Abel Gardner House – Wisteria Lodge // 1733

Another of Nantucket’s old Colonial homes is the Abel Gardner House, which was built in 1733 by its namesake. The saltbox Georgian house was constructed on a large plot of land which was farmed for some time by the Gardner family. Decades later, a portion of the estate was subdivided for the erection of a home for Abel’s grandson, Grindell. The Abel Gardner House was eventually owned by Caleb Gardner and became known as Wisteria Lodge for the climbing wisteria vines up the facade and on arbors. I can only imagine how glorious this colonial would be covered in purple!

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.


Hyde-Richardson House // c.1728

The Hyde-Richardson House is one of roughly twenty remaining pre-Revolutionary War homes in Newton. The home was built for Timothy Hyde (1689-1756) after he inherited the property including 36 acres and a house from his father John Hyde. Timothy had two wives: Rebecca Davis who he married in 1718 and died in 1724 (seemingly in childbirth); and his second wife Sarah Whitmore, whom he married in 1727. The home was likely built soon after his second marriage. It is possible that parts of the original home on the site were reused for this structure. He served as Surveyor of Highways and Constable and in 1710 was drafted to serve with the militia in the successful siege of Port Royal in Canada. In 1761, Jeremiah Richardson bought the property and married his wife Dorcas Hall that same year. Richardson was a deacon and like Timothy, served as Surveyor of Highways. The property remained a farm until the 1930s when the automobile and suburban expansion reached the Oak Hill section of Newton. The farmland was ultimately was subdivided to create the surrounding neighborhood in the mid 20th century.

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.

Captain John Prince House // c.1761

In 1758, John Prince married Anna Bowen in Marblehead. Within a year, they started their family, and needed a new residence to serve as their family home. This house was constructed by 1761 and is oriented to the south, taking advantage of the narrow lot. The house has a large central chimney which would have warmed the interiors throughout the cold, New England winters.

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.

John Wright House // c.1770

Jonathan Wright bought land on State Street in Marblehead in 1770 to build a new home for his family. The large property included his Georgian, gambrel-roofed home and a small pond/marsh in the rear. Sadly, John died by 1773 and his widow Abigail had to sell the property to settle the debts of the estate. Isaac Martin bought the house, and it passed down to his son Thomas, a wagoneer, when he died in 1777. The marsh was eventually drained by the town in the 20th century, likely due to issues with mosquitos and disease and the old barn was converted to a residence behind. The old Wright house has remained a well-preserved Georgian residence for 250 years!

Merritt House // c.1725

In 1725, Samuel Merritt, a fisherman, inherited some of his father’s land in Marblehead and built this house. After Samuel Merritt died in 1743, his second wife Mary, her daughters Mary and Elizabeth and her son-in-law James Dennis, lived in the house. They added the one-story lean-to, giving the house a saltbox roof in 1762. This house, and many others in Marblehead are the reason why human-scaled historic neighborhoods built before the automobile, are some of the best places to explore. Historic preservation equals tourism, which results in tax revenue and property values, stabilizing neighborhoods and cities from the ebbs and flows of the economy. Gotta love it!

Powsland-Homan-Dixey House // 1732

The colonial home at 33 Washington Street in Marblehead was built in 1732 for (and likely by) Jonathan Powsland, a joiner (furniture maker-carpenter). In the 1740s, Peter Homan added the rear lean-to, giving the home a saltbox appearance, possibly after he married into the Powsland family. The home was eventually owned by the Dixey Family. John Dixey (1776-1868) spent a good part of his life as a ship master and had several sons that also went to sea. The most well known son was Richard W. Dixey (1809-1860) who, along with two other Marbleheaders, captained the ship that took the first American Consulate to China.