Edward A. Huebener Brick no. 1 Barnard Capen House


No. 5154 Painted brick in the Edward A. Huebener brick collection at the Dorchester Historical Society.

Edward A. Huebener, a former Board member of the Dorchester Historical Society, was a collector of materials relating to Dorchester history including a very large collection of graphic materials, including prints and photographs, now owned by the Society. His very own contribution to this group of materials was the idea of taking a brick from a house that had been demolished and asking a local illustrator to paint a picture of the house upon the brick. The painted bricks may be viewed at the Dorchester Historical Society.

Built by 1637, the Barnard Capen House was located at corner of what is now Washington and Dunlap Streets. The image shown here is the painting on the face of brick no. 1 in the Edward A. Huebener Brick Collection at the Dorchester Historical Society. The brick came from the Barnard Capen House, and a picture of the house was painted on the face of the brick.

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.

The 1889 Bromley Atlas shows the location of the house, owned at that time by John C. Hewins. The house was on the west side of Washington Street across from the entrance of Melville Avenue.

Barnard [or Bernard] Capen, a shoemaker, and his wife Joan Purchase Capen arrived in Dorchester in 1633 on an unnamed ship with sons Bernard and John, and daughter Honor. They were preceded by two daughters: Susanna with her husband William Rockwell and Dorothy with her husband Nicholas Upsall who came in 1630 on the Mary and John.

No. 410 Capen House

The original house, considered to be the second oldest house in New England, was built in the style of the West Country with heavy framing. “The farthest end of the house, consisting of four or five rooms, was built first; and some hundred years later the end nearest the street was added. The house was built on one side with especial reference to protection from the Indians; and the present owner [John Hewins] has found several arrows,during his residence there, which had been sent with hostile intention by the wily savages against the home-fortress of his ancestors.” — Orcutt p. 357 In 1833 a Capen relative, John Hewins, bought the house and built additions and a shed.

The house that Barnard and Joan built in the 1630s still stands at 427 Hillside Street in Milton near Houghton s Pond where it was moved in 1909. The house, which originally stood on Washington Street across from Melville Avenue at the corner of Washington Street and Dunlap Road, remained in the Capen family for nearly 270 years. [The streets may not have existed at the time of construction]. The Boston Sunday Herald, Feb. 7, 1909, carried an article entitled “Barnard Capen s Old Home in Peril” that stated that the contractor who was about to demolish the house to make way for a development of three-deckers would gladly spare the old house if some society or public-spirited citizen desired its preservation.

Harvard Professor, Kenneth Grant Tremayne Webster, bought the house for $50. “Through a relative, Webster engaged an MIT student to make drawings, number, codify and catalogue every board, brick and timber in the old house. He next hired a building wrecker to take the house apart and haul its components to a plot he owned at 427 Hillside Street, Milton. A carpenter then put the house back together.”–Milton Times

No. 2531  Capen House

Barnard and Joan s gravestone in the North Burying Ground is said to have the oldest date of any known gravestone in New England. The stone is preserved at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Barnard lived from approximately 1562 to 1638 and Joan from 1578 to 1653.

No. 2938 Capen headstone


Chaffee, John R. The History of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Dorchester, Mass. Boston, 1917

Loughran, William J. “Oldest House Migrated Here.” Milton Times Online Edition. www.miltontimes.com/common/Historic_Places/hxloughranoldesthouse.html as seen on Dec. 20, 2002.


Posted on

December 24, 2021

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