This article was submitted by Lou Gallo of the Swampscott Historical Society.
Swampscott has an important birthday this year.
The Sir John Humphrey House is celebrating its 375th year.
This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sir John Humphrey came to Salem in 1634. Humphrey was the deputy governor under Governor John Winthrop. Humphrey and his family moved into his “new” house in Swampscott in 1637. The old maps show the house on what later became Elmwood Road, but in 1891, the house was moved to 99 Paradise Road.
The acquired the Humphrey House in 1902. A section of the building is our museum and section is the residence of the caretakers.
Swampscott has one of the few 17th century buildings that remain in Essex County.
Over the years many townspeople have donated Swampscott related articles to the museum. We need space for new show cases to properly display these historic items. When the third grade children are shown through the house in the spring, they really like the old toaster that was used in a fireplace. And they like the secret room on the second floor, where the residents could hide from the Indians, or pirates, if necessary. A third-floor room has children’s toys.
Local Indians painted designs on the wall with blueberry and red berry juice that are still visible. It is said that Daniel King was very friendly with local Indians and had asked them to decorate the room. There are a few Indian artifacts on the second floor. There is a six-foot wooden propeller from an airplane built on Puritan Road before World War I. There is an early foot-powered dentist’s drill.
A recent acquisition is a painting of cows serenely grazing in a field that is now Atlantic Avenue. There are portrait paintings and old photographs and etchings of our town.
The Swampscott Historical Society’s main mission is to keep this 17th century building in good repair. This year the main downstairs rooms have been painted. In recent years the furnace has been replaced and the chimney re-pointed. As with all old houses, the building always needs something.
The Swampscott Historical Society is in search of new members. The Society needs to increase our membership. Some members become valued volunteers, sorting and listing our treasured items. We want to keep Swampscott history alive and cared for in the Humphrey House.
The House will be open to the public for tours on Wednesday July 4th from 10 am to noon.