Mendon's Victorian Queen

    Mendon's Victorian Queen Anne has reigned at 17 Providence Road since it was constructed in 1906.
    It has had a special place in the town's history because of its unique architectural style and interesting
    family history. Included in its intrigue are three issues : the reason for which the home was built, a
    secondary usage  for one of its rooms, and its striking and unusual color scheme. For more than one
    hundred years, Mendon's Queen Anne has been a royal gem !

    The house's design has many features that are typical of this 1890 - 1910 Victorian building style. It
    has  several projected sections with exterior walls and roof lines that are beautifully integrated. It has a
    front facing  gable roof, blended with an adjoining  hip roof that connects another gable on its southern
    side. The siding on the first floor consists of clapboards, and  the second floor exterior is covered with
    wood shingles. An ornate wraparound porch shelters the front entrance. It has modified classical
    columns, gingerbread brackets, and railings with rounded balusters. These features are consistent
    with Queen Anne architecture.

    Albert W. Gaskill and his wife, Miranda, built the house after spending the first forty-nine years of their
    married life living across the street at 16 Providence Road. He was the youngest of the twelve children
    of Nahum and Sally Gaskill, and he had inherited their house. However, after his and Miranda's six
    children had grown up, apparently a few of them moved back, and there were "in-law issues." The
    parents thought it would be best if they moved out and built a new house across the street.

    Albert was one of Mendon's outstanding citizens. He served as a selectman for thirty years, a highway
    surveyor, an overseer of the poor, and a state representative. He was an active member of the
    National Grange, and he was one of the most productive dairy farmers in the state. His children
    included Bertha, who was married to Horace Coleman, and Peter, who was married to Caroline
    Russell Ford, Ambassador Jonathan Russell's granddaughter. He was a dedicated farmer and public
    official.

    From 1926 to 1971, a room in the back of the house served as Mendon's town clerk's office. Albert S.
    Coleman, grandson of Albert  W. Gaskill, held office hours there until the 1960's. After his death, his
    wife, Emily, continued as clerk until 1971, when a newly elected town clerk moved the office to the town
    hall.

    E. Jane Coleman continued to own the home until her passing in 2003. She was a dedicated Mendon
    historian. She was the last member of the Gaskill/Coleman family to live in the historic home.

    A new owner conscientiously refurbished the home, retaining its identity, and yet adapted it to modern
    livability. His most significant change was in its color scheme in the exterior appearance. After one
    hundred years of being a subtle gray, he painted it with bright, distinctive colors to call attention to its
    beauty. The second story is yellow, and the first story is burgundy. The trim is gray. The renovated
    Queen Anne is eye-catching and attractive.

    Shirley Smith, a proponent of preserving the town's historic buildings, is so impressed with the house
    that she feels it should be included in the next publication of America's Painted Ladies, the Ultimate
    Celebration of Our Victorians. She came across the book in her doctor's office, and while browsing,
    she  was surprised to see hundreds of brightly colored Victorians that had similarities to the one on
    Providence Road. Whether or not it ever achieves national publication,  it is one of our domestic
    treasures. Because of its artful, intricate design and intriguing history, it will remain as Mendon's
    Victorian queen.  

    Richard Grady
    March 16, 2014


                                                                                    
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