Why Deerfield?

Old Houses: Summer Projects and Craft Shops

The 'oldest' house in Deerfield

In 1890, C. Alice Baker, formerly active in the effort to preserve Boston's Old South Church, restored Deerfield's historic, but deteriorating, Frary House. While it is now believed that it was well into the eighteenth century before construction on the house began, C. Alice and her neighbors thought that Samson Frary, killed during the February 1704 French and Indian raid, had erected it in 1698.1 This misconception made Frary the oldest and most venerated house in town during Baker's time. What motivated early-twentieth-century sightseers to make the trip to Old Deerfield? Some of the most visceral reasons for its tourist appeal are revealed by 'Miss Miller' in comparing her own historic home (also the Blue and White Society shop), to the more ancient Frary House. "This house is a parvenu; it wasn't built until 1710," was the shopkeeper's response to a journalist's comment on her home's antiquity. Miss Miller continued, "A Deerfield house isn't aristocratic unless it antedates the massacre, you know. You see we are very proud of our three or four massacres, and blood curdling traditions. Our next door neighbor, the Inn where Arnold stopped--looks down on our modern establishment. It was built in 1698 and has a ghost! You must go over and see it after you've looked at some of our work here."2 The tradition that Benedict Arnold stopped at a Frary House tavern cannot be confirmed.

  1. Susan McGowan and Amelia Miller, Family and Landscape: Deerfield Homelots from 1671 (Deerfield: The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association), 1996, pp. 142-146.
  2. Pauline October Bouve, "The Deerfield Renaissance," New England Magazine October 1905,p.166.

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© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

Postcard of the Frary House, Deerfield

c. 1910

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