#68 - The Lodge, 723 Osgood Street, North Andover, 1886 (08/18/91)

Little house out of a fairy tale: Stevens gatehouse one of few in Valley

I have always felt this North Andover house was like a fairy take, a little stone cottage hinting of inviting cozy spaces within. Is it part of the stone wall that surrounds it? Did it just grow from that man-sized boulder at the entrance? Its front porch is like a cave. The roof is whimsical with its different curves and angles, the smaller dormer protruding. The stone chimney conveys the sense that somehow the roof just slipped down over the whole mass of rock.

This is the gatehouse to the Moses T. Stevens estate, now the Boston University Conference Center (the estate has since been bought by the Town of North Andover, in 1995 - ed). It was designed by Hartwell, Richardson, Architects, of Boston, in 1886. Few such gatehouses exist in the Merrimack Valley; while we had our share of Victorian millionaires, few of them built mansions on country acreage.

A gatehouse serves two somewhat contrary purposes. First, it stops nosy or unwanted callers and tradesmen from proceeding up the road to the main house. Secondly, it announces to the public that an estate of such stature as to require protection is indeed around the bend of the lane, which the gatehouse guards. In 1886 the architect was not worried about how to make efficient use of his materials, nor was he concerned about the cost to build, or heat, or light this gate-house. He was playing with shape and form, organic form. So this little house, of rough simple stone, with a roof which goes wherever it wants, and a seeming lack of order and symmetry, appearing to grow out of the ground, is really an abstract statement about what buildings might ideally be, as other worldly as a fairy tale.

(Drawing reproduction from St. Croix Architecture website - click on image for link)

1 comment:

Jane said...

How to categorize this house? It doesn't fit. Richardson Romanesque? but this isn't directly inspired by something built in medieval Europe. English Arts and Crafts? Thatched roofed cottages? Grimms' fairy tales?