Hello all my fellow history lovers! Summer weather has finally begun to settle in. I do not know about you, but as soon as I send this out I am going to pour myself an ice cold Moxie!
Last week our open house featured some of Henry Hobson Richardson's works around the United States and his five buildings in North Easton. I also had on display what looks like a possible sixth Richardson building in North Easton that has not survived. A lot of you expressed some interest, so here it is!
First, for many years we had a copy of a sketch from Richardson's archives (courtesy of the Houghton Library, Harvard University). The sketch is of a freight house in North Easton. The distinctive design features a roof with four peaks and distinctive small square windows in a rectangular pattern. In the sketch background is the steeple of Unity Church.
Now, here is the photo recently discovered. It overlooks the Shovel Shops and Old Colony Railroad Station. Directly under the arrow is a building that strongly resembles the one in the sketch.
A careful look reveals the four peaks on the roof and the windows described above. It is my belief that this sixth Richardson building was indeed built! Last week, Professor Richard Guy Wilson, of the University of Virginia, led a tour of the Richardson buildings here, something he has done for more than thirty years. When I showed him the photo and the sketch, his was very thrilled to see them! he asked if this building was on any of Richardson's lists of known buildings (so far, it is not) so this is quite an important find.
There is a bit of a mystery to this. The maps of Easton done in 1886, 1895, and two maps of the Ames Shovel Works done in 1912 and 1935 do not show the building at all. They do show all of the other associated railroad buildings (station, round house, train shed). The photo above features the Springhill estate, built in 1893, and that is one of the few clues we have to date the photo. There are two possibilities: one, the building was built soon after Richardson's death in 1886, too late for the 1886 map to feature it, and must have disappeared before the 1895 map was drawn. The other possibility is that it was built much later, after 1895 (still based on the Richardson design) and did not survive long into the 20th century. I do not know anyone who remembers the building. A fire or a derailment are the likely culprits to cause the destruction of the building.
So there you have it. Easton once had six buildings by Richardson. Now I will endeavor to get the word out to the world and hopefully include this in lists of Richardson's works. Another amazing chapter in Easton's history!
Best to all, and enjoy some Moxie,