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1126 Main Street

1126 Main Street

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John Gardner House, ca. 1715

This 300-year old farmhouse has been a quiet witness to the history of “Liberty Plain,” the southernmost Hingham village, settled by the Gardner, Whiton, and Loring families in the mid-17th century. The Gardner family was one of the earliest to settle this area—John Garnet, or Gardner, came to Hingham from England in 1650 and received a land grant in 1656.  His many descendants lived and farmed along Main Street and what is now Gardner Street for over two centuries.

The principal crops raised in this area were Indian corn; wheat, rye, oats, and barley for food; hemp and flax for clothing; and apples for cider. John Gardner was not affluent: his estate upon his death in 1669 totaled £44, including “the Goats that have been sold to pay debts and maintain the family.”  His widow, Mary, remarried into the Chubbuck family, which also had settled Liberty Plain, and in 1692, she conveyed a small portion of her property to the third of her five sons, James.

James Gardner was at that time 33 years old, married, with three children.  While we have no written record of the date on which the earliest construction occurred on this lot, it is reasonable to assume that the land was conveyed in order to allow James to build his family a house and that he did so immediately.

An old light-burned site map shows the house (left) and outbuildings for 1126 Main Street in the early 1900s. Main Street runs north and south along the left side of the map. The outbuildings (to the right) in New England farms usually included, among others, barns, chicken coops, ice or spring houses, creameries, tool sheds, granaries and of course, outhouses.

An old light-burned site map shows the house (left) and outbuildings for 1126 Main Street in the early 1900s. Main Street runs north and south along the left side of the map. The outbuildings (to the right) in New England farms usually included, among others, barns, chicken coops, ice or spring houses, creameries, tool sheds, granaries and of course, outhouses.

The lots around James’ small lot were owned by his mother and brothers and later his nephews and cousins, who presumably farmed together.  James’ own small plot was inherited by his son Nathaniel and grandson Noah before being absorbed into the larger holdings of their Gardner relatives.

In the late 18th and early 19th century, Solomon Gardner held title to a large farm, which included James Gardner’s former house, which Solomon doubled in size.  Solomon Gardner’s handsome gravestone can be viewed in Liberty Plain Cemetery, a few blocks north on Main Street.

In 1934, Luigi Marchesiani purchased the farm.  Together with his brother, James, who lived across the street, the Marchesiani family also farmed the land—renamed Pushcart Farm—for the rest of the 20th century.  The last of the Marchesiani farmlands is now preserved by the Town of Hingham as the 25-acre “Marchesiani Parkland,” to the immediate south of the house. For a time after the Marchesiani’s left 1126 Main Street, a commercial laundry was operated out of the barn. Some of the equipment can still be seen there.

1126 Main St, the James Gardner House, around 1970 before the recent additions. Note the grape arbor in the background to the right.

1126 Main St, the James Gardner House, around 1970 before the recent additions. Note the grape arbor in the background to the right.

 

This hand-drawn map by historian Julian Loring indicates the property divisions of the sparsely populated upper Main Street in 1715. In contrast to the steadily shrinking amount farmland Hingham experienced throughout the centuries, the site was farmed continuously for over 250 years.

 

Open through the late 1990s, the Marchesianis’ farm stand provided produce grown across the street, on the last remaining tract of the old Gardner farm.

 

View of the farmlands that once belonged to 1126 Main Street. Visible in this photo are some of the stone walls that once divided the various fields.

View of the farmlands that once belonged to 1126 Main Street. Visible in this photo are some of the stone walls that once divided the various fields.

Photo: Courtesy of the Hingham Land Conservation Trust

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