Archive for the ‘House Histories’ Category

On Monday, October 29th at 7:00 pm, the Newton Free Library will be hosting Joe Hunter’s documentary “The Durant-Kenrick Homestead: A House with Many Stories” in the Druker Auditorium. The house, located at 286 Waverly Avenue in Newton, is an historical gem.

In 1732 Edward Durant II bought 91 acres of land in Newton. The land had once been the location of the village of the Praying Indians of Nonantum. Here Durant built a large, salt-box type home in the Georgian style in 1732. One of its unique features was its hand-painted stenciled floors.

The home, today known as the Durant-Kenrick Homestead, has seen a great deal of local, state and national history.  Its second owner, Edward Durant III, was elected as Chairman of the Committee of Correspondence in 1774.  He was also a delegate to the Provincial Congress where, according to the King’s Handbook of Newton, he “delighted in twisting the British lion’s tail with speeches and resolutions.”  Two of his sons, Thomas and Allen, were both Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington and a third son, Edward, was a regimental surgeon.

After Edward died in 1782, the home was sold to John Kenrick, a noted horticulturalist.  In 1790 Kenrick founded the first large nursery in New England here, starting with pear trees that were raised from the stones (seeds or pits). His son William became a partner in 1833.  Among William’s sources for the nursery were imports from the London Horticultural Society.  He wrote the nursery’s first catalog and later authored “The New American Orchardist” and “The American Silk-Grower’s Guide.” Plants and trees from the Kenrick nursery were shipped throughout America.

John Kenrick, besides being the well known horticulturalist noted above, was also a committed abolitionist.  In this area he was a man before his time.  In 1817 he published the “Horrors of Slavery,” with it’s preface dated “Newton.” He was President of the New-England Anti-Slavery Society.

Between 1872 and 1903 parcels of land were sold off in various land transactions.  By the time Arthur S. Dewing bought the home in 1923, the remaining land was approximately 2 acres. Dewing was a descendant of the original Durant owners. He restored the property. The home was included in the National Register in 1976. The Durant Homestead was established in 1985.  The property was acquired by the City of Newton in 2011.

This is less than a thumb nail sketch of the history of the house and its people.  Take a look at the links below for more detailed information.

Article and Blog Links

 The Durant-Kenrick House and Property “A Brief Landscape History by Lucinda A. Brockway

Painting the Durant Kenrick House.

18th-Century home to be restored by Historic Newton” by Susan Danseyar.  Newton Tab, 13 April 2010.

Boston 1775: “Dig at the Durant-Kenrick Homestead” By J. L. Bell,     11 November 2011

Digging Up History: Archeologists Explore 18th-Century Life through Finds at Newton Site” by Taryn Plumb.  Boston Globe, 27 November 2011.

Boston 1775: “Howe Explores the Durant-Kenrick House in Newton” by J. L. Bell, 7 April 2012

Stenciling from the floor of the Durant-Kenrick House Lives On: Edward Durant Floorcloths

Durant-Kenrick Homestead: Community Preservation Project – City of Newton

Resources Not on the Internet

King’s Handbook of Newton, Massachusetts by M. F. Sweetser. Boston, MA: Moses King Corporation, 1889. pp. 106-110.  N 974.44N S97H

“Capt. Durant House in National Register.” Newton Tribune. 9 June 1976. p. 20

Newton, Massachusetts, 1679-1779: A Biographical Directory. Compiled by Priscilla R. Ritter and Thelma Fleishman.  Boston, MA: The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1982. N 929.2 1982

Landmark Study for the Durant-Kenrick Homestead. Compiled by Rachel Gakenheimer. May 7, 1997. 10pp plus maps and illustrations.  Includes genealogy. N 917.444 N48DU (Compact Shelving).

vea/26 October 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com

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Photo taken by The Curious Genealogist, Newton Free Library

Durant-Kenrick House, Newton, MA

The following books should help you track down the history of your house in whatever city, town, or state it is located.  The websites will help if you are looking for information on a house that is, or was, located in the city of Newton.

How to Trace the History of Your House

Green, Betsy J. Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood. Santa Monica, CA: Santa Monica Press, 2002. 929.1 GREEN

Houses and Homes: Exploring Their History. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1997.  307.336 HOUSES

Light, Sally. House Histories: A Guide to Tracing the Genealogy of Your Home. Spencertown, NY: Golden Hill Press, 1989. 728.37 L62H

Miles, Joyce D. House Names Around the World. Detroit: Gale Research, 1973. 929 M59H

Stevenson, Katherine H. Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck, and Company. Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press; New York: John Wiley, 1996. 728.373 STEVENSON
How to Trace the History of Your House in Newton

If you are researching a Newton house, start here. Historic Newton at the Jackosn Homestead has put together one page of necessary information and links that you will need in your hunt for information.
Where to Find Specific Records

This is an incredibly useful chart prepared by the Newton History Museum at the Jackson Homestead. It lists alphabetically specific record types and where to find them.
Newton Historic Houses

The Durant-Kenrick House on Waverly Street in Newton.

“A Brief Landscape History by Lucinda A. Brockway, Past Designs

“The Jacksons and Their Homestead in Newton, Massachusetts”

vea/9 June 2010 (revised) 19 March 2016
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com


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