Man Restores Pilgrim Home from 1665 to its Original Glory

Man Restores Pilgrim Home from 1665 to its Original Glory


– [Doug] The restoration
of these buildings has always been a passion for me. To take some of the
legacy that we all have of these early homes and to make them so that future generations
have a chance to come in and maybe see how
these early settlers lived. The house here, the Pilgrim House, came from Billerica which
is a couple hours away. To think this is one
of the 50 oldest houses in this country that’s still standing is, I can’t believe it. The whole history and
purpose of this house was to be a shelter
for women and children. In other words, a garrison
house and the room that they came to is pretty
much exactly the way it was. It’s an unbelievable room. The items in the room are
things from that period. The Hadley Chest which
shows you the carving that they did at that time
on these early chests. This would date back early 1600. The gate leg table in
the center of the room with the banister back
chairs that go around it. The court cupboard. The court cupboard,
other than the Bible box, was certainly the most important piece of furniture in the house. It’s where they kept their
major documents and papers. I’m blown away every
time I go in there that at a time in our country,
when they were trying to scratch out a living,
that anyone could make a room with such beauty. The hallway there, the
staircase, is unbelievable. It’s exactly as it was built. The balustrade and the
steps and the risers. It’s just the way it
would have been done with all the bricks exposed. Much of the wood in this
house has never been painted. The patina on the wood
is from mother nature. It’s got a tan look to
it you just cannot get in any way except being
exposed all those years. 350 years! Imagine it! Somebody hasn’t lived in
there and put wallpaper or paint or decorated in some way. It’s really what I think is the greatest element of the place. The main house was built as two over two and the lean-to was
added later as a kitchen. When you walk through the room, you can’t help but notice
some of the things that are typical of the Pilgrim period. The Bible box, for example. Theology was very important
and this got a place of honor. A lot of pewter which was mostly tin. You notice a lot of things of horn. But the fireplace is obviously
the focal point of the room. And while my fireplace
tends to have way more than they would typically
have had back then, I think all the things
that you see in there are appropriate as to what they would use. And they had things that
were the counterpart of what we have today. There’s a broom here. It’s
all one piece of wood. Except for the iron
bands that go around it. What makes a good Pilgrim broom is one that would stand by itself. Always at the end of
either a keeping room or in this case, a lean-to was a small room that was located somewhere near the heat of the major fireplace. This is where the women would
have had their children. The birthing room. There was a small cot in here and it would be used all through
the child raising years. When I’m in the process of restoration, the nails that we use are
taken out of a building and so when they pull them out, sometimes they’re turned circular, they’re crimped around, they’re twisted. These are blacksmith handmade nails. The only way you can really get those is to dismantle a building. You don’t go someplace and buy them. So, one of the crazy
little things that I do. It doesn’t matter how late
I’ve been out the night before or who I’ve entertained. My goal is to straighten
100 nails every night. Once the Pilgrim House
was up, there needed to be a connector to the shed of the building. We call this an L. This
happens to be not Pilgrim. This is Colonial. So this
would date to the 1790’s. The structure of it,
the architecture of it, is very different with the
hand hewn New England beams in the ceiling, the
wide period floorboards. All the cabinetry work is
modern but it’s been done in an early way with hand planing. The stone on the counters are
all soapstone from Vermont. The carriage shed dates
to about the 1790’s. I get so excited to show everyone because when I say it’s the finest
one they’ll ever see, and they come to look at
the outside and they see two doors and a rusted
tin roof, they think how great can it be? They go inside and then I say to them, now don’t look at all
my stuff I’ve collected and then the modern
buggies that are in here. I want you to look up. It’s
the beauty of construction as to why I fell in love with it. The water tower dates to about 1890. When I was restoring the
property, I really missed not being able to see
the views in the back. So, I wanted to get up high
enough so I could see it and I wanted to acquire a tall structure like a water tower. Hadn’t any more than
finished the last shingle on the roof of completing
the water tower structure when the land owner next
door decided to harvest the trees, cut all the
trees, and now I can see everything from the ground. Little by little, the other
buildings came into being. I wasn’t quite ready to
plunge into the Pilgrim House until my research was complete. And so, I began acquiring
other accessory buildings such as the schoolhouse. I went to one room schoolhouse
and my aunt was the teacher. There were two or three kids in my class and six grades in one room. Kids today would have
no conception of what a one room schoolhouse was like. So, in part of the town
history is that there were 18 of them here and
I thought that if I could restore and save just one of them. And the best thing of
all was the people in the neighborhood who came to
see this coming together and offered things that they might have in their collections that
might relate to the school. Now that it’s complete,
the local school system, fourth grade classes
primarily, all the kids come, they get to sit in the chairs,
they get to open the books and see what a one room
schoolhouse was like. One of the regrets I have
really as I look back is not having had a better
appreciation for my background. I’m one of 13. We all
grew up in the same house, born there, that previous generations had, going back to the house about 1810. As I was growing up, I never
really had an appreciation for that old house. I really didn’t. I was envious of friends
that had houses that had modern things and I didn’t
really want my friends to come there. And my parents are both
gone now and I think if I could go back, I’d have
them know that I really did appreciate what we had and
do so more today than ever. (calming music)

85 thoughts on “Man Restores Pilgrim Home from 1665 to its Original Glory

  • That homestead us so amazingly beautiful and wondrous. I think if I were there it would take me days just to reallytaje it all in because there are just so many amazing aspects. thanks for sharing. 💜

  • Doug Towle's vision and generosity to share the results with the children and the rest of local and world communities brought me to tears. Thank you Doug Towle and Houzz!

  • What a beautiful peace of history! Absolutely great shape, although wonderful Restoration. My mother would have teach in such school. Yes, it it generous to share such beautiful buildings!

  • It seems we don't gain our wisdom until we are older. But I love the great houses of our early American settlers. I wish I could afford to refurbish one.

  • So beautiful ! Yes that is really the sick room. Not the birthing room. There must be a small building around for 35 day contagious room / sick room if that is a birthing room. Love what you have done. So much talent and artistic beauty in this home. I bet it smells old. I do think the fire is a little bit wrong. It should be about a foot deeper for Dutch ovens. I think people should build well like this today. I think this person who lived like this was way past rich in the day. Love it…taking notes for my build of a little salt box in the woods.

  • Oh Yes! I watched it again. I see the Indian shutters inside the walls. Yes I tried to tell people all my life inside and outside shutters are inside the walls.! Cool.

  • Thank you for sharing. It took my breath away and brought such joy. I'm bookmarking so that I can come back and enjoy over and over.

  • Amazing structures. What love for the craft mans nails, I would treasure them too. Super treat to see these restored homes.

  • I appreciate all the preservation now. I grew up in West Newbury and now live outside of Jerusalem. Thank you for sharing this project.

  • our old house was built in early 1900s. I felt embarrassed whenever my friends visited me. Now I wish I can have the house back. Thank God my parents are alive and I hope to build modern house with the exact same style front door.

  • So beautiful! You are so fortunate, I hope you donate this as a museum so everyone can enjoy the amazing restoration.

  • My 12th Grandmother back was on the Mayflower. I could live in this without changing a thing. Simply beautiful!

  • I just love it!! Congratulations for your hard work on the restaurations and preserving how the way it was! Everything are absolutely beautiful!!

  • Amazing man and amazing restoration! What a wonderful legacy to show for your accomplishments, especially from humble beginnings. Enjoyed seeing it very much, thank you!

  • Great video..this is the reason I love youtube. What we get to see is amazing. You did a beautiful gob on the restoration.

  • This video literally made me cry. We just bought a historic 1767 home in NC. We are raising our eight children here and love it! I want so much to restore everything and decorate with period furniture, but money is too tight for that now. I feel so privileged to live in the home of a Revolutionary War soldier whose sacrifices made our freedom possible. I want to honor him and his family in everything I work on in this home. I wish I could have a historian tell me more about him, his house, and his life. Your home is absolutely amazing! You have done a beautiful job restoring it! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I am so thankful for history lovers who preserve the past.

  • love your kitchen. most people ruin a restoration by a to modern kitchen. this is a good mix.the home is magnificent .old is best.

  • What a blessing! Thank you for restoring and offering real glimpses of the past for future generations to appreciate!

  • EARTH ANGEL😇 DO you live in this beautiful 🏡 home?? THE furnishings and all the original decor is exceptional!!🤔💕 THEY certainly don’t build them like this anymore!😢 TO have all the history is so exciting!👍 I’M sure this can’t be Billerica, Mass, as I couldn’t believe that I could live in Haverhill and not know about about a 🏡 home this beautiful and historic!♥️. Thank You for sharing!👍🙏🏼

  • Great video Doug. I also have 2 old homes as well that I have restored with my wife. One is a Ct 1750 saltbox and the other is a Massachusetts 1763 colonial. I appreciate all that you have done in the painstaking restoration process. Thank you for preserving our country's history. Mike M.

  • I’m blown away- so thankful for those who cling tightly to our history and work tirelessly to preserve it.

  • You really have to like history to live in that place, which is beautiful; but I personally would feel very uncomfortable with it being so dark.

  • Jeremiah 6:16a Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. (KJV)

  • Breathe taking…. both that of its land, it’s history as well as the love, care and passion that shines in its restoration through your spirit….. watching for the second time. I so enjoy when the old can just heighten my senses. Thank you for sharing, you are amazing.

  • I almost cried just because of the love and tenacity you have for preserving such a vital part of American history; the architecture of the first homes, the importance of tradition, faith, education, the building of tools and implements used to establish homes, communities, and businesses.
    They took such pains and went to such great lengths to ensure the quality and wearability of homes, transportation, barns, etc…

    I have but one word for this man;
    "Respect"

  • Doug, your house is astoundingly magnificent. What a blessing to have someone who loves it so much and has the resources to keep it in museum condition. Obviously you are an Old Soul that lived in that time period. You have too much knowledge, taste and ability to place objects just as they would have been. May God bless you and Pilgrim House.

  • This historic colonial house was first constructed only 25 years after the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. It probably saw Native American attacks, the Revolutionary War, and all manner of history we can only guess at. Pleased this gentleman had the wisdom, the ability, and the willingness to restore this, and all the other historic properties he has.
    He very much deserves our gratitude.

  • The wife and I are looking into buying a 1770 farmhouse with most of the building features for the primary house that you have, including the house, L (sp?), and carriage house. It's been lived in for every year of its existence, but I'm glad that others have vids up about stuff like this because I'm only familiar with the 1980s+ building styles and might be in need of some advice should we go through with this purchase this fall.

  • If you're gonna do it, you might as well do it right. Beautiful job! It's absolutely amazing that the wood was never painted, especially considering that painting such wood was a standard practice time for generations.

  • I think that this is one of the best i've seen…a true appreciation of history. I too have inherited a old home & the older i get the more appreciative i am of granpa passing it on to me. Hearing his appreciation of his parents now…true wisdom has prevailed!! Well done sir, teach the young ones

  • this is stunning. I think your parents know how much your home and up bring influenced your life, the would be proud of all you've accomplished. Teaching future generations about America's past is amazing-

  • I drive by this house every day, twice a day. Live down the road. If he wants to come spruce up my c. 1770’s cape, I wouldn’t object.

  • I love old houses, i’m living in a 1894 house in Detroit. I wish I could find more history on it.

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