Swett-Ilsley House

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Swett-Ilsley House in Newbury, Massachusetts

In 1911, Swett-Ilsley House became the first property acquired by Historic New England, just a year after its founding. The original portion, built in 1670 by Stephen Swett, was one room deep, and later additions more than doubled the size of the house. Over the centuries, the building served as a tavern, chocolate shop, chandlery, and press room, in part due to its location on Newbury's most traveled road.

1670 Hall of Swett-Ilsley House in Newbury, Massachusetts

Swett-Ilsley House had been brought to the attention of Historic New England founder William Sumner Appleton by an acquaintance who believed it to be one of the oldest surviving houses in the region. After the house was acquired for $2,400, nineteenth-century building layers were removed to expose the earliest architectural features. It has one of the largest fireplaces in New England, more than ten feet wide, and containing three beehive ovens.

Open
First Saturdays, June 1 – October 15
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The Swett-Ilsley House is a Historic New England property.

 


Top photo: Swett-Ilsley House exterior - In 1911, Swett-Ilsley House became the first property acquired by Historic New England, just a year after its founding. The original portion, built in 1670 by Stephen Swett, was one room deep, and later additions more than doubled the size of the house.

Bottom photo: 1670 Hall - This was the main room of Stephen Swett’s house, and the original fireplace was at the northwest corner. The oak summer beam has been altered and its chamfer sawn off. Historic New England founder William Sumner Appleton found considerable evidence of the original window locations: pins in the south and east tie beam and girt indicate where studs were, and there are cracks and shadows in the plaster of the south wall. Appleton had hoped to restore the windows because of this evidence, but he ran out of money before doing so.