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.
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.
Likely the oldest home in the town of Hull, the Loring House has ties to the significant Loring Family, who’s descendants include individuals on both sides of the American Revolution, the US Civil War, and today live across North America, Spain, England and Australia. This house was built on land purchased by Thomas Loring (1600-1661) who came to Hingham in 1634 from England. He built a larger estate in town until a fire destroyed all his belongings, and he chose not to rebuild, but acquired property in the adjoining plantation of Hull. In Hull, he served as constable (court officer and tax collector), and raised his family there. His eldest son, John, married in 1657 and likely had this home built on his father’s vast land holdings within the year. John worked as a house-wright and likely built the home himself. He had two wives (his first wife Mary died at 39), and 15 children at the home, though some likely did not live past infancy as was common in early colonial days. John died in 1714, but left a lasting legacy in New England and beyond. Notably, his grandson was Joshua Loring, a British Loyalist who built the famous Loring-Greenough House in Boston. The old Loring House in Hull is very-well maintained inside and out and serves as a time-capsule of days past.
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.
The Mission House, erected by the Reverend John Sergeant in 1739 on Prospect Hill in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is an excellent and little-altered example of Georgian architecture as constructed on the New
England frontier. The home is a lasting remnant of early missionary efforts toward the local Mohican tribe. Reverend John Sergeant, the first missionary to the Housatonic Indians, moved to Stockbridge and preached to the native people here and at the Congregational Church. Sergeant and his wife Abigail moved to town, but she had made it clear that she wished to live on the hill, away from the village and the native people. Sergeant then built this home, a spacious and distinguished house for its frontier location. Though covered in part by a grant from the General Court, the cost of constructing such a house must have been a severe strain on Sergeant’s slender financial resources, as his salary at that time was 100 pounds per year. The home remained in the family until the 19th century. In 1928, long unoccupied and badly in need of repair, the house was purchased by Miss Mabel Choate, daughter of noted lawyer and former Ambassador to Great Britain, Joseph H. Choate. The house was taken down piece by piece, moved and reconstructed, on Main Street, in its current location. The Mission House was furnished with pieces appropriate to Sergeant’s economic status and his wife’s taste, many of them dating from the 1750’s or earlier. Since 1948, the home has been owned by the Trustees of Reservations.
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.
The Lamb-Davis House, today the Hubble Shire Farm, was constructed in 1832 and stands as one of the best-preserved examples of a brick Federal style home in Vermont. The home was built by Reuben Lamb, a builder, who showcased his craftsmanship at the entrance especially. The front door has 2/3-length sidelights with curved tracery. Flanking the lights, are engaged columns supporting a protruding, fret-detailed frieze, and above a glazed fanlight with radiating muntins sit in a paneled reveal. Surrounding the entire entrance configuration is a granite arch that incorporates pilasters and a keystone, elegantly framing all the detail. The home was sold to Aaron Davis in 1865 and remained in the Davis family over one hundred years. It was purchased in 2019 and converted to a high-end bed & breakfast and event space. The interior was modernized but the exterior appears much as it would have nearly 200 years ago.
One of the older extant homes in Kennebunkport is the Daniel Walker House on Maine Street. After the American Revolution, shipbuilding and other maritime industries grew along the Maine coast, especially in Kennebunkport (then still named Arundel). Sea captain Daniel Walker built the home on ample land on the outskirts of the village at the time. By the early 19th century, he sold off much of his land closer to the river to family and friends. The Georgian home is minimal, yet commanding with its massive facade, rusticated lintels and corners, an elaborate entry and a large central fireplace.
This stunning Colonial Revival home was designed in 1928 by noted Boston architect Royal Barry Wills in the New England Colonial Style. Wills, who I have featured on this blog before, embraced the historic motif of Colonial architecture, later conceding to Modernist projects. This design is of carefully crafted medieval fashion in a two story, garrison form, with a large center chimney and small paned windows of 17th-century inspiration. The house was purchased by Henry Rogerson, a stock broker, just before the stock market crash in 1929 and subsequent Great Depression, remaining in the family through the Second World War.
This beautiful hipped-roof Georgian house was built in 1784 for Reverend Benjamin Wadsworth (1750-1826), the Pastor of the First Congretional Church, on land donated to him by the parish for a parsonage. Originally living in the old parsonage at one time, occupied by Rev. Parris, Wadsworth had the original parsonage torn down and replaced by this one. The original parsonage was home to the beginnings of the Salem Witch Trials. In that home, Tituba, Parris’ slave, told the Parris children of witchcraft, which lead to the hysteria and Tituba’s death. The former parsonage site was uncovered by archaeologists in the 1970s and is set back off Centre Street with informative markers depicting the rich history of the site. Who knew so much history occurred in present-day Danvers!?