1850 – 1930

Eben Sumner and William H. Swasey and their wives bought the house at auction upon Captain Wheelwright’s death, in 1851.  Sumner and Swasey were partners in a grocery located on Market Square (today’s Dragon’s Nest toy store) and later moved to Water Street, into the current Bennett and Company building.

Swasey went on to become treasurer of Towle manufacturer  and a great local philanthropist.  W.H. Swasey paid for the William Lloyd Garrison monument, the YWCA building,  as well as the Civil War memorial in Atkinson Park.  His trust continues to fund projects today.

In 1857, Swasey moved next door to the newly built row houses, and later moved to a home on 44 Broad Street. Ten Spring street was sold to Messrs. Morrill and Wigglesworth, two local carpenters and builders.

Nicholas Brown Lake bought 8-10 Spring Street in 1860 from Morrill and Wigglesworth, and lived here.  He rented #10 and lived in #8.

In 1860 one of his tenants was Newburyport ship captain Stephan Bray and his Wife Elizabeth.  Elizabeth Bray accompanied Captain Bray on two of his voyages, which was very unusual in those days.  Her diary is here.

Nicholas Lake owned and operated a store at 12 State Street (site of today’s Valentine’s).

Nicholas was probably named after his uncle, Captain Nicholas Brown, brother of his mother (Lucy Brown). Captain Nicholas Brown has the dubious distinction of being identified as a captain of a slave ship based in Newburyport. He, and Newburyport ship owner Francis Todd, were accused of such by none other than William Lloyd Garrison.  That act of public criticism landed Garrison in jail for libel.

Nicholas Lake died in 10 Spring in 1900, having lived here for 40 years.  His will specified that his store, it’s contents, his home and all the contents be given to his housekeeper of 16 years, Lucy D. Nelson.  The will was contested by Lake’s daughter, but upheld.

Nicholas Lake’s grandson, Harry Moody, lived in nearby Amesbury until he died on 20 December 1963.

Lucy Nelson lived in 8 Spring, and rented out 10 Spring to a Mr. Thurlow, the janitor at Old South church on Federal Street.

Lucy died in 1918, a spinster, and the house was sold by her lawyer nephew from New Bedford – apparently her closest relation.

Occupants during Lucy Nelson’s initial period of ownership included:
Sarah Nelson (mother) and Arthur Gyngell (lodger)
in #10: The Edward Perkins family: Elloa (wife) and children Ephraim, Everett, Julia, and Alice.

In 1910, in addition to Lucy, 8 Spring Street was occupied by Ruby Archibald (Lucy’s grand niece), Edward Bickford (nephew), Laura Bickford (niece) Augusta Bickford (sister) and Carrie Reed (lodger)

#10 was occupied by Daniel Turlow and his daughter Edith.  Daniel was the janitor at Old South, and a  piano repairer. His daughter taught music.

By 1920, Daniel continued to occupy #10, with a boarder: William Whiles.

#8  was rented by Augusta Bickford, her son and daughter (Edward and Laura), and five child boarders: David Howard (age 5), Charles Lemaine (age 6), Gloria Howard (age 8), Charles Fuller (age 2) and Charlese Fuller (age 5).

The carriage house was converted to an apartment; #6 Spring street was occupied by Joseph Farrington.

By 1930, Farrington, and his wife Mary, continue to live in #6.  The Askinas family (Abe and Ida, and children Sam, Harold, and Lillian) lived in #8.

In #10 lived John Norris, his mother Drusilla, his sister Ella Currier, aunt Ida Ball, nieces Evelyn and Marjorie Currie, and nephew Leslie Currier.


1789 – 1850: The Wheelwright Years

After leaving the infantry, Wheelwright became a privateer for the colonies until the end of the war.  During the years of 1777 through 1784 he sailed annually to the Caribbean, and participated in numerous sea battles. He was captured three times, and escaped all three times to fight again.

During the early years of the United States, Captain Abraham and his brother Ebenezer used their knowledge of West Indian trade to establish a profitable trade network from Newburyport, and owned several ships. In 1789, he bought the newly built house at 10 Spring Street (built by Samuel Noyes). In 1798, as a member of the Newburyport Marine Society, he and several other prominent Newburyport merchants and sea captains oversaw and financed the building of the USS Merrimack, leased to the United States Government for its fledgling navy, at the same time that the USS Constitution was built.  Wheelwright was also a director of the Newburyport Woolen Manufactory, one of the first wool mills in the country, and helped found the first Newburyport Library, and the Newburyport Bank (now the Institution for Savings).

By the first decade of the 1800s, Abraham and Ebenezer Wheelwright were among wealthiest men in Newburyport, and owned a significant amount of the port city, including Merchantile Wharf (just east of the Firehouse), and Merchant’s Row – the ferry wharf building (which still stands)  and the buildings behind it.  In the 1800s, Ebenezer’s son, William, became a famed industrialist in Chile.

In 1806, Captain Wheelwright built a new home at 77 High Street (now known as the Wheelwright-Richardson home) near his brother’s home (now known as the Ebenezer Wheelwright home) on High street.  In between stands the Stocker-Wheelwright home, bought by William in the mid 19th century.

The Great Newburyport fire of 1811 destroyed most of the Wheelwright holdings, and the War of 1812 was an economic disaster for Captain Wheelwright. He sold the High Street mansion in 1813 and moved to 9 Fruit Street.

His son, Jeremiah, lived in 8-10 Spring Street starting in 1806.  He also was a captain, and in 1830 was lost at sea in a wreck off the coast of Norfolk Va,  Around that time Abraham moved back into Spring Street.

Around 1835, his daughter Rebecca Wheelwright March Clark moved to Spring St, probably around the time her mother died, to take care of her father.  At that time, we suspect,  the house was divided into two, numbers 8 and 10.  Thomas March Clark and Rebecca had  lived on Green St. (today it’s the Clark-Currier Inn); their son was the Rev Thomas March Clark, Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island. Rev March Clark was also a pastor at Boston’s Old South church and St Paul’s church, and Christ Church in Hartford, CT.

Other direct descendents of Abraham Wheelwright include G.W. Wheelwright, III, co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation, John Tyler Wheelwright (founder of the Harvard Lampoon), and Edmund March Wheelwright (Boston architect of the Longfellow Bridge and many other Boston buildings.)

Abraham and Rebecca Wheelwright had 11 children. 1850 was a difficult year for Rebecca March Clark, her husband dying in the spring (March 30) at the age of 79, and her father dying in the fall (October 4th) at the age of 93.  At that time Abraham was the oldest person in Newburyport.

The house was sold at auction in 1851.

Wheelwright Research