Union to participate in GE Realty Plot tour

Publication Date

Two properties owned by Union will be featured this weekend as part of the GE Realty Plot House and Garden Tour.

The tour, from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4, includes six houses.

Among them is Abbe Hall, home of College Relations, which has been featured in previous tours. Also, 6 Douglas Road joins the tour for the first time.

Abbe Hall, at Lenox Road and Union Avenue, was built in 1900 for Edwin W. Rice, the second president of the General Electric Co. and trustee of the College from 1906 to 1935. It was known for many years as the Parker-Rice House.

The building was donated to the College by the Parker-Rice family in 1976. After an extensive restoration and renovation made possible by a gift from Robert T. '49 and Virginia O. Abbe, it was dedicated as Abbe Hall in 2003.

Abbe Hall is “classic Queen Anne style. It is exquisitely shingled and boasts intricately patterned rock masonry on its foundation,” according to the tour website.

The house at 6 Douglas Road was built in 1901 for Harry W. Hillman, head of the Electric Heating Department at GE. Hillman and his family lived in the house briefly before moving to a house at 1155 Avon Road dubbed the “all electric house” because it featured two circuits, one for lights and another for heating and cooking. At the time, houses only featured one circuit used exclusively for lighting. Hillman’s experiment with two circuits attracted national attention.

The College purchased 6 Douglas Road from George and Katherine Raser for $32,000 in 1972. George Raser taught French and Spanish at Union from 1935-36 and again from 1962-69. In between, he served as a military intelligence officer for the Navy.

Abbe Hall, at Lenox Road and Union Avenue, was built in 1900. It is the home of the Office of College Relations.

Abbe Hall, at Lenox Road and Union Avenue, was built in 1900. It is the home of the Office of College Relations.

The property has been used as a residence by faculty, staff and guests. It’s currently used as meeting space and a retreat for faculty.

The Hillman House is a “luxurious American Queen Anne style home, with stunning Federal, Georgian and Richardsonian motifs,” the tour website states.

Chris Leonard, GE Plot historian, will give a talk on the history of the neighborhood at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. on both days at 6 Douglas Road.

Tickets for the tour are $25 each.

The GE Realty Plot is a planned residential neighborhood east of campus that was created in 1899 on land once owned by the College to house the top scientists and engineers working for GE. Situated on 90 acres, the neighborhood contains 128 elegant and spacious homes of Georgian, Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Shingle and Mission styles, among others.

The neighborhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.