Bull-Mawdsley House // c.1680

One of the oldest houses in Rhode Island, this beautiful home has a full history that will be hard to fit in a post, but here goes! The earliest, two-room rear part of this house was built around 1680, probably by Jireh Bull near the time of his first marriage to Godsgift Arnold, the daughter of Benedict Arnold, the first Governor of Rhode Island. After Bull’s death, the wealthy businessman and privateer Captain John Mawdsley acquired the house and he enlarged it in keeping with his prominent social status, adding elements inspired by the Georgian classicism. Mawdsley in 1774 owned 20 slaves, many of which likely worked on his ships as crew or cooks. He was a Loyalist, and fled Newport during the American Revolution. During the winter of 1780-81, this was the home of French Major-General François chevalier Beauvoir de Chastellux, who was third in command of French forces in America under the French expeditionary force led by general Rochambeau. After the War, Mawdsley was actually allowed to return to Newport, and resided at the home until his death in 1795. In 1795, after Mawdsley’s death, the house was purchased by slave ship captain and wealthy merchant Caleb Gardner, who is said to have brought thousands of humans in bondage to the shores of Rhode Island and in the Caribbean. Gardner is responsible for the Federal period entry and marble front steps we see today. The home was purchased by Historic New England in the 20th century, and was documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey. It is now a private home.

Doe’s Garrison // c.1690-1938

On Doe’s Neck (now Moody Point) in Newmarket, NH, a peninsula at the terminus of the Lamprey River where it meets the Great Bay, has long been a highly desired and contested piece of land. Towards the end of the 17th century, the land here was owned by the Doe Family, who built a Garrison House here. The house was used as a defensive structure to protect those living nearby from Native American attack. The Doe family resided here until after the Revolutionary War. The saltbox building was later altered with full-length porches by later owners, to take advantage of water views. By the Great Depression, the garrison house was suffering from severe neglect, but before it was demolished, it was documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).

Osborn House // 1772

This homestead in Fairfield, Connecticut is situated on the edge of what was formerly called Pequot Swamp, and was originally built by Stephen Osborn in 1772. It is said to be the third Colonial dwelling erected in this part of the town and was left undisturbed by the British when they burned Fairfield in 1779 and raided various sections of the country along the shore. The home was originally located a few blocks away, but was moved in the 1950s when the highway (I-95) was routed through this part of Fairfield. The saltbox Georgian home was documented prior to the move by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS).

Colton House // 1806

Similar to the Charles Leonard House a block away, the Colton House on Main Street in Agawam remains as a historically and architecturally significant Federal style home in Western MA. The home was built in 1806 for Rufus Colton (1776-1862), a couple years after he married his first wife. The home was likely constructed by a local builder who took inspiration from Asher Benjamin’s early plan books and Captain Leonard’s home nearby. The house was later owned by Martin Luther who operated the home as a tavern for travelers along the route from Hartford to Boston. It was later owned by Isaac Cooley and documented under the Historic American Buildings Survey. Architecturally, the house features a stunning broad entry surround which incorporates a generous elliptical fan-light with leaded glass above a paneled door. Directly over the main entry on the second floor is a Palladian window with the side panels showing the urn and leaf pattern, seen only in high-style Federal homes.

Ebenezer Clough House // 1711

One of the oldest residential buildings in the historic city of Boston, the Clough House at 22 Unity Street in the North End stands just behind the Old North Church. Built by and for Ebenezer Clough (1690-1723), a prominent mason who later laid the brick foundation of the Old North Church next-door. Clough died at just 32 years old, and the home was deeded to his family.

Until 1806, the home was lived in by individual families, the first two generations of the Clough family, and then Joseph and Sarah Pierce and their families.  The home was inherited by their daughters and their politically active husbands, including Moses Grant, a participant in the Boston Tea Party.  The two daughters moved out of the house and a third story was added before the Clough House was converted into apartments in 1806.  For the next century and a half, more than 150 individuals, predominantly European immigrants, passed through the home.

Ca. 1940 image of the Clough House before its restoration. Library of Congress HABS.

Before the current configuration, the home was a 2 1/2-story gambrel roof home. The additional floor and the raising of the roof was done to add additional residential units into the home. The home was barely saved by the creation of the Paul Revere Mall in the 1930s. In 1962, Reverend
Howard P. Kellett, vicar of Old North Church, raised money to save the house from urban renewal plans. Since that time, the Ebenezer Clough House has received appropriate exterior and interior restorative treatments, and served as a rectory for the vicar of Old North Church. The home has since been converted to interpretive spaces on the history of Boston, run by the Old North Founcdation.