Built in 1783, this is said to be the oldest house in Bennington, NH. It was constructed by Joseph Putnam, the first settler of European descent. Putnam, from Wilton, NH, had purchased the land along the river with the dream of building a grist [flour] mill and a saw mill powered by the falling water. After building the mills, he milled boards to construct his house. Within the year, his wife and children joined him there.
The style of the house is a Cape Cod, a common building of the early days. It features a full main floor and a half-story above. Originally, it would have had a center chimney. The size of the house made it relatively easy for one man to build. On the ground floor, there would have been a kitchen/great room and a bedroom. The upper floor, accessed by a ladder, would have been an unfinished loft for food storage and the sleeping space for children. In time, stairs would be added and the loft would be finished into rooms.
In an upstairs closet of the Putnam House, the floor includes a board made from a “King’s Pine,” a tree of great height and girth that had been marked as property of the King of England for the purpose of being made into masts for the British Navy. Early settlers, before and after the Revolution, cheerfully cut down these trees (illegally), to use for building their houses and to tweek the nose of the British. One might presume that this board is all that remains of wide boards once seen throughout the house.
Originally, the house stood on Main Street, where the Pierce Elementary School stands. The building has been moved twice and is now located at 12 School Street, between the Bennington Garage and the Bennington Fire Department. In the late 1990s, it housed a series of restaurants, most notably David’s and The Red Maples. The interior of the building has been changed many times. The house is again a private residence and is not accessible to tourists.
This is the blog of the Bennington Historical Society in Bennington, NH.