Sayward-Wheeler House overlooks the York River, which was ideal for shipping merchant Jonathan Sayward, who purchased the house in 1735. In addition to being a successful businessman, Sayward was a judge and leading citizen in York. He enjoyed great community respect, although his Loyalist views were in the minority during the years leading up to the American Revolution.
In spite of his strong local ties, 1775 was a trying year for Sayward. He was stripped of his local positions and confined to the town by anti-Loyalist officials, suffering through many restless nights, of which he later wrote, "I heard the hourly chiming of the tall clock." The clock remains to this day in the sitting room beside Sayward's desk.
The house changed little in the century that followed, due to the declining financial resources of Sayward's descendants and in deference to the family's venerable patriarch. The parlor still contains the eighteenth-century furniture and portraits that were present on the eve of the Revolution. It is believed to be one of the best-preserved colonial interiors in the nation.
Second and fourth Saturdays, June 1 – October 15
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tours on the hour. Last tour at 4:00 p.m.
The Sayward-Wheeler House is a Historic New England property.
Top photo: Sayward-Wheeler House - Historic New England’s Sayward-Wheeler House was built c. 1719 by Noah Peck and purchased soon after by millwright Joseph Sayward. The house was typical of many houses in York in the first half of the eighteenth century, consisting of two rooms over two rooms with a central chimney. Joseph’s son Jonathan purchased the house from his father in 1735 and, taking advantage of the house’s location on the York River, grew a substantial shipping business.
Bottom photo: Tall clock - In the corner of the sitting room stands a tall clock. Clocks such as this were luxury items for colonials in eighteenth-century New England, and few but the wealthiest could own one. This clock may well have been Sayward's most valuable belonging. Sayward cut down the clock’s base, removed its central finial, and shortened its two flanking finials so the clock would fit under the low ceiling.