area today, and with a more cheery yellow coat!

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (10)

David Bradley House //c.1803

September 23, 2023September 14, 2023Buildings of New EnglandLeave a comment

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (11)

According to a dated board in the attic, this house was built c.1803! The David Bradley House on Old South Road in Southport, Connecticut is a great example of a traditionally designed house that does not need all the bells and whistles to stand out! The house was owned for a number of years by David Bradley, who worked as the village’s postmaster. It was David who likely added the Gothic Revival gable with lancet window and a (since removed) front porch.

Gothic Revival – Buildings of New England (2024)


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