Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, the Allen House is located on Solomont Way (formerly Rolfe Street) on the University of Massachusetts Lowell's South Campus. Built ca. 1854, the house is one of Lowell's earliest Italianate style residences and is the only surviving building along what was once a street lined with large, stylish residences. The original building has been added to or altered by each of its owners but in each instance, care was taken to adhere to the original structure's proportions and stylistic features.
Allen House (early 20th century)
The house was originally built by Abiel Rolfe, an agent for the Lowell-Nashua Railroad, who was also involved in Lowell politics. Rolfe lived there for ten years before the house was sold to Rollin White, an inventor of firearms. He founded the Rollin White Arms Company in Lowell, which manufactured cartridge revolvers, but the company soon went under following an infringement suit filed by the Smith & Wesson Company.
In 1890, the house was purchased by Charles Allen. Allen was a prominent businessman who served as director or trustee of numerous New York and New England businesses. He served a term as a state representative (1881-1882) then was elected Republican Congressman for Lowell (1885-89). After failing to win a bid for Governor of Massachusetts in 1890, he went on to be appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President McKinley in 1898. In 1900 he became the first civilian governor of Puerto Rico.
In 1945, the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa purchased the home from Allen’s estate and they remained there until 1957 when they sold the building to Lowell State College. The building was used as a dormitory and later for classrooms and offices until the mid-1970s. The building underwent a renovation in 2006 to convert it into a multi-use facility for UMass Lowell including gallery space and administrative offices.