Around the Suffield Green – #ThursdayDoors

Side door to the Congregational church.

We are back in Suffield today and I am borrowing the descriptions from the National Registry of Historic Places, to which the entire Suffield Historic District was added in 1979. The text from the nomination form describes the buildings in today’s gallery. In addition, some photos from the nomination form, including a rare 19th century photo are included in today’s rather oversized gallery.

One of the “historic” buildings in the area around the town green is the Kent Memorial Library. It seemed odd to me that a quaint New England town would add a “landmark of modernism” to their well-preserved town green, so I searched for some history. Apparently, the town’s residents welcomed the modern library, which opened in 1972, and they even fought against demolishing it in 2008, opting instead to modernize it in order to provide handicapped access. A bit of personal history, The Editor often took our daughter to the Kent Library. Faith was fond of the library’s series of ramps. The five-story building has no interior stairs. Since we’re at the library, let’s pick up at that point in the NRHP nomination form,

The 1972 Kent Memorial Library is modern architecture. It was designed by Warren Platner to bring not only a new look but also a new technology of building to Suffield. Its concrete frame, faced with pink stone and white painted brick, surrounds a central garden court. The flat coffered concrete roof and overhanging concrete eaves are offset by seamed, grey, metal roof sections that rise above book alcove skylights. The interior is on five floor levels connected by gradual ramps; there are no stairs. The interior is made up of intimately scaled spaces of warm and friendly character.

The First Church of Christ Congregational faces the Second Baptist Church across the green. The Congregationalists in 1869 built a red brick church in the Romanesque Revival style. Buttresses strengthen the base of the southeast corner tower and helped support a tall spire that came down during the 1938 hurricane. The church, with its tall roundheaded windows, round arched entrance with dripstone, and arcaded corbelling below the eaves, introduces a further, diverse element into the Main Street streetscape. Four of the principal buildings of Suffield Academy are north of the Congregational Church. The first building in the group is the town’s original Kent Memorial Library, constructed in 1898 to the design of Daniel H. Burnham. Its restrained, classical character is typical of Burnham’s Beaux Arts work. Executed in smooth, tan, granite ashlar, it has a portico of two Ionic columns in antis, echoing the first stage of the Baptist Church tower across the green. There is a shallow dome in the center of the copper clad roof.

The next of the Academy’s buildings is the 1854 Memorial Building in red brick with central, pedimented, projecting pavilion, now with a half-round, white entrance portico. Its neighbor is Fuller Hall, built in 1872 in the Second Empire mode with mansard roof and three towers, one at each front corner and one in the center. The windows of the building had arches formed by stone voussoirs (keystone) in alternating light and dark colors. In 1953 Fuller Hall was “colonialized. ” The mansard roof and towers were removed and replaced with a gable roof and central lantern. The colored voussoirs were removed, as well as their windows, in favor of rectangular windows with flat arches and keystones. A broken pediment doorway was installed, round arches with keystones were built over the first floor windows, the porch roof and posts were removed, and the porch railing was replaced with alternating sections of parapet and balustrade.

This group of Academy buildings along High Street is completed by Brewster Hall, which was built in 1930 in the Colonial Revival style. It has red brick, white trim, gable roof, bold dormers, two story, half-round, Ionic portico, and tall Palladianesque windows.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from the First Selectman’s speech at the rededication of the Kent Library:

“Today, our ADA accessible and newly renovated library reclaims its prominent location at the intersection of our town center and community life. Our reopened Kent Memorial Library represents some of what’s the very best about the Town of Suffield. It represents our community’s ability to persevere through challenging times. It represents the power of advocacy in ensuring that ALL citizens have equal access to our town’s offerings. It confirms our commitment to knowledge, intellectual curiosity and community engagement. This Warren Platner building represents Suffield’s open-mindedness while simultaneously remaining steadfast to preserving our history, by embracing modernism architecture alongside Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Romanesque and Victorian neighbors.

MELISSA M. MACK, SUFFIELD FIRST SELECTMAN”

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s weekly fun blog hop called Thursday Doors. You can visit Norm’s master page here.


55 comments

  1. Beautiful buildings! But I was struck by a line in the speech. It was talking about the community but it could be said about the American people: “. . .our community’s ability to persevere through challenging times.” Never more than today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a beautiful entrance, GP. My best friend went to school here back in the 60s. The entire school consisted of these buildings and an infirmary. Future posts will reveal how much it has grown.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Very impressive town Dan. Doors, windows, architecture, the elaborate details on some buildings, the beautifully maintained grounds, remarkable. I think you had a very happy day going through Suffield!🤗
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Dan, my first impression of the 19th century photo of Fuller Hall was that the front was decorated with large shapes of soldiers!! The stone work around the windows, coupled with the way the curtains are arranged, is quite an illusion!! Or maybe it’s just me and I’m delusional!! Lol.
        🐾Ginger 🐾

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. Lots of history there, Dan. Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Romanesque and Victorian, all in the same place. It’s great that the library wasn’t demolished. The ramp system sounds really good.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish I lived closer to areas that had architecture like this. Unfortunately, it’s just not quite as common in Canada, and even lesser so in the North. Up here, they’re quick to tear down a building they consider to be “old”, sadly. I think that’s why I like that you always show the entire building and not “just” the doors — I would literally never get to see and enjoy such buildings otherwise!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Although I like the outside of this library, libraries to me are about what’s found inside. However, if there’s a lovely outside, that’s frosting on the book-shaped cake. :-)

    Might I offer you an apostrophe to put in “let’s” right here: “Since we’re at the library, lets pick up at that point…?” :-) I’m really not OCD about grammar; well, maybe a little, but definitely NOT AOC!! :-(

    Happy Doorday,

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was the 60s, John. Who knows what these folks were thinking. To replace the Burnham library, with its classic architecture with a modern building, in the middle of a historic district full of 19th century buildings – whoda thunk?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing this interesting history, especially seeing Fuller Hall lose its “fancy eyebrows” (voussoirs) from the 19th century. And how the Kent Memorial Library took on a modern look amidst all that historical architecture. Love that they chose ramps instead of stairs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Some truly splendid architecture on display this week, Dan. I’m really impressed with this collection of pics. I particularly like the columned entrance of Brewster Hall, but there isn’t a bad-looking door or building to be found here. Good job.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Dan,
    I can always count on you to post about places that bring back good memories for me. I lived in Suffield in the late 80s, early 90s. It was a charming, quiet town back then, and it’s likely still the same today. Happy 4th of July.
    Donna

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful architecture and history. Thanks for sharing! ” It represents the power of advocacy in ensuring that ALL citizens have equal access to our town’s offerings.” Sounds like a wonderful town.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Dan – fascinating to see the Suffield Green area … and the thought of the library with its ramps – excellent exercise place! Take care – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wonderful doors post, Dan! Brewster Hall and the side door to the church are fabulous. While I love the old library, the new is well done. I understand that it is out of character, yet it is a beautiful building. Thanks!!

    Like

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