The area that is now Gloucester MA was inhabited briefly by European settlers briefly around 1626. The settlement was abandoned, but people returned slowly, and the town was founded as Gloucester in 1642, taking its name from a city in South-West England. Although farming was an important occupation, the community developed into an important fishing and shipbuilding port due to its location. This page features existing houses in Gloucester constructed before the Revolutionary War that retain their early integrity of appearance. Gloucester shares the Cape Ann peninsula with Rockport, a popular tourist destination.

GLO.719, Jewett house, 6 Arlington St, c 1775
This house may have been built by a member of the Davis family. By 1872 it was one of a number of properties owned by boot and shoe maker, James S. Jewett. Jewett made “red jack” boots which were high, waterproof boots. At one time during the mid-19th century, Jewett employed about 60 people in Annisquam.

GLO.411, 5 Bond St, circa 1700


GLO.212, Second Rev. John White House, 117 Centennial Ave, c 1755
Rev. John White, the first minister of Gloucester’s First Church, built the Frist Period White Ellery House on the Green. White moved from his first house several years before his death into this house. White was considered “one of the learned, pious, humble, prudent, faithful, and useful men of his day” The second of White’s three wives was Abigail Blake, daughter of Rev. Increase Mather .

GLO.138, 4 Cross St, r 1750

GLO.140, Sanders, Capt. Thomas House, 10 East Main St, circa 1736.
The house was occupied by the Sanders family from about 1740 to 1807. Capt. John Sa(u)nders, b. 1713, was the 3rd son of Thomas Sanders, a shipwright “of great enterprise” who appeared in Gloucester in 1702 and owned land at the head of the harbor (where this house is) by 1704. John, apparently a mariner, bought the piece of property now 10-12 East Main Street from his father in 1736.

GLO.145, Griffin House, 130 East Main St, 1730

GLO.159, Smith House, 253 East Main St, circa 1730
Babson writes that “the first John (Smith) had a house, in which he dwelt, in Eastern Point, near Peter Mud’s Neck (Rocky Neck), before 1702” (p. 159). Since No. 253 East Main lies about 20′ from the body of water called Smith’s Cove, opposite Rocky Neck, this house may thus be of great historical as well as architectural significance, and perhaps dates back to the early 18th century.

GLO.443, Tucker House, 64R Eastern Point Blvd, circa 1720
This was built around 1720 by Samuel Strowbridge in Canton. Samuel Temple of the Tucker strain bought a plot on the Point in the brush across the road from the Frederick Hall Chateau, with a right of way, and disassembled and moved the house in 1924 in seven truckloads at a cost of $7,200.

GLO.425, Coffin House, 19 Elm Ave, circa 1715
The First Period core of the building was the Coffin House, originally located in East Gloucester Square. In 1927 it was rolled down to the town wharf, put on a barge, transported to Wharf Beach, and dragged to its present location.

1055GLO.1055, Davis – Freeman House, 302 Essex Ave, circa 1709. NRHP.
In 1709 Jacob Davis acquired a grant of land at the head of the Little River, and by 1712 he had built this house and a mill on it. For most of the 18th century the house was used as a hostel and tavern. In 1860 it was purchased by Robin Freeman, an escaped slave, and it remained in the Freeman family until 1929. It was then purchased by Peter Keffer, who undertook the restoration of the property. It now serves as part of a homeless shelter and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

GLO.1056, Haskell – Herrick Tavern, 396 Essex Ave, 1768
This house was built as a tavern and stage stop in 1768 by a member of the Haskell family. The Herricks were living in the house by the mid-19th century, probably were related to the Haskells by marriage. The early/mid-20th century owners were the Oakes family.

1059GLO.1059, 423 Essex Ave
This house is part of a small cluster of 18th and 19th century houses along Essex Avenue. The cluster is located about half way between Little River and Walkers Creek (Haskell District) and follows the same linear settlement pattern found throughout West Gloucester. During”the” latter half of the 19th century, the area had a post office, school and shops.

1060GLO.1060, 433 Essex Ave, 1717
This is apparently the earliest house surviving in a small cluster of 18th and 19th century houses along Essex Avenue. The cluster is located about half way between Little River and Walkers Creek (Haskell_ District) and follows the same linear settlement pattern”found throughout West Gloucester. During the latter half of the ±9th century, the areas had a post office, school and shops.

GLO.433, Story, Amos House, 27 Fort Hill Ave, c 1720
The 5-bay front section of this structure was the Amos Story house which originally stood at the corner of Highland Street and Highland Place in East Gloucester. The house was moved here by Jonathan and Pauline Raymond in 1917.

14_geeGLO.774, 14 Gee Ave, circa 1750

GLO.773, Bennet, Anthony House, 41 Gee Ave, 1679
Anthony Bennett, a carpenter, probably came from Beverly where he was living in 1671. He received a grant of land on the east side of the Mill River in 1679 where he built this house.

GLO.251, Friend House, 6 Herrick Ct, built between 1730-90

GLO.1109, Master Moore House, 7 Hesperus Ave, 1752
This house was built in 1752 by William Moore, an Englishman. In 1775, Moore was seized by the crew of a British warship while fishing with his son, Joseph. Joseph was freed, but the father was sent to a prison camp in New York Harbor where he died. Young Joseph was mathematically inclined and developed a new method of navigation. He published a textbook of navigation and conducted a navigation school in his house for over sixty years. He was known as Master Moore. The Moore family continued to own the house until the early 20th century.

GLO.734, Harraden, Capt. Andrew House, 11 Leonard St, c 1700
This house was built c. 1700 and belonged to Capt. Andrew Harraden, a mariner. Harraden was probably the son of Edward Harraden who settled across the street in 1656. At the time this house was built Annisquam was a well settled and prosperous fishing village. The house was used as barracks during the War of 1812. During the mid-19th-century, the house was owned by successful boot and shoe manufacturer, James S. Jewett. One of his products was a high waterproof boot called a “red’jack” boot.

GLO.714, Harraden, Edward House, 12-14 Leonard St, c 1660
Edward Harraden purchased the property in 1656-57 and is believed to have built the oldest portion of the house shortly thereafter. The house was part of the fishing hamlet developed in Annisquam during the 17th century, the oldest of a number of such hamlets founded in Gloucester in the 17th and 18th centuries.

GLO.702, 28 Leonard St, c 1740
This cape house was built c. 1740 when Annisquam was a prosperous, self-contained fishing village.

GLO.687, 53 Leonard St, circa 1770
This house was probably built about the time of the Revolution. At that time shipbuilding and foreign trade activity relocated from Gloucester Harbor to Annisquam because it was better protected from the British. The new economic growth brought increased prosperity to Annisquam and expanded physical development. Fishing also continued to prosper during these years.

GLO.686, The Old Castle, 63-65 Leonard St, r 1717
This house is attributed to Joseph Yorke. He purchased the land in 1708, but built this house c. 1717 He also built a wharf and a warehouse nearby and was probably a fisherman. At that time, Annisquam was a prospering fishing village. Yorke’s daughter married William Young who became the second owner of the house. In addition, he owned all the land from here to Ipswich Bay at Squam Rock, and land at Bent Pasture on Annisquam1s west side. This is one of the oldest surviving structures in Annisquam. It was built as a two family house sharing a central chimney.

GLO.663, 146 Leonard St. (formerly known as the Caleb Norwood house). The owner provided the following information: This house was built in the 1760’s by Oliver Griffin, most likely right before or after his marriage in 1761. He built this house on land he received from his father Samuel Griffin, housewright, who lived in an early 18th century house behind this house, at the end of Dennis Ct.

GLO.1088, Haskell, William House, 11 Lincoln St, c 1700. NRHP. 
The building was the subject of several articles in the 1920’s and 1930’s and of measured drawings by “Frank Chouteau Brown as a well preserved example of First Period architecture. Richard Winslow, a carpenter, had as early as 1651 a house and ten acres of land here at Walker’s Creek. He sold his property about 1652 to William Haskell, the forebear of one of Gloucester’s largest families. Haskell was from Somerset, England. He came to what is now Beverly with two brothers about 1638. A few years later he settled in Gloucester at Planters Neck (Annisquam) and married Mary Tybbot in 1643. He was on of the first deacons in the first “Church, a selectman for several years and served as a representative as well. He died in 1693. His descendants continued to live in the area into the 20th century and still live in Gloucester today. This house stayed in the Haskell family into the 1870’s. By 1899 it belonged to A. Ireland, a farmer who owned a-number of houses in the area and a considerable amount of land.

GLO.520, 6 Mason Sq, c 1770
This is one of the two oldest houses at Folly Cove and possibly dates from the mid-18th century. It is part of the fishing hamlet at Folly Cove which was settled during the early years of the 18th century. As in other areas of Gloucester, it developed into a family district with the Woodbury’s, Poland’s, and Saunder’s virtually the only families living here throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

GLO.44, Babson, Charles House, 12 Middle St, r 1730
Captain Charles Babson and his family owned No. 12 Middle at least from 1851 through 1900. Babson is described as a seaman in 1860, and as a Main Street grocer in 1885.

GLO.305, Somes, Capt. John House, 20-22 Middle St, 1770
This dwelling on the historic west end of Middle Street, was near the Town House, early churches, the harbor, stage coach terminal and tavern. Capt. John Somes, president of the first bank in Gloucester, was also a privateer captain.

GLO.306, Alfred M. Brooks House, 21 Middle St. 21 Middle Street, built in the mid 1800’s, originally the home of sea captain George Rogers.

GLO.1276, Davis – Dustin House, 28-32 Middle St, r 1740

GLO.347, Chandler, Parson House, 51-55 Middle St, r 1750
Parson Chandler, Pastor of First Parish in Gloucester 1751-1775, was born in Andover in 1713, graduated from Harvard in 1735; married in 1738; preached in York, Maine before coming to Gloucester in 1751, to remain pastor until his death. He kept a journal with accounts of the day and how he spent them such as drinking tea with his parishioners and attending them at marriages and sadly at their death beds praying with them “under great conviction”. Accounts of the smallpox; dark day; earthquakes felt here; visitations to families where loved ones were lost at sea; young people being catechised and begging for enlightenment, bring to us the varied pursuits of this man other than his Sabbath Day lectures. He practically built his #51 home with his own hands.

GLO.350, Rogers – Parsons House, 54-56 Middle St, 1769
Daniel Rogers was born in Chebacco, Essex, in 1733, and he died 1799. He built #53 Middle Street soon after his marriage in 1759. He had by two wives twenty-one children, giving each at marriage a house and upon birth of a grandchild, each baby received a silver porringer. He was a prosperous man, owning at the time of his death the largest fleet sailing out of Gloucester.

GLO.362, Foster, Col. Joseph House, 75 Middle St, c 1750
Home of Col. Joseph Poster, Revolutionary Patriot, defender of Gloucester when British ship “Falcon” fired on Town hitting steeple of First Church Meeting House close by his home. Also benefactor of citizens impoverished from war, telling them to take what they needed from his farm at Beaver Dam and his store. He was a very successful merchant and is frequently mentioned in early history of the Cape .Fine example of gambrel roof type of construction. The first gambrels were built about 1670, and as early as 1613, the Dutch of New York and Hew Jersey were using this form. There is no English precedent and it is supposed that New England got the idea from the Dutch settlers.

GLO.358, 87 Middle St, r 1785
Near this site was the barber shop of Rebecca (Broome) Ingersoll, who was the daughter of tavern keeper James Broome. Her husband was Andrew Ingersoll, by whom she had a daughter, Becky, who inherited her mother’s skill as a barber, and continued the business at this location. Through their association with all classes of people, landsmen and seamen, they acquired a fund of information and were lively and intelligent, and agreeable talkers, rather unusual for females to be in public life in those days.

GLO.345, Hardy – Parsons House, 90-92 Middle St, 1755
In 1948 the Association inherited from Mrs. Samuel H. Mansfield (Carrie Esther Parsons) the very beautiful pre-Rev. War house at 90 Middle Street. Por years the house had occupants by the name of Hardy, therefore the name “Hardy-Parsons House”. It was built in 1760 for Captain William Dolliver. Judy Millett had school here for small children – in the west room.

GLO.178, Hillier, Thomas House, 62 Mount Pleasant Ave, 1754
The first documented owner of No. 62 Mt. Pleasant was Thomas Hillier. Hillier came to Eastern Point in 1810, becoming the tenant farmer of Daiiel Rogers’ huge Eastern Point farm and owner of a large part of the Great Pasture on the Point. Garland reports that No. 62 was built in 1754 and bought by Hillier in 1812, although the deeds could not be found to document these dates. Daniel Webb Hillier, probably Thomas’ son, bought the property in 1833. Also a farmer, he bought the land with a dwelling house, barn, and outbuildings on it, and probably added the simple Greek Revival wing to the main house at this time. At D.W. Hillier’s death in 1882, the farm and farm buildings were valued at $2950, the household furnishings at $400. Daniel E. Hillier, son of Daniel Webb Hillier, inherited the property, and is described in directories as a stonecutter, laborer, and poultry dealer.

GLO.266, 20-22 Myrtle Sq, r 1740
No. 20-22 Myrtle is not pictured here on the 19t century maps. Residents report that this building, with the several other early buildings in a group here, was moved to Myrtle Square from Middle Street about 1917. The unfashionability of true colonial buildings– even so fine as this one– in the Colonial Revival period of building is ironic but well displayed in this situation. This unusual duplex building is significant for its excellent composition, superior craftsmanship (doorways are particularly outstanding), and highly intact condition.

GLO.657, 6-6R Nashua St, c 1728

In 1728 John Harraden sold a half acre house lot on this site and 11 acres of pasture to Rev. Fenjmin Bradstreet, the first pastor of the mewly formed Third Parish. Bradstreet may have built a portion or the core of this house. By 1755, a James Davis, Jr. bought from James Davis land west of the standing house with privileges to build an adjoining house. Davis may have built the small gambrel wing or added two bays to an existing half house. A later owner 1 was Rev. Ezra Leonard who bought the house in 1806. Leonard served as pastor of the Third Parish from 1804 to 1832. He was reponsible for turning his church to Universalism in 1811.

GLO.1097, 1 Old Salem Rd.

This is possibly the oldest house in the Stage Fort Park area. It stands two and a half stories high and has a five bay, center entry facade. It is one *oom deep and has a center chimney. The door has an entablature crown, and the windows have slightly peaked lintels. There is a one story gambrel root rear ell. The history of this house was’not readily accessible. During the last half of the 19th century it was owned by John W. Bray. An A. Cressey lived here as well in 1851. Together they owned a provisions store in the downtown area. By the end of the century Bray owned a considerable amount of the surrounding land.

GLO.50, Bacon – Knight House, 10-12 Pine St, 1760

13GLO.51, Stacey – Nash House, 18-20 Pine St, 1730

GLO.1290, Priestly House, 26-28 Pine St, r 1730

GLO.372, 41-43 Pleasant St.

GLO.58, Steele House, 47 Prospect St, r 1730
The first discovered resident of No. 49 Prospect Street was William H. Steele. If the house came down through the Steele family from its construction, it is likely that the house was built either fro William Steele or for one of his five sons born 1732-42. Our William H. Steele, occupation grocer and fishery, is not listed as living here, although he is named on the 1851 map. Several members of his family, however, including Adrran and Charles Steele, carpenters, were here as early as 1860 and as late as 1900.

GLO.60, 85 Prospect St, circa 1750
A William Fears first appeared in Gloucester at his marriage in 1721, and was still alive in 1755. Perhaps he or his sons or grandsons built this house and passed it down to our Jos. Fears. A Mrs. Dorcas Curtis, widow of Charles (a fisherman, possibly), is found here from 1872 to 1900. This is a pristine complex of attached 18th century buildings. Its vernacular composition and simple forms and details are highlighted by strong central chimneys and elegant period doorways and window sash.

GLO.1310, Trask – Harridan House, 90 Prospect St, 1730.

GLO.649, 9 Revere St, r 1750
This house was probably built sometime after 1738. In that year, the Sandy Bay Road (now Revere St.) was opened all the way to Rockport. This endeavor was undertaken by the Church in Annisquam so that Rockport worshipers could reach the Third Parish meetinghouse, established at Annisquam in 1728. Thus, Revere St. became an important transportation route, a factor which would have encouraged building construction along the road.

GLO.648, 26 Revere St, r 1750
The gambrel roof is similar to the house at 9 Revere, suggesting that they may have been both built in the mid-18th Century.

GLO.647, Dennison House, 90 Revere St, 1727
This house was built in 1727 by George Dennison who had settled in Gloucester around 1720 when he purchased property at Annisquam and Bay View. According to family tradition, George was born in Dublin in 1699 and at the age of 20, impressed on board a British man-of-war which took him to Newfoundland. He is said to have escaped and reached Boston where he found employment as a clerk in the office of Sargent & Go., a prosperous trading company. Through his business connections, George acquired several vessels for cod fishing on the GrandBank and for trading in the West Indies and became a wealthy man. Dennison established a farm on his property and reportedly operated a store in the northeast room of his house. In 1908, the Dennison Homestead was sold to Charles H. Hoyt, a Haverhill lumberman who cleared the property extensively. After several other transactions, the property was purchased by Earl E. Sanborn, a well-known stained glass artist.

GLO.726, Chard House, Old, 32 River Rd, c 1750
SPNEA photo files call this the Old Chard House, a family name frequently associated with early Annisquam history.

GLO.455, Shapley, David House, 15 Shapley Rd, c 1718
Known as the Shapley House, this dwelling was originally located in Thompson, Conn, and was moved to its present site in 193^ by Mrs. David Ingrham of Cambridge, According to the present owner, Mrs. H. Calvin Cook, the house was first built in 1718 by David Shapley, a weaver. Prom its appearance, the structure may have started out as a three-bay half house that was enlarged around 1770 when the elaborate doorway would have been added.

GLO.288, 5 Smith St, r 1730

GLO.762, Riggs House, 27 Vine St, r 1661

26 Walker Ct., Gloucester MA26 Walker Ct., circa 1660


GLO.1083
, 4 Walker St, c 1730
GLO.1085, 16 Walker St, c 1750

GLO.704, 4 Walnut St, r 1750

GLO.46, Woodward – Parsons House, 64 Middle St, c 1756
GLO.349, Wittemore, Samuel House, 17 Washington St, 1760

GLO.309, Whittemore House, 179 Washington St, 1700

GLO.1022, Babson – Alling House, 245 Washington St, c 1740. NHRP

GLO.1008, White – Ellery House, 247 Washington St, 1710 NRHP
The White-Ellery House was built in 1710 upon what was then the Town Green for Gloucester’s first settled minister, the Reverend John White (1677–1760). In 1735, the house was purchased by James Stevens and kept as a tavern. Captain William Ellery (1693–1771) took title to the property in 1740 and after keeping the tavern in operation for a few years, used the house as a home for his family, which continued living in the house for six generations.

132Joslyn – Wharf House, 551 Washington St, 1679

GLO.753, Norwood, Francis – Hyatt, Alpheus House, 704 Washington St, c 1664
The oldest part of the Norwood-Hyatt house is estimated to have been built in 1664 for Francis Norwood, a mariner and early settler of Gloucester. It remained in the hands of Norwood family descendants until 1879, when Cape Ann Bank took the house by foreclosure. It was acquired that year by Audella Hyatt, wife of Alpheus Hyatt, who used the property as a base for marine research.

GLO.651, 840 Washington St, c 1750

GLO.556, Langsford House, 1114 Washington St, c 1760

GLO.514, 1261 Washington St, r 1750

GLO.1104, Sawyer, James House, 268 Western Ave, 1714


GLO.1101, 349 Western Ave, c 1691
GLO.1113, Hodgkins – Storey – May House, 632 Western Ave, r 1765

GLO.1115, Gilbert – Butler – Stanley House, 729 Western Ave, c 1704

gloucesterma_dykewheelerhouse
Dyke-Wheeler House, 144 Wheeler St.
The Dyke-Wheeler House at 144 Wheeler Street is a First Period house built about 1720 according to the MACRIS site and has undergone alterations recently. The original chimney was removed and replaced by a wooden box on the roof, enclosing pipes. See Prudence Fish’s comments below.
The house was at one time believed to have been built earlier, in the 1660s, by a man named Richard Dyke. It is one of two First Period houses surviving on Wheeler’s Point, named for a later owner. The lean-to was added c. 1800. 1800. First Period features are visible in the right and left hand chambers. Framing in the right hand chamber presents an unusual combination of quirk beading and flat chamfering. The end tie beam has an inch wide flat chamfer and lamb’s tongue stops. Corner posts have flat chamfers and no stops. The rear plate begins at the end wall with a flat chamfer, but a third of the way along the beam, the flat chamfer becomes a quirked bead (see photograph). The rest of the framing, including the one exposed brace, is quirk-beaded. The frame of the right hand room also incorporates a ship’s knee to brace the front chimney post and chimney tie beam. In the left hand chamber the front and rear plates are exposed and quirk-beaded. During restoration of the house, a quirked bead was observed on the longitudinal summer beam in the left hand room.

gloucesterma_ellaproctorherrickhouse
Ella Proctor Herrick house, 189 Concord St.
The left section of the Ella Proctor Herrick house at 189 Concord Street was built in the late 17th century, and shows clear evidence of 17th century construction. The right side was added in the 18th century. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places. Prudence Fish notes that it is indisputably First Period.

14 thoughts on “The oldest houses in Gloucester, MA

  1. Wonderful work on researching these gems. Many of these are my ancestors’ homes and I have never seen them before. I hope to visit the area at some point in the future and retrace the steps of my family. I’d like to mention that you noted on the Haskell – Herrick tavern ( Glo. 1056) that the Haskell’s and Herrick’s are probably related. I have Prudence Haskell married to Samuel Herrick in the mid 1700s in Gloucester. Prudence is the daughter of Benjamin Haskell who died without issue. I don’t know if this is in anyway related to this house but it is roughly in the same time period. Thank you for putting this all together.

    – Sarah Herrick

  2. I would like to correct the information on the house which is called the Caleb Norwood house, Annisquam. It belongs to me and the Macris info is wrong. The house was built in the 1760’s by Oliver Griffin, most likely right before or after his marriage in 1761. He built this house on land he received from his father Samuel Griffin, Housewright, who lived in an early 18th century house behind this house, at the end of Dennis ct.

  3. What a great effort. This is a valuable document on Gloucester architecture. Some of the dates have changed since the information was published or the inventories completed without deed research or dendrochronology. The two houses that are undisputably seventeenth century are the Ella Proctor Herrick house on Concord Street and the Edward Haradan house in Annisquam. The steep pitch of the roof is a giveaway of an early date. Most are 18th century. The story of the Wheeler-Ives house is the worst ever desecration to a National Register house. The chimney was removed. What you seein the photo is a box enclosing pipes from zero clearance fireplaces. Preservationists will not soon forget what happened to that house.

  4. The house at 144 Wheeler st was built prior to 1640. The picture of the house is in correct. When the house was sold by the Ives family to the Steel family they completely changed it even though they promised not to.

    1. Thanks for your reply Victoria, The GLO.102 link from Mass Historic has a much earlier photo, before the house was updated, but the configuration of the windows shows that the earlier and older photos are the same building. The MACRIS information as well as other online sources state that attribution of the house to the earlier date is no longer accepted as factual. I would be happy to add your photos and information.

    2. This house is a very well known house and was NOT built before 1640. The Dyke Wheeler house was a great early 18th century house before it was totally renovated and added onto.

    3. Victoria, we Steeles promised to not change the original 4 rooms – it is in the deed. We have spent approximately $200,000 to preserve those first-period rooms as they were, on the inside. They had not been well maintained, so we rebuilt them from outside-in (the supported structure was rotted). The rooms are first-period except for the outer supporting structure. For the same reason, we had to remove the original fireplace, as it was unstable and had had multiple chimney fires. Stop by to see the work we did to preserve this lovely home!

  5. Great collection of old houses and histories. Thanks! There are three houses with the same photo though, #60, #288, # 764, just FYI! Awesome work.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s