General George Stark House
The General George Stark House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The General George Stark House, located at 22 Concord Street, is situated on a triangular plot at the intersection of two of Nashua's principal streets, its elevated location making it a focal point of its section of the city. The dwelling is an asymmetrical two-story structure in the Italian Villa style. It stands on a fieldstone foundation with split granite blocks above grade, and has a balloon frame. Four brick chimneys rise above the roof, each crowned with a flaring cap that echoes the projecting cornices of the house.
The south elevation of the General George Stark House is treated as the facade, and is dominated by a three-story tower with a low-pitched hip roof having a strongly projecting bracketed cornice. The principal entrance, an arched doorway sheltered beneath a Corinthian portico, is located at the base of this tower. Directly above the portico is a single arched second-floor window. The third story, which is flush-boarded in contrast to the clapboarded walls elsewhere on the tower, has paired arched windows on all four elevations, creating, in effect, a cupola or belvedere above the main roof.
East of the tower is the main block of the house, oriented on a north-south axis so that its low-pitched gable end, decorated with a bracketed cornice and covered with flush boarding, forms a principal element of the facade. Several highly ornamental elements on the south elevation of this block contrast with the smooth surface created by the flush boarding. On the first floor is a central-arched window, which is subdivided by arched mullions into two smaller round-topped openings. Directly above is a balcony, supported on heavy consoles that repeat the profile of the cornice brackets of the dwelling and surrounded by a balustrade with heavy panelled corner pedestals and urn-shaped balusters. Access to this balcony is provided by a tall arched window at the second-floor level. On the east elevation of this block of the house is an arcaded veranda with a denticulated cornice.
West of the tower, a long clapboarded wing extends in two sections oriented at right angles to the main block of the house. The main portion of this wing, adjacent to the tower, is a full two stories high, has rectangular windows, and is covered by a low-pitched hip roof having a boldly projecting bracketed cornice. A slightly lower wing continues west of this block. It has semicircular arched windows on the second floor of its south elevation, a low-pitched gable roof, and a cornice that matches that on the rest of the building. A one-story arcaded veranda extends from the tower along the full length of the south elevation of these two sections of the wing. The two eastern bays of this veranda have been glazed with arched sash to form a vestibule.
The interior of the General George Stark House is little altered. When the First Church of Christ, Scientist, commenced to use the structure as a church after 1928, they removed the partition that divided the drawing room (front) and library (rear) in the east block, as well as a similar partition on the floor above. At the same time, they sealed the two fireplaces on the first floor of the east block. Preserved in these changes, however, were the original library bookcases, which have glazed doors that echo the arcaded window motif of the building's exterior. Also preserved were five marble mantelpieces in various parts of the house. Other notable interior features include a semicircular main stairway, a dining room with curved corner walls (one of which accommodates a china closet), an ornate dining room chandelier, a variety of builder's hardware throughout the structure, and a number of early radiators.
Inspired by suggestions from books by Andrew Jackson Downing, the Gen. George Stark House is one of the finest dwellings in the Italian Villa style in New Hampshire. It was built about 1856 by a man who, though then only in his early thirties, was one of New Hampshire's most experienced civil engineers and surveyors, and was the superintendent of the Nashua and Lowell Railroad. The house exemplifies the influence of Downing's ideas on prosperous American businessmen in the mid-nineteenth century.
Architecture: The General George Stark House is one of the best examples of the Italian Villa style in New Hampshire. The design of the principal elevation and the plan was probably inspired by Design VI, "An Irregular Villa in the Italian style, bracketed," in Andrew Jackson Downing's Cottage Residences (1842), or by Design XXII, "A Villa in the Italian Style," in Downing's The Architecture of Country Houses (1850). H.W. Herrick's biography of General Stark in Successful New Hampshire Men (1882) describes the house as "an elegant structure in the villa style, furnished with every comfort and convenience, and adorned with works of art." The General George Stark House expresses the "great boldness and dignity" which Downing associated with the Italian Villa style, and which he felt to be particularly sympathetic to the assertive nature of the American businessman.
Engineering and Transportation: The General George Stark House was occupied from its construction about 1856 until 1892 by General George Stark (1823-1892), and thereafter by members of his family until the property was acquired by The First Church of Christ, Scientist, about 1928. Stark was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, and as a young man worked on surveys of the canals and factories being built in the late 1830s in his native city. In 1836, during the first days of railroading in northern New England, Stark was employed with the engineers who laid out the route of the Nashua and Lowell Railroad. Thereafter, he was employed in surveys on the Vermont Central Railroad, Old Colony Railroad, Nashua and Wilton Railroad, Stony Brook Railroad, and the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad, serving as chief engineer on the latter job. From 1849 to 1852 he was treasurer and assistant superintendent of the Hudson River Railroad, subsequently rising to the position of superintendent. He later became superintendent of the Nashua and Lowell Railroad, whose route he had helped to plan, and in 1857, at about the time he built his Italianate Villa, he became managing agent of the Boston and Lowell line. In the same year, he was commissioned Brigadier General of the Third Brigade of New Hampshire Militia. In 1875, he was elected vice-president and director of the Northern Pacific Railroad. He retired from this position in 1879, establishing a banking house in New York City in connection with his son, J.F. Stark.
Clarke, John B., ed., Sketches of Successful New Hampshire Men. Manchester, N.H.: John B. Clarke, 1882.
Parker, Edward E., ed., History of the City of Nashua, New Hampshire. Nashua, N.H.: Telegraph Publishing Company, 1897.
Tolles, Bryant F., Jr., with Carolyn K. Tolles, New Hampshire Architecture, An Illustrated Guide. Hanover, N.H.: for the New Hampshire Historical Society, 1979.
Paul Newman and Robert Haven, Nashua Planning Board/Nashua Historical Society, General George Stark House, Nashua, NH, nomination document, 1976, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.