The John Lee Jr House

In September 1725, John Lee Jr., Housewright, purchased a quarter acre of land in “Newport”. By year’s end he had erected a house. The Newport section of town was situated near Harbor and Bridge Streets. Records state the home was located on a property with apple trees. Lee Jr. apprenticed as a carpenter at the age of 12. Throughout his life he served as town constable, clerk, treasurer and selectman.

A home inspection by Robert Booth, summer of 2020, confirmed the home was built in the early 1700’s. Exposed beams in several rooms were clearly crafted in the distinct style of the time. A few years later, Lee Jr. sold the home to his cousin Samuel Lee Esq.  Booth observed evidence that Lee Esq rebuilt/enlarged the home sometime between 1735 and 1737.

Lee Esq moved from Manchester to Marblehead around 1743 leaving the house to his son Samuel Lee III. Lee Esq and his son, Jeremiah, went on to become immensely wealthy, finding success in wharf building and later shipping. In 1768, Jeremiah built the Lee Mansion, which still stands and today is run as a museum.

In 1772, Lee III, sold the house to Benjamin Craft, shoemaker. Craft, Colonel in the Revolutionary War, maintained a detailed journal, later published, from the Siege of Boston led by General Washington. The Craft family sold the home in 1854 to brothers Israel and David Goodridge. Together the two families lived in the home. David Goodridge moved to Oregon in the spring of 1877, by way of the recently constructed Panama Canal. In 1885, after Israel died, his wife Joanne sold the property to Ida Higginson. The Higginson family continued to buy neighborhood homes. A map from 1870 shows the intersection including several homes, a shoe shop and a schoolhouse; very close to where the Old Corner Inn stands today. The Higginson family, soon after buying the home, gave it to their dairyman, Thomas Ray.

Ray owned a parcel of land on Friend Court, part of “the old Bingham Orchard.  Around 1872, Ray moved #20 to the property and, upon assuming ownership of the home in Newport moved it next door to #22. The home was rolled from Bridge Street using ox teams, likely overland via Elm Street and placed on the recently dug cellar and foundation.

The home remained in the Ray family until 1960 and had seen several other owners until Sally and Nate Berkowitz purchased the home in 2016.

Credits: You can read the complete house history by Robert Booth at the Trask House.

The MHM House History and Marker program encourages everyone to appreciate the diversity of stories our architecture tells us about our shared history. Participants receive an extensive history of their house and occupants, a certificate, and a handsome house marker.  A commissioned house history is a fabulous gift.  For more information, go to www.manchesterhistoricalmuseum.org