Architectural Styles of the Downtown Attleboro Neighborhood Span History | Local News
Almost unnoticed from Attleboro’s main thoroughfares, in the neighborhoods of Dean, Peck and Bank Streets, there are more than 70 homes of historical and structural significance, as nearly two dozen guests discovered on the tour walk from the Attleboro Historic Preservation Society on Saturday morning.
Even before the tour began, as guests perused the company’s brochures detailing the addresses and respective architectural styles of the 75 houses, many were amazed at the number of houses listed, many of which cannot be seen from a glance by motorists traveling on the main road. roads.
A simple remark from one guest, Diane Garvey of Attleboro, seemed to sum up the common thought of the rest of the attendees: “I didn’t know these places existed.
They were described as “uncrowded neighborhoods” by volunteer Rachel Killion, who led one tour group while fellow volunteer Jerry Turcotte served as a tour guide with another.
In the 1870s and early 20th century, when the city’s industrializing powers were in full gear, the means of getting to work or getting around town consisted of horse-drawn carriages and its own feet.
The “walkability” of downtown Attleboro still exists today, Killion told the tour group.
Carrying a large binder with detailed descriptions of each house, including a number of old photos depicting the original structures when Attleboro still had dirt roads, Killion pointed out each house’s architectural style and intricate features. who are there.
The Greek Revival period, 1825 to 1860, featured front Greek pillars, as can be seen on the East Attleborough Academy building. The Italianate era, 1840 to 1885, is identifiable by the longer eave returns – i.e. the distinctly symmetrical roofline supports.
Additionally, the Victorian era, from 1860 to 1910, has three distinct distinctions: Second Empire, Queen Anne, and Victorian folk.
An example of Queen Anne style is 54 Bank Street, where the group stopped for a few minutes while Killion noticed several features of the house’s period architecture. Built in 1905, it is also known as the Edward L. Gowen House.
The sheer number of houses of historical and architectural significance on Dean Street alone amazed the tour group.
“I never realized this street was so historic!” exclaimed Diane Garvey.
What really could only be seen from the sidewalk, or if one slowed down while driving, were the small structures that were converted into apartments, such as 57A and B Dean Street.
Originally, these were carriage houses for wealthy residents who had their own horses — “basically a town barn,” Killion told the group.
Another example of this was “The Hobby Hut” on Bank Street, and the adjacent house, which is partially hidden by a large tree.
Many stately homes belonged to prominent Attleboro families of the day, such as Bliss, Hayward, and Sweet.
And although many of the houses on the tour had been renovated, some retained their original features, such as the moldings of the dormers and the columns above the front door.
Killion pointed to a house on Peck Street as an example.
“One of the interesting things is that (during the renovations) the owners found the original bay window detail and restored it,” Killion said.
As the group began to return to East Attleborough Academy – which was built in 1842 and was the oldest building on the walking tour – several of the participants were surprised to find themselves on Foster Street, looking directly into the Kirk Yard behind the second Congregational church.
Here, Killion pointed to the dilapidated signal tower, which could clearly be seen in the cemetery, and told the tour group that the society was “desperately” trying to save the tower, even though it is not in a place. conducive to public visits because of the railway tracks.
Currently, the future of the signal tower is in limbo because, as Killion explained to the tour group, the city, Amtrack and the MBTA have not been able to “get to the same length of wave”.
“It’s one of the last of its kind, but it’s in a precarious place,” Killion said.
As the tour concluded at the Academy, band members praised the historic presentation.
“I didn’t realize there were all kinds of historic homes in the area, and I didn’t realize how many carriage sheds there were,” said Brenda Larmey of Attleboro, who was also enthralled by the “sleeping porches” of some houses. which were ideal during the summer months before the advent of air conditioners.
Diane Garvey called the tour “a complete revelation” of beauty and knowledge.
“(My husband and I) have been living here for…how many years? And we weren’t aware of the beauty and the architecture,” she said.
Proceeds from tour tickets benefit the ongoing restoration of East Attleborough Academy.