The Older Andover

About forty minutes inland from Salem to the northwest are the towns of Andover and North Andover, both early settlements and bustling towns today. Due to the anniversary of the last executions of the Salem Witch Trials on Friday, I had Samuel Wardwell—who hailed from Andover, along with several other victims—on my mind, so I decided to drive there and see if I could find the location of his farm, which is always referred to as lying in the “southern” part of what was then one big Andover. That was my goal, but I got waylaid and distracted by the other Andover, the North Parish, which became North Andover in 1855. I hadn’t realized that North Andover was actually the first settlement: whenever I see North or South or East or West I assume that that designated location was settled after the adjoining town without the geographical adjective (is there are word for that?) But in the case of the Andovers, this assumption is incorrect. And because I assumed North Andover was later, I had always given it short shrift and driven through or around or by it—but this Saturday, the weather was fine and I had time so I drove into it, and spent a considerable amount of time in the vicinity of its perfectly pristine center village, in which a striking Gothic Revival Church overlooks one of the prettiest commons I have ever seen. It was the first day of Fall, and the North Andover Fall Festival was in full swing, so I parked the car and walked all around the old town center.

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All of the houses above surround the large Common, and bordering it is the little building built for the North Andover Hay Scales Company, established in 1819, which Walter Muir Whitehill refers to as “a rustic corporation of twenty-five proprietors who not only missioned a public utility but had a good sociable time doing so”. (Old-Time New England, October 1948). And down the road apiece is the Trustees of Reservations’ Stevens-Coolidge estate, with its extensive gardens, and this intriguing brick double house.

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On the other side of the Common, I walked past the North Andover Historical Society, a rather stately Greek Revival house and two “Salem Federals”, which really do have the air of displaced Salem houses, especially the Kittredge Mansion (1784), which looks just like the Peirce-Nichols House! Apparently its design is attributed to Samuel McIntire, which is complete news to me—must find out much more about this house.

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Kittredge House

Kittredge House 2The Kittredge Mansion & gate in HABS photographs from 1940-41, Library of Congress.

Finally I came to the beautiful Parson Barnard House (1715), which was long believed to be the home of Simon and Anne Bradstreet and has been owned and maintained by the North Andover Historical Society since 1950. It is perfectly situated and colored for early fall reveries, and I could have sat there looking at it for quite some time, but Wardwell business was pressing, so I retrieved my car, drove over the other Andover, and took a really cool virtual tour of its downtown courtesy of the Andover Center for History and Culture.

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8 responses to “The Older Andover

  • Carol J. Perry

    What a delightful adventure you had! Thanks for sharing.

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  • FairytaleFeminista

    That’s what I love about autumn. Cool, comfortable weather just begs to be walked around in and that always leads to discovery.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Jan Ryder

    If you’d gone a bit further up the hill behind the North Andover Historical Society, you would have come to the First Burial Ground, at the far end of which is where the original meeting house stood in which the infamous Andover touch test occurred on September 7, 1692, as a result of which perhaps as many as 17 more women were accused of being witches. Unfortunately there’s no marker to mark the actual spot. The house of the Rev. Francis Dane stood across the road to the right. Several people associated with the trials are buried there – William Barker Sr., William Barker Jr., Mary Barker, Timothy Swan, Elizabeth Faulkner, Timothy Johnson, Hannah Farnum Stevens, John Osgood, Christopher Osgood, Moses Tyler, and the Rev. Thomas Barnard. See the Society’s publication (really a set of photocopied sheets) “‘Our Sinne of Ignorance’ – Andover in 1692” and accompanying map of Andover in that year.

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    • daseger

      Oh thank you, Jan–I know I missed a lot! Will head back soon.

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      • Jan Ryder

        Oh, you’re very welcome. Note that the First Burial Ground will be on your left as you proceed up Academy Road from the Historical Society– the Second Burial Ground is on the other side of the road before you reach the first one, but it’s not the one you want. The site of the meeting house should be right about where Academy Road meets up with Court Street – I’m not sure if it was where the green triangle is now or not. The folks at the Historical Society should be able to pinpoint it for you more precisely. This area actually used to be the center of the original Andover settlement – only later did the town center shift further down to around where the common now is. My ancestors were heavily involved in the Andover phase of the Salem witch hysteria, so it’s a personal interest of mine. Since you’re interested in old houses, the Bridges House now on Court Street is thought to be the oldest surviving house in town, dating to about 1690 – it was built by my 7th great-grandfather James Bridges (his sister Sarah, from whom I also directly descend, was among the accused). It was relocated there in 2001 from Marbleridge Road. Have fun!

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      • daseger

        Thanks again, great information. I’ve long admired the NA Historical Society–they were all busy at the festival on the Common on Saturday so I didn’t want to pester them.

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  • jane

    Welcome to my part of Essex County! Thank you for the great pictures.
    The Andover Historical Society used to have a written tour of the sites in both towns which were related to the witch trials. For example, the Barker Farm is still there – as is the swamp where William Barker hid when he was accused of witchcraft. We did a lot of research and publicity around the 300th anniversary.
    I wrote a series of columns for the local newspaper, the Eagle Tribune about the period, looking at vernacular architecture. You can find it under “Sunday Drive” http://sundaydrivemerrimackvalley.blogspot.com/search/label/witch%20trials

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    • daseger

      Yes, I’ve read some of your articles—really great. I’m really more interested in your take on vernacular architecture as Salem is all Witch Trials all the time, though in a less respectful way than is in evidence in “western” Essex County.

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