Historian leads tour of Northampton’s newly established historic district 

  • Bonnie Sanders points to homes as part of a tour of the newly established Pomeroy Terrace Historic District on Saturday.  COURTESY OF LAURIE SANDERS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2018 12:13:06 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Huddled under umbrellas to keep from the frigid rain, residents of Pomeroy Terrace and the surrounding area took to the streets of the Ward 3 neighborhood for a tour of the newly designated historic district on Saturday morning.

Local historian Bonnie Parsons led the tour of the new Pomeroy Terrace Historic District, which extends from the Bridge Street Cemetery southward on Bridge Street and Pomeroy Terrace to Hancock Street and from Hawley Street back to Bridge Street and the Bridge Street Cemetery.

The tour began on the corner of Hawley Street and Butler Place, where Parsons spoke of the time period from the end of the Revolutionary War up until 1830 — an era when industry began at the factories near the Mill River and when the population in Northampton began building on the Pomeroy Terrace area.

Parsons pointed to an example of a house built during the early 1800s in the Federalist style in what is now 58 Hawley Street, which was owned by William Butler, who founded the Hampshire Gazette in 1786. The architecture from that period is characterized by higher foundations, larger windows, and more attention to detail including columns, building blocks, and arches, according to Parsons.

“It reflected the greater prosperity of the country as a whole, but in particular in Northampton,” Parsons said. She said Butler and his family were part of the Mill River industry that was “funding the growth of Northampton.”

She noted that Butler was “well established” in the community before building the house, and the post-and-beam house is a “fine example” of a Federalist-style home.

Across the street, a house in the Greek Revival style contrasted with Butler’s former home.

“The country had come out of the Revolution, and people were saying, ‘We need a style that reflects our country,’” Parsons said. American architects of the period based their designs from archeological drawings by two Englishman of Greek temples.

She noted how the roofs of the two houses changed with the styles. Instead of roofs parallel to the street in the Federalist style, roofs began to be perpendicular to the street to form a Greek pediment at the front of the house.

Along with the white columns on the front step of the beige-colored home, the triangular pediment reflected the Greek inspiration for the American homes of the post-Revolutionary period.

Pomeroy Terrace residents of the 1850s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, began experimenting with more “exotic” styles, and Parsons led the group to a slightly gray home at 22 Phillips Place built by William F. Pratt, a prominent, mid-19th century Northampton architect.

“All the interest of people of that time was to have houses that were picturesque and that fit into landscape, to make you appreciate the house as a building,” Parsons said.

With large windows, intricate details on the beams and the fascia of the roof, the design was meant to captivate one’s eye, Parsons said.

The creation of the Pomeroy Historic District had been a long-held priority of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association. It took nearly 15 years to compile the information necessary for the application that was approved by both the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the National Park Service.

A sign denoting the district has been donated to the City of Northampton by the Pomeroy Foundation and a map is available at the Historic Northamtpon Museum at 46 Bridge Street to view which properties are included in it.




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