32 Beacon Street Then and Now
This blog is a follow-up to my last week’s story on 32 Beacon Street, Marblehead, MA and Aunt Sadie. After posting the blog I received a message from the current owners Pat and Jim inviting me to come see the house as it is now. Naturally I took them up on the offer and spent a nice afternoon seeing all the improvements and photos of their renovations and I in turn shared some of the history of the families that had lived in the house. This house had been in my family for about 271 years.
Pat and Jim purchased the home in 1994 when Aunt Ruth put it up for sale because she could no longer get along living there alone and it needed major improvements. Unfortunately at the time no one in the family could undertake such extensive repair work. Thankfully the home found some lovely owners who restored the home beautifully.
The home was originally built in 1723 for Peter Homan, my 6th great grandfather and is considered a first period home. Pat and Jim restored it to that time period, of course with some modern conveniences. When I visited I got to go in through the front door which was a treat, never having done that before. We turned right into what was the Smith’s sitting room and Pat and Jim have kept as one. The many layers of linoleum flooring and the old wallpaper were gone as was the parakeet cage. What was once a boarded up fireplace was uncovered and restored into the beautiful fireplace that it once was, including the beehive ovens. Because the home had no central heat for years it was cold and drafty so the fireplaces were boarded up over the years to help keep out drafts. The floors had been stripped of layers of linoleum and were refinished with the original wide board wood flooring. They even kept the little cubby hole on the front wall where the telephone was kept.
We went up the step to the kitchen and they showed me the side door and where the stairs were that had led to the only bathroom in the house when indoor plumbing was installed. Now I know there was plumbing in the house for Aunt Sadie. The stairs have been removed, but Pat and Jim reused everything that was salvageable in the house to restore the beauty of the period of the home. Naturally the kitchen had been updated and modernized but still held the old charm. The small windows that were at earth level still remained. They had to do some major construction on that area and now you can see day light when you look out of them. When Pat and Jim were removing the flooring and walls they would come across different artifacts hidden away. One was an invitation from a Miss Elizabeth Endicott inviting someone from 32 Beacon Street to her 12th birthday party at 4 Orne Street. Now we have to figure out who Miss Endicott was.
We stepped down into the candy shop which was just as small as I remember, but there were no candy cases and no fudge or caramels waiting for us. Pat did remember how delicious the caramels were though, just as I do. They tried to save the original door leading to the outside but it was beyond repair. This is now a laundry room. Next we went into the front parlor room which had the green carpet removed to show again the beautiful hard wood floors. There was beautiful wood that had been stripped down to its natural beauty around the fireplace, windows and doors. They told me it had been painted black which was customary to do after President Lincoln died.
Upstairs they had taken down a wall and made two bedrooms up there, again with fireplaces and the beautiful wood floor. They had moved the bathroom but the original bathtub (although reglazed) was still there. We ventured up into the attic which had very low ceilings and again it has been all refinished and what views of the water from up there.
I had brought some of the original old deeds and we looked at the house history that had been done. This home housed at times up to 15 or more adults and children. It was amazing the number of people that had lived together in that one house. Homan, Standley, Smith, Martin, Lee, Ashton, and Hooper are some of the names mentioned in the deeds. The house was divided into the Southwest portion and the Northeast portion for a period of time with different family members owning the two sides. In 1892 the house was undivided and was once again a single home owned by William S. Smith, my second great grandfather.
As much as I hated to see the house leave the family after 271 years, I am glad it went to wonderful people who appreciated it for its charm and restored it so we can still drive by and say “that was Aunt Sadie’s house and the Candy Store”. Thank you Jim and Pat!!