Spalding House

The Spalding House with its wealth of history is currently being restored to the way is was last inhabited in 1907 (current projects).  The house was originally the Moses Davis Inn, which was often used by bargemen traveling the Merrimack River with their goods from 1760-90.  2010 marked the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Spalding House.  The Spalding House Garden is currently in its design phase. In 2011, Spalding House Park was constructed behind the house connecting the yard to the Merrimack River.

Plan your visit to Spalding House Park!

Property address: 383 Pawtucket Street, Lowell

Parking: Parking is located behind the Spalding House

Access: Property is open to the public for passive recreation

Spalding House Park was constructed and is managed by the City of Lowell and is located behind the Spalding House.  The park was dedicated on September 29th, 2011, with special guest Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. The Trust is grateful to the City of Lowell and the Lowell National Historical Park for helping make this connection between the Spalding House and the Merrimack River a reality! The park provides access to the Merrimack River with a view overlooking Pawtucket Falls. 

Get Involved!

Volunteers play a critical role in helping us care for and monitor our properties. If you would like more information about any of the properties or would like to volunteer as a land steward, please let us know (978)934-0030. Action projects, in addition to regular site monitoring, on this property could include:

  • Basic Landscaping
  • Gardening
  • Litter Collection

 

Current restoration projects

Interior Restoration- The interior of the house will soon be restored.  We are currently in a phase of strategic planning and fundraising.  Your membership support is appreciated.

To view the Spalding House Restoration Fact Sheet (PDF): Click Here

HOUSE DESCRIPTION

The Spalding House (circa 1760) is known for its rich colonial history (pre-industrial), located at the epicenter of Lowell's rich cultural and environmental past.  Among other interesting historical facts, the house is valued for its environmental history with its proximity to Pawktucket Falls, which allowed it to be used lodging by people traveling down the Merrimack River.  From approximately 1760-1790, bargemen would stay at the house then known as the Moses Davis Inn, while making their portage around the nearby falls.

RESTORING THE PAST ~

PRESERVING THE FUTURE

The Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust received the Spalding House from the Molly Varnum Chapter of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution (DAR) on November 22, 1996. The Trust’s ownership begins the fourth stage in the evolution of the Spalding House’s use. Davis Inn - 1760 to 1790 Robert Hildreth built the Spalding House on 10 acres of land that he purchased in 1758 from Joseph Tyler, Sr.. Hildreth constructed a five-bay center entrance house that he then sold to Reuben Hamblet in 1761.

Between 1760 and 1790 ownership of the house changed eight times. During most of this period, the house was known as the "Davis Inn", after Moses Davis who was either owner or proprietor of the house for at least half of these first 30 years. The Inn provided lodging for barge workers transporting goods up and down the nearby Merrimack River. The house was expanded by two bays; a second chimney was added; and the second floor main hall with a swingdown partitioning wall was constructed.  To view a brochure of the home's first 30 years (1760-90) (PDF): Click Here. To view the Spalding House Tours, step by step guide for volunteers (PDF): Click Here.

Spalding Family Home - 1790 to 1906

Joel Spalding purchased the house on October 6, 1790. Spalding was a 48-year- old widower and the first of three generations of the Spalding family to live in the house. Joel had two children Jonathan, age 15, and Phebe, age 10. His first wife, Phebe Tyler, had died during childbirth ten years earlier. Six months after moving into the house, he married Rebecca Cary. Jonathan inherited the house when his father died in 1823. He then passed it on to his two children, Joel and Sarah, who were born in the house and lived in it their entire lives.

The Spaldings made some alterations to the house, including the addition of the Italianate-style hood over the front door and a small porch on the back of the house. Interior photos, taken in the early 1900s, show elaborate Victorian wallpapers and duct work for a central heating system.

DAR Chapter House - 1906 to 1996

The DAR purchased the Spalding House from Mrs. Henry Lambert who purchased it on behalf of the DAR in April 1906 from Miss Sarah Spalding. The house’s association with three soldiers who had fought in the Revolutionary War held a special appeal to the DAR who was looking for a place to display its growing collection of colonial artifacts.

The DAR began an immediate restoration of the house to expose its colonial features. They uncovered old fireplaces, reopened old doors, and restored the second floor lecture hall. For 90 years the DAR held its regular meetings, hosted teas, staged plays, and distributed scholarships and citizenship awards. When membership in the Chapter declined in the 1980s, the DAR began looking for another local organization to assume ownership of the house and to continue to operate it as a museum.

LP&CT - 1996 to the Future

When the DAR first approached the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust to discuss its taking ownership of the Spalding House, we were hesitant. The Spalding House presented a major challenge to our young organization’s finite resources. Our board of directors recognized, however, that unless they stepped forward a significant cultural resource in the city of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley would be lost. The house’s historic connection with the Merrimack River and the transformation of the landscape around house, from a rural colonial settlement of East Chelmsford to urban-industrial Lowell, fit with the Trust’s mission to educate people about change in the urban environment.

The Trust will use some of the 900+ artifacts given to us with the house for exhibits about the house’s history and the history of environmental change in the city of Lowell. Exterior restoration is the first of four phases. Work remains to be completed on the surrounding landscape, interior rooms, and use of the house’s artifacts to interpret the house's history.

 

Many thanks to our supporters & funders: