Watertown History

Edmund Fowle House Restoration Project 2005 - 2008

The Historical Society was awarded $500,000 in 2004 to undertake the restoration of the Edmund Fowle House.  In 2006, another $200,000 was awarded for completion of the project.  The photos and information below document the progress of the restoration.  Click here to view background information on the project.

The following photos show the Fowle House pre-1896, circa 1900 and in 2004, respectively.


The Edmund Fowle House before 1896


The Edmund Fowle House circa 1900



The Edmund Fowle House pre-restoration in 2004


Click here to learn about the initial study phase of the restoration project.


Views of the two rooms on the northwest side of the second floor looking toward the
front (left) and back (right) sides of the house after removal of the wall that separated them

Click here to learn more about the Fowle House during the Revolutionary War.


A student from the North Bennet Street School carefully removes elements from
a bathroom added in the late 1800s (left); dendrochronologist Michael Worthington
takes a core sample from a newly-exposed joist in the dining room on the first floor (right)

Click here to learn more about the discovery of the original plan of the second floor and a dendrochronology study that was undertaken to determine the year when the Edmund Fowle House was built.


View of the corner of the second floor of the Fowle House where two bathrooms were
located (left); two porcelain claw foot bathtubs were removed from the bathrooms (right)

Click here to learn more about renovations that were made to the Fowle House beginning in the 1870s.


Marilynne Roach, Joyce Kelly and Paul Brennan in front of the construction site (left)
after the porch on the southeast side of the house was removed; some of the
brickwork under the doorway (right) will be repaired

Click here to learn more about the additional restoration work that was made possible by funds from a $200,000 grant awarded to the Historical Society in 2006.


Paint was stripped off of the clapboards, some of which needed to be replaced, while others were
repaired and put back (left); the discovery of a cistern (right) in the back yard caused quite a stir

Additional renovations to the interior of the Fowle House, as well as work on the exterior that began in October, 2006, led to additional, exciting discoveries.  Click here to learn more about the cistern in the back yard, a third fireplace on the second floor and the actual age of the house.


The right-front parlor fireplace with plaster fill (left) and after reconstruction of the brick firebox (right)

Reconstruction of the brick firebox for one of the parlor fireplaces (see photos above) was completed by Spring, 2007, as work on the house's other fireplaces continued.  Details about the position and shape of the kitchen fireplace mantel, the style of the cap molding used above wainscoting and the colors of walls and trim were revealed, as layers of paint and plaster continued to be peeled away.  Invoices and other gems from the Massachusetts State Archives helped to give context to the renovation project.  Click here to learn more.


The original kitchen was used as the Historical Society's library (left); the bookshelves covered
the location of the cooking fireplace, which has been restored (right)

By mid-2007, restoration work on the Fowle House was nearing completion.  The original kitchen had been returned to a 1772 appearance, and fireplaces in the original kitchen and Council Chamber had been restored.  Work on the exterior of the house, including painting and installation of brick walkways and an ADA ramp, had been completed.  Click here to learn more.  The shutters were reinstalled on the windows by October, 2007.  Landscaping work was completed and the process of applying finishing touches, such as selecting and installing light fixtures, was underway.  Click here to learn more.


Historical Society Councilors and volunteers helped clear the basement of dirt and renovation debris

The Historical Society prepared to move back into the Fowle House in early 2008.  The renovation work resulted in a net loss of storage space, making careful planning for the return of the Society's collection of artifacts to the house a necessity.  Volunteers undertook the dirty job of cleaning and reorganizing the basement.  Click here to learn more.


The Historical Society's collection was returned to the Fowle House and
unpacked, as shown in these pictures of the South Parlor

The Historical Society moved back into the Edmund Fowle House in early February, 2008.  Click here to learn more.


The ribbon was cut on the newly-restored Edmund Fowle House in May, 2008

The Watertown Historical Society invited the public back into the Edmund Fowle House during an Opening Day celebration on May, 17, 2008.  Participants in the event included not only Historical Society Councilors and volunteers, but State Senator Steven Tolman, over 50 colonial reeanactors and members of the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society.  The Edmund Fowle House is now open for tours the third Sunday of every month from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.  Click here for more information.


The Edmund Fowle House post-restoration in July, 2008