The Little Compton Historical Society has a long history of offering historic house tours. This year for the first time we are also offering a special Patron’s Brunch prior to the tour.
On Sunday, September 20, 2015 generous donors who have purchased a Patron’s ticket at either the silver or gold level will be welcomed at Wyndfield Farm, the home of Little Compton Historical Society Board President Dora Millikin. Patrons will be treated to a delicious brunch catered by The Westporter, self-guided tours of Wyndfield Farm, a ticket to the historic house tour taking place that day in Little Compton and a copy of the Historical Society’s new book “The Stories Houses Tell” that explores the history of each of houses on the tour.
Anyone interested in supporting the work of the Little Compton Historical Society is welcome to purchase a Patron’s ticket at the $100 or $250 level, and may do so in person at the Wilbor House Museum (548 West Main Road, LC, RI) by calling 401-635-4035 or visiting littlecompton.org. The brunch takes place from 10 am to noon and is immediately followed by the Little Compton Historic House Tour from noon to 5 pm.
Located in nearby Westport, MA with a breathtaking view of the Westport River, Wyndfield farm is home to a number of historic buildings including two that have recently been saved from demolition by Dora and her husband Trip.
Wren House, an impressive Federal-style home, is the newest addition to the property. Originally build in 1709 on Horseneck Road in Westport, the home was dismantled in 1835 and rebuilt as a larger Federal-style home reusing the same materials by the Frederick Allen family.
For most of its history the house was a quiet New England farmers’ residence, but in recent years it served as a movie set that included an explosive pyrotechnical scene that burned the home’s Victorian-era windows.
In 2012 the building was slated for demolition. Due to building codes the family that owned the building could not maintain its structural integrity for use as a commercial space. A demo delay ruling left just one month to find new owners who could move and preserve the building.
Dora and Trip Millikin came forward. They were given the house for free and paid a nominal fee for its cut granite foundation stones. They hired Steve Tyson of the Architectural Preservation Group to take the house apart in four quadrants according to the original timber and peg framing so that no beams needed to be cut. The sections including four original fireboxes and chimneys traveled on a flatbed truck to its current location on Wyndfield Farm. Each timber and plank had been numbered and were now carefully reassembled on the original foundation stones purchased by the Millikins.
The couple christened the building “Wren House” because a pair of wrens claimed it as their home during the reconstruction process. While planning this preservation effort, the Millikins were also given the Blossom Farm Barn from Blossom Road in Fall River. Timbers from this structure were repurposed to create a garage, a mudroom and a two story ell.
Visitors to the Wren House will see its early eighteenth-century summer beams, original pegged sheathing, hearths, exposed timbers, floors, and hardware. A great deal is known about the Wren House because of a Journal kept by Federick Allen Junior during its construction. The Millikins are now the proud owners of the journal and have enjoyed tracing the history of their new home.
Dora’s art studio is another rescued historic building on the property. It consists of a late eighteen-century barn made of American Chestnut and rescued from Depot Street in North Attleboro. Additions to the barn were made using timbers from an early house from Cranston, RI. The iron work used throughout the studio was created by Westport artist Tony Newton Millham of Star Forge.
Photos by Bart Brownell