image of 1881 Danvers Mirror article about Nichols home

Danvers Mirror




Sometime ago we gave a description of the Spring firm and his new stone mansion, to be placed in a box in the corner stone of that palatial dwelling, and said that Mr. Spring occupied what was once known as the "Prince farm." This farm originally extended from Mrs. Woodman's house (now the home of John G. Whittier, northwesternly across the Newburyport Turnpike to a point in front of the dwelling house of Andrew Nichols, Esq., he owning some fifteen acres of its northerly corner, and being to-day the only descendant of Robert Prince (who bought in 1655) now owning any part of it, this part never having been owned outside of Prince's descendants, though for over one hundred years owned by the Nichols family, children and grandchildren of Elizabeth Prince who married John Nichols; and we should judge, from a recent visit to what the Georgetown Advocate terms the “Swiss Villa” of Mr Nichols, that he has no idea of allowing it to pass outside of the family during his day.

A few days ago, in company with visiting friends from Salem and from Maine, we made a call at the cottage among the pines at the corner of Newbury and Preston streets, occupied by our friend Andrew Nichols, the civil engineer, who when asked last fall what he was doing to his house? replied that, he was building on an ell, as he found after nearly twenty years' trial that his house was too small for the wants of his family, --now consisting of ten persons. We were met by the proprietor on his broad steps, and escorted in. We noticed in passing the portal that it was of the peculiar construction common among the ancient shop doors of Salem, opening in two parts, upper and lower, the upper being of diamond shaped glass, which admitted good light to the broad airy hall, and when open gave free circulation to the air. In the place of the call bell is a knocker, not of the ancient brass pattern as is the door latch, but an invention of his better half, made of a large horse-shoe. In the hall to a broad and easy flight of stairs of quartered oak with panel work, leading to a broad, landing lighted by three windows placed together, from which are seen from the lower hall the tops of the tall white pines of the grove back of the house, which at a distance give a fine background to the building. Upon this landing is an old English clock, with silvered face, which has been telling the time to different members of the Holyoke family for over 150 continuous years; also a chest or drawers of the old black mahogany, with the ball and claw feet, --a family heir-loom. In the hall is an old eight-legged table with an old-fashioned chair on either side, and above these hangs an old oil painting, done on panels, of the Lord's Supper.

Over the wide doors to the spacious parlor hangs a coat-of-arms of the Appleton family of Ipswich, made by Margaret Appleton, a great-great-grandmother of its present owner. Upon the walls of this room hang the portraits of seven generations. All the furniture of this room, with one or two exceptions, has been doing good service for a long time in the family. The open fire-place and chimney showing in the room, all of brick, displays many handsome patterns from the yard of S. F. & J. A. Gray, and the flue mason work of F. A. Flint of Middleton. The floor of the room has a border of maple, cherry and sycamore; the finish all of brown ash on first floor, of a style original with this building. The library, which is also the office of Mr. Nichols and where he draws his plans, and transacts the legal business of the neighborhood, opens from the parlor, and one entire side is a case containing a thousand volumes, old and new, many very rare, and some, including an old bible, were printed prior to 1580. Here is a claw-foot desk once the property of Deputy Dutch of Salem, the drawers of which are well filled with abstracts of deeds, mostly relating to property and titles in Danvers which Mr. Nichols has made from the Registry of Deeds, among which are all the deeds given or received by the Putnams (which number over three thousand), also all of the Porter, Pope, Page, Fuller, Tapley, Hutchinson, and other large families of Danvers, to which he can readily turn in examining titles.

The house contains nine finished chambers on the second floor, above which is a large attic where the children have “such fun.” From its seven large windows a fine view is obtained of the surrounding country, from the mountains of western Massachusetts to the sea off Salem and Swampscott. From here is seen the Plains, Fort, Salem and Marblehead, in one continuous line. His son Andrew, who inherits his grandfather's (Dr. Andrew Nichols) love for the various branches of natural history, has quite a sizable collection of specimens in geology, ornithology, etc., which he is arranging in a large glass case in the portion of the attic allotted to him.

Mr. Nichols has made many plans of houses built by others, and made all the plans and attended to the construction of this “house of seven gables;” and as he wished to have a house unlike any other, we think that he has accomplished his object, and so well is the old and new blended that it is hard to tell where old and new unite. In the basement is a kitchen and large dining room for summer use, with a large arched fireplace. Opening from this, outside the walls of the house and under the stairs to his front door, is an 8-horse steam boiler which he finds from this past winter's test to be ample to heat a house twice as large. The outside is shingled with fancy sawed shingles (done by his boys in their summer vacation) down to the second floor, then clapboarded. Nathan T. Putnam did the carpenter work, H. McGaughlin the stone, Frank Flint the brick, Charles F. Aiken the plastering, Sylvester Trask the painting, George H. Little of Peabody the steam piping, and Caskin & O'Connell the plumbing.

Master Ralph Hood, while on a loft in the stable feeding pigeons last Monday, slipped and fell some twelve feet to the floor, jarring him considerably but breaking no bones.

William P. Hathaway of Marblehead, while returning to his home last Monday night between eleven and twelve o'clock, was waylaid and murdered and thrown into a brook near his home. No clue to the murderers is yet obtained.

A disgraceful fight took place last Sunday evening near the gas house at the Port, between two men who had been indulging in something stronger than water, one of whom received a pair of black eyes and a scratched face, while the other had his nose badly bitten. Officers Crowley and Meade got wind of the affair and hastened to the place, but before their arrival the combatants were separated and taken away by their friends.

Charles W. Hood was thrown from his bicycle on Tuesday near the iron mills by running over a dog, and severely sprained his left wrist and left elbow. He was going at a high speed and the large wheel went over the canine but the small wheel following gave him the grand bounce. He would still have saved himself somewhat in landing had not one foot caught to the spokes of the large wheel, which wrenched out a half dozen or more of them.

[Scanned into computer, and converted to text, 6/2/2008 by Sandy Nichols Ward]