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.
Grindell Gardner House // 1772
In 1772, Grindell Gardner built this Georgian gambrel-roofed house on land which was part of a large tract formerly owned by his
grandfather, Abel Gardner, whose own home sits a stone’s throw away. The charming Cape house is of an unusual type, having the gambrel on the front side only which slopes to a sort of saltbox at the rear, which originally contained the summer kitchen and a water closet. The house was altered in the 1890s with the addition of dormer windows and the removal of the original large central chimney, which was removed prior to the new dormers. By the 1960s, the house had only been owned by four families.
Crocker Tavern // c.1754
One of the largest pre-Revolution houses in Barnstable is this stunning Georgian manse, known as the Crocker Tavern. The c.1754 home was built along Main Street in Barnstable Village by Cornelius Crocker (1704-1784), who operated it as a tavern along the Old King’s Highway, the main stagecoach route through Cape Cod. Cornelius died in 1784, and he left the eastern half of his house and land to his grandsons Robert, Uriah, and Joseph Crocker; the western half of land and house went to his daughter Lydia, widow of Captain Samuel Sturgis who died at 25, she never remarried. The house was “to be divided through by the middle of the great chimney“, a feature which was likely removed under separate ownership. Lydia eventually acquired the other half of the house, and continued operation of the tavern as her father did before her, though it was known as Aunt Lydia’s Tavern. The property was passed down through the family until 1925, when the property was left to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (later renamed Historic New England) as a historic house museum. The Georgian house and property were eventually de-accessioned by Historic New England and the tavern can be rented out on AirBnb!
Daniel Davis Homestead // 1739
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.