When pulling up to the Dole-Little House, its easy to see why the location for the home was chosen – this saltbox has a picturesque view of the Parker River and is on a main thoroughfare through the beautiful town of Newbury, Ma.
Newbury was incorporated in 1635, not long before the building of the Dole-Little House. It was settled by Reverend Thomas Parker, who led his family along with approximately 100 pioneers from England to Newbury. The proximity to the ocean, and more importantly the salt marsh hay, made a perfect place for them to graze their 3,000 cattle – and so began the development of the area, and eventually the Dole-Little House.
- The Dole-Little House was originally built in 1715, using materials that were sourced from another structure in the area, thought to date back to 1670 – so that in itself is quite amazing!
- Richard Dole was a cattleman, and built this two room home for his family that had a small kitchen shed behind it, which eventually became a lean-to.
- A focus of this home tour is the original carpentry, which includes sheathing (paneling), balusters and great examples of the huge beams that run the length of the two downstairs room.
- Historic New England acquired the home from a woman named Florence Evans Bushee in 1975, however Florence went through extensive renovations to try to bring the home back to it’s “original” state sometime in the 1950’s – but in doing so may have actually removed some of it’s original charm. Read below for more!
My first thought when entering this room was how cozy it felt. I could picture a nice warm fire in the huge fireplace – 12 ft wide! – the ceiling beams, and the rough original looking walls. The current paneling on the wall near the fireplace is a reproduction, as the original paneling is currently being used in a display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History & Technology – how neat!
This room was similar to the Hall, but smaller in size – both the overall size of the room and also the fireplace shrank about 50%. It was easy to see in this room that the ceiling beams were hand hewn (but difficult to capture in a photograph).
The Dole-Little house has as quaint backyard, one that you can easily picture as a bustling and lively place 250+ years ago. This really shows off the lean to, and additional buildings, which were added later to ensure functionality of the home through the years. From this perspective, it really reminds me of The Boardman House and The Fairbanks House with its sloping roofline, which makes sense as they are all pretty close in age!
While we didn’t get to visit the attic (as we did in the two houses listed above), the staircase going up to it was something I had never seen before – it was so pretty! The dual staircases is a feature I would love to have as my own main staircase!
- While I think that the lattice windows are super charming, I was sad to hear that they were not original and were part of the “historic renovations” that took place in the 1950’s, and were from a different time period than the home was built. The original windows would have been much larger and let in a lot more light, and likely would have provided a pretty view of the river. Once learning this fact the rooms seemed so dark to me – I would have loved to see the original windows!
- The old floor boards are eye catching – they’re so wide!
- I had never seen gunstock beams as part of the structure, so it was neat to see another method of construction that has once again stood the test of time!
- Keep an eye out for numerical markings on floor boards, ceilings and more which were part of the building process (once again similar to The Boardman House).
- The Dole-Little Home is only open a handful of days a year, so ensure you check the schedule before planning a visit!
- There is a family connection to the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm, which is literally right down the street, so I would suggest making a day of it and visiting both!
- Or, get really crazy and add in a visit to the Rocky Hill Meeting House too, which is only about 15 minutes away. It is a beautiful area to take a drive in, so enjoy!