Built in 1771, our house at 8 Washington St. is celebrating its 250th birthday this year. It was built for Dr. Joseph Whipple, physician, and his wife Eunice Fairfield. Joseph (1733-1777) was a native of Salem Village. Eunice (1738-1782) was the daughter of Josiah Fairfield and Elizabeth Appleton of Wenham. The couple moved to Manchester in 1756 where Joseph became the town’s first full-time physician.
Dr. Whipple was a keen patriot. In 1777 he led 19 Manchester men to sail on the privateer brig "Gloucester" in raids against the British. After several successful voyages, Dr. Whipple and 130 men and boys of Manchester and Gloucester were lost at sea.
The house passed through a long line of owners beginning in the late 1700s. First, it became the home of Dr. David Norwood, followed by the Reverend Ariel Parish, Colonel David Colby, Winthrop Lee, David Colby Jr., and Nathaniel Colby, and finally of William Hooper. Mr. Hooper’s descendants operated a well-known grocery store in Manchester which was located on School Street.
At the time of its construction, the house was the largest in Manchester and was situated on a large downtown lot of more than a half-acre. For many years it housed two (or more!) families. The house is Colonial Revival (high Georgian) in style and many of the original hand-hewn beams, panels and doors and hand forged door hardware remain today as well as original attic windows and transom windows that contain glass panes sailed over from England when the United States was still a colony. The house has seven fireplaces. A large barn was constructed on the back portion of the lot in the 1870s which housed delivery wagons and supplies for Hooper’s grocery store. About half of the original stalls are still intact together with features such as the original counters from Hoopers. Also standing to this day is a sizable out-building (more commonly known as an out-house) with separated “two-holers” on each side (not much privacy!).
No doubt owning a 250-year-old house is an adventure, but one that we have very much enjoyed. Finding a penny in the wall dated 1798 (when John Adams was President), a bottle with an original paper label for Dr. Grigg’s Dysentery and Jaundice Extract, original delivery ledgers from Hooper’s market dated 1902 and lots of Prohibition era bottles in the walls of the out-house, make it all worthwhile.
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