Located on Main Street in idyllic Ridgefield, in Fairfield County, Connecticut, The Fountain Inn provides one of the most welcoming and historical bed and breakfast experiences in New England! The Fountain Inn was built in 1740 as a “city home in the country” for David Hoyt, who showed off his wealth and stature in the young town by having such a high-style home built at the time. Decades later during the Revolutionary War, David Hoyt’s house became a part of the Battle of Ridgefield. After defeating the Colonial militia elsewhere on Main Street, British Gen. William Tryon‘s troops turned their attention to nearby Keeler Tavern, the local militia’s headquarters, which just happened to be neighbors with the mansion owned by David Hoyt, a known Loyalist. General Tryon’s troops practiced their artillery-firing skills on the building pummeling it with cannonballs, sending a message to the head of the local militia. David Hoyt formally demanded a cease-fire, as he was concerned about wayward cannonballs damaging his home. By 1790, with Ridgefield’s British influence diminishing by the day, David Hoyt finally left his Connecticut home and sailed back to England. The home was expanded and modernized over the next two hundred years until the present owners purchased the property and underwent a massive restoration of the Colonial house inside and out as their family residence. In the past year, the inn opened as the Fountain Inn so-named after a Cass Gilbert-designed fountain across the street.
Built about 1758, this Georgian house in Newport was the home of John Tillinghast, a representative to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1744 and 1749, and a wealthy merchant and ship owner. It is not unlikely to assume that Tillinghast was involved in the slave trade and transportation of goods in the Indies, like many other wealthy Rhode Island merchants at the time. During the American Revolution, General Nathanael Greene was quartered in this house. Greene was born to a Quaker family in what is now Warwick, Rhode Island, but because of his military affairs, the pacifist Quakers disowned him. After several decisive victories against the British in the Carolinas, Greene was named Commander of the Southern Army, second in command to George Washington! Also during this time, two of Greene’s aides are said to have visited him while he resided at the house. One was the Lithuanian General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, an engineer who designed fortifications along Delaware River and West Point. Another was the Inspector-General of the Continental Army, German-born Friedrich von Steuben. This house is significant and shows the international nature of the War for Independence, which saw American forces joined by French forces and German mercenaries to fight the British. In the early 19th century, the home was occupied by William C. Gibbs, Governor of Rhode Island from 1821-1824. The high-style Georgian home has been enlarged over the years, but remains one of the most significant properties in the town!
One of the oldest and most significant homes in Boston is the Loring-Greenough Houseon 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.
One of three pre-1725 houses in South Acton, the Faulkner Homestead is the best preserved First Period house in the area and displays elements from its First Period construction date of 1707 and from the later Georgian period. The home was built for Ephraim Jones, who was one of the first millers starting what was to become the Faulkner mills located near the old homestead. The home was known as a Garrison House, built as a refuge for the settlers in times of Indian raids, but there is no record that it was ever used for that purpose. In the 1730s, the home was rented by Ammi R. Faulkner (1692-1756), who purchased it years after he moved in. The Faulkner Homestead remained in the Faulkner Family for over 300 years, when it sold our of the family in the 1940s.
This three-story wood-frame house is one of the oldest buildings in Bristol and the oldest known three-story building in Rhode Island. The home was built by Joseph Reynolds (1679-1759), a patriarch in the Reynolds Family, who later built the Reynolds-DeWolf House I featured previously. The house is five bays wide and three deep with the roof extending lower to the rear, giving the house a classic New England saltbox appearance. Joseph built this house, and also operated a tannery and gristmill on his land. The home is nationally significant as during the ownership of the house by his son Joseph II, Marquis de Lafayette occupied the north parlor chamber. Lafayette was a general in the Continental Army and was responsible for the defense of Bristol and Warren from September 7 to 23, 1778 during failed military operations to drive the British from occupied Newport. The home was added onto and altered in 1790 to give it the current design, with Federal detailing. The home remained in the Reynolds Family until 1930.
Samuel Cummings (1709-1772) married Prudence Lawrence (1715-1796) and moved to Hollis, NH from Groton, MA. The couple had a home built in town and raised at least four children, Samuel Jr., Mary, Sibbel, and Prudence. The original house built by Cummings was a single-story, four room, center chimney type. After his death in 1772, the property passed to Cummings’ son, Samuel Cummings, Jr., an acknowledged Tory. Interestingly, Samuel’s sister Prudence was an ardent patriot, who moved to Pepperell, MA and married a militia man, David Wright. While the Revolutionary War was raging, Prudence visited her brother in the old family home, when she overheard her brother Samuel talk to his friend, a British army officer about passing information to the British. Prudence returned to Pepperell and gathered the women of the town. Then a 35-year-old mother of five, she organized 30 or 40 of them into a militia called ‘Mrs. David Wright’s Guard.’ The women dressed in their husbands’ clothes and carried whatever they could for weapons. As the men had probably taken muskets with them, the women probably used farm implements such as pitchforks. The women patrolled the roads leading into town. The group eventually captured two British soldiers on horseback and let them go only once they agreed to never come back to the colony. Due to this event, Prudence never spoke to her loyalist brother again.
In the 1850s, the house was owned by Superintendent of Schools, Levi Abbott and his wife, Matilda. It was the Abbotts who reportedly added a second story to the house with a hip roof, cornice and corner pilasters, giving it the appearance we see today.
One of the most visited buildings in New England is the stunning Old North Church in the North End of Boston. Old North Church (originally Christ Church in the City of Boston) was established when the cramped original King’s Chapel, then a small wooden structure near Boston Common, proved inadequate for the growing number of Anglicans in the former Puritan stronghold. Subscriptions for a new church were invited in 1722. The sea captains, merchants, and artisans who had settled in Boston’s North End contributed generously to the building fund, and construction began in April, 1723. The church was designed by William Price, though heavily influenced by Christopher Wren’s English churches.
Before the American Revolution, both Patriots and Tories were members of the church, and often sat near each-other in pews, clearly adding to bubbling tensions. The enduring fame of the Old North began on the evening of April 18, 1775, when the church sexton, Robert Newman, and Vestryman Capt. John Pulling, Jr. climbed the steeple and held high two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea across the Charles River and not by land. This fateful event ignited the American Revolution.
A full scale restoration of Old North was carried out in 1912-14 under the direction of architect R. Clipson Sturgis and a number of 19th century alterations were then eliminated. In this work, floor timbers and gallery stairs were replaced, the original arched window in the apse at the east end was replaced, and the old square box pews and raised pulpit were reconstructed. Additionally, the interior woodwork was incorrectly repainted white rather than the rich variety of original colors described in the early documents of the church, clearly submitting to Colonial Revival sensibilities. The iconic white steeple is also not original. The original steeple of the Old North Church was destroyed by the 1804 Snow hurricane. A replacement steeple, designed by Charles Bulfinch, was toppled by a hurricane in 1954. The current steeple uses design elements from the original and the Bulfinch version. Even with all these differences, Old North lives up to her name and stands proudly as a symbol of freedom and revolution.
Located a stones throw from the famed Union Oyster House along the Freedom Trail, you will find this historic brick structure. When you pass, you may think nothing of it as it lacks major exterior flair or pizzazz; however, it is one of the few pre-Revolution structures in Downtown Boston. In 1764, John Hancock (yes one of the Founding Fathers), inherited a parcel of land here from the estate of his uncle and father-figure Thomas Hancock. John Hancock combined the lot with an adjacent lot and had a brick mansion constructed there, similar to what we see today. Hancock did not occupy it, but by 1776, his brother Ebenezer did; the latter, as deputy paymaster general of the Continental Army, used his house as headquarters. Thus, it was here that the loan of 2 million silver crowns from Louis XVI of France for financing the Continental Army negotiated by Benjamin Franklin in Paris is reported to have been stored in 1778. The home was later sold by Hancock to Benjamin Fuller, a shoe dealer, who ran a business out of the home while living there with family. The house was occupied by subsequent shoe merchants until the 1960s.
One of the grandest homes in Boston before the American Revolution was the estate of Thomas Hancock (1703-1764), a publisher who later became a merchant who imported and exported for the British Empire, which made him one of the richest men in the city. Thomas and his wife Lydia had no children of their own, but in 1744, Thomas’s brother John died, and his seven-year-old son, also named John Hancock, moved to Boston to live with his uncle in the Hancock Manor on Beacon Street. John Hancock eventually took over his uncle’s business and inherited the Hancock estate. Hancock eventually became one of the most well-known Patriots and fought for independence from Britain, famously signing the Declaration of Independence with his huge signature. Widely popular, John Hancock became the first governor of Massachusetts, and won every term he ran. Massachusetts did not have a governor’s mansion, but Hancock’s palatial estate served the purpose well, receiving distinguished guests from Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington.
Hancock died in 1793, and the grounds of his estate were begun to be sold off, most notably the eastern portion of his land which soon after was developed into the current Massachusetts State House. Hancock’s widow, Dorothy, had remarried in 1796, and she lived here in this house until 1816. The house remained in the family, though, with John Hancock’s nephew, also named John, owning the house until his death in 1859. On June 16, 1863, at one o’clock, the Hancock Manor was sold at public auction for a mere $230. The terms of the sale were cash down and the purchaser, Willard Dalrymple, had ten days to have everything removed. The building was torn down despite public outcry and souvenirs of it were actively sought as it fell. The Hancock Manor’s demolition sparked an early movement for historic preservation of Revolutionary landmarks including the Old South Church, which nearly suffered the same fate. The site was redeveloped with rowhouses which were later demolished for the front grounds of the State House’s west wing expansion, in 1917.
Amazingly, the front door of the house was donated to the Bostonian Society, and recently restored. Additionally, a replica of the house was built in 1925 based on plans of the Hancock Manor prior to its demolition. The replica house is owned by the Ticonderoga Historical Society.