Topsfield originally was part of the 17th-century coastal plantations of Salem and Ipswich, with large tracts of its territory granted to residents of Ipswich between 1634 and 1642. At first known as the “newe medowes at Ipswich,” but was given its present name in 1648. In 1650, it had enough settled population to be incorporated as an independent town. The first meetinghouse is believed to have been at the northwest corner of Howlett Street and Meeting House Lane. By 1675 there were about 250 people in the town, virtually all of them members of farming families. First Period houses in Topsfield include the Zaccheus Gould House, ca. 1670; Stanley-Lake House, ca. 1690s; the Captain Joseph Gould House, ca. 1700; and the Jacob Peabody-Stephen Foster house, ca 1685.
- Topsfield houses and lands, history by Sidney Perley (PDF)
- Topsfield houses and lands by Sidney Perley (Archive.org)
- Houses and buildings of Topsfield, Massachusetts : an up-date of “The houses and buildings of Topsfield, Massachusetts 1902” by J. H. Towne
- National Register of Historic Places ,Historic Farms and Rural Retreats of Topsfield, MA
- The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society.
- Grayscale photos, inventory information were created by the Topsfield Historical Society in the 20th Century. Links are provided by MACRIS, the Massachusetts Cultural Resource information system.
- Color photos are from the Patriot Properties site.
- Plan of Topsfield made by Philander Anderson, dated 1830
Lamson, Arthur J. house 24 Asbury St c 1680 TPF.90: On November 19, 1680, John Lamson purchased 50 acres of land from William Howlett. It is thought that J. Lamson built the core of this house soon thereafter. It remained in the family for 229 years until Bradley Palmer bought much of the land in 1902 and the house in 1909. The Lamsons were farmers and active in community affairs. Lamson was a member of the Church which, because of its distance from Ipswich of which it was then a part, petitioned for the right to be included in the Topsfield parish and town. In 1774 this area was annexed by Topsfield. Josiah Lamson was a member of the 2nd Topsfield Co. which tool part in the battle of 1775. Later John Lamson was a member of the standing committee which founded the Topsfield Academy. The Lamson homestead gave its name to the Lamson Bridge off Ipswich Street which was for 250 years located east of the house in a deep southern curve of the Ipswich River. Only the ruins of the abutments remain. The road passing in front of the Lamson house was discontinued when Bradley Palmer built a new stretch of Asbury Street and a new bridge west of the house. The road is now part of the park trail system.
The house continued to be used by members of the Lamson family for some time under Palmer’s ownership. Palmer was a Boston lawyer, (1866-1946) who was partner in a prestigious Boston law firm, Chairman of United Fruit CO, represented Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, and Sinclair Oil in the Teapot Dome scandal. He built a large house on the hill south of the Lamson house in 1902, and sometime later built a multitude of outbuildings on the estate, which continued to expand. Palmer demolished all the stone walls on the Lamson farm for building material for the exterior walls of his house and several outbuildings. To this house he added the two-story porches on the north elevation, and perhaps one or both of the door surrounds on the south elevation. Also demolished are the extensive outbuildings: two frame barns, 4 major sheds, and rail fences enclosing farmyards. Palmer’s Head Gardener, William Keith retired to this house and lived here till his death in 1965 at 91
Cummings, Capts. Joseph Thomas house 83 Asbury St 1778 TPF.91: The Cummings House, 83 Asbury Street, Topsfield is a 1778 late Georgian house updated, moved and added to in 1899. Originally owned by Joseph and Thomas Cummings, the property remained in their family until 1819. It was bought in 1899 by Daniel Earle as a gentleman’s farm. He moved the house back from the street and renovated the house to its current appearance. This building was the house constructed for the elderly Capt. Joseph Cummings (1692-1794) and his grandson, Capt. Thomas Cummings (1741-1806) in 1778-79. Along with the William Cummings house at 123 Asbury Street,(see Form #229), it is one of two survivors out of at least six or seven pre-1825 homes in the vicinity belonging to members of the Cummings family. According to the tax list of 1786, Joseph and Thomas ran a farm here that was relatively typical of those in Topsfield in the years after the Revolution, with 29 acres.
Cummings, Capt. William House, 123 Asbury St. 1710. TPF.229: This building, one of several at the eastern border of Topsfield belonging to members of the Cummings family, was built for Capt. William Cummings in 1823-24. William Cummings (1788-1868) became a Captain in the local militia in 1821, and served the town as a Selectman for many years. The property was apparently inherited by William’s son, Alfred V. Cummings (1823-1904), and was known as the “Alfred Cummings Place” for most of the nineteenth century. In 1909 it was sold to Alice Streeter, wife of Dr. Edward Streeter, who extensively remodeled the house and moved the house back from the street to higher ground, (possibly turning it 90 degrees), In 1932 it was sold to Louis Agassiz Shaw, who occupied the property for over fifty years.
Averill, John house 19 Averill Rd 1730 TPF.92: The house was built for John Averill in 1730, and has been the home to many Topsfield residents who were prominent in town affairs.
TPF.102 Iles, William House, 11 Boxford Rd. 1719: Also known as the “Cooper Perkins place,” the house was moved to this location from Boxford in 1820.
Perkins, Jacob III house 130 Central St c 1768 TPF.75: This house was owned by at least four generations of farmers of the Perkins family over the course of 150 years. Its first known owner was Jacob Perkins, III who was assessed for it as early as 1768. He was born in 1732, and married Martha Tappen in 1755. Although there was more than one man in Topsfield by that name, it is likely that he was the soldier listed as serving under Capt. Smith at Lake George during the French and Indian War in 1755, as well as the Revolutionary militiaman who took part in the New York campaign in the fall of 1776.
Sometime after 1777, Jacob and his family moved to Rowley. No Jacob Perkins is listed as owning property in Topsfield in 1786, and it is likely that by then the house and farm here had been acquired by his brother, Zebulon Perkins, who is listed both in that year and in 1798 as owning a farm of 49 acres and a house of this general description and location. He, too, served in the Revolution, marching to Lexington on April 19, 1775 with the Second Topsfield Company, and to Rye, New York in 1776. At least part of this building remains from the two-story house owned by Jacob Perkins as early as 1768. Much of its appearance, however, is the result of an extensive remodeling done in 1877 by carpenter John Potter for Ephraim Perkins-hence the great bulk of the house, and the elaborately-bracketed Italianate canopy over the main entry.
TPF.241 Conant, John House , 25 East St. 1800
Balch, John house 1 Hill St c 1769 TPF.174: The John Balch House is one of Topsfield’s few eighteenth-century gambrel-roofed houses. The original house is 2 1/2 stories, five by three bays, with a pair of massive ridge chimneys. Its configuration today, however, is a true New England “connected farmstead”, having grown over the years by the addition of a two-story northwest wing, connected to what appears to be a small 1 1/2 story cottage with a wide wall gable on the facade, and, abutting the end of the cottage, a handsome “New England” barn of the second half of the nineteenth century, with its main door in the gable end, facing the road. This house is an excellent illustration of an old farmhouse which came down through five generations of one family, in its early years serving as a double-house for different family members, subsequently functioning as a single-family residence, and later becoming a summer country estate for the twentieth-century owners. It was built for farmer John Balch in about 1769, on land that had come into his family in the 1722 division of Topsfield common lands. In 1771, he referred to it as his “new house” when he conveyed the western half of it to his son, John Balch, Jr. (1742-1798). Shortly thereafter, his youngest son, Roger Balch, received the eastern half of the house from his father.
TPF.111 Towne, Daniel House, 68 Hill St c 1800: From the 1700s this property was part of the large land holdings of the Towne family and an earlier Towne house is said to have been on this property from ca. 1750. This house was constructed for Daniel Towne Sr. (1781-1845) in 1815 and the earlier house of his grandfather, Ephraim Towne, was demolished. The 1815 dwelling and surrounding farm passed to Daniel Towne Jr. (1810-1891) and then to his brother, Sewell Towne (1817-1898) who remained here farming the land throughout the late 1800s. The two brothers were known to be prosperous farmers who carried on the farm of their father until his death at which time it was divided and Sewall remained here while Daniel moved across the street. In the late 1800s the farming was taken over by Sewall Towne’s son, Frank H.Towne (18591957) who remained here until his death. In 1887 Frank married Mary B. Richardson, from Cape Breton.
Capen, Rev. Joseph house 1 Howlett St 1683 TPF.1:The Parson Capen House is one of the finest surviving example of Elizabethan architecture in America. The house is situated on a knoll overlooking the Common, originally on a twelve acre lot of land granted Reverend Capen by the Town in 1682. Parson Capen served the Church in Topsfield for 44 years until his death. The Topsfield Historical Society purchased the house in 1913. The Oxford Tree Ring Laboratory determined a 1681-2 date for the logs cut, based on dendrochronology.
French, John – Andrews, Joseph house 86 Howlett St c 1718 TPF.112: The c. 1718 frame, characteristic of late First Period treatment in its minimal decoration, nevertheless embodies certain features which link it to earlier buildings in the Topsfield area and even to the earliest buildings in Massachusetts. The massiveness of the frame and the use of beams which are deeper than they are wide relate the structure to the Parson Capen house of 1683. The deeply jowled corner posts are found also in the Stephen Foster house and the Zaccheus Gould house of c. 1700, suggesting a persistent local style of post treatment. The framing of door posts for interior doors into chimney girts and tie beams is a structural technique found in the earliest houses in Massachusetts including the Fairbanks house and directly derived from English practises. Normally superseded by other methods of framing doors in later houses, the use of such door posts in the French Andrews House is a rare and conservative expression of direct transfer framing practices. The house is also significant for the survival of original finish in situ. The fireplace trim in the left-hand room and particularly the wide board feather-edged sheathing in the right-hand chamber are noteworthy and up-to-date examples of late First Period finish.
214 Ipswich Rd., Dr. John G. Treadwell house: Constructed in 1742, this house was moved to its current location by Jonathan Bond from a location by the Essex Co-op. Dr. Treadwell’s farm on Boston Street survives today as the Topsfield Fair Grounds. Dr. Treadwell bequeathed his 150-acre farm to the Topsfield Historical Society, specifying that it be used “for the promotion of science of Agriculture by the instituting and performance of experiments and such other means as may tend to the advancement of science.” The Topsfield Fair, still known as the Cattle Show and Fair, was first held at the Treadwell Farm in Topsfield in 1910. Source: National Register of Historic Places.
TPF.117 Elliot, Israel D. House, 5 Lockwood 1847: This property had three seventeenth and eighteenth century dwellings each succeeding the other on the same foundation. The extant house was built by Israel D. Elliot (1795-1873) in 1847-1848. In the 1820s Elliot was named an Ensign in the Topsfield Cavalry. One of a few early- to mid-nineteenth century Cape Cod cottages, this dwelling is a well-preserved example of a common building form in most New England communities. This area of Topsfield was settled by Goulds and many of the older properties along Washington Street were built by and for Goulds. Lockwood Lane was known as Mill Street reflective of the mill pond and the site of an early mill at the Boxford end. The road was laid out in 1767 and was called Mill Street until 1939 when town meeting voted the Selectmen’s recommended change to Lockwood Lane.
Tilton house 31 Lockwood Ln c 1788 TPF.118:
Emerson – Jordan house 93 Main St 1733 TPF.7
This is one of the best examples of the Federal style mansion houses in Topsfield. The Emerson – Jordon House is one of two houses on the Topsfield Common associated with Topsfield’s well-known Emerson family and regarded as the two most handsome Federal structures in the Common area. Reverend John Emerson first built his house on this site in 1733, and part of it was retained in the structure of the larger house built in 1808 by William Emerson. The other, which later served as a parsonage and now as offices and classrooms of the church, was built in 1814 by Joseph Emerson.
Andrews, William house 109 Main St 1776 – 1784 TPF.81:This house was originally located across Main Street and was a shoe shop. The rear addition was built in 1867.
Merriam – Williams house 118 Main St 1789 TPF.83
Conant – Palmer house 132 Main St c 1778 TPF.86
Baker, Capt. Thomas house 15 Mansion Dr c 1710 TPF.248: From the early 1700s a farmhouse, located at the end of a long lane off Ipswich Street was first owned by a Thomas Baker. Although Bond refers to Thomas Baker (1636-1717) who was a farmer and ran an iron works, in all likelihood the early part of this property was built for his son, Thomas Baker (16871725) who announced his intentions to marry Mary Capen in 1709. Pye Brook ran through the property and Mill Pond was near by, probably once part of the same property. The first Thomas Baker had come here from Norwich England and was a farmer and possibly ran an iron works. His son, Thomas, was listed as a husbandman, thus also a farmer. The ca. 1710 house remained in the Baker family until it was sold in 1795 to a John Batchelder, probably the younger who announced his intentions to marry Phebe Averill in 1796. This John Batchelder (1768-1845) was the grandson of the first John Batchelder (1696-1771) who moved to Topsfield in 1739 when he bought the farm of the father of his first wife, Anna Peabody. The early setting of this finely detailed Colonial Revival mansion looked over formal gardens on the south side between the house and Ipswich Road with the driveway approaching from the south. If the early eighteenth century house was used as the core of this early twentieth century mansion, the south side would give clues as the original main entrance.
Jacob Peabody – Stephen Foster house 109 North St c 1680 TPF.120: Although traditionally dated c. 1700, the house has a completely oak frame of substantial dimensions. These characteristics of the frame might suggest either an earlier construction date. The massive oak frame of this house is exposed on the first and second floor and in the attic. A straight-run staircase has replaced the original chimney in the chimney bay at the right hand end. On the second floor, the summer tie beam is embellished with 1 3/4″ flat chamfers and a stylized variant of the lamb’s tongue stop.
TPF.122 Perkins, Dudley House, 64 Perkins Row c 1800: This dwelling was constructed in 1855 for Dudley Perkins (1795-1879). Jacob Foster, local carpenter, was the builder. Perkins had married Sarah Perkins in 1818 at Middleton. Upon the death of his mother, Josiah Peabody Perkins (1832-1912) inherited this property and lived here until selling to Dr. Henry F. Sears in the 1900. The house is one of the best preserved Italianate structures in rural Topsfield.
Bradstreet, Samuel farm 87 Perkins Row 1760 TPF.929: The Ipswich River Sanctuary visitor center. Established as a farm in the 1700s, the core of the property was the farmstead of Samuel Bradstreet (1729-1777) and three more generations of Bradstreets who had a farmhouse, related outbuildings, meadows and pastures for raising livestock and growing corn and fruits as well as cranberries in the wetter areas near the Ipswich River. Some of the meadows remain and are planted with wheat and other crops representative of Topsfield’s agricultural origins. The last Bradstreet to live here was Dudley Bradstreet (1827-1909), farmer, who worked this land for forty years, who was active in Town affairs by serving as Selectman in the 1870s and who was a member of the Essex Agricultural Society from 1869 and Trustee of the same in the 1870s as well. In 1898 he sold the Bradstreet Hill Farm to Thomas Emerson Proctor (1873-1949
Dodge, Dea. Solomon house 153 Perkins Row 1769 TPF.126: This typical eighteenth century farmhouse was built for Deacon Solomon Dodge (1721-1812) in ca. 1769. Dodge was active in the military during the American Revolution and served as a minuteman in Lexington and Concord and later under General George Washington. This dwelling also is known as the Ebenezer Dodge house for its early nineteenth century owner who sold to Cyrus Cummings (17721827), however, it is not known whether Cummings lived here. He was the proprietor of the Topsfield Hotel on the Newburyport Turnpike, now Boston Street, and was the first postmaster of Topsfield from 1813 until his death in 1827. In 1822 Cummings sold this property to the Town of Topsfield as an almshouse. The Town Meeting had addressed the topic annually from 1815 and sporadically prior to that but it was not until 1822 that a committee was appointed and successfully voted to purchase the Dodge-Cummings Farm. Residents were required to work on the farm to earn their lodging. The property continued as a poor farm until 1900 and the census varied radically from approximately 225 poor lodging here over the course of 1874 (indicating a transient population) to only six occupants in 1889. A newspaper account of 1875 notes that William J. Savage, formerly of Boxford, was the superintendent and that the house was updated and on the 100 acres corn, potatoes, squashes, hay and other general produce were grown by the residents. Also there was a fine sow with thirty piglets. The article went on to say that Mr. Savage had “dug up a well finished Indian tomahawk”. By 1900 the Town decided to sell the farm to Dr. Henry F. Sears of Boston who had purchased other properties from Bradstreet and Perkins on Perkins Street (now Perkins Row). Soon thereafter the small farm was purchased by Thomas E. Proctor (1873-1949).
Pritchett – Hood house 8 Pond St 1668 TPF.127:
Hubbard house 11 Prospect St 1686 TPF.128
Balch, John – Bradstreet, John house 9 River Rd c 1769 TPF.134: The building began as a small one-story farmhouse; its first known owner was John Balch, who was taxed for it as early as 1769. This would be farmer and tanner John Balch, who refers in 1771 to the house at 1 Hill Street as his “new house”. (See Form 174). He apparently lived in this house for a number of years prior to that time, possibly from as early as 1752, the year that payment records in the Topsfield Historical Society indicate that a house was being built. Until the early part of this century, the ca. 1713 house of his father, David Balch, the first of the family in Topsfield, stood a short distance to the west, and it appears that this house was built on part of David’s land. John Balch (1716-1774) married Rebecca Smith in 1740. They had nine children, and, as a wealthy colonial landowner, John, who according to records accumulated “a large estate”, was able to provide farms for several of his offspring when they reached adulthood. Both John Balch and at least one of his sons were involved in the series of French and Indian wars in the middle part of the eighteenth century. He had trained for the local militia under Captain Perkins in 1745, and was in the company of reinforcements that started for Fort William Henry in 1757, only to turn back at Sudbury when the news of the fort’s surrender was received.
Lake, Daniel – Bradstreet, Henry house 70 River Rd c 1760 TPF.137: Once part of land held by the Lake family it is thought that the house was built for Daniel Lake (17261810) who was taxed for the one-story house in 1768. He married Sarah Bixby in 1749 which may be the circa date of construction. Lake was active in local politics and served as a Selectman and Town Clerk before moving to Rindge, New Hampshire in 1767. He sold the property to Henry Bradstreet (1741-1818), who was a cordwainer and yeoman and who stayed here only until 1793 when he removed to Boxford. Much of the property east of this was owned by Bradstreets. The laying out of River Road describes the road laid between the land of David Balch and Henry Bradstreet and mentions the necessary moving of the stone walls that line Bradstreet’s land. The gambrel cottage is consistent with an early to mid-eighteenth century dwelling and appears to have remained on the property. Several owners had the farm during the 1800s.
Gould, Zaccheus house 85 River Rd c 1670 TPF.216“: The original c. 1670 single cell structure comprises the right-hand portion of the house. The left-hand rooms were added c. 1700. The clapboarded exterior has.Second Period Vernacular trim including simply framed sash windows, and an enclosed porch. Three dormer windows were added in the 20th century. Evidence of the two First Period frames, c. 1670 in the right hand rooms and c. 1700 on the left is seen in all four front rooms. Doubled framing members are found at the junction of the two frames. In the older right (east) room, there is a longitudinal summer beam with broad quarter-round chamfer and lamb’s tongue stops. Other framing members in the room are unchamfered. Joists are spaced 18 1/2″ on centers. In the right hand chamber, the summer tie beam and end tie beam have slim flat chamfers and taper stops. In the left hand room of c. 1700 the longitudinal, summer beam has two-inch wide flat chamfers and triangular stops. Joists are spaced 20 1/2” on centers. The summer tie beam in the left-hand chamber also has flat chamfers and triangular stops. Other framing members in this room have slim flat chamfers and taper stops. Corner posts in the chamber are massive and are jowled c. 2 feet from the floor.
Lake, Eleazer IV house 93 River Rd 1808 TPF.139: Like many of Topsfield’s farmhouses, the 1808 Eleazer Lake House was built for a member of a later generation of an original colonial family, on land divided out from his ancestors’ property. Eleazer Lake IV (1778-1844), married Ruth Prince in 1802. Both his father and grandfather had grown up in the house at 95 River Road (NR—see Form #140), which his great-grandfather, the first Eleazer Lake in Topsfield, had built on land he bought from the Stanley family in 1717. This fourth Eleazer was a farmer, who may have farmed much of the land in the vicinity jointly with other relatives, so many of whom lived near the intersection of River and Prospect Streets that the area was informally called “Lake Village.” The next owner of the house was Eleazer and Ruth’s son, Eleazer Lake, Jr. (1805-ca. 1868), who married Hannah Gould in 1832, and greatly enlarged the building in 1845. He, like many other family members, was for many years both a farmer and shoemaker, and may have worked in the shoe shop that still stands between the two houses. He was one of the original members of the Topsfield Warren Blues, the local military company formed in 1836. His record from that organization says that he was also “held in great repute as a hunter”. Years later, in 1859 he was known throughout the county for the bald eagle he had shot (and later stuffed), and for the seventy muskrats he and his brother killed with fifty-five shots. From the late 1830’s through at least 1860, Eleazer Lake, Jr. joined his brothers Joel and William G. Lake in a nursery business that gradually grew to cover much of the land north of River Street and on top of “Lake’s Hill”, the 160-foot-high hill behind this house. There they raised hundreds of varieties of young apple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum trees, which they marketed on Exchange Street in Boston, by mail order, and locally as the Topsfield Nurseries. In 1850 their nursery stock included 700 apple trees on seven acre
Lake, Stanley house 95 River Rd c 1693 TPF.140: The construction and decoration of the frame and the survival of original shadow molded sheathing in three places in the pre -1693 single cell house adds considerably to our knowledge of carpentry practises in the late 17th century. The binding summer beam framing system is representative of a larger group of First Period buildings, particularly in the Salem area, although it never achieved the popularity of the longitudinal summer beam system in the survey area. The continuation of the sheathing up to the floorboards, with cuts to fit around the joists, is illustrative of evolutionary decorative practises, in which the chimney girt is the first framing member to be concealed. The rare survival of a pendant in the now enclosed overhang, originally on the east end of the house, adds to the significance of the house. The pendant is one of two original pendants to survive in situ in a First Period house, the other being at the Brown house in Hamilton. The frame of the 1752 addition in its size, joinery, chamfering and exposure demonstrates, as Cummings noted, that the house frame “preserved its post medieval character until the middle of the 18th century in conservative situations.”
Porter, Daniel – Conant, Benjamin house 267 Rowley Bridge c 1765 TPF.255: 267 Rowley Bridge is significant as the oldest house on lower Rowley Bridge Street, and the only direct link to the original settlers of this corner of Topsfield, the Porter family. For at least six generations Porters owned and farmed considerable land in the southwest part of Topsfield that had been part of the original grant to John Porter, settler. In the early eighteenth century they ran a sawmill on Nichols Brook close to today’s border with Middleton and Danvers; several of them were tanners, as well. John Porter’s son, Benjamin, left 240 acres each to his own nephews William and Nathaniel Porter, with William taking the northern part near today’s intersection of Rowley Bridge and Hill Streets,
Dorman house 25 Rowley St c 1765 TPF.143
Perkins, Capt. Thomas House 49 Salem Rd Topsfield 1806, TPF.145. This house was built by a Topsfield native. Capt. Thomas Perkins (1758-1830) was born on this property in the small house of his father, farmer and innkeeper Moses Perkins (demolished). The ownership of farm land by the Perkins family dates back to Deacon Thomas Perkins, son of John and Judith Gator Perkins, early settlers of Ipswich. Capt. Perkins chose, not one of the prominent Salem carpenter-builders of the time, but Samuel Hood of Topsfield. (This is apparently Samuel Hood [1762-1843], who married Lydia Gould, and who served as Town Treasurer from 1818 to 1823). Thomas Perkins never married. He spent the last years of his life in failing health on his country estate in Topsfield, where he was a founding member of the Essex County Agricultural Society.
The roof walk at the center of the present roof and its X-design balustrade probably date to the rear expansion of the house in the early twentieth century. The hip-roofed porch on the northwest end, which rests on a rubble foundation, may date to about the same time as the enlargement, as would the French doors under a five-light transom on the southeast side of the house. A short one-story kitchen section on a granite foundation may have been an early el. To design and construct his new mansion, Read the entire history of this house at MACRIS.
Boyd, Samuel – Peabody, Matthew house 86 Salem Rd., before 1682. TPF.343.: This building may include one of the earliest houses in Topsfield. There is a record of Parson Hobart, who only lived in Topsfield between 1672 and 1682, being present at its raising.It was owned as early as 1720 by Samuel Boyd, who apparently owned and occupied the house between 1720 and 1736, the years during which five children were born to him and his wife. In 1736 the property, with twenty acres of land, was acquired by Matthew Peabody, third generation of the family in Topsfield. His grandfather, Lt. Francis Peabody, settled in the north part of town in 1650, and built the town’s earliest gristmill in 1664, an enterprise that was operated by the Peabody family for over 178 years. Matthew Peabody and his two wives had seven children in all, and the house was shared with various family members over the years. Most tragically, Matthew and Sarah Peabody are best known for the way they died. In a severe outbreak of dysentery in 1777, Matthew, Sarah, and two of their young grandchildren all died in the house within two days of each other. Husband and wife both died on October 20, and were buried in the same grave.
Esty, Daniel – Homan house 99 Salem Rd c 1768 TPF.175:
Dwinell, Jacob house 123 Salem Rd 1761 TPF.147: Although its farmland has been much reduced from what was once over 100 acres, the Dwinell Homestead at 123 Salem Road represents a rare example of a farm that was owned, occupied, and operated by the same family over the course of eight generations, from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century. Original Topsfield settler Michael (Michel) Dwinell (Dwinnell) (ca. 1645-1718) acquired the original 50 acres, followed by another 30, in 1672, and quickly established a farm, built a house, and dug a well. As late as the early part of this century, the well and the cellar hole of that original house could still be seen in the old family orchard pasture, 200 yards east of Salem Street.
Fiske, Nathaniel – Dwinell, George house 5 Sleepy Hollow Rd c 1768 TPF.158: The first identified owner of this property (formerly 69 Wenham Road) was Nathaniel Fiske (ca. 1744-1815), who was taxed for it as early as 1768. He and his wife, Lydia (Gould), had nine children between 1765 and 1784. One of the many men from Topsfield who served in the Revolution, Nathaniel Fiske was among those who marched to Lexington on April 19, 1775, and who were sent to Winter Hill in Somerville in 1777 to help guard Gen. Burgoyne’s men. The tax list of 1786 shows that Nathaniel Fiske was a typical subsistence farmer of the late eighteenth century, owning 31 acres of land, a pair of oxen, six cows, and two swine. A house was still in the name of Nathaniel Fiske in 1798, when it was the farmhouse of a thirty-acre farm, although by that time the reference might have been to Nathaniel’s eldest son, Nathaniel Fiske, Jr. (17651849). 1757 town documents describing a revised layout of Wenham Road refer to the original road beginning at the Wenham line “by the Wall on the way near Theophilus Fisk’s house”, and progressing north and west through Fiske’s land until it reached properties of the Dwinell family. This may mean that this house was standing in that year, and was under the ownership of Theophilus Fiske. Alternatively, it might mean that this property was owned by a Dwinell at that time.
Dow, George P. house 9 South Main St 1775 TPF.50: The house at 9 Main Street appears to have been built for John Baker in the late 18th century. Baker fought in the French and Indian Wars and was a Captain in the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was married in 1761 and may have built this house shortly after then. One historian reports that Baker kept an inn at his house from 1783 until 1795. Baker died in 1815 In 1816 the house was purchased by Samuel Hood (1784-1855) who had married two years prior. In 1855 the house was sold to Jonathan P. Gould for $2,000 Gould died by 1884 and his heirs held the property until 1893 when it was sold to George P. Dow, father of historian Francis Dow. By 1917 George Dow had died and his son, Eugene, acquired the house. Eugene Dow lived here until 1948 when he sold the property to Charles N. and Lucille M. Wellman. By 1872 the northwest ell had been added. Between 1872 and 1884 the house was joined to the barn by several additions and the northwest ell was enlarged.
TPF.192 15 Main St St 1783
Dexter, Dr. Richard house 144 Main St 1741 TPF.25
Gould, John – Huntington, Asahel house 111 Washington St c 1765 TPF.153: One of several eighteenth century dwellings along Washington Street, this property was constructed for Deacon John Gould (d. 1778), who was Topsfield’s representative to the third Provincial Congress held at Watertown in 1775. Towne notes that Captain Benjamin Gould who served as a Minuteman at Lexington, lived in this house in 1778. In 1791 the property was sold to the Rev. Asahel Huntington (1761-1813) who came to Topsfield in 1789 following his ordination. He married Althea Lord (17671850) in 1791 probably when he purchased this property. Huntington was described as a “discriminating and faithful preacher” in his day. His sons, who were born here, went onto distinguished careers in public service. Asahel Huntington, Esq. (1798-1870) served as Mayor of Salem and as district attorney and Clerk of the Essex County Courts. Elisha Huntington (b. 1796) served as mayor of Lowell and later as Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth. The Rev. Asahel Huntington was listed in the 1798 Direct Tax Census as the owner of this 1264 square foot house with twenty-three windows and a 46′ x 26′ barn all on 49 acres.
Gould, John Jr. house 119 Washington St 1791 TPF.154: From the mid 1700s all of the land at this end of Washington Street was owned by Goulds. In 1791 when John Gould Jr. sold 111 Washington Street to the Rev. Asahel Huntington, he built this house for himself. For the next century the property descended to Goulds, the last being Lucy Gould (18311911). An article in Topsfield Historical Collections notes that a barn located near the house burned in 1836. Major renovations to the house occurred in 1953, when Lester Downing from Lexington renovated the house from top to bottom including pouring a new foundation and replacing many of the structural members. A photograph from 1912 shows a three-bay tall house that is two narrow bays wide with the chimney in line with the bay on the right side rather than the centered bay. Windows are skewed to the center and the enclosed pedimented entrance porch is included. The photograph is interesting to note as today’s house appears to be the earlier house with added bays which accounts for the lack of symmetry on the main facade. According to the 1798 Direct Tax Census this began as a small 798 square foot house with only 13 windows, belonging to John Gould Jr
Gould, Capt. Joseph house 129 Washington St. (ca. 1710 / ca. 1725) TPF.155. The east half of the structure was built for Joseph Gould about 1712 at the time of his marriage to Priscilla Perkins. By about 1730, the house had been enlarged. This is a rare First Period house constructed with two room depth. When Joseph Gould Jr. married, the couple moved in with the senior Joseph and his wife. The actual dates of construction are uncertain; three studies give somewhat different architectural histories.
Dwinell, Jacob Jr. – Peabody, John house 28 Wenham Rd c 1772 TPF.157: The first known owner of this house (before 1772) is said to have been Jacob Dwinell, Jr., son of Jacob Dwinell (Dwinnell) of 123 Salem Road. The various sections of the Dwinell farm, along with at least five houses of Dwinell family members, covered much of the south portion of Topsfield between today’s Boston Street and Wenham Road. However Charles Peabody, a later owner of the house, indicated that Jacob Dwinell and Cornelius Balch acquired the deed to it from Jeremiah Towne, in which the latter refers to the part on the north side of the road as his “homestead estate.” In 1782 the house and 42 acres were sold to John Peabody, then owner of 86 Salem Road, as a “marriage house”, as John’s son, John Peabody, Jr. (1762-1836), had just married Lydia Balch the year before, and immediately took up residence here. The house stayed in the family for 140 years.
Towne, Mary house 95 Wenham Rd 1793 TPF.159