North Swansea, MA 02777
Open: June 10-October 31 on Sundays only, 1-4 pm
Other times by appointment. For more information please call 617-742-3190.
Group tours may be arranged
Directions: From I-95 in Providence, go eastbound on I-195 to Exit 2 in Massachusetts marked Warren and Newport. Bear right off ramp. At first stop light turn left onto Route 6 east. Martin House is 1/2 mile east at Stoney Hill Road. Traveling westbound on I-195 (from Route 24 and Fall River) take Exit 3. Turn right onto Route 6. Stoney Hill Road is the first left after passing the U.S. Post Office. Ample parking is provided.
The Martin House Farm is a rare example of an 18th and early 19th century farm which still retains the character of its original setting. It consists of the house, two barns and cultivated fields surrounded by dry stone walls and woodlands.
The home was lived in continuously by members of the Martin family for over 200 years. In 1930 it was given to The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The Commonwealth of Massachusetts by Susan Taber Martin Allien, an eighth-generation Martin and a member of the New York Society of The Colonial Dames. In 1979 the Martin House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, an official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.
John Martin (b.1674) purchased 63 acres of undeveloped land in 1715. Sometime between this date and 1734, when his son Benjamin was born, the house was built. The original house consisted of a one-room dwelling with a loft above and an outside chimney. A lean-to, added in the rear, was the first expansion. In 1814 Holden Martin inherited the property from his father and enlarged the house to create an eight-room cottage with a center chimney, a gambrel roof and an exterior of weather-stained shingles and white trim. In the late 19th century an ell was added at the rear. The design of the house has not been altered since that time.
The present parlor was the original one-room house. The corner posts and wide-board flooring are original, and a portion of the summer beam is exposed. The fireplace woodwork is a later addition.
This historic house is furnished with a number of Martin family pieces and with Mrs. Allien's collection of American and English antiques. Of special interest are a rare upholstered side chair with its original leather covering, a wainscot-paneled chair of English Jacobean style and a provincial Queen Anne style armchair with rush seat, turned legs and Portuguese bulb stretchers.
A half-tester bedstead (pictured at left) and three flat-tester bedsteads (ca 1750-1820) are dressed in documented bed hangings made of reproduction fabrics, handsewn by members of the Colonial Dames. Worth particular notice is a fine collection of hooked rugs and samplers. In addition, the spinning wheels and loom (pictured below) are used for demonstrations.
The 1814 kitchen retains its original fireplace with iron crane and is equipped with appropriate cooking utensils and a bake oven on the side. A Martin family musket and powder horn hang above the mantel. Also on display is a collection of pewter.
The barns have recently been restored. The hay barn is used by the farmer. The older stone barn provides exhibition space and a venue of special events.
One of the notable outreach projects at the Martin House Farm is the Living History Program. Each year all Swansea fifth graders are welcomed in tours of the house conducted by trained Swansea high school students. The student docents wear accurate period attire and engage the students in discussions and activities relating to daily life during the 18th century.