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The Odd Fellows Home, Worcester - Lost

The Romanesque Revival style Odd Fellows Home was opened in 1892 to serve as a home for aged members of the fraternal order. A 1902 Classical Revival wing expanded the building’s capacity. Sited on a hilltop overlooking Worcester, the Odd Fellows Home provided sweeping views of the city for its residents. A much-loved local landmark, the building’s five-story clock tower was visible from around the city. One of a number of hospitals and institutions built on the outskirts of Worcester at the end of the 19th century, the Odd Fellows Home occupied this grand building for nearly 100 years until the organization opened a modern facility next door in 1990. After a portion of the building served as a church for a few years, the building was left vacant and deteriorated from a lack of maintenance. The current owner purchased the Odd Fellows Home with the intent to demolish the building and replace it with a single-story nursing home. The demolition was completed during July and August of 2014.

Below are photographs of the Odd Fellows Home during a visit with the current owner in 2012.

Greenwood Memorial Pool and Bath House

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One of my current projects is preparing a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Greenwood Memorial Pool and Bath House in Gardner, Massachusetts. The building is city-owned, and up until 2012 was still an operating public pool. It was also used for a number of years by the Gardner High School swim team, which won numerous state championships while practicing at the pool. However the building has long suffered from maintenance issues, and in the fall of 2012 the city decided to close it. An early 1990s outdoor pool that sits to the west of the building is still opened and maintained by the city. Local preservationists hope to convince the city to reopen the pool, or to reuse the building while preserving its historic integrity. Since its construction in 1914, the building has been an important part of Gardner's landscape.

Beginning in the middle of the 19th century, Gardner developed a large furniture making industry. Today it is known as the Chair City and the Furniture Capital of New England. One of the men credited with jump-starting Gardner's furniture industry is Levi Heywood. He and his brothers founded the Heywood-Wakefield Furniture Company, which made furniture in Gardner well into the 20th century. Heywood's descendants were prominent philanthropists, donating numerous buildings to the city they called home. Among these were the Levi Heywood Library, the Heywood Hospital, and the Greenwood Memorial Pool and Bath House.

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In 1914, Levi Heywood's grandson, Levi Heywood Greenwood, wrote a letter to the citizens of Gardner. In it, he proposed to build a bath house at his own expense, which he would then donate to the city, to be maintained by the city for the use of its citizens. Greenwood intended the building to be a monument to his parents, Alvin M. and Helen R. Greenwood. At Town Meeting in April of 1914, Gardner's citizens accepted Greenwood's offer, and the Greenwood Memorial Bath House was opened on July 6, 1915. The Bath House had been opened for three days before that, and 5,000 visitors came in just those three days. The Bath House was built on a 3.5-acre lot at the southern end of Crystal Lake. To its west, a low-lying area was maintained as an outdoor swimming pool. The bottom of this "pool" was paved with asphalt in the 1970s, and it was filled in after a modern in-ground pool was constructed just a little further west on the lot in the early 1990s.

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The Bath House was an important addition to the city of Gardner. Even in the first few decades of the 20th century, many residents still did not have clean running water in their houses. The Bath House provided a cheap place for residents to get clean. It was common in industrial towns for those residents who had become wealthy to give back; Massachusetts is full of libraries and public buildings named for local philanthropists. Gardner was a thriving industrial city at the time, and the Bath House stands as a symbol of that industrial past. Throughout the 20th century, even as Gardner's industrial base began to decline, the Bath House was available for citizens to use for a very nominal fee. Even into the 1960s, the original 1915 fee for use was maintained.

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The building was constructed at a cost of $80,000, and it was designed by the firm of Wiley & Foss of Fitchburg. It was done in the Classical Revival style, which was incredibly popular at the turn of the 20th century for public buildings. Important features include the Doric columns on either side of the main entry, the patterned brickwork at the front and sides of the building, and the carved exposed rafter tails visible at the eaves. One interesting feature of the building that ties it even more closely to Gardner's furniture industry is the way it was originally heated. When the Bath House was first built, the Heywood-Wakefield Furniture Company factory was just a few blocks away. To heat the pool, steam was pumped from the furniture factory to the Bath House basement.

Below is a gallery of the interior of the Greenwood Memorial Pool and Bath House

Hopkinton Center Architectural Tour

Recently I gave an architectural walking tour on behalf of the Friends of Hopkinton 300th Anniversary Celebration. The tours lasted approximately an hour, and highlighted the different architectural styles visible throughout Hopkinton Center.

Hopkinton developed during the early part of the 19th century as a major manufacturer of boots and shoes. A local resident, Joseph Walker, invented the pegged shoe sometime in the 1810s; this was a way of attaching the sole and the upper of a shoe using small wooden pegs, and it made the process of making shoes much easier. By the middle of the century the process had been mechanized, and shoemaking had moved from small "ten-footers" on family farms to large factory buildings in the center of town. Unfortunately, several large fires at the turn of the 20th century destroyed much of Hopkinton's factory infrastructure. After the fires, many of the boot and shoe companies chose to relocate elsewhere, and the town saw little development until Interstates 90 and 495 made the town an outer suburb of Boston in the 1980s and 1990s. So while today Hopkinton's downtown does not have the large factory buildings that you might find in other historic manufacturing cities, many of the houses and shops of the workers and factory owners are still standing. My walking tour focused on these, and showed how the different styles in Hopkinton are representative of its development throughout the 19th century. Below are a few of the highlights from the tour.

8 Hayden Rowe Street  - the Lee Claflin House

8 Hayden Rowe Street - the Lee Claflin House

The Lee Claflin House on Hayden Rowe Street, just off of the Common, is one of the more impressive Greek Revival buildings in Hopkinton. It is a high-style example, with an end-gable layout, fluted Ionic columns, an elaborate door surround, and elongated first-floor windows. The house was built for Claflin by his son, Hon. William Claflin, who was governor of Massachusetts from 1869 to 1871. It is unclear if William ever spent any significant time in this house, but one of the librarians on tour mentioned that the homeowner has been doing some work on the building, and in one of the walls found a metal stamp or press with William's name on it.

28 Hayden Rowe Street  - the Samuel Crooks House

28 Hayden Rowe Street - the Samuel Crooks House

Just a few houses down from the Claflin House is the Samuel Crooks House, another high-style example, but this time of the Italianate style. Hopkinton was still growing rapidly during the second half of the 19th century, when the Italiante style was popular. Its features include asymmetrical massing with a side entrance and projecting bays, elaborate woodwork at the eaves and around windows and doors, and large panes of glass in the windows. Because glass production had advanced so significantly by the middle of the century, later styles often feature one-over-one or two-over-two sash, such as seen here on the Crooks House.  Crooks and Claflin were both prominent Hopkinton factory owners who had money to spend on large and ornate buildings like these.

82-84 Pleasant Street  - image from the town's 1980s survey

82-84 Pleasant Street - image from the town's 1980s survey

Because Hopkinton Center began to grow in the 1830s and 1840s, residents built a different form of housing than what you might find in other factory or mill towns, such as Uxbridge, Grafton, or Worcester. This double house on Pleasant Street from the 1850s is representative of what you might find in those towns, but is one of the only double houses remaining in Hopkinton Center. By the 1850s, much of Hopkinton Center had already been built up with smaller end-gable Greek Revival cottages, leaving little room for larger buildings such as this.

 

21 Hayden Rowe Street  - the Greek Revival cottage form which is found throughout Hopkinton Center

21 Hayden Rowe Street - the Greek Revival cottage form which is found throughout Hopkinton Center

One common feature on these smaller Greek Revival cottages is that they were often updated with Italianate features at the end of the 19th century. It is rare to see one of these houses in Hopkinton Center that does not have brackets at the eaves or a hood over the door. 

28 Main Street  - the Hopkinton Supply Company Building

28 Main Street - the Hopkinton Supply Company Building

Hopkinton's only building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1906 Hopkinton Supply Company building is representative of later development in Hopkinton. A fire at the turn of the century had destroyed much of the northern side of Main Street, resulting in a new Town Hall and a row of several new shops in the 1900s. The Hopkinton Supply Company was one of these new buildings, but it stands out from its neighbors for its construction - it is a mail-order building. The building was ordered from the George L. Mesker Company of Evansville, Indiana, shipped to Hopkinton, and assembled on-site. The whole building is constructed of galvanized pressed steel, another unique and interesting feature of the building. Because Hopkinton had little to no growth after the turn of the century, this is one of the few newer buildings in Hopkinton Center.