#99 55 East Haverhill St., Lawrence

A city house good enough for a fairy tale

Look at all that Victorian gingerbread! all that fretwork in the gables labels the house as Stick Style.

The name comes from the pieces - sticks of wood - used to decorate the house. The horizontal banding below the windows and the same detail used to create the frieze band at the eaves are typical details of the Stick Style, as is the cross bracing under the windows. The house is built from 'sticks' - wooden studs set side by side and braced. The trim is seen as an outward show of that framing pattern.

This doesn't look like classic Greek or Roman architecture. The arches on the porch and the frieze band are the only pieces borrowed directly from that vocabulary. However, the house maintains the classic order of base (bottom), middle and top. The frieze, the banding, and the porch are also all so defined.

This house was built about 1875 by W.H.P. Wright, a counselor ( at law? city?) with offices on Essex St. Later the Church of St. Laurence O'Toole, which was on the corner of East Haverhill St. used the house first as a rectory and then as a novitiate. In 1987, Merrimack College opened its Urban Institute here. The house is now a center for seminars, classes,, and a home for student interns in urban studies. It is the focus of the college's programs for Lawrence High School students and its collaboration with the Frost Elementary School.

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