May 13, 2013

Historical House tour: Moses Little Home by Linda Griffin

At the top of Windham Hill sits an elegant mansion built by wealthy merchant Moses Little in the late 1790s. Moses was a merchant and a money lender and also ran his farm. It is a large hipped roof Federal that has been well taken care of and his barn is one of the best around as it is well built. This home will be open Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the Windham Historical Society’s tour of four antique homes and two barns and the 1833 brick town house, where the historical society resides. Tickets of $15 for one and $25 for two may be purchased at the brick town house at 234 Windham Center Road and the proceeds will go to funding the projects at the village green. Eventually 12 historic buildings will be moved or rebuilt in a village setting to create a museum of the post Civil War era. Call 650-7484 or 892-5381 for reservations.

The tour will start at the 1833 brick town house at 234 Windham Center Road and displays of early Windham artifacts, Civil War mementoes and a large genealogy library are available. This building was built as a two room school house, used as a high school and then became the Windham town office for over 100 years. It was given to the Windham Historical Society in 1983. The tour guide booklet may be purchased here and it will be the ticket for entrance to the other four homes.

Moses Little’s legal papers are on the historical society’s web site and the elegance of his home and the sturdy barn attest to his wealth. Four of his six children died young. His daughter, Abby, was a school teacher and never married. His son, Moses H. Little lived here until the 1920s. Moses H. Little did finally marry when he was 67. All of the family are buried across the street in the old church cemetery. A mixture of architectural styles and many fireplaces will be seen. There are folding shutters for insulating the windows.
An early Georgian center chimney colonial can be seen at 11 Brick Hill. This is the first time this home has been opened for a house tour and research shows that it was built by Ichabod Hanson c. 1667. Three generations of Quakers lived here and they all had large families: 10 children, 11 children and 10 children! Inside are four working fireplaces. The deep kitchen fireplace and crane was uncovered when three newer shallow fireplaces were removed. There are wide pine floors and the attic shows the sturdy post and beam frame. Oliver Winslow who lived here in the 1820’s was a brick maker and he used clay from the nearby Colley Wright brook. The historical society has some of his hand-made bricks.

At 73 Chute Road rests the c. 1809 Bodge house after it was moved twice from the River Road to Gray Road c. 1840s. This post and beam cape was built by Hugh Craig for his bride and he died a year later leaving a young son. In an upstairs bedroom is an unusual cove ceiling usually seen in churches, ballrooms and large town buildings. When this house was going to be demolished in 1969 to make way for the new South Windham Post Office, the Windham Historical Society put it on cribwork for a year and then moved it to the Chute Road and for 14 years fixed it up slowly. When they were given the old town house in 1983 they sold this cape. This is the first time this house has been open to the public.

The c. 1764 Parson Smith House at 93 River Road was a museum for over 40 years run by Historic New England, until it was sold to a private family, Don and Elaine Dickinson. Don is a retired Baptist minister so he is the second minister to live here. Peter Thatcher Smith, the second settled minister was going to bring his new wife up to the “Wilds of Maine” and so her wealthy parents sent money and maybe workmen up to build a suitable home for their daughter Elizabeth Wendell. The Parson ran out of money so the house was finished in stages so you will see four different architectural styles: Georgian, Federal, Greek revival and Victorian in the large house. Most of the homes of the early settlers were log cabins built near the Presumpscot River and the river was the “road” at that time. Parson Smith chose to build his hose near the large fort as that was where he held his church services and it was a safe haven for Indian attacks. Visitors will see fireplaces in every room and Parson Smith’s diary states that 45 to 60 cord of wood were used a year to keep the house warm. There were servants and one bride Louisa Anderson etched her name on a wavy pane of glass.

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