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Woodstock Historical Society (Charles Dana House)
When merchant Charles Dana built this fine Federal two-and-a-half-story, Georgian-plan house just up Elm Street from his store, he benefited from an important set of regional building traditions. Jesse Williams and Charles Marsh opened Elm Street in 1797 to connect Central Street and the green across Marsh's lands with a new bridge to the southern slopes of Mount Tom. At its head, Nathaniel Smith designed a brick house for Marsh in 1805, and at its midpoint, a white frame Congregational church in 1806. Both buildings have been much altered, but the similarity of the church in its original form to a design Asher Benjamin published in 1797 suggests Smith's ties to the famous designer in Windsor. Dana's house, also by Smith, confirms this connection.
The house is unusual in that it has brick ends but a clapboarded facade, a combination seen only in the first dozen years of the nineteenth century before substantial local masonry got under way. Examples remain in towns along the Connecticut River and into the neighboring southern counties of New Hampshire. The facade draws upon Asher Benjamin's highly decorative wooden Connecticut Valley style. The composition of the frontispiece with its pilasters, broken pediment, and fanlight appears to derive from his The Country Builder's Assistant (1797), while the tapering colossal Doric corner pilasters, triglyph frieze, soffit mutules, window cornices with tassel-like guttae, and muntin pattern of the fan are all found in his The American Builder's Companion (1806). Acquired from the Dana family by the historical society in 1944, the house is open to the public.
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