Built about 1758, this Georgian house in Newport was the home of John Tillinghast, a representative to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1744 and 1749, and a wealthy merchant and ship owner. It is not unlikely to assume that Tillinghast was involved in the slave trade and transportation of goods in the Indies, like many other wealthy Rhode Island merchants at the time. During the American Revolution, General Nathanael Greene was quartered in this house. Greene was born to a Quaker family in what is now Warwick, Rhode Island, but because of his military affairs, the pacifist Quakers disowned him. After several decisive victories against the British in the Carolinas, Greene was named Commander of the Southern Army, second in command to George Washington! Also during this time, two of Greene’s aides are said to have visited him while he resided at the house. One was the Lithuanian General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, an engineer who designed fortifications along Delaware River and West Point. Another was the Inspector-General of the Continental Army, German-born Friedrich von Steuben. This house is significant and shows the international nature of the War for Independence, which saw American forces joined by French forces and German mercenaries to fight the British. In the early 19th century, the home was occupied by William C. Gibbs, Governor of Rhode Island from 1821-1824. The high-style Georgian home has been enlarged over the years, but remains one of the most significant properties in the town!
When Judge John Sprague built his first home in Lancaster (see last post), he was just 31 years old and built a modest attorney’s home at the beginning of his career. After the Revolutionary War, Judge Sprague was one of the wealthiest residents in town and as a result, built a more substantial house on Main Street on the banks of the Nashua River. Eli Stearns and Jonathan Whitney, Lancasters most talented carpenters and craftsmen, were responsible for the construction with stunning detail inside and out. After John’s death, the home was willed to his only child, Ann Austin Sprague Vose and her husband Peter. The home remained in the family until the 1870s. Later, it was purchased and given as a parsonage to the local Unitarian church “fully furnished and equipped” by Col. John E. Thayer, who maintained it for 25 years. In 1933, the year Thayer died, it was bequeathed to the church. Besides the mid-late 19th century window replacements, the home looks much like it would have when built. Swoon!
This old Georgian house in Lancaster was built in 1771 for 31 year old John Sprague. John was born in Rochester, MA, and when of age, attended Harvard College graduating in 1765. Upon graduating, he moved to Worcester and became a law clerk. He moved around in the next couple years before settling in Lancaster and opened up a law practice with Abel Willard. Upon the dawn of the American Revolution, the partnership dissolved as Abel, a loyalist to England, fled the area. Judge Sprague would later become a member of the convention for ratifying the Constitution of the United States. In 1798, Sprague was appointed chief justice of the court of common pleas for Worcester County, a position he served as until his death. The Sprague house would have originally had a large, central chimney, which was possibly changed in the 19th century.
Here is a preservation success story for you all! The Daniel Bray House in Salem, MA was built around 1766 as a two-and-a-half story wood-frame vernacular house with side-gable roof. Captain Daniel Bray, a master mariner, was born in 1735 in Salem, eventually marrying Mary Ingalls in 1760, and six years later the couple built this house for their growing family, on his family’s land, which he later purchased in 1770. Bray’s work as a master mariner gained him connections in town, especially since he sailed as captain on several vessels owned by merchant John Derby. After retiring from the sea, Bray managed Derby Wharf in Salem until his death in 1798. The home was willed to Daniel’s son, Daniel Jr., who was also a master mariner. By the early 1900s, the home was converted to commercial use, as a grocery and later as a candy store. The home was given storefront windows to showcase the goods inside. The home was eventually purchased by the Peabody Essex Museum in the 1980s. They undertook a massive restoration of the home using forensic study and research and skilled restoration carpenters and masons.
Welcome to Salem, Massachusetts, a town full of amazing architecture and spooky vibes! Before I featured a First Period/Medieval English or Federal style house (what the town is best known for architecturally), I wanted to feature an old Georgian. According to the house marker this 1735 home was built for William Pickering, a sea captain who transported catches of cod and other goods primarily between Massachusetts and Canada. By 1781, the property was purchased by James Bott, who sold off house lots behind the house south to Chestnut Street, along a small passageway now called Bott’s Court.
My favorite Georgian style house in Rochester, MA is the Delano-Clapp House set far off the street, behind a stone wall. The house was built in 1735 for Jonathan Delano, a weaver. Jonathan’s son, Jonathan, Jr., sold the house and land to Ebenezer Clapp, in 1755. The property remained in the Clapp Family for nearly 250 years, when it sold out of the family in 1990. This house is testament to the fact that you can find great architecture in every corner of New England!
Samuel Burnham bought an older house on this site, and added to it, creating a larger residence for his family (a common occurrence in early Colonial times). One thing he did keep was a 30-foot well within the building to supply the family drinking water. Interior wells were not common, but very useful on the New England “frontier” where attacks from Native American tribes were more frequent. In the event of an attack in town, a family could close their interior shutters, and wait them out with drinking water from their internal well.
God, I love old New England homes! Could you live in one that is older than the United States?
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.
The simplicity and proportions of old Georgian houses are just so pleasing to me. This c.1765 home was built before the United States of America was even a country, a fact that always boggles my mind when doing research on buildings. These four walls have survived numerous wars, pandemics, families, and storms, and will continue to do so for (hopefully) hundreds of more years in the future. This Canterbury house was built for John Carter (1708-1776) and his family, which included a wife and over 10 children in all. The house retains its double-width doors, 12-over-12 windows, central chimney (though likely reduced in size), and stone foundation.
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.