Edmund Fowle House (rear addition, side entrance, widows walk, dormer and front entrance bay)
28 Marshall StreetWatertown was the seat of government for the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1775 - 1776 when the rebel Provincial Congress met in the Meeting House in the Common Street Cemetery. The Executive Council met in the Edmund Fowle House on the then unfinished second floor that was outfitted for the Council. The 28-member Executive Council acted in place of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor from July 20, 1775 until the adoption of the Constitution in 1780. The Treaty of Watertown was signed in this house on July 19, 1776, a mere 15 days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This was the first international treaty signed between the newly formed United States of America and a foreign country - the MiqMaq and St. John’s tribes of Native Americans in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Year Built: 1772, renovated 1872
In 1872 the Town of Watertown sought to widen Mount Auburn Street and the Fowle House was almost demolished. Sturgis and Brigham stepped in, bought the house and moved it to its present location and began to modernize it. A short article in the Watertown press from 1872 reads: "The old Marshall Fowle House, of hallowed memory...has been moved to the rear of its old site. It passed from the heirs of the Marshall Fowle estate, to Mr. Wm. Russell, and was recently sold to Sturgis & Brigham, architects. The house is in the process of remodeling. A street will be run directly front of it from Spring to Mt. Auburn Streets, and the broad fields which have surrounded it will be cut up into house lots. Rumor says that ancient coins were found in the old cellar."
The base of the enormous center chimney that fed several fireplaces could not be moved with the dwelling. Only the chimney section above the second floor, including the section above the roof, is original. The house would now be heated by stoves as is evident from the many round cutouts in the floors and walls to accommodate stovepipes.
The Fowle House was being divided into a 2-family house. An addition was put on the back of the house containing a kitchen for each side. Another staircase to the attic and to the cellar was installed. Several changes were also made to the outside, including the front entryway, the addition of the side porch and entrance, the bay window and the "widow's walk" on the roof. A picket fence was put up around the property. These additions transformed the old colonial dwelling, giving it a more modern look, making it blend in with the other houses being built on the newly laid out Marshall Street.
Because building permits were not required, it is unclear when certain changes or additions were completed.
Brigham sold the Fowle House to the Historical Society of Watertown in 1922 for $4,500.
This house is an example of Brigham’s ability to renovate existing buildings for more modern use, as was the trend at the time. This house is an early example of that trend and complements Sturgis & Brigham’s renovation of several Colonial-era houses: Wadsworth Homestead in Geneseo, N.Y. (1876), “Steen Valetje” (the Warren Delano House) in Barrytown, N.Y., Boylston House in Brookline (1874) and the Lawrence Homestead in Groton (1876).
• Local Historical District
• Historical Society of Watertown, http://www.historicwatertown.org
• Middlesex (South) Registry of Deeds, 6/23/1871, Book 1167, Page 76; Jeremiah Russell to Charles Brigham and John Hubbard Sturgis.
• Joyce Kelly, "The Town Crier," Historical Society of Watertown, July, 2006.
• National Register of Historic Places, 1977, National Park Service #77000189.
• Middlesex (South) Registry of Deeds, 4/15/1922, Book 4506, Page 487; Charles Brigham to the Historical Society of Watertown.
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Widow’s Walk, Front Entrance Bay, Side Entrance Bay, Front Dormer . Watertown Free Public Library
Side Bay - Historical Society of Watertown
Rear Addition - Historical Society of Watertown
Courtesy of the Historical Society of Watertown
Watertown Free Public Library