Background:

THREATENED: c.1720 Saltbox in Seekonk, Massachusetts ($125,000) – The “Remember Carpenter House”

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A reader let me know about this recent listing in Seekonk, Massachusetts:  A 300-year-old, c. 1720 Saltbox colonial……called the “Remember Carpenter House”…..being marketed as “LAND!!”  [that’s the realtor’s capitalized shout, not mine].  The amount of the land, by the way?  A meager half-acre.

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The house is being touted as “a great site for a new home,” marketed essentially as a building site with an asking price of $125,000.  The realtor even made the weird and vague claim that, “In 2011, [the property] was not deemed a historical site.”  False, sir.  Perhaps it wasn’t located in a historic district?  Maybe it didn’t have landmark status or statutory protection?  But trust me … it IS “a historical site.”  I admittedly don’t know if the house is restorable.  I haven’t been there and the listing is full of disclaimers by the owner, who makes no representations about the house being safe.  But I really hope the low price tag might prompt some sympathetic folks to look into this 300-year-old piece of history.

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Even though it’s located in Massachusetts, the house sits almost literally a stone’s throw from Providence, Rhode Island — it’s right across the border, like maybe a couple thousand feet.   The listing makes clear repeatedly that the owner “makes no representations” and that he does not suggest the house is safe to enter.  In my experience, this signals the possibility of mold, and of course, maybe structural issues.  Even though it still exhibits classic “saltbox form, perhaps there is not much historic fabric left inside.  However, nothing is revealed — so we just don’t know.  What is clear is that this 300-year old house is under extreme threat — at just $125,000 and being marketed as “a great site for a new home.”  Please share with friends in hopes that it might catch someone’s eye before this house is bulldozed.  Listing information is here.  The “land” is here:

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9 Comments so far »

  1. by Lisa, on 12.27.13 @ 11:38 AM

     

    Thanks for this post! I looked this address up on MACRIS and there is a wonderful survey done by Boston University with photos of the interior at the time the survey was done.

    If anyone would like to take a look at the inventory form, go to MACRIS and select Seekonk, put in 302 Oak Hill for address. http://mhc-macris.net/towns.aspx

    Here is an excerpt of the Historical Narrative (hmmm, “first known house in Seekonk” and “eligible for National Register, criteria A and C” – sure seems historically significant to me!

    HISTORICAL NARRATIVE • see continuation sheet
    According to Flynn & Valente, the Remember Carpenter House is one of two 18t h-century saltbox style houses still extant in Seekonk. Of Remember Carpenter, all they noted was that he was “probably a descendant of the original Carpenter to whom Massasoit verbally parcelled (sic) out eight miles in 1641.

    The Carpenter family has a long-standing role in Seekonk.” Their map surveys showed that the house was present in 1831 (unnamed), 1850 (“Mrs. S. Carpenter”), 1871 (“R. or H. Carpenter”), and 1895 (“C.Short”). A plaque formerly attached to the house said “Remember Carpenter, 1711.”

    The house is shown in a photo published in Daggett’s A Sketch of the History of Attleborough,1894 (Although it currently is in Seekonk, town boundaries in this area have changed frequently.). The main difference detectable a hundred years later is the replacement of paired downstairs windows in the south facade with 3-part cottage windows, and the removal of shutters. A large windmill which apparently stood in the front yard has also been removed.

    Recent community interest in historic houses led to the publication of the Seekonk 2000 calendar, which pictured the house and noted, “Remember Carpenter was a farmer who lived in a salt-box house, located on the road to Taunton, now called Oakhill Avenue. Since Route 44 or the Taunton Turnpike did not exist then, this road was the main highway to Taunton. This salt-box was built in 1711 . . . (and) is the oldest known house in Seekonk.” This house is not currently listed on the National Register.

  2. by Michael, on 12.27.13 @ 12:00 PM

     

    Wow, Lisa! Thanks for tracking down this information! I am going to check it out as soon as I get home! Maybe I will post some follow up information here on the blog and on Facebook.

    Thanks!

    Michael @ HHB

  3. by Misi@1890 Gable House, on 12.27.13 @ 3:02 PM

     

    “Remember Carpenter”… WOW! Baffled as to why it’s not on the registry. Truly a beauty worthy of support. Thank you for all the info. Happy New Year to you Michael!

  4. by Noah Escaler, on 01.15.14 @ 10:06 PM

     

    Love this house. Actually walked through a couple of years ago. Great inside and needs work but look at the photo in Macris, with new siding, door and TLC this thing is a gem. I am going to see it tomorrow with my brother who is a Realtor. Crossing fingers :)

  5. by Craig Kercheval, on 01.15.14 @ 10:23 PM

     

    1/15/2014
    It is encouraging to see the interest expressed on the blog for this historic house, not to mention the good work by Lisa, who wrote on Dec. 27, with some important facts about it. I live nearby in Rhode Island and saw the For Sale listing on a Sunday morning in mid-December about a week after it was posted. Like others, I was astonished that the house was being offered as “LAND!!”. That morning I drove to the property and introduced myself to a neighbor who has lived next door for about 10 years. He was aware of improvements made before the previous owner lost the house to foreclosure just a few years ago. The neighbor expressed concern that the building, now vacant, might become a victim of vandalism or worse.

    During the following week, I asked for the real estate listing agent to seek permission from the owner to show me inside of the house. An appointment was made for the upcoming weekend. In the meantime, I phoned three members of the Seekonk Historical Commission to express my interest and concerns, which they confirmed. I also went to Town Hall to ask about recent building permits for the property. I was told that a permit was granted in 2008 to strip and re-roof the house. Earlier building permit records were not readily available. Records at the time of my visit to Seekonk Town Hall also indicated that taxes were due for the first and second quarters of 2013.

    The following Saturday, December 21, I toured the house with the realtor and took photos of interior. The following week, I drafted a summary of what I saw, which I shared with the Historical Commission. There is much to appreciate in the building; many original features are intact. However, the building definitely needs work. I’m not an engineer or an expert in old house restoration, but I have had hands-on experience with a few major restoration projects – 19th century houses which I have owned.

    In my opinion, there are major issues which need to be addressed if this historic building is to be preserved. Most of the floors, walls and ceilings appear to be stable. However, foundation sills appear to have suffered from water and possible insect damage. This could have caused beams to sag, floors to lean and window frames to tilt. Peeling paint on the newer wooden exterior siding shingles could indicate insufficient primer, poor quality paint, or moisture inside the walls. Rotted window sills, missing window panes and rotted holes have allowed water and moist air to enter the house. Whoever covered the attic vents with plastic sheeting obstructed moist air from rising up and out of the building (yikes). Some old mold and water stains are visible on timbers in the attic and basement, some of which show prior insect activity and rot. Is there mold inside wall surfaces, under the plaster? If so, it was dormant due to the cold temperature (not smelly) the day I went in. Perhaps a good airing out and protecting the interior from the elements prevent or ameliorate mold problems.

    On a positive note, the center chimney, as well as the beehive oven beside the original front stairway, looks intact. Fireplace bricks were replaced in the past and an old warming oven has been bricked over. That said, other concerns, such as the deteriorating additions, the rear dormer, the newer (cottage style and 2-over-2-paned) windows, missing copper pipes and missing electrical wiring, are minor issues compared to the major challenges of restoring the structure.

    I am not trying to “rain on anyone’s parade” here. I do agree with the previous comments on the blog about the importance of preserving this house. But there are a lot of unknowns. A full assessment of needs will require expert opinion and actually seeing what lurks beneath the surface(s).

    Finally, any major restoration project requires not only concern and vision, but investor(s) with a high tolerance for risk, considerable financial resources and sweat equity, and/or a substantial community commitment to achieve success. Is there interest and are there resources to take on the effort and cost to restore this irreplaceable gem?

  6. by Sean Regan, on 01.18.14 @ 6:10 PM

     

    I as everyone above, I love this house! I saw the listing last month and had to see it. I drove by it after work one day on my ride home from work but by the time I got there it was too dark to see much of anything. So I called the realtor to make an appointment to see it. The realtor told where the key was and that I could inspect the house on my own warning me of the possible unsafe condition. So, with my wife in tow, we went to look at it.
    As a lover of antique homes and history, I fell in love with it. Bless you Lisa for your work on digging into its history.
    AS Craig pointed out the house is in need of some serious structural repair. Years of neglect has cause way to much moisture and water into its structural members. Most specific to it main floor sill and beam supports. Moisture also attracts pest in the form of termites and “carpenter” ants. Although there were no signs of there being any present at the time I was there(the new roof has helped I’m sure), there was damage from and earlier infestation. The rest of the house is more easily restorable. All mechanical systems will have to be installed. I looked at it as a total gut. Bring it back down to the studs, so to speak. Do all structural repairs,then rewire, re-plumb etc, etc and put it back together. There is a part of the flooring rotted out and the hardwood is not original. The upstairs floors look to be. I estimated the repairs to be around $200,000. Doing a lot of the work myself. I just wish I was ready now to invest. Just not yet!! When ready I will give it a second look, If it is still available. The problem is the amount to purchase and rehab is more than the homes in the area are worth. Although I find this house Priceless, the banks, not so much. Keeping my fingers crossed that whether myself, or anyone else, this house be saved!!

  7. by Matt, on 01.27.14 @ 9:21 PM

     

    What happen to this house?

    I am restoring a 1760 stone house that was in much worse condition (at least what I can see from the pictures. ANYTHING is possible with imagination and love of historic places. My house had two collapsed chimneys, particle collapsed wall, no windows and doors, but the backbone was there as is with this house.

    Matt

  8. by Craig Kercheval, on 04.05.14 @ 7:23 AM

     

    The old Remember Carpenter House in Seekonk has apparently been sold. Now the owner must decide how to proceed with this project. Stay tuned.

    Matt, the best to you in restoring your 1760 stone house. Good for you. I trust you have the resources (i.e. know-how and funds) to cope with the challenges involved! BTW, where is your stone house located? Can you post pics on this site?

    Following is the latest on the Remember Carpenter House:
    302 Oak Hill Ave, Seekonk, MA 02771302 Oak Hill Ave, Seekonk, MA 02771
    Sold on 3/3/14: $95,000
    Zestimate®: $139,574
    Bedrooms:3 beds
    Bathrooms:2 baths
    Single Family:2,540 sq ft
    Lot:0.53 acres
    Year Built:1711
    source: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/302-Oak-Hill-Ave-Seekonk-MA-02771/56874571_zpid/

  9. by Michael, on 04.14.14 @ 9:42 AM

     

    If anyone hears/sees what’s going on with the Remember Carpenter House, please let me know!
    Michael@HHB

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