The Curious Case of Mistaken Identity
Myths & Legends about the Parson Barnard House
After three hundred years of existence, perhaps the most surprising story about the Parson Barnard House is that during a significant time span, the true origins of the house were obscured by misidentification and inaccuracy.
For a century or more, from the publishing of Abiel Abbot’s History Of Andover in 1829 until the late 1950's when Abbot Lowell Cummings was asked to examine the house, the Parson Barnard House was believed to have been built by Simon and Anne Bradstreet in the late 1660's to replace their home that had been destroyed by fire in 1666. Their son, Colonel Dudley Bradstreet supposedly lived in the house until his death in 1702.
Sarah Loring Bailey, author of The Historical Sketches of Andover, published in 1880, was born in the so-called "Bradstreet House" and in her definitive book she tells how Dudley Bradstreet while living in that home, struggled against the Witchcraft Frenzy overtaking Andover. According to Bailey, in that same house, Colonel Bradstreet and his family were dragged from their home by "forty savages" and forced to watch the burning of their neighbors' homes during a snowstorm in March, 1698. None of this ever happened in what is now known as the Parson Barnard House.
What is true is that Colonel Dudley Bradstreet once owned the "little pasture" where the Parson Barnard House was built by William Barnard in 1715.That fact is the only actual link to the Bradstreet family. The ownership line from 1715 on can be clearly traced and contains no Bradstreets.
How did the legend of Mistaken Identity happen? Watch the video below to learn more.
The Parson Barnard House
Celebrating 300 Years (1715-2015)
A key to our history
For three hundred years the Parson Barnard House has stood across the road from the original Burying Ground, close to the Old Center, and parallel to Court Street, the town's oldest street. Generations of townspeople identify this simple farmhouse as an important part of North Andover's identity and our country's history.
In the 1950's this significant structure, a fine example of transitional architecture between the Colonial and Georgian periods, was purchased by the North Andover Historical Society. After thorough research and expert restoration the Parson Barnard House was opened to the public by the Society.
School programs ranging from elementary through high school come to the Parson Barnard House to see a still-existing part of American History and learn about life in past centuries. The North Andover Garden Club has created an herb garden on the grounds and has used the house for New England Decorator Showcase events. For many years a Harvest Day Festival was held in October. Since 2002 the Parson Barnard House has been part of the Essex County 17th Century Saturday Tours. Visitors to the Parson Barnard House view four different time periods in American History represented by the four rooms on the tour.
On Saturday, September 5, 2015, the North Andover Historical Society celebrated the 300th Birthday of the Parson Barnard House. On a beautiful September day over 100 townspeople came together for proclamations, skits, poems, music, and cake all to honor a beloved icon of North Andover history.
A north andover icon
The Parson Barnard House, restored and preserved by the North Andover Historical Society, has become an iconic symbol of North Andover. Just as the Adams Houses identify Quincy, and the Liberty Bell denotes Philadelphia, the Parson Barnard House represents North Andover to many townspeople and visitors.
The iconic image of the yellow farmhouse has appeared in many forms during the past years. The 1994 Historical Quilt created by members of The Council on Aging features a patchwork of the Parson Barnard House. In the booklet about the quilt Mary Kezarjiian is quoted "I drive by this house every day on my way to work: it reminds me of the original settlers of the area."
In the mid-nineties, The North Andover Historical Commission sold canvas bags featuring the Parson Barnard House as part of the 350th Anniversary of the Town. In recent years, wooden house replicas, tee shirts, throws, postcards and Town Reports have all displayed the iconic image which is now an integral part of North Andover history and tradition.
a 300 year history
1714: Reverend Thomas Barnard purchased what was known as Colonel Dudley Bradstreet’s “little pasture” for eighty pounds and began to build a home for his family. Thomas Barnard died in 1718 and bequeathed his house and land to his son the Reverend John Barnard.
1719: Reverend John Barnard became the new minister and moved his family into the house built by his father. He stayed as minister and lived in the same house until his death at the age of sixty-seven.
1757: Reverend William Symmes became the fifth minister of the North Parish and moved into the 'Parson Barnard House” in 1757. His tenure as minister coincided with the Revolutionary War and the beginning of a new nation. Reverend Symmes' second wife, Susanna Powell, was a wealthy widow from Boston who encouraged and paid for improvements to the original house, including the paneling in the east room.
1808: John Norris, a wealthy Salem merchant, purchased the Parson Barnard House to use as a summer residence and country retreat. It is believed that Mr. Norris constructed the existing carriage house for his guests.
1818: Schoolmaster Simeon Putnam came from Rutland, Massachusetts to be the preceptor of the Franklin Academy, located on Academy Road. Students of Franklin Academy also boarded with the Putnams.
1831: William Lovett of Beverly bought the house from Simeon Putnam.
1834: The birthplace and childhood home of Sarah Loring Bailey, author of Historical Sketches of Andover, published in 1880. Miss Bailey retells the myth of Anne Bradstreet and Dudley Bradstreet ownership in her book.
1950: The North Andover Historical Society purchased the house which was commonly known as the Bradstreet House. Careful tracing of deeds and wills proved that Anne Bradstreet had died almost forty years before the house was built. The Society made the decision to research the actual history of the house and the first four owners. In 1957 the Parson Barnard House was opened to the public.