Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Maj. John Pedrick House (1756)

Maj. John Pedrick, a merchant and militia officer in Marblehead, built the house at 52 Washington Street in 1756. In 1770, he enlarged and remodeled the house, giving it a facade probably inspired by that of the nearby Col. Jeremiah Lee House. As described by Samuel Roads in The History and Traditions of Marblehead (1880),

His ships sailed to nearly every port in England, Spain, and the West Indies, and his transactions were with some of the largest mercantile houses of Europe. At one time, it is said, he owned twenty-five vessels engaged in the foreign trade.

The Revolutionary War, which proved so disastrous to the merchants of Marblehead, bore with especial severity upon Major Pedrick. Several of his vessels were destroyed by British cruisers in Massachusetts Bay, and many others rotted in port. But through it all he proved himself a zealous patriot, and a firm friend to his country. When his son was drafted as a soldier, he charged him not to accept a dollar from the government for his services, and provided him with money to meet his expenses. His daughters made a silk belt for their brother to wear, in which the gold and silver coins were quilted for safety.

In addition to his other losses, Major Pedrick suffered severely by the depreciation of Continental money. At a critical period of the war, he furnished the government with valuable military and naval stores, for which he was obliged to receive a large amount of paper money. In a short time this money became utterly worthless and the entire amount was lost.

Maj. Pedrick was also involved in the incident known as Leslie’s Retreat on February 26 1775. On that date, a British force under Col. Alexander Leslie landed at Marblehead and marched on Salem to destroy cannon and other arms and ammunition gathered there by the colonials. Again quoting Roads:

Suspecting the object of the expedition to be the seizure of several pieces of artillery secreted at Salem, Major John Pedrick hastened on horseback to that town, and gave the alarm at the door of the North Church. He was soon joined by a party of young men from Marblehead, and together they proceeded to the North Bridge, over which the regulars were obliged to pass.

Confronted by patriot militia at North Bridge in Salem, Col. Leslie eventually was allowed to cross on condition he advance only a short distance and then withdraw.

Maj. Pedrick’s House in Marblehead later served as an inn.

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Abiel Smith School (1835)

In 1798, members of Boston’s black comunity organized a grammar school that met in in the home of Primus Hall, the son of Prince Hall, a community leader whose petitions to allow black children into the city’s school system had long been denied. The school moved to the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill in 1808 and received financial upport frm the city after 1812. In the 1820s, the city finally established two schools for black children. Abiel Smith was a white businessman who died in 1815 and left $4,000 for the education of African American children in Boston. Part of this bequest was used to build the Abiel Smith School, completed in 1834 and dedicated the following year on Belknap Street, now called Joy Street, near the African Meeting House. In 1849, most African-American parents in Boston withdraw their children from the Abiel Smith School to protest the segregation of schools in the city. In 1855, the Massachusetts legislature outlawed segregation and the Abiel Smith School was closed. The building was then used to store school furniture and after 1887 as the headquarters for black Civil War veterans. The restored building is now part of the Museum of African American History. The school is also on Boston’s Black Heritage Trail.

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The Capt. John Cross House (1804)

The house at 8 Washington Square in Marblehead was built in 1804 for Capt. John Cross, a mariner. Around 1886, it was the residence of Mary G. Brown, librarian at the Abbot Public Library.

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The Capt. Nathaniel Norden House (1686)

The Capt. Nathaniel Norden House, at 15 Glover Square in Marblehead, was built around 1686 with an integral lean-to. According to Eben Putnam’s Lieutenant Joshua Hewes (1913),

Capt. Nathaniel Norden of Marblehead, son of Samuel, was born 27 Nov., 1653. He was at first a mariner, and later a prosperous merchant. He was one of the selectmen of Marblehead in 1690, and that year he and Capt. Legg are asked by the General Court to explain why they have not kept better order at Marblehead. He was of the Council for Massachusetts, 1708-23.

A later resident of the house was the loyalist Ashley Bowen in the 1760s. As described by Samuel Roads in The History and Traditions of Marblehead,

Though there had been Roman Catholics in Marblehead for many years, there was no attempt to have a celebration of the mass in town until the year 1851. During that year, the Rev. Thomas Shehan, pastor of St. James Church, Salem, visited the town, and celebrated mass in the house of Mr. Dennis Donovan, on the corner of Prospect and Commercial streets. Father Shehan afterwards came to Marblehead twice a year for the purpose of hearing confessions and administering the Holy Communion, the services being held alternately at the house of Mr. Donovan and that of Mr. John Mahoney, on Glover Square [aka the Norden House].

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Old West Church, Boston (1806)

The original Old West Church in Boston was a wood-frame building, built in 1737. It was used as barracks by British soldiers during the occupation of Boston, but they soon razed the structure in 1775 due to concerns that supporters of the Revolution were sending signals to Cambridge from its steeple. The church was finally rebuilt in 1806. It was designed by Asher Benjamin and has similarities to his earlier Charles Street Meeting House of 1804. Originally a Congregationalist church, Old West Church was deeded to the City of Boston in 1894 to serve as the West End Library. The church remained a library until 1962, when a new library was built. Since 1964, Old West Church has been home to a Methodist congregation.

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The Solomon B. Griffin House (1904)

The Solomon B. Griffin House, at 185 Mill Street in Springfield, was built in 1904. It was designed by Charles E. Hamilton in the Tudor or English Revival style. Griffin was an author and managing editor of the Springfield Republican newspaper for many years. Today, the house is Amity Lodge 172 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

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The Rev. Samuel G. Buckingham House (1875)

At 141 Mill Street in Springfield is a Stick-style house built in 1875. It was the home of Rev. Samuel G. Buckingham, who in 1847 had begun his forty-year tenure as pastor at South Congregational Church. Rev. Buckingham was the brother of William A. Buckingham, Governor of Connecticut during the Civil War, about whom he wrote a biography.

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