While everything is shut down due to the pandemic, we’re still hard at work keeping the Jason Russell House preserved for future generations. Our current Community Preservation Act supported project includes sundry projects such as: framing inspection and insect treatment of the south and east wall sills, painting of one elevation, repair and reglaze of selected windows, resetting a granite stoop, and rebuilding of the upper courses and repointing of the main chimney.
The chimney, alas, is not original to the c. 1740s Jason Russell House. It was rebuilt when the house was restored by the Society in the 1920s. But the chimney was rebuilt using historic bricks from two houses that had recently been demolished – the two shown in this photograph. After lying vacant for many years they were threatened with demolition, and the Society responded with an ardent requested they be saved and protected from “destruction by boys which is now going on.” But they were unsuccessful. Their loss was also part of a call to activism that led to the later purchase of the Jason Russell House, so it is fitting that some of the components are now a permanent part of the JRH.
All preservation work is done with special attention to retention of historic details, and the brickwork project will be no different. The mason has been instructed to use hand tools only and to clean and repurpose the historic bricks rather where one might otherwise replace them. It’s important to be mindful that historic changes to the Jason Russell House contribute to the house’s history just as much as what happened here on April 19.
The homes shown in this image are identified with many names depending on who lived in them at the time – in this photo they are called the “Bowman and Whittemore Houses.” Click on the links below to find more information and photographs. The photo was donated in 1922, so not long before the houses were demolished. A more recent donation of an album with multiple photos of the property was donated in 2017. The houses were located where the Central Fire Station is located today. The house on the right belonged to Solomon Bowman and, like the Jason Russell House, it was an “eyewitness house” of April 19, 1775. Bowman himself was lieutenant of the Menotomy Minutemen under Benjamin Locke and was away from home fighting on that fateful day.
Amos Whittemore (II)
Amos Whittemore House (note that there are multiple houses with this moniker)
Henry Whittemore House (note there are multiple houses with this moniker)
Solomon Bowman House
Whittemore House (note there are multiple houses with this moniker