Realtor Uses “Not Haunted” Sign Rider to Market Historic Home in Tennessee


I’ve never seen this trick before, but I got a good laugh out of it, and thought I’d share.  After agent Dorothy Williams Havens, in Clarksville, TN, watched interest wane on her listing of a circa 1876 Italianate home, she decided to grab renewed attention — and maybe alleviate some fears — by placing a rider atop her real estate sign that says, “Not Haunted.”  It even has a cute, friendly little ghost on it, which is the icing on the cake for me. Read more…

Circa 1740 Gem: ‘Joseph Lyman House’ in Coventry, CT is For Sale


I toured this circa 1740 house (2275 Boston Turnpike) many years ago, perhaps in 2008, and I remember at the time feeling as though I had stepped back in time 200 years.  Fires were crackling in the fireplaces, and everywhere I turned, there were beautiful raised paneling walls.  The wide sawn wood floorboards added more to the effect.  It all created a pervasive sense of what life may have looked like — and felt like — during the Revolutionary War era.  Even before I had the opportunity to tour the house (after a client of mine purchased it), I had for years admired the curb appeal of the place — with its classic New England proportions and Saltbox-style profile on one side.  And better yet, there was a little antiques mall within walking distance where I occasionally stopped to buy antiques!


Speaking of location, that’s another great thing about this house.  It sits just 15 minutes drive to Storrs, CT — home of the University of Connecticut, where I completed my Masters in History in 2004 (Go Huskies!).  Living at this house, you could enjoy the cultural life associated with a large university to the west, but also, to the east, easily access the amenities of the cities of Manchester (large mall and lots of restaurants) and Hartford (capital city, and lots of restaurants).  I-84 is about 10 minutes away, and on Rt. 44, the picturesque villages of Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner” are just a short drive to the east, just past UConn.  Not to mention Boston is about 90 minutes away.


Anyway, from my perspective, which is admittedly biased because I so love Connecticut and New England, this house is located in the center of it all.  But its location is just the start of its rare and unique offerings.  The house has undergone significant restoration.  While I can’t personally vouch for which features are original (c. 1740) or just “really old,” the house is marketed as (remarkably) boasting an original closet on the second floor that has never been painted; original floors grace three room; four original paneled walls; four stone fireplaces; an original closed stringer staircase; and the original double front door (with what past owners have called “an Indian Bar” to secure it). In the east chamber, there are two cupboards to the left of the fireplace, and the bottom one has an all stone interior — possibly to keep something warm.  Very interesting feature I haven’t seen anywhere else.  There is also a full bath and bedroom on the first floor and a full bath with shower on the second floor.


When researching Joseph Lyman, the house’s first occupant, I couldn’t find a whole lot of information.  But I did find a picture of his super-cool gravestone!:


(A more detailed view of the gravestone is below).  Jospeh’s father, Lt. Jonathan Lyman, from Lebanon, CT, reportedly bought the property in September of 1740 and had the house built.  His son Joseph, who was apparently a doctor, lived there for about 10 years.  He was married in December of 1741 and lived in the house until his death in 1751.  The house changed hands with descendants a few times, but one owner of note was Dr. John Waldo — who served as a surgeon with Col. Jedediah Huntington’s regiment during the Revolutionary War.  Dr. Waldo died in 1786 of consumption, leaving his wife, Lucy, with 5 sons and a daughter.

Gravestone detail

Before getting back to the house, since we are talking about the history in Coventry, I must make a quick mention of two famous historical figures from Coventry — one well-known, the other probably less so, even though he was a major figure during the 1700s.  The first is Nathan Hale, the state hero of Connecticut.  Even if you’re not from the Nutmeg State, you may have heard of him — or at least his famous act.  During the Battle of Long Island, he volunteered for an information gathering mission behind enemy lines in New York City, but was captured by the British and quickly executed. But his last words before being hanged were:  “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

000_hanging-nathan-haleAnother (very) interesting figure from Coventry is Lorenzo Dow — one of the most famous and captivating itinerant preachers of early America:   ”Because the churches were closed to him, Lorenzo Dow preached in town halls, farmers’ barns, and even in open fields. He would preach anyplace where he could assemble a crowd. He preached to Methodists, Dow-Lorenzo-contBaptists, Quakers, Catholics, and atheists alike. He liked to appear unexpectedly at public events, announcing in a loud voice that exactly one year from today, Lorenzo Dow would preach on this spot. He never disappointed his audiences; he always appeared exactly 365 days later at the appointed place, usually met by huge crowds.  Dow’s public speaking mannerisms were like nothing ever seen before among the typically conservative church goers of the time. He shouted, he screamed, he cried, he begged, he flattered, he insulted, he challenged people and their beliefs. He told stories and made jokes. It is recorded that Lorenzo Dow often preached before open-air assemblies of 10,000 people or more and held the audiences spellbound.  Lorenzo Dow was personally unkempt. He did not practice personal hygiene and his long hair and beard were described as “never having met a comb.” He usually owned one set of clothes: those that were on his back. When those clothes became so badly worn and full of holes that they were no longer capable of covering him, some person in the audience usually would donate a replacement. The donated clothes often were not the correct size for his skinny body. When he traveled, he carried no luggage other than a box of Bibles to be given away. Throughout most of his life, what little money he ever collected was either given away to the poor or used to purchase Bibles. In his later years, he did accumulate a bit of money from the sales of his autobiography and religious writings. His singularities of manner and of dress excited prejudices against him, and counteracted the effect of his eloquence. Nevertheless he is said to have preached to more persons than any man of his time.  Below is a portrayal of Dow preaching:


Anyway, back to the Joseph Lyman House . . . an artifact of the time period when these figures lived in Coventry, which is very cool.  The evolution of the Lyman House is a little tricky.  The owners know that the rear ell was a separate building that was joined to the main house (evidence was found when re-shingling the house).  So the original section is a two-over-two, which they found interesting because there is no large cooking fireplace in this section.  However, the woodwork in the west side of the house, while still being Georgian, is likely later, and features a “cove moulding” in the summer beam and perimeter beams rather than the “thumbnail-style” detail on the east side of the house.  Also, the hearth stone on the west side of the house is not centered on the fireplace and is larger then necessary for the size of the firebox.  So the owners speculate that this room had a larger fireplace at one time, and was changed perhaps when Dr. Waldo bought the property.  Perhaps he then added the ell and the cook fireplace with the back bake oven.  Whatever the dates of the various portions of the house, it has, over the years, evolved into a building with a remarkable interior.  Check out the pics!:










There are 3 outbuildings all relatively new, the barn has an insulated heated room and one car garage with storage on the second floor as well as the saltboxed rear.  A garden shed and small one room building grace the rear yard.  There are 10 apple trees on the property as well.  Recent work in the last 2 years includes repair to the east summer beam, new siding, new heating and central air, a new kitchen with soapstone countertops and sink that opens to the Keeping Room and a built-in office/library.  The rear patio has had new stones installed.






The house, located at 2275 Boston Turnpike, offers 2,274 sqft of living space, 3 BRs, 2 baths, and sits on 1.36 acres.  The house is offered at $299,000.  For more information, check out the page here.


A Revolutionary War “Minutemen” Meeting Site, the “Cadwallader Ford House,” is For Sale in Wilmington, MA

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On the early morning hours of April 19, 1775, as the British army marched toward Lexington and Concord, an alarm rider arrived at the “Cadwallader Ford House” (above) in Wilmington, Massachusetts to awake Ford, the Captain of the local “minutemen” militia.  Ford knew the time had come.

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As word quickly spread that the Redcoats were marching toward Lexington, 27 patriots gathered at the Ford house, most with no uniform and only their own muskets or fowling pieces as weapons. Read more…

My Top 10 Unique Historic Properties (I’ve Seen) in the Mid-Atlantic!

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Today, Historic House Blog is passing two milestones!  This is our 150th article and we just got our 1,000th  ”Like” on Facebook.  In light of this, I am feeling lucky and I guess a bit nostalgic.  I also just returned from Fair Haven, Connecticut, where our team from the University of Delaware’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD) documented the last known surviving New York City oyster barge in the United States.  Super cool.  While climbing around that amazing piece of history, I had one of those moments where I thought, ‘Geez, I see so many unique historic places . . . I should share some pictures of them!’   So that’s what this article is about.  And since I also get to see mini horses . . . I’ll share a pic of one of those, too:  Read more…

THREATENED: c.1720 Saltbox in Seekonk, Massachusetts ($125,000) – The “Remember Carpenter House”


A reader let me know about this recent listing in Seekonk, Massachusetts:  A 300-year-old, c. 1720 Saltbox colonial……called the “Remember Carpenter House”…..being marketed as “LAND!!”  [that's the realtor's capitalized shout, not mine].  The amount of the land, by the way?  A meager half-acre. Read more…

The “Samuel M. Jackson House” Is For Sale in Apollo, PA

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This unique Italianate house was built in 1883 by Samuel M. Jackson, who was a Brigadier General during the Civil War.  While Samuel M. Jackson is not to be confused with actor Samuel L. Jackson, he was in fact the grandfather of another well-known actor — the legendary James “Jimmy” Stewart — who is of course known for classics like It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Read more…

170-Acre Country Estate Known As “Poplar Springs” To Be Auctioned (67 Photos!)

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I just stumbled across an amazing country house estate that will be auctioned next month!  Located just 50 miles south of Washington DC, and set on more than 170 acres of Virginia’s finest hunt country, this property — now known as “Poplar Springs” — will be sold at public auction on Wednesday, November 6 at 11 am.  If you want to take a look, previews will held on Tuesday, October 22 and Wednesday, October 30 from 11 am-1 pm! Read more…

Ca. 1894 ‘English Cottage’ For Sale in San Dimas, CA – $599,900

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When I hear “English cottage,” I don’t tend to think of California.  Yet this house seems to blend English cottage with Arts and Crafts architecture to create a quaint home that fits perfectly into a west coast landscape full of Craftsman bungalows.  Located in San Dimas, California, and called ”one of the prettiest [houses] on San Dimas Avenue” by the Realtor, 500 N. San Dimas Avenue seems to blend seamlessly into its natural surroundings.  This is the result of its low-pitched, “jerkin head” roof (I swear I’m not making that name up — Google it!) on both the house and garage, as well as its stone walls, wide awnings and eaves, and lush trees and shrubbery.  Since the house is almost 120 years old, it’s pretty historic by California standards, and so it’s perhaps not surprising that the house enjoys designation as a result of the Mills Act, resulting is property tax savings.  The house is currently being offered for sale at $599,900.  Note:  There is an Open House is this Sunday, August 11th from 1:00-4:00pm!   Read more…

Rare 1790 Dutch Gambrel Colonial to be Demolished by…Historical Society Guy?


This one is a bit of a head-scratcher for me.  In Milford, Connecticut, the first-ever VP of the Milford Historical Society is about to knock down his historic c.1789 house, called the “Thomas Sanford House” or the “Sanford-Bristol House.”  And the Sanford-Bristol House isn’t a run-of-the-mill building, either — it’s a Dutch Gambrel double-house, with a cool flared roof, 5 dormers, and a neat Saltbox-style ell. Read more…

What Do You Call It? . . . “Carpenters Marks”

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Last fall, while documenting the attic of an 18th century house in Delaware, I got really excited when I spotted some carpenter’s marks carved on a set of 18th century rafters.   It had been awhile since I had seen any.  After discussing their purpose with my colleagues, I got to wondering just how common-knowledge these “marriage marks” are for other old house lovers.  So I figured, why not write about them, since I think they are cool?   Read more…