The circa 1800 John Robbins House in Acton, Massachusetts has been a prominent landmark for generations of travelers making their way along Great Road. Today, both sides of this early highway are lined by shopping centers, auto dealerships and small commercial buildings, making it difficult to imagine the house’s original setting of 230 acres of farmland.
Fortunately, in 2005 when it came time to sell the property, the children of the elderly owners generously donated perpetual preservation restrictions on the property to Historic New England to protect the house and land from their likely fate of demolition and subdivision. Since then the John Robbins House has been home to the Powers Gallery, a thriving art gallery.
Known locally as one of Acton’s “Lottery Houses,” this imposing, two-story transitional Georgian to Federal style House was constructed with the winnings from a lottery sponsored in 1794 by Harvard College to raise funds for the construction of Stoughton Hall. Acton residents, John Robbins, Abraham Skinner, Abel Conant and Horace Tuttle who had each purchased shares of the winning, five dollar lottery ticket, split the $10,000 grand prize and used their winnings to construct fashionable homes for themselves and their families. The John Robbins House, the most ambitious of the four, boasts a formal classical entry door surround, lavish interior woodcarvings based upon plates from William Pain’s 1792 Practical Builder, stencil work attributed to Moses Eaton, and iron and brass door hardware.
The restrictions protect all exterior elevations of the house and carriage shed, as well as interior features such as room configuration, plaster walls, woodwork, fireplaces, softwood floors, door and window hardware, and decorative painting. The John Robbins House is open to the public, who are welcome to enjoy this property, tour the sculptures on display on the grounds, and view the artwork for sale in its rooms and carriage shed.
For information about visiting the John Robbins House/Powers Gallery phone Lawrence Powers at (978) 263-5105 or email Lawrence@PowersGallery.com