John Sullivan House // 1740

John Sullivan was born in nearby Somersworth, and studied law. He settled in Durham to practice law in 1763, and purchased this house in 1763 (it was built in 1740 by Reverend Hugh Adams). It served as his home for the rest of his life, and is buried in the family cemetery nearby. Sullivan was a vocal opponent of British rule in the colonies, and was elected to the First Continental Congress in 1774. In December of that year he led a raid on Fort William and Mary in which the colonial militia seized munitions stored there. He was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army in 1775, and served through the American Revolutionary War. He participated in the Siege of Boston, and was captured by the British in the 1776 Battle of Long Island. After being exchanged, he served in the Battle of Trenton, the Philadelphia campaign of 1777, the failed attempt to recapture Newport, Rhode Island, and the 1779 Sullivan Expedition, in which the Iroquois, who had largely sided with the British, were driven from upstate New York. Sullivan’s actions and barbed personality made him enemies in Congress, and he resigned from the army late in 1779. He returned to New Hampshire, where he served as Attorney General 1782-86, and as President (the office now known as Governor) 1787-89. He chaired the state convention that ratified the United States Constitution. His home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972, the most prestigious designation (more than listing on National Register of Historic Places). I encourage everyone to read his Wikipedia page, he was a fascinating and polarizing early Revolutionary, that I personally did not know about until researching.

Burnham House // c.1682

Samuel Burnham bought an older house on this site, and added to it, creating a larger residence for his family (a common occurrence in early Colonial times). One thing he did keep was a 30-foot well within the building to supply the family drinking water. Interior wells were not common, but very useful on the New England “frontier” where attacks from Native American tribes were more frequent. In the event of an attack in town, a family could close their interior shutters, and wait them out with drinking water from their internal well.

God, I love old New England homes! Could you live in one that is older than the United States?

Sherman’s Inn – Beverly Yacht Club // 1784

One of the oldest homes in Sippican/Wharf Village in Marion, Mass., this beautiful Cape house with gambrel roof dates to 1784 from deed research. The house was constructed by two owners, Barnabas Luce, innholder, and Stephen Cunningham, a mariner, seemingly as an inn for sailors who would dock their ships in the harbor just behind the property. It was later acquired by Edward Sherman (1790-1867), a shipwright and carpenter who built schooners at the wharfs in town. In 1868, his son Edward Franklin Sherman (1821-1907), also a ship carpenter, sold the waterfront property after his father’s death to Andrew A. Harwood, an admiral in the United States Navy, Commodore of the Washington Navy Yard, and through his mother, Elizabeth Franklin Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin! The property remained in the Harwood family until, 1955, when the property was sold to the Beverly Yacht Club. The yacht club was originally named after the town of Beverly, north of Boston, when members broke from the Eastern Yacht Club of Marblehead which was more prestigious. For the first 23 years, the club had no fixed location, but eventually settled in Bourne, and merged with the local Sippican Yacht Club. The Great Hurricane of 1938 destroyed their clubhouse and they were “homeless” for years until moving into this 1784 home, later expanding it to meet growing needs.

Luce-Bates House // c.1790

Captain Elisha Luce (1786-1850) was born in Massachusetts and from a young age, loved the sea. The son of Rowland Luce, Elisha spent his childhood in the family home (featured in the last post). Captain Luce moved into half of this double-house by 1813, right after his marriage to Jane Hiller, when he was 27 and she was 19. I don’t know many 27 year olds that could afford a house like this today! Captain Elisha E. Luce’s best known ship was the Persia, which made numerous profitable trade missions and whaling excursions from her home port of New Bedford. His wife, Jane died at the young age of 29, and he quickly remarried the next year to Lucretia Clark; they had three boys. In the other half of the home, Captain Noble Everett Bates who co-owned the schooner Marmion and went on his own voyages from his wharf in town. The home was locally known as the “Two Captains House”.

John Carter House // c.1765

The simplicity and proportions of old Georgian houses are just so pleasing to me. This c.1765 home was built before the United States of America was even a country, a fact that always boggles my mind when doing research on buildings. These four walls have survived numerous wars, pandemics, families, and storms, and will continue to do so for (hopefully) hundreds of more years in the future. This Canterbury house was built for John Carter (1708-1776) and his family, which included a wife and over 10 children in all. The house retains its double-width doors, 12-over-12 windows, central chimney (though likely reduced in size), and stone foundation.

Loring-Greenough House // 1760

One of the oldest and most significant homes in Boston is the Loring-Greenough House on South Street in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The house was constructed in 1760 for Joshua Loring (1716-1781), a Commodore in the English Colonial naval forces, who sought retirement from military service at this house on the outskirts of Boston. His life as a distinguished member of the Colonial gentry came to an abrupt end with the bitter factionalism of the incipient Revolution, made worse by the fact he was appointed as a member of the governor’s council by Governor Thomas Gage, a position which made him so unpopular that he was reportedly attacked by mobs. A popular story recounts that, asked by an old friend what he would do when faced by a choice between remaining loyal and supporting the popular spirit of revolt, Loring replied “I have always eaten the King’s bread, and always intend to.” Immediately after taking this position as a Loyalist and aligning with the King of England, Loring was forced to flee, with his family, to the safety British-occupied Boston. He was denounced by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress as “an implacable enemy to their country” and later fled to Nova Scotia, before living out the rest of his life in England, where he received a royal pension until his death. The Loring property in Jamaica Plain was quickly taken by Revolutionary forces and was used as a hospital during the siege of Boston. After the Revolutionary War, the property was confiscated by the state in 1779 and sold at auction to private owners.

Anne Doane, a wealthy forty-year-old widow, bought the Loring estate in 1784, in anticipation of her marriage to lawyer David Stoddard Greenough (1752 – 1826). Four generations of their descendants lived in the house until 1924, when the house and the small surviving plot of land on which it stands was purchased by the Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club, saving it from demolition. The members, all women, were following the example of earlier ladies’ associations, which had saved and begun to restore such historic sites as Mount Vernon and Monticello. The Loring–Greenough property is still owned and operated by the Tuesday Club, which offers tours on Sundays and other programming and events throughout the year.

Jordan Schoolhouse // c.1735

Waterford was once part of New London, but it separated in 1801 as the area desired its own town government which took agricultural interests more seriously. In the 19th century, much of the town’s economy was centered around agriculture, with many residents running sheep farms. During the 20th century, sheep farms were replaced by dairy farms. Between 1920 and 1960, there were about 100 dairy farms in Waterford. After WWII, suburbanization occurred and many wealthy residents of nearby New London moved to Waterford for more space. The oldest surviving public building in Waterford, Connecticut is this Colonial-era schoolhouse which was likely built in the 1730s. The Jordan Schoolhouse was built as a rural schoolhouse as farmers wanted their children to be taught writing, reading, arithmetic, and religion, even if they followed their parent’s footsteps in farming. The gambrel-roofed Georgian building was used as a school until the mid-19th century and it was converted to a private home for Asa and Eliza Gallup and their family. The schoolhouse was eventually moved to its current site on Jordan Green in 1972 and is operated as a museum space for the Waterford Historical Society.

Old Newington Parsonage // c.1725

The Old Parsonage in Newington, NH, is a rare survivor from the 1700s in the tiny town. It is one of few extant “saltbox” houses to be found in the New Hampshire seacoast. Like most houses of this type, the parsonage has a lean-to that was added a few years after the house was built. Like the nearby meeting house, the parsonage has long been inextricably connected to the public life and the identity of Newington. Unlike the much-altered meeting house, the parsonage retains the appearance of the 1700s and has been extremely well-preserved, giving a glimpse into 18th century life in Newington. The parsonage is estimated to have been constructed in 1725 when Richard Pomeroy, the first Sexton of the church, sold the property here for 19 pounds, with no mention of a dwelling. It was acquired by a John Knight (1685-1765). After his death, the dwelling was sold to the Town of Newington and restored to be used as a parsonage.

Newington Meetinghouse // 1713

This old meetinghouse predates the Town of Newington having been erected when the area was known as “Bloody Point,” which was claimed by both Dover and Portsmouth. Surrounded on three sides by the Piscataqua River and the Great Bay estuary, early residents of Bloody Point found it difficult to attend town meeting or church service in either Dover or Portsmouth. Bloody Point residents soon decided to establish a parish, independent from both Portsmouth and Dover. The granting of a separate parish with town privileges in the early 1700s required the construction of a village meetinghouse, and the establishment of a church with a settled minster. There was no requirement for separation of church and state at that time, so a meetinghouse would serve the dual purpose of being both a place for feisty town meetings and solemn worship. Construction of the Bloody Point Meetinghouse began in 1712, and the first meeting was held in it in January, 1713, even though the building was far from completed. There were no seats, and the windows were only holes in the walls. On August 6, 1713, a meeting was held to organize the parish in the new building. The name “Newington” was chosen after an English village that provided a bell for the new meetinghouse. Rev. Joseph Adams was the first settled minister in the new meetinghouse, and he preached there for 68 years. Rev. Adams was the uncle to John Adams, second president of the United States, and great uncle of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president. The building was modernized in 1838-39 to its present church-shape appearance. Windows were reconfigured, the main entrance was moved from the long south side to the east gable end, and the freestanding belfry was relocated onto the roof of the east gable end, effectively rotating the building 90 degrees without moving it. The present-day Greek Revival building remains as a highly significant relic of the founding of Newington.

Simeon Wetherbee Farmhouse // c.1800

This late-Georgian farmhouse in Boxborough, Mass showcases how architectural integrity and historical context matter in historic preservation. Architectural integrity means the degree to which a building’s original design and physical composition is evident and intact. Historic contexts are the patterns, themes, or trends in history by which a specific property or site is understood and its meaning (or significance) within history is made clear. In this example, the old farmhouse retains much of its architectural integrity as it physically appears much as it would have upon its time of construction. However, the former farmland was sold off and developed as a residential subdivision, which completely obscures the historical context of the building in relation to its original use. The Simeon Wetherbee Farm remained in the Wetherbee family until the 1965, when the land was likely soon after subdivided and sold off for housing lots. A majority of the homes built surrounding this old farmhouse are classified as “Neo-Traditional” a modern take on Colonial architecture, but with cheaper materials and odd proportions. They are not a favorite among architects and historians.