Humphrey House Draws a Crowd During Trails and Sails Weekend

Last weekend was the third time this year the Swampscott Historical Society opened the town's oldest building to the public for tours.


Visitors from as far away as Ireland and as near as Swampscott beat a path to the Sir John Humphrey House last weekend where they learned about its history and the history of its contents.

One of the first things the 55 visitors learned was that the house was moved to its current location, 99 Paradise Road. That was in 1891, when it was transported from its original spot on what is now Elmwood Road.

They also learned that it is Swampscott's oldest building, its oldest part dating back to the early part of the 17th century.

Swampscott Historical Society members including Lou Gallo, Betty Holmes and Douglas and Duncan Maitland hosted the Humphrey House open house.

The local history tours were part of the Trails & Sails: Two Weekends of Walks and Water, program. The program, which continues in other towns this weekend, is presenting more than 150 free events within the 34 cities and towns of Essex County including the communities of Salem, Gloucester, Newburyport, Andover, and Saugus.

Back at the Sir John Humphrey House on Saturday, tour guide Lou Gallo told the visitors that the home was built for John Humphrey, the first Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under John Winthrop.

Lou told the visitors that for centuries Indians would camp in what would become Swampscott in the summer. They would fish and gather shellfish here.

In fact, their method for drying cod on racks was, in the 1700s, put to commercial use by Ebenezer Phillips and he made a fortune with it.

Lou said that members of the Penobscot tribe would visit Swampscott in the summer when he was a child. They built lawn furniture and hauled it around in a truck selling their handmade crafts.

Saturday was the third time the Historical Society opened the Humphrey House to visitors this year, said Duncan Maitland.

They always open their doors to the public on July 4.

Saturday's visitors came from throughout eastern Massachusetts including Cape Cod, Melrose, Ipswich and even Swampscott.

The house is owned by the Swampscott Historical Society.


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