House Stories – The Miltimore-Husk House – 281 High Street

 

This Federal-style house was built in clip_image0041809 by the Reverend James Miltimore, first pastor of the Belleville Congregational Church.     The church, built in 1808, sits diagonally across High Street.    It cost him $2,400 to build the house at that time (An enormous sum in that day) but the Reverend made sure it was put to good use, entertaining and raising a large family.   He continued leading the church until 1836 when he passed on.  He also organized the Merrimack Bible Society, an organization that distributed bibles and gave religious instruction to the public.  The house stayed in the family until the 1850’s.    

 

In 1851, this house was owned by Andrew W. Miltimore.     This manclip_image002 was extremely important to the future of Newburyport when it came to annexing new areas to the City.    He was very active in settling the disputes arising from the annexation of the Belleville section of Newbury.     Miltimore’s widow moved  to 283 High and the main house was sold to Moses L. Hale in 1872.

 

In the 1920’s, it was purchased by the Husks who added adjoining properties and created extensive gardens covering one and three-quarters acres and is happily still mostly intact today.     They owned the property until 1956.   At that time it was purchased by Arthur and Gertrude Armstrong.

 

The east side of the property still has the double rows of stately pine trees that were part of the Worchester Memorial Hospital.     A large vegetable garden that extended into the neighbors property was on the east.

 

Bernard & Susan Heersink purchased the house in 1977 and have lovingly preserved the interior and exterior of the home including the beautiful landscaping and gardens.

 

Architecturally, the one distinctive part of the Federal mansion is the portico.    At a time when so many were replaced by Greek Revival styled versions, this building retains the original front entrance.     It is pedimented and supported by Doric columns.     They are attenuated (tapered) and quite delicate.

 

But the real distinction of this home is the landscaping in the back.

 

The Husks laid out a formal design of straight brick paths crossing at ninety degree angles with a gazebo in the very center.    They originally had annual and perennial beds shaped into a club or heart or diamond or spade but by the time the Heersinks arrived, it was just a wide yard expanse.     A garden house and a swimming pool are now in that area.     But the area is still bordered by walls of flame bushes, and a brick lane leading to the garden house is flanked by two rows of boxwood.    A long flower bed abutting the exterior of the row of bushes remains.    Old pear, apple and plum trees are about the property and rhododendron still edge the wooded areas of the lawn.

 

But the most impressive feature is a terrace at the top of the hill perfectly set for a view back to the house, the lawn and the Belleville Church steeple.      Standing there, the lovely view oozes with history and the loveliness of the neighborhood.

 

-P. Preservationist
www.ppreservationist.com

 

References:

 

J. J. Currier, History of Newburyport 1764-1905, Vol. I and II, reprint, Newburyport, 1977.

Assessor’s Records 1890-1980

R. Cheney, History of Merrimack River Shipbuilding, Newburyport, 1964.

1851 Plan of Newburyport, Mass H. McIntire

1872 Map of the City of Newburyport, Mass. D.G. Beers and Co.

1851 1871 City Directories

The 29th Annual Garden Tour Booklet, The Historical Society of Old Newbury, June 2008.

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