Architects can be their own worst clients, and if the houses Charles A. Cummings and J. Pickering Putnam designed for themselves are not without distinction, they suffer nonetheless from a restless, striving quality. Unsympathetically altered for commercial use in the 1920s, the Cummings House is burdened by a roof of tortuous complexity, combining conical turrets, polychromatic mansards, hipped dormers, and gabled pavilions, that would overwhelm a building twice its size. At the Putnam House, stringcourses are too numerous to express construction, the major gable and minor dormers are alike laden with heavy parapets, and the mansard is meaninglessly clad in slate of two colors and patterns.
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Cummings House and Putnam House
1871, Charles A. Cummings. 109 Newbury St. 1878, J. Pickering Putnam. 277 Dartmouth St./147 Newbury St.
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