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Mendon’s Victorian Queen

The late Victorian style, Queen Anne home is located at 17 Providence St. in Mendon. The house was built by Albert Gaskill in 1906 and owned by the family for about 100 years. Contributed photo

Mendon's Victorian Queen Anne has reigned at 17 Providence St. 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 rooflines 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 49 years of their married life living across the street at 16 Providence St. He was the youngest of the 12 children of Nahum and Sally Gaskill, and he had inherited their Colonial style house. However, after their 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 road at 17 Providence St.

Albert Gaskill was one of Mendon's outstanding citizens. He served as a selectman for 30 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.

From 1926 to 1971, a room in the back of the Queen Anne house at 17 Providence St. served as Mendon's town clerk's office. First the Gaskills' grandson, Albert S. Coleman 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 Mendon Town Hall.

Albert and Emily Coleman's daughter, E. Jane Coleman continued to own the home until her passing in 2003. She was a dedicated Mendon historian and 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 100 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 are similar to the one on Providence St.

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.


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