National Register

Handy House National Register nomination part 1

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Located in the southern part of Bristol County the Cadman-White-Handy House includes the three part, seven bay dwelling built in three stages from ca. 1710 to 1825, related out buildings and approximately two acres of a larger parcel.Situated in the Town of Westport in the southeastern part of Massachusetts, the property is 500 feet west of one of the earliest crossings of the East Branch of the Westport River. The property is at the intersection of Hixbridge Road on the south and Drift Road on the east. Hixbridge Road is an important early roadway of Old Dartmouth, a path used by Native Americans between Sakonnet Rhode Island and Achusnet, Massachusetts. The property is bound on the north and west by woodland, once farm and pasture land marked by stonewalls. The area east and south of the property and bordering the roadway is characterized by scattered late nineteenth and modern residential development. The course of the East Branch of the Westport River, which flows to Buzzards Bay, is east of the property.

Westport is a coastal town in the southeast corner of Massachusetts and southwest of Cape Cod. The town, which is approximately thirteen miles long and three or four miles wide, has a deeply indented coastline forming peninsulas separated by the East and West branches of the Westport River. Bordering towns include Dartmouth to the east, of which Westport was a part until its separate formation in 1787, Fall River on the northern boundary, and Adamsville, Tiverton and Little Compton, Rhode Island on the western edge.

The Cadman-White-Handy House is representative of development over a period of more than one hundred years beginning with the time of construction 1710-1715 and extending into the early 1800s when the third section was added in 1825. The house demonstrates the consistency of function and structural architecture and change in embellishment through the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. The property is reflective of the period of development from construction in 1710-1715 to 1911 at which time the last member of the Handy family lived in the house and after which the property was altered and served as rental property. The related outbuildings and structure date from the mid nineteenth and early twentieth century and are representative of use and unction of the property.

The Cadman-White-Handy property consists of four buildings and two structures

all of which are contributing to the architectural and historical significance of the property.The long, eight bay main house is the focal point of the complex. Other buildings include the privy/outhouse thought to date from the mid nineteenth century, a post and beam shed of the early 1800s, and a ca.1900 garage/shed. The well house and its sweep appear to date from the mid nineteenth century. Part of the stonewall system separating the main house from surrounding pasture and woodlands is intact. All buildings and structures retain architectural and historical integrity and are consistent with the evolutionary architecture demonstrated by the dwelling.

The Cadman-White-Handy House is a well preserved example of an eighteenth century dwelling which is a result of three periods of construction resulting in an eight bay building.The two and one half story Second Period house retains its gable roof, two interior chimneys, and spacing and rhythm of the fenestration and entrance patterns.The house is sheathed in weathered shingles most of which are replacements and has a wood shingle roof from which protrude two sizable interior brick chimneys. The stone foundation under the earliest part is blocks of biotite schist, a local stone which display parallel layers of crystalline rock. Only the original 1710-1715 construction and the second addition of 1825 have basements, each with a separate interior and exterior entrance. Architectural trim is minimal and unadorned including

flat corner boards, a flat cornice, a narrow ovolo trim water table and slightly projecting beaded windows frames with uniform sash on the main or south facade and several configurations on the north or rear elevation.

The eight bay main facade faces south and looks onto Hixbridge Road. The earliest part of the dwelling, three bays wide, is close to the intersection of Hixbridge and Drift Roads and is the eastern most end of the building. It includes two window bays and an entrance door in line with the chimney which was an end wall of the early 1710-1715 house. In 1730-1750 the two middle bays were added to form a traditional five bay, two and one half story Second Period dwelling. Finally in 1825 a three bay addition with interior chimney was constructed including three window bays. The end window bay of the 1825 addition was converted to an entrance door after 1911.

The fenestration pattern of the main facade retains a sense of balance although it is not symmetrical. There are corresponding second-story bays for each of the eight first-story bays.All first-story windows have twelve-over-twelve sash with simple slightly projecting surrounds.

Second-story windows which butt against the plain cornice board have eight-over-twelve sash. The two eighteenth century entrance bays are identical and display a detailed transitional Georgian/Federal design with a raised panelled door flanked by a wide frame with fluted pilasters supporting a pediment with dentil molding. The finely detailed door surrounds had been removed in the 1911 updating and were reinstalled after 1937 when Mr. Tripp purchased the property.The third entrance bay on the west end of the south facade was installed after 1911 to replace a window bay. It is a simple two part, Dutch door with no elaboration. On the eastern most corner of the south facade is a bulkhead entrance to the early 1710-1715 stone cellar.

The north or rear facade does not display the balance of the main facade although there is a rhythm from which one can understand the incremental development of the building. The eighteenth century portion including the original 1710-1715 dwelling and the 1730-1750 addition is articulated by the five first-story bays on the first floor. The center door is flanked by two nine-over-nine windows. The three second-story bays, which are built into the flat cornice molding have six-over-nine sash with slightly projecting sills and frames with a simple beaded molding. On the west end of the north elevation are three bays with simple slightly projecting architraves and twelve-over-twelve first story sash and eight-over-twelve sash on thesecond-story. On the first story there is a simple plank door with shed roof hood.

East and west elevations are similar in fenestration configuration with two first-story windows of twelve-over-twelve sash, two second-story windows of eight over twelve sash and one eight over eight window in each gable peak. On the west side there is a bulkhead entrance to the basement under the 1825 addition.

Interior architectural features and plan are reflective of the one hundred years over which the property was built. The first section of the house built in 1710-1715 displays First Period construction techniques including exposed chamfered structural members, two and four panelled doors, and an inferred building plan similar to stone-enders of Rhode Island.

The second section or first addition constructed in 1730-1750 displays a Second Period.. plan with Georgian style trim. With this addition the dwelling became a typical two and one-half story house of a center-chimney plan. Architectural trim from this period is evident in the raised field panelling surrounding fireplaces in the hall, the keeping room (half of which was part of the early house), and second-floor parlor, the bolection molding found as chair rails and over some fireplaces, and the bold fluted pilasters flanking the fireplace in the first floor parlor and the corner cupboards in both the first and second-story parlors. Of interest is the remaining heavy bolection molding and interior blind or shutter tracks found in much of what was the Second Period dwelling. The second-floor parlor also has several finely crafted grain painted doors, articulating the well-to-do circumstances of the early owners.

Third Period addition of 1825 is characterized by its broad and spatial hill, the larger room dimensions, and the Federal Style detail including the finely articulated pilasters and attenuated capitals supporting the mantel in the-dining room as well as the central diamond shaped design on the fireplace panelling. Similar matchstick detail and fluting is found in two rooms of the second-story 1825 addition. An additional Federal Style detail is the beaded chair rails surrounding the rooms of the 1825 addition.

It is interesting to note that turn of the century alterations which were not in keeping with the architectural periods of the house nor necessary to the modern day updating were removed after the 1937 purchase by Mr. & Mrs. Louis Tripp. These items included full length dormers on the north and south elevations, a nearly full length porch on the main facade, and Greek Revival doors with sidelights. The earlier Georgian pedimented door surrounds were reproduced from photographs and installed on the main facade.

Most of the outbuildings appear to date from the mid nineteenth century or earlier. Although the location of and use of the well indicates that it may date from the time of the original First Period construction the well housing and the sweep are probably from the mid 1800s. The privy or outhouse is also thought to be of mid nineteenth century construction. A shed situated north of the dwelling displays post and beam construction and probably dates from the early 1800s. The turn of the century garage is located directly behind the house near the Drift Road entrance to the property.

The surrounding landscape with definitive stonewalls and lack of elaboration is integral to the complex and retains eighteenth century functional context. Although the Cadman-White-Handy House is situated on a parcel which is in excess of 31 acres, the nomination includes the approximate two acres of property including the house, outbuildings, and immediate surrounds. This is consistent with what could be termed the house lot as defined by ancient stonewalls. The original tract of land was in excess of forty acres and was expanded to over 100 acres by the mid 1800s. In more recent years the land has been subdivided in part for preservation.

Archaeological Description

While no prehistoric sites are currently recorded on the property or in the general area (within one mile), it is possible that sites are present. The physical characteristics of the district, level, well drained land surfaces in close proximity to the East Branch of the Westport River, one of its tributary streams and related wetlands indicate favorable locational criteria for native subsistence and settlement activities. These factors combined with reported shell mounds, possibly Native American, across Drift Road, towards the river indicate a moderate to high potential for the recovery of significant prehistoric resources.

There is a high potential for locating significant historic archaeological remains within the property. Controlled testing and excavation can determine the location of occupational related features (trash pits, privies and wells) which may predate those extant on the property. In particular, no trash areas are currently known and at least one additional privy should be present predating the mid 19th century outhouse/privy now present on the property north (to the rear) of the house. Outbuilding remains and construction features associated with original house construction and later additions should also be present.