National Register of Historic Places
Inventory Nomination Form

The Thomas Russell Hubbard House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Below is an excerpt from the Report.

The Thomas Russell Hubbard house possesses integrity of location, design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. The dwelling retains a portion of its integrity of setting, although subdivision of its original city-block sized lot has reduced the extent of the building’s original landscaping. The house meets National Register Criterion C, displaying the distinctive characteristics of the Italian Villa dwelling as codified by Andrew Jackson Downing, as embodied in a number of similar dwellings standing in the neighborhood, the city, and the region. Neither the house nor its setting represents an exception to National Register criteria.

As the home of an intelligent and self-made craftsman, the Hubbard House symbolizes the uprightness and stature of its owner and displays the artistic taste and skilled craftsmanship with which he had established his local reputation. The house possesses symbolic, stylistic, and technical sophistication and stands as one of the best examples of its architectural type within its region. Remaining almost unaltered from the time of its original construction in 1867, the Hubbard House has a period of significance extending from that date to 1937.

Beginning with his publication of Cottage Residences in 1842, Andrew Jackson Downing began to develop new theories of architectural design and symbolism. Expressed in plain and persuasive language, Downing’s ideas found a receptive audience among Americans of his era. Downing’s influence on American domestic architecture was immense and, through the republication of his own works and through his influence on other writers, lasted long after his untimely death in 1852. As Americans grew more prosperous and as their expanding cities encompassed suburbs of increasingly sophisticated taste and design, Downing’s influence continued to shape the underlying attitudes that guided new growth.

One of Downing’s basic themes, first stated in Cottage Residences and elaborated in The Architecture of Country Houses (1850), was that domestic architecture should symbolize the personality and station of the owner, and that homes rightfully should grow more complex in proportion to the sophistication of their builders.

Of the Italian Villa style seen in the Thomas Russell Hubbard House, Downing said in Cottage Residences,

“persons who have cultivated an architectural taste, and who relish the higher beauties of the art growing out of variety, will give great preference to a design capable o awakening more strongly emotions of the beautiful or picturesque, as well as the useful or convenient. … The Italian mode is capable of displaying a rich domestic character in its balconies, verandas, ornamental porches, terraces, etc. The square tower, or campanile, is a prominent eature in villas of this style, and frequently confers on the Italian compositions a character of great boldness and dignity”1

In The Architecture of Country Houses, Downing further elaborated his conviction that the attributes of an expressive house ought to mirror the attributes of its owner.

“The villa, the country house should, above all things, manifest individuality. It should say something of the character of the family within as much as possible of their life and history, their tastes and associations, should mould and fashion themselves upon its walls. There are men of imagination, men whose ambition and energy will give them no peace within the mere bounds of rationality. These are the men for picturesque villas, country houses with high roofs, steep gables, unsymmetrical and capricious forms. It is for such that the architect may safely introduce the tower and the campanile any and every feature that indicates originality, boldness, energy, and variety of character”2

 

“The villa, the country house should, above all things, manifest individuality. It should say something of the character of the family within as much as possible of their life and history, their tastes and associations, should mould and fashion themselves upon its walls. There are men of imagination, men whose ambition and energy will give them no peace within the mere bounds of rationality. These are the men for picturesque villas, country houses with high roofs, steep gables, unsymmetrical and capricious forms. It is for such that the architect may safely introduce the tower and the campanile any and every feature that indicates originality, boldness, energy, and variety of character”2

 

Thomas Russell Hubbard was the kind of man Downing matched to the Italian villa. Born into a farming family and originally a farmer himself, Hubbard “was early called to encounter the difficulties and hardships that lie in the pathway of the poor boy who struggles for position in life empty-handed.”3 Hubbard eventually became the successful owner of a sash, door, and blind factory and a lumber yard in Manchester, New Hampshire, and his house reflects his rise from humble beginnings to a position of wealth and political influence in his adopted home city. Built in a manufacturing city filled with the houses of other self-made men, Hubbard’s dwelling stands in a neighborhood which was noted as the showplace of notable houses. A rival Italian villa (N.R. 1981), built about 1870 by Alpheus Gay, a local contractor, stands on a nearby block.

The Hubbard House was described in 1872 as built by himself with all the modern conveniences, constructed of the best materials with a view to strength and durability. Good taste marks the exterior and interior.^

Downing had noted that the view of scenery from a villa was an important consideration in its appropriateness to a site. The Hubbard House affords a vista westward across the Merrimack River to the Uncanoonuc Mountains, and this view was remarked upon in 1872 as “very fine.” Even though it was located within a city, the house thus conformed to Downing 1 s ideals of symbolic design and setting.

Hubbard purchased the 220-foot-square city block which provided the site for the house from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1864. The corporation owned most of the territory of present-day Manchester and developed a policy of laying out streets and selling house lots to encourage private development, reserving for public use five large squares or public commons to maintain a feeling of rural tranquility in the city. Two such parks are within two blocks from the Hubbard House. The neighborhood of the Hubbard House was laid out on an unusually generous scale calculated to stimulate the construction of especially ambitious homes. Each dwelling stood on an entire block, surrounded by four streets. The result was the creation of a district of great architectural distinction and tasteful landscaping in which none but the wealthy aspired to build. Among Hubbard’s neighbors were industrialists, contractors, and investors many of them, like Hubbard, active in local politics and many, again like Hubbard, self-made men who had begun life in poverty or other restrictive circumstances. While the neighborhood included (and retains) ambitious houses of many styles, it is notable that one of the most significant ] neighboring structures is another Italian villa built by a contractor who knew and clearly wished to emulate Hubbard.

1. A.J. Downing, Cottage Residences, Rural Architecture and Landscape Gardening (Watkins Glen, N.Y.: American Life Foundation, 1967), pp. 113-5.

2. A.J. Downing, The Architecture of Country Houses; Including Designs for Cottages, Farm-Houses, and Villas … (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1851), pp. 262-

3 . ^Luther Prescott Hubbard, Descendants of George Hubbard, from 1600 to 1872 (New York: L.P. Hubbard, 1872), pp. 15-16.

4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.