Watertown History

Historical Society Prepares to Move Back into the Edmund Fowle House

The $700,000+ restoration and renovation of the Edmund Fowle House has been completed.  Only a few minor issues remain.  The interior of the house has been restored to the 1775 period.  The shutters were chemically stripped and repainted green, as they were in 1872, and hung on the front of the house in October.  In November, the green paint began to exhibit white splotches.  It was thought that perhaps this was a result of the chemical stripper bleeding through the paint, possibly because it had not been allowed to dry completely before paint was applied.  The shutters have been taken down again and will be restripped and repainted.

We are still waiting for NSTAR to relocate the electrical feed from the pole in front of the house to a pole in the back.  We also await the arrival of period lighting fixtures that will be used to replace existing fixtures.

Though the restoration has been completed, there is still a short punch list of items that need attention.  This list will not hinder our plans to move the collection and our office items back into the house.


Since this picture was taken on November 2, 2007, the shutters
have been removed again to be restripped and repainted


In preparation for receiving our collection and other household items back into the house, a crew of Historical Society Councilors and volunteers got together on December 1st, 2007, to clean and reorgranize the basement.  A lot of renovation work has been done in the basement over the last two years, including installation of new furnaces, structural masonry work for the fireplaces, and electrical, plumbing and other work.  All of this activity created a lot of debris.  Cans of leftover paint for the work done upstairs are being stored in the basement so they will be available for touch-up work.  The rest of the shutters are also stored there, along with a lot of other odds and ends.  Everything was covered with dirt and cement dust.

That Saturday morning, six Councilors and five volunteers showed up to begin the cleanup.  Items were moved from one side of the basement to the other to allow for the floor to be swept.  Because there was so much dirt and cement dust on everything, the sweeping was just kicking the dust up.  Everyone wore face masks.  We ended up hosing the floor down with water and sweeping up piles of mud.  It was very dirty work!  We wish to thank Clare Murphy, Peter Connelly, Kathy Button, Bob Anderson and Philip Nemeskern for volunteering to help.


Clare Murphy helps sort through items in a room
in the basement of the Edmund Fowle House


We plan to move our collection and other items back into the house sometime in late January or early February.  Finding a place for everything could be tricky.  The restoration has eliminated a small storage room on the first floor (the restored kitchen fireplace now occupies this space), as well as our built-in bookcases in the former library, which is now the restored 1772 kitchen.  Our collections storage room on the second floor has been restored to its 1775 size, which is about 16 square feet smaller than it was before.


Marilynne Roach, Peggy Anderson, Philip Nimeskern, Clare Murphy,
Karl Neugebauer, Bob Childs and Peter Connelly amid the
swirling dust in the basement of the Edmund Fowle House


Unpacking the collection will give current Council members an opportunity to see exactly what is in the Historical Society's possession.  Many of our artifacts had never been seen by the group of Council members that packed up the collection during the early months of 2005.  The small collections room was so chock-full of artifacts that it was difficult to move around in the room.

Now that the Edmund Fowle House has been fully restored and will be open as a house museum, we plan to display more of our collections and show as much of it as we can using rotating exhibits.