Architecture

The Transformation of the Dwight-Derby House

In 1651, Timothy and Maria Dwight decided to move from Dedham, Massachusetts, to Medfield, Massachusetts. They were granted a twelve acre lot on the north side of town near the center. This land extended from North Street to Vinald Road to Dale Street and back to North Street. They located their house on the north side of Frairy Street overlooking a stream that later was was made into a mill pond now called Meetinghouse Pond. They built their house in 1651. It looked very much like the Peak House except it was a half floor larger.


PHASE I

Timothy & Maria (Lotten) Dwight

Maria Dwight died in 1668 with no children.

Timothy & Dorcas (Watson) Dwight

After Maria’s demise, Timothy married Dorcas Watson in 1669. They had three children, all sons. One died as a baby. During the King Phillip War, when the Indians attacked Medfield, Timothy was shot on his front porch. Six weeks later he died from his wounds.


PHASE II

John and Elizabeth (Harding) Dwight

The Dwight’s youngest child, John, inherited the property and an additional 335 acres that spanned from Medfield to Sturbridge. John Dwight married Elizabeth Harding in 1696 and they had eight children. During their marriage they doubled the size of the house to look like this. It’s possible they added a one-story kitchen ell, a lean-to roof on the back and remodeled the chimney. The expansive cooking hearth contains a beehive oven in the rear that predates 1720. After 1720, all beehive ovens were built on the side.

 


PHASE III

DDH Phase 3

 

Seth and Hannah (Fisher) Dwight

Seth Dwight, John’s and Elizabeth’s youngest child, married Hannah Fisher in 1740. As a wedding gift, John gave Seth half of what he owned: the east end of the house, his barn and land. Seth and Hannah modernized the house in 1760. They removed the old one-story lean-to and replaced it with a two-story addition and converted the front of the house to a Georgian style.

Seth’s children owned businesses. Their son Timothy was a physician and their daughter Patty’s husband, Jonathan Metcalf, was a merchant. Timothy sold his portion of the house to Patty’s husband and in 1797 Patty and Jonathan sold the house and 16 acres to Horatio Townsend to gain capital for their business.

Horatio Townsend, who now owned the house, married Ansits Green. They had five children, including a daughter Mary, and they built the barn.


PHASE IV

 

 

 

Mary (Townsend) Derby

Mary, the oldest daughter of Horatio and Ansits Green Townsend, married John Derby. They had two children: Sarah and George Horatio. John left the family in 1823 and Mary received the property from her father. Mary lived in the house for the next sixty years. She raised her two children there and took care of her mother and sister.

George Horatio Derby, Mary’s son, graduated from West Point and served in the Spanish-American war. When Mary died in 1880 George’s children inherited the property. The house was rented off and on for many years as it descended through the Derby/Black Family and, at one time, was split into different sections for multi-family use.

Edith and Theodore Baker bought the property in 1948 to be used as a vacation home. Shortly after they acquired the house Theodore died and Edith decided to make it her full-time home. She did extensive work to restore the home and property, which resulted in the house looking much as it does today.

The Dwight-Derby House was sold to the Harris family in 1963 and then sold to the town of Medfield in 1996. The town acquired the property to preserve it as an historic property to be used by the community.

Thanks to generous donations and grants from The Massachusetts Historical Commission and The National Trust we have been able to perform structural repair and interior restoration as well as eliminate a river in the basement.

Today, The Dwight–Derby House sits on a half acre lot in its original location overlooking Meetinghouse Pond. We would like to complete the interior restoration work, but we lack the funds. Please consider the Friends of the Dwight-Derby House for your next tax deductible charitable contribution. Thank you.