Rebecca Nurse house, Danvers MA

Danvers historic houses

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

DAN.164, Porter, John, 1 Bell St, 1745
DAN.164, Porter, John, 1 Bell St, 1745

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.

DAN.389, Burley Farm house, 44 Burley Ave, 1793
DAN.389, Burley Farm house, 44 Burley Ave, 1793

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.

Middleton builder Michael Panzero saved a historical house located at 52 Centre Street in Danvers from being demolished and completely renovated the house. DAVID LE/Staff photo. 7/25/14.

Built before 1730, the Benjamin Holten home at 52 Centre St. was a tear down but was instead restored in 2014.

Putnam – Sleeper – Legro, 60 Locust St, 1765
DAN.98, Putnam – Sleeper – Legro, 60 Locust St, 1765

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.

Putnam, Jonathan Jr., 156 Locust St, 1715
DAN.108, Putnam, Jonathan Jr., 156 Locust St, 1768

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.

Rea – Pedrick, 159 Locust St, 1756
DAN.109, Rea – Pedrick, 159 Locust St, 1756
Putnam – Boardman, 196 Locust St, 1690
DAN.112, Putnam – Boardman, 196 Locust St, 1690
220 Locust St., Danvers MA
DAN.113, Putnam, Samuel, 220 Locust St, 1813
 Porter – Bradstreet, 487 Locust St, 1664
DAN.116, Porter – Bradstreet, 487 Locust St, 1664
 Rea, Uzziel – Dodge, Francis, 289 Maple St, 1715
DAN.266, Rea, Uzziel – Dodge, Francis, 289 Maple St, 1715
General Israel Putnam house, 431Maple St., Danvers

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.[36] 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

Dwinell, Joseph, 7 Nichols St, 1770
DAN.50, Dwinell, Joseph, 7 Nichols St, 1770
Guilford, 23 Nichols St, 1750
DAN.71, Guilford, 23 Nichols St, 1750
DAN.198, Page, Jeremiah, 11 Page St, 1754. The original owner and builder was Jeremiah Page, a brick maker who lived there from 1754 until his death in 1806. He fought in the American Revolution as well as serving Danvers as a selectman. Property of the Danvers Historical Soiety
Putnam – Endicott – Osgood, 2 Park St, 1774, Danvers
DAN.199, Putnam – Endicott – Osgood, 2 Park St, 1774
Rebecca Nurse Homestead, 149 Pine St, 1678.
DAN.40, Rebecca Nurse Homestead, 149 Pine St, 1678. 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 Rebecca Nurse Homestead is a private non-profit house museum

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.

Putnam, Steven – Trask, 3 Wenham St, 1806
DAN.143, Putnam, Steven – Trask, 3 Wenham St, 1806

Further reading:

  • 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

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