Dorchester Atheneum
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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James Blake House, Richardson Park
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 Located at 735 Columbia Road in Richardson Park, the James Blake/Elizabeth Clap House is shown in a miniature painting on the face of a brick in the Edward A. Huebener Brick Collection.



The Edward A. Huebener collection of over 100 bricks originally collected by Mr. Huebener exhibits brick paintings of the houses from which the bricks came. The bricks have upon them painted scenes of (mostly) old Dorchester houses and landmarks. To see a list of all the bricks, choose the term Architecture in the list at the left of the screen and choose the first subsection -- the Edward A. Huebener Brick Collection and scroll to the bottom of that page to see icons for all the bricks.


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Plan showing James Blake House
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 Built in 1661, the James Blake House, now the oldest house in Boston, sits on Dorchester s Columbia Road, about 400 yards from its original location on East Cottage Street backing up to what is now Massachusetts Avenue. Massachusetts Avenue did not exist until the 19th century.

Illustration: Photo of a plan dated 1748 showing the James Blake House in its original location. The Way is Cottage Street, and the picture of a house is the earliest known representation of the Blake House. Photograph in the collection of the Dorchester Historical Society. Location of original drawing not known.

Detail from division plan
Detail from 1748 Blake Property division plan
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 This detail from the division plan shows a close-up drawing of the Blake House. The facade gables were a common feature of seventeenth-century house construction.

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Map Detail Blake House 1874
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 The house is one of only a few examples of West of England country framing in the United States. Most of the early colonial homes in Dorchester, such as the Pierce House, were built by housewrights from the south and east of England, where brick and plaster building

predominated. However, the Blake House was built in the manner of the homes of western England, which had long used more timber in their framing methods. The James Blake House is a two-story, central chimney, gable-roof dwelling of timber-frame construction. It is on a rectangular plan, three bays wide and one bay deep and measures 38 by 20 feet. Built in about 1648, the house is one of a relatively small number of its type - the post-Medieval, timber-frame house - surviving anywhere in New England. It is the earlier of only two known West-of-England-derived houses to survive in Massachusetts - the other being the 1654 Coffin House in Newbury. The Barnard Capen House, once located in Dorchester and now in Milton is a possible third (Brick no. 1).


Illustration: Detail from 1874 Hopkins atlas. The Blake House is the property toward the left of the map that in 1874 is owned by Jane Williams. The intersection is Edward Everett Square before it was known by that name and before Massachusetts Avenue (earlier known as Chester Park) existed.

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Blake House
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 The original occupants of the house were James Blake and his wife Elizabeth Clap Blake. He was born in the area of England near Pitminster, in 1624, and emigrated with his parents to Dorchester in the 1630s. Deacon James Blake became a constable, town selectman, and deputy to the General Court. James married Elizabeth Clap (the daughter of Deacon Edward Clap and niece of Roger Clap) in 1651, and it has been suggested that the house was built in anticipation of this marriage. The house passed to his son John who in turn divided it between his two sons in 1718. The east and west halves of the house were occupied by separate families for over a century, one half being sold out of the Blake family in 1772.


Illustration: Engraving published in History of the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts by a committee of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society. Boston, 1859. p. 388. Originally published in Samuel Blake s genealogical history of the Blakes of Dorchester. This house was undoubtedly built by Elder James Blake, previous to 1650. The one-story addition to the right was placed there within the last quarter of a century (i.e. between 1834 and 1859. This house stands in Cottage Street.

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Map Detail Blake House 1884
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 In 1825 Caleb and Eunice Williams purchased the west half of the house from Rachel Blake, the sole surviving heir, and in 1829 they acquired the east half by inheritance. The house remained in the Williams family until 1892 when it was acquired by George and Antonia Quinsler who in 1895 sold it to the City of Boston. The City government acquired the land to complete a large parcel for the building of municipal greenhouses.


Illustration: Detail from the 1884 Bromley atlas showing Chester Park (later Massachusetts Avenue) and the James Blake House owned by Jane Williams.

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Blake House wooduct
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 The Dorchester Historical Society, which had been incorporated in 1891 undertook the preservation of the Blake House as its first major project. The Society convinced the City to grant the Society the house and the right to move it to Richardson Park at its own expense. By January, 1896, the house had been moved to its new location by a local building mover for $295. This seems to be the first recorded instance of a historic private residence being moved from its original site in order to rescue it from demolition.


Illustration: Scan of a woodcut reproduced in The Memorial History of Boston, 1630-1880, edited by Justin Winsor. Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1880. Vol. 1.

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Blake House
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 The Blake House is a museum of early American Home construction and is studied by students of architectural history. One of its displays is the Edward A Huebener Brick Collection.


Illustration: Photograph published in Pathways of the Puritans. Compiled under the Direction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission and published by the Common- wealth of Massachusetts. Second edition, 1931.

Related Images: showing 8 of 24 (more results)
Here are some images from the Atheneum archive related to this topic. Click on any of these images to open a slideshow of all 24 images.
Plan showing James Blake HouseBlake House original appearanceBlake House conjecural appearance 1776Blake House window and shutter 1895
Butterfly Hinge from 17th century at Blake HouseJames Blake House 1895James Blake House after restoration 2007James Blake House
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Created: August 7, 2005   Modified: January 7, 2016