From 1905 to 1931, Addison B. LeBoutillier, an architect and artist, lived in Andover and designed two well-known Andover structures and numerous houses. On Oct. 18, 1951, the Townsman published his obituary. It was short, only mentioning that he'd lived in Rockport, Mass., for the last 20 years of his life, that he'd been born in Utica, NY., and that he left a wife and adult children behind.
There is more to the story. Although most people wouldn't recognize his name today, LeBoutillier had a wide range of artistic skills. He was a minor, but notable, figure in the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States from approximately 1890 to 1915. Major Arts and Crafts figures included such luminaries as Frank Lloyd Wright and Gustav Stickley.
As a young architect, LeBoutillier worked at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, helping to create the Pullman Car exhibit, one of the fair's most popular draws. After the fair closed, LeBoutillier was laid off but soon was able to make a living by winning design contests. The first was the design of a letterhead for a Boston hardware business, which lured him to Boston and the Arts and Crafts community. (A simple explanation of Arts and Crafts posits that it was a reaction to mechanized design and production; Arts and Crafts advocates believed in the individual design and creation of everyday items, much of which related to the home.) LeBoutillier had a particular flair for design work and artistically flourished.
During those few years, LeBoutillier designed jewelry for a prestigious firm, and designed bookplates, which were popular and were considered an art form. He spent months in Europe, further developing his art, including his etching and woodcut print skills.
Pottery was in its heyday in America, and Grueby Pottery in Boston designed and made some of the most beautiful pottery of the era. Young LeBoutillier was hired as the chief designer there, and, although Grueby existed for only 15 years and LeBoutillier worked there for only part of that time, Grueby and LeBoutillier influenced the world of pottery, and examples of their work exists in many museums.
LeBoutillier did fine etchings as well. Any etching of his that finds its way to the market today captures a good price. On the Web site, "Art of the Print," LeBoutillier etchings are described as follows: "There is a naturalness and freedom from eccentricity, a restraint in the use of tone that is most refreshing. One can see that he loves every part of the work." An example of his etchings can be found at that site.
Soon after leaving Grueby, LeBoutillier married and started a family. He won first place in an architectural contest in 1904 and the $500 prize money may have paid for an old farmhouse on Orchard Street in Andover, where he moved with his family in 1905 and became a full-time architect.
That contest was a turning point in his life, for he no longer worked for others; he had his own business.
The first of his two significant structures in Andover was the 1917 Punchard High School, completed in 1917. It now serves as the Andover town office building. He attached the structure to the old Punchard building, blending the two very smoothly. The older building was torn down in 1934 to make room for the Memorial Auditorium and Junior High School (which were not designed by him; both still exist). His second building was the Shawsheen Grade School, completed in 1924. It has served the town well for more than 80 years.
In 1928, LeBoutillier and another architect, Hubert Ripley, formed a partnership specializing in designing houses, although it is difficult to ascertain Ripley's contribution. A 1969 document at the Andover Historical Society done by Winifred LeBoutillier Tyer, a daughter of Addison LeBoutillier, lists several Andover houses designed by LeBoutillier. They include: 16 Porter Road, 5 Alden Road, 39 Sunset Rock Road, the "Parish House Christ Church, front part facing Central Street," 100 Spring Grove Road, 40 Morton Road ("did not supervise"), and 45 Sunset Rock Road ("a small stone house built as an investment for A.B. LeB" in 1938. Much altered since").
Tyer notes at the end of her document that she knows there are many alterations and additions done by her father to other houses throughout the town. Not listed, but designed by LeBoutillier, were 10, 14, and 18 Orchard St., according to Eleanor Motley Richardson in her 1995 book, "Andover, A Century of Change," and 332 S. Main St., owned by Robert Stefani, who owns the blueprints to the home.
In 1987, the Andover Historical Society held a three-month exhibit of works by LeBoutillier, and a booklet was created by Clark Pearce with research by Neville Thompson. The booklet displays the broad range of design talents that LeBoutillier possessed. A few booklets are still available at the society.
LeBoutillier lived in Andover a relatively short time, but his legacy remains substantial.
Bill Dalton writes a weekly column for the Townsman and can be reached at email@example.com.