Usually one of my first questions I have while touring a home is “when was the last time someone lived here?”. Although I don’t live in a historic home myself, I love the idea of occupying a space where everyday life has taken place for hundreds of years, and the Dexter Hemenway House in Framingham is just that.
For this post, I’m trying something a little different – a historic home that is a current day private residence! This home will be featured in the Framingham History Center’s 17th Annual Home Tour, taking place today, May 19, 2019! The Framigham History Center keeps the houses that are on the tour a secret until the day of the event, but we thought it would be fun to partner and feature this gorgeous home here on the blog.
The home owner was lovely and allowed me to tour the home earlier in the week – while she is in the midst of selling the home and moving to Texas. I so appreciated her time and willingness to allow me to take a peek into a home built in the 1820s and see how it functions in 2019!
- Framigham is one of the largest cities in Massachusetts and marks the halfway point between Boston & Worcester. The area was first settled by European John Stone when he chose a spot along the Sudbury River in 1646, and later by Thomas Danforth. Danforth, formerly of Framlingham, Suffolk is who the name of the town is attributed to – but no one knows why the “L” was dropped.
- While I don’t have a ton of history on the Hemenway family, some quick research brings up their name starting in 1814, but again my search was certainly not comprehensive. The Dexter Hemenway House that I visited was built in the 1820s.
- Dexter Hemenway was also known, although not formally, with building the second town hall in Framigham. However, with the city’s proximity to Boston, it was important for a Boston architect to have their name associated with the building, so poor Dexter was pushed to the side, but the records still show his involvement.
- As many historic homes do, this home has been thru a handful of transformations and uses. Some of the highlights include a church rectory, two men in the early 1900’s who did renovations while caring for their pet doves in the barn, and a family of nine!
- The home today is about to pass from one owner of historic homes to another owner. I love the fact that this home has seen so many residents over the years, and will hopefully continue to see more for a long time to come!
This beautiful room was added onto the dining room sometime in the early 1900’s. Three sides are made of glass doors, that have that wavy affect when peeking out of them indicating the glass is still original. The doors actually open all the way to really allow for the room to transform into a patio! What a great spot to relax after dinner, or anytime!
This is just a really cute, darling little space on the first floor. With two original sinks, it’s the perfect place to sneak away and work on your green (or brown) thumb!
Backyard & River
Stepping into this backyard it’s as hard to believe that we were still in Framingham. The home sits on over an acre, with steps that lead right down to the Sudbury River. It’s a big backyard with a lovely feeling of cozy privacy. I was told that when the home acted as a rectory, that there were many batispms that took place in the river.
As a kid (or even today) I would have loved the opportunity to spend a night here! With the exposed shiplap, it gives the feeling of being at camp with the conveniences of being at home. I’m sure with the horizontal windows this cozy nook warms right up – a perfect place for an afternoon nap!
I’m obsessed with the built ins in this room! The patterns of the glass are so pretty, and I loved seeing the original trim work on the fireplace. This was originally two rooms, as you can easily see with the beams on the ceiling, but opening it up into one room was a nice way to modernize the space while still keeping the historic features.
- A sort of housewarming gift passes from one owner to the next, which is a book of photos from the early 1900’s (when the two men lived in the house with their doves!) and a set of skeleton keys. The current owner told me that when they closed, these old skeleton keys were what was handed over as the keys to the home – but none of them actually locked the house! I love that these two items stay with the home and hope it remains that way.
- The second floor has a space that another resident of the home used as an art studio and it’s easy to see why! With almost a full wall of windows and high ceilings this would be the perfect space to get creative.
- I’m always attracted to the ornate & unexpected details in a home, and I was drawn to the radiator covers here. With intricate almost lace-like iron work to cover the tops of them and make them a little more decorative,they were like none other that I have seen!
- In the barn you can still see the caged in area where the two men in the early 1900s kept their doves – a tribute to earlier home owners!
As mentioned before, this home is featured on the Framingham History Center House Tour, taking place today only (May 19, 2019), and after that will return to being a private residence. However, a drive down Main Street in Framingham will bring you past itm should you want a drive by look at it. Make sure to also notice the two homes next to it, as Hemenway family members also lived in these homes as well!