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Edward Thornton Sanderson, Architect

July 15, 2013

Academy Building, Haverhill, NH (USA)


With the exciting new work underway at the Academy Building, readers may enjoy some insights into the career of the architect –  Littleton-based Edward Thornton Sanderson. Sanderson designed the Academy Building in 1896-1897.

The building is a rich combination of Richardsonian Romaneqsue style with Queen Anne overtones, such as the fabulous entry, which has recently been restored by the current owners. The Richardsonian Romanesque was popularized by the famed American architect H. H. Richardson, mastermind behind Trinity Church in Boston, among countless mid-19th century landmarks. As with its early 19th century neighbor, Pearson Hall (1816+), the Academy boasts a strong, multi stage tower which was, and still is, a highly visible local landmark. The hard, dark red brick is relived by the yellow or buff brick which highlights details on the façade and tower. The building is set on a muscular rusticated granite base. The lighter brick was in vogue for institutional buildings from the late 19th through early 20th centuries.

Of interest is the fact that not only did Sanderson design the Academy Building, but he apparently had a deep personal interest in secondary teaching. This is evident in a letter to the editor of the Architectural Review in 1917 in which he encouraged early learning about architecture. Indeed, he believed all students should be given a small handbook of basic instruction.


Sanderson removed to Fitchburg, Massachusetts shortly after completing the building, about 1898. He may well have been in pursuit of new commissions from a rapidly growing, industrial city.

Another building by Sanderson with which some of you may be familiar is the White Mountains Maplewood Casino in Bethlehem, NH. Constructed as an inn and golf club, it opened in the spring of 1889.  The building was constructed of local materials: timber from the local lumber mills and the native river stone for the masonry stonework. A major attraction, the Casino had a bowling alley, a 1,200 seat ballroom, billiard room, ladies reading lounge and a men’s smoking room.




Haverhill Historical Society (

Finegold Alexander + Associates Architects, Rendering by Tony Hsiao, c. late 1990s (

Maplewood Casino Resort

Vintage Postcard of Maplewood Casino (


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