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Public Art on South Campus: University of Massachusetts Lowell

Allen House, 1854, National Register of Historic Places

large house with elaborate bricj siding and decoration- allen house
Allen House in 2023. Photo by Michael Page.

Allen House is the oldest building on South Campus. Built originally as the home of Abiel Rolfe in 1854, its location on the crest of the hill gave it beautiful views of the Merrimack River. The architectural details of the corbelled brick cornices, the asymmetry, and the quatrefoil windows are typical of the Italianate style made popular in the mid-19th century by architects like A.J. Downing. In 1890, Charles Allen purchased the house, and he added a gallery extension to the left of the main entrance (he was an amateur painter and some of his paintings can be seen inside); when he died in 1934, his family sold the house to the Grey Nuns of the Cross and they added a chapel to the right of the main entrance. In the mid-70s, the university purchased it as a dormitory, and then used it as classroom and office space. Around 2010 the university renovated the building for the chancellor’s office; it now serves as the home of the Honors Program. From Allan House it is also hard to miss the last of the works on the tour: the immense mural that covers the entire exterior wall of Mahoney Hall.

large old house with ornate brickwork and tower trees on each side

black and white image of elaborate brick house with turrets and porch with columns

A key element of Downing’s vision was the integration of the house with its landscape and Allen House originally had lush gardens and orchards down to the river. 


balck and white image of an elaborate brick house  with turrets and bay windows large trees and garden with two figures in foreground

Additional Sources
Inside Allen House are text panels with more information on Allen and the house.