Stephen Cushing, a descendant of Matthew Cushing, who came to Hingham in 1638, originally built this house in 1751. Stephen was a farmer, a Selectman from 1761-1766, a captain in the Militia and a soldier in the Revolutionary war. Stephen’s granddaughter, Mary Cushing, and her husband Gorham Lincoln resided at 156 East Street during the 19th century. The property remained in their family until 1894; therefore, this house is frequently called the Cushing-Lincoln House.
A house can hold many secrets; just ask the current owners of 156 East Street. In the early 1940s the owners were trying to blow insulation in between the siding and the walls, but the job was taking too long. After investigating they found a secret room filled with insulation that had been built around the central chimney with access only from the third floor. When the insulation was removed only one item was in the room, a pair of leg irons.
This room was obviously built by the original owner, Stephen Cushing, however, it was most likely not for protection or hiding. It was common in the 1700s to have a room around the chimney so that the space would get warm and heat all three floors in the house.
The current owner found Rocky Nook Tea Room stationery printed with a picture of the house. Rocky Nook was the name of this section of town. The stationery likely belonged to Gertrude Edmands, a well-known opera singer, who owned the house from 1894 to 1943. It is known that Miss Edmands was a contralto who sang professionally in touring companies and in Boston productions, but what is not known is did Miss Edmands run a tearoom? In the early years of Miss Edmands ownership she used the house as a summer home. The Hingham Journal frequently reported when Miss Edmands was in town and when she was leaving.
The more recent homeowners have thoughtfully preserved many of the home’s original features, including distinctive pumpkin pine panels, which were revealed after 8 coats of paint were hand stripped. The ceiling in what was once a dirt floor shed attached to the summer kitchen was removed to show rustic milk-painted boards forming the inside of the roof. The kitchen has an enclosed well which is used today as a pantry in the summer and a second refrigerator in the winter. The third floor bathroom has a wooden toilet, a copper tub and sink. There are three sets of stairs; all with worn treads that let you know this home has a long history.