MASSACHUSETTS


ABBOT HOUSE, 9 Andover Street, Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts (Latitude 42.646563,  Longitude -71.152219)

Felling dates:   Winter 1710/11 (Right-hand or eastern end)

Summer/autumn 1712 and Winter 1712/13 (Left-hand or western end)

Site chronology produced:  AHA   1532-1712

Architectural description and historical documentation:

The Abbot House is currently a central chimney structure five bays wide with an added lean-to across the north side and other additions to the rear and sides.  There are 12 sheets of Historic American Buildings Survey drawings of the house (the number is Mass 5 ANDO).  A report had been written by a previous owner, Joel Clayton, prepared for a class with Abbott Cummings.  Clayton had the benefit of seeing parts opened up for repair that are no longer accessible, and of learning from an earlier owner, Frank Demers, what he had found and done.  The report concluded that the house began as a single room plan with west end chimney bay.  Subsequently, rooms were added on the west side of the chimney, and the lean-to constructed even later.  What is uncertain is if the whole roof was replaced when the west rooms were added.  The roof framing over the two sections is not noticeably different and clues, such as carpenters’ marks, are obscured by later wooden reinforcing at the ridge.

There are several points of evidence for the building being of two phases.  First, the front and rear wall-plates are jointed immediately to the west of the truss outside the central chimney bay.  These are very simple horizontal half-lapped joints with a single through peg.  Whilst the front plates are jointed on the top of the east plate, gaining support from the adjacent post, the rear plate is reversed, resulting in the joint opening up noticeably.  Another piece of evidence is that the pockets for joists in the chimney tie beam in the west chamber are crudely cut, suggesting they were made in situ after the beam was in place.  Finally, when the timbers investigated by Clayton during repairs, he noted that the timbers in the east room had been whitewashed several times before they were cased, whereas the posts and girts in the west addition were never whitewashed, but were cased immediately.  Of course, this is not conclusive evidence of a different construction date for the two portions because if the east rooms were the more utilitarian hall and hall chamber, the framing might have been left exposed, while in the more formal parlor side, the framing might have been cased.

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2003 “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Abbot House, 9 Andover Street, Andover, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2003/1


Mill Ditch, Blackstone Street, Suffolk County, BOSTON   (Latitude; 42.364934, Longitude; -71.054163

Felling date: Winter 1683/4

Beam 1683(19C). Site Master 1454-1683 BMD (t = 6.67 PHD-1; 6.4 ALC2; 5.71 BOSTON01)

Description of structure:

According to Leith Smith, Project Archaeologist for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, the timber sampled "came from a wooden crib that was excavated at the Mill Creek Site in downtown Boston, essentially underneath Haymarket (Blackstone Street). The site was investigated as a contingency as part of the Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Mill Creek served as an outlet for Boston's Mill Pond that was where the Fleet Center now sits. A series of tidal mills were present at the upstream, pond end of Mill Creek beginning as early as 1643. The pond was filled around 1826. The creek was lined with a hodgepodge of stone and timbers. The cribwork is believed to have served as a support for a bridge that passed over the creek in the area of present day Hanover St." 

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6


BRADFORD HOUSE, 50 Landing Road, Kingston, Plymouth County, Massachusetts (41.996804, -70.723764)

Felling dates:              Spring 1714

Site chronology:          BRD 1621-1713

Architectural description and historical information:

The Bradford House is a two-and-one-half story structure with central chimney and a rear lean-to.  As originally constructed the house consisted of the west rooms, chimney bay and integral lean-to.  The rear slope of the roof was shallower than the front slope to allow for greater head room in the lean-to.  The walls were plank-framed. 

In the mid-eighteenth century, a file of rooms was added east of the chimney, at which time the chimney bay was widened to accommodate fireplaces facing both ways.  In the added space, the southeast room in the main range was made less deep and the northeast room in the lean-to was made wider than the comparable spaces on the west side.  In the lean-to chamber the east end tie is, consequently, cantilevered beyond the post considerably further than those on the other side.  To reinforce this extra long cantilever, the carpenters chose to support the beam with two diagonal braces.

The house was built by descendants of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth (d. 1657), and remained in the hands of the family until the late eighteenth century.  It replaced an earlier house, thought to have built circa 1674, for which foundation evidence was discovered immediately to the west of the present house (Jack Burrey pers comm). In 1921, the property was purchased by the Jones River Village Club and restored under the direction of George Francis Dow of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (Dempsey 2003).

The dendrochronology produced 6 precise felling dates of spring 1714 for first and second floor ceiling joists , suggesting that construction of the western section commenced during 1714, and was most likely completed by 1715.

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2005   “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Bradford House, 50 Landing Road, Kingston, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/2



BEVERLY, Essex County; The Balch House, 448 Cabot Street (42.561932, -70.884014)

(a) Primary Phase (North end)               

Felling dates: Winter 1677/8, Summer 1678, and Winter 1678/9

(b) Southern extension            

Felling dates: Summer 1660 (re-used), Spring 1720, and Winter 1720/21

(a) Summer beam 1677(C); Principal rafters 1678(C3), 1677(½C); Wallplate 1678(C); Corner posts 1678(C), 1671); Joists 1674(0, 5), 1672, 1665, 1662, 1654; North lean-to rafter 1678(C); (b) Oak: Joists 1719(¼C), 1717, 1691, 1682; Tiebeam 1720(C); Principal rafter (re-used) 1659(½C); Pine: Girt 1719; Summer beam 1717; Centre post 1720(C); Corner post 1720(C); Tiebeam (0/1). Site Masters (a and b - oak) 1585-1720 BALx1 (t = 10.5 PHI; 10.4 ALC3X; 10.0 BOSTON02); (b - pine) 1549-1720 BALx2 (t = 4.6 BEV; 4.6 OMBx1; 4.5 MONTP; 4.1 RAM).

The earliest part of the Balch House, constructed in 1680, is the surviving room of a one-and-one-half story, single room cottage, now minus its chimney bay, that forms the northeast portion of the present house.  The structure was likely built by Benjamin Balch Sr., son of John Balch who was granted 1000 acres of land here in 1635.  In 1721, Benjamin Balch 3rd, who inherited this portion of the property in 1703/4 from his grandfather, constructed the southern part of the house, a single room, two story structure with chimney bay on the north end.  At this point, the fragment of the earlier house was draw up and attached to the 1721 portion and its roof raised to two stories, creating a central chimney, two-room-plan house.  Later, the original north end and chimney bay were enlarged to the west.  A symmetrical gable roof, higher than the roof of the southern room, was built over the widened structure.  In the north wall of the attic rafters remain attesting to the three phases of roof framing.

The Balch Family Association acquired the house in 1916.  In 1921-1922, Norman Isham and William Sumner Appleton oversaw the restoration of the house, including the recreation of the original roof slope on the east façade over the northeast rooms and the installation of a façade gable.  Further restoration work was undertaken by Roy Baker in 1961-1962 (Cummings 1979:126). Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2006/44


BROOKLINE, Suffolk Co; 20 White Place (42.332019, -71.119064)

Felling dates: Winter 1681/2, Spring 1682, Summer/Autumn 1682,

Winter 1682/3, and Spring 1683

Chimney girt 1682(C); Chimney post 1682(12¼C); Corner post 1682(¼C); Summer beam 1681(½C); Stud 1681(23½C); Purlin 1681(11C); Principal rafter 162(C); Rafter 1681(16¼C); Collars 1682(¼C2). Site Master 1533-1682 WPB (t = 9.8 ALC3x; 8.8 JWL; 8.4 ALC14; 8.3 BOSTON02).

The building at 20 White Place was built by Thomas Gardner on another site in Brookline in 1683 or shortly thereafter as a single room plan house with an end chimney and was then, as now, two-and-one-half stories in height.  The original oak frame is substantially intact and includes longitudinal summer beams on both floors, gunstocked comer posts and a principal and common rafter roof frame.  The major timbers are decorated with chamfers and stops and the frame is relatively heavy in dimensions for its time period.  The buildings was moved to its present site ca. 1854 and it was perhaps at that time that the exterior was given its Italianate appearance and an entrance porch and room were added on the left side.  There have been several one-story additions to the rear of the building.  Alterations to the interior have included rearranging the space on both floors and the insertion of a staircase that necessitated the removal of a section of the summer beam on the first floor. Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2007/09



CHELSEA Suffolk Co, Gov. Bellingham-Cary House, 34 Parker St   (42.398363, -71.028211)

(a) Primary phase                                                        

Felling dates: Spring 1721, Winter 1722/3, and Winter 1723/4

(b) Rear extension                                                                    

 Felling date: Summer 1765

(a) Purlins (1/2) 1723(C); Beams (1/3) 1722(17C), Joists (1/4) 1722(16C), Wall plates 1722(4C), 1708; Sill beam 1707(H/S); Storey post 1713; (b) Beam 1764(½C); Principal rafters (0/2). Site Master 1652-1764 BCH (t = 8.2 BOSTON; 6.2 BALx1; 6.0 JWL).

 

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2008/46

 



Cooper-Frost-Austin House, 21 Linnaean Street, CAMBRIDGE, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts (42.36679, -71.106019)

 Felling dates: Winter 1675/6, Winter 1680/81, and Spring 1681

Purlin 1675(C); Summer beam 1680(22C); Mantle beam 1680(17¼C); Joist 1671(8); Tiebeams (0/2). Site Master 1527-1680 CFA (t = 6.87 ALC2; 6.27 ITH; 5.81 BOSTON01)

Architectural description:

The Cooper-Frost-Austin House is first mentioned in documents in 1689. "The Register Book of the Lands and Houses in the ‘New Towne’" states that by November 29, 1689, Samuel Cooper had built & settled in Cambridge. Samuel Cooper built the house on land that his father, Dea. John Cooper had owned since 1657.

The original structure was a single room and chimney bay in width, two and one half stories in height with an integral lean-to. The construction date of the Cooper-Frost-Austin House of 1681-1682, identified in the present tree-ring study, now makes this lean-to coeval with the integral lean-to at the Whipple-Matthews House in Hamilton, built 1680-1683. The latter has frequently been cited as the earliest surviving integral lean-to (Cummings 1979, 115). In both cases, the rear tie beams are cantilevered over the rear plate in order to give more head-room in the lean-to attic. The Whipple-Matthews House, however, employs a system of framing in which single long timbers form the rear rafter of the front range and the lean-to, a system that would become the standard method of framing integral lean-tos. The system used in Cooper’s house is now the unique example of its type (Isham 1928, Fig 19, 25). At the Cooper-Frost-Austin House the rafter of the main body of the house is morticed into a purlin in the position of a tilted false plate that is set into a notch on the upper face of the end of the tie beam. A separate lean-to rafter is then tenoned into the end of the tie beam and secured with a wooden pin (Cummings 1979, 87).

The west rooms and lean-to behind them were added soon after Samuel Cooper’s son, Walter inherited the house 1718, perhaps at the time his marriage in 1722. The one-story porch was added in the early eighteenth century. SPNEA acquired the house in 1912. Joseph Everett Chandler, noted restoration architect, supervised structural repairs and the removal of later finish materials in the hall.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6

Commissioner: Historic New England Webpage Cooper-Frost-Austin House



Fairbanks House, 511 East Street, DEDHAM, Norfolk County, Mass (41.90654, -94.822119)

(a) Primary phase

Felling dates: Winter 1637/8 and Winter 1640/41

(a) Summer beam 1637(13C); Joist 1640(15C); Wall boarding on stairs 1638(9), 1640(11) ; Sill beam 1618(H/S); Mantle beam (0/1); Chimney girt (0/1); Post (0/1); Studs (0/2); stave (0/1); Clap boards (0/2); Ex situ board (0/1). Site Master 1487-1640 FHD-1 (t = 6.6 ALC4; 5.79 BOSTON01; 5.61 ALC3)

(b) Roof boards

Felling dates: Winter 1652/3 and Winter 1654/5

(b) Boards (4/5) 1652(C), 1654(21C, 28C2). Site Master 1546-1654 FHD-2 (t = 4.28 DWH; 4.23 ALC10; 3.55 ALC4)

Architectural description:

Jonathan Fairbanks was granted twelve acres of land in Dedham on March 23, 1637, on the same date that he was accepted as a townsman. By 1641, he had built a two-and-one-half story, central chimney plan house with hall on the west side of the chimney, parlour on the east, and two chambers above, of which only the parlour chamber was heated. The main roof is of five bays with principal rafters, butt purlins, common rafters, and thin plank windbraces which unusually rise up to the principals. The wall framing is interesting in that it is unjettied and utilises trenched bracing and full height studs through two storeys.

The Fairbanks House, long recognised for its early construction date, archaic features, and unrestored condition, retains cedar clapboards on the upper portion of the north wall preserved by the addition of a rear lean-to at an early date. Whether the clapboards date from the completion of the house is uncertain, but it is interesting to note that in 1640, the selectmen provided that Jonathan Fairbanks "may have one cedar tree set out unto him to dispose of where he will: In consideration of some special service he hath done for the towne."

Thin oak boards, six to eight inches in width and nailed to the rafters several inches apart, are unlike the typical roof sheathing boards found in most seventeenth century houses. The fact that they are fourteen years later in date than the timbers in the main body of the house suggests that they may represent an early alteration to the roofing of the house. Cummings speculates that they could have been intended to receive thatch or shingles (Cummings 1979, 141).

Early on, the parlour and parlour chamber were extended by one bay to the east. Before 1764 an ell with gambrel roof was built on the west side. A few years later, according to tradition, a separate building was attached to the east side of the house, which had or was given a gambrel roof.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6



Robert Pierce House

Pierce House, 24 Oakton Avenue DORCHESTER, Suffolk Co, Mass (42.307878, -71.063401)

(a) Primary phase

Felling dates: Winter 1681/2 and Winter 1682/3

(a) Wall braces 1597, 1627; Tiebeams 1681(11C), 1682(12C); Joists 1682(10C,21C); Summer beams 1662; 1680(11); Chimney girt 1682(10); End girt 1682(15C); Reset rafter (0/1). Site Master 1521-1682 PHD-1 (t = 7.48 ALC4; 6.67 BMD; 6.51 BOSTON01)

(b) Western extension

Felling dates: Winter 1711/12

(b) Stud 1711(C); Rafters (3/6) 1673, 1676, 1682; Girt (0/1). Site Master 1583-1711 PHD-2 (t = 6.25 CHN; 6.14 ALC3; 4.97 BOSTON01)

Architectural description:

Thomas Pierce built the middle section of the current house in 1683 on land acquired by his father, Robert Pierce in 1652, if the reading of a faded date on the deed of transfer is correct. The privately-owned unrecorded deed indicates that Robert Pierce had already built a house on the land "by verbal agreement" with the grantor. Tradition has long held that Robert Pierce’s house is the one that survives today.

The house comprises four main historic phases. Thomas Pierce’s house, two and one half stories in height with chimney bay on the west end, was unusually long in its lateral dimension for a single room plan house. The structure likely had an narrow unheated room on the east end. The primary phase consists of a three-bay plan with a narrower chimney bay at the west end whilst the four roof trusses above the roof have been spaced apart equally, resulting in the principal rafters not aligning with the tiebeams below apart from that at the west end. The historic truss numbering appears to run from east to west using Roman I, II, III, & IIII, and these will be used to identify the trusses in future reports. The original house appeared to have a projecting gable on the front, and at the east end. The roof is of conventional English framing with principal rafters, butt purlins, and common rafters set on the flat.

During or shortly after 1712, dendrochronology suggests, a file of rooms was built on the west side of a widened chimney bay. A lean-to was added, possibly in several building campaigns, across the back of the house. As at the Fairbanks House, the addition of the lean-to preserved a wall of original cedar clapboards (in this case clearly original). In 1765, owner Col. Samuel Pierce, a skilled carpenter, enlarged the east rooms by putting an addition nine feet wide on the east end of the house. He extended the lean-to behind his addition. The kitchen in the west portion of the lean-to was rebuilt and extended slightly to the north in the nineteenth century, bringing the house to its present form.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6

Commissioner: Historic New England Webpage Cooper-Frost-Austin House


DOVER, Norfolk Co. Chickering-Francis Farmhouse, 85 Walpole Street.  (42.222869 -71.269719)                                     

 Felling dates: Spring 1782 (main frame); Summer 1784, Spring 1785, Winter 1785/6 (cellar)

Wall-plates 1781(¼C2); Cross-tie 1781(¼C); Principal post 1777(16); Cellar ceiling beams 1785(10C), 1783(23½C); Cellar ceiling joists 1784(¼C, 9¼C). Site Master 1671-1785 DVR (t = 7.7 PIEDMONT; 5.7 OMBx1; 5.0 EYREHALL; 4.3 BPR).

The original part of the Chickering-Francis Farmhouse, built in 1786 or shortly thereafter, is an almost square structure two-and-one-half stories in height with a gable roof and hewn overhangs at the second story and attic levels.  The building incorporates several interesting and unusual features.  Most notably, the exterior walls were intentionally built to splay outward slightly from the foundation to the eaves.  In addition, the building has elements of the square plan, an alternative house plan that developed in the early eighteenth century in southeastern New England.  Like most square plan houses, the frame includes corner posts and one intermediate post per wall.  Unlike the typical square plan building, the chimney is in a central, as opposed to an off-center location, and instead of a single girt on the first floor spanning the building from front to back positioned over the intermediate posts, two girts flank the chimney mass independent of the posts. The building preserves period finish materials on the interior, such as raised and fielded paneling and vertical sheathing.  The stairs have been relocated and certain partitions were repositioned or removed.  The original chimney, supported on a brick arch in the cellar, was altered to relocate the oven opening and reduce the size of the fireboxes.  Rare early or original puncheon stairs give access to the cellar.  The current roof and its framing are apparently a late nineteenth century alteration.  Evidence in the plates suggests that the original roof was some variant of a hip or gable on hip roof.  On the exterior, what must be the original beaded weatherboards remain on a side wall, while early clapboards finish the other walls.  An early painting of the house shows a one-story wing on the rear.  The current owners enlarged the rear wing recently.

Documents indicate that the property was owned by Nathaniel and Esther Chickering when the house was built.  The property has been in the hands of the family of the current owners since 1882.

The architectural description was complied from notes by William Finch. 

Documentary information was provided by Bonnie Fryer. 

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2006  “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Chickering-Francis Farm, 85 Walpole Street, Dover, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2006/10

 


COGSWELL’S GRANT, 60 Spring Street, Essex, Essex County,  MA (42.639302, -70.773497)

Felling dates:   Spring 1655 (Re-used beam in cellar of main range)

Winter 1727/8  (Main range)

Winter 1677-78 (Re-used brace in Salt Hay Barn)

Spring 1719 (Salt Hay Barn)

Site Chronology Produced: CWG  1557-1727

Architectural description and historical information:

The older portion of the house known as Cogswell’s Grant, comprising the left-hand rooms and the stair hall, was built in 1728 on land granted to John Cogswell, Sr. in 1635 when the property was part of newly-settled Ipswich.  There was a house on Cogswell’s property as early as 1641.  In 1687, boundary descriptions in a deed that mention  “a dam before the farmhouse” indicate that there was already a house in the approximate location of the present house, which sits close to the remains of a tidal dam.  In the deed, William Cogswell, John Sr.’s son, transfered the property to his son, Jonathan Cogswell.  He, in turn, bequeathed the property to his son, Jonathan, when he died in 1717.  Jonathan, the son, began to build the house two years before his marriage in 1730.

The left-hand portion of the house has a plan somewhat reminiscent of the stone-ender with two side-by-side fireplaces, in this case enclosedspan style="mso-spacerun:yes">  in a chimney bay by an exterior clapboarded wall.  The chimney served fireplaces in two equally-sized rooms and chambers.  A stair hall with both a straight-run front staircase and a three-run rear staircase completed the plan.  Woodwork in this part of the house, including paneling, paneled doors, post and beam cases, turned stair balusters, and in the front rooms, chimney breasts with bolection moldings around the fireboxes, is consistent with the finishing of rooms in houses of other prominent Ipswich citizens of the period. 

During preparation for SPNEA of the Historic Property Report on Cogswell’s Grant in 1993, physical evidence was noted that suggested that the 1728 left-hand part of the house might have been built onto an earlier structure at its right-hand end, perhaps explaining its unusual plan.  References in an inventory of 1752 to the old kitchen and the new kitchen supported this theory.  The current right-hand rooms of the house, however, likely date from the 1770s or 1780s (dating this part of the house in the current dendrochronology study was unsuccessful).  In 1995 an archaeological excavation along the right-hand wall of the current house confirmed that there had been a previous structure in that location.  Among other artifacts, remnants of foundation walls and leaded glass from windows were found. 

 The two reused beams in the cellar dated during this project to 1655 were previously identified by Abbott Cummings as being potentially of mid-seventeenth century origin owing to their decoration with wide chamfers and their empty mortises for joists with narrow spacing.span style="mso-spacerun:yes">  OOne, in fact, had pockets for bare-faced soffit tenons that Cummings identified as an archaic carry-over from England of the sixteenth century and earlier.  Whether the two beams may have come from a previous Cogswell house on the property is a matter of speculation. 

By 1791, a partial rear lean-to projecting beyond the left end wall had been built.span style="mso-spacerun:yes">  The property passed into the hands of the Boyd family in 1837.  In the mid-nineteenth century, the lean-to was raised to two stories and  given a gable roof, windows were enlarged and the foundation faced with granite.

In 1937, the house was purchased by Nina Fletcher and Bertram K. Little, noted collectors of and authorities on American Decorative and Folk Arts.  They extended the ell again and restored the interiors, recreating original grain painting schemes on the woodwork in the process.  Upon Mrs. Little’s death in 1993, the property came to SPNEA.

The Salt Hay Barn, previously estimated to have been built c. 1730, was completed in 1719, shortly after Jonathan Cogswell, the younger, inherited the property from his father.  The barn is a rare surviving example of an early barn of the English type.  A relatively small barn three bays in length, the structure was traditionally thought to have been used to store hay from near-by salt marshes.  Later a two bay garage was added to one end.  The barn shares framing and joinery characteristics with the small number of remaining barns of the period.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2003span style="mso-spacerun:yes">  ““Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase III”, ODL unpubl rep 2003/9

Historic New England

Commissioner: Historic New England Webpage for COGSWELL’S GRANT



FIRST PARISH CHURCH, corner of Powder House Road and Lowell Road, Groton, Middlesex County ,Massachusetts
: (42.605687, -71.567034)

Felling dates: Winter 1752/3 and Winter 1753/4

Site chronologies produced:  GCG-1  1598-1752

          GCG-2  1682-1753

Architectural description  and historical information:

The issue of building a new meeting house in Groton was first raised in 1745 (Butler 1848, 147). In August of 1752 the townspeople voted not to build a new, but they quickly reversed themselves.  On September 11, 1752, they “voted to build a new meeting-house with one tier of galleries, and in voting for its place each man to write his name upon his vote to prevent further disputes. . . . [They further voted] that the dimensions of said house be sixty-five feet in length and fifty feet in breadth, and twenty-six feet posts, and to have a belfry at one end of said house to hang a bell on (Butler 1848, 147).” An accompanying illustration shows the meeting house as it appeared in 1838. 

On July 26, 1838, the building was struck by lightening and the steeple and belfry were somewhat damaged (Butler 1848, 151).  IIn 1839, the meeting house was rotated a quarter turn counter-clockwise and remodelled inside and out in the Greek Revival style as shown in an accompanying illustration. 

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II”, Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory, unpublished report 2002/6 /p>


IPSWICH, the Hart House, 51 Linebrook Road (42.68049, -70.833006)

Felling dates:> Summer 1678, Winter 1678/9, Summer 1680

Mantelbeam 1679(11½C); End girt/tie 1678(8C); Chimney rafter 1678(12C); Chimney girt 1677(14½C); Centre rafter 1667(H/S); Chimney tie 1676(9); Chimney post 1674(3); Summer beam (0/1). Site Master> 1545-1679 HRT (t = 6.7 DWH; 6.5 CHN; 6.3 JWL).

The earliest part of the Hart House, a single room plan house, two-and-one half stories in height with chimney bay on the east end, was built in 1680 or shortly thereafter by Samuel Hart.  Samuel was the son of Thomas Hart, who had settled in Ipswich by 1639.  When an addition was built on the opposite side of the chimney by c. 1725 or later (Cummings 1979), the new structure was positioned half a story above the original house and was only one-and-one-half stories in height because of the land loped up sharply to the east.  Subsequently the house was further enlarged on the east side and rear.  In 1902 Ralph W. Burnham purchased the property for use as a guest house.  He restored certain portions of the building.  In the process he fitted up the original west room with shadow-molded sheathing and a lintel cover board embellished with dentils.  TThese were thought to have come from the Saltonstall-Merrifield House in Ipswich/st1:place> (Waters 1907).  In 1920, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York replicated the original west room for an exhibit in the newly-established American Wing.  In 1936, the museum purchased and dismantled the original room and chamber in Ipswich and associated outer wall framing.  The room replaced the earlier Hart room exhibit in the American Wing.  The chamber and its framing were acquired for exhibit by the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum in Winterthur, Delaware. Photos indicate that when the room and chamber were removed, the original chimney bay framing was left in place.  When reproductions of the room and chamber were installed in the Hart House in Ipswich, the original rafters were put back in their original positions.

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2006/7


Tuttle House, 103 High Street, Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts (42.686706, -70.845884)

(also known as the Merchant Choate House and Austin Lord House)

(a) Primary phase (southern end)

Felling dates: Winter 1670/71

(a) Chimney girt 1670(13C); Summer beam 1670(13C); Joists 1638, 1640(13), 1643; Rear girt (0/1); Posts 0/2). Site Master 1495-1670 ITH (t = 6.81 ALC2; 6.27 CFA; 5.4 BOSTON01)

(b) Northern extension

Felling dates: Winter 1671/2 and 1672

((b) Rear wall brace 1671(C); Posts (3/4) 1672(?C); Wallplate (0/1); Reused wallplate (0/1). Site Master 1584-1672 ith02 (t = 6.52 BOSTON01; 4.63 ALC2; 4.63 CHN)

(c) Repair to northern extension

Felling date range: After 1761

(c) LH end girt 1761. Site Master 1694-1761 ith01 (t = 5.69 BOSTON02; 4.49 BOSTON01; 3.36 HH)

Latitude: 42.686706  /  Longitude: -70.845884

Architectural description:

Previous dendrochronological dating of the Tuttle House places construction of the left-hand room and chimney bay in 1672-1673 (Krusic 2001). The right-hand room, examined as part of the current project, was constructed in 1671. Physical evidence indicates that two single cell one-and-one-half-story cottages, one minus a chimney bay, were put together to form a central chimney house plan possibly as late as 1705. The structures were later raised to a full two stories. A lean-to and rear lateral extensions were added likely during the eighteenth century.

The retention of two rare early story-and-one-half building frames, and the carefully-documented restoration undertaken by the present owners in which many early features were left exposed, makes this house a unique document of early building practices. The presence of braces trenched to receive studs in the left-hand frame, a feature now found only in the this house and the Fairbanks House (1638-1641), revises our thinking about the continued use of trenched braces. Such braces were previously thought to be an archaic feature surviving only from the earliest years of English settlement. Physical evidence indicates that originally the right-hand frame has a principal rafter/ common purlin roof, which is one of the earliest known examples of the use this new framing system.

A new girt, tree-ring dated to 1761, was installed on the left end of the house, perhaps at the time that the house was raised to a full two stories. Because the existing frame could not be spread, the girt was morticed into the rear post, but attached by a dovetail joint to the front post./p>

The title history of the property, identified by Thomas Franklin Waters and others, cannot be easily correlated with the construction evidence. A closer reading of the documents will be necessary in order to decipher the history of the structure (if indeed it can be documented), to determine whether either portion of the early house sits on its original foundation, and to identify where the dwelling house of William Merchant, built before 1668, ostensibly on this property and present in 1694, might have been located.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6

 


WHIPPLE HOUSE, 53 South Main Street, Ipswich, Essex County,  Massachusetts (42.677076, -70.836831)

Felling dates:               Summer 1676, Winter 1676/7

                                    Summer 1689, Winter 1689/90

Site Chronology Produced: ALC6  1480-1689

Architectural description and historical information:

The Whipple House, which faces south, began as a single cell house with chimney bay on the east end.  The original house, built in 1677, was two-and-one-half stories in height and featured a facade gabble.  In 1790, the house was enlarged by a substantial addition twenty-four feet in length east of the chimney that included a second facade gable.  The crossed summer beams in the east room suggest that the room was partitioned along the transverse summer beam originally.  The eastern part of the lean-to may have been constructed at the same time.  On the east wall, both the main range and the lean-to were given hewn overhangs with substantial ogee moldings.  The lean-to was later extended to the west and raised to two stories. 

Captain John Whipple (1625-1683), the second of three John Whipples who were prominent and wealthy Ipswich residents, built the original part of the house.  His son, Major John Whipple (1657-1722) constructed the eastern part of the house six years after he inherited the house from his father.  The house was purchased by the Ipswich Historical Society in 1898.  In 1928 the house was moved to its present site, where it serves as a house museum.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6



LEXINGTON, Middlesex Co; Hancock-Clarke House, 36 Hancock St
 (42.453591, -71.228538)

(a) Front Range                                   

Felling dates: Spring 1735, Winter 1735/6, and Spring 1736

(b) Rear Ell                             

Felling dates: Spring 1736, Winter 1736/7, and Spring 1737

((a) Joist 1736(¼C); Purlins 1736C, 1734(17¼C); Stud reused as stair newel 1697(C);  Ex situ joists (0/2); Reused studs (0/3); Pine rafters (0/5); Pine tiebeam (0/1); (b)  Rafters 1736(6¼C, ¼C); Joists (2/4) 1736(8C), 1713; End girt 1736(C); Tiebeam 1736(C); Partition plank 1735(¼C); Corner post 1733; Collar (0/1). Site Master> 1654-1736 HCLx1 (t = 6.0 BCC; 5.8 EFH; 5.3 DVR).

The earliest part of the Hancock-Clarke House, constructed in 1737-1738, consists of a two-and-one-half story gable roofed south part and a two story gambrel roofed ell to the north, which spans the easternmost two thirds of the south part.  The house, virtually unchanged from its original construction, includes well-crafted woodwork of Georgian design in the south part.  The north part received a simpler treatment in keeping with the utilitarian functions it housed.  The house was revered and preserved because of its associations with the beginning of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775 as the home of patriot minister, Jonas Clarke, until the late nineteenth century when the owner threatened to demolish it.  The Lexington Historical Society, founded in 1886, purchased the house and moved it off its original site to save it in 1896.  Since 1897, the house has been a museum.  In 1974, the house was returned to its original site after the property was bequeathed to the Lexington Historical Society.  In 1975 an addition was built north of the ell to house a reception and exhibit space.

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2007/20


155 Whitcomb Avenue, Littleton, Middlesex County, MA (42.526888, -71.522378)

Felling dates:   Spring 1797, Winter 1797/8

Site Chronology Produced: LTN  1728-1797 

Architectural description and historical information:

The building at 155 Whitcomb Avenue, which was dismantled for salvage in April 2003, was composed of two eighteenth-century structures: an end chimney, story-and-one-half house traditionally dated to c. 1735 on the southwest and a single story square building, two bays wide, two bays deep and twenty-four feet on a side, on the northeast.  The square building had been drawn up and attached to the other structure in the nineteenth century.  Together they formed a gable roofed dwelling with an open porch across the west half of the façade facing toward Whitcomb Avenue (Figure 1L).  The building had several later additions to the rear.  Evidence that northeast structure had been built with a pyramidal roof originally first came to light when the building was being prepared for removal to make way for new construction (Figure 2L).  William Gould, architectural preservationist, alerted the preservation community to the fact that, because of its unusual original roof form and its square dimensions, the building might be the remains of an eighteenth-century public building.

At first it was thought that the structure could be the first meeting house built in Littleton in 1717.  When documents failed to turn up any evidence to support this hypothesis, dendrochronology was suggested as a means of determining the exact construction date.  When the dendrochronological study identified 1797-1798 as the building’s date, research focused on the late eighteenth century history of Littleton.  Researchers learned that the first public school buildings in Littleton were authorized in 1797.  The coincidence of dates, the notion that a school building might well have been built, unlike conventional dwellings of the period, with a pyramidal roof, and additional evidence described below suggested that the building attached to the house at 155 Whitcomb Avenue might be Littleton’s original West School building.

Although there had been town-funded schools in private houses since 1725, construction of public school buildings was not undertaken until 1797-1798.span style="mso-spacerun:yes">   One school was built in each quadrant of the town.  The West School was built “on the road leading from near John Sanderson’s house to Wm. B. Eastman’s house.” The West School is located on the plan of Littleton prepared by Hoar and Foster in 1830 (Figure 3L).  Between 1867 and 1874, the town built the first graded school and replaced the outlying school houses.  A marker on the south side of Sanderson Road, just west of its junction with Taylor Road identifies the present gray wooden dwelling behind it as the replacement West School of c. 1870.  The sign also states that the original West School was on a nearby site, a location that is just a mile from 155 Whitcomb Avenue. 

According to Dan Shields, who dismantled the structure, a former owner of the house at 155 Whitcomb Avenue, Charles Morse, told him that the added part of the building had been moved from near the Depot, which still stands close to the beginning of Sanderson Road.  Further, Shields felt that the structure was attached to the existing building in the 1860s, based on his estimate of the finish materials and construction techniques used at the time that the buildings were joined. 

Although there is no absolute proof that the building moved to 155 Whitcomb Avenue is the original West School, the combination of evidence makes a compelling case for the building’s original identity.  IIf so, the frame, now dismantled and in storage, is one of a very small number of eighteenth-century school buildings in Massachusetts of which we have direct knowledge from artifactual remains.  Construction details of the 1797-1798 structure at 155 Whitcomb Avenue were photographed and recorded by Anne Grady between February and April 2003. 

The roof frame, visible at first in an unfinished attic, retained dragon beams in each corner (i>Figure 4L; 5L).  The beams, which bisected the corners, were supported by dragon ties placed diagonally across the corner and lapped over the adjoining plates and tie beams.  Mortises for corner rafters were present at the outer ends of the dragon beams.  The roof frame in its last configuration supported a gable roof, but evidence showed that the frame for the gable roof incorporated timbers that had been part of the pyramidal roof structure.  TThe original central king post, attached to the central tie beam by means of a half dovetail tenon held in place by a wedge, supported the center of the gable roof (Figure 6L).  The original central front and rear rafters of the pyramidal roof were still in place mortised into the top of the king post and the ends of the central tie beam.   That these central rafters remained in their original position indicates that the pyramidal roof had the same pitch as the gable roof.  A central beam in two sections in the attic floor running in a longitudinal direction was mortised into the central tie beam next to the king post (Figure 6L).  Where the central side-to-side beam lapped over the end tie beams, there were mortises for the side rafters of the pyramidal roof.  At the top of the king post were the empty mortises where the side rafters had once been joined to the king post (Figure 7L).  In addition, there were notches on  the four corners of the top of the king post to receive the corner rafters that ran from the dragon beams to  the king post (Figure 7L).  Some of the original corner rafters were re-used in the gable roof, their original use identified by pockets cut on a diagonal  to receive previous purlins.  At least one corner rafter was flipped over to provide a flat surface to which to nail the roof sheathing, where in their original position the rafters had been beveled to receive sheathing at the corners of the pyramidal roof (Figure 8L). 

The building frame was of oak and the major timbers were hewn.  Joists running between the tie beams were of slim logs, some still retaining bark, that were hewn flat on the bottom and were joined to the lower sides of the tie beams so that lath for a flush plaster ceiling could be nailed to them.  The ceiling present before demolition was still lower, however, and was hung from hangers (Figure 5L). 

The original exterior sheathing of the structure was nailed on with hand wrought nails.  The sheathing appeared weathered.  The absence of nail holes where additional exterior cladding was nailed on suggests that the sheathing may have remained uncovered as the exterior wall finish. 

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2003  ““Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase III”, Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpubl rep 2003/9



Dwight Derby House

MEDFIELD, Dwight-Derby House, 7 Frairy Street (42.187404, -71.307854)

(a) South-west block                                                                                                 

Felling dates: Spring 1697

(b) South-east wing                                                                                                            

Felling dates: Winter 1712/13

a) Tiebeam 1696(12¼C); Principal post 1693(14); (b) Corner posts 1712(C), 1709, 1698; Wall plate 1712(C), Joists 102, 1697; Timbers reused as struts (1/2) 1712(14C). Site Master 1521-1712 DDM (t = 10.4 BOSTON02; 9.2 NEWPORT1; 8.9 BOSTON01; 7.0 ALC4X).

The Dwight-Derby House in Medfield is documented to have originally been constructed in about 1652 by Timothy and Mary Dwight. Timothy Dwight remarried in 1669 and it was thought that the house was doubled in size at that time.  Their youngest son John inherited the property and married in 1696.  It is he who built the existing south-west block which has subsequently been remodelled.  In 1713 the house was extended to the east with a cross-wing, possibly replacing one of the earlier phases of the house. 

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2007/39 


CHESTNUT HILL MEETING HOUSE, Chestnut Hill Road, Millville, Worcester County, MA (42.045405, -71.578707)

Felling dates:    Winter 1766/7, Summer 1767, Winter 1767/8, and Summer 1768 (Frame)

                        Winter 1770/71 (Gallery staircase)

Site Chronology Produced: CHM 1609-1767

Architectural description and historical information:

The Chestnut Hill Meeting House was built in 1769 in what was then the South Parish of Mendon.  The meeting house, one of the best preserved in New England, shares many characteristics with the eighteenth-century meeting houses studied in Phase I of SPNEA’s dendrochronology project.

The meeting house is about forty feet wide by thirty-five feet long, and has box pews covering the first floor and galleries on three sides above.  There are five structural bays.  Adjustments were made in the size of the bays in order to accommodate supports for the galleries and to allow for the width of the pulpit.  The roof frame consists of six king post trusses with braces between the king post and rafters and from the king posts to the tie beams.  Perhaps owing to the building’s comparatively modest size, the roof frame has single, rather than double, rafters.  Joists flush with the bottoms of the tie beams suggest that a plaster ceiling was anticipated.  The camber of the tie beams gives the current matchboard ceiling a slight curve.  

Alterations in the nineteenth century included installing plaster and lath on the walls, replacing the windows and doors, boxing posts next to the pulpit and replacing box pews in the center part of the floor with slip pews.  The original pews were reinstalled by 1935.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2003  “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase III”, Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpubl rep 2003/9.

The Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association Webpage


CAPEN HOUSE, 427 Hillside Street, Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts (42.220651, -71.084752)

Felling dates:               Winter 1674/5

Site Chronology Produced:     ALC4X 1537-1674

Architectural description and historical information:

The original portion of the Capen House, built by John Capen in 1675 or shortly thereafter at what is now 523 Washington Street in Dorchester, consisted of an end chimney bay and a range of two side by side rooms, the outer one of which was unheated, that extended from the chimney bay.  A longitudinal summer beam ran from the chimney girt to a transverse summer beam at the junction of the two rooms, giving a T-shaped configuration to the beams that support the second floor.  The rooms were separated by a vertical board partition with molded battens along the transverse summer beam, now relocated to the second floor.   The house was a near twin in plan and framing of the original part of the Pierce House built in Dorchester in 1683, and like the Pierce house, had a framed overhang at each gable end. 

In the mid eighteenth century, a room and chamber were added to the right of the chimney.  These rooms retain Georgian woodwork from the period.  Unlike at the Pierce House, the chimney bay was not widened, so the original location of the enclosed stairs is preserved.  A lean-to and several other rear additions were later appended to the house.

The house remained in the Capen family until 1909 when it was scheduled to be razed to make way for the construction of a triple decker on the Washington Street site.  Prof. Kenneth G. T. Webster of Harvard University purchased the house and had it re-erected in Milton.  The frame and chimney were rebuilt on the basis of measured drawings and careful labeling of components.  The house remains in the hands of descendants of Prof. and Mrs. Webster.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/9 



Coffin House

NEWBURY, Essex County, Mass Coffin House, 16 High Road  (42.79977, -70.862808)

(a) South-west ell

Felling dates: Winter 1676/7, Winter 1677/8

(b) North-east cross-wing

Felling dates: Winter 1712/13

(a) Posts (1/2) 1676(8C); Tiebeam 1676(21C); Principal rafters 1676(11C, 12C), 1677(9C). (b) Post 1712 (15C); Principal rafters 1712(16C), Black Ash principal rafter 1712(C); Black Ash collar 1713(C). Site Master 1560-1712 CHN (t = 6.35 BOSTON01; 6.25 PHD-2; 6.08 ALC3)

Architectural description:

The earliest part of the Coffin House was built in 1678 on land owned by Tristram Coffin, Jr., though how he acquired the land is not recorded. The property remained in Coffin family ownership until it came to SPNEA in 1929 and was for a time divided in ownership among several members of the Coffin family (Spring 1929, 6-7). The traditional date of c. 1654 was assigned by Joshua Coffin, author of the 1845 history of Newbury, who resided in the house (Coffin 1845, 391).

The earliest part of the Coffin House is the south-west ell exclusive of the one-story addition south and west of it and the lean-to north of it. The building was of one room plan with chimney on the east end and two-and-one-half stories in height. Some evidence suggests that a porch with chamber above, no longer extent, was part of the original building (Grady 1995). In 1713, when Tristram Coffin’s son, Nathaniel, owned the house, the full front range of the house, five bays wide facing High Road, was built. The new addition, with chimney on the north end, was built not quite at right angles to the original structure a few feet east of it, allowing for a widened chimney bay with fireplaces facing both ways between the original building and the south room of the addition.

The Coffin House, long cited as the earliest example of the principal rafter/common purlin roof, may no longer hold that distinction, now that the construction date has been pushed forward by twenty years. However, even in 1675, the roof is one of the earliest extant expressions of this innovative framing system.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6 

Historic New England Link to webpage

Coffin House on Wikipedia Link to webpage

 


John Adams Birthplace, Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts (42.239325, -71.003448)

East Chamber  Winter 1673/4, Spring 1677, and Winter 1677/8

West Chamber Winter 1720/21 and Winter 1721/22

Lean-to            After 1642

Architectural and Historical Data

The John Adams Birthplace (Figure 4), facing south, is a two-room plan structure, two-and-one-half stories in height with a central chimney and a rear lean-to.  Presently, a small wing extends from the rear center of the lean-to.

Deacon John Adams (2nd U.S. President’s father)  purchased the property in 1720 from James Penniman.  Prior to the Penniman ownership (1675-1720), there is one recorded owner—William Needham.  William Needham is said to have obtained the parcel as a land grant in 1639/40.

The front part of the house was built in 1722, or shortly thereafter by Deacon John Adams.  President John Adams refers to the fact that his father built the house in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rusk of July 19, 1812.  The framing of the east side incorporates a number of reused timbers.  Four of the timbers including the summer beam (Figure 5), two joists in the east room ceiling (Figures 8 and 9), and one joist in the ceiling by the attic stairs, believed to have been reset, dated to 1673/4-1677/8.  Other timbers, including two rafters and a joist show framing features that are consistent with a late 1670s construction date, suggesting that they may have been salvaged from the same structure as the four dated reused timbers.  It does not appear, however, that a complete cohesive frame was incorporated into the east part of the 1722 building, as other timbers on the east side, such as posts and tie beams, are more characteristic of early 1720s construction in that they are less carefully finished and two of these timbers dated to 1722.

The reused rafters in the attic east of the chimney show evidence of having been associated with clasped purlins (Figures 6 and 7). The rafter just east of the chimney, though now turned 180 degrees from its original orientation, shows evidence of a mortise for a collar and right above it, of a slot into which the clasped purlin was slipped.  In the east attic room, the sides of the other reused rafter are covered with plaster, so that the slot for the clasped purlins can not be seen, but pegs to secure the purlin can be seen on the lower face of the rafter.  Though clasped purlins were a frequently used framing option in England, only one other example of their use is known to survive in New England – at the Tuttle House in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  There, rafters from an earlier structure that once held clasped purlins are also reused in a current roof.

In order for the dendrochronologists to sample the timbers in the ceiling of the east room, floor boards in the east chamber over the summer beam were removed.  Figures 8 reveals that the joists are set in the original pockets.  One of the joists can be seen to have a tusk tenon (Figure 9), a feature much more likely to be found in a house of the 1670s than one of the 1720s.  It could be that the summer beam (Figures 5 and 8) and the original joists associated with it in the east room ceiling were reused en mass from the 1678 structure, but further investigation is need to determine how much of an earlier house frame was inserted intact into the present structure. 

In 1897, a brick with the numerals 1681 was found in the southeast foundation.  The house was assumed by early antiquarians to have had its origins in the seventeenth century, partly because of this brick. The letter in which John Adams said that his father built the house was discounted as not factual, in spite of the fact that it appears in John Adams letterbook.  Possibly the reused timbers were salvaged from an earlier house on the site, built during the ownership of Joseph Penniman, who purchased the property in 1675.  

Deacon Adams’s first son, the future president was born in the house in 1735.  In 1896, the Adams Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution leased the birthplace from the Adams Real Estate Trust.  In 1940, the Trust transferred ownership to the City of Quincy.  In 1979, the Federal Government became the owner and the National Park Service took over the administration of the property as an historic site.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2005b  “Tree-Ring Dating of The John Adams Birthplace and the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, Franklin Street at President’s Avenue, Quincy, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/11 


John Quincy Adams Birthplace, Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts (42.239059, -71.003405)

Primary phase  Winter 1712/13?, Winter 1715/16, and Winter 1716/17

Architectural and Historical Data

The John Quincy Adams Birthplace,  built in 1717 or shortly thereafter, facing east, is a two-room plan building with a central chimney and an added lean-to.  The framing members remain exposed throughout the house.  The major framing timbers are decorated in an unusual manner with a quirked bead at the edges and a coved stop at the ends of the bead (Figure 14).  While the bead is an expected feature of framing of its date, its use in combination with stops is known in only one other building in Massachusetts.  In the other building, the Benaiah Titcomb House, dated to c. 1700, originally in Newburyport, but now removed to Essex, the quirked bead is much larger at 1 ¼ inches, and the stops are delicate lambs’ tongues. 

Deacon Gregory Belcher, a carpenter and shipwright, owned the property when the house was built, and it was inherited by his son, Gregory Belcher, Jr., also a carpenter, who married in 1719.  Deacon John Adams purchased the property in 1744.  He bequeathed in 1761 the property to his son, John (2nd U.S. President).  Future 6th U.S. President John Quincy Adams was born in the house in 1767.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2005b  “Tree-Ring Dating of The John Adams Birthplace and the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, Franklin Street at President’s Avenue, Quincy, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/11 


Old Castle, Pigeon Cove Center, Rockport, Essex County, Massachusetts (42.656775, -70.618899)

Felling Date Summer 1711

Site Chronology produced: OCP 1563-1710

Architectural Description and Historical Documentation:

When first built, the Old Castle consisted of hall and parlor disposed on either side of a central chimney with two chambers and an attic above.  In front of the chimney in the central bay was a small lobby entry with stairs.  There was a hewn overhang across the façade.

The felling date of the timbers in the house of 1712 neatly coincides with the construction date suggested by the deed history.  Jethro Wheeler acquired the property without mention of housing by a deed dated Dec. 12, 1712 for 150 pounds.   In a mortgage deed of 1717, housing is mentioned, and in 1724 when Jethro Wheeler conveyed the property to his son Benjamin, its value had jumped to 600 pounds, no doubt reflecting the construction of the house, far above the norm for the period in size, and perhaps other improvements.

The house remained in the hands of the Wheeler family.  After 1792 ownership was divided between two branches of the family.  In 1792, Benjamin Wheeler, Jr. conveyed to western half to his son, John Dane “in consideration of twenty-five pounds expended and laid out in building a back leanter (or long kitchen room) the whole length of my dwelling house”.   Thus the construction date of the lean-to can be pinpointed much more exactly than is usually the case.

The Story family acquired both sides of the house by deeds of 1882 and 1892.   In 1929, the Old Castle was conveyed to the Village Improvement Society of Pigeon Cove.

Miles, D H, 2004  “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Old Castle, Pigeon Cove, and the Old Garrison House, 188 Granite Street, Rockport, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2004/7


OLD GARRISON HOUSE, Rockport, Essex County, Massachusetts  (42.680978, -70.627003)

Felling dates:  Summer 1709, Spring 1711

Site chronology produced:    OGR 1569-1710

Architectural Description and Historical Documentation:

This building is constructed principally of tamarack or eastern larch logs.  However, the two boxed-heart chimney girts in the first floor ceiling are of slow-grown white oak, as well as the left-hand girt.  All three timbers retained complete sapwood.  The right-hand girt was also likely to be of oak, but this was concealed within and without, and the projecting end at the front jetty had been repaired, making sampling of this timber impossible without the removal of later finishes.  The internal walls in the left-hand ground-floor room had later finished removed, exposing the logs.  Trenched into the inside face of these logs are a series of diagonal braces.  These looked to have excellent dendrochronological potential with good ring counts and sapwood.  However, sampling was impossible due to the fact that they were set back into the trench, making it impossible to drill radially without causing visual damage to the braces.  Upstairs windows were being replaced at the time of the assessment and sampling, revealing the cut ends of the logs internally.  One log to the right front upstairs was inaccesible with out removing a significant amount of plaster, but in the left-hand bedroom, a small amount of plaster was removed to allow a core to be taken from a log to the left-hand end of the building.

In the attic, a few of the purlins were of oak, but these were boxed heart and relatively fast-grown, therefore were unsuitable for sampling.  There were some timbers exposed in the cellar beneath the left-hand room.  Although the main summer beam was of oak, it was covered in plastic, and as a result fairly damp, making successful sampling problematic.  This timber also appeared to have a termite infestation.

Both upstairs and downstairs the walls were all of boxed-heart tamarack logs, except for a few exceptions mentioned above.  Many of these retained complete under-bark edge.  These logs are 7” thick and between 9” and 14” high. The chimney ties were also of tamarack.  These timbers seemed to have between 50 and 100 rings and might make a worthwhile pilot study in comparing with western Massachusetts softwood chronologies.

Miles, D H, 2004  “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Old Castle, Pigeon Cove, and the Old Garrison House, 188 Granite Street, Rockport, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2004/7

 



Gedney House, 21 High Street, Salem, Essex County, Mass (42.518706, -70.897459)

(a)        Primary phase

Felling dates: Spring 1664 and Winter 1664/5

(a) Storey post 1663(¼C); Studs (2/5) 1663(C2); Rear girt 1664(C); Chimney girt (0/1). Site Master 1555-1663 GHS (t = 5.21 ALC3; 5.15 PHD-2; 4.87 ITH)

(b)        Lean-to reconstruction

Felling dates: Spring 1703, Winter 1704/5, and Winter 1705/6

(b) Front girt 1702(8¼C); Studs (1/2) 1704(C); Rear wall plate 1705(C); Principal rafter (0/1). Site Master 1655-1705 ghs15 (t = 6.45 BOSTON01; 4.84 GCG-1; 4.75 ALC2)

Latitude: 42.518706  /  Longitude: -70.897459

Architectural description:

Eleazer Gedney, a shipwright, acquired the land upon which the house was built on April 20, 1664, and commenced almost immediately to build his house. Gedney married in June 1665 the sister of John Turner of Salem who built the well-known House of Seven Gables about 1668.

The Gedney House, as originally built, had a room and chamber under a gable roof north of the chimney bay and an end lean-to south of the chimney bay. These spaces were designated in an inventory in 1683 as the Hall, Hall Chamber, and "parlour or lento" respectively. A rear (east) lean-to containing a kitchen was also present by 1683, and was perhaps original.

In 1706, the south end lean-to was raised to a full two stories, and the end wall facing the street was given a framed overhang above the first story. By 1800 the earlier rear lean-to had been replaced with the present two-story lean-to. The house was acquired by SPNEA in 1967 after a previous owner had gutted the interior for conversion into new apartments. The society chose to leave the interiors as is, to undertake only necessary structural repairs, and to present the building as an architectural exhibit.

The first phase roof structure consists of a common rafter roof with butt or tenoned purlin, whilst the end extension has a common purlin roof. There is evidence for wind braces to the purlins.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6


NARBONNE HOUSE, 71 Essex Street, Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts (42.522631, -70.887361)

Felling dates:   Summer 1674, Winter 1674/5, and Spring 1675

Site Chronology Produced: ALC3X  1564-1674

Architectural description and historical information:

The earliest portion of the Narbonne House, which faces west, consisted of the left-hand rooms, chimney bay and attic, together with a lean-to (now replaced) and perhaps additional original construction south of the chimney.  In the mid eighteenth century a separate story-and-one-half building with gambrel roof, built with reused timbers and consistent in style with construction between 1725 and 1750, was drawn up and attached south of the chimney bay, replacing earlier south rooms that, if not original, were present by 1695.

Paul Mansfield acquired the unimproved lot on which the house was built in 1669.  By January 6, 1676, Thomas Ives was the owner, and it was presumably Ives who began to build the house the previous year. Captain Joseph Hodges purchased the house in two transactions, in 1750 and 1757 respectively, from separate owners.  When Hodges sold the house in 1780, the value of the property had more than doubled, suggesting that he was responsible for attaching the south rooms.  Archaeology undertaken in the 1970s supports the mid-eighteenth century timing of the addition of the gambrel-roofed structure.

Since 1954, the Narbonne House has been an historic site administered by the National Park Service.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6


TURNER HOUSE, HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES, 54 Turner Street, Salem, Essex County, Massachsetts (42.52245, -70.884304)

Felling dates:               Summer 1666, Summer 1667, Winter 1666/7, and Winter 1667/8

                                    Summer 1675, Winter 1675/6, Summer 1676, and Winter 1676/7

Site Chronologies Produced:   H7G-1  1486-1675 (Oak)

                                                H7G-2  1466-1676 (Black Ash)

Architectural description and historical information:

The Turner House was built by wealthy merchant John Turner in 1668 as a central chimney, two room plan, two-and-one-half storey house facing southeast toward the water.  The plan was asymmetrical with a smaller parlor on the northeast end and a larger hall on the southwest end.  There were two facade gables.  Within eight years, John Turner added an ambitious parlor wing southeast of the original hall.  The new wing was finished on the exterior with molded sheathing, and had a framed overhang embellished with pendants at the second floor level.  There were gables on the two side slopes of the roof.  The ceilings of the new parlor and chamber were much higher than those in the original house, and the expansive rooms had two parallel summer beams supported by molded storey posts.  A porch was presumably part of the 1668 or 1677 work for it is mentioned in an inventory of Turner’s estate taken thirteen years after his death in 1680.  There were also apparently a lean-to and kitchen ell at the back of the house by 1693. 

Turner’s son John Turner, Jr., also a merchant, redid the parlor wing c. 1725 with elaborate Georgian woodwork, boxed in the overhang, and added double hung windows.  The back part of the Turner House was removed in 1794, according to an entry in Rev. William Bentley’s diary.  In the nineteenth century the decorative gables, by then old fashioned, including the one over the porch, were removed. 

In 1908 Caroline O. Emmerton purchased the house for use as a settlement house.  Architect Joseph Everett Chandler supervised the restoration of the house.  A new rear wing was built to house the settlement house workers. Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2005/9


SANDWICH, Barnstable Co; The Wing House,  69 Spring Hill Road, (41.750856,-70.4656)

Not Dated          

The Wing House, also known as the Wing Fort House, now a double pile structure, five bays wide with a central chimney, began as a story-and-one-half, single room house composed of the south-east portion of the current house.  An original set of rafters for that house remains visible in the east wall of the attic.  The original house had a lower ceiling on the first floor.  Portions of the original girts around the room, now enclosed behind later walls can be seen (and sampled) in various places.  At some point, perhaps in conjunction with Phase II of construction, when the east rooms were added and the chimney bay widened, a new set of girts was placed on top of the original ones in the east room to make ceiling heights equal to those in the new construction.  The walls of the east room were then furred out in front of both sets of girts. 

A timber in the west end wall of the attic very likely indicates that there was one-story lean-to across the north side of the building at an interim period.  Now, however, the rear rooms, less deep than the front rooms, are a full two stories in height and constitute a third phase of existing construction.  The framing of the rear rooms, much of which is exposed, indicates that the current rear rooms were built all of a piece with two-story posts, though timbers, possibly from the earlier roof frame dismantled at the time, were reused in the construction. When the current rear rooms were built, a new gable roof was placed over the building. 

The house has been in the Wing Family since it was built and is now owned by the Wing Family Association of America.

A total of 21 samples were taken from eighteen timbers used originally in the construction of the first and third phases.  Although a few pairs of  samples were found to cross-match with each other, none of these means or the individual samples were found to date with any of the available reference chronologies.  This lack of dating is due to many of the samples having too many narrow rings, some having too few rings, and to the lack of reference chronologies from the south-eastern part of Massachusetts.

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2007/28


SALEM, Essex Co; The Pickering House, 18 Broad Street (42.518483, -70.900143)                     

(a) Phase I                                                                                           

Felling dates: Winter 1663/4

(b) Phase II: Parlour extension                                                            

Felling date: Winter 1681/2

(a) Tiebeam 1663(16C); Sleeper (1663(18C); Transverse summer beam 1661(6); Storey posts (1/2) 1659(7); Rafter (reset) 1655. (b) Sill beam 1681(24C). Site Master 1429-1681 PCK (t = 10.3 IWH; 10.1 BOSTON02; 8.6 ALC3x; 8.4 H7G-1).

The original part of the Pickering House was built John Pickering in 1664 or shortly thereafter on land he acquired in 1659.  Previously thought to have been built by his father, John Pickering, Sr. before his death in 1657, the structure was two-and-one-half stories in height and consisted of the present south-east (right-hand front) rooms and chimney bay.  The room and chamber were framed with double transverse summer beams and summer tie beams supported by story posts, a framing configuration typical of Salem.  A room and chamber were added west of the chimney in 1682, making the statement in the Pickering Family papers that the rooms were added twenty years after the original construction, nearly correct.  A lean-to added subsequently was raised to a full two stories in 1751 according to another statement in the family papers.  In 1841, the exterior of the house was Gothicized with window hoods, new façade gables and a balustrade above the front entrance and a fence, both of trefoil design.  In 1904 a wing was added to the rear, and in 1948, Gordon Robb, a Boston architect, oversaw the restoration of the interior.  The house, which has remained in the Pickering Family since it was built, is owned by the Pickering Foundation and is open to the public.  (See Cummings 1979: 178-179.)

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2007/27

 

                            The activity that is the subject of the Pickering House Report has been

                            financed in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service,

                            U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Massachusetts Historical

                            Commission, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin,

                            Chairman.  However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily

                            reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior. This

                            program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and

                            protection of historic properties.  Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

                            of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age

                            Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the

                            Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin,

                            disability or age in its federally assisted programs.  If you believe you

                            have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility as

                            described above, or if you desire further information please write to:

                            Office of Equal Opportunity, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, N.W.,

                            Washington, D.C., 20240


JENCKS BARN, 83 Walnut Street, Seekonk, Bristol County, Massachusetts (41.847902,-71.307321)

 Felling date:                Summer 1796

Site Chronologies:       see13  1702-1767, see15  1681-1795, and see16   1715-1790

Architectural description and historical information: 

The Jencks barn, with gable roof running east-west, is composed of four phases of construction.  The original section, three bays in the center-east of the current structure, was built as an English barn with threshing floor in the central bay.  The steep roof pitch of this portion was maintained in the next two additions to the building.  The dendrochronology study has not yet identified a construction date for this phase.  A lean-to was built north of this section of the barn at some point.

The second phase of construction was a three-bay addition west of the original building that doubled the barn in size.  This section was dated to 1796 in the current study.  In the third phase of construction, a second addition was built to the west.  The dimensional sawn timbers used in this addition place its construction in the second half of the nineteenth century.  There is a one story shed roof across the west end of this addition.  In the final construction, a two-bay structure with a lower roof pitch was built on the east end of the barn.

The property was settled by the Carpenter family and Daniel Carpenter (1695-1763) is thought to have constructed the house west of the barn about 1720.  The property remained in the Carpenter family until 1939 when is was purchased by the parents of the current owner.

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2005/9



Townsend United Methodist Church

TOWNSEND, Middlesex County, Mass Townsend United Methodist Church, Main Street (42.667127, -71.705921)

Felling dates: Very early spring 1767, Winter 1768/9, and Winter 1769/70

Braces 1679, 1700, 1766(16C, 16¼C); King posts (2/4) 1768(15C), 1769(11C); Post 1769*34C). Site Master 1577-1769 TMC (t = 7.78 BOSTON01; 5.08 RHM; 4.01 PHD-1)

Architectural description:

In 1769, townspeople voted not to repair the old meeting house as approved in 1763, but to build a new one. To settle the debate as to the location of the new house, three "disinterested" men, who happened to be respected physicians in the towns of Hollis, New Hampshire, Lunenburg and Groton, were asked to decide the location. They chose a site sixteen feet from the old meeting house by what is now Meeting House Hill Road off of Highland Street (Sawtelle 1878, 138). The new building was to be sixty feet by forty-five feet in dimensions. During the summer of 1771, the building was clapboarded and the doors and their frames and the window frames were painted (though apparently not the clapboards) (Sawtelle 1878, 143). The structure was completed in time for a child to be baptised in the meeting house on Oct. 27, 1771.

The location of the meeting house proved unsatisfactory to many and in 1798, the town meeting voted "to find the center of the town and say where the meeting house ought to stand (Sawtelle 1878, 145)." In 1804, the structure was moved to its current site and renovated. Although the tower and spire are integrated into the main structural frame of the church, the first bell was installed until the building was moved in 1804.

In 1852 the Methodists purchased the building from the Unitarians. They rotated the building ninety degrees, floored the meeting hall over at the gallery level, and renovated the interior (Sawtelle 1878, 147). The town leased the lower floor for a town hall until 1894. At some point, the building was, like the Groton building, stuck by lightening; one of the king posts being charred and split at the top.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6


WALPOLE, Norfolk County, Smith-Healey House, 1350 North Street (42.120647, -71.318797)

Felling dates: Spring 1797

Rafters 1796(6¼C, 7¼C, 13¼C, 28¼C), 1765(H/S), 1771; Ceiling joists (1/2) 1769. Site Master 1674-1796 WLP (t = 6.8 DVR; 6.1 WACHU; 5.2 HH; 4.9 BOSTON01).

The Smith-Healey House, which began in the second half of the eighteenth century as an unusual saltbox version of the square plan house, is two-and-one-half stories in front with a lean-to portion in the rear.  About 1815, apparently, when a documentary reference suggests that the house was being enlarged, the right-hand (south) side of the house was extended by five feet.  The addition made the small right-hand rooms more useable and gave the house a more nearly symmetrical front façade in keeping with currently popular architectural ideas.  At the same time, the frame of what appeared to be a preexisting story-and-one-half building, perhaps an outbuilding on the property, was attached to the new right-hand side of the house before as an ell before finish materials were applied to the new side wall.  The construction date of the ell frame of 1797 or shortly thereafter, determined by dendrochronology, confirms that the ell existed before being attached to the house and reaffirms the sequence of enlargement of the Smith-Healey house that physical evidence  suggested.

In 1785, the property came into the hands of Isaac Smith of Walpole, a cordwainer.  The enlargement of the house evidently occurred before his death in 1817.  In 1868, Michael D. Healey acquired the property.  Architectural information is taken from Anne Grady’s “Architectural Analysis of the Smith-Healey House” (2003).  Electa Tritsch provided the title abstract of the property.

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2006  “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Smith-Healey House, 1350 North Street, Walpole, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2006/11


WATERTOWN, 28 Middlesex Co.; The Edmund Fowle House, 28 Marshall  St. (42.368643,-71.179959)

Felling dates: Spring 1771, Summer 1771, and Winter 1771/2

Joists (16/28) 1771(12C, C3), 1770(½C, 3¼C), 1767, 1765(5), 1761(H/S), 1759(2), 1757(7), 1756, 1753, 1730, 1729, 1720; Beams 1771(30C, 18C, 10C, 8C), 1752; Tiebeam 1771(14C). Site Master 1673-1771 EFH (t = 8.2 SEMASS3; 6.5 NPC; 5.7 BCC; 5.32 JWL).

The Edmund Fowle House is two-and-one-half story double pile house with a central chimney and a hip roof. The clapboarded exterior retains its overall Georgian design. Modifications, in connection with the conversion of the house to a two family dwelling in 1871 included the addition of a front entry porch, a porch and entry on the left-hand side, a bay window on the right-hand side, and a rear ell. In 2006-2007, the house underwent a thorough restoration in which Georgian features such as chimney breasts were refurbished, and other features were reconstructed on the basis of physical evidence remaining in the house. Prominent among the reconstructions was the return of the council room on the second floor to its original L-shaped configuration spanning the right-hand side and the rear central part of the house.

In 1775, the Provincial Congress had provided funds to finish the room and outfit it for meetings.  The house was built by Edmund Fowle in 1772, a year after he inherited the property. In 1775, when the seat of government in Massachusetts was in Watertown, committees of the 2nd and 3rd Provincial Congress and the Executive Council of the Congress met in the house on a regular basis. The house remained in the hands of the Fowle family until 1856.  In 1871, architects John Sturgis and Charles Brigham, recognizing the historical significance of the house, purchased the building and moved it to newly laid out Marshall Street in order to save it from destruction.  The Historical Society of Watertown acquired the house in 1922.

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2007/22

The Edmund Fowle House & Museum Link to webpage


BARDEEN-CULVER BARN, 57 Indian Hill Street, West Newbury, Essex County, MA (42.788041, -70.949639)

Felling dates:    Winter 1693/4, Summer 1699, and Winter 1699/1700 (Posts)

Winter 1714/15  (Tiebeams)

                        Winter 1741/2  (Hayloft floorboard)

Site Chronology Produced:  WNB  1516-1741

Architectural description and historical information:

The Bardeen-Culver Barn, built in 1715 and including several posts felled just before 1700, is a  barn of the English type with entrance and exit on the side walls.  The English barn, brought by settlers in the seventeenth century to the New World, was  the preferred barn type in New England until the late eighteenth century.

One of only a handful of pre-1720 barns that survive in Eastern Massachusetts, the structure incorporates important evidence of early framing and joinery practices.  Three bays of the Bardeen-Culver barn, originally at least four bays long, survive.  In order to ensure that the barn would be preserved and be available to the public for study, the owners, Francis Culver and Ann Bardeen, recently gave the barn to the Fairbanks House in Dedham where it will serve as a visitors’ center.  The barn was documented with measured drawings.  In early 2003, it was  dismantled for removal to Dedham.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2003  “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase III”, Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2003/9

 


WESTPORT, Bristol County, Cory Cornell House, 212 Cornell Road (41.78809, -71.111893)

Felling dates: Spring 1777, Winter 1777/8, and Spring 1778

Principal posts 1777(C, ¼C); Girts 1777(C); Tiebeam 1777(¼C); [        ]. Site Master 1666-1777 CCH (t = 7.8 SEMASS1; 5.5 ggh4; 5.0 NPC; 4.2 phd-2).

The Cory/ Cornell farm is of significant importance in the development of Westport, Massachusetts. It is the homestead of two important families, the Cory family who first purchased, owned and established the farm and the Cornells who added the Greek Revival wing in about 1842. The house is dramatically sited on a hill approached from Cornell Road by an impressive driveway. The house and fields are surrounded by original stone wall. The site also contains its original well, a lye leaching stone and in the cellar under the Greek Revival addition is a 16-foot circular cistern.

Preliminary research indicates that this grandson, Thomas Cory, built or had built the original Georgian core of the property around 1780 or possibly slightly earlier. By June 20, 1796 when Cory made his will, parts of the house are described. The farm was left to his son, William Cory, with rights left to his daughter, Elizabeth.

The property largely retains a portion of its original acreage including the circa 1840 barn. The property was historically used for farming purposes and retains that use presently for livestock pasturage. The house is structurally intact and its architectural archaeological and social history are important resources in documenting the development of not only Westport but of Southeastern Massachusetts. The property meets Criteria C) embodiment of distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction.. and D) likelihood of yielding information significant to history for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory Unpublished Report 2006/43



Deane Winthrop House

WINTHROP, Deane Winthrop House, 40 Shirley Street (42.382517, -70.978285)

(a) Primary phase (western end)

Felling dates: Winter 1672/3, Spring 1674, and Winter 1674/5

(b) Eastern extension

Felling dates: Winter 1695/6

(a) Posts (2/3) 1672/3(C), 1674(¼C); Summer beam 1674(21C); Rafters (0/1) 1674(¼C). (b) Posts 1694(14), 1695(14C); Principal rafters (0/3). Site Master 1579-1695 DWH (t = 5.79 ALC10; 5.76 HSC; 5.75 BOSTON01)

Architectural description:

Deane Winthrop, youngest son of Gov. John Winthrop, built this house on land conveyed to him in 1647 or 1648 by William Pierce. Capt. Pierce, a noted ship’s captain who transported many early settlers to New England, acquired the property in 1638 in a division of the land in what is now Winthrop. After his death, his widow conveyed the "Messuage and Farme" to Winthrop. The core of the present house has long been thought to have been built by Pierce, or by Winthrop soon after he acquired the property. Judge Samuel Sewall, who attended the wedding of Winthrop’s daughter, Mercy, in the house in 1699, may provide a clue as to the reason for the confusion. Sewall states that "Mr. Dean Winthrop lived there [in Pulling Point, now Winthrop] in his father’s time [Gov. Winthrop died in 1676] . . . . In his Father’s time, his house stood more toward Dear Island."

In 1675, Deane Winthrop built the earliest portion of the current house as a single cell structure two and one half stories in height with chimney bay on the east end. In 1695, Winthrop widened the chimney bay and added another file of rooms east of the chimney. A lean-to spanning the four easternmost bays was added at the back of the house in the eighteenth century. The present foundation is more consistent with eighteenth than seventeenth century construction and raises the question as to whether the foundation was rebuilt or whether the house moved to this site.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6