The Old Parsonage in Newington, NH, is a rare survivor from the 1700s in the tiny town. It is one of few extant “saltbox” houses to be found in the New Hampshire seacoast. Like most houses of this type, the parsonage has a lean-to that was added a few years after the house was built. Like the nearby meeting house, the parsonage has long been inextricably connected to the public life and the identity of Newington. Unlike the much-altered meeting house, the parsonage retains the appearance of the 1700s and has been extremely well-preserved, giving a glimpse into 18th century life in Newington. The parsonage is estimated to have been constructed in 1725 when Richard Pomeroy, the first Sexton of the church, sold the property here for 19 pounds, with no mention of a dwelling. It was acquired by a John Knight (1685-1765). After his death, the dwelling was sold to the Town of Newington and restored to be used as a parsonage.
Salt Box House
Davis House-Aunt Felicia’s Folly // 1805
If you stroll down Maine Street in Kennebunkport, you cant help but notice the most charming saltbox house. Constructed in 1805 by Samuel Davis, a master builder in Kennebunkport, the Federal home likely had a saltbox roof originally which would have housed the kitchen. After the Civil War, the home was owned by Silas Perkins, who then sold the home to his daughter, Felicia (Perkins) Cleaves and her husband, Albert, a teacher. By the 1870s, Felicia had the Colonial home completely renovated, turning into a Gothic Revival showpiece. Mrs. Cleaves added a new wing to the right of the original house, for she desired the high ceilings that were common during the Victorian era. The building became known in town as “Aunt Felicia’s Folly” and alternately, “the Witch House.” In 1966, owners restored the home back to what it likely looked like before the 1870s renovation, adding a saltbox roof.
Rebecca Nurse Homestead // 1678
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead sits on over 25 acres of an original 300 acre estate occupied by Rebecca Nurse and her family from 1678-1798. The property holds the traditional saltbox home lived in by the Nurse family. This is the only home of a person executed during the trials open to the public!
It was on March 19, 1692 that the frail 71-year-old matriarch, Rebecca Nurse, was accused of practicing witchcraft by young girls living in Salem Village, who had been suffering from horrid fits of an unknown cause. On March 23, constables arrested Rebecca and took her away from her beloved homestead. Following a trial, Rebecca was hanged on July 19 under the suspicion of her being a witch. After the execution, Rebecca’s children secretly buried their mother’s body in an unmarked grave on the homestead where is remains to this day.
The house remained a private residence until 1907, when it was acquired and extensively restored by the Rebecca Nurse Memorial Association. In 1926 the Association donated the house to Historic New England. In 1981 it was transferred to the Danvers Alarm List Company, an organization for the reenactment of colonial period history.
Peregrine White House // 1663
This first-period saltbox house was built for (and likely by) Peregrine White (1620-1704), who is known as the first child Pilgrim born in America as his mother gave birth to him on the ship the Mayflower. William White and his wife Susanna are believed to have boarded the Mayflower as part of the London merchant group, and not as members of the Leiden Holland religious movement. The Mayflower departed Plymouth, England in September of 1620. The small, 100-foot ship had 102 passengers and a crew of about 30-40 in extremely cramped conditions. By the second month out, the ship was buffeted by strong winds, causing the ship’s timbers to be badly shaken with caulking failing to keep out sea water, and with passengers, lying wet and ill. This, combined with a lack of proper rations and unsanitary conditions for several months, attributed to months of despair and uncertainty. On the way there were two deaths, a crew member and a passenger, but the worst was yet to come after arriving at their destination when, in the space of several months, almost half the passengers perished in cold, harsh, unfamiliar New England winter.
As an adult, Peregrine settled in what is today known as Marshfield, MA, and he was active in the local church and served as a deputy of the town. He and his family lived in this home which was later altered with larger windows and Georgian detailing. The remainder of the home’s history is somewhat unclear, but by 1947, the home was apparently moved by a Robert C. Leggett in three pieces to Tremont Street in Braintree, MA. The reason is not clear as well, but it likely was to save the structure from demolition. It is unclear how much of the original house from White is left and how much was added over the years.