Dorchester Illustration of the Day no. 1929 Tileston House by Earl Taylor
The Tileston House at 13 River Street was built ca. 1770 and ranks among the oldest houses in the Lower Mills West area. Although altered by vinyl siding, this house's distinctive 5-bay, 2-pile, gambrel roof form provides clues to its early origins. During the 19th century, this building was owned and occupied by Charles Tileston whose stove, heating, and plumbing store was next door on the very busy corner of River and Washington Streets.
When we look at architectural features evident in the photo, the gambrel roof, single room depth, and 5 bay facade especially the early gambrel roof) all suggest ca. 1740-1780 18th century English Georgian Style features, compatible with the proposed circa 1770 first build date. The gambrel roof first made its appearance in Massachusetts in the early 18th century Georgian Style buildings [such as the Derby and Cabot houses here in Salem]--and then was later re-introduced most strongly in the Colonial Revival (also called Georgian Revival) period after the 1876 U.S. Centennial.
The 6/6 windows, and nice Federal Style fence were evidently installed later, in the ca. 1780-1830 period after America won the Revolutionary War, to give the Tileston House the more up-to-date Federal Style associations, which became the most preferred fashion once the United States achieved Independence. Charles Bulfinch in Boston and Samuel McIntire here in Salem were two of the most influential architects and designers who helped introduce and popularize the Federal Style after the Revolutionary War, although of course others like Asher Benjamin, Jabez Smith, Samuel Melcher III and Alexander Parris (who typically worked as housewrights and builders as well as architects and designers) were also influential. Jabez Smith is known mostly here in Salem, just as fellow Federal Style housewright and designer Samuel Melcher III who also helped spread the new fashion north of Boston is known now mostly in Mid-Coast Maine. Several of Asher Benjamin's pattern books have been reprinted and are easily consulted. For a nice web site devoted to interpreting Parris's work, see
--John Goff, September 2005
Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 Marriage of James Davenport and Grace Tileston