“Old Town” in Marblehead, MA is a visual delight, packed with colorful early 18th Century homes and a few dating to the 17th Century. Navigating its narrow streets in an automobile during the tourist season can be challenging; we recommend visiting Marblehead during the spring or fall. The Open Space Plan for Marblehead explains the town’s extraordinary concentration of over 200 homes built before the Revolutionary War.
“The large number of surviving houses from before 1775 is due to the fact that the American Revolution had a devastating economic and social impact on Marblehead. More than 600 men served from a town of 935 families (1765 census), in both the Continental Army and on privateer vessels out of Marblehead or Salem. In the War of 1812, over 1,000 men served from a population of 6,000 or 7,000.”
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In 1796 this house was sold by Capt. Thomas Peach to his brother Joseph Peach along with 6 acres of land. There are bolection mouldings and original paneling around the fireplaces.
The original location of this house was at the intersection of Beacon and Norman, It was moved to its present location by 1850. Deacon William Doliber was a leader in resisting the outrages of British rule prior to the Revolution. He was appointed by Town Meeting in 1771 to a committee of grievances to correspond with like committees in other towns of the commonwealth, to press for the rights of the province and oppose the crown. With Doliber on this committee were Azor Orne, Elbridge Gerry, Joshua Ome, Thomas Gerry, Thomas Gerry, jr., Capt. John Nutt and Capt. John Glover. After the Boston Tea Party in 177U the infamous Port Bill was passed which closed Boston to Commerce and removed the seat of Government to Salem. Town Meeting then appointed Doliber to the Committee of Correspondence, which also included Joshua Orne, Deacon Stephen Phillips, Edward Fettyplace, Capt. John Nutt, and Ebenezer Foster. Doliber was also chosen to represent the town when all the Committees of Correspondence met. The other delegates were Jeremiah Lee, Azor 0rne, Elbridge Gerry and Joshua Orne.
Based upon visual evidence of construction techniques, the home was originally constructed as a half-house in the first quarter of the 18th century. The original part of the house, with its hewn timbers having tooled, beaded edges on the framework, is typical of the early 18th century. . From 1779 to 1801 the property was owned by Ephraim Ireson, mariner, from whom it was inherited by his daughter, Meriam Ireson, Spinster. She sold the lower half of the house in 1802 to Joseph Goodwin and Daniel Molay who in turn sold it in 1806 to Benjamin Dodd. She sold the upper half of the property in 1802 to Benjamin Ireson, mariner, who in 1808 was the unfortunate passenger in the famous “Skipper Ireson’s Ride” immortalized by the prominent poet John Greenleaf Whittier in his poem of that name published in 1857 (see continuation sheet). According to the editor of Whittier’s works, in the History of Marblehead, published in 1879 by Samuel Roads, Jr., “it is stated that the crew of Captain Ireson, rather than himself, were responsible for the abandonment of the disabled vessel. To screen themselves they charged their captain with the crime. Benjamin Ireson lived in the house until 1853 when the upper 1/2 part of the house was conveyed to Elizabeth Ireson Preble by her father Skipper Benjamin Ireson.
Deed research dates this house before 1739 when Daniel King, instrument maker and Samuel Case, fisherman sold this house and land to Alexander Watte. Watte (or Watts) ) died in 1780, at which time Benjamin King was appointed administrator of the estate and the “dwelling house on King Street” was sold to John Adams. By I845 the ownership of the house became divided into l6ths. In the main part of the house only the enclosed beams remain from the original structure. The rear wing appears to be quite old.