Gorham Hussey House // c.1820

This Colonialized Federal period house sits just down Vestal Street from the Maria Mitchell Association campus on the ever-charming island of Nantucket. The home was built around 1820 for Gorham Hussey (1797-1879), who would have been around 23 at the time. He married Lydia Macy in 1820 and the couple had twin daughters that same year, likely right after this house was completed (talk about a busy year)! The home was later owned by photographer John W. McCalley, who photographed this and other houses in the area. The home retains a high-style Colonial Revival fanlight over the door, likely added in the first three decades of the 20th century as colonial homes were romanticized.

Folger House // 1807

There is so much to love about this house! The lot here was purchased by Paul Macy and Gideon Folger in 1807, and they had this house built on the site that year. Paul Macy and, Gideon Folger were two major shareholders in the ill fated whaling schooner “Essex”. In 1820, while at sea in the southern Pacific Ocean under the command of Captain George Pollard Jr., the ship was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale. Thousands of miles from the coast of South America with little food and water, the 20-man crew was forced to make for land in the ship’s surviving whaleboats. The men suffered severe dehydration, starvation, and exposure on the open ocean, and the survivors eventually resorted to eating the bodies of the crewmen who had died. When that proved insufficient, members of the crew drew lots to determine whom they would sacrifice so that the others could live. Seven crew members were cannibalized before the last of the eight survivors were rescued, more than three months after the sinking of the Essex. This ordeal was inspired Herman Melville to write his famous 1851 novel Moby-Dick. The Folger House was owned for some time by Walter Folger, a lawyer who served in the state senate.

Coney House // c.1870

Located on Church Street, the best architectural stretch of buildings in Ware, Massachusetts, you’ll find this absolutely charming mini-Mansard house. The property was built after the Civil War and historic maps show it was owned by a J. Coney. Upon further research, it seems J. Coney is John Coney (1809-1884), a farmer who retired in 1870 and was later referred to as a carpenter in census’. It is likely that Mr. Coney built this mansard cottage around his retirement and relocation to Ware’s industrial village, building it himself. The home features gabled dormers with round-headed sash projecting from the mansard roof. A two-story tower has paired, round-headed windows with oculus windows. Perfection.

Otis Company Agent’s Residence // 1870

This house in Ware, Massachusetts was built after the Civil War by the Otis Company, the major employer in town, for use as an agent’s house. Crazy I know! Historically, it was a common practice for New England textile companies to provide housing for employees (though agents got the nicest dwellings). Many of the agents were brought from Boston and a comfortable residence was a benefit of the job. The first agent to reside in this house was Sylvester Bowen Bond, agent of the company between 1870 and 1877. Mr. Bond sadly would die in the dwelling of typhoid fever, aged 36. The Italianate style property on a large lot continued to be used as an agent’s residence until the Otis Company left Ware. The property was acquired by the nearby St. Mary’s Church as a convent.

Barrows-Goddard House // 1898

Happy Halloween! To celebrate I wanted to feature one of the more creatively decorated houses in the Boston area, which blends spookiness with architecture! This is the Barrows-Goddard House, so named after its first two owners. The house is located in Newton and was built in 1898 as an eclectic Queen Anne/Shingle style home. The original owner was Joseph Barrows, who developed the property and sold it within a year, relocating to a new home on a less busy street. The property was owned next by Christopher Goddard, an insurance agent with offices in Boston. Architecturally, the gable roof of the main block is intersected by an over-scaled gambrel cross-gable clad in patterned cut wood shingles. The focal point of the design is the Syrian-arched entrance porch of coursed, dressed fieldstone which this time of year, eats trick-o-treaters!

Reverend Joseph Green House // c.1725

In 1725, the second or eastern parish of Barnstable separated from the first (or west) and the congregation had a 25 year old pastor to lead them in Reverend Joseph Green. Joseph Green(e)(1701-1770) attended Harvard and trained in theology, graduating and accepting the call to lead a new congregation in Barnstable Village on Cape Cod. Green would must have had this house built around the time of his arrival, which was a modest, full-cape Georgian home. Reverend Green remained in his position until his death in 1770.

Sturgis Library // 1644

The original section of this building was the second dwelling house of Rev. John Lothrop (1584-1653), one of the first European settlers who settled in present-day Barnstable in 1639. The oldest part of this structure, built in 1644 (yes you read that correctly), is possibly the oldest extant house in the Town of Barnstable. The home was constructed as 21 feet long and 29 feet deep with a chimney on the west side of the house. Perhaps John Lothrop’s principal claim to fame is that he was a strong proponent of the idea of the Separation of Church and State (also called “Freedom of Religion”). This idea was considered heretical in England during his time, but eventually became the mainstream view of people in the United States of America, because of the efforts of Lothrop. His descendants today include six former presidents, Louis Comfort Tiffany (of the stained glass fame), J. P. Morgan, Clint Eastwood, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and many more recognizable names! The house was eventually owned by Isaac Chipman in the 19th century, and he modified the house close to its current conditions, adding on numerous times.

Captain William Sturgis, a mariner, businessman and politician, who was born in the house, purchased the property in 1862 from the heirs of Isaac Chipman. Sturgis left $15,000 along with this property in a trust to be gifted to the people of Barnstable for a public library. The library opened in 1867 in his honor, with 1,300 books. As the old Lothrop House is incorporated in the building, it makes the Sturgis Library the oldest building housing a public library in the USA. A great claim to fame for this town!


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.

John Adams House // c.1795

In 1795, mariner and fisherman John Adams had this late-Georgian house built in Marblehead, which resembles many homes in the area built a century earlier. The house was apparently built by Benoice Johnson, a cabinetmaker from Roxbury who settled in Marblehead. The gambrel-roofed house had a later lean-to added on the rear for additional square footage. Adams died in 1816 and the house remained in his family until the Great Depression!

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!