Faulkner Homestead // 1707

One of three pre-1725 houses in South Acton, the Faulkner Homestead is the best preserved First Period house in the area and displays elements from its First Period construction date of 1707 and from the later Georgian period. The home was built for Ephraim Jones, who was one of the first millers starting what was to become the Faulkner mills located near the old homestead. The home was known as a Garrison House, built as a refuge for the settlers in times of Indian raids, but there is no record that it was ever used for that purpose. In the 1730s, the home was rented by Ammi R. Faulkner (1692-1756), who purchased it years after he moved in. The Faulkner Homestead remained in the Faulkner Family for over 300 years, when it sold our of the family in the 1940s.

Joseph Reynolds House // 1698

This three-story wood-frame house is one of the oldest buildings in Bristol and the oldest known three-story building in Rhode Island. The home was built by Joseph Reynolds (1679-1759), a patriarch in the Reynolds Family, who later built the Reynolds-DeWolf House I featured previously. The house is five bays wide and three deep with the roof extending lower to the rear, giving the house a classic New England saltbox appearance. Joseph built this house, and also operated a tannery and gristmill on his land. The home is nationally significant as during the ownership of the house by his son Joseph II, Marquis de Lafayette occupied the north parlor chamber. Lafayette was a general in the Continental Army and was responsible for the defense of Bristol and Warren from September 7 to 23, 1778 during failed military operations to drive the British from occupied Newport. The home was added onto and altered in 1790 to give it the current design, with Federal detailing. The home remained in the Reynolds Family until 1930.

Washington Meeting House // 1787

The Washington Town Hall, originally raised as a meetinghouse in 1787, is the civic and visual focal point of Washington Center in New Hampshire. Land here was first granted in 1735 by Colonial Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts. The town was one of the fort towns designated to protect the colonies from attack by Native peoples, and it was named “Monadnock Number 8”. The first permanent settlers arrived in 1768 and built log houses. By 1773, the community had 132 inhabitants. On December 13, 1776, the newly established American revolutionary government incorporated the town as “Washington”, after George Washington — one of the first named in his honor. A small townhouse was built but was replaced a decade later with what we see today. The current structure was originally a simple, two-story clapboarded structure, with east and west porches. The tower and belfry rising from the end were added in 1820. The building committee specified all details of the meeting house, including “that the windows should be glazed with squares of glass, seven by nine inches, forty panes to the window”. This attention to detail shows how the meeting house would be a source of pride for the new town and all details were to be discussed to the smallest detail.

Ebenezer Hancock House // 1767

Located a stones throw from the famed Union Oyster House along the Freedom Trail, you will find this historic brick structure. When you pass, you may think nothing of it as it lacks major exterior flair or pizzazz; however, it is one of the few pre-Revolution structures in Downtown Boston. In 1764, John Hancock (yes one of the Founding Fathers), inherited a parcel of land here from the estate of his uncle and father-figure Thomas Hancock. John Hancock combined the lot with an adjacent lot and had a brick mansion constructed there, similar to what we see today. Hancock did not occupy it, but by 1776, his brother Ebenezer did; the latter, as deputy paymaster general of the Continental Army, used his house as headquarters. Thus, it was here that the loan of 2 million silver
crowns from Louis XVI of France for financing the Continental Army negotiated by Benjamin Franklin in Paris is reported to have been stored in 1778. The home was later sold by Hancock to Benjamin Fuller, a shoe dealer, who ran a business out of the home while living there with family. The house was occupied by subsequent shoe merchants until the 1960s.

Old State House // 1713

Nestled among the towering skyscrapers of Downtown Boston, the Old State House stands proudly, giving us a glimpse into pre-Revolutionary life and events. Happy Fourth of July!

Built in 1713, the “Town House” as it was originally known, served as a merchants’ exchange on the first floor and the seat of colonial and later state government on the second floor throughout the 1700s. The royal governor, appointed by the King of Great Britain, held his office in the building until 1775, and from the balcony gave voice via decrees and speeches to the King 3000 miles removed from London. Above the balcony, a lion and unicorn—royal symbols of the King of Great Britain—graced the main façade facing the public square.

“A cobblestone circle beneath the Old State House balcony marks the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre. Tensions ran high in Boston in early 1770. More than 2,000 British soldiers occupied the city of 16,000 colonists and tried to enforce Britain’s tax laws, like the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts. American colonists rebelled against the taxes they found repressive, rallying around the cry, “no taxation without representation.” On the frigid, snowy evening of March 5, 1770, Private Hugh White was the only soldier guarding the King’s money stored inside the Custom House on King Street. It wasn’t long before angry colonists joined him and insulted him and threatened violence. Calling reinforcements, a group of British soldiers stood near the Town House and were pelted with snowballs and rocks, with one soldier firing out of panic. Once the first shot rang out, other soldiers opened fire, killing five colonists–including Crispus Attucks, a local dockworker of mixed racial heritage–and wounding six. The event was one of the flashpoints which began the American Revolution.

Six years later, on July 18, 1776, Colonel Thomas Crafts read the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House as a statement of strength from where the King’s declarations were given just years prior.

Hancock Manor // 1737-1863

One of the grandest homes in Boston before the American Revolution was the estate of Thomas Hancock (1703-1764), a publisher who later became a merchant who imported and exported for the British Empire, which made him one of the richest men in the city. Thomas and his wife Lydia had no children of their own, but in 1744, Thomas’s brother John died, and his seven-year-old son, also named John Hancock, moved to Boston to live with his uncle in the Hancock Manor on Beacon Street. John Hancock eventually took over his uncle’s business and inherited the Hancock estate. Hancock eventually became one of the most well-known Patriots and fought for independence from Britain, famously signing the Declaration of Independence with his huge signature. Widely popular, John Hancock became the first governor of Massachusetts, and won every term he ran. Massachusetts did not have a governor’s mansion, but Hancock’s palatial estate served the purpose well, receiving distinguished guests from Marquis de Lafayette to George Washington.

Ca. 1860 image via Boston Public Library collections.

Hancock died in 1793, and the grounds of his estate were begun to be sold off, most notably the eastern portion of his land which soon after was developed into the current Massachusetts State House. Hancock’s widow, Dorothy, had remarried in 1796, and she lived here in this house until 1816. The house remained in the family, though, with John Hancock’s nephew, also named John, owning the house until his death in 1859. On June 16, 1863, at one o’clock, the Hancock Manor was sold at public auction for a mere $230. The terms of the sale were cash down and the purchaser, Willard Dalrymple, had ten days to have everything removed. The building was torn down despite public outcry and souvenirs of it were actively sought as it fell. The Hancock Manor’s demolition sparked an early movement for historic preservation of Revolutionary landmarks including the Old South Church, which nearly suffered the same fate. The site was redeveloped with rowhouses which were later demolished for the front grounds of the State House’s west wing expansion, in 1917.

Amazingly, the front door of the house was donated to the Bostonian Society, and recently restored. Additionally, a replica of the house was built in 1925 based on plans of the Hancock Manor prior to its demolition. The replica house is owned by the Ticonderoga Historical Society.

Image of Hancock House replica in Ticonderoga.

Lady Pepperell House // 1760

Lady Pepperrell was born as Mary Hirst in 1704 to a merchant in Boston. She married Captain William Pepperell, a merchant and major landowner in what is now southern Maine (but was then part of Massachusetts), in 1723, and settled into their massive gambrel Colonial house in Kittery.

After William Pepperell died in 1759, Lady Pepperell built a dower estate just down the street as her son, William Pepperell Jr., moved into the old family estate. It is believed that Mary Pepperell hired architect Peter Harrison, a British architect who is credited with bringing the Palladian style to the thirteen colonies. His major works in the region include: The Touro Synagogue in Newport, King’s Chapel in Boston, and both the Christ Church and the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House in Cambridge.

The home is similar to the Longfellow House in Cambridge with its symmetrical facade, center hall plan, and a two-story central pavilion which is flanked by Ionic pilasters with a pediment above.

The home was eventually sold off and by the 1970s, gifted to Historic New England, who operated the estate as a house museum. It was under-visited and later sold to private owners with intense deed restrictions to preserve not only the exterior, but landscaping and interior spaces.