Built in 1923 as a summer home for Ellery Sedgwick and his family, “Long Hill” was designed in the Georgian Revival style by the architectural firm of Richardson, Barott and Richardson, in the northern part of Beverly, Massachusetts. Some of you may remember a post I did a while back on Theodore Sedgwick and his house in Stockbridge, Mass, where he lived while he won the case Brom and Bett vs. Ashley (1781), an early “freedom suit“, for two escaped slaves in Western Massachusetts, a case that assisted in the abolishment of slavery in the state two years later. Ellery Sedgwick, a descendant of Theodore, was editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1908-1938, turning circulation from less than 10,000 in 1908 when he purchased the magazine to readership of more than 125,000 decades later. The success was largely due to his inclusion of works by many young authors that other publications overlooked, including: Ernest Hemingway and James Hilton. The magazine, now known as The Atlantic is now one of the leading publications in the nation. Sedgwick summered here with his first wife, Mabel Cabot Sedgwick, an accomplished horticulturist, gardener, and author of The Garden Month by Month, and his second wife, Marjorie Russell Sedgwick, a rare plants specialist—both of whom created a delightful, enchanting landscape, surrounded by more than 100 acres of woodland. In 1979, Sedgwick’s children gifted the family summer estate to The Trustees of Reservations, who maintain the immaculate property and landscape to this day.
There is just something about old Georgian homes built before the Revolution that always make me so happy… This home in Beverly is one of them! The home was built around 1715 for Reverend John Chipman (1691-1775), the first pastor of the Second Church of Beverly. Historians note that Rev. Chipman actually purchased the land complete with a dwelling in 1715 which dates to before 1695, and was probably built by Exercise Conant, son of early Cape Ann settler Roger Conant. According to the interior framing, the rear two-story ell was the original house, which was added onto with a five-bay Georgian house by Chipman, to showcase his stature in his new parish. The house has a gorgeous central doorway with fluted pilasters and a broken-arch pediment with pineapple finial in the center. Fun fact: The pineapple in the Georgian-era was a symbol of wealth and prestige. By the Georgian era, the first pineapples were being cultivated in Britain. The efforts it took to produce meant that by the time a fruit bloomed, it was valued at roughly £5,000 today. Concerned that eating such high-value fruit was a waste, owners opted to display pineapples as dinnertime ornaments, passing them from party to party until they rotted. The home in Beverly is commonly known as the Exercise Conant House, but is best represented as Reverend Chipman’s home.
One of the oldest extant homes in the country is this home in Beverly, Massachusetts constructed around 1679, one hundred years prior to our country’s founding. John Balch was born in Bridgewater, England in 1579! He and his first wife, Margaret, were part of a group sent to New England by the Dorchester Company to establish a fishing industry. The Dorchester Company first landed in Weymouth in 1623, then moved north to Gloucester in 1624, but the settlement there was not successful. When the company was recalled to England, the Balches, and a small group known as “The Old Planters” stayed in Massachusetts and moved south to Naumkeg, now Salem, in 1626. At this point, modern day Beverly was a part of Salem. John Balch first gained title to the land here through the “Thousand Acre Grant” in 1635 and apparently was living on this property by 1636. His house was small – built a story and a half high – one large hall on the main floor plus a loft upstairs. He chose a site on a hill that looked down on the nearby Bass River, where he had easy access to salt marsh and to his pasture land and orchards. By the 1670s, the home needed to be enlarged and was to the current configuration, later additions were added as housing demands changed. The Balch Family owned the house in to the early 20th century and the home was acquired by William Sumner Appleton, founder of Historic New England (who arguably did more for historic preservation in New England than anyone). He hired Norman Isham, a popular preservation architect, to evaluate the house. After finding original rafters in the attic, he recommended that the back lean-to be ripped off and the southern half of the house be dismantled (see historic photo before restoration). In 1932, the property was gifted to the local historical society, now Historic Beverly who maintain the house to this day.
This stunning house was built in 1694, possibly with structural members from an earlier parsonage, by Beverly’s first minister, Rev. John Hale (1636–1700). Hale is now best remembered for playing a significant part in the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692. Hale’s theory was that demons impersonated the accused and appeared in their forms to the afflicted. He probably most likely changed his views about those executed for “being witches” due to the fact that his own wife (the second one) was accused as being a witch, though never prosecuted. Hale served as the minister of the First Parish Church of Beverly (last post) until his death. This home, just a short walk to his church, was the finest in town at the time. The house featured numerous additions and alterations over its time including the gambrel section added in 1745. The Hale House remained in the family for 12 generations, and was eventually gifted to the local historical society, now known as Historic Beverly in 1935. It now operates as a house museum.
In the 17th century, present-day Beverly was still a part of Salem and those who lived on the “Bass River side” of town found it difficult to attend church in Salem proper. As crossing by boat or of travel by land was tough on the residents here, paired with the fact the increase of population in this part of town, it was justified that a new church should be erected here. The first church in Beverly was erected in 1656, likely with mud and log walls with a thatch roof. The building was replaced with a more suitable place of worship in 1672, after the church was formerly recognized and headed by minister John Hale. Hale was born in Charlestown and attended Harvard College as a young man. He was ordained as the minister of the first parish church here and oversaw the churches separation from Salem Parish. Interestingly, John Hale was one of the most prominent and influential ministers associated with the Salem Witch Trials, being noted as having initially supported the trials and then changing his mind and publishing a critique of them. The church grew with the population of town and a new building was constructed in 1770, just before the Revolution. The church was renovated in 1835 to give it the Greek Revival appearance we see today.
Located on Cabot Street (the main commercial street) in Beverly, Massachusetts, the Odd Fellows Hall showcases the Victorian Gothic architectural style many main streets saw pop up in the mid-late 19th century. The Odd Fellows Hall in Beverly was completed in 1875 by plans from local architect Joshua Ober, as a multi-use building with a meeting/ritual hall on the upper floor with commercial uses at the ground floor. The building is constructed of brick with granite and freestone detailing, most notably the freestone tablets on the upper floor, with each side depicting a different ritual symbol. The Cabot Street tablet shows the “All Seeing Eye” with the date of construction and the Broadway facade has the “Heart in Hand” with links below, a bow and arrow and quiver are located on the upper corners. Growing up, I always thought the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was one of those secret societies that would be featured in a movie like National Treasure, but it actually, “promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity, by implied inspiration of Judeo-Christian ethics”. We can still imagine though.
This home just off the main commercial strip of Beverly, MA, was built in 1874 for Augustus Ninian Clark (1811-1905). Mr. Clark was a merchant who later used his position to assist in local government by laying out streets west of the main commercial street, Cabot Street, and relocating the railroad station here. He worked on the local Board of Health and worked on formulating plans to create the Central Cemetery, where he was later buried. In 1861, he represented Beverly in the state legislature and in 1880, served as a presidential elector. His home on Broadway is an excellent example of Victorian era residential design and represents the Stick Style, even after the stunning corner turret was removed.
John Cabot (1744-1821) was born in Salem, as part of large family of 11 children. John attended Harvard College, graduating in 1763, and wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps in merchant trade. During the Revolution, John Cabot and his brothers owned shares in many privateer vessels and they made a great deal of money with the resale of stolen goods from the British ships. The house was built in 1781, two years before his brother’s home a block away, now the Town Hall (see last post). Upon its completion, the house was the first brick home built in present-day Beverly, and it set a trend for later Federal homes in the town and region. Cabot also cofounded the Beverly Cotton Manufactory, America’s first cotton mill, which was visited by George Washington. In 1802, Cabot moved to Boston and the home became the first office of the Beverly Bank, the tenth oldest bank in America, with John Cabot serving as one of seven original directors. The home is now owned by Historic Beverly, a local historic society that operates the house as a museum.
Located on Asbury Street in Hamilton, MA, this large farm estate has a whole lot of history! The home was constructed around 1786 as a family farm for the Smith Family. After successive owners and a changing dynamic of the town from agriculture to suburb, the home was purchased in 1928 by the siblings of Beatrice Ayer, the daughter of Frederick Ayer an industrialist. The home was a gift to Beatrice and her husband, George S. Patton. George Patton (1885-1945) is best-known as a military officer who was an outstanding practitioner of mobile tank warfare in the European and Mediterranean theatres during World War II. The general was colorfully referred to as “Old Blood-and-Guts” by his men and he played a key role in defeating the German counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge, after which he led them across the Rhine River and into Germany, capturing 10,000 miles of territory and liberating the country from the Nazi regime. Patton died in Germany in December 1945 following an automobile accident. His death left his wife, Beatrice, and four children to preside over their Hamilton farm alone. Beatrice died in 1953 in a hunting excursion. At the time of his mother’s death, General George S. Patton IV was serving in Korea. He and his family took over the family home. George Patton IV died in 2004, and his wife, Joanne Patton eventually gifted the family home to the Town of Hamilton. The site is now a cultural center and archive which can be rented out for events.
Camp meetings are open-air religious revivals that began in the late 18th century in the backwoods of Georgia and the Carolinas, lasting as long as one week. Camp meetings were initially held by Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, but are most closely associated with the latter, who perpetuated and expanded the tradition after the others abandoned the practice. One of the most well-known and successful camp meeting grounds, Wesleyan Grove, was established on Martha’s Vineyard in 1835 (I featured Wesleyan Grove in a previous series). Boston-area Methodists would have had to travel to Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard to attend a camp meeting association, until local interests purchased land in Hamilton for a new campground. The first camp meeting at Asbury Grove was held in August of 1859. Approximately 2,000 people attended the first public service. According to some reports the number of attendees had grown to roughly 12,000 by the end of the week, many attendees staying in tents. This was a major event for Hamilton, a town with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants at the time. A focal point in the camp, the chapel, was constructed in 1884 in a the Victorian Gothic style, it is clad with a combination of clapboards and decorative patterned wood shingles.