Danvers, MA was settled in 1636 as Salem Village, and was the home of many of the accusers and the accused during the Salem witch trials. The Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers is a historical landmark.
According to legend, the King rejected the town’s petition for its own charter, with the words, “The King Unwilling.” In 1757, the town was incorporated, named for settler Danvers Osborn, and the King’s rebuff was included on the town’s seal.
This list of First Period, Georgian and early Federal houses in Danvers, MA comes from the Massachusetts Historical Commission site (MACRIS). Construction dates have not been confirmed. Photos were taken in the late 20th Century, and are displayed alphabetically in order of street name. House numbers may have changed. Click on any image to view a larger photo. To request or add information, please contact Gordon Harris at email@example.com.
John Porter was “born about 1712 to Benjamin and Hannah (Endicott) Porter and married Apphia . The couple had nine children. About 1745 Porter built a 2-§- story gambrel roofed house at the corner of present-day High and Conant Streets, and used it as an inn. In 1748 Porter petitioned the General Court for an innholder’s license, having neglected to petition the Court of Sessions for a license renewal. In the petition, Porter stated “that for three years ending July last he was an Innholder in his new Dwelling House, a place very convenient for travelers and expended a considerable sum in building, etc. The gambrel cottage was moved to this location ca. 1838.
The Burley farm composed of 250 acres retained its original size for over 200 years. In the seventeenth century, the locality was known as “Gott’s Corner” and it’s owner was Deacon Charles Gott, who, with others, conveyed it to John Porter. Capt. William Burley, then a resident of Boston, who purchased it in 1793. Captain Burley was a native of Ipswich, the son of Andrew and Hannah (Cogswell) Burley.
According to research by the historian Sidney Perley there was a house on the lot at 27 Centre St. by January 21, 1692, which, if not much earlier in date, may possibly be the original left-hand portion of the present structure of single-room plan with narrow chimney bay. The house has been enlarged through the addition of another room to the right and has been moved (though remaining on the same lot). Principal interest, however, attaches to the early nineteenth-century owners who between 1801 and 1818 were housewrights and were probably responsible for the unusual way in which the original narrow chimney bay has been widened and the original room reduced in size during this period. House privately owned. (Text by Abbott Lowell Cummings).
Early reminiscences which include an eyewitness account of moving this house with oxen from the foot of Hathorne Hill to the present site at 177 Hobart St. in 1845 have been published. On grounds of style and construction it would appear to have been erected probably soon after 1700. Originally of two-room, central-chimney plan, the building has been added to at the left-hand end and at the rear with a later, higher roof raised over the entire structure. The house was purchased on August 15, 1975, by Richard C. Dabrowski who initiated a restoration drawing upon the services of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Privately owned. (text by Abbott Lowell Cummings)
On July 1, I765, Deacon Edmund Putnam sold one acre of his extensive farm to Henry Putnam Jr., housewright, for £15, and shortly thereafter, Putnam built a house on this land. In the Revolution, Henry was an ensign in Captain Richardson’s Co. of Col. Israel Hutchinson’s 27th Regiment. On November 16, 1776, was taken prisoner following the fall of Fort Washington, New York, and was later exchanged. In I806, for $800, Henry conveyed the premises to his son Frederick, a housewright.
Although there’s a family traditionthat Jonathan Putnam, Sr., (1659-1739), built this house for his son Jonathan, Jr., (1691-1732) at about the time of the son’s marriage to Elizabeth Putnam in February, 1715, it appears to be mid-Georgian. The estate was sold in 1768 to Aaron Putnam (1730-1810) housewright, who is the likely builder of the house.
Sidney Perley’s research shows that the property at 487 Locust St. was still unimproved on January 2, 1664, when acquired by Joseph Porter who presumably erected a house here. The present structure of two-room, central-chimney plan with added leanto, while considerably modified through the years, reveals no evidence of such an early period, and is probably closer to 1700 in date. Privately owned. (Text by Abbott Lowell Cummings)
John Putnam had been a native of Buckinghamshire, England and removed to Danvers in 1634.
Wikipedia lists the construction date of this house as 1648. The MACRIS site states that the oldest part of the house was probably built about 1641 by Lt. Thomas Putnam, and came into the possession of Joseph Putnam, who was one of the few men who dared to decrie the Witch Trials as frauds. Joseph was the father of General Israel Putnam, born Jan. 7, 1718.
General Israel Putnam married Hannah Pope and moved to Pomfret, Conn. He commanded a company during the French and Indian War, scouting the territory around Ft. Ticonderoga. In 1757 he was appointed Major, in 1759 Lieutenant-Colonel, and in 1775 he held the rank of Brigadier and Major General. He rushed to the Battle of Concord and Lexington when he heard the news. He held the rank of Major-General at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He gave the famous command not to fire until the whites of the red-coats eyes could be seen. He was at the conquest of Canada and the capture of Havana. His wife died in 1764, leaving 10 children. He then married Widow Gardner of Gardner’s Island. In 1779, he had an attack of paralysis disabling him from further service. He settled in Brooklyn, Conn. He died of an inflammation on May 19, 1790. Israel Putnam’s face and form appear in the painting, the “Battle of Bunker Hill”, copied from a portrait painted from the life by John Trumbull. Source: MACRIS.
In its later history the residence was operated a shoe-making shop by Daniel Putnam in the 1850s. The Putnam family transferred ownership of the residence to the Danvers Historical Society in 1991, but as of 2020 the family once again owns the property.[37
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead sits on 25+ acres of an original 300 acres occupied by Rebecca Nurse and her family from 1678-1798, and was then bought by a descendant of the second generation of the Putnam family. The present dwelling, originally of “half-house” plan with integral leanto, is almost certainly after 1700 in terms of style and construction, and was probably erected by Rebecca’s son, Samuel Nurse. The left-hand unit of single-room plan and leanto at the rear are later additions. Acquired by the Rebecca Nurse Memorial Association April 30, 1908, and restored by Joseph Everett Chandler in 1909. Conveyed to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities June 25, 1928. (Abbott Lowell Cummings)
This house is an example of the way in which a First Period house was enlarged around 1780 to approximate the Second Period double pile house. The construction of another file of rooms with rear fireplaces and a central hall in front of the original house created a highly unusual house form. In the four rooms of the original house of slightly asymmetrical plan, much of the framing is exposed. The transverse summer beams of the downstairs rooms have 1 1/4 ” flat chamfers and simple triangular stops, as does the chimney girt in the right-hand (northeast) room. The heads only of the posts supporting the summer beams are exposed. These have flat chamfers at the sides and a deep quarter round molding at the lower edge. Joist spacing in the downstairs rooms is a relatively wide 21″ on centers. In the northeast and northwest chambers, framing exhibits narrow flat chamfers and triangular stops. The posts have a distinctive configuration which is neither precisely a flare nor a jowl.
In 1715, local records refer to the property of James Putnam, Sr. (1661-1727) “on which his son James has lately built him a house.” James Putnam, Jr. (1689-1763), yeoman and brickbuilder, served as selectman in Salem Village in 1747 and was active in the establishment of Danvers as a separate town in 1752. James Jr.’s son, Archelaus Putnam (1744-1800) was a physician and Danvers Selectman in 1774. It was Archelaus who enlarged the house so that the property was described in the 1790 Danvers direct tax list as “House on road, (including Chaise house 192 ft. and wood house 365 ft.) 2178 sq. ft., 2 stores, 31 windows, 229 sq. ft. glass, built of wood, 80 p., value $900.” The House’s most distinguished resident was Col. Timothy Pickering (1745-1829) who leased the property from early 1802 to the summer of 1804. Pickering, a prominent Federalist, was Secretary of War and then Secretary of State under Washington and Adams. While residing in the house he served as Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and in 1803 was appointed to an unexpired term in the U.S. Senate.
- Pratt, Annette M, “Centre Street Folks and The Houses They Lved In” Danvers Historical Society Collections, 1944, vol.32, p.12-13
- Prince, Moses, “List of Houses and Cellar Holes In District No. 5 About 1852” Danvers Historical Society Collections, 1936 vol. 24, p.24