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47 Fearing Road

47 Fearing Road

47 Fearing Road

47 Fearing Road has been home to leading citizens of Hingham for much of its history. Originally located at 31 Main Street, where Carolann’s is today, it was built in 1785 for Samuel Norton (1743-1832), a wealthy watchmaker and trader of local products, who lived there for almost fifty years. Descended from John Norton, second minister of Old Ship Church, Samuel Norton was a Hingham native and a deeply involved citizen.  He served as town clerk and local magistrate and was a representative to the General Court 1795 to 1797.  Norton married Jane Andrews and had three children. During these years, much of Norton’s business probably was conducted out of the home, making the location on Lower Main Street ideal.

From 1840 to 1850, a sailor named Captain Nathaniel Whittemore owned the property. His wife, Sophia, was a Hingham girl. She brought with her to the house a spectacular Baroque sugar box made of silver that had been passed down in her family since the late 1600s and now resides in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Sophia was herself a distant cousin of former owner Samuel Norton.

By 1860, David Harding (1796-1874) had purchased the house; he lived there until his death in 1874. A founder of the Hingham Institution for Savings and the Hingham Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Harding was also a local leader. Harding’s final year was not a happy one. His 18 year old grandson and his wife both died that year in the house. His son, Henry Clay Harding (1832-1899), inherited the house and succeeded his father as treasurer of the Hingham Institution of Savings. Henry Clay Harding was also a trustee and treasurer of the Derby Academy and president of the Hingham Cemetery Corporation. After 1899, his widow, Helen Maria (Stowell) Harding remained in the residence until 1915.

In 1930, Dr. Ross Vroom purchased the property, moving it in 1933 to its current address on Fearing Road, which was then a new extension of Cottage Street. Occupying 2,074 square feet, the building is in classic Federal style with a balustrade around the roof, large windows and prominent portico.

A view of the Samuel Norton house as it looked on Main Street, c. 1870

A view of the Samuel Norton house as it looked on Main Street, c. 1870. Photo courtesy of Jane and Vcevy Strekalovsky