32 Pleasant Street


Joseph Twitchell House

Form No.          117

Town              Sherborn
Address           32 Pleasant Street

Historic Name     Joseph Twitchell House

Uses: Original    Residence
       Present    Residence

Ownership, 1981   Sewall Fessenden
  "    Original   Joseph Twitchell

Constructed       ca. 1710, possibly 1690

Source            Max Ferro, architect, says it is no earlier than 1710. Harriet Forbes
                  Says 1690.

Style/Form        Salt Box

Architect         

Ext. Wall Fabric  Clapboard

Outbuildings      Barn, shed, guest house

Alterations       North wing added ca. early 1800's

Moved             No

Acreage           79.89 acres

Setting:  Located in the heart of Sherborn's picturesque western farm country. Across
          the street are open fields.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Joseph Twitchell house is one of half a dozen houses in Sherborn of which some part may have been built before 1700. This salt box possesses a central hall plan with one room on either side and a lean-to to the rear. Its main facade is 3 bays wide. In the center of its roof is a massive brick chimney. Its dignified Georgian front door is flanked by Doric pilasters and is surmounted by a multi-pane transom. Harriet Forbes notes that inside, the "summer beams of roughly chiseled oak, ten inches square, have beveled edges, and the framing is very heavy. The hardware is handmade, one small closet showing very simple butterfly hinges. There can be seen in the attic two sets of rafters, showing how the roof at one time was raised; the older, lower set is fastened together without a ridge pole." Abutting the salt box's western wall is a 2 story addition which was probably added in the early 19th century. The barn on this property dates to the mid 19th century and is crowned by a cupula and an old weather vane. Both house and barn have been carefully restored.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

As is so often the case in dating New England houses constructed around 1700 a structural analysis frequently points to a date of construction which is later than a date traditionally associated with a house. The architect, Max Ferro, says this dwelling could not have been built before 1710. Harriet Forbes in "Some 17th Century Houses of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, (Jan. 1939) leans toward 1690 - in that year Joseph Twitchell, owner of this property, wrote a will which mentions a house on this site. Joseph Twitchell, presumably a farmer, lived on this property until his death in 1710. The house passed to his son Joseph's family and later to Joseph's son Johnathon whose daughter Jennet apparently inherited the house in 1790. Her husband, Silas Stone of Natick, "had a facetious turn of mind, an inventive genius and an uncommon knowledge of books." Jennet lived here until her death in 1816. Her son, Royal Stone, inherited the house in 1820. During the late 19th century Charles O. Littlefield lived in this house. Subsequent owners include a Mrs. Lord and a Mr. Thomas. On the map of 1875 an A. Barber is listed as living here.

Note. Silas Stone invented a Surgical truss for hernias. His son Royal also owned a house to the south of Dr. Tays on Western Ave., since moved to Hunting Lane.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and REFERENCES

  • Maps of 1788, 1857, 1875 and 1889.
  • Margaret Dowse Buntin's research
  • Anne C. Shaughnessy - A Guide to Sherborn, 1974
  • "Old Time New England" - Jan. 1939
  • "Some 17th century Houses of Middlesex County, Ma. by Harriet Forbes