One of the oldest extant homes in the charming fishing village of Noank, CT, is the 1754 Pelatiah Fitch House which has survived nearly 300 years on the waterfront site. The home was built for a Pelatiah Fitch (1722-1803) upon the time when he relocated to Noank to work as a doctor. Dr. Pelatiah Fitch came from a long line of distinguished ancestors, and was born in Norwich, CT. After practicing medicine twenty-eight years in Noank, he removed to Vermont, later moving a to Salem, NY about 1780 where he lived out his final days. This Georgian seaside cottage was built by Dr. Fitch and his new wife Elizabeth when they were in their mid-twenties. After the Fitch Family moved out, the cottage was expanded a few times, notably with the addition of the oversized dormer at the roof.
Nathaniel Backus House // c.1702
Welcome to Franklin, Connecticut, which frankly (pun intended) I had never heard of before driving through it not long ago! The town is located in New London County and was originally a part of Norwich, Connecticut and was called West Farms village. The town incorporated in 1786, creating its own town at that time, and the citizens decided to name their new town after Benjamin Franklin. I wonder if there are more place names in the United States after Benjamin Franklin or George Washington…
This is one of the oldest houses in the sleepy town of Franklin, and it was built around 1702 by Nathaniel Backus, about the same time he was married to his wife, Elizabeth. The Georgian Cape house features a large gambrel roof and a small gabled dormer. The house is representative of many of the earliest homes which once existed in this landscape in the early 18th century. The home appears to have been vacant for some time, and in 2022, was auctioned off. Its future is unclear at this time sadly.
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.
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!
Homan House // 1744
This perfect Georgian house in Marblehead was built in 1744 for Richard Homan (1713-1803), a sea captain who also fought in the Revolutionary War. In 1736, Richard married Hannah Goodwin, the daughter of William Goodwin, a notable housewright. William Goodwin seemingly gave the newlywed couple land on his estate and likely built this stunning home for them. Hannah died in 1772, and remarried in 1776 to Susanna Stacey, who he also outlived. The couple moved to Ipswich, and this home was sold to his son, William. In the 1800s, the property was owned by William Hawkes Jr., a trader and shopkeeper who apparently operated a “rum shop” out of the first floor of the home. It remained in the Hawkes Family until at least 2013. The house features a gambrel roof of cedar shingles, 12-over-12 windows, a pedimented entry, and a period-appropriate paint color.
Blanchard House // c.1778
One of the oldest extant homes in Wilton Center is this Revolutionary-era Georgian house. The home was likely built in the 1770s and has a sloping saltbox roof at the rear. The house was the property of the Blanchard Family to this day. The house shows the more rural, vernacular Georgian style common in small towns in New Hampshire from the 1700s.
Henry Sherburne House // c.1770
This house in the Hill District of Portsmouth, NH was built sometime between 1766 and 1770; however a sign posted on the house indicates an earlier date of 1725. Regardless, the house is one of the best-preserved Georgian homes in the city. The colonial-era home was apparently built for a Henry Sherburne, who was a member of some of New Hampshire’s leading families. By the 1900s, the property was the only in the city with a surviving scrolled pediment doorway from the period. Like other colonial homes in the old North End of Portsmouth, it was barely saved by the bulldozers and urban renewal when it was moved in 1972 to its present site.
Whidden-Ward House // c.1720
The Whidden-Ward House in The Hill section of downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is an excellent example of a wood-frame Georgian-style residence in the coastal city. The house was built in the early 1720s by joiner, Michael Whidden Jr. As a third generation joiner, Whidden built several houses in the Portsmouth area, this one for his own residence. The house was purchased in the 1770s by Nathum Ward, who “modernized” the house with the triangular pediments over the windows. The house was moved over a block to its present site in the early 1970s as much of the surrounding neighborhood was demolished during Urban Renewal.
Hart-Rice House // c.1750
Built sometime between 1749 and 1756, the Hart-Rice House, a little-altered example of Georgian architecture, stands out in the densely packed Hill section of Portsmouth, NH. The area contains amazing early homes, largely moved to their sites from nearby, saving them from the wrecking-ball of Urban Renewal in the 1970s. The house demonstrates the high-quality craftsmanship of its owner, ship-joiner Samuel Hart (1701-1766), who likely built the home himself. Decades later, William Rice, a sea-captain, purchased the home. Rice was a known privateer during the War of 1812, causing a lot of trouble for British ships off the shores.