Whiting-Littell-Palmer House

Site: N08-50
Municipality: Cornish, NH
Location: End of Littell Road, off Platt Road
Site Type: House
UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 712770. N: 4820150.
National Register Nomination Information:


The Whiting-Littell-Palmer House is a large but simple residence sheathed in natural wood shingles and set in an open field on a hilltop with a commanding view of Mount Ascutney. The house sits on a 16 acre parcel of which one acre constitutes the house site, three acres is pasture and the remaining 12 acres, including the drive upward to the house and the backlot, is forested. The nominated property possesses a high level of integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.

Two stories high and L-shaped in plan, the house is capped by an overhanging hip roof sheathed in asphalt shingles and decorated by exposed rafters. The second floor of the structure overhangs the first slightly. Wooden brackets mark the overhang at the building corners and between the windows. The building rests on a fieldstone foundation. Three brick chimneys punctuate the roof.

The long, south side is punctuated by a series of windows which maximize the view of the mountain. The first floor of this elevation features three sets of three multilight, full length french doors. The first opening to the west or to the viewer's left consists of a central 3 x 4 light door flanked by two panels of similar configuration. The central door opening and that to the right consist of a central 3 x 4 light door flanked by 4 x 2 multilight panels. Upstairs, bands of casement windows light the second story. These include from left to right: a set of three 3 x 2 fixed windows, a set of three 3 x 2 light casement windows in the center, a single 2 x 2 light casement opening and a finally another row of three 3 x 2 casement windows.

The main entrance to the building is located on the east end of the building; the of center opening is marked by a projecting wooden arbor. Adjacent to the entrance on the first floor are two 3 x 2 windows. Upstairs this side is punctuated by four individual casement windows measuring 3 x 2 lights.

A single story, shed-roofed garage projects from the short end of the L-shaped plan. The building is sheathed in shiplap siding with a roof covered in rolled asphalt roofing and displaying exposed rafters. The outward-swinging garage doors are located on the west side. The north side of the garage is punctuated by a pair of 4 x 3 windows. Above the garage, the second story of the narrow north end displays two casement windows with a 2 x 2 light configuration.

Continuing counter-clockwise around the base of the L-shaped plan, the adjacent west elevation includes the garage, a shed roofed kitchen section and finally the main two story block. A single 3 x 2 window lights the west side of the garage. The door leading into the kitchen is of four panel construction, adjacent to it is a fixed 2 x 2 window. The first floor of the main house block on this side features a 3 x 2 window and a 2 x 2 casement. Upstairs, this west facing side displays two 3 x 2 casement windows.

The longer, north side of the house displays five individual windows, irregularly spaced and of two configurations, 3 x 2 and 2 x 2, on the second floor. The first floor displays a band of three 3 x 2 casement windows. According to Mrs. Palmer, these windows are like those which were originally on the south side of the building and were later replaced by full length french doors. Projecting from the west end of this elevation is a modern lean-to shed. Simple wooden posts support the shed roof; the sides are sheathed in modern vertical siding.

The short, west end of the building displays a set of three full length, multilight panels on the first floor with a band of four 2 x 2 sliding windows above. Originally the first floor on this end consisted of a recessed porch which was enclosed many years ago.

In summary, alterations to the exterior of the building have been limited to the enclosure of the original recessed porch on the west end, replacement of the casement windows on the first floor of the south side with french doors and the additions of the attached garage and shed. All of these alterations occurred during the ownership of the William Platt family; and according to the designs of the Platt successor architectural firm of Charles Platt and Sons of New York City (William and Geoffrey Platt). A barn which previously stood on the property has also been removed. The house has never been winterized.


The Whiting-Littell-Palmer House is significant for its associations with the Cornish Arts Colony and as such was built by musician and composer Arthur Whiting and later occupied by journalist and playwright Philip Littell.

This house was built by Boston musician and composer, Arthur Whiting (1861-1936) in 1893. In 1892 Whiting bought this piece of pasture from Edward Bryant.(1) Along with Otto Rothe, Whiting provided music for many of the informal musicales popular in the early days of the Cornish Colony.(2)

The house was subsequently purchased by Philip Littell (1868-1943) journalist and playwright, about 1918. Littell began his journalistic career on the Milwaukee Sentinel, owned by the family of his Harvard classmate George Rublee, and later became a member of the editorial board of the New York Evening Post. Littell also was the first literary editor of the liberal weekly The New Republic founded in 1914, of which neighbor Herbert Croly, served as the first editor. Littell was best known however, as an essayist and dramatist. The property later passed onto his daughter, Mrs. William (Margaret) Platt, who married the son of Charles Platt. The house was subsequently altered by the successor architectural firm of Charles Platt and Sons of New York City (William and Geoffrey Platt). The house is now occupied by Mrs. Platt's daughter, Clarissa Platt Palmer, whose late husband, Roger was an artist.(3)

The original architect of the building is not known. Although extremely simple in its massing, features of the building such as its shingled exterior, overhanging eaves with exposed rafters, wooden brackets and bands of windows indicate at least a cursory familiarity with various styles popular during the end of the l9th century including the shingle style and craftsman modes.

About 1893 Edith and Arthur Prellwitz constructed a small shack and studio on a small tract of land north of the present Palmer House. Arthur Prellwitz was a landscape painter who had studied with Dewing in New York City. His wife Edith Mitchell Prellwitz whom he married in 1894, studied under George de Forest Brush and Kenyon Cox at the Art Students League in New York and was a close friend of Cornish artist William Howard Hart. The Prellwitzes continued coming to Cornish through 1898 when their home was struck by lightning. In 1903 John Elliott rented the Prellwitz shanty.(4) The shack and studio are no longer extant.

(1) Hugh Mason Wade. A Brief History of Cornish, 1763-1974. (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1976), p. 70.
(2) Ibid, p. 89.
(3) Ibid, p. 70.
(4) A Circle of Friends: Art Colonies of Cornish and Dublin. (Durham, NH: University Art Galleries, 1985), p. 133.


None given.

FORM PREPARED BY: Lisa Mausolf, Preservation Specialist, Upper Valley-Lake Sunapee Council, 314 First NH Bank Building, Lebanon, NH 03766. Tel: 603-448-1680. Date: November 1989.

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