Bowen-Barrows House // 1789

After the Revolutionary War, Assonet became a prominent village for shipbuilders and sea captains, who loved the inland location but easy access to the sea via the Taunton River. This transitional Georgian-Federal style home was built in 1789 for Jonathan Bowen, a ship master, who likely also had a shipyard in the village. In the 19th century, the property was purchased by Augustus Barrows, another mariner. The home is extremely well-preserved and sits on a hill just outside the main village. The narrow door surround features a transom and is flanked by pilasters which support a triangular pediment with dentil trim. The traditional Georgian central chimney is a nice touch as well!

Hathaway-Read House // c.1800

The best street in Assonet (Freetown), Mass. is Water Street, a quiet road that runs along the bank of the Assonet River with gorgeous old homes lining the opposite side. This beautiful home on Water Street was built around the turn of the 19th century, possibly as a rental property for Philip Hathaway who lived nearby. The home was likely built by shipbuilders, who worked across the street, building sloops for the village’s sea captains. From the date, we know the boxy Federal style home once was more refined, but it was updated by a later owner, Captain Washington Read. Captain Read loved being on the open sea. From age nine, he worked on his father’s ships as a cabin boy, eventually commanding his own sloop at just thirteen years old! Later, in the ship “Caroline Read” (named after his wife), he circumnavigated the globe. Starting from New York in 1850, being then thirty-seven years of age, he doubled Cape Horn to San Francisco; thence to Singapore, thence to Calcutta, thence around the Cape of Good Hope to London, and from there home to New York. The trip occupied seventeen months. Captain Read crossed the Atlantic about seventy times, his wife accompanying him thirty-eight times. He never grounded or lost a vessel. He rescued many survivors from numerous wrecks, taking fifty-two from one wreck in mid-ocean, encountering great peril in so doing. For this he received high commendation from the Lord Mayor of London, the rescued being British subjects. It was Read who “modernized” this home with Italianate detailing including: the bracketed eaves, bay windows, and door hood. The monitor roof may have been original.

Philip Hathaway House // 1782

Philip Hathaway was born in 1740 in Freetown, Massachusetts, into one of the most prominent local families. He appears to have worked in the maritime trade like many men in his family before accepting positions as the clerk, treasurer, and assessor for the town. Upon the start of the American Revolution, Philip served as Lieutenant of the local militia, which disbanded in 1781. Within a year of mustering out, he built this stately home on Main Street in Assonet Village, just south of the Taunton River. The stately home with its symmetrical facade is special for the projecting windows. A gambrel roof store, which was constructed in the 1790s in town, was moved here and added onto this home as a rear ell and remains there to this day.

East Freetown Grange // 1916

The East Freetown Grange is a community organization founded in 1912, as a meeting place for the local chapter of The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. Granges have been the heart of rural American communities for generations. The home of local chapters of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, Grange Halls are where farmers have traditionally gathered to learn new agricultural practices, develop strategic business partnerships, and barter for goods and services. Grange Halls also serve as a gathering place for community celebrations and annual agricultural fairs. These social halls can be found in agricultural towns and villages all over New England, and historically have been as important (or more) to farming communities as churches in those areas. Within years of the East Freetown forming an organization, they gathered enough funding to erect this Arts and Crafts style building, with rustic fieldstone piers, likely from stone pulled off farmland nearby. The hall is still used today for everything from agriculture fairs to Girl Scout meetings!

Briggs House // c.1790

The village of Assonet in Freetown, MA, has a great collection of late 18th and early 19th century homes built along the riverfront. This home is a great example of a late-Georgian cape house, built in the late 1700s or early 1800s. The home was constructed when Assonet was developing into a prominent, inland commercial fishing port. From this, a shipyard was constructed nearby, where shipbuilders constructed vessels along the river. By the 1850s, the house was owned by Charles Briggs, who worked in the village as a nailer (maker and seller of nails) and his wife Bathsheba. The cottage features a high pitched roof, boxed-eave cornice, and windows standing out from the plane of the house. They really don’t make them like they used to!

Christ Church Swansea // 1900

Christ Church in Swansea, Massachusetts is a turn-of-the-century Gothic Revival Church, that echoes medieval country chapels in England. Designed by English-born architect Henry Vaughan (1845-1917), one of the most influential ecclesiastical architects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this church clearly evokes his early days in the English countryside. Vaughan is most notable for being supervising architect of the Washington National Cathedral just a decade after this church was complete. Endowment for the church (and many other buildings) was a gift to the town by Mrs. Elizabeth Case Stevens, the recent widow of Frank S. Stevens, the richest man in Swansea. The church – which replaced an earlier wood frame Gothic Revival edifice – is constructed of rough faced stone blocks laid in regular courses. Its crenelated west tower, conical stair tower, buttressed gabled end wall, and pointed arch window all add to the Gothic aesthetic. The church had a series of stained glass windows donated from the 1960s-1970s which depict various events in the Bible.