Historic American Buildings Survey

U.S. National Archives

In 1933 the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) was created to document America’s historic structures and to create work for architects, draftsman and photographers who were jobless due to the Great Depression. Edwin W. Small, Acting Regional Historian of National Parks Service (NPS) travelled throughout New England in the late 1930’s taking photos of such buildings. Here are a collection of the images he and others took and the stories that surround them. 

Connecticut Sites

Pictured here and on the previous slide is the Nehemiah Royce House, also known as the Washington Elm House, in Wallingford, Connecticut. Built in 1672 it is the oldest extent house in Connecticut. In 1925 it was moved down the street to its current location. The house has been renovated multiple times and includes features from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The house is on the National Reigster of Historic Places and is currently a museum open to the public.

John Barker House, built in 1756, in Wallingford, Connecticut. The house is one of the oldest brick buildings in Connecticut and bears similarites to Connecticut Hall (1750) at Yale. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and is not open to the public.

Tercentenary Structure in Hartford, Connecticut. The structure was built to celebrarte the 300th aniversary of the founding of Connecticut in 1935. The building is no longer standing.

Nathan Hale Homestead, built in 1776, in Coventry, Connecticut. Nathan Hale was a spy during the Revolutionary War and is Connecticut's State Hero. The building is a Connecticut Historic Site and is open to the public.

Maine Sites

Pictured here and on the previous slide is the Blockhouse at Fort McClary at Kittery Point, Maine. The fort was established in 1808 and the building was built in 1844. It is a Maine State Historic Site and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building currently serves as a museum and is open to the public.

Pictured here and in the following slide is Fort Knox, built between 1844 and 1869, in Prospect, Maine. It is the first fort in Maine to be built of of granite. The fort was named after General Henry Knox, the first US Secretary of War. The fort is a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public.

Pictured here and in the following slide are postcards of General Henry Knox's Montpelier Mansion in Thomaston, Maine. Henry Knox, 1750-1806, served as the Chief of Artillery in the American Revolutionary War and was the first US Secretary of War. He lived at the mansion from its construction in 1795 until his death in 1806, first as a summer home and then full-time. In 1871 the now deserted and derelict mansion was razed and the site was used a train station. In 1931 the mansion was rebuilt and made into a museum, which it remains.

The remains of Fort St George in Phippsburg, Maine. The fort was the only settlement of Popham Colony, the first English colony in New England. The location of the fort was considered lost until a map was found in 1884. Excavation of the site did not occur until 1994 and concluded in 2005. The site is currently marked with a flag and a plaque and is open to the public.

Henry Longfellow’s Birthplace, Portland Maine. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882, was an American poet and Harvard College professor famous for the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride”. Longfellow only lived in the building for the first eight months of his life before he and his family returned to their home at 489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine. Edwin Small reported that the building had significant structural damage due to vibrations from a nearby plant built during WWII. He did not suggest the building be added as a historic site due to the preservation challenges and with knowledge that the 489 Congress St building was already being preserved. Longfellow’s birthplace is no longer standing.

Massachusetts Sites

Pictured here and on the previous slide is the Josiah Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts. Josiah Quincy built the house in 1770 and it remained in his family until 1895. The house is notable for its New England Georgian architecture and monitor roof. The building is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is currently owned by Historic New England and is open to the public.

Belfry, Lexington, Massachusetts. The plaque reads, "This belfry was erected on this hill in 1761 and removed to the Common in 1768. In it was hung the bell which rung out the alarm on the 19th of April 1775. In 1797 it was removed to the Parker Homestead in the south part of the town. In 1891 it was brought back to this hill by the Lexington Historical Society. Destroyed by a gale in 1909. Rebuilt 1910." The belfry still stands in Belfry Hill Park which is open to the public.

The Mayflower Sarcophagus on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The hill was used as a burying ground by the Pilgrims from the Mayflower and the sarcophagus, built in 1921, records those who died in the first winter and contains some of the unearthed bodies. Cole's Hill is a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Quaker Meetinghouse in Adams, Massachusetts. Built in 1782, the building has no lighting since the meetings would end before it got dark. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, is open to the public, and resides within the Maple Street Cemetery, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Massachusetts in North Adams, Massachusetts. The fort was originally built in 1746 and burned to the ground later that year. It was rebuilt in 1747 and was plowed over by the start of the American Revolution. A replica of the fort, pictured here, was built in 1933 and it served as a museum before being replaced by a supermarket in 1960. The fort is no longer standing.

John Whipple house in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Captain John Whipple, 1625-1783, was an early settler of Massachusetts, captain during King Philip’s War and entrepreneur. Whipple started construction of the building in 1677 as a half house. His son, also John Whipple, made it a full house and by 1710 it had 14 rooms. The Ipswich Historical Society bought the building in 1889 and retrofitted to follow the assumed original appearance. In 1927 the building was moved to the other side of the Ipswich River and renovated for the final time in 1950, adding the 2 gables seen in the following photo. The building has been open to the public since 1899 and became a National Landmark Site in 1960.

George Jacobs House in Danvers, Massachusetts. From this house George Jacobs Senior was taken and hung on August 19,1692, a victim of the Salem Witch Trials. The house is no longer standing.

Shirley-Eustis House
Pictured here and in the five following slides is the Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury, Massachusetts. William Shirley, 1694-1771, was the Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and later Governor of the Bahamas. Shirley had the house built between 1747 and 1751 and used it as a summer house until 1763. William Eustis, 1753-1825, was a physician, politician; serving as Secretary of War, Ambassador to the Netherlands, and Governor of Massachusetts. Eustis bought the house in 1819 and it remained with his family until after his wife’s death in 1867. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and was opened to the public in 1991.
New Hampshire Sites

Pictured here and in the previous slide is the Governor John Langdon House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. John Langdon, an American Revolutionary War general and signer of the Constitution, had the house built in 1784 and lived there until his death 1819. The house became a National Historic Landmark in 1974 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It still stands and is open to the public.

Moffatt-Ladd House, also known as the William Whipple House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The house was built by John Moffatt in 1763 and his granddaughter married William Whipple, a Declaration of Independence signer and American Revolutionary War genreal. Moffatt's great-granddaughter Maria Tufton Haven Ladd and her decendents still own the property though it is leased to the National Society of Colonieal Dames and is open to the public. The house became and Natioanl Landmark in 1968 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

John Peirce House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The house was built in 1799 by John Peirce, occasionally known as John Pierce, and remained in Peirce's family until 1955 when it was bought by the Middle Street Baptist Church and is not open to the public, though it still stands.

Daniel Webster birthplace in Franklin, New Hampshire. Daniel Webster, 1807-1852, was a Senator and Secretary of State. Webster lived in the building for the first three years of his life before the family moved, eventually ending up at The Elms, a National Historic Landmark in West Franklin, New Hampshire. Webster bought the house in 1851 and owned until he died in 1852. The frame of the house was moved after the Websters left in 1855 where it remained until it was returned to its original location in 1910. The building was chosen as a New Hampshire Historical Site in 1917 and still stands today.

The New Hampshire Historical Society Building in Concord, New Hampshire. The building was designed by Guy Lowell and built in 1909 for the society. It still stands and is open to the public.

Pictured here and in the four following photos is the Colonel Paul Wentworth House in Rollinsford, New Hampshire. The house was built around 1701 in Rollinsford and is one of the oldest buildings constructed in New Hampshire. The building is also unique for having a bedroom with paneling on all four walls that were never painted. In 1936, shortly after this photo was taken, the house was dismantled and moved to Dover, Massachusetts where it was remained for almost 70 years. In 2002 the house was again dismantled and brought back to Rollinsford where it still stands, in view of its original location.The house is a New Hampshire Historic Site and is open to the public.

Rhode Island Sites

Pictured here and in the previous slide is the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. It was built in 1763 for the Jeshuat Israel congregation and is the oldest surviving Jewish synagogue in North America. The synagogue was declared a National Historic Site in 1946, and is currently open to the public while also retaining a congregation.

Corliss-Carrington House in Providence, Rhode Island. The house was built in 1810-1811 by John Corliss who sold the house to Edward Carrington in 1812. Carrington added the third floor and front porch and kept it in his family until 1936 when it was sold to the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1961 it was sold to a private owner. The house is a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a National Historic Landmark District Contributing Property of the College Hill Historic District. The house is privately owned and not open to the public.

Presumed site of the Great Swamp Fight, also known as the Great Swamp Massacre, in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The battle occured in 1675 during King Philip's War between the Narragansett tribe and the colonial milita of New England. The monument was erected in 1906 by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars. It still stands and is open to the public.

House at the Cook-Bateman Farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island. The farm is on the National Register of Historic Places due to the preserved farmland and the architectural interest of the house, seen here in the Aesop's Fables titles and paneling. The house still stands and is privately owned.

Ochee Spring Quarry in Johnston, Rhode Island. The quarry is a soapstone or steatite quarry used by Native Americans to carve containers. The quarry joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is on private land.

Vermont Sites

First Congregational Church, also known as the Old First Church, in Old Bennington, Vermont. The church was built in 1805 by Lavius Fillmore and restored in 1937, when this photo was taken. The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 and became a Historic District Contributing Property for the Old Bennington Historic District in 1984. It still stands and is currently open to the public while also retaining a congregation.

Fullerton House in Windsor, Vermont. The house was built around 1800 by Asher Benjamin. It was demolished in 1935-1936 to make way for a gasoline station.

Admiral George Dewey's Birthplace in Montpelier, Vermont. Dewey, 1837-1917, was an Admiral during the Spanish-American War and is best known for his victory in the Battle of Manila Bay. In commemoration for his victory he was given the special rank Admiral of the Navy. The building is no longer standing.

Credits: Story

Curator: Maxine Brown, National Archives at Boston

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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