We are reminded of events that took place in Massachusetts in the year 1770 by the graphic illustration below – depicting the ‘Boston Massacre’.
While only a few years later events now referred to as the ‘Boston Tea Party’ occurred on December 16th in the year 1773.
Subsequently ‘George Washington’ the founding father of the United States became the first President serving his country from 1789 to 1797, and during his inaugural tour of ‘New England’ specifically requested to stay in Salem Massachusetts on the night of 29th October 1789 at the ‘Joshua Ward House’.
Samuel Mcintire (Architect)
His Epitaph: He lived, loved, married, died and is buried in Salem: “Was distinguished for his genius in architecture sculpture and music. He was Modest and sweet in manners – a man of most virtuous principle and unblemished conduct.”
‘Samuel Mcintire’ the acclaimed local architect who designed the brick built ‘Joshua Ward House’ was a bit of a home-body and unlike his more expansive contemporaries his commissions were for properties built almost exclusively in the Chestnut Street district of Salem. Work on the ‘Joshua Ward House’ was commenced in 1784 and completed in 1788 in time for George Washington’s visit the following year in 1789, the street where the house exists was of course re-named in honour of the visit of this illustrious dignitary and is now known as Washington Street.
What hasn’t escaped my attention though; is how very similar architecturally ‘The Joshua Ward House’ is to our ‘to our ‘Weather House’.
The window casements (segmentally-arched) are almost the same – while equally it has both upper & base stringing courses and tall end-chimney stacks decorated around their tops (which is not an English feature) and like many federal-period properties in Salem has an open picket style fence. Stylistically our ‘Weather House’ is closer to 1790 than 1800 as it harks back to the earlier period represented by the brick built ‘Derby House’ built in the 1760/61 period, a style which had more or less gone out of fashion at the turn of the century, while originally our ‘Weather House’ had a flag-pole on its roof with a flag proudly flying thirteen stars and thirteen stripes – it is still possible to see the three points where this structure was moored.
The ‘circa’ date of 1790 is confirmed by the fact that like the ‘Joshua Ward house’ the ‘Weather House’ has a balustraded roof and where it would have been easier for symmetry to have prevailed by having six balusters either side of the clock facia (a structure we notice very slightly off-centre) we find symmetry usurped by national pride, because there are in fact thirteen balusters – which is of course an allusion to the ‘thirteen colonies’ from which the United States were created in 1782, while the clock hands indicate the year 1789.
Weather House Provenance
This unique late 18th century weather house has been in ownership by the same English family lately of Ledbury, Herefordshire since the 19th century. It was kept in the study at Gloucester House – property of the Surgeon ‘Chas John Tanner’ (1812 – 1866) whose name is pasted to the house side.
At some stage it was stored at ‘Harvey Nichols’ depository in Bournemouth, Dorset, England – their label pasted to the rear door confirms this fact, while the purpose of the clock pediment is to hide the Hydrometric adjustment housing found immediately behind it – the ‘Weather House’ retains its original detachable painted & gilded finial.
The four end-chimney stacks, balustrading, urns, clock, masonry-stringing, window-casements and brickwork – in fact everything on the house is painted, as are the backboards which have now turned a lovely duck-egg blue. The rear of the house has a full-height door – retaining its original chamfered brass ‘H’ hinges, which open to reveal a ground floor retaining its original chequered paper lining (to the floor). The interior with two elevated floors – the top floor set aside as servants’ quarters, without ‘fancy’ wallpaper, opposed to the ground and first floors which do. Separating these upper floors are withdrawing pine-papered panels which are set about an 1” apart – so when in situ there are four upper rooms and one ground floor room.
Within the principal arches to the lower floor peg-doll male & female figures indicate levels of humidity. The male who like ‘George Washington’ wears a tricorn hat is prominent when the weather is damp and the female when dry.
The ‘Weather House’ windows are glass-glazed and have twelve panes to each window, numerically the same as “The Joshua Ward House”.
Philip Cooper Fecit: