The Manchester Historical Museum Presents: The Tappan-Parsons House


In 1837, Jonathan Hassam sold a house lot to mariner Samuel Forster Tappan. Tappan, however, built his late Federal style house earlier on the site in 1836, as documented on a wooden shingle uncovered during a 1987 renovation. The difference in timing of the sale and actual construction was not unusual among friends in those days.

The house is thought to have originally been a two-family structure. The central chimney supports seven fireplaces, including one in the basement used as a summer kitchen. The house rests on a granite foundation with stout tree timbers as underpinning supports. Most windows have their original interior pocket “Indian” shutters. There are wide floorboards in several rooms, the widest at 22 inches in the attic. The identical large fireplaces on the first and second floor were built for cooking with bake ovens. One downstairs fireplace has a dark faux-marble mantlepiece decoration.

Samuel Forster Tappan, Sr. (1795 –1864) was the son of Betsy Forster and Ebenezer Tappan. A mariner in his early years, Captain Sam ferried supplies on Massachusetts Bay in his schooner, “Francis.” In 1827 Sam married Nancy Smith of Beverly, raising five children: Samuel, Jr., Mary, James, Sarah, and Anna.

Captain Sam turned to furniture making, building a chair shop behind his house in 1846. Needing additional income, the family took in boarders Albert Low, Augustus Safford, George Leach, Rufus D. Long, Jacob Cheever, John Nash, and Martin Flaherty.

Samuel Jr., James, and Mary went west, Samuel, Jr. becoming a “primary architect of the Indian Reform movement." Of those three, only Mary had children, the family line lost today. Sarah Tappan married W. Frank Parsons of Gloucester and had three children. Annie never married and lived in the house until her death in 1925. The house then fell to her Parsons nephew, Sidney and wife, 1925-1967, who converted it to a one-family dwelling. In 1931 they sold the chair shop to the 24 Bridge Street neighbor.

The Parsons’ son, Dr. Langdon Parsons and family, rented the house for the next 35 years. In 2002, the family returned, the house today occupied by Clare (Kitty) Parsons Weaver and her husband, David. She is the daughter of Langdon Parsons, granddaughter of Sidney Parsons, and great granddaughter of Sarah Tappan Parsons. After their two sons, lone grandchild, Stella, is in line to inherit the house, to carry on the long line of family ownership.

tappan, parsons’ son, lewis northey tappan, martin flaherty, samuel forster tappan, massachusetts bay, john nash, robert booth, jonathan hassam, sarah tappan parsons