One of the oldest extant houses in Portsmouth (and New England for that matter) is this gambrel-roofed Georgian house on Marcy Street. The home was originally constructed in 1702 by Richard Wibird, who arrived to Portsmouth in the late-1600s and married Elizabeth Due (Dew) in 1701. Mrs. Due owned a market in town, and that helped propel Richard to be a prosperous merchant. Like many very wealthy residents in New England at the time, he enslaved three Africans and had five properties all over town. The house was moved two times, it was originally built behind the North Meetinghouse on Market Square. It was moved from that location c.1800 to Haymarket Square where Prescott Park is now, and again in 1937 to its present location on Marcy Street. The Portsmouth Oracle, an early newspaper, was printed and edited from this building when it was altered for commercial spaces at the ground floor. The Prescott sisters who developed Prescott Park had the foresight to move this building to the opposite corner and the home was later restored, giving us a glimpse at early 18th century merchant housing.
Nathaniel Backus House // c.1702
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 is one of the oldest houses in the sleepy town of Franklin, and it was built around 1702 by Nathaniel Backus, about the same time he was married to his wife, Elizabeth. The Georgian Cape house features a large gambrel roof and a small gabled dormer. The house is representative of many of the earliest homes which once existed in this landscape in the early 18th century. The home appears to have been vacant for some time, and in 2022, was auctioned off. Its future is unclear at this time sadly.
Ernest Zeiss House // 1897
Another eclectic house in Waban is this beauty, a blending of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles under an impressive gambrel roof. The home was occupied by Ernest L. Zeiss, a salesman. Waban, which was once a neighborhood within the reach of the middle-class, has since become one of the most desirable neighborhoods in one of the most exclusive towns in the Boston metro. It is safe to say an ordinary 9-5 salesman would not be able to afford a house like this today!
Alexander Watts House // c.1755
In 1748, Alexander Watts, a merchant and sea captain purchased land in Marblehead, building a dwelling house, shop, and barn. This home was likely built in the 1750s, not long after he purchased the lot from David LeGallais, a merchant and prominent landowner in town. The gambrel-roofed Georgian house with its elaborate entry stands out on the street for its large frontage, with many other period homes sited on narrow lots, with the side of the house facing the street. He likely lived in the shop nextdoor until he had enough money to build this separate, more elaborate dwelling. Captain Watts died in 1772, and the property was willed to his “wife Rachel for her widowhood, and at her decease, one-half was to descend to her heirs, and the other half to his kinsman, Alexander Watts of London, England”. By the 1780s, the property was noted as “much decayed” with his widow likely struggling to maintain the property, renting the shop to others for income. On April 13, 1795, the estate was divided, meaning Rachel, Alexander’s widow, likely died at the home.
Homan House // 1744
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.
Scott Farm – Horse Barn // c.1910
You saw the cow barn at Scott Farm, now you can see where the horses lived! The Horse Barn at Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont is a very photogenic building with its symmetrical facade and bright colors. The barn was built not long after Frederick Holbrook II of Boston acquired most of the farm to add to Naulakha, where he lived. Holbrook used the farm as a gentleman’s farm where he would have laborers managing the grounds and supplying him with the freshest produce and dairy products. Inside, there is a ramp down to the basement which still retains the horse stalls, it’s so charming!
Rev. Thomas Hawley House // 1713
This old Georgian house was built in 1713 on the Proprietors Lot 5, on Ridgefield’s Main Street. Constructed for the first minister of Ridgefield, the home was originally occupied by 25-year-old Reverend Thomas Hawley (1689-1738) not long after his graduation from Harvard in 1709. In addition to being minister of the newly formed Congregational Church, Hawley (also spelled Hauley) also served as school teacher and town clerk. The house employs Dutch Colonial detailing from the gambrel roof to the extended portico over the front door, common in the Dutch colonies in the Hudson River Valley in New York.
John Parry House // 1895
In 1895, Waban Village was in the middle of its massive development period, when half of the homes in the neighborhood were built within 10 years. One of the earliest in this neighborhood was this investment property by John E. Parry, a businessman and major developer. This house appears to have been rented at first, but was listed as vacant for some time in the city directories. Eventually it was purchased and has been lovingly maintained to this day. The design is a regional take on the transitional Shingle and Colonial Revival styles, this one with a really unique cross gambrel roof.
Orne-Derby House // 1808
It’s rare to find a house with so much potential in Salem, a town where seemingly every old house has been purchased and lovingly maintained or restored. This home on Federal Street could use some TLC to restore her to her former glory. In 1808, William Orne Jr., a housewright and his wife Polly acquired a mortgage for the lot here and he built a large, Federal style home with gambrel roof, showcasing his building skills. The property was a little more than the couple could handle financially, which was compounded by the War of 1812, and the Royal British Navy blockading maritime trade, which especially hurt Salem’s port. The Orne House was sold in 1817 to Captain John Derby III, who died just a year later, leaving his widow Sarah (Felton)
Derby all his estate. Sarah rented the home to family, but was allowed to live there until her own death in 1857. The stunning home with fanlight at the front door, historic wood windows, and pair of large brick end chimneys all could be saved with a good restoration of the home. Fingers crossed!
Sherman’s Inn – Beverly Yacht Club // 1784
One of the oldest homes in Sippican/Wharf Village in Marion, Mass., this beautiful Cape house with gambrel roof dates to 1784 from deed research. The house was constructed by two owners, Barnabas Luce, innholder, and Stephen Cunningham, a mariner, seemingly as an inn for sailors who would dock their ships in the harbor just behind the property. It was later acquired by Edward Sherman (1790-1867), a shipwright and carpenter who built schooners at the wharfs in town. In 1868, his son Edward Franklin Sherman (1821-1907), also a ship carpenter, sold the waterfront property after his father’s death to Andrew A. Harwood, an admiral in the United States Navy, Commodore of the Washington Navy Yard, and through his mother, Elizabeth Franklin Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin! The property remained in the Harwood family until, 1955, when the property was sold to the Beverly Yacht Club. The yacht club was originally named after the town of Beverly, north of Boston, when members broke from the Eastern Yacht Club of Marblehead which was more prestigious. For the first 23 years, the club had no fixed location, but eventually settled in Bourne, and merged with the local Sippican Yacht Club. The Great Hurricane of 1938 destroyed their clubhouse and they were “homeless” for years until moving into this 1784 home, later expanding it to meet growing needs.