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319 North Street

319 North Street

Thomas Lincoln House, 319-321 North Street
Ca. 1650

Thomas Lincoln the Cooper came to Hingham in 1635, probably from Dorchester, MA with his young wife, Avith Lane, and her brothers, George and Andrew, a shoemaker and a feltmaker, respectively. The families received grants of land on Town (North) Street near Beal Street. Unlike most of their East Anglian bred neighbors, these newcomers were originally from England’s West Country, and spoke in a markedly different English dialect.

According to various sources, Thomas’s house is the oldest in Hingham, and was moved to this site from South Street. No evidence exists to prove or disprove these claims, but the framing methods and woods used are typical of the 17th century. Framing evidence also suggests that Thomas’s house was originally a one room structure tucked into Mars Hill, which once projected further out into North Street.

Later generations expanded the little house, adding first to the side and then above and back, into the hill. A curious result of those improvements was the relocation of the kitchen to the second floor rear in the early 1700s. That meant the new cooking fireplace had to be squeezed into an existing chimney stack.

In 1810 Barnabas Lincoln, Sr. sold the eastern half the house to his son-in-law Moses Humphrey, officially establishing a two-family residence. In later years, one half of the house was occasionally unoccupied, but as several of the Lincoln women were widowed young, the empty half of the old homestead often served as a haven until they were on their feet again. The last Lincoln to live here was Horace, who passed away, nearly penniless, in 1939. After that the house was converted to a single residence. The Thomas Lincoln house is being properly restored and updated by Wilcox Corp. of Hingham, and will again house two families.

A mid 1800s photo looks out at 319-321 North Street from the northwest, to the backs of the houses on South Street beyond. The marsh between the two streets, which is today overgrown with trees and bush, appears to have been carefully tended and irrigated in the nineteenth century. Note the many outbuildings attending each house—they indicate a community where agriculture is a key part of the economy. Photo courtesy of the Hingham Historical Society.

 

 

 

A photo of the Thomas Lincoln House taken in the early 1900s. The more fashionable two over two windows have replaced the six over six windows seen in the older photograph. A later homeowner would bring back the six over six windows, probably to restore a more colonial look. Photo courtesy of the Hingham Historical Society.

 

 

Eight generations of Lincolns lived in the Thomas Lincoln house, and the man pictured here, Benjamin Stowell Lincoln (1811-189?), was among the seventh. Benjamin and his wife Mary (Anderson) raised nine children there. Benjamin had become a sailor at the tender age of eight, and survived a shipwreck in 1852 at the age of forty-one. This may have been the reason he switched to the rather safer occupation of shoemaking in his later years. In his retirement, Mr. Lincoln cultivated and sold a variety of fruits in a small orchard on the hill behind the house. The writer of his obituary (affixed to his photograph with yellowed tape) recalled that his pears were especially favored. Photo courtesy of the Hingham Historical Society.

 

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