Saturday, June 4, 2016

Alexander Rice Esty



Alexander Rice Esty (1826-1881) was an American architect. He was born in Framingham and attended school at the Framingham academy on the town centre. Among other things, he designed the Moses Ellis house/building, home of the Summit Montessori school. He is buried in the Edgell Grove cemetery.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Moses Ellis house


Unfinished digital drawing/painting of the Moses Ellis house.

The Moses Ellis house is located at 283 Pleasant Street in Framingham. Moses Ellis had this Italianate style house built circa 1865 on land previously owned by William Buckminster. It was designed by none other than famed local architect Alexander Rice Esty. It is now the home of the Summit Montessori School.

Moses Ellis made his fortune back in San Francisco as a merchant during the Gold Rush.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Pike-Haven house


The Pike-Haven house sits at the corner of Belknap Rd and Grove St and marks the beginning of what is known as Pike Row (Belknap Rd to Brook St via Edgell Road). It is the only still standing house in Framingham that predates the incorporation of Framingham as a town. Jeremiah Pike built the house ca 1697 and his direct descendants (son, grandson, and great grandson) including Gideon Haven lived there, hence the name Pike-Haven for the house.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

71 Harrington Rd, Framingham, MA

At 71 Harrington Rd, sits a federal style house made rather imposing by its four massive corner chimneys that seem to soar toward the sky. It was built circa 1810 on land that belonged to Jonas Eaton (1680-1727). The house was featured on the 2016 Framingham house tour. Apparently, the front of the house became the back and vice-versa when the railroad was built and the road had to be re-directed.


Sketch/drawing of the Eaton house at 71 Harrington Rd, Framingham, MA (from a photo by Lynne Damianos published in the 2016 Framingham house tour booklet).

Now, if you go to the other end of Harrington Rd toward Edgell Rd, there's a house with a similar facade except that it's all brick. That's the John Eaton Jr. house which was also built circa 1810.


John Eaton Jr. house at the Harrington Rd/Edgell Rd intersection.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Crispus Attucks

Crispus Attucks (c.1723—March 5, 1770) was the first casualty of the Boston massacre, in Boston, Massachusetts, and is widely considered to be the first American casualty in the American Revolutionary War. Attucks appears to have been born in Framingham, Massachusetts. This is verbatim from Crispus Attucks.

The article says that Attucks "appears" to have been born in Framingham. There's an ongoing debate on where he actually was born. Was it Framingham or Natick (Attucks's mom was a Natick praying Indian)? Hard to tell until someone figures out where his family actually lived and where the boundary lines between the two towns were back then. Not that it matters much though.

Charles Russell Train

Charles Train was born in Framingham in 1817. He was a lawyer by trade but he also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His house in Framingham (built in 1836) was located at 125 Edgell Road. He was good buddy with General George Gordon, a fellow Civil War veteran and lawyer.


Sketch of Charles Russell Train from a bust by Perry exhibited at the Framingham History Center.


Sketch of Charles Russell Train from a photograph in the Brady-Handy Photograph Collection.

General George Henry Gordon

I think we all know that George Henry Gordon was a Union Army general during the Civil War and that he fought at Antietam. After the war though, he went back to being a lawyer in Boston and wrote a few history books about the Civil War. He and his family lived at 936 Central Street, Framingham in a house built in 1850.

If you want to know a lot more about general Gordon, reading "Framingham's Civil War Hero:: The Life of General George H. Gordon (Civil War Series)" by Fred Wallace is probably a good first step.


Cartoonish representation of General George Henry Gordon after Daniel Chester French.

Lloyd's Diner

Lloyd's diner, formerly Whit's Diner in Orange, Massachusetts, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 2003. It is one of the many diners built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in operation from 1906 to 1957. This diner was built in 1942 and stationed in Orange, MA until 1990 when it was purchased by the Llloyds and moved to Framingham (where it sits today). Watch out for the hours of operation as it's only opened on week-ends and in the morning. At one point, Lloyd's diner was called the Tropical Cafe but that didn't last too long.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

65 Gates Street, Framingham, MA


The house at 65 Gates Street in Framingham.

This very house was the home of husband and wife William Hartley Dennett and Mary Ware Dennett. Hartley Dennett was an architect and they were both avid followers of the Arts and Crafts movement. She divorced her husband Hartley in 1912 and that caused quite a ruckus in New Englad. Mary Ware Dennett was very involved in social causes, in particular, the woman suffrage movement and birth control (She wrote a book called "The Sex Side of Life".)

What's singular about this house is of course the four-storied square tower which Hartley had built. I can only assume this was an addition to an existing farmhouse.


Portrait of Mary Ware Dennett.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Framingham Old Academy


The Framingham Old Academy at Framingham Centre.

This building has been leased from the town by the Framingham Historical Society (oops, Framingham History Center) since 1916. The Old Academy was built by Dexter and Adam Hemenway to house the Framingham Academy in 1837 right on the site of the previous Academy (a brick building). From 1851 to 1915, the building served as a high school for the town of Framingham. In 1915, school activities were moved to the Jonathan Maynard building, right next door.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Old Firehouse on Hollis Street


The old Downtown Framingham firehouse at 160 Hollis Street.

The firehouse was completed in 1896. Like many fire stations of that era, it features a high drying tower where the hoses were hung to dry after each mission. It now houses the Amazing Things Art Center. I believe this historic building was kind of left hanging when a new fire station was getting built for bigger and better trucks, so it's a good thing the old brick Hollis fire station was re-purposed to house Amazing Things (AT).

Monday, March 21, 2016

Alice Pearmain's "Four Winds"


"Igor's Mansion" aka "The Four Winds", the house that Alice Pearmain built on the side of the mountain.

This concrete house was built on the side of Nobscot mountain at the turn of the 20th century by Alice Upton Pearmain. It was demolished so don't go looking for it.

Alice Pearmain went to school at Wellesley college (class of 1883). Back then, she was known as Alice Upton. In 1886, she became Alice Pearmain as she married Sumner Pearmain of Boston, a banker and broker. Alice was the mother of four children. Her oldest son, William Robert Pearmain, was a painter. Apparently, he was good buddy with George de Forest Brush.

The house was designed by Alice Pearmain herself and built by Benj. A. Howes, Engineer.


Blueprints of Alice Pearman's house in Framingham. From "Concrete country residences" By "Atlas Portland Cement Company".


Ad for Benjamin Howes featuring the Pearmain house in "Country Life" of September 1908.


Short biographies for the Pearmains in "Who's who in America", Volume 11, 1920-21.

In the above article, we learn that "Four Winds" was located on Wayside Inn Road and that it was inhabited, at least, part-time. That concrete house was featured in architectural magazines as some kind of wonder of the modern world. Surely, somebody out there knows the why of its demise. Concrete houses are fairly common in old Europe but failed to catch on in the US, probably because wood is widely available, easy to work on, and quite cheap. Here, it seems that they (the designer and builder) might have a gone a tad overboard and used a little bit too much of the concrete.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

150 Singletary Lane, Framingham, MA


The house at 150 Singletary Lane, Framingham, MA.

This is a rather poor rendition of the house situated at 150 Singletary Lane, a glorious Georgian style house reminiscent of George Washington's Mount Vernon. Well, it is the house that Dr. Eugene Gaston built for his family back in 1942. There is a piece of granite with his name engraved on it at the entrance of the driveway to confirm it.

Dr. Eugene Gaston was a staff surgeon at the Framingham hospital for 49 years. He was also an associate clinical professor of surgery at Boston University School of Medicine. He wrote numerous articles in medical journals about the digestive system. He was born in Peoria, Illinois, was raised in Kansas and attended the University of Kansas for three years before entering Harvard Medical School. As a side note, he was at one point the medical columnist for the magazine "Bicycling", so one can safely assume that he was an avid bicyclist.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Henry Hobson Richardson

Henry Hobson Richardson is known for two things: the Trinity Church in Boston and the railway station in Framingham. Nah, just kidding, he's part of the holy trinity of American architects with Louis Sullivan and Frank LLoyd Wright, so he's a really big deal. Even though the train station in Framingham doesn't really come up at the top of the charts when listing Richardson's achievements, it is fair to say that it is an important building in American architecture. It was built in 1883 (Richardson died in 1886) for the Boston & Albany railroad company. Until recently, it was kind left to its own demises. Now, it's the home of the Deluxe Station Diner where you can get excellent pancakes in a rather interesting steampunk inspired decor. By the way, good on them for finally getting rid of those green and white awnings.

What's striking about the Framingham train station is the wide hip roof and the extended eaves, probably inspired from Japanese architecture. The main dormer also displays the Syrian arch, a trait found in many of his other buildings. Whether he liked to design train stations or that's where the money was (I suspect the latter), Richardson built a bunch of those train depots for the B&A (Boston & Albany railroad) and, as you would imagine, they all look kinda similar but so different at the same time.

For more info on Henry Hobson Richardson, it would be best to consult Henry Hobson Richardson on Wikipedia.


South Framingham railway station designed by Henry Hobson Richardson.


Henry Hobson Richardson (from portrait by Sir Hubert von Herkomer exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.)