Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Massachusetts


Capen House

Capen House, 427 Hillside Street, Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts (42.220651, -71.084752)

Felling dates: Winter 1674/5

The original portion of the Capen House, built by John Capen in 1675 or shortly thereafter at what is now 523 Washington Street in Dorchester, consisted of an end chimney bay and a range of two side by side rooms, the outer one of which was unheated, that extended from the chimney bay. A longitudinal summer beam ran from the chimney girt to a transverse summer beam at the junction of the two rooms, giving a T-shaped configuration to the beams that support the second floor. The rooms were separated by a vertical board partition with molded battens along the transverse summer beam, now relocated to the second floor. The house was a near twin in plan and framing of the original part of the Pierce House built in Dorchester in 1683, and like the Pierce house, had a framed overhang at each gable end.

In the mid eighteenth century, a room and chamber were added to the right of the chimney. These rooms retain Georgian woodwork from the period. Unlike at the Pierce House, the chimney bay was not widened, so the original location of the enclosed stairs is preserved. A lean-to and several other rear additions were later appended to the house.

The house remained in the Capen family until 1909 when it was scheduled to be razed to make way for the construction of a triple decker on the Washington Street site. Prof. Kenneth G. T. Webster of Harvard University purchased the house and had it re-erected in Milton. The frame and chimney were rebuilt on the basis of measured drawings and careful labeling of components. The house remains in the hands of descendants of Prof. and Mrs. Webster.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/9

Link to the Dorchester Atheneum page for the Capen House here.




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Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory

Michael Worthington
Jane Seiter, Ph.D

25 E. Montgomery St.
Baltimore, MD 21230