Parrish-Gordon House ("Northcote").

Site: N08-52. Municipality: Cornish, NH. Location: Lang Road, southside. Site Type: House. UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 712950. N: 4820880. NOTE: Listing of this property on the National Register is pending.

National Register Nomination Information:


The Parrish-Gordon property consists of a single family dwelling, studio and carriage house set on a hillside, wooded lot set back from Lang Road and oriented with views northwest toward Plainfield and the Hartland Gap. Only the level area immediately surrounding the house has been cleared. A two story ell projects from the east end of the main two story house block. A modern garage wing is set perpendicular to this building, enclosing a grassy lawn court. In front and to side of this grass court is a sloping formal garden. Significant as the former home of Stephen Parrish, an artist in his own right and the father of painter Maxfield Parrish, the nominated property possesses a high level of integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.

Dating to 1893, the Parrish-Gordon House is a large 2-1/2 story clapboarded structure designed by Philadelphia architect, Wilson Eyre and displaying elements of both the Colonial Revival and Craftsman architectural styles popular at the turn of the century. Fenestration on the building lacks the symmetry that would have been seen on a Colonial structure while clapboards butt at the corners without cornerboards. The house is capped by a gable, asphalt shingled roof displaying a slight flare at the eaves and exposed rafters. The building rests on a mortared fieldstone foundation. All of the windows on the building are flanked by wooden shutters.

The main building is oriented with its facade facing northward. The center entrance contains a door with three horizontal panels and an eared surround. Pilasters flank the doorway while the entrance porch is supported by two Roman Doric columns. A pair of wooden bench seats flank the entrance. Brackets outline the pediment which contains a bas relief rectangular panel of a winged cherub's face. To the viewer's left of the doorway the first floor is punctuated by two 6/6 windows and a single 8/8. Three windows with 6/6 sash flank the right side. There are four 8/8 windows, irregularly spaced, on the second floor of the facade. Below the fourth window is a recessed porch, which shall be described as part of the west elevation.

The (west) side elevation measures three bays wide with a pediment end. A two bay recessed porch is located on the first floor. It is supported by three, bowed, fluted piers resting on a concrete patio and spanned by low recessed panels. Sheltered by the porch, an eared door surround punctuates the west wall of the house on the first floor. Beside the doorway are two 8/8 windows. On the second floor there are three 8/8 doublehung windows. A dentil course runs below the second floor windows. Above the windows is the heavy entablature of the pediment end. A single louvered opening is centered in the attic.

On the south side of the building, there is a single 8/8 window located above the first floor recessed porch. The dentil course which commences on the south end of the building, partially continues on this elevation, ending just above the recessed porch. The remaining fenestration on this side is irregularly spaced. Moving from the viewer's left to right, there is a single 6/6 window on the first floor. Adjacent to this is a 6/6 window and multilight and panel door, sheltered by a shed door hood resting on brackets. Above the doorway there is a pair of 6/6 windows with an additional pair of 6/6 windows, one atop the other, located to the right. Under these windows a bas relief of cherubs is set into the wall. Two 8/8 windows, one on both the first and second floor, end the elevation.

The west side of the ell facing the courtyard is punctuated on the first floor by continuous doors and windows. The 8/8 windows and multilight doors are sheltered by a slight overhang. The second floor is lit by a small 4/4 window and two large gable wall dormers which break through the roofline and each contain a single 6/6 window.

Projecting from the west side of the ell and forming the last leg of the courtyard is a 1 1/2 story modern addition containing a greenhouse and garage. The north side of the building displays a pronounced overhang, below which are four irregularly spaced 6/6 windows. The western gable end displays two side-by-side 8/8 windows in the gable and two 8/8 windows, a pair of french doors and a multiglass door on the first floor.

Fenestration on the rear (south) elevation of the addition consists primarily of greenhouse windows and skylights. To the rear of the building is a fieldstone wall and bank. The rear of the garage is set against the bank.

The final elevation is that on the east facing the driveway and consists of the main, original house, ell and modern garage addition. The east gable end of the main house is bisected by a central brick chimney. Two small attic windows flank each side of the chimney. On the second floor there is a single 6/6 window to the north of the chimney while the first floor is spanned by a single story, hipped roof projection containing a single 8/8 window on the east side.

Projecting slightly from the east elevation of the main house is the two story ell. A 6/6 window punctuates each story on the north side of the ell. The east side of the ell displays three 6/6 windows on the first floor, with a single 3/3 window tucked under the projecting eaves on this side. Angled out from the ell is the garage section with a gable front facing eastward. A multiglass door is located on the north side of this section while the gablefront is dominated by a wide garage door with a 2 x 2 window above and a 6/6 window to the side.

In 1986 the previous 1 3/4 story ell and attached barns and sheds were removed and replaced with the new rear addition and garage. A tennis court was also added to the property at about the same time.

To the west of the house is Parrish's former studio, apparently constructed several years after the main house. A clapboarded structure measuring approximately sixteen feet by twenty-six feet and capped by an asphalt shingled hip roof with exposed rafters; like the main house, the studio rests on a fieldstone foundation. A wide wooden baseboard wraps around the building above the foundation level. Wide wooden cornerboards mark the building corners. A dentil course also wraps around the south, and parts of the east and north elevations. Unlike a traditional dentil course it is located roughly at eye level, decorates only parts of each elevation and breaks for window and door openings. Birdhouse openings are located at the cornice level on the north and west elevations.

Entry is gained on the east elevation through a central, four panel wooden door. A gable wall dormer dominates the north elevation and is lit by a multilight 9 x 7 pane window, capped by a recessed pediment. The south side of the building has a single, central 6/6 window which is spanned by horizontal bands of latticework. Two windows of the same size punctuate the west side.

East of the house, is a clapboarded carriage house, contemporary with the house. The building rests on a mortared fieldstone foundation, above which is a sharply beveled wooden watertable. An asphalt-shingled gable roof caps the structure with projecting eaves and exposed rafters. A large arched opening with sliding wooden door dominates the broad, south-facing facade. Above this opening is a gable wall dormer with a projecting gable hood sheltering an upper hayloft door. To the side is a vertical plank door with large iron strap hinges and a 4/4 window which are sheltered by a door hood supported by large braces. Above these openings, a smaller gable dormer punctuates the roof. The west side of the building is punctuated by three 2 x 3 light casement windows and an opening in the attic. The east side has two 6/6 windows on the first floor and a single attic opening. Three 6/6 windows punctuate the rear elevation.

Evidence of Parrish's gardening avocation, including a greenhouse for exotic plants and terraces of flowers, have largely disappeared. At one time there was a curved seat thirty feet in length, a favorite gathering place, under a tall white pine tree. His gardens were among the most extensive of any in the Cornish Colony.(Source : Wade History)

Southwest of the house is a terraced garden area consisting of central fieldstone stairs with concrete side walls flanked by rectangular beds which are terraced into two levels. The remains of an additional garden area are located south of the studio in a heavily wooded area. Visible in deteriorated condition are brick walls and steps leading up a small incline.


The Parrish-Gordon House is significant under National Register criteria A, B & C for its associations with the Cornish Arts Colony, as the former home of artist, Stephen Parrish, and as the work of prominent Philadelphia architect, Wilson Eyre.

In 1892, Stephen Parrish, an etcher and painter from Philadelphia, followed the lead of his former student Charles Platt in coming to Cornish. One of the earlier Colonists, Parrish and his family first came to Cornish in 1891, boarding with the Stephen A. Tracys on Lang Road. In 1893 Stephen Parrish bought approximately eighteen acres of land from Tracy and built this house on the south side of Austin Hill.(1) The Parrish-Gordon House is unique among the Colony houses for its orientation northwest toward Plainfield and the Hartland Gap rather than toward Mt. Ascutney. The survival of the studio, one of the few to survive of the Colony artists, and in an excellent state of preservation, is another factor which distinguishes the property.

Born in 1846 in Philadelphia, Stephen Parrish began his study of painting and etching with Peter Moran (1841-1914) in Philadelphia in 1871. Parrish was a member and one of the first Americans to exhibit in the newly organized Royal Society of Painters and Etchers in 1881. He was also a member of the Philadelphia Society of Etchers, Philadelphia Sketch Club and the New York Etching Club and his works were exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Parrish executed eighty-six plates between 1879 and 1883 but there is no record of any etchings done after his arrival at Cornish. Prior to their arrival in Cornish, Parrish influenced Charles A. Platt in studying and working in etching. In fact, Platt painted Parrish in 1884 and Parrish painted Platt in his studio in 1888. Once in Cornish, Parrish established a studio and returned to oil painting rather than etching in 1902 after spending some time finishing Northcote, building a greenhouse, a shop, a stable, and planning and laying out gardens. Parrish painted numerous pictures in Cornish. His favorite places for sketching were Dingleton Hill and Fernald's Hill in Cornish and Prospect Hill in Plainfield.(2)

Like his close contemporary Charles Platt, Philadelphia architect Wilson Eyre (1858-1944) was noted in the field of domestic architecture as the designer of many private homes and large estates in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Maine and Rhode Island. Eyre studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1876-8, before beginning an architectural career in Philadelphia.(3) In addition to a distinguished career as an architect, Eyre won recognition as an artist and it may well have been this connection that led to his designing a home for Stephen Parrish. The Parrish House is Eyre's only known commission in New Hampshire, although admittedly it is a modest design compared to those which he is best known for. The house displays elements of both the Colonial Revival and Craftsman architectural styles popular at the turn of the century. It is interesting to note that both Charles Platt and Eyre were also leaders of the formal garden revival.(4)

The Parrishes became year-round residents about 1894; soon afterward he and his wife, Elizabeth Bancroft, separated and she moved to Pasadena, California. For the remainder of his life, Parrish shared his home with his niece Anne Bogardus Parrish, who did some sculpture modelling. Parrish died at Northcote in Cornish on May 15, 1938, at the age of 92.(5) Anne Parrish continued to live in the house after his death. The property was later owned by Roy Garrands who sold it to the present owner, Robert Gordon, in 1984.

(1) Circle of Friends: Art Colonies of Cornish and Dublin. (Durham, NH: University Art Galleries, 1985), p. 100.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Henry F. Withey. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased). (Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc., 1970), p. 202.
(4) Keith N. Morgan. Charles A. Platt: The Artist as Architect. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), p. 72.
(5) Circle of Friends, p. 100.


Colby, Virginia Reed. "Stephen and Maxfield Parrish", Antiques (June 1979), p. 1293.

Wise, Herbert. "A Day at Northcote, New Hampshire", House & Garden (June 1902), pp. 240-251.

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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