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Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, MA, the Colonel James Hartshorne House was built in 1681 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house has had a long and interesting history, and is owned by the Town of Wakefield, but managed by the Colonel James Hartshorne House Association and a Board of Directors. Wakefield's oldest home has been the setting of many happy events over the years, and is available for rental for weddings, showers, reunions, meetings, and other small gatherings. These rentals are the source of income for the preservation of the house and are very important to its maintenance.

History of the Hartshorne House

The Hartshorne House is thought to be the oldest extant house built in Wakefield, dating to 1681 (or even earlier). Throughout its life it has served as a private residence, a tavern, and even a tenement for icehouse workers for the adjoining Morrill-Atwood Ice Company. In September 1929 a devastating fire consumed all the ice company buildings on the property, but miraculously the Hartshorne House somehow survived. During a Special Town Meeting on October 14, 1929, the Town voted to purchase the Hartshorne House and adjoining meadow (the current Veteran’s Field) for $14,999. 

Visit the Hartshorne House History Page for more information about the house's history. You'll also find links above to Wakefield history sites and images of our town over the years.

The Col. James Hartshorne House Association

The Col. James Hartshorne House Association was formed in July 1930, and incorporated in 1936 for the purpose of preserving and maintaining the house. The Association leases the historic property from the Town, and and has proven to be a worth steward for nearly 70 years. Over the years the house has been the scene of hundreds of weddings, showers, reunions and meetings, and remains a popular and charming setting for such events. Many local residents will remember Mrs. Archibald Hume, who served as the original hostess of the house and its’ famed gardens, from 1933 until her retirement in 1967. Since that time a succession of young couples have had the privilege of residing in the Hartshorne House, not only hosting the various activities, but also assisting in the upkeep of the house and grounds. Our current residents are always happy to show the house to anyone interested in renting it for an event; they can be reached at 781/245-3935. Interested in joining?   Need to contact us?

Hartshorne House Restoration and Maintenance

During the past few years, the Association has overseen some major historical restoration at the Hartshorne House, including new sills, cedar clapboards, replacement and repair of roof timbers and windows and replacement of the asphalt shingles with more historically accurate cedar shakes. More recently the house has been graced with two new handsome oak doors, crafted by a New England carpenter skilled in antique restorations who incorporated the beautiful antique 'bull's eye' glass from the old doors. Behind the scenes, a state of the art wireless security system was installed to protect both the house and the residents and the antiquated electrical system has been completely overhauled.