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Avery Homestead

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Avery Homestead
Avery Homestead is located in Connecticut
Avery Homestead
Avery Homestead is located in the US
Avery Homestead
Location 20 Avery Hill Rd, Ledyard, Connecticut
Coordinates 41°27′07″N 72°02′49″W / 41.45194°N 72.04694°W / 41.45194; -72.04694Coordinates: 41°27′07″N 72°02′49″W / 41.45194°N 72.04694°W / 41.45194; -72.04694
Area 22 acres (8.9 ha)
Built Circa 1696
Architectural style Colonial
NRHP reference # 92001614[1]
Added to NRHP December 14, 1992

The Avery Homestead is a two-story Colonial-style home in Ledyard, Connecticut that was built circa 1696. Evidence suggests that the house may have begun as a single-story, one-room house and later expanded to a two-story, two-room house by 1726. The house underwent major additions and renovations by Theophilus Avery and later his grandson, Theophilus Avery. In the mid-1950s, Amos Avery began a decade-long restoration effort to return the house to its 18th-century appearance. The Avery Homestead is historically significant as a well-preserved example of an 18th-century farmhouse with fine craftsmanship. The home is also historically important because more than twelve generations of the Avery family have resided there over the course of three centuries. The Avery Homestead was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.


The Avery Homestead is located on the west side of Ledyard, Connecticut and faces south on Avery Hill Road. The house overlooks 100 acres (40 hectares) of stone-walled pasture land that extends south to Stoddards Wharf Road. The two-story house has a shed to the immediate east and a two-story barn to the southeast. Past the barn is a farm pond that is located in a small valley formed by Billings-Avery Brook. The brook extends west for a mile (about 1.6 km) before joining the Thames River.[2]


The Avery Homestead is a two-story Colonial-style house that is believed to have been originally constructed around 1696. The main block of the house is built in the double cube of the Georgian style. It is unknown if the house originally began as a one-room one-story house with the original structure having been on the current east-end of the main block. The expansion and alteration of houses in this way was common in Ledyard and tool markings and different fenestration patterns are supporting evidence for this theory. The strongest evidence is the pitsaw marks found on the chimney girts in the hall and parlor, exposed framing and sheathing has markings consistent with a water-powered up-and-down saw. It is certain that the house had achieved its two-story and two-room appearance by 1726 due to its parlor being used as a meeting room for church services. Further evidence in the construction of the fireplace flues which indicates that the main block of the house was completed prior to the American Revolution. Around 1780, the main house was extended by 5 feet (1.5 m) in the rear during a two-story addition that gives the house a slight saltbox appearance. This changes were made while under the ownership of Theophilus Avery. Around 1870, under the ownership Theophilus Avery's grandson, also Theophilus Avery, the original kitchen ell was removed from the building and became a separate building to the east of the house. The new and present ell that was constructed served as an open shed until 1965 when it was converted to a shop and office.[2]

The framing of the house is unusual because it has "longitudinal summer beams extending from the end girts to the chimney girts in both the hall and the parlor. Corner and intermediate posts are flared in gunstock pattern. The walls are sheathed with vertical planking except in the attic gables, where the planks are laid horizontally, alternating the taper. Framing is cased in the parlor and exposed in the hall, where the summers are adzed and roughly chamfered."[2] The attic construction is conventional with equally spaced rafters that have mortise and tenon joints at the ridge. This type of construction indicates that the conventional principal rafter or purlin framing may not have been used in Ledyard during that time.[2]

The low granite block foundation of the house is more exposed on the west side of the house, allowing for a full-height door exiting from the cellar. The stone stack supports four fireplaces that each support the hall, hall chamber, parlor and the cellar. Also there is a smoke chamber in the stack in the attic. The original kitchen, now in the hall, features a large fireplace with bake oven in the rear wall of the firebox. The attic once housed a large loom that was later moved down to the west side of the cellar.[2] Amos G. Avery, who owned and restored the house prior to its 1992 National Register of Historic Places listing, removed an 1871 Victorian balustrade on the front staircase installed by the second Theophilus Avery.[2]

The main barn is oriented on a north–south axis and has a conventional bent framing and sheathed with vertical boards. It is believed that the addition of a cupola with a hip roof may have been a later addition to the barn. Photos dating from 1870 confirm its age, but the date of construction for the barn cannot be determined, but it may date from the 18th century. The former ell of the house was converted in a shed and dates to around 1780.[2]


More than twelve generations of the Avery family have resided in the Avery Homestead.[3] The original house was constructed about 1696 by William Morgan, around the time of his marriage to Margaret Avery. The two were descendents of James Morgan and James Avery respectively. The house passed to Deacon William Morgan Jr. who used the house to conduct church services from 1726, when North Groton became a separate parish, and lasted until the completion of a meetinghouse. Deacon William Morgan Jr. sold the house to John Wood in 1745. Nine years would pass before it would be reacquired by the Avery family in 1754. Theophilus Avery, the first, owned the house from 1757 to 1798. The second Theophilus Avery possessed the house from 1852 to 1880.[2] Amos G. Avery acquired the house in 1946 from his father.[4]

In 1970, Amos Avery donated 100 acres of land to the Mashantucket Land Trust and kept the surrounding 40 acres. Amos Avery also restored the house to a "more or less" 18th-century appearance through a decade-long restoration effort. The restoration effort began in the mid-1950s when he poked a hole in the ceiling and felt the molding, spurring his desire to see what was underneath. The ceiling was removed and the room was restored and then it moved to the next room. Avery removed plaster off the fireplaces, replaced the wide floor boards and replicated the wainscotting.[4] Upon Amos Avery's death in July 1998, aged 96, the house passed to his oldest son Edward. Many historical artifacts were put up for auction, including 12 wicker baskets of Mohegan or Pequot origin, which were bid on by the Mashantucket Pequot Museum.[5]


The Avery Homestead is historically significant as a "rare survival of a late-seventeenth and early eighteenth-century farmstead, a significance enhanced by the exceptional integrity of its rural setting. The picturesque interrelationship of the house, farmyard, and outbuildings, which is set off by the broad sweep of the associated pasture and crop land, is especially evocative of eighteenth-century lifeways."[2] Believed to be the oldest building in Ledyard, the Avery Homestead is marked by its fine craftsmanship and state of preservation. The Avery Homestead is also historically important due to its ties to the Avery family. The Avery family has owned the house for three centuries save for a brief nine-year period, from 1745 to 1754. The Avery Homestead was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[1][2]


A historical plaque awarded to Avery indicates that it is the oldest house in Ledyard and states its date from 1720, but evidence suggests it to be older.[2][4] This plaque was part of a statewide funded campaign by the State of Connecticut for the 350th anniversary of the state's founding. Disagreements over the program were widespread due to the difficulty in dating the homes by craftsmanship and the lack of documentation to prove it. Ledyard recognized the Avery Homestead because of the documentation possessed by Amos G. Avery.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cunningham, Jan (1992). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form — Avery Homestead" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ Kimball, Carol (November 19, 1998). "Ledyard Historical Society's Latest Volume introduces some of town's first families". The Day. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Collins, David (April 18, 1986). "He watches over family homestead". The Day. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  5. ^ Dufresne, Bethe (October 6, 1998). "Avery auction will clear out house from top to bottom". The Day. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ Collins, David (March 16, 1986). "Old homes are tricky". The Day. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
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