West End Walks. Vaughan Street Jewel Box

171 Vaughan Street.
In all my years of walking, biking and driving around the West End, I had never paid this little gem much attention. That all changed about a week ago.

wpid-20150402_180239.jpgSeductively small but lavish, the Elizabeth M McDonald Cottage is an unexpected sight in a neighborhood of large mansions. At 1800 sq ft, it is downright tiny by today’s new home standards.

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What is lacks in size it more than makes up for in detail. A blend of textures, colors and forms that is warm and inviting.

wpid-20150402_180226.jpgBuilt in 1881, it is unique in many ways. First is of course it’s size. Second, the notion of a ‘cottage’ on an urban lot seems a bit screwball.

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Another work from the hand of John Calvin Stevens, the cottage shows his early mastery of the Queen Anne Style. With materials ranging from brick to brown stone to shingles in a variety of patterns, it is exuberant but not over the top. The date of 1881 would place it quite early in his independent career. He may still have been working for Fassett at the time. According to Greater Portland Landmarks, the cottage was built for the caretaker.

There is a bit of a back story to the home as well. While Elizabeth McDonald was having this ‘cottage’ built, she was also having the large house next door at 161 Pine Street built. The Portland tax records for 1924 show the cottage as a part of the property at 161 Pine.  Modern tax records show the building and land changing ownership for $0.00 in April of 1996. One can guess that the property was subdivided at that time.

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A view of the rear of the cottage from Pine Street

Pretty sure there is some intricate terra cotta behind that shrubbery.

Pretty sure there is some intricate terra cotta behind that shrubbery.

The details were thought out right down to the granite fence posts

The details were thought out right down to the granite fence posts

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