The Manchester Historical Museum Presents: The Captain William and Elizabeth (Carter) Lee House


The Manchester Historical Museum Presents: The Captain William and Elizabeth (Carter) Lee House, 35 Central Street 

This pretty red house currently owned by conscientious house stewards Nancy and Don Halgren was built c. 1796.  There are stories that it may have been moved from Essex, however, there is no evidence of such.  Noted historian and researcher Robert Booth concludes it was likely built onsite in the post-colonial Georgian style.  Cellar underpinnings show hewn flat-joists and the interior features gun stock posts, wide floorboards, HL hinges and Indian shutters. 

William Lee was the eighth of twelve children of Solomon and Sarah Lee.  By 1784 and age fourteen, William was evidently sailing as a cabin boy.  In 1794 William married Eunice Carter and tragically, she died eleven days after giving birth, probably from cholera.  William pursued his career as a merchant mariner.  In 1795 there was a double wedding!  William’s sister married Eunice’s brother and William married Eunice’s sister, Eliza.  William and Eliza had nine children. 

In 1805 William sailed as captain of the Salem schooner “Hawk” to Guyana.  Jefferson’s Embargo severely injured Manchester commerce.  In 1809 William resumed sailing with his eldest son William Jr., age 13, as cook and cabin boy.  It is highly likely that later, Captain William Lee went privateering.  He was lost at sea in 1813.  William’s estate was valued at $2270 real estate and $188.98 personal estate.  Mrs. Lee would not marry again. 

William Rust, noted cabinetmaker and son-in-law to Elizabeth, bought half of the homestead.  The 1830 census shows that the Rust family resided there.  On August 28, 1836 a horrific fire erupted from J. P. Allen’s veneering mill and roared along Central Street toward the Lee-Rust house.  Theirs was the first house westward to be saved! 

In 1848 Rust built a new house and 35 Central was rented out.  In 1850 Mrs. Eliza (Carter) Lee was residing with her brother on School Street.  In 1855 the census shows Mrs. Lee back at 35 Central Street.  Eliza was a member of the Baptist Church.  She died of influenza in 1859 at age 83. 

In 1867 William Rust had acquired the other half of the estate.  He sold it to Errol Grant, a native of Nova Scotia, wood carver in the furniture business and veteran of the Union Army. 

The homestead was sold to Caroline Parsons in 1891.  Her husband, Charles, was also a veteran of the Civil War.  In 1902 Caroline sold the property to her son, Perley Parsons, reserving to herself a lifetime right to occupy the premises. 

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 holiday gift! For more information, go to 

thomas henry carter, don halgren, caroline parsons, eunice carter, union army, elizabeth carter lee house, william rust