Judge John Sprague Second House // 1785

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!

Judge John Sprague House // 1771

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.

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.

John Carter House // c.1765

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.

Jordan Schoolhouse // c.1735

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.

Simeon Wetherbee Farmhouse // c.1800

This late-Georgian farmhouse in Boxborough, Mass showcases how architectural integrity and historical context matter in historic preservation. Architectural integrity means the degree to which a building’s original design and physical composition is evident and intact. Historic contexts are the patterns, themes, or trends in history by which a specific property or site is understood and its meaning (or significance) within history is made clear. In this example, the old farmhouse retains much of its architectural integrity as it physically appears much as it would have upon its time of construction. However, the former farmland was sold off and developed as a residential subdivision, which completely obscures the historical context of the building in relation to its original use. The Simeon Wetherbee Farm remained in the Wetherbee family until the 1965, when the land was likely soon after subdivided and sold off for housing lots. A majority of the homes built surrounding this old farmhouse are classified as “Neo-Traditional” a modern take on Colonial architecture, but with cheaper materials and odd proportions. They are not a favorite among architects and historians.

Hubbell-Lacey Homestead // c.1750

Remaining of the oldest extant homes in Brookfield, this Georgian home has stood for almost 275 years, and looks much like it did when first built! The home was constructed around 1750 for Peter Hubbell, one of the earliest colonial settlers of the Parish of Newbury, renamed Brookfield in 1778, when the town was officially incorporated. The Hubbell Homestead is an excellent vernacular Georgian home with a central chimney and stunning board-and-batten front door with small transom above. Peter Hubbell moved to newly established Iron Works Village along the Still River in the Newbury Parish, likely for business interests. The property sold numerous times until it was sold to Dr. Noah Lacey, a town doctor who later served as a State Representative and as a member of the Connecticut Constitutional Convention in 1818. By the 1930s, the home was owned by an Alice Bennett, and that year, she was said to have had a friend living at the home, a Miss Edna Ferber. In 1930, Edna Ferber wrote her novel “American Beauty” which took place in the fictional town of Oakes Field, which has too many resemblances to Brookfield to be coincidental. Hopefully the rumors are true about her writing this book (which is a great read even today) in this home!

Coggeshall Farm // c.1750

Located on the Poppasquash Peninsula, in my favorite Rhode Island town of Bristol, the Coggeshall Farmhouse showcases the historic rural farming character of the town, which saw much development by the 19th century. In 1723, Samuel Viall (1667-1749 purchased farmland from Nathaniel Byfield, who had acquired most of the north part of Poppasquash as one of the original “founders” of Bristol (though the Wampanoag people had been already living here for centuries). Viall or a descendent likely had this small Georgian farmhouse built on the land, along with outbuildings to farm the beautiful land here. In the early nineteenth-century Wilbour and Eliza Coggeshall were tenant farmers at the farm. The Coggeshall’s son, Chandler Coggeshall, later became a politician and helped to found the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1888, which became known as the University of Rhode Island. The farm eventually was acquired by industrialist Samuel P. Colt, nephew of firearms manufacturer Samuel Colt, who created a massive estate on the land. In 1965 the State of Rhode Island purchased the Colt Estate for use as a state park, and the Bristol Historical Society petitioned the state for permission to preserve the old Coggeshall farm house on the property as a museum. Coggeshall Farm Museum was established in 1973 to educate modern Americans about eighteenth century New England farm life.

Gay Manse // 1743

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.

Elihu Kent Jr. House // 1787

In 1775, when news of the Battle of Lexington reached Suffield, Elihu Kent Sr. (1733-1814) at the age of 42 took command of a local militia of 59 men the next day, along with his son Elihu Kent Jr., 18, and his slave Titus Kent, and marched to Springfield, before heading toward Boston. Initially, slaves were discouraged from enlisting in the Continental Army as the Continental Congress was trying to appease the southern states into fighting in the Revolution. England offered freedom to slaves who fought for their side. forcing the Continental Congress to do the same in order to keep a balance. The militia later ended up on Long Island and Kent Jr. was captured by British forces and confined for a long time as a prisoner of war in the old Rhinelander Sugar House in New York. After his return to Suffield, Elihu Kent Jr. had this Georgian home built for his family.