This house was built in 1796 in Charlton, Massachusetts for prosperous farmer and merchant Salem Towne and his family. Its architecture is a rural interpretation of the "Adam" or "Federal" style. Between the 1780s and the 1820s, the first years of the American federal republic, this was the architectural high style for both civil and domestic buildings. Using details from around the Mediterranean region, architects of the mid- to late-1700s published books that provided builders with scale drawings and plans for creating contemporary buildings. One such book was The Practical Builder, or Workman's General Assistant, written by William Pain and published in London in 1774. An American edition of this book was published in Boston in 1792. Many of the details in the Salem Towne house, such as the trim and fanlights of its doors, came right from this book, although modified to fit the preferences and wallet of Salem Towne, as well as the skills of the builder.
The Towne house remained in the hands of the Towne family into the early 1900s, and was an important local landmark. It experienced very little modification before it was moved to Old Sturbridge Village in 1952.
[Photo captions, counterclockwise from bottom left, read]
· The Salem Towne house on its original site in Charlton, Massachusetts, c.
1940. [OSV Archives] The barn that was attached to the house before it was moved to Old Sturbridge Village was a New England style barn built in the late 1800s. Due to its late date and poor condition it was not moved to our 1830s village.
· Moving the Salem Towne house to Old Sturbridge Village, c. 1952
· (TOP) William Pain, The Builder's Pocket Treasure, Boston, 1794. Elements of the drawings see[n] here were used to design and construct elements of the front and side doors of the Salem Towne house.