J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Hancock House and Other Eighteenth-Century Architecture

I’ve mentioned a couple of interesting online collections of architectural photographs, Historical Buildings of Massachusetts and the Boston Public Library’s Flickr page.

Here’s yet another: eighteenth-century New England buildings from W. W. Owens. Owens licenses his images commercially, and they look great. The skies are especially scenic.

The thumbnail image above shows one of my favorite buildings in Owens’s collection, the replica of the Hancock house now in Ticonderoga, New York. John Hancock inherited the original stone mansion on Beacon Hill from his uncle Thomas. But that 1737 building was torn down in 1863 to make room for a more modern building, which in turn was removed to expand the State House. Fortunately, an architect made measured drawings of the structure before its demolition.

Those drawings were used to build this gussied-up version for the Massachusetts pavilion at the Chicago Exposition of 1892-93. (Image collected by Prof. Jeffery Howe of Boston College.)
Then came the Colonial Revival and the U.S. of A.’s sesquicentennial, which stripped most of the Victorianism from our memory of colonial times. In 1926 a local paper magnate commissioned a new replica of the Hancock house for the town of Ticonderoga, New York, based on the 1863 plans. For many years that building was the headquarters of the New York State Historical Association, now headquartered beside beautiful Lake Oswego in Cooperstown. Today the Hancock building is the site of the Ticonderoga Historical Society, and open for tours.

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