Welcome to Franklin, Connecticut, which frankly (pun intended) I had never heard of before driving through it not long ago! The town is located in New London County and was originally a part of Norwich, Connecticut and was called West Farms village. The town incorporated in 1786, creating its own town at that time, and the citizens decided to name their new town after Benjamin Franklin. I wonder if there are more place names in the United States after Benjamin Franklin or George Washington…
This 2 ½-story, five-bay house was built for Benjamin Fosdick (1713-1801) and his family on Nantucket. After Benjamin died in 1801, the house was inherited by two of his surviving sons and they divided the house into two, creating a double-house for them and their own families. The symmetrical home was divided down the middle at the central chimney, and two front doors provided access to the two dwellings. The right section was once the home of Capt. William Calder, who escaped shipwreck at Cape Horn on his first voyage at age 13. He later was captured by the British during the War of 1812, and escaped from Dartmoor Prison in England, making his way back to Nantucket. The double house has retained much of its original design since 1801 until the 1960s when the projecting entrance porch was added.
Another of Nantucket’s old Colonial homes is the Abel Gardner House, which was built in 1733 by its namesake. The saltbox Georgian house was constructed on a large plot of land which was farmed for some time by the Gardner family. Decades later, a portion of the estate was subdivided for the erection of a home for Abel’s grandson, Grindell. The Abel Gardner House was eventually owned by Caleb Gardner and became known as Wisteria Lodge for the climbing wisteria vines up the facade and on arbors. I can only imagine how glorious this colonial would be covered in purple!
The Hyde-Richardson House is one of roughly twenty remaining pre-Revolutionary War homes in Newton. The home was built for Timothy Hyde (1689-1756) after he inherited the property including 36 acres and a house from his father John Hyde. Timothy had two wives: Rebecca Davis who he married in 1718 and died in 1724 (seemingly in childbirth); and his second wife Sarah Whitmore, whom he married in 1727. The home was likely built soon after his second marriage. It is possible that parts of the original home on the site were reused for this structure. He served as Surveyor of Highways and Constable and in 1710 was drafted to serve with the militia in the successful siege of Port Royal in Canada. In 1761, Jeremiah Richardson bought the property and married his wife Dorcas Hall that same year. Richardson was a deacon and like Timothy, served as Surveyor of Highways. The property remained a farm until the 1930s when the automobile and suburban expansion reached the Oak Hill section of Newton. The farmland was ultimately was subdivided to create the surrounding neighborhood in the mid 20th century.
As soon as the All Saints Church of Ware was completed, work immediately began for the parish house which was to be built nextdoor. It is not clear who was retained as the architect, but it could have been Patrick W. Ford, who designed the high-style Victorian Gothic church. The design is almost the complete opposite of the church, in that the parish house is of wood-frame construction, modestly scaled, and is Colonial Revival in style. The parish house features nice proportions with its symmetrical facade, pedimented central bay framed by pilasters and the large Palladian type window at the center.
In 1739, recently married Daniel Davis (1713-1799) and Mehitable Lothrop Davis (1717-1764) inherited land in Barnstable Village from Mehitable’s father Thomas as their wedding present. The young couple broke ground on a new family home that year. Daniel Davis fought in the American Revolution and was was a selectman, assessor, town clerk, and treasurer for Barnstable and represented it at the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Council. Davis also held the position of Guardian of the Mashpee Indians, a position begun in 1746 when Massachusetts appointed white guardians to manage each Indian reservation in the province, the Mashpees protested. Daniel Davis died in the home in 1799. The house retains much of its original design from the multi-pane double-hung windows to the large, central chimney.
Jonathan Wright bought land on State Street in Marblehead in 1770 to build a new home for his family. The large property included his Georgian, gambrel-roofed home and a small pond/marsh in the rear. Sadly, John died by 1773 and his widow Abigail had to sell the property to settle the debts of the estate. Isaac Martin bought the house, and it passed down to his son Thomas, a wagoneer, when he died in 1777. The marsh was eventually drained by the town in the 20th century, likely due to issues with mosquitos and disease and the old barn was converted to a residence behind. The old Wright house has remained a well-preserved Georgian residence for 250 years!
In 1725, Samuel Merritt, a fisherman, inherited some of his father’s land in Marblehead and built this house. After Samuel Merritt died in 1743, his second wife Mary, her daughters Mary and Elizabeth and her son-in-law James Dennis, lived in the house. They added the one-story lean-to, giving the house a saltbox roof in 1762. This house, and many others in Marblehead are the reason why human-scaled historic neighborhoods built before the automobile, are some of the best places to explore. Historic preservation equals tourism, which results in tax revenue and property values, stabilizing neighborhoods and cities from the ebbs and flows of the economy. Gotta love it!
In 1720, James Pearson acquired a house lot on Windmill Hill in Marblehead, and he soon after built a house in the bustling harbor town. He lived in the house until 1734, when it was sold to a Giles Irwin. After Mr. Irwin’s death, it was conveyed to John Patton and John Bailey, both mariners, who likely split up the home inside. From this, fireplaces were punched into the central chimney inside, totaling 10 fireplaces in the home! John Bailey also worked as the Captain of Fort Sewall during the War of 1812. His wife Mary, served as temporary commander of Ft. Sewell after his death until a successor was appointed. The house eventually came under the ownership of siblings Carrie Florence Bessom (1867-1944) and her brother Frank Lewis Bessom (1870-1952). Florence operated an antiques store in town and Frank worked as a welfare commissioner. The home is a great example of a Georgian, Colonial-era home with a gambrel roof and even has the two (what I believe to be) separate coal doors in the raised stone foundation when the home was occupied by two families.
This perfect Georgian house in Marblehead was built in 1744 for Richard Homan (1713-1803), a sea captain who also fought in the Revolutionary War. In 1736, Richard married Hannah Goodwin, the daughter of William Goodwin, a notable housewright. William Goodwin seemingly gave the newlywed couple land on his estate and likely built this stunning home for them. Hannah died in 1772, and remarried in 1776 to Susanna Stacey, who he also outlived. The couple moved to Ipswich, and this home was sold to his son, William. In the 1800s, the property was owned by William Hawkes Jr., a trader and shopkeeper who apparently operated a “rum shop” out of the first floor of the home. It remained in the Hawkes Family until at least 2013. The house features a gambrel roof of cedar shingles, 12-over-12 windows, a pedimented entry, and a period-appropriate paint color.