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?

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.

Elijah Locke House // 1739

John Locke (1627-1696) settled in New Hampshire about 1640, arriving from London. He was a farmer and carpenter, and reportedly built the first church in New Hampshire. He was also a Captain in the local militia, who was constantly at odds with the people who’s land they were usurping. While working the fields at his homestead in Rye, he was killed by a native person, likely as a retaliatory attach. The attacker was soon after shot by his son, who was helping his father at the time. This Georgian home was built by John’s grandson Elijah in 1739 on family land; the date is found incised on one of the original roof beams inside.

Robert Haskell House // 1713

In 1712, Robert Haskell married Mary Leach in Manchester, where their first son, William, was born in 1713. Soon after, Haskell bought from his grandfather the 50-acre parcel his family owned since 1688 and built a home for his new family. The couple had numerous other children over the next years at this property overlooking the ocean. Upon his death in 1776, Robert left two-fifths of his real estate, including his “dwelling house and barn,” not to his first-born William, but to his second son, Paul. He also left one room in the house to his daughter Ruth, who apparently lived there into adulthood. The home remained in the family until the 19th century when the home was willed off in halves as the eastern and western portions. Late in the 19th century, the land was sold and subdivided to allow building lots all around, the Haskell House now sits on less than one acre of its former 300 acre parcel. The home is a great example of a modified Georgian house, which was added onto over time.

Whipple House // c.1680

Hamilton, Massachusetts was first settled in 1638 and was originally a section of Ipswich known as “The Hamlet”. The first recorded land grant in the Hamlet was Matthew Whipple’s farm, dated 1638. On this land, the old stagecoach road (now Bay Road) connecting Newburyport to Boston was laid out through his and his brother’s land in 1641. A descendant of William (also named William) built this home along the stagecoach road in around 1680, likely operating it as a tavern for weary travelers. In 1712, Matthew Whipple IV and his brothers John and James petitioned the Town of Ipswich for the right to establish a church in the Hamlet, and succeeded. By 1800, the home was occupied by the Brown Family, with Capt. Daniel Brown occupying the home as a postmaster and tavern-keeper. Over the years, the home was “modernized” giving it Georgian double-hung windows, replacing the historic diamond pane casement windows. The home was eventually restored to its 17th century appearance and sold for an estimated $2 Million.

Osborn House // 1772

This homestead in Fairfield, Connecticut is situated on the edge of what was formerly called Pequot Swamp, and was originally built by Stephen Osborn in 1772. It is said to be the third Colonial dwelling erected in this part of the town and was left undisturbed by the British when they burned Fairfield in 1779 and raided various sections of the country along the shore. The home was originally located a few blocks away, but was moved in the 1950s when the highway (I-95) was routed through this part of Fairfield. The saltbox Georgian home was documented prior to the move by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).

Old Fairfield County Courthouse // 1794

Located at the Fairfield Town Green, the Georgian-style Fairfield County Courthouse stands as a reminder on the town of Fairfield’s Colonial-era history. The first courthouse at the site was built in 1720. After a fire destroyed the first (which housed the jail as well), a second structure was built in 1767. That second courthouse was the center of a thriving, wealthy village with a port just blocks away. In July 1779, the British landed in Fairfield and destroyed much of the town, harming its prosperity for decades to come (though it has clearly recovered since). In 1794, a new courthouse was built, also housing town offices. In 1870, it became solely a town hall (the County Court moved to Bridgeport years before) modified and altered in the Second Empire style to ‘modernize’ the building. As Colonial Revival resurged in popularity in the late 19th and early 20th- centuries, the town sought to bring back the Georgian style Town Hall building, in 1936 hiring architect Cameron Clark, to restore the building.

Williston Saddle Shop // 1776

Before the invention of the automobile, horses cluttered American streets. Every town would have a saddle shop with a skilled leatherworker who would manufacture saddles, bags, stirrups and other equestrian gear. In Suffield, Connecticut, a man named Consider Williston had a shop built to make and sell saddles. According to the sign on the building, it was built in 1776, which is odd as Consider Williston fought in the Revolutionary War at that same time. The building was eventually converted to a private home and was listed for sale, with images showing the stunning Colonial era wood beams and floors.