John A. Conant House - Circa 1894
John A. Conant, the superintendent of The Holland Silk Co., built this four-story house in 1894. In 1897, the house was bought by a local dentist, George E. Wilcox. The Conants were well-known silk manufacturers and after the Civil War purchased all the land north of the western end of Prospect Street, and sold it for building lots in the 1870s, 80s, and 90s. The Conants also built and owned a nearby attractive Prairie-style, or four-square house. Julius D. Conant and his family moved from there after the completion of their final residence.
This house is situated on the steepest part of Chestnut Street, and therefore the brick-walled basement is at street level. The exterior is commanding because of its curved wood porch on two sides, its fish scale shingles (in two styles), and its cheerful color scheme: Birdseye Maple, Crisp Linen, Rookwood Red, and Breath of Fresh Air Blue! Wide, cut stone granite steps lead to the entrance, and the granite stone wall, of disparate heights because of the slope of the hill, sets off beds of honeysuckle, tulips, rhododendron, and herbs. The rear view of the house, with its bay windows, kitchen porch, and alternating clapboards and shingles provides a different perspective to this stately house.
We fell in love with this home instantly, probably because of its openness, gorgeous woodwork and wainscoting, handsome wide-paneled doors with rosette-accented doorways, and the WINDOWS. The house has an amazing number of large windows, some single, some bay style.
The house has hardwood floors throughout. Notice, too, the glass transoms above all the second floor doors. Unique features include two tall, double radiators in the dining room (once the back parlor; and the closets, all connecting to each other, and with an exterior window (perhaps originally to provide ventilation for clothing). Another interesting touch is the convenient exterior door for a cubby where delivery men could leave their provisions without having to disturb the owners.
The double living rooms are flooded with natural light and are furnished with some handsome family pieces. They are perfect for this setting! A walnut mantel with beveled glass and maroon tiles and hearth is a highlight. Both rooms showcase original ceiling medallions.