Henry and Sophia Plimpton
In 1915 32-year-old Henry (Harold) and Sophia Plimpton built the mini-estate that is now 61 Burditt Avenue. The floor plan is an updated center hall colonial with a large living room and a dining room off either side of the center hallway, a library, and a sun porch downstairs. The Plimptons, however, were rather untraditional in their use of the home. They ushered in the “roaring twenties” in a home with no thresholds so their guests could dance the night away without tripping. A telephone system from the tennis court to the servant’s quarters allowed Henry to call for martinis after he and his guests finished their tennis matches.
The Plimpton home was designed inside and outside for guests and parties. There was a brick patio in the front of the house on the left side that wrapped around the corner to the back of the house. The backyard contained a fish pool surrounded with walk through grape arbors on three sides. In addition there was a summerhouse that had four open sides and a brick floor, just perfect for catching the breezes from the harbor. The sunroom was designed to be a three seasons room with double paned windows for warmth in late fall and hinges that allowed the windows to open for maximum cooling in the summer.
In 1915 the house had a fashionable Cole Street address with land that included the present house setting and tennis courts that today would be across Academy Lane. The neighborhood overlooked Hingham Harbor offering large lots and harbor views. The Plimpton’s “estate” also boasted an orchard, grapevines, a garage, a tool house, and extensive gardens.
The original servant’s area included a dining room, a sitting room, butler’s pantry, laundry, vegetable closet, flower room, and gas appliances.
After the stock market crash in 1929 the Plimptons were forced to sell the house (and let go of one of their three live–in staff). The house was advertised as a modern colonial with the charm of old featuring its open center hall, broad stairway, five fireplaces with mantels, and colonial-style paneling.
The son of the buyer in 1936 still lives in Hingham and remembers extensive gardens that needed constant watering and weeding; his mother making jam from the arbor’s many grapes and best of all the fish pool. His family did not have fish but used the pool for their young children. During the polio scares each summer he and his siblings were not allowed to go to the beach; instead, they could play in the pool.
Today this house is a beautifully decorated Colonial. The present owner has traveled extensively and the home has an Asian flavor with many unique objects from the East. In the 99-year history of this home there have been only three owners. The present owner has lived here the longest, over forty years, and has made some significant improvements. In 2005 the servants’ area was renovated by removing all of the small rooms to create a large state-of-the-art kitchen, breakfast bar, dining area, and playroom with spectacular views of the backyard gardens and the pool.