By Cary Shuman
There’s plenty of history at the Deane Winthrop House, the town’s most famous landmark, located at 40 Shirley Street.
And now there’s a space to store Winthrop and Improvement Historical Association (WIHA) artifacts and documents on the site, thanks to a new addition built directly behind the barn of the Deane Winthrop House property.
David Hubbard, town historian and former town moderator said the association will use the space for historical research projects, monthly dinner meetings for members, to compile publications, and to reach out to the community with educational programs relating to local history.
“We’re going into the schools and teach the students about the history of our town,” said Hubbard, who has written 350 articles on the town’s history for the Sun-Transcript. “We want to keep the history alive for the people of the town.”
The Deane Winthrop House is the oldest continuously occupied residence in the United States. Deane Winthrop was the youngest son of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts. The house was erected circa 1637, and Deane Winthrop lived there from 1647 to 1703.
Paul Ferrara Sr., owner of Paul Ferrara and Sons General Contracting of Winthrop, and his team of employees built the new addition that is in keeping with the historical character of the adjoining Deane Winthrop House and barn.
“The work he [Ferrara] has done is outstanding,” said Hubbard. “The outside of the building has been done in the same style as the existing barn. Everything in here – the heating system, the lighting, the plumbing, the fans – is first class. The new building is handicapped accessible.”
According to WIHA member Frank Costantino, chairman of the grounds committee for the Deane Winthrop House, the project was completed after a series of study drawings, site reviews, approval by the Winthrop Planning Board, and design by architect Edward Porzio and was funded through the WIHA.
“The original concept for building an addition was started 15 years ago,” said Hubbard. “We looked at several suggestions about building an addition and this is the end result. We’ve very pleased with what has been done, and I commend the construction team.”
Ferrara said he enjoyed working with the members of the association during the planning stages and the three-month construction project.
“We’ve done multiple jobs for the association and Frank Costantino has been instrumental in the planning and design work here, and I think he deserves a lot of credit,” said Ferrara. “It’s important for us as a company to maintain the integrity of the building, and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
Ferrara, whose company is in its 35th year in business, said Dan Gray of Gray Electric and Streeter Plumbing performed work as part of the overall project. “I think the entire project went off very nicely and it was pleasure working with the association,” said Ferrara.
Ferrara said his two sons, Paul Jr. and Michael, and the company’s lead carpenter, Fred Jewett, also contributed excellent work throughout the construction phase.
“Fred is the finest craftsman I’ve ever seen,” said Ferrara. “My two sons are equally as gifted.”
Tours of this famous residence can be made on appointment with the caretaker or with David Hubbard.