12 Lafayette Avenue
Stetson Foster House, 1884
Lafayette Street was constructed in 1884 on the recently subdivided property of William O. Lincoln, formerly the Bates Estate. The name of the street was not a flight of wishful thinking: in the late 1770s General Lafayette himself had stayed in the Anchor Tavern, which had stood just a few yards down the hill from 12 Lafayette. The General was in charge of the French troops who were reinforcing Fort Independence in Hull. The tavern was demolished in the 1870s.
One of the eclectic selection of late Victorian houses to go up on Lafayette was that of Stetson Foster. Foster was born in Bristol, Maine, but moved to Hingham and married Alice Whiton of Hingham in 1878, daughter of Bela and Hannah Whiton. Foster was a furniture maker, interior decorator and drapery maker. The Hingham Journal reported that a “piazza” was added to the front of the home in 1889 and a stable was erected in 1891. In the late Victorian era, the fashion for Queen Anne style architecture was a joined by a taste for all things Italian, hence the term “piazza” for what is now called a verandah.
The current owners of 12 Lafayette have expanded the house at the back with another large gable crossing the original. The portico over the front door is also a modern addition. The owners have worked with Robin Pelissier to design and furnish the interiors in a contemporary style with nods to the historic interiors. As a designer and draper in the 1880s, Stetson Foster’s designs would have been influenced by the famous William Morris. He would have with strongly patterned wallpapers, heavy drapes, and lots of furniture.