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William Ralph Emerson House

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1881, William Ralph Emerson. 201 Randolph Ave.
  • William Ralph Emerson House (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonia Smith)

The most important late-nineteenth-century architect working in Milton was William Ralph Emerson. His own house represents an extraordinary example of the Shingle Style for which he was so well known. No other surviving house better demonstrates his imaginative approach to design based on the vernacular architecture of the American colonial period. Emerson frequently employed the gambrel roof, and here it achieves its fullest and most dramatic expression. He covered the roof and the walls with wood shingles, melding the two surfaces to follow the gentle curve of the house. He shaped wall angles to take advantage of the natural lighting. He varied the shapes and sizes of windows yet subordinated them to the overall massing of the exterior. A number of other Emerson-designed houses are in the district, but the two that have not been significantly altered are the William Ladd House at 267 Adams Street (1884, NRD) and the Forbes-Emerson House at 172 Adams Street (1891, NRD), both inventive Colonial Revival exercises.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "William Ralph Emerson House", [Milton, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 545-546.

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