Willard House (Manse at Deerfield Academy)
Image Dimensions: 11.3 x 19.0 cm
Support Dimensions: none
This photograph was taken in 1892 or before by the Allen sisters, where a cropped version without the First Church of Deerfield (built 1824 and still standing) at far left appeared in the illustrated article Old Deerfield, written by Mary (Electa) Allen for the September, 1892 issue of The New England Magazine. (1.)
Purchased in 1811 by the Rev. Samuel Willard, the first Unitarian Minister in Western Massachusetts and dating to 1768, the home (or Manse-for parsonage) is now owned and used as the official residence for the headmaster of Deerfield Academy, a private boarding school in Deerfield, MA. (founded 1797)
The following description from the online resource Historic Buildings of Massachusetts appeared in 2008:
The building in Old Deerfield known as the Manse, or the Willard House, is a 1768 Georgian mansion that was at one time the home of Rev. Samuel Willard. An earlier house, constructed in 1694, was already on the lot when the land was sold by Samuel Allen, the grandfather of Ethan Allen, to Samuel Barnard of Salem. Barnard bequeathed the land to his nephew, Joseph Barnard, who built the Manse in 1768, spending thirteen years selecting wood without knots. The earlier gambrel roofed building became the current ell. The Barnards continued to live in the house until 1795 when, facing financial difficulties, Samuel Barnard moved his family to Vermont. In 1807, the house was rented to Hosea Hildreth, preceptor at Deerfield Academy, whose son Richard Hildreth, later author of a well-known History of the United States, was born in the house. In 1811, the house was bought by Rev. Samuel Willard, who had already been living there since 1807 and would own the house until his death in 1859. Dr. Willard was the first Unitarian minister in Western Massachusetts and entertained such visitors as Charles Sumner, Horace Greeley and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the house. Willard’s heirs sold the home in 1885 and it had other owners. Today it serves as the residence of the Head of School of Deerfield Academy. (2.)
A post card variant of this image with the title Old Deerfield. (Meeting House and Willard House) taken (perhaps) by the Allen Sisters but uncredited around the turn of the 20th century was published by the Trustees of the Village Room.
The present image most likely sold as a tourist souvenir of Old Deerfield by the Allen Sisters from their home/studio for .50 ¢.
print details: verso:
in graphite: Manse 50
FRANCES and MARY ALLEN. DEERFIELD, MASS. All Rights Reserved.
1. see pp. 33-46: Boston, MA: New England Magazine Corporation
2. Historic Buildings of Massachusetts website: blog post from Nov. 23, 2008