Essex MA historic houses

Essex historic houses

The inhabitants of the part of Ipswich, Massachusetts known as Chebacco (now Essex) established their own parish in 1679, but were still residents of the town of Ipswich. Among its early residents were many of the most important and influential people in Ipswich history. On April 6, 1818, two hundred and six men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation, and the town of Essex as they named it, came into existence on Feb. 5, 1819.

The following images of First Period, Georgian, and Federal houses and other historic structures in Essex, MA are provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission site (MACRIS). Inventory comments and photos are by members of the Essex Historical Commission in 1980. Photos are displayed alphabetically in order of street name, and house numbers may have changed. Click on any image to view a larger photo. To request or add information, please contact Gordon Harris at

Russell, Richard House, 1705, Apple St., ESS.23

The oldest part of this house was a shed at the Richard Russell house on Pond Street. While it was there The Chebacco tribe of indians who had hunting territory near by skirmish. Lead bullets have been found by Burton Andrews in the beams of this part of the house, which was pulled through the woods by oxen to its present site on Apple Street as a wedding gift. Bought from Mr. Putnam about 1945 by well-known architect Henry Shepley and carefully restored by him, with additions.

Perkins, Isaac House, 1765, Apple St., ESS.25

The property on which the Isaac Perkins house stands remained in the Perkins family for eight generations. John Perkins senior was the earliest emigrant of the name from the mother country, sailing from Bristol, England, December 1, 1630 on the ship Lyon bound for Boston. In respect to the present house, it must have been erected in the latter half of the 18th century, probably by Isaac Perkins who died in 1775.

Story, Jacob House, 1831, 1 Apple St., ESS.22

The Jacob Hopkins home adapts normally pretentious late Georgian ideas to a very rustic setting. A Central hall separates front parlors and leads to a kitchen ell behind. Chimneys are centered on the back wall of each parlor. Stairs in the hall climb to a landing and give access to a second floor of identical plan. Construction is post and beam of pine with pine sheathing beneath clapboards on the exterior. Interior walls are of plaster. The foundation is dressed stone atop brick atop dressed stone. Floors are of pine. Exterior detail is late Georgian exemplified by a six-panel front door flanked by double pilasters enclosing side lights atop a brief panel. Pilasters are headed by a molded diamond motif and the entire entrance is capped by a semi-elliptical fan of wood. The molding of both pilasters and diamond motifs are repeated continually around the house in window jambs. Six panel pine doors are the rule inside although little other paneling is evident save for some vertical wainscoting in the kitchen ell. All other rooms have simple base board moldings and chair rails applied to plaster walls. The kitchen has a large cooking fireplace with associated beehive oven and warming closet.

Story House, 1830, 18 Apple St., ESS.24

The Story house was the birthplace of Revolutionary War hero Captain Joseph Foster”, July 19, 1730.

Brown, Joseph – Cleveland, John House, 1713, 23 Belcher St., ESS.42

Carved, exposed wooden frame, with beaded chamfers typical of the period 1710-1725 are featured throughout the Brown-Cleveland house. The Living room illustrates and early remodeling Georgian style paneling was installed over the modified fireplace, sliding shutters and new sash were installed along the south wall, and new door furnished, the style of paneling indicates that this remodeling took place about 1750. The room remains in its remodeled condition. While this house suffered heavy damage by fire in October of 1978, much of the original building fabric remains.

Giddings, George House, 1690, 66 Choate St., ESS.1

The George Giddings house is one of the oldest houses in the County, and with rare plank construction. Birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s grandmother. The house stands presumably upon the early farmstead of George Giddings who was possessed of a dwelling at his death in 1676. The present structure, however, of two-room, central-chimney plan, is later in terms of style, and will more reasonably have been erected towards the end of the seventeenth century. The original roof was apparently replaced during the eighteenth century, and at any event before the central chimney was removed. Up to this time the house faced south. Early in the nineteenth century, judging from the character of the new trim, the orientation was altered and the building henceforth faced north with a new entrance and staircase on that side. The two new stacks which replaced the original chimney, one in each of the principal rooms, were located (contrary to normal practice) along what was to become the new front wall at the north. The house was purchased on August 2, 1965, by Alvan L. Doane and partially restored. Title was conveyed on February 14, 1975, to Dr. David W. Sauer who has furthered the work of restoration, drawing upon the services of the restoration contractor Harold C. Dexter. Privately owned. (Text by Abbott Lowell Cummings)

Giddings, George Barn, 1700, 66 Choate St., ESS.2

The George Giddings barn is the oldest standing barn in the country, ant still has about 90-95% of its original timbers.

Butler, Simon House, 1690, Conomo Dr., ESS.72

The Simon Butler house is located off the old road to Manchester. When one of the owners added to the structure and in the necessary demolition of a portion of the house one of the beams on the northern side was exposed and the date 1690 and the name Caleb Jones was found cut by a sharp instrument into one of the main timbers. Caleb Jones brought his family here from Scotland and the possession descended to his kindred. It was said that people used to gather here for religious worship, coming over the rugged hills on horseback and afoot. Caleb Jones was a courageous pioneer. His humble dwelling is not far away from the “Bear’s Den,” a hill of granite. It is told that a rift in the huge column of stone is where Jones slayed a bear. The bear was known to be a fearless creature. The Burnhams, the Andrews, the Varneys, and the Godeys went to the site with Caleb Jones, who entered the bears den and fought it with a knife. Caleb Jones’ kindred transferred the estate to Ralph Butler who married Esther Burnham around 1750.

22 Eastern Ave, 1745, ESS.186

The Burnham house was originally Ebenezer Burnham’s boat shop, facing the marsh at Ebben’s Creek, just past J.T.Farnham’s on Eastern Avenue (Rt. 133). It was converted to a house in the early 20th century. The house is sometimes referred to as Motif #2, because it is the second most painted scene next to Rockport’s Motif #1.

The Windward Grille, 109 Eastern Ave.

The Windward Grille, 109 Eastern Ave. No information is available about this building, and there is no visible exterior evidence to support the 1680 supposed date of construction. It appears to be a mid-18th Century house, based on its symmetrical front facade and 2-bay gable ends. Attached at the rear is a converted 1800s barn. This house is not inventoried by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MACRIS) and no information is provided on the restaurant’s website.

5 Grove St, 1768, ESS.205
Andrews, John House, 1768, 68 Grove St., ESS.71

Various deeds show that land originally was bought from John Cogswell, Jr. and over a period of years was augmented by parcels bought from others. Through a succession of sons named Joseph the farm prospered eventually being owned by Joseph Andrews who fought at Lexington. He married Rachel Burnham in 1752 and built the present house in 1768 or 1769. April 19, 1775 Joseph Andrews and his son Isaac accompanied by two Burnham brothers (who lived down the road) set out for battle at Lexington. At Joseph’s death the farm passed into the hands of Elias Andrews, around 1821. In 1868 two sons Miles and Elihu divided the farm and $16,000 in cash which they inherited from their father. Miles took the house. Both brothers became known as very progressive farmers. They operated a granite quarry near Elias’ pond from which came materials for the foundations of many buildings in town including the Universalist Church. Miles’ son Orrin A. Andrews inherited the farm. Read a letter from Elias and Martha (Lufkin) Andrews, dated January 1, 1830, written to their daughter Achsah and her husband, Levi Andrews, Jr. at Pleasant Ridge, Maine.

Cross – Proctor House, 1760, Harlow St., ESS.80

The most unique feature of the Cross-Proctor house is its post cellar entry situated in a stone wall about 5 feet in front of the house. The borning room has been unaltered except for the addition of a foundation under the floor boards which used to rest on earth.

Choate, Francis House, 1730, Hog Island, ESS.79

The Choate House, a property of The Trustees of Reservations, is part of the Cornelius and Mine S. Crane Wildlife Refuge, some 700 acres donated in 1974 by Mrs. Mine S. Crane. The property includes Hog (Choate) Island, Round Island, Long Island, Deans Island and Dilley Island as well as surrounding salt marsh. Hog Island was once a part of Castle Hill Farm granted to John Winthrop, Jr in 1637. The island’s first resident was Thomas Choate, who in 1725, cleared a portion of the woodland to raise sheep and to build his homestead. A few years later he built the present Choate House for his son Francis and his wife. Eighty members of the Choate family were born in the Choate House and in neighboring Choate farms at Hog Island. They made the island “celebrated for its mutton, butter and cheese, beyond any land in Essex.” The island’s timber was cut and sold. There was a wharf for fishing vessels, and the curing of fish became a vital industry. In the early 1800’s a district school was located on Hog Island near the Choate House. On Sundays religious services were held at the Choate House. Rufus Choate, lawyer, orator, U.S. Senator and Congressman/ was born at Hog Island in 1799. Hog Island remained in the possession of the Choate family for more than 100 years. The island’s most recent owner, Cornelius Crane, who died in 1962, is buried here. It is now owned by the Trustees of Reservations.

Powder House, 1816 John Wise Ave. ESS.901

In Rev. Crowell’s book – History of the Town of Essex, he states that the powder house still standing as of 1868, was built in the year 1820 by the Town for the use of the light infantry and the militia at a cost of $395.00. However, in Leslie Harris* book – 150 Years A Town, written in 1969 she places the date for that building at 1812. The building was a stone structure with a wooden roof. It was constructed for storing gun powder for use by the militia and infantry men in Town. From the spot on the top of Powder House Hill, one could see a broad expanse of the marsh and easily spy an enemy coming from the sea. The building has been repaired from time to time and is still standing.

Rev. John Wise house, 85 John Wise Avenue, 1701

In 1683 at the age of 31, John Wise became the minister of the church at Chebacco Parish (now Essex). He built his home on the road between Chebacco and the town of Ipswich. His wit and strength were legendary. Wise took stands against the witchcraft hysteria and stood in support of Dr. Manning, an Ipswich physician who proposed inoculation for smallpox. In the widely read “A Vindication of the Government of the New England Churches,” Wise defended the rights of congregations to be self-ruled. In 1689, the British Crown revoked the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter and appointed Sir Edmond Andros as governor, who thereupon imposed a Province Tax to be collected in each town. Rev. Wise, John and Samuel Appleton and the selectmen of Ipswich initiated a campaign of resistance. These actions were a precursor to revolts in Boston that led to the American Revolution, and for this Ipswich is known as the Birthplace of American Independence.

The Town of Essex Patriot Properties site lists the date of construction for 93 John Wise Ave. as 1751. The owners of this house believe that it may have been constructed by Col. John Choate, who supervised construction of the Choate Bridge in Ipswich.

Giddings, Lt. Samuel House, 1678, 143 John Wise Ave., ESS.21

This house was built in 1668 by Captain Samuel Giddings who came as a military adviser in the Indian Wars not as a settler. However, he liked it so much that returned to build a house of the typical 17th century. Two and a half framed one room with chimney on West end, thatch roof. Later another room was added to west end of house making four rooms and an attic. Old clapboards, before the addition was added are still present in the attic. The land surrounding this house has been continuously farmed.

Titcomb, Benaiah House, 1700, 189 John Wise Ave., ESS.87 (aka Langdon Warner house)

In 1917 the Benaiah Titomb house was reerected on this site. The son of immigrant William Titcomb (d. 1676), Benaiah Titcomb (1653-1729) was an active and aggressive entrepreneur of Newbury’s waterfront community. In 1695, Benaiah Titcomb purchased a half-acre of land at what is now the corner of Green and Merrimack Streets in Newburyport and built this house shortly after 1700. In 1911, the city of Newburyport decided to build a Georgian Revival police station at 4 Green Street, the original location of this dwelling. It was then that Ralph W. Burnham, of Ipswich, bought the house from the city, and transported it to Ipswich with the object of reerecting the house there. In 1917, Langdon Warner purchased the dismantled house from Burnham to use it as a summer residence on an estate in Essex.

Butnam, Archer House, 1730, King’s Ct., ESS.73

Four generations of Butmans lived in this house. Archer Butman came over from England, built this house and became a schoolmaster in town. He married a Miss Morse. After returning from the Civil War Archie Butman’s grandfather, Ansil Butman remodeled the house. He took out the central chimney and put on an addition on the house and built the old hay barn. Ansel also covered the old stone foundation with brick. The house is put together with pegs and has a dirt cellar floor. The Butman’s were all farmers growing strawberries in the back fields and keeping cows for selling milk locally. The old building nearest to Kings Court road was the shoe shop of Ansil Butman. Mr. Butman made shoes here and from the shop were picked up by the traveling shoe express from Danvers.

First Congregational Church, 1746, Main St., ESS.36

This is the fourth building this church has worshiped in. The church was organized as the Second Church in Ipswich. The first building was raised in 1693 in the northern part of town about opposite where Hardy Hatchery now stands. Rev. John Wise was the first minister. The second building was raised in 1718 and stood on the Common near the Town Pound and the first school-house on what is now John Wise Avenue. John Wise preached here seven years until his death in 1725. Rev. Theophilus Pickering succeeded John Wise. He was ordained in this church in 1725 and preached there until his death in 176-7. In 1746 the church was divided. Those who left organized a church with Rev. John Cleveland as minister and erected a building on the spot where the church stands today. In 1774, the two churches united under Mr. Cleaveland and worshiped in this third building. In 1792, the old building was taken down and the fourth building erected. Rev. John Cleaveland preached the dedicatory sermon Oct. 8, 1793. When this building was erected, the sanctuary was on the ground floor, the main entrance on the eastern side where is now the ancients door on the sidewalk. The pulpit was opposite that door and reached by a flight of stairs. Over the pulpit was a sounding board and behind it a large curtained window. Part way up the pulpit stairs was a seat for the elders. The communion table was at the foot of the stairs. A gallery was on three sides of the building. On the floor around the sides were box pews and benches in the middle. In 1842, the building was remodeled. The floor was raised to where this is now, thus providing for a commodious vestry below.

Lamson, Dr. Josiah House, 1830, 16 Main St., ESS.31

Built by Dr. Josiah Lamson around 1830. This house has the original wide pine board floors, four fireplaces, one room with recessed panelled shutters pegged beams and huge walk-in beehive arches at the base of the double chimneys. Dr. Lamson was a native of Topsfield. He attended Bradford and Dummer academies and graduated from Harvard in 1814. He received his M.D. from the Censors of Massachusetts Medical Society in 1818 and came to Chebacco in the same year as a physician for the town. On September 9. 1824 he married Rebecca Sargent. Rebecca died in March of 1837 at 30 years of age. In 1839, Dr. Lamson married Betsy Dodge, daughter of Nehemiah Dodge from North Essex. Dr. Lamson closed his practice of medicine in 1861. After his death, his daughter and son-in-law, the Edwin Sargent’s continued to live in this house until their deaths. Around 1892, Mr. John D. Buckley bought the house from Dr. Lamson’s son. Mr. Buckley lived here with his wife, Abbie and five children until his death in 1933. His son, Frank E. Buckley was owner of the house from 1933 to 195^- Frank E. Buckley lived in this house for sixty-two years.

Cavies, John House, 1725., 22 Main St., ESS.33

Four revolutionary war soldiers lived in this house; John Cavies, Jr. and three sons of Mary Cavies- Burnham and Francis Burnham. John Cavies,Sr. was said to be the first resident of Chebacco to raise potatoes. In 1724 when John Cavies purchased the house it was located at the area called the “Clay Pitts”. It is probable that many of the oldest chimneys in the village were made of bricks burned from this clay. Upon his death in 1740 his sons were willed the house. Nathaniel built the front part of the house just prior to the revolutionary war. The house eventually came into the possession of the Boyd family around 1765. The Boyds held the property until 1845 when it came into the hands of Thomas Griggs. In 1882 Mrs. Griggs conveyed it to Mr. John R. Sotry.

Story, Epes House, 1828, 25 Main St., ESS.34

Built by Epes Story – one of the long line of vessel builders in the Town. The house was occupied by the Story Family until 1875. when John and Sarah Burnham bought it. John Burnham, a descendant of the first settler of that name, occupied the house for 30 years until 1905 when it was sold to Charles Boyd (whose mother was a sister of Epes Story).He modernized the house as to the ell and exterior somewhat and after his death it was inherited by his nephew, Frank Boyd who rented for several years until 1926 when his family came to live there. The Historical Society purchased the house in 1941 to form a historic center for the community.

Proctor – Pankhurst House, 1780, 166 Main St., ESS.78

The only historic brick house in Essex was built by a Proctor at an early date, probably before the Revolutionary War. Later if was owned by a man named Parkhurst, who in partnership with Courtney built many vessels. Moses Knowlton bought the house from Parkhurst and later Moses Knowlton’s heirs sold it back to Parkhurst who said he bought it for sentimental reasons, Moses Knowlton was as distinct as the Brick House, in which he lived. He was a promoter, underwriter, personal financer of notes and mortgages. He would accept pickled clams as collateral. He was the beginning and ending of probate banking Essex. His money and advise made a large contribution in the development of the town, along with the shoe factory, railroad houses, farms and woodlands.

Goodhue House, 1775, 113 Martin St., ESS.63

The site of this house is one of the earliest in the section of Essex known as “The Falls”. From the size of the field stone foundation under part of the house it is possible that the original structure on this site burned or was demolished early in its history and a larger house has been built over this foundation. The architectural detail within the house is not consistent so the house cannot be dated precisely and its uses since it has been built are not clear.

Burnham, David House, 1685, Pond St., ESS.19

The eight acres of land around Tubbytown Farm were granted to John and Thomas Burnham as a pension for services in the Pequot War. Thomas Burnham, known as Lieut. Thomas Burnham settled in the falls section of town. He was a selectman in 1647 and served on the town committee and was also Deputy to the General Court in 1683, 1684 & ’85. He had a sawmill on Chebacco River in 1667. His second son, John owned the grant of land on which the present house is built. John died in 1704, He had nine children, the youngest son, David is said to have built this house. He was a shipbuilder by trade and came from a family of shipwrights. He built a brig at the foot of Addison’s Hill near the creek. He was married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth Perkins, was the mother of five children, the youngest of which was Westley, to whom this house descended. Westley raised a large family all probably children of his second wife, Deborah, a daughter of Deacon Zechariah Story. In his family were 2 sons, Westley and Mark, and seven daughters. The older son, Westley, became the “skipper Westley”. He was born in the house on August 27, 1747. He had a bright mind and became a successful navigator. It is recorded that no vessel commanded by him ever wrecked or dismasted. He made voyages to Virginia where he exchanged fish, lumber and New England rum, for corn, raccoon skins, snake root or rice which was brought to Ipswich. The “skipper” was also a fisherman and made many trips to the Grand Banks. He followed the hereditary occupation of vessel building and some of these were built in yard near the house and hauled to the water as was the custom. Westley Burnham served in the War of the Revolution and afterwards entered the privateering service. He was captured along with his vessel and crew and carried to England. After remaining in Mill Prison, he took advantage of an order of Admiralty which gave permission to American prisoners to go board his majesty’s ship and do any sailors duty except fighting. While on a cruise to the West Indies, he was taken sick with smallpox, and when the ship sailed he was left in a hospital in Jamaica. He was near to dying and reported to be dead by one man who returned to this country from the island. Westley recovered took a ship to Boston and walked to Chebacco where he was welcomed by his family as one who had risen from the dead.In 1771 he married Molly Woodbury the daughter of Robert Woodbury of Beverly Farms. The couple had ten children. Skipper was not a member of the church but was a regular attendant at all church services and a strict observer of the Sabbath. Skipper Westley was totally blind for a number of years before his death. He died September 1, 18.37 at the age of 90. He had in all 81 grandchildren. One of the Skipper’s daughters married Abner Burnham, a cousin, and this couple reared a family of 14 children (seven sons and seven daughters). Six of these seven sons became ministers. One of Abner Burnham’s children sold the old house to Deacon Aaron Story, a relative by marriage, and was in turn given to his daughter. The house was restored under the supervision of George Francis Dowe, curator of the Essex Institute of Salem in 1924. View recent photos.

Preston, David House, 1737. Southern Ave. ESS.70

South Lane Farm, located on the old road to Gloucester, was built in 1737 by David Preston who was a mason from Manchester. The next owner of the farm was Israel Andrews, Jr. born July 7, 1805. He was married to Keziah Gorten in 1827. Their son Israel Foster Andrews, III was one of triplets. He married Martha Ann Dodge. In 1886 Mosses Burnham and Susan Goodhue Burnham brought the farm from Israel and Martha Andrews. One of the old cow barns burnt in 1913 and the other is still standing (with an addition added in 1930) on the north side of the house. There was an overpass on the north side from the stone wall up to the second floor. In winter the milk and milking equipment consisting of pails and strainers were carried up the walkway to the second floor.

15-17 Spring St., the Choate homestead

In 1800 David Choate purchased the parsonage which for many years was occupied by Rev. Cleveland, second minster of the Congregational Church of Essex. On the spot he built a new house. This house, as it was originally built contained twelve rooms, two halls, four pairs of stairs. Seven successive generations of Choates have lived in the house.

Essex MA historic house
Cogswell’s Grant, 1728; 60 Spring St., ESS.3

Cogswell’s Grant is at the extreme end of Spring Street. The house, built about 1735 is believed to be on the site of the 17th century William Cogswell farmhouse which stood on eastern point of the 300 acre grant, given in 1635 to John Cogswell, the first of the Cogswell family to come to America. It incorporates some of the framing and the tremendous end chimney of the earlier house, and has between the inner plaster and the outer boarding a brick wall laid in clay. There are in the house eight fireplaces, four of which are in the room corners. One of these fireplaces, the one in the original kitchen, is over eight feet long. In an upstairs closet between the chimney and the end of the house, a small door gives the only apparent access to a mysterious brick-lined space reaching from the cellar to the attic. Tar was made on the farm at one time (Kiln Creek runs between this farm and that of Albert Cogswell. A Smallpox hospital for inoculation for that disease was established on the place in in Col. Cogswell’s day. His father-in-law and his father, Rev. John Wise, being avowed champions of inoculation, then little known and much feared by most people. Col. Cogswell, who owned the place from 1752 to 1819, was a remarkable man. He held many important offices in the Colonial and U. S. Governments. He was one of those who voted for the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. In the 1830’s Adam Boyd and his sons farmed the land raising beef for market in Boston. Cogswell’s Grant is open to the public for tours June 1 – October 15.

The Oxford Tree Ring Laboratory issued the following dendrochronology findings: “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.”

Crafts House, 1791: Story St., ESS.40

Col. Thomas Crafts was the first man to read the Declaration of Independence in Boston at the Old State House on July 18, 1776. Hannah Crafts was one of the first settlers to come to America on the Arbella in 1630. John Grafts (1794) who first lived in the Crafts homestead, a descendant of the two Crafts mentioned above, married Nancy Low. They had 5 children. The fourth child was Franklin Lafayette Crafts. He was born on February 1813. His wife was Joanna Downing. They had 10 children all born in the Crafts homestead. Eight of the 10 children lived to adulthood. Three of the family lived to be quite elderly. Helen Frances Crafts Miller (93) and the oldest daughter Medora Crafts Woodbury lived to 106. The original beehive oven is still in place. In 1940-50 the roof was raised.

14 Story St, 1790: ESS.37

The house has a central chimney its 4 bays wide and 3 bays deep. Two and one half stories,there is a high pitch gable roof and a heavy cornice at the lateral and raking eaves. The clapboards are narrow and the casement windows small both the lower and upper sash containing 6 panels of glass. The door has 4 panels with transom lights above. The door is flanked by fluted pilasters with Doric capitals. There is an addition on the west side and also a gambrel roofed stable.

Story, McKensi House, 1770: 38 Story St., ESS.38

The McKensi Story house was originally a tavern for travelers on the road to Ipswich. There was a time when the Falls district was the most popular part of town. This was before Winthrop Street, Martin Street and that part of Western Avenue between the Falls house and Foster’s Brook were laid out. The only road to the center of town was Story Street where the tavern was located. Belcher Street which extended from Story Street to Choate Street made a very convenient short cut to Ipswich. Some of the interesting features of this house are the center door main facade, central chimney, 4-paneled door with transom lights, 2 ells on the north side which connect to a barn. First story sashes are 9/9 and the second story are 6/6. A separate living quarters is situated on the south side. The pantry was made over into a kitchen and the fireplaces were opened up, the ell was built on for a studio which connected the house to the barn. These alterations along with the restoration of the barn were done in 1969. On the south side of the house there stands a 2 room cottage which used to be the cobbler’s shop and later on a barber shop.

Story, Elisha House, 1784: 49 Story St., ESS.41

The land on which this house was eventually built is said to have been a grant from the King of England to Lieut. Jacob Story (1714-1796). The house was built by Jacob’s son Elisha and was continuously owned by his descendants.

Webster, Rev. Josiah House, 1795: 7 Western Ave., ESS.4

The Josiah Webster House sits high on a hill overlooking Western Avenue. The house, when constructed, appears to have had four rooms on the main floor and four on the second floor with the kitchen in the basement ( the large kitchen fireplace is still intact) and is believed to have had a hip roof. During the 1800’s a significant addition was added to the rear of the structure in order to enlarge the rear rooms and the roof was altered to create the standard peak roof that currently exists. The outbuilding was reportedly used as a cobbler’s shop and county deputy sheriffs office. In the present attic can be seen the lines of the original roof and the tops of the original chimneys (which have been added to considerably height-wise).

Pickering, Rev. Theophilus House, 1730: 9 Western Ave., ESS.5

The outstanding feature of the Rev. Theophilus house is its front entrance and front hall which include a large double front door, curved stair case and original painted wood grain on all the doors leading into the front hall. The house has been remarkably well preserved and is in generally good condition.The house was constructed as a residence in 1730 by Theophilus Pickering, son of the wealthy John Pickering of Salem. He graduated from Harvard College in 1718 and was ordained in 1725 and became the second minister of Chebacco Parish (Essex) in the same year. Pickering was believed to have designed the house and to have carved all the moldings and paneling himself. Much of the furniture made by Pickering is still in existence in the Pickering House in Salem and in the Essex Institute Museum. Upon his death the house v/as left to his brother Timothy Pickering, father to Col. Timothy Pickering, who was secretary of war to General George Washington. In 1791 the Pickering Place was sold to Col. John Cogswell who was Colonel in the Second Regiment of Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War, Delegate to the United States Constitutional Convention of Massachusetts and later a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Pickering, Rev. Theophilus Barn, 1725: 11 Western Ave. ESS.6

This house was used from early 1700’s as a barn for the adjacent Pickering House (1730) until 1)950 when it was converted to a dwelling by the owners of the Pickering House, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Maloney, with paneling, wide pine floor boards and an old staircase, etc.

Cogswell, William House, 1771: 17 Western Ave, ESS.7

This house was probably built by a William Cogswell who was born in 1748 in Ipswich. At the first town meeting of Essex in 1820, he was appointed selectman. The house was patterned after the “town houses” of Salem where Mr. Cogswell had resided for many years. It was built as a two-family house with two chimneys and a center stairway. It has seven fireplaces. the one to the right of the front door had a very early grate in which coal could be burned; the fireplace to the left had a beautiful iron frame, the forerunner of the Franklin open grate stove. At the back of the chimney was a large fireplace with a high mantle and a large hearth. At the right was a very fine beehive oven with a black iron door. The second floor was laid out much the same as the first floor, the fireplace being a duplicate of that of the first floor. There were fireplaces in the other second floor rooms and a small open fireplace in the attic.

Lowe, Winthrop House, 1718: 18 Western Ave, ESS.9

The Winthrop Lowe House was built on top of or near the house of Thomas Lowe, who was one of the Deacons of the church here from its commencement to his decease in 1712. Before his death Thomas Lowe made his house into two dwellings. He left a widow, Martha and seven children. Besides the management of an extensive farm, he entered largely into the business of making malt. The Malt house is located near Winthrop Street on the other side of the Lowe property. The malt house is thought to be much older than the Winthrop Lowe House.

Mr. Crowell describes the malt making process which was continued on by Samuel Lowe after his fathers death.”On entering, we notice many bags of barley lying on one side, ready to be made into malt. The oven is upon the ground before us. In a sort of chamber, seven feet above the oven, bars of wood are laid stretching from beam to beam, crossed by others laid on them, so as to form a lattice, over which is spread a hair cloth, eight or ten feet square. The barley is first washed, then spread upon this hair cloth to be dried. Small openings in the kiln beneath are constantly sending up heat and smoke for the drying process. It is then cleansed by a sieve prepared for the purpose and carried to a mill in the other end of the building, where it is ground and comes out malt. The barley when wet, increases in size sufficiently to pay the maltster by returning measure for measure . . we learn, however from the maltster, that the business is declining, since it is found that apples, even of the meanest kind, make a more exhilarating as well as cheaper drink and this branch of his business is increasing yearly while the other is decreasing.”

Congregational Church Parsonage, 1824: 19 Western Ave. ESS.8

This house was the Congregational Church parsonage and the home of Rev. Mr. Goodfellow and before him Rev. William Lowther. Mrs. Goodfellow was associated with the State Pilgrim Youth Fellowship and was very active at the State level. There were 130 families who were members of the parish in 1953. This parish had the largest budget in the history of the oldest church in Essex. This house was built by a ship’s captain in 1820. Sold by Joseph N. Bacon et al to Essex First Congregational Church in 1870, the house was used as the manse until 1966, when it was sold.

Andrews, Col. House, 1806., 21 Western Ave, ESS.10

The Barr Farm consists of a residence, a large barn and misc. outbuildings. The house has 5 fireplaces, considerable molding, raised paneling and wainscoting. The front hall is semi formal with a covered staircase and large front door with arched window above. The dwelling is almost completely original. The dwelling was built on a small lot next to the Barr Farm in 1806 by Col. Andrews. In 1807 Col. Andrews purchased the farm and the 50 acres from Steven Burnham who had inherited it that year from his father Thomas Burnham ( a school teacher). It is said that the old Burnham homestead was torn down by Col. Andrews and thus this house became the homestead. The property then came into the hands of his son Capt. Moses Andrews and was later sold to Sargent Story in 1865. Mr. Story operated the slaughter-house plus had 90 apple trees and numerous cows.

98 Western Ave, 1750: ESS.16

The Dane home is a cape of three room ground floor plan. The house has a massive central chimney with three ground floor fireplaces. The large keeping room fireplace includes a double beehive oven. The chimney is supported by a brick arch on the southern side of the half basement. Front parlors flank a small front hall which is directly in front of the chimney. The southern parlor has a paneled fireplace wall and is paneled around the room between baseboard and chair rail. The southwest corner of the room is dominated by an elegant corner cupboard the top of which is open and straight sided to a semi-circular head fitted with an elaborate keystone. The bottom is closed by a two panel door. The room is plaster above the chair-rail on three walls. The north parlor has a similar paneled fireplace wall but is plastered between baseboard and chair-rail. All doors are of six panels and, except in one instance, are mounted on H-L hinges nailed to door and jamb. The keeping room behind has large sections of vertical bead and bevel wainscoting, presently buried beneath plaster walls.

Burnham, Francis House, 1790: 135 Western Ave, ESS.17

This house was originally built as a two family dwelling in 1790. It has two large chimneys. Each of the eight rooms contains a fireplace. This center entrance home has two single floor jogs, one on each end of the house which were the original entries. In 1930, in order to put a wider road through to Essex the house was moved 150 feet northeast from the original site onto its present location.

Allen, Joe Gill House, 1727: 246 Western Ave, ESS.18

This house was known by the old settlers of Essex as the “Joe Sill Allen” house and is located in what they always speak of as Lakeville. Little is known of who built this house or when it was erected but from the very simple construction, it can easily be imagined that it was built in the very early 1700’s.A man known to all as Uncle Henry supplied clammers with baskets as he was by trade a basket maker. Henry Burnham was a son of a Westley Burnham and Mollie Woodbury of Beverly. He was born June 23, 1783 and married Sally Poland, January 1, 1805. He died in 1867. Sarah Hears, a daughter of Samuel Mears, was brought up in this home and she in turn married one Joseph Gilman Allen of Clay Point, South Essex.The house boasts of a very large central chimney the fireplaces and oven. There are few windows, extremely low ceilings, with a foyer and three rooms downstairs and one room upstairs. In 1976 the house was moved 100 feet back from the road where the house had settled down in the banking. After moving, the house was completely restored and all fireplaces were brought back to working order.

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2 thoughts on “Essex historic houses”

  1. Is there any record of where Richard Braebrook lived in the mid-late 1600s? Or his daughter Mehitabel Braebrook Downing? (I am their descendant.) I think there is a record of land disputes with the Cogswells, so maybe nearby.


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