Jump to content

John Calvin Stevens

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Calvin Stevens
Born(1855-10-08)October 8, 1855
DiedJanuary 25, 1940(1940-01-25) (aged 84)
Parent(s)Maria Jane Hancock Wingate
Leander Stevens
AwardsCongressional Record of Recognition (2009)
  • State Street Church, Portland, ME
  • Richard Webb House, Portland, ME
  • Municipal Building, Skowhegan, ME
  • L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, Portland, ME
  • Saco Museum, Saco, ME
  • Forest Avenue Post Office, Portland, ME

John Calvin Stevens (October 8, 1855 – January 25, 1940) was an American architect who worked in the Shingle Style, in which he was a major innovator, and the Colonial Revival style. He designed more than 1,000 buildings in the state of Maine.

Early life[edit]

Stevens was the son of Maria Wingate and Leander Stevens, a cabinet maker and builder of fancy carriages.[1] He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but when he was two, his family moved to Portland, Maine.[2]

Stevens wanted to study architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but lacked the money to attend. Instead, he apprenticed in the Portland office of architect Francis H. Fassett, who in 1880 made him a junior partner to open the firm's new Boston office. Another architect working in the same building was William Ralph Emerson, whose historicist aesthetic in the Queen Anne Style had a profound effect on Stevens. He married Martha Louise Waldron in 1877, and they had four children. Stevens opened his own office in Portland in 1884.


John Calvin Stevens house, Portland, ME (1883–84)
Floor plans and interior details

In 1888, Stevens formed a partnership with Albert Winslow Cobb. Together they wrote the book Examples of American Domestic Architecture (1889), an early study of the Shingle Style. Cobb wrote the prose and Stevens provided the illustrations. The partnership was dissolved in 1891. Stevens' son, John Howard Stevens, became an architect and joined his father's firm in 1898. John became a full partner in 1904, and the firm was renamed Stevens Architects.[3]

His most-acclaimed early house, the 1886 James Hopkins Smith House in Falmouth Foreside, Maine, was featured in George William Sheldon's Artistic Country Seats (1886–87).[4] In The Shingle Style (1955), Vincent Scully described the Smith house as a "pièce de résistance" and a "masterpiece", "a more sweeping and coherent version of Stevens' own house". Sheldon also praised his "powerful alterations" to a summer hotel called the Poland Springs House.[5]

Houses designed by Stevens can be found along the Maine coast, as well as in Portland (particularly the West End) and its suburbs. He also designed public libraries, municipal buildings, hotels, and churches, as well as nine buildings for the campus of Hebron Academy, including the Psi Upsilon Fraternity House on the Bowdoin College campus.

In one of his rare commissions outside of Maine, he created a master plan for and designed a chapel and at least six barracks buildings at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (Southern Branch) in Hampton, Virginia.

Other interests[edit]

Stevens was a landscape painter. He belonged to the Brushians, a Portland art group which went on weekend outings. He exhibited his work with the Boston Art Club, the Portland Society of Art, and elsewhere. His oil painting Delano Park, Cape Elizabeth (1904) is in the collection of Blaine House, the Maine governor's official residence.[6]

He was an avid art collector. He lent Afternoon Fog by Winslow Homer to the L. D. M. Sweat Memorial Galleries, now part of the Portland Museum of Art.[7]

In 1889, Stevens was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.[8]

Death and legacy[edit]

Stevens died on January 25, 1940, aged 84. He is buried in Portland's Evergreen Cemetery.

In recognition of his architectural contributions on the Portland peninsula, the city declared October 8, 2009, to be John Calvin Stevens Day. The ceremony included a Congressional Record of Recognition presented by the office of Senator Olympia Snowe.[9]

Selected buildings[edit]

State Street Congregational Church, Portland, ME (1892–93). Stevens wrapped the existing wooden church in sandstone and added the Gothic tower and facade.
Brown Memorial Library, Clinton, ME (1903)
Brooks Leavitt house, Wilton, ME (c.1925)
Bay of Naples Inn, Naples, ME (1899, demolished 1964)
Building 70, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers ("Southern Branch"), Hampton, VA (1908)




Remodel of Brewster house, Dexter Maine c.1932. Home of former Maine Gov and US Congressman/Senator Ralph Owen Brewster and his wife Dorothy (Foss). Currently a B&B, The Brewster Inn.

Other buildings[edit]

Portland Water District Building




  1. ^ "Stevens Genealogy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
  2. ^ Stephen Abbott, John Calvin Stevens, the Early Years, Maine Home & Design 2007
  3. ^ Murphy, Kevin; Lovejoy, Kim Brian (2004). Colonial Revival Maine. Princeton Architectural Press. p. 98. ISBN 9781568984490.
  4. ^ George William Sheldon, Artistic Country Seats I (New York, 1886–87), pp. 177–80, plate 41.
  5. ^ Vincent J. Scully Jr., The Shingle Style (Yale University Press, 1955), p. 118.
  6. ^ Friends of the Blaine House, Blainehouse.org
  7. ^ Currently owned by Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester. id=v07EmzFCkt8C&pg=PA125&lpg=PA125&dq=%22john+calvin+stevens%22+painting&source=bl&ots=yLRkZTbI02&sig=2JGic9b0CsC6vIDSBb1jWK6rXpA&hl=en&ei=B3qYS4K7K5CsswOF74nCAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CCkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=%22john%20calvin%20stevens%22%20painting&f=false Portland Society of Art, Maine, American Art Directory, Vol. 11, R. R. Bowker, 1914
  8. ^ "John Calvin Stevens," in Harrie B. Coe, Maine: A History, Volume 1 (Clearfield, 1928), p. 35.
  9. ^ The Forecaster, 'An indelible mark': Portland to honor the legacy of John Calvin Stevens
  10. ^ Congregational Church Archived 2007-05-13 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Sanford Baptist Church from Maine Memory Network.
  12. ^ Henry Sweetser Burrage & Albert Roscoe Stubbs, Genealogical and Family History of the State of Maine, Volume 3, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York 1909
  13. ^ Images of America: Yarmouth, Alan M. Hall (Arcadia, 2002), p.28
  14. ^ First Baptist
  15. ^ State St. Church from Maine Memory Network.
  16. ^ Freeport Baptist Church from Maine Memory Network.
  17. ^ Hancock Point Chapel from Flickr.
  18. ^ "Williston-West Church". Archived from the original on 2011-02-21. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  19. ^ "Zadoc Long Free Library". Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
  20. ^ Rumford Fall Library from Maine Memory Network.
  21. ^ Knight Library from Maine Memory Network.
  22. ^ Davis Memorial Library Archived 2011-04-13 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ History of Winthrop, Maine 1771–1925, p. 111.
  24. ^ Plan for Paris Public Library from Maine Memory Network.
  25. ^ Elevation for Paris Public Library from Maine Memory Network.
  26. ^ Bethel Library Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Wright cottage from Maine Memory Network.
  28. ^ Stevens house from Maine Memory Network.
  29. ^ Winslow Homer studio
  30. ^ Winslow Homer house
  31. ^ J.H. Smith house from Maine Memory Network.
  32. ^ Thornhurst from Maine Memory Network.
  33. ^ Belfield from Maine Memory Network.
  34. ^ Belfield from Maine Memory Network.
  35. ^ Deering house from Maine Memory Network.
  36. ^ Endcliffe from Maine Memory Network.
  37. ^ Johnson house Archived 2011-08-17 at the Wayback Machine from Hallowell Phototour.
  38. ^ "Oak Bank". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  39. ^ Psi Upsilon
  40. ^ Hill house Archived 2011-01-15 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Cox house[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ Webb house from Maine Memory Network.
  43. ^ Files house from Maine Memory Network.
  44. ^ Oxford House Inn Archived 2010-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Elmhurst from Fotki.
  46. ^ Spring house from Maine Memory Network.
  47. ^ Stone House Archived 2010-11-03 at the Wayback Machine from USM.
  48. ^ "Historic Hotels of America".
  49. ^ Gazebo
  50. ^ Poland Spring House dining room from Maine Memory Network.
  51. ^ "Biddeford City Hall". Archived from the original on 2016-08-27. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  52. ^ City Theater
  53. ^ Tides Inn-by-the-Sea[permanent dead link]
  54. ^ Southern Branch from NPS.
  55. ^ Nathan Clifford Elementary Archived 2010-08-25 at the Wayback Machine
  56. ^ "Skowhegan Municipal Building". Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
  57. ^ Camden Yacht Club Archived 2009-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  58. ^ Pike Hall
  59. ^ Saco Museum
  60. ^ "Portland Water District - Portland Water District Douglass Street Facility, Portland, ca. 1928". portlandwater.mainememory.net. Retrieved 2024-05-24.
  61. ^ Forest Avenue Post Office from Maine Memory Network.
  62. ^ Uptown Theatre from Maine Memory Network.
  63. ^ Woven Together in York County, Maine: A History 1865-1990 by Madge Baker, 1999

Further reading[edit]

  • John Calvin Stevens, Domestic Architecture, 1890–1930, by John Calvin Stevens II, and Earle G. Shettleworth Jr. Scarborough, Me. : Harp Publications, 1990. ISBN 0-9626389-1-9.
  • John Calvin Stevens on the Portland Peninsula 1880–1940, A Listing of his Work by Address, Client, and Chronology, by Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., Director, Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

External links[edit]