Located on Asbury Street in Hamilton, MA, this large farm estate has a whole lot of history! The home was constructed around 1786 as a family farm for the Smith Family. After successive owners and a changing dynamic of the town from agriculture to suburb, the home was purchased in 1928 by the siblings of Beatrice Ayer, the daughter of Frederick Ayer an industrialist. The home was a gift to Beatrice and her husband, George S. Patton. George Patton (1885-1945) is best-known as a military officer who was an outstanding practitioner of mobile tank warfare in the European and Mediterranean theatres during World War II. The general was colorfully referred to as “Old Blood-and-Guts” by his men and he played a key role in defeating the German counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge, after which he led them across the Rhine River and into Germany, capturing 10,000 miles of territory and liberating the country from the Nazi regime. Patton died in Germany in December 1945 following an automobile accident. His death left his wife, Beatrice, and four children to preside over their Hamilton farm alone. Beatrice died in 1953 in a hunting excursion. At the time of his mother’s death, General George S. Patton IV was serving in Korea. He and his family took over the family home. George Patton IV died in 2004, and his wife, Joanne Patton eventually gifted the family home to the Town of Hamilton. The site is now a cultural center and archive which can be rented out for events.
Located near the Asbury Grove Chapel in Hamilton, MA, this Craftsman style library building shows how the camp evolved into the 20th century. The library was constructed in 1910 with a rectangular floor plan and is enclosed by a hip roof with deep eaves lined by exposed roof rafters, consistent with its Craftsman-style design. The L.B. Bates Memorial Library was named after the first chaplain for Asbury Grove, who contributed a large number of books to start a library. By the late 19th century, camp meetings were declining in popularity across the United States. This change had as much to do with society’s movement away from the religious fervency of the 18th and 19th centuries as with the ease of travel caused by extensive railroad construction and the introduction of the automobile
Camp meetings are open-air religious revivals that began in the late 18th century in the backwoods of Georgia and the Carolinas, lasting as long as one week. Camp meetings were initially held by Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, but are most closely associated with the latter, who perpetuated and expanded the tradition after the others abandoned the practice. One of the most well-known and successful camp meeting grounds, Wesleyan Grove, was established on Martha’s Vineyard in 1835 (I featured Wesleyan Grove in a previous series). Boston-area Methodists would have had to travel to Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard to attend a camp meeting association, until local interests purchased land in Hamilton for a new campground. The first camp meeting at Asbury Grove was held in August of 1859. Approximately 2,000 people attended the first public service. According to some reports the number of attendees had grown to roughly 12,000 by the end of the week, many attendees staying in tents. This was a major event for Hamilton, a town with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants at the time. A focal point in the camp, the chapel, was constructed in 1884 in a the Victorian Gothic style, it is clad with a combination of clapboards and decorative patterned wood shingles.
Built in 1714 for Reverend Samuel Wigglesworth, this stunning home sited adjacent to the Congregational Church (last post), has long been a landmark in the small town of Hamilton, MA. Samuel Wigglesworth (1688-1768) was the son of minister Michael Wigglesworth, who followed in his father’s footsteps after his Harvard education. The new congregation built a small church next door in 1713 and this home the next year to provide a dwelling for the town’s minister. Wigglesworth oversaw the church until his death, and after, Manasseh Cutler (1742-1823) became the town minister. Rev. Cutler was a graduate of Yale College who later became one of the founders of the Ohio Company, formed to colonize the Ohio Territory, he helped draft the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, saving “The West” from French colonization. Cutler became a friend of Alexander Hamilton, and was instrumental in getting the new town to be named after him. The home was modified in 1790 in the Federal style, effectively creating a new home. The third story and Palladian window were added at that time.
When present-day Hamilton, MA was still known as a “Hamlet”, a village without a church of its own, of Ipswich, the few residents there desired a place of worship that was near their homes. They built a small church in 1713 for public worship. In 1762, a larger building was erected on same spot, with two entrances, one side for women and one for men. The church served the hamlet, and later the town of Hamilton until the 1840s, when the town of under 1,000 citizens sought to upgrade the Congregational church. In 1843, the church was completely remodeled using the 1762 church framing, in the modern Greek Revival style. The church has an active congregation to this day.
Hamilton, Massachusetts was first settled in 1638 and was originally a section of Ipswich known as “The Hamlet”. The first recorded land grant in the Hamlet was Matthew Whipple’s farm, dated 1638. On this land, the old stagecoach road (now Bay Road) connecting Newburyport to Boston was laid out through his and his brother’s land in 1641. A descendant of William (also named William) built this home along the stagecoach road in around 1680, likely operating it as a tavern for weary travelers. In 1712, Matthew Whipple IV and his brothers John and James petitioned the Town of Ipswich for the right to establish a church in the Hamlet, and succeeded. By 1800, the home was occupied by the Brown Family, with Capt. Daniel Brown occupying the home as a postmaster and tavern-keeper. Over the years, the home was “modernized” giving it Georgian double-hung windows, replacing the historic diamond pane casement windows. The home was eventually restored to its 17th century appearance and sold for an estimated $2 Million.
Located in southeastern Essex County, Hamilton was a small agricultural town throughout most of its history. There were few permanent residents in the town until the 18th century. The town grew, but still maintained its rural character much so to this day. The town became home to some established families, who used their money to better the town, one such couple was George Snell Mandell and his wife Emily. George Mandell enjoyed financial success running the Boston Transcript, the city’s principal afternoon daily newspaper, published from 1830 until 1941. George Mandell, grandson of founding partner William Henry Dutton, was the controlling force behind the newspaper from about 1889 until his death in 1934. He built a fine estate in Hamilton, where he bred and raised horses, and was an active member of the nearby Myopia Hunt Club, one of Essex County’s oldest and most distinguished country clubs. The Mandells, whose son Samuel was a WWI pilot killed in action, not only wanted to provide local residents with a community center, but they had the additional goal of creating a memorial for their son and seven other local soldiers who lost their lives in the recent war. With assistance from Community Service, Inc., a private national organization that was
established in 1919 to assist communities in establishing and financing recreational facilities, the Community House was funded and the Mandell’s hired famed Colonial Revival-specialist architect Guy Lowell to design the building for the town. Lowell studied at Harvard, MIT, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He enjoyed an illustrious career in architecture and taught landscape architecture at MIT. He opened an office in Boston in 1899, and by 1906 was also operating a branch office in New York. Friends of the Mandells secretly commissioned artist Anna Coleman Watts Ladd (an amazing woman, I encourage everyone to read about her prosthetic work and art) to create a bronze sculpture of son Samuel Mandell as a gift to his parents.
Appleton Farms, spanning between Hamilton and Ispwich, MA, is a stunning historic property of historic buildings, rolling hills, and agricultural sites. Appleton Farms is the oldest continuously operating farm in New England and perhaps in America. Farming activities here can be document under continuous operation from 1638, at the time of the original land grant to Samuel Appleton (1586-1770), to the present day. The majority of agricultural buildings and residential dwellings date to the period of the farm’s most productive era, 1857-1904, under seventh generation owner Daniel Fuller Appleton. Appleton Farms has been a leading survivor of northeastern Massachusetts’ agricultural economy, an area replete with rural and small village community character. As the primarily dwelling for farm owners since at least 1794 and perhaps earlier, this home has seen numerous renovations and additions over its lifetime. The main beams of the building are believed to date to 1794 when Isaac Appleton passed the farm to his son, Samuel, though the original house may date as early as 1769, when Samuel Appleton married Mary White and managed the farm with his 65-year-old father. Today, the 658-acre property, operated by the Trustees of Reservations, is open to the public to go for long walks, horseback rides, and history lessons on the significance of agriculture in this part of the state.
One of the oldest extant homes in Essex County Massachusetts is this stunning First Period home in Hamilton. Reverend William Hubbard (1621-1704), arrived to New England in 1635 at the age of 13, soon after graduating among the first class from Harvard College in 1642. As an adult, he was one of the earliest ministers in the town of Ipswich, was given a grant of land which included some 1,500 acres in what is now the town of Hamilton (later incorporated in 1793). Like nearly all early settlers, Hubbard built a small house and used much of the surround land for farming. Before his death, Rev. Hubbard willed the estate to his eldest son John, who soon after sold much of the property to John Brown. The Brown family grew into the home for two centuries, constructing additions, as housing needs changed over time. The home sold out of the Brown Family in 1920 when it was purchased by a George Fitz, who began restoration of the 250+ year old home.
In 1793, when the new town of Hamilton incorporated, separating from Ispwich, they had just one doctor, who would routinely make house calls via horseback and treat patients in his home. Dr. Nathan Lakeman lived at this home for just seven years until he moved to nearby Gloucester to treat more patients (and make more money). The home is a lasting artifact from the years immediately following the town’s incorporation from hamlet to town.