Video – Houses Through History Ep004

Jonathan Fairebanke

Today I want to tell you a story about the Fairbank family.

Jonathan Fairebanke was born in 1594. He was an English man. A colonist born in Yorkshire, England. In 1633 at the age of 39 he immigrated to New England.

Jonathan and his wife Grace came to America with their family, arriving in Boston. They lived in Boston for several years before finally settling down in Dedham, Massachusetts.

They were one of the first settlers in the area and very influential in creating the town. He was granted 12 acres of land in 1637 when he was accepted as a townsman.

That same year he built the house known today as the Fairbanks house, which is the oldest surviving wood framed house in America.

The house is believe to have evolve over time to what it currently stands. The beams of the house have been scientifically tested and determined to be from 1637–1641.

It is believe based on stories and documents passed down through family that the beams, bricks and windows were imported from England. The home has been added on to over the years, but as it currently stands has some interesting features.

The front entry is greeted by a stair that takes you to the second story of this structure. Guests would have been greeted to the right and brought into the living room where the main focus of the room would have been the centrally located fireplaces.

The fireplace is a main element of the home and very prominently located in the center of the home. Often described by Frank Lloyd Wright as the heart of the home.

Backing up to the Living room is the kitchen. The back to back fire places served as the heating for the home but also as the main cooking source. A Brick oven was built into the side of the fireplace. I would assume this would be a luxury to have during this time.

The kitchen was sized so that they could eat in the kitchen. Towards the back of the home there were two rooms. They are built at a slightly higher level than the kitchen and living room. A hall was built to the West and a parlour to the East.

As their family grew they added an additional Parlor and Bedroom to the East, with an additional mudroom off the south. The home is a perfect example of a mid–17th century home that is still standing today.

Jonathan died in 1668 at the age of 74.

The home has been passed down from generation to generation. There has never been a mortgage on the property and it has never been sold. That is amazing to me considering all the events that families go through over time.

One hundred years after the death of Jonathan, Jason Fairbanks was born. The story surrounding Jason is an interesting one and rather sad. If you enjoy researching history you might find his story interesting.