Julian Fellowes’ characters enjoyed a regal lifestyle in the dramatic, albeit fictional, British television series, filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England; however, do you realize that the residents of Fall River’s Highlands District were enjoying similar pleasures and amenities at least a decade before the period in which the show is based?
The city of Fall River, known for its textiles among many other specialties, watched as American industrialists, with great wealth, built monstrous factories, employed thousands upon thousands of immigrants, and shipped their products worldwide.
With such growth came vast rewards. During the late 19th century, and into its turn, the community’s affluent socialites were thirsting for luxury and the opportunity to display their wealth and extravagance; it was a time of prosperity that accommodated a need to exhibit success by building the most opulent home as possible.
One such home is the Robert Marshall House, circa 1901. A partner in the James Marshall & Brothers Hat Factory—one of the largest in the world when hats were popular—built his home between what is now Charlton Memorial Hospital and North Park, designed by the Olmsted Brothers during the late 19th century.
Over time, the stately home became part of the Fall River Highland Historic District, the later, in 1983, it was included under the umbrella of The National Register of Historic Places.
What makes this home attractive is that during the last 120 years, it has had only three owners, and a few blocks away, an infamous neighbor.
It is a story most are familiar with; nine years before 654 Highland Avenue was constructed (August 4, 1892), Lizzie Borden, the alleged ax murderer, was arrested for killing her father and stepmother across town. Quickly tried and acquitted for the crimes—much to the community’s surprise—she was set free and legally absolved of any wrongdoing. But not everyone was convinced of her innocence, as she was ostracized (known today as being ‘canceled’) by those she longed to be associated with—destined for a life as a pariah.
After being set free, she and her sister Emma purchased a 14-room Queen Anne style home and filled it with servants at 306 French Street. The ladies lived lavishly and displayed great prosperity from the many millions of dollars they inherited, but were never able to join high-society.
Soon after, it was reported that she was caught stealing from a merchant in Providence, adding to her questionable reputation, leaving her to die a lonely existence on June 1, 1927.
Throughout the last decade, there has been a return to and a substantial demand for larger and more impressive, single-family homes. Nothing has been more unprecedented than the desire for unlimited space to work remotely while housing multigenerational families under one roof.
Over the last year, events have propelled the luxury housing market to dizzying heights with more buyers than inventory available. The unforeseen shift in lifestyle choices has been attributed to the fear of the pandemic, accompanied by the violence plaguing nearly every major city in the country.
There is evidence that many families desire to live in less populated areas but in premiere locations that offer a safe and unique lifestyle experience.
Breathtaking; this is the feeling you succumb to when entering this exquisite Georgian Revival mansion anchored on a lofty ridge overlooking the Taunton River.
The Robert Marshall House is known for its pristine and untouched elegance. Magnificently designed and built by the master-craftsmen of the day, the staggering details that went into the home’s construction are unmatched by all standards.
It is rare to find a property with this level of character; more a work of art, it is unfathomable that this original masterpiece has remained intact and undisturbed and now available.
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The gracious front landing opens to a vestibule; its sturdy solid-wood door is surrounded by a double-leaded glass façade, allowing light to penetrate the entrance while ensuring privacy.
A few steps forward is a second oversized door, detailed in the same high-quality lead glass; it opens to a foyer, revealing the grand hall and staircase; it is an archetype of an English Manor. In striking tradition, the flawless oak wainscoting, hardwood floors, and coffered ceilings—carried throughout the home—share an elegance and decorum that instills historical sentiment.
The prodigious hall is the portal to a finely appointed library without faults on the left; of significant size, excellent light, and two banks of built-in bookcases, even the most demanding executive would become mesmerized by such remarkable surroundings.
Next is the grand u-shaped staircase; it is beyond beautiful, spacious, complimented by hand-carved woodwork and original paneling.
The dining room is just beyond and will leave guests in awe. Currently, the capacity is to comfortably seat eight; it also allows for the inclusion of a sideboard, silver, and linen cabinets, even serving trays on stands. Adding to the room’s appeal and an air of sophistication are the dual built-in breakfronts, perfect for displaying crystal or China.
There is a butler’s pantry with a sink connecting to the kitchen, where you will find a second pantry for a chef.
To the right, across from the library, is a music room; its high ceilings, fireplace, and gentle coloring offer a private space for practicing, sewing, relaxing, or to be used for any number of creative outlets.
Continuing on, the entrance to an astonishingly formal front-to-back living room and a rotunda, which has hosted luncheons and afternoon teas for over a century, will melt any apprehension you do not belong.
There is dramatic sense to the experience of sauntering the length of the room; one cannot help but feel the essence of privilege as a reward for achieving the highest of goals in a meritocracy.
The renovated kitchen is incredible. With top-of-the-line appliances, granite, and other amenities one would expect at this level of living, it is surprising how its design fits perfectly with the rest of the décor. Interestingly, it refrains from standing out as an afterthought or being ill-placed. As mentioned earlier, it has a second pantry and, of particular interest, a no-longer-in-use dumbwaiter.
The home has four bedrooms, three baths, and third-floor quarters waiting to be completed for extended family members or staff. It would also be perfect for an art or photography studio if desired.
There is a two-car garage, a pergola, a stone porch, and a wonderful portico extending over a driveway to keep the elements off of visitors. The home has multiple outdoor terraces off some of the rooms with superb views of the city below.
The SouthCoast vibrant culture continues to thrive, and with so many new arrivals, the depth and breadth of art, music, and creative dining will continue and bring more people to the area.
This home offers so very much, and hopefully, it will impress you as it has us. With old-world comforts, historical significance, and a level of living unable to be duplicated with new construction, the Robert Marshall House is ready for your approval.
654 Highland Avenue is proudly presented by Lori Pacheco of Anne Whiting Real Estate, 250 Elm Street, South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Its listing price is $899,900 and can be viewed by calling 508-951-4957 (C), 508-999-1010 (O), or by emailing Lori@AnneWhitingRealEstate.com.
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