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Asa Gray House

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1810, Ithiel Town; 1910 moved and restored, Allen Cox. 88 Garden St.
  • Asa Gray House (Keith Morgan)

The earliest documented work by the New Haven, Connecticut, architect and bridge engineer Ithiel Town, this small two-story Federal-style house has a primary facade of flush board siding, Ionic pilasters, a balustrade hiding the low-pitched hipped roof, and a doorway framed by sidelights and a lunette. Town's expertise as a designer of timber-framed bridges appears in the unusual roof framing system, where a single king post supports six angle braces. The two-story wing added in 1848 parallels the original house. Initially the house stood in Harvard's botanical garden across the street, serving as the residence of botanist Asa Gray from 1844 to 1888. It was moved to the present location in 1910.

House moving also preserved an eighteenth-century house nearby (20 Gray Gardens West, NRD), a 1798 dwelling moved from Duxbury in 1930. The two-story structure is a vernacular Georgian-style dwelling with a steeply pitched hipped roof, quoins, and a center chimney.

The surrounding neighborhood of Gray Gardens West and Gray Gardens East (both NRD) consists of houses built in a development begun in 1922 and with restrictions allowing only owner-occupied single-family homes. Two well-known women architects, Lois Lilley Howe and Eleanor Manning, built the Colonial Revival house and semi-detached two-car garage at 4 Gray Gardens West in that year. Also erected in 1922, 16 Gray Gardens East challenged the Colonial Revival. There, A. Graham Carey freely used Tudor period motifs, such as floral vergeboard, rope moldings for the casement windows, and gable end ventilation in the form of dovecotes.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Asa Gray House", [Cambridge, 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, 345-346.

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