Mr. Berry’s Portfolio

The pen-in-hand sketching architect is one of my favorite perspectives of Salem’s material landscape, and there were quite a few, from the 1870s on. Salem was an important design source, from the Centennial through the height of the Colonial Revival in the 1920s. I recently discovered a slim volume of hand-drawn houses by a young architect from southern Maine, William E. Berry, which does not contain any Salem houses but is nonetheless so completely charming that I wanted to feature it: I love his drawings, which are much more impressionistic than measured, as well as his captions—even his chosen fonts! I was not surprised to learn that he was a friend and colleague of Arthur Little, another architect who sketched old buildings along the New England coast for inspiration: if you spend an hour or so looking at Little’s sketches in Early New England Interiors (1878) and Berry’s Pen Sketches of Old Houses (1874) you will be plunged into the world of the young New England architect of the era, engaging with the design details all around him (unfortunately I don’t think there are any similar volumes by her, although it would be interesting to compare if there were).

Barry 2

Barry 3The “OLD Mansion” above is the Sewall House or Coventry Hall in York, Maine, my hometown: growing up in a large shingle house in the Harbor, this was always my touchstone for what a “proper” house should look like.

Barry 4 (2)Can anyone tell me about this house in Saco, Maine?

Barry 5 (2)

Grove HallWOW. This is (was) the “Dearborn House” in Grove Hall, in Boston. You can read more about this amazing house here, or at least the search for more information about this amazing house. The photograph is by A.H. Folsom, c. 1868, Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

Barry 9 (2)

Barry 10 (2)

pensketchesofold00barr_0029 (2)

Barry 8 (2)

Barry 7 (4)

Barry 6 (2) The Tufts House in Medford, an unknown (???) Boston house, and some exterior and interior details, including amazing “portable paneling”. Mr. Berry also went down south, but I am not going with him.

13 responses to “Mr. Berry’s Portfolio

  • Nancy

    Beautiful sketches! How I’d love to have “Pen Sketches” on my coffee table, but at least I can savor them from the Archives. The other book, “Early New England Interiors,” is no longer in print, except perhaps in antiquarian shops…There is a copy available from AbeBooks for a mere $75 if anyone must have it!
    Beautiful art!

    • daseger

      Oh I’m sorry—I jumped right on that Historic New England reprint for my copy because I had been seeking it for ages. Must have sold out their print run.

  • Terry Vaughan

    William E Barry was also a great antiquarian and also left some wonderful verbal sketches of people and places in Kennebunk and southern Maine that have been preserved at the Brick Store Museum begun by a cousin, I believe, Edith Cleaves Barry. That Georgian manse that he sketched in Saco looks like it might be one of the homes of Sir William Pepperell of Kittery. Looks a bit like the Lady Pepperell House in Kittery, but he also is associated with Saco which used to be called Pepperellborough.

    • daseger

      Wow, Terry, thanks. I am from York, and I never knew that Saco was called Pepperellborough. That’s a mouthful! I haven’t been to the Brick Store Museum in ages–must go this summer if I can.

  • Terry Vaughan

    Pepperellborough was tough for the Mainers, too, and they renamed it Saco in 1850. When this awful distancing lifts, go up to the BSM in Kennebunk; they have some really good stuff on both Barrys. It’s a delightful little museum, and I think you’ll enjoy the changes they’ve made.

  • Glenn McDonald

    I am constantly amazed by the depth and breadth of your fascination for all things antiquarian and all things Salem. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do.

    Here’s a request from a fan of GAR Post 34 in Salem and Post 5 in Lynn.

    Can you find any exterior pictures of the old Post 34 Building, on the North (?) side of St. Peter Street, about 3 buildings down from the corner of Essex Street. I’ve been told that it was next to the livery stable (in my day, it was a Cities Service gas station) where my grandfather would rent a carriage to pay court to my future grandmother in Marblehead. All I remember hearing about the physical property is that it “was in danger of falling down” and that the members moved Post 34 to Beckford Street’s Spanish American War Hall. I can still remember the Spanish War veterans riding in the various and sundry parades in Salem, but I was born six too late to have any actual memories of Civil War veterans.

    Alas, Thomas P. Corson, Salem’s last surviving Civil War veteran, died in 1945, six years before I was born. He was a member of GAR Post 5, in Lynn.

    • daseger

      Thank you, Glenn! I will look; I have looked before, but not very hard. The GAR records are at the Phillips Library, and I meant to take a look at them sometime, so as soon as they open again I’ll dig in. No doubt there will be something in those files. I’ve heard the same thing about the St. Peter Street property.

  • Pearl

    The “Last Century Abode in Saco”, could that be the Cutts Mansion? It has elaborate triangular pediments over the windows and shares other similarities and was moved to Saco at some point in its life. There’s a nice picture of it at the link:

  • Pearl

    There’s another one that’s similar, a late Georgian mansion, the Solomon Coit House, c.1785 at 380 Main St. Been looking for some historical pics of it but have not had any luck so far.

  • Brad Emerson

    Oh my. I hadn’t looked at that blog post of mine that you linked to 4 years, and was most surprised to discover how many of the photographs have disappeared. I can see I will have to spend a morning replacing them. And yes I to adore Barry’s sketches. As you probably know the very handsome Wallingford Hall In Kennebunk was for a time his home.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: