Waterford was once part of New London, but it separated in 1801 as the area desired its own town government which took agricultural interests more seriously. In the 19th century, much of the town’s economy was centered around agriculture, with many residents running sheep farms. During the 20th century, sheep farms were replaced by dairy farms. Between 1920 and 1960, there were about 100 dairy farms in Waterford. After WWII, suburbanization occurred and many wealthy residents of nearby New London moved to Waterford for more space. The oldest surviving public building in Waterford, Connecticut is this Colonial-era schoolhouse which was likely built in the 1730s. The Jordan Schoolhouse was built as a rural schoolhouse as farmers wanted their children to be taught writing, reading, arithmetic, and religion, even if they followed their parent’s footsteps in farming. The gambrel-roofed Georgian building was used as a school until the mid-19th century and it was converted to a private home for Asa and Eliza Gallup and their family. The schoolhouse was eventually moved to its current site on Jordan Green in 1972 and is operated as a museum space for the Waterford Historical Society.
This massive summer “cottage” in Rye Beach, NH, was built around 1895 for St. Louis businessman George L. Allen. The massive Colonial Revival home features a gambrel roof with a series of gabled, hipped and shed dormers to break it up. A circular driveway would have allowed visitors for Great Gatsby-esque parties to get dropped off by their driver and enter right into the home’s large stair-hall. The most stunning facade is the rear, which faces a lawn with views out to the Atlantic Ocean. A full-length porch on the first floor sits recessed under the floor above to provide shelter from the harsh summer sun. Sadly, the mansion has seen better days and appears to be a shadow of its former self. Luckily, almost all of the historic windows remain and the home can definitely be saved. Fingers and toes are crossed to see this beauty preserved.
Sampson Spaulding (1711-1796) studied at Harvard University to become a minister. At the age of just 23, he was called to be the first minister at the new First Congregational Church in 1736. To entice the young minister to the rural new town of Tewksbury, this Georgian mansion was constructed, probably with help from his new congregation. He married Mehetable Hunt, a local woman, and they had six children. Rev. Spaulding was
stricken with paralysis in 1791 in the middle of a church service, and he died five years later. He became one of the first burials in the new cemetery in town, now known as the Tewksbury Cemetery. The gambrel-roofed Georgian mansion stands today as one of the oldest homes in Tewksbury.
Located in Brookfield, Connecticut, the John Peck House (1812) is one of many examples of Colonial farmhouses you can find in small New England towns. The home was built for John Peck (1759-1839), the son of Deacon Henry Peck, a pioneer settler of the town. The home has long held ties to the Congregational church in town, and for some years, was the parsonage of the church. The stunning barn was constructed around 1881 for the property, and is very well preserved to this day with its cross gambrel roof and hay door. The Federal style home appears to have been modernized in the early 20th century with a Colonial Revival entry porch roof and new windows on the facade.
Ebenezer Gay (1718-1796), the third minister of the First Congregational Church of Suffield, was born in 1718 in Dedham, Mass. His father was a substantial farmer, and his uncle was the famous minister, Ebenezer Gay of Hingham. Young Ebenezer graduated from Harvard in 1737, and held his first preaching job three years later. Reverend Gay became a candidate for a pastor in the Suffield Congregation, becoming ordained in 1742. That same year he married his wife, Hannah, and they had this massive home built adjacent to the town’s church. Rev. Gay and his wife had no children, but had adopted a black girl “Sybil” who was baptized as the “child of Ebenezer and Hannah”. There were other black members in the Gay household in later years including Titus Gay. “Old Ti” was born in 1787, and lived nearly his entire early life in Suffield, CT. He was born to a family of slaves also owned by Reverend Ebenezer Gay, making him born into slavery. His mother, Rose Gay, was a princess in Africa, and his father was owned by Major Elihu Kent. Reverend Gay was the pastor of the church until his death in 1796. The home was later occupied by other pastors at the church, and was eventually acquired by Suffield Academy for use as housing. The gambrel roof Georgian mansion features a stunning Connecticut Valley doorway with swan’s neck pediment.
The Thomas and Esther Smith House in the Feeding Hills area of Agawam, Massachusetts is a 1½ story, vernacular Georgian style house with a gambrel roof. Feeding Hills, so named for its bountiful soils, is an agricultural plain approximately five miles west of the Connecticut River at the eastern foot of Provin Mountain. The land was highly sought after by farmers, with many agricultural uses still taking place here to this day. This parcel of land was purchased by Thomas Smith, a carpenter, in 1757, who likely built the home soon after for his new family. The family occupied the home into the mid-19th century, harvesting crops and raising cattle for sustenance and sale. The agricultural property was subdivided numerous times and now sits on just an acre. The home and remaining land was purchased by the Agawam Historical Society in 2002, who maintain the property and educate on Agawam’s agricultural heritage.
The Chelsea Public School building was built in 1912, replacing a school built 100 years prior in the same location. The existing school appropriately resembles a barn, is wood-frame, clapboarded building with a large gambrel roof. Centered on the ridge of the sheet-metal covered roof is a Colonial Revival square louvered cupola topped by an inflected, sheet metal roof. The 1811 school was added onto the rear of the 1912 gambrel building as a classroom addition, demolished after WWII for the massive addition, not very visible from the street.
Formerly located on Tremont Street in Downtown Boston, this ca.1670 Georgian gambrel home went from residence to candy shop to billboard in its lifetime. The home was constructed by John Crane (1744-1805), who was a housewright by trade but a patriot and soldier most importantly. At the tender age of 12, he had an early military experience when he substituted for his father in the French and Indian War when his father received the draft. Records state that Crane was an active member the Sons of Liberty, a secret revolutionary organization that was founded by Samuel Adams to fight taxation from the British government. Hours before the Boston Tea Party, Crane and the other participants met at his shop at his home to disguise themselves as American Indians as disguises for the events that would take place that night. He was in the hold of one ship when he was knocked unconscious by a falling crate of tea. His fellow patriots thought him dead and hid him under a pile of wood shavings in a carpenter’s shop off the harbor, only for Crane to recover later. Less than a year later, Crane and his family moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he would later serve under a militia there in the Revolutionary War. After serving, and seeing battle, he was awarded land in Whiting, Maine (Maine was part of Massachusetts at the time) where he built a home and spent his last days.
His former house on Tremont Street in Boston was occupied as a home until the late 19th century until it was occupied by a confectionary shop, with a storefront added on the street. Due to the shifting demand for theater-oriented development and lodging, the candy shop began struggling. The owner, James Grace, then allowed for the home to be covered with signage and notices advertising various theaters nearby. Ironically, the home was demolished by 1908 for the Shubert Theater, which remains today.
The John Brown IV House in Swansea was built in 1752 and deed research shows it was built by John Brown IV (1675-1752) the year of his death. John Brown was a member of the prestigious Brown family of Plymouth County MA and Rhode Island (most notably John Brown, the namesake and founder of Brown University). Many members of the Brown family were heavily involved with the trading of slaves, rum, molasses and other goods with the Caribbean island plantations. This home was likely built for John Brown IV’s son, Jeremiah as a gift by his father. The massive Georgian gambrel estate overlooks the Cole River which empties at the Atlantic Ocean just south.
One of the most charming homes in Warren is the Captain Cranston House, built in 1783. Captain Benjamin Cranston (1754-1823) served on multiple ships during the Revolutionary War and lived in his family home until after the conclusion of the War. He built this small gambrel home around 1783, the same year as his son was born. The family home was occupied by the Cranston’s until Mary, Benjamin’s widow died in the house in 1848 at the age of 92! The house is a modest three-bay home with an off-center chimney.