I knew this house was my new home the moment I saw it early in 1993. I was ready to establish roots – I’d been transferred every few years and was anxious to settle down. I was still single; Ronald and I were married in 1995. He quickly loved the house also.
The house was built in 1786 (before Washington Street) as a wedding present from her parents for Amos and Rhoda Winsor Brown. It is a small house with a guesthouse, and I saw immediately that it would be a perfect home for one or two people who love to entertain. It has a flowing, flexible floor plan. It is near the water but not on the water. It’s commutable to Boston (oh well, that didn’t work out). And it has a great, but manageable yard. Until I no longer enjoy entertaining, I intend to remain in this house.
I didn’t recognize it yet, but those early shipbuilders did quality work. When Ronald and I had the house shingled years ago, we couldn’t get a firm estimate for the project. The contractors were concerned about what would be found when the old shingles were removed. What they found were vertical chestnut planks, in perfect condition.
The house has some great details, like super-wide, sometimes patched, floorboards and three fireplaces. The carving over the fireplace in the more formal room of the house is repeated on the staircase. There’s still a ladder going down to the basement; no one has had the heart to replace it with stairs.
When I bought the house, the old keeping room (where the original owners would have cooked their meals and spent their time) and the adjacent hallway with a wall of closets and full bath were a master bedroom suite. I wanted the large fireplace with its adjacent ovens still intact to be a public room again. I removed the door into the kitchen and repurposed the room to be a library/office/dining room. This allowed the entire first floor to flow in a circular pattern.
The second floor, with its rabbit’s warren of little rooms was and remains far from exciting. Thirty years later, I’m still dreaming about how this second floor could be redone – wouldn’t it be a great master bedroom suite? Is a one-bedroom house insane? Would it really be a one-bedroom house?
We recently had a wall in the addition to the 1786 house removed to create a great room. The old living room became the dining room. There are 10 windows and a sliding glass door in the great room, and a water view. During the summer, I imagine it’s a screened-in porch.
My office/library, the old keeping room is quite wonderful also. A gas stove has been set into the old fireplace – the original fireplace wasn’t touched. Now, with a flick of a switch, I have a cozy place to read and write on chilly days.
I love my house!