#6 - Downing House, 269 Highland Rd., Andover, c1850

House has gingerbread charm

This is a 'gingerbread' house with all that foolishness in the eaves, so called because it looks like the pattern made from sifting sugar over paper cutouts over gingerbread. The verge boards - the gingerbread - were made possible by the then latest technology - steam powered scroll saws, which allowed a carpenter to cut the curves and repeat the pattern easily.

The house gets its name from the Downing family who had a dairy and an orchard on the hill, but the house was built as a country home for Boston businessman Benjamin Rogers in about 1850.
His carpenter probably showed the Rogers pictures of houses with similar trim and steep roof pitches from the pattern books of Andrew Jackson Downing. Mr. Downing romanticized rural life, and looked to medieval European castles and stone work for inspiration. His pattern books showed floor plans and views of his 'cottages', as well as advising the reader about landscaping and interior decoration. This house is set as A.J.Downing recommended: on a hill with a view, with porches to overlook the fields, pastures and orchards.

Note: A reader corrected me: I said the iron work noted in the recent column on a Abbot Street house was made at a lumber yard. Instead, it would have been custom-made by a blacksmith or cast in a foundry in 1880.

No comments: