Brakes literally screeched, disturbing a quiet neighborhood, as I spotted a beautiful abandoned house in Essex yesterday. I was on my way from Ipswich to Beverly to home on a rather circuitous route, and then I spotted this stately house on Western Avenue: striking in both its elegance and abandonment. Neighbors looked warily on as I took some pictures, and then I hopped back in the car and drove home so I could research the house, forgetting all about my Beverly errand. Here it is.
The Col. Andrews House (Barr Farm) yesterday and in 1979.
We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have MACRIS, a digital database of inventories of historical properties undertaken for the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and I quickly found the Essex house, which was identified as the Colonel Andrews House, built in 1806 and better known as the “Barr Farm”. Besides the decaying elegance, that’s what caught my attention: this is no country Colonial but a pristine Federal farmhouse. The inventory, which dates from 1979, is largely based on an interview with the 99-year-old Mrs. John Barr, who had lived in the house nearly her entire life and still lived there at that time. She notes that it had always been a farm (I didn’t even notice outbuildings–I only had eyes for the house) up until the death of her husband 40 years previously, and then it became “inactive”. And so it remains–or does it? That chimney looks rather rebuilt to me, and the surrounding lawn is mowed……
August 8th, 2015 at 7:55 am
I wonder who owns it? and is keeping up that lawn? Interesting and curious.
August 8th, 2015 at 8:01 am
There’s nothing more interesting than signs of life in an old house!
August 21st, 2015 at 2:46 pm
Hey this is John Duncan the owner of duncan tree right next to the house.This was my grandmothers house, her name was marian barr and her husband was John Barr.I do now the lawn at this property but I did not rebuild the chimney.
August 21st, 2015 at 5:41 pm
Well, John–thanks for commenting and you can tell we are very impressed with your grandmother’s house! Simply beautiful.
June 17th, 2019 at 10:33 am
Is this house for sale, I want to fix it up to it’s orignal state then move into it if possible, does anyone own it or the city?
August 8th, 2015 at 9:40 am
Fascinating find, I hope it gets preserved someday
August 8th, 2015 at 10:46 am
Always happy to see our MACRIS database being useful! You can also search the Massachusetts Historical Commission files by location through MACRIS Maps at: http://maps.mhc-macris.net/
August 8th, 2015 at 12:44 pm
An invaluable service! Hours go by….
August 8th, 2015 at 10:47 am
Love it Gordon – awesome! Note the chimney smack dab in the middle of the building (early central heating perhaps)? Wished I had money to buy it and refurbish it …
August 8th, 2015 at 12:46 pm
I hope someone comments on this. I had thought that center chimneys were features of older houses, but perhaps not.
August 27th, 2015 at 9:13 am
Center chimneys began disappearing during the Georgian era, and by the Federal era (1775-1820) many houses had four chimneys, two on each side, serving up to 8 fireplaces.
August 28th, 2015 at 6:54 am
That’s what I thought, and why this house’s center chimney is unusual.
August 8th, 2015 at 3:30 pm
and it has a Mailbox on the post in the last photo. I see people in those windows.
August 8th, 2015 at 4:57 pm
Love, this house, it’s a definately, a OMG. A rare find, what history it hold, and those walls have seen.
August 8th, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Kurt Wilhelm is the go-to guy on all things Essex history. http://www.essexma.org/Pages/EssexMA_WebDocs/past
August 8th, 2015 at 11:17 pm
Straight out of the Asher Benjamin playbook. So pure and beautiful it hurts.
August 27th, 2015 at 9:14 am
Here are some more details about the house: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~macessex/houses/Western/west021.html
August 28th, 2015 at 6:54 am
August 28th, 2015 at 4:11 pm
Maybe the neighbors were wary because you were trespassing and not minding your business? Not everything needs to be a story you know and some of us like our privacy.
August 28th, 2015 at 4:35 pm
I don’t think I was trespassing–I was right on the street! I think it was the abrupt stop, but the house was/is just so beautiful.