One of the oldest and most significant homes in Boston is the Loring-Greenough Houseon South Street in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The house was constructed in 1760 for Joshua Loring (1716-1781), a Commodore in the English Colonial naval forces, who sought retirement from military service at this house on the outskirts of Boston. His life as a distinguished member of the Colonial gentry came to an abrupt end with the bitter factionalism of the incipient Revolution, made worse by the fact he was appointed as a member of the governor’s council by Governor Thomas Gage, a position which made him so unpopular that he was reportedly attacked by mobs. A popular story recounts that, asked by an old friend what he would do when faced by a choice between remaining loyal and supporting the popular spirit of revolt, Loring replied “I have always eaten the King’s bread, and always intend to.” Immediately after taking this position as a Loyalist and aligning with the King of England, Loring was forced to flee, with his family, to the safety British-occupied Boston. He was denounced by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress as “an implacable enemy to their country” and later fled to Nova Scotia, before living out the rest of his life in England, where he received a royal pension until his death. The Loring property in Jamaica Plain was quickly taken by Revolutionary forces and was used as a hospital during the siege of Boston. After the Revolutionary War, the property was confiscated by the state in 1779 and sold at auction to private owners.
Anne Doane, a wealthy forty-year-old widow, bought the Loring estate in 1784, in anticipation of her marriage to lawyer David Stoddard Greenough (1752 – 1826). Four generations of their descendants lived in the house until 1924, when the house and the small surviving plot of land on which it stands was purchased by the Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club, saving it from demolition. The members, all women, were following the example of earlier ladies’ associations, which had saved and begun to restore such historic sites as Mount Vernon and Monticello. The Loring–Greenough property is still owned and operated by the Tuesday Club, which offers tours on Sundays and other programming and events throughout the year.
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.
The Town of Hull, Massachusetts was first settled in 1622 and officially incorporated in 1644, when it was named for Kingston upon Hull, England. The town juts out into the Boston Harbor, which historically had provided as a defense for approaching vessels into the harbor. As early as 1673, Telegraph Hill in Hull, was used as the highest point in the Boston harbor area from which signals could be sent warning the approach of vessels. The site was first used as a fort in 1776 to defend the port of Boston. Fort Independence was built on top of the hill in 1776-1777, to be succeeded by the much larger Fort Revere in 1903 (see next post). The first telegraph tower was built on the hill in 1827. Several other telegraph stations later occupied the site until 1938, when radio communications made the site obsolete. Though little of the original Revolutionary-era fort remains, the fort which began construction at the turn of the 20th century lasts as a stunning reminder to the importance of coastal defenses, high atop hills. At the highest point of Telegraph Hill this water tower which rises 120 feet off the ground was built in 1903 for the new Fort Revere as the first reinforced concrete water tower in the United States. At the top of the tower, an observation deck (now closed) was also used to send messages to other harbor defenses. The tower was restored in 1975 was designated an American Water Landmark in 2003. It was periodically open to the public until mid-2012 when it was closed due to safety concerns.
George Middleton and Louis Glapion built this two-family residence in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood in 1787, which is now the oldest extant home on Beacon Hill. This wood structure is a typical example of late 18th century Boston homes built by African Americans. Louis Glapion worked as a hairdresser and may have been from the French West Indies. Glapion lived and ran his business out of 5 Pinckney Street until his death in 1813. His wife Lucy continued to live there until 1832. George Middleton was a “horse breaker” (horse trainer) by trade and was adored in the diverse community of Beacon Hill. Middleton was one of 5,000 African Americans to serve in the military on the Patriot side of the Revolutionary War, leading an all-Black militia called the Bucks of America. The group is believed to have guarded the property of Boston merchants during the Revolution. After the war, he became the third Grand Master of the African Lodge, later known as the Prince Hall Masons. In 1796, Middleton founded the African Benevolent Society, which helped orphans and widows through job placement and financial relief. He died in 1815, outliving his wife and apparently left no children when he died in 1815.
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.
Samuel Cummings (1709-1772) married Prudence Lawrence (1715-1796) and moved to Hollis, NH from Groton, MA. The couple had a home built in town and raised at least four children, Samuel Jr., Mary, Sibbel, and Prudence. The original house built by Cummings was a single-story, four room, center chimney type. After his death in 1772, the property passed to Cummings’ son, Samuel Cummings, Jr., an acknowledged Tory. Interestingly, Samuel’s sister Prudence was an ardent patriot, who moved to Pepperell, MA and married a militia man, David Wright. While the Revolutionary War was raging, Prudence visited her brother in the old family home, when she overheard her brother Samuel talk to his friend, a British army officer about passing information to the British. Prudence returned to Pepperell and gathered the women of the town. Then a 35-year-old mother of five, she organized 30 or 40 of them into a militia called ‘Mrs. David Wright’s Guard.’ The women dressed in their husbands’ clothes and carried whatever they could for weapons. As the men had probably taken muskets with them, the women probably used farm implements such as pitchforks. The women patrolled the roads leading into town. The group eventually captured two British soldiers on horseback and let them go only once they agreed to never come back to the colony. Due to this event, Prudence never spoke to her loyalist brother again.
In the 1850s, the house was owned by Superintendent of Schools, Levi Abbott and his wife, Matilda. It was the Abbotts who reportedly added a second story to the house with a hip roof, cornice and corner pilasters, giving it the appearance we see today.