Historic Homes & Structures of 1700 to 1800

The Ware Family Crypt

139 Main Street

The Ware Family CryptNow only a few feet from the expanded Public Library, the Ware Crypt was nearly destroyed when the land was cleared around it and the surrounding area, subsequently called the moonscape, was made ready for development. It may be one of the oldest structures in Norfolk, and was savedby state law because it is a structure associated with burials and cemeteries. It was built by early Ware family members as a place of temporary internment when a death occurred during the winter and the ground was too frozen to dig a grave. No one was permanently buried in the crypt, they all left promptly with the spring thaw. Interments in the Ware Crypt are documented as recently as the early 1920s. Portions of the crypt were inadvertently damaged by a bulldozer. Several stones were able to be reassembled as they stand today. Originally the crypt was built into the face of a substantial hillside - the hill is gone - the crypt remains.

The Robert Ware House / Cook Farmhouse

260 Main Street

This house was demolished around 2010

Here are some historical facts:

The Robert Ware House / Cook FarmhouseThe house at 260 Main Street has been the subject of one of Norfolk’s longest running historic legends, right up there with George Washington staying at our local tavern and his soldiers camping out under the pines on Town Hill - that is - it is one of the earliest houses in town. The original home on the site may have been constructed during the late 1600s and later burned but the structure replacing that was purported to have been built in the early 1700s. Although it may not appear to be that old to the casual passer due to more recent reservations in the 1800s. The interesting aspect of the tale that has been past down is that the current second story was actually the original structure. That at some point in the past the decision to expand the house was made and instead of adding on, the structure was raised vertically and a new first floor constructed under the original house - the old first floor and roof became the second story in the new house. We have heard several reports of this having been done in the 1700s on other structures, whether to conserve on lumber, allow for increased height for the new first floor walls and ceiling or to build a more secure or useful foundation is not clear but in any event apparently in rare cases this may have been done.

The building later became the main farmhouse of the Cook Farm, one of the largest commercial agricultural enterprises in the history of Norfolk.

The Cook Farm supplied all of the beef, dairy products and vegetables for the well known Cook Restaurant in Boston. The huge barn that supported these operations was located across the Main Street in the present day Sweetland Farms area where there was easy access to the railroad, as the farm even had their own siding used to transport the farm goods to Boston. During Prohibition the barn went out with a bang when allegedly (cause undetermined), an illegal still exploded and the resulting fire destroyed this magnificent structure. Some versions of the story even attribute a second still to the property.

Important Update to the Legend

In early December of 2006 our Norfolk Historical Commision Associate Member Sam Ziegler was able to examine the interior of the house with his friend Jack Silvernail and surprisingly enough was able to give some credence to the legend.

It does look like the story of an older house being raised and built under could be true. The first floor deck is all sawn lumber and beams probably mid 19th century. The roof structure is hewn pine 6x6 common rafters joined at the ridge with a lap joint, without a ridge beam, also you can see vertical oak sheathing boards in the attic eves, all indications of an early 18th century building. The first floor doors and stairway are mid 19th century while the second floor doors look like they were recycled from the old house for use in the renovation, one has the shadow of a bean style thumb latch now removed. The third floor attic has the original early 18th century door openings and room layout intact. The doors have all been removed but there are shadows of the H-style hinges on the jambs. The two first floor parlors have the original ceiling fixtures from when the house was first wired. The house has a full cellar which may be the original Cape stone walls that may have been topped off with brick during the renovation. The exterior is sided over with shingle but the clapboard may be underneath. The brackets under the eves and rakes are ornate with turned drop finials. The building seems very solid and would be a good candidate for restoration/renovation, needs updated wiring, plumbing, windows, etc. According to Jack Silvernail, Mr. Borelli has plans to build 7 houses along this stretch of Main St. I don’t know if the building would fit on one of the proposed lots where it is or if it would have to be moved but maybe he would offer the lot with the house for sale to someone who would renovate it. – Sam Ziegler

The Cook Tavern

237 Main Street

The Cook TavernThis house was originally built circa 1790 (at this point it has been documented as far back as 1800) and served as the Daniel Cook Tavern. Daniel Cook married Eunice Ware, the daughter of Josiah Ware, 2nd owner of the Josiah Ware Tavern. Later it was the main farmhouse for an 80-acre farm. We know that Josiah Ware 4th, born in 1812, a descendent of Robert Ware, spent his early childhood in this house under the guardianship of his uncle Daniel Cook - after his mother had passed away in 1819.

Josiah was appointed the first agent at the Norfolk Railroad Station and had a large lumber business in town in partnership with C. J. Murphy. A generous man, Josiah, helped pay for the repair and remodeling of the old church on Town Hill installing a large clock in the East tower at his own expense, helping to convert it into our first Town Hall which was later destroyed by fire in 1922.

The house across the street, known as the Perrigo House, was the black smith shop for the tavern for a time. The chimney construction, visible in the basement, is very early - the chimney is supported by pegged beams and no masonry. The cellar walls consist of very large stones with no mortar. Plank and batten interior doors, wide board floors and hand hewn, pegged timbers provide further evidence of early colonial construction.

The Pettee House

234 Main Street

This house was demolished around 2013 by the Town in favor of affordable housing.

Here are some historical facts:

The Pettee HouseThis house may have been built in the early 1700s by William or Joseph Pettee. In later years James Perrigo and his family operated a large farm here. James forebears originally came from France. James and his son James Jr. were also clockmakers of some renown and in fact today their clocks are held in high esteem. They are very rare and worth a great deal. One of James Sr.'s grandfather clocks is on permanent display at the Dedham Historical Society. James Perrigo Sr. (1737-1808) was most likely the maker of clocks with wooden geared movements. James Jr.'s clocks seem to more resemble the style of the Boston or Roxbury clockmakers such as the Willards. As a side note, on one of the windowpanes in the house, there is supposed to be an etched scrawl which reads "John and Sally Perrigot 2/11/1805". Josiah Ware 4th, lived here when he was first married to [unknown] Blake

The Harris/Rockwood House

76 Union Street

The Harris / Rockwood HouseIdentified as the Benjamin Rocket House for over 100 years, recent research has revealed a different story. The house was built circa 1725 by Nicholas Harris on land acquired from Damniel Blake. From 1725-1784 it was owned and occupied by the Harris Family, first Nicholas, 1725-1771, and then his son Obediah 1771-1784. It was sold in 1784 to Jeremiah Mann and Elisha Rockwood, (son of Benjamin Rockwood and Ruth Mann) and remained in the Rockwood Family for 135 years, (1791-1926). Elisha was the great grandson of Nathaniel Rockwood, brother of Benjamin Rocket of "Indian Rock" renown and great nephew of Benjamin Rockett. Benjamin Rockett had only one son, Hezekiah, who died in infancy.

The Warelands

103 Boardman Street

The WarelandsRobert Ware the Aged claimed this land in 1661 during the earliest attempt to settle Wollomopaug by Dedham. In the 1690s Ebenezer Ware, Robert's grandson, built a dwelling, that no longer stands. The current Warelands was built in 1733 by Ebenezer and his youngest son, Elisha and is known as The Elisha Ware House. The property remained proudly in the Ware family for many generations.

From 1905-1913, society woman Charlotte Barrell Ware, "well known in social circles", shocked many of her contemporary proper Bostonians by operating a unique and internationally famous commercial enterprise on this site, The Warelands Dairy and breeding farm. This was the finest dairy barn and dairy bottling house of its day. The Warelands Dairy produced the highest quality certified milk in the entire United States. In 1909 Charlotte expanded her operations and opened the unique Warelands Dairy School with forty of the top professors in public health in the country on her staff. At a time when hundreds of thousands of children and adults were dying annually of diarrheah and tubercular milk disease, Charlotte Ware's scientific, educational and social-humanitarian impact was immeasurable. She became recognized, internationally, for dramatically influencing agricultural dairy practices, the milk industry and the commercial transport and sale of milk, worldwide.

The Warelands, since November 10, 1977 has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This listing is granted to buildings, structures, objects and sites that have received local, state or national designation based on their historical or archaeological significance. These structures and grounds provide one of the few direct links with the group of hearty pioneers who first settled the Norfolk area and that the value to the Town of Norfolk of these remaining as unaltered as possible is of significant historical and archaeological importance.

"I lived at the Warelands for a few years and can appreciate the significance of the structures. The house itself is raised wood panels and horsehair plaster. It has a center built chimney with five fireplaces with two honeycomb ovens. All the floors are wide pine boards with the exception of the addition of the kitchen in the 70s I believe. The wood in the house is first generation cut. Some panels measuring 18-24" across the grain, single cut. Post and beam structure with original glass panels in the windows. It is the oldest standing structure in the town and was the first farm to produce pasteurized milk. Ebenezer's original house burned and the present house was rebuilt in 1733. Oh, one other thing, it has a ghost, my ex-wife saw it; it is believed to be Elizer Ware. The Ware family used to own all the land up to the railroad station. Some of the trees on the land are over two hundred years old. It is an important piece of the heritage of the town of Norfolk and should not be let go to development at any cost. The cottage and the barn date to the early 20th century and the Charlotte Ware era. It's a 27 acre farm. - "

The Stephen Turner House

187 Seekonk Street Stephen Turner House

The Stephen Turner HouseJohn Turner I was one of the first of 13 settlers of the town of Medfield. This is his grandson's house. Steven Turner came to reside here in 1712. Steven's son Ichabod had fought at the Battle of Lexington in 1775 and he later came to sell the house, out of the Turner family's hands, to the Sayles family in 1792. Of note, there is an inscription on a joist in the dining room with this same date - 1792. The L portion of the home was added to the house sometime prior to 1814 and may be from an even earlier structure moved to the site, to connect with the original Turner homestead. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Norfolk Cemetery

Main and Seekonk Streets

The Norfolk CemeteryThe Norfolk Cemetery was established circa 1745. Some of Norfolk's most prominent citizens and best known families are interred here. For many years this cemetery has been the focal point of Norfolk Memorial Day parades and celebrations, drawing many townsfolk, veterans organizations and local politicians. In years past young children would gather flowers and march to the cemetery to lay fresh bouquets on the graves of the departed.

The Solomon Blake House

97 North Street

The Solomon Blake HouseThis structure, built in 1762, was one of the first full cellar houses to be built in Norfolk. The house has five working fireplaces downstairs and two up. The upstairs suffered fire damage during a blaze in 1925. The Blake family were among some of the first settlers in the Norfolk area and Solomon operated a sawmill on Stony Brook Pond just across the street.

The Mann House

49 Seekonk Street

This house was demolished in 2013

The Mann HouseThe first Mann, Moses Mann, moved into the area of present day Norfolk and settled near Highland Lake in the early 1700s. The original Mann house, located across the street, was destroyed by fire in 1797 and this house was built the following year. There was a saw mill on the Stop River where it enters Highland Lake. The saw mill dam was moved to Dirty Brook creating Manns Pond. It was once the home of Thomas Mann, who served in the Northern Army during the Civil War. He was captured by the Confederates and imprisoned in the infamous Andersonville prison. He wrote the story of his military exploits in the well-known magazine article "A Yankee in Andersonville" - available in the Norfolk Library. Sadly, this home was demolished in 2013.

The Fales House

33 Fruit Street

The Fales HouseThis is one of the very few self-sufficient farms still operating in Norfolk. It has been since the early 1700's and was originally owned and operated by the Fales family. It has changed hands between very few families in its 200 years or so of existence, owned almost exclusively by the Fales and Ehnes families. It is currently known as Jane and Paul's Farm and is a familiar feature on the Norfolk landscape.

Little Wood Farm

163 Seekonk Street

Little Wood FarmWe've traced this house back to 1818 when it was the Richard Boyden Farm and Homestead. Richard Boyden is listed in the 1810 and 1800 census for Wrentham as Richard Boyadin. When he sold this land to John and Caty Jepson, a house and barn were included. We hope to have the opportunity to inspect this old farmhouse for signs of pre-1800 architecture underneath multiple modifications - which may make it one of the oldest structures in Norfolk. Some of the names turned up throughout the years should be familiar to long time residents and students of Norfolk history.

  • 2002–2003: Philip and Juli Nievergelt
  • 1968–2002: Domenic and Ruth Giampa
  • 1948–1968: Henry F. and Dorothea Abel
  • 1946–1948: Paul and Virginia Richardson
  • 1942–1946: Eva H. Lewis
  • 1941–1942: Harrison P. and Elinor Eddy
  • 1919–1941: Oliver D.H. and Dorothy Beebe Bentley
  • 1915–1919: Robert M. and Emmie Johnston
  • 1897–1915: Jacob Bartholomew and Henry A. Bartholomew
  • 1886–1897: Edward and Sarah E. (Mason) Lidbury
  • 1883–1886: Clark W. Fletcher
  • 1883–1883: Orville W. and Mary E. Butler
  • 1878–1883: Christian and Henry Bartz
  • 1877–1878: Franklin and Cathrine Baldwin
  • 1875–1877: Joseph B. Hutchins
  • 1836–1875: Cyrus Morse
  • 1818–1836: John and Caty Jepson
  • ????–1818: Richard Boyden