Clement Weaver-Daniel Howland House
Clement Weaver – Daniel Howland House
House pictured in 2009 from Howland Road
|Location||East Greenwich, Rhode Island|
|Architectural style||Traditional saltbox design|
|Restored by||Norman Isham; Larry Schneider|
|NRHP Reference #||95001266|
|Added to NRHP||November 7, 1995|
The Clement Weaver-Daniel Howland House is a historic stone-ender timber frame house built in 1679. This rare example of primitive 17th-century architecture is located at 125 Howland Road in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. It is the oldest documented dwelling house in Kent County and the second oldest home in Rhode Island.[page needed]
Clement Weaver, a native of Newport, Rhode Island, built the house in 1679, after fighting in King Philip's War. His descendants sold the house to Daniel Howland in 1784. Daniel Howland was a grandchild of Henry Howland, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1624. Henry was the younger brother of John Howland, one of the original Mayflower Pilgrims of 1620. In the early 20th century, Norman Isham, a prominent architect, restored the house. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Larry Schneider, a general contractor specializing in historic restorations, restored the home in 1996.
Clement was a son of the Weaver family who moved from Glastonbury, England, to Newport, Rhode Island. Clement Weaver was one of fifty veterans of the King Philip's War of 1675–1677 given large parcels of land in what was then a barren outpost now known as East Greenwich." This made Clement one of the town’s original grantees. Clement Weaver and his young wife Rachel Andrews moved in the winter of 1679 to his 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land "by the sea," where he built the house only two years after the official founding of the town of East Greenwich. His home remains a rare and unique architectural showplace.[page needed]
Clement Weaver's family of eight children grew up in this little farmhouse. His son, Joseph, succeeded him with his own family of four. Up until the mid-19th century, several generations of Weavers had run the old White Horse Tavern (no longer standing) on Division Street in East Greenwich. This tavern may have been related to the White Horse Tavern of the same time period in Newport, Rhode Island. Three descendants of the original Clement Weaver served during World War I.[page needed]
In 1784, Daniel Howland purchased the home from the Weavers. Daniel Howland was a Quaker and chaplain during the Revolutionary War. Daniel willed the house to his son Daniel and his wife, Philadelphia of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The home remained with the Howlands for nearly two centuries. This home has had only six owners since it was built, 328 years ago.[page needed]
While most of the outbuildings have since disappeared, there remains a building that was originally a horse barn. After the Hurricane of 1938, this barn was converted into a smaller barn with an attached two-car garage. From the street, this building still retains its older look.
The house was at first a one-room plan, one-and-a-half stories high. The walls of the house were constructed using wide vertical boards over a post and beam structure. Norman Isham’s drawings indicate four additions were made to the house prior to 1712. About a year after it was originally built, the first addition was a one-story lean-to along the northern side of the house. This was to become the original kitchen. This lean-to was brought up to the height of the original house in 1681 to create two garrets above with a center chimney and entry. The chimney of stone and homemade brick was never exposed on the outside end of the house. Another lean-to was built along the back (western side) of the house to create the traditional salt-box shape remaining today.[page needed]
Well-known historic architect Norman Isham was commissioned by the Howlands to restore the Weaver farm house in the 1930s. The Howlands donated the restored home to the Society for Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA, now Historic New England) as a memorial to Daniel Howland. During Isham's restoration, workers found the original builder had used seaweed for insulation.[page needed]
The first lean-to addition was the first room restored during Isham's 1930's restoration. The entirely restored room presents an excellent picture of a 17th-century residential interior in Rhode Island. This room contains two of the original square-shaped, single casement, leaded glass windows. These windows were carefully restored and re-hung where originally located to provide some of the best evidence available of 17th-century windows. The room retains the huge fireplace surrounded by many of the original hand-planed, feather-edged, vertical pine boards, along with batten doors with wooden latches and strap hinges. The ceiling is exposed oak beam and both the floor and ceiling above are wideboard.[page needed]
The last 'original' addition of a single-story kitchen ell with a stone-end chimney of its own was made about 1712. These particularly constructed chimneys were later referred to as "Rhode Island Stone-enders." Only a couple of these chimneys survive. The ell was built off of the southern wall of the keeping room. This latest kitchen has an enormous fireplace with a small oven. There is outside evidence of an original beehive oven which may have either fallen or been removed.[page needed]
The keeping room of the original house is its largest room and has an impressive system of framing with its original posts, girts, and exposed summer beams of solid oak and chestnut. The ceiling is exposed beam. The wide board wall sheathing was at some point covered with plaster as it remains today. There is also a very early corner cupboard opposite the enormous fireplace. It has what appears to be the original, planed, single plank, batten door along with two hand-wrought, butterfly hinges. The oak chimney trees (fireplace lintels) throughout the home are enormous as well as completely petrified. This author's own observation, far less than scientific, would indicate that based on the size of the trees used in construction as well as when they were installed, would make much of the wood in the house close to a millennium old.[page needed]
The sheathed entry hall between the keeping room and the older kitchen contains a rare "split" staircase. To one side the staircase contains six steps while the other contains seven. These staircases were built at different times to reach the garret above the older kitchen. The older kitchen is now called the “museum room” because it was the first to be restored and has been structurally maintained as original as can be. Stairway sheathing was carefully cut on a diagonal to facilitate the moving of furniture. All of what appear to be the original vertical boards are still there.[page needed]
The Howlands willed the home to SPNEA to be restored and opened as a museum. Correspondence maintained by (formerly-named) SPNEA, indicates the home was returned to Mrs. Howland when it became too expensive for the organization to maintain. It is believed that the rest of the house was then restored by Isham for its new owners in the 1930s.[page needed]
The home contains six fireplaces. Both the kitchen and museum room have fireplaces almost ten feet wide and five feet tall. The museum room fireplace has a round top oven built into the back wall. Both garrets (bedrooms) above each possess a fireplace. The room currently being used as a dining room has a smaller fireplace believed to have been appropriated for the heating system exhaust.[page needed]
The southern wall of the main house retains several original clapboards preserved when the 1712 kitchen ell was added on. These original hand-riven clapboards appear to be made of oak and have been feathered and lapped while being fastened to the vertical sheathing with large, hand-wrought nails. One must go into the eaves behind the garrets and walk into the attic space above the kitchen ell to view these clapboards.[page needed]
An addition was built off the back of the kitchen which sits perpendicular to the main house. This addition follows guidelines of both the U.S. Dept of Interiors’ Restoration Standards and the local historical board of review. While ‘modern’ in design, the room was built in such a way that it could be “unzipped” from the original house. The guidelines specify additions constructed on a historically significant house must be done in such a way as to reflect the present period style to avoid confusing future historians as to when the addition was actually built.[page needed]
The recent non-fiction book Killed Strangely by Elaine Crane indicates Clement Weaver served as a juror in the murder trial of Rebecca Cornell from the family of Cornell University fame. The book includes information from Jane Fiske’s edition of Rhode Island Court Records, and a photograph of the "museum room" fireplace as a comparison to the home Cornell was murdered in.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Kent County, Rhode Island
- List of the oldest buildings in Rhode Island
- Downing, Antoinette (1937). Early Homes of Rhode Island. Richmond, Va: Garrett & Massie.
- Weaver, Lucius Egbert (1928). History and Genealogy of a Branch of the Weaver Family. Rochester, NY: Dubois Press.
- McParland, Martha (1960). The History of East Greenwich 1677–1960.
- Official website
- Schneider, Larry. "General Contractor for Weaver House Restoration". Archived from the original on February 3, 2011.
- Website for descendants of Clement Weaver
- Weaver DNA Project (Haplogroup R1b Lineage VI)
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. RI-46, "Clement Weaver House, 125 Howland Road, East Greenwich, Kent County, RI", 19 photos, 9 measured drawings, supplemental material