1810 home of Lyndeborough’s first physician restored
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LYNDEBOROUGH – Probably around 1810, Dr. Benjamin Jones, the town’s first physician, built a little brick house in Lyndeborough Center, one of only two brick houses in town.
He was born in Ipswich. Mass., and had moved to town in 1772. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were the parents of 10 children. He died in 1819.
According to the town history of 1905, it was the first and only house on the site.
In 1905, the house was owned by George Spalding and his wife Eliza, a granddaughter of Dr. Jones. Spalding replaced a hop house with a large barn and raised Ayrshire cattle.
The most recent owners were Bill and Shirley Stephenson.
The little house has survived a great deal in 200 years, including four fires in 1909, 1932 and 1940, and the latest one last year, which destroyed the attached barn.
“The fire didn’t do much to the inside of the house,” current owner Ed Kutschman said, “but there was a lot of smoke damage.”
Kutschman, who lives across the way on Center Road, acquired the house last fall when it was sold at auction.
Asked why he had bought it, he said, “My wife JoAnn says I thrive on stress. I like, not chaos but things going on around me. My neighbor Doc (Richard) Roy said he had just the project for me. I looked at it and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ On the first walk-through my thought was, ‘Get a bulldozer,’ then I thought there was potential. It wasn’t falling down. Once we got through the dirt and the smell (of the smoke), I said, ‘Let’s take a look at it.’”
The more he learned about the house, its history, the people who had lived in it, “the more I found out what it is all about, (saving) it was just the right thing to do. Everything will be up to code and whoever buys it will have an old house that is brand new.”
The parts that are old include the exposed beams and three shallow fireplaces, each supported in the cellar with a brick arch. The white paint is being removed and the bricks will be sealed.
Kutschman will leave the fireplaces “in a way that a new owner can make them usable,” he said, “I’m not going to spend that money, but that will be up to a new owner.” In the meantime, they will be lovely with a gas log.
There was likely a fourth fireplace in the kitchen since there is a support for one in the cellar, he said. It was probably removed when the kitchen was modernized at some point in the past.
The wide floor boards on the first floor, he has learned, are the very desirable pumpkin pine. Long covered with carpeting, they will “refinish wonderfully,” he said. Upstairs in the two bedrooms, the floors are also pine and will also be refinished.
“The floors will be out of this world,” Kutschman said. “One of the most exciting things for me was seeing those old pine floors.”
What’s new will be a totally insulated house. The interior walls were removed – a lovely scenic wallpaper in the living room could not be saved. “There were layers and layers of wallpaper,” he said.
When the wall boards were removed, they found the walls stuffed with magazines from the 1940s, including copies of Life. One workman also found a “big penny” from the mid-1800s.
Also brand new is an upstairs bathroom with washer/dryer hookups. It replaces a small bedroom at the top of the stairs. A downstairs bathroom was completely redone.
The kitchen will be all new, with white cabinets with black granite, he said, “JoAnn chose it. It should look like a real doll house.”
Work still to be done includes fixing the roof, removing the remains of the attached shed, landscaping once the snow is gone, and “a lot of cleaning up to do.” He is hoping to be finished by late spring.
Much of the work is being done by local carpenter, Wally Holt.
Kutschman and his wife are owners of Pyramid Steel Services.
“We are specialty sub-contractors replacing construction steel,” he said. They have operated in New Jersey since 1984.
“We live in Lyndeborough, work in New Jersey, (it’s) just great,” he said.