Architecture Du Jour: Hampden, MA

Blowhard, Esq. writes:


I recently spent some time in sleepy, idyllic southern Massachusetts, my first time in New England. Fenster disputes that this area is New England at all, but what does he know? What the town lacked in ethnic restaurants and cultural opportunities it (almost) made up for in charming architecture. When you’re browsing through the pictures the four-digit number isn’t the address, it’s the year the house was built.


About Blowhard, Esq.

Amateur, dilettante, wannabe.
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8 Responses to Architecture Du Jour: Hampden, MA

  1. Fenster says:

    Nice photos and I take back my snarky remark, mostly. Granted, Hampden is perilously close to Connecticut which is perilously close to New York but it does look charming in a characteristic New England kind of way. I have been to most all the town and cities in the Commonwealth over the years so yeah what do I know for Hampden? But in fact it is usually the towns that are overlooked and are off the beaten path that can sneak up and capture you.

    I grew up in Central Massachusetts, near the neglected second city of Worcester, in Shrewsbury.

    It is an old farming town, like Hampden, but the adjacency to Worcester meant that it already had a suburban overlay by the mid-20th century.

    By contrast, there are a lot of central Massachusetts towns further from Worcester that time has forgotten, and Hampden seems to be one.

    Another one such is the lovely town of Royalston in the northern part of the county, where you emerge from deep New Hampshire-like woods and emerge in a tiny town common unchanged since whenever.,-72.188024,3a,75y,274.63h,82.11t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1srOeirMKOUBg2KgSYReTgww!2e0!6m1!1e1

    Or Hancock, New Hampshire, 30 miles or so north. I had an intense emotional reaction when coming across this place some twenty years ago for the first time. In a sense, it not only brought me back to the town where I grew up, Willoughby-style, but it brought me back even further, to the undistilled farm village nature of my hometown before the suburanization I grew up with.

    For my money, north is usually better where New England is concerned. Then again, there’s that quote from John Updike: “I rarely make it north of Massachusetts now. At a certain stage in life, which we pass as if crossing the border between two friendly countries, the drift becomes southerly—toward New York, Washington, Florida. Going north, it turns out in retrospect, was a lot of unnecessary effort. An old buck can curl up and call it a day anywhere.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dave Trowbridge says:

    When I used to travel, the clue to me that identified entering New England was the disappearance of street signs, as though one were expected to know where one was. It felt almost Soviet at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bob sacamano says:

    HoJos! When I was a kid in the early 80s, we took a road trip from Western NY to Eastern Mass. We only ate at Friendly’s and HoJos. By the time I moved to Boston in the late 90s, they were all gone.


  4. Callowman says:

    I was going to snark about Hampden being indistinguishable from some other western Mass town Fenster posted about a while back, but I see he’s already made amends.

    The really old buildings in New England towns tend to be quite plain and simple. What I thought was the oldest house in my town had much in common with the simplest Levittown cottage model, aside from the modern details. Google tells me that no, actually this is the oldest. A little bigger scale, but still pretty simple. Notice the year built.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll identify myself as a full-blooded Western Barbarian by saying Hampden reminds me of places in Rhode Island I recently passed through. But cut me some slack, these places look alike to an Arizonan used to a sere wasteland. I mean, they all have trees, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Marc Pisco says:

    That’s not New England. Washington County is New England. Keep Maine Scenic!


  7. blanket says:

    Western Mass is an undiscovered gem:
    Currently living in Worcester, can’t wait to get back to god’s country out “west”.

    Liked by 1 person

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