The Old Freeman House

Old Freeman House, Gloucester, 1928 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin
The Davis-Freeman house, built in 1709 on 17 acres, is a first period colonial house located at 302 Essex Avenue (Route 133). It’s named after owner Charles Freeman, a descendant of eighteenth century Gloucester slaves. For many years the house served as a tavern on one of the two roads into Gloucester before 1950. From the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s, the Freeman house was the Stage Coach Inn, a restaurant serving lunch, tea, and dinner: “In this old tavern – one of the earliest – you’ll enjoy our hospitality and delicious food in an atmosphere of the old stage coach days.” The photograph below shows owner Harriet Johnson in the doorway of the house. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Freeman house is owned by Wellspring House, a Cape Ann organization assisting families and individuals to become financially self-sufficient.
Harriet Johnson, 1928 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin

Printed from the original 5×7 inch film negatives in my darkroom. Image #A8557-063 (house), and A8557-061 (Harriet)
Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

10 thoughts on “The Old Freeman House

  1. Still standing, I guess? If so, I hope someone will post a present day photo of it. I’ve probably been by the address a thousand times. Wonderful photos here!


  2. My understanding is it was built in 1649, by retired sea captain of no historical reference but allegedly his name was John Smith–It was in its first machination his residence and a stage coach house. Our parents Dick and Winnie Bell bought it around 1942 from the Keffers,( who ran it as the modern Stage Coach House)they bought it from a German gentleman named Poole-He was the restoration artisan woodworker who bought it in severe disrepair(picture above-turn of the century)after Hadie Johnson the last descendant of the Freeman had died–Her father was allegedly part of the Northern Railroad as was the house. Winnie and Dick are still alive –working towards their 70th Anniversary and 90th and 100th Birthdaze respectively,they sold the house in 1978 to Richard Chevoor and partners –they intended to create a LaDeeDaaa restaurant but when their backer the Black Senator from Massachussettes,Edward Brooke got into n trouble-They sold it to The WellSpring Group around 1981–It was an amazing gift in my life to have grown up living in it–til my senior year in high School-when my mom and dad who had spent 30years doing their own continue restoration care bought an equally amazing home on the water cross town in 1971–they held on to it and supported the creation of the Stage Coach Gallery and Books–The used book store was the creation of our local talented author and Antiquarian Marine Expert Gregor Gibson


  3. My mother and father (Dick and Winnie) bought the house with seven acres in 1942 for 7,000$. We sold the property in 1978 to Richard Chevoor (a business partner of Black US Senator Ed Brook) who intended to open a ladedah restaurant.
    The Freeman house was built in 1649, (our understanding, based on restoration (previous owner Poole’s research, 1920’s) originally a four room – lodging house.
    Haddie Johnson, was the daughter of a freed/escaped slave who took the last name of Freeman…the house was in rough condition as it served as part of the “Northern Railroad” in the mid 1800’s allegedly.


  4. This is Richard Chevoor. While I knew Ed Brooke he had nothing to do with my purchase of the house. I bought the house with two of my uncles and my partner. To reiterate I was never a partner in any venture with Senator Brooke.


  5. I just looked this house up because I was reading my grandmother’s history that she compiled and she says in her book that her ancestor “Sylvester Eveleth or Eveleigh built the house in 1648 and who had considerable tracts of land in West Parish and was granted a license to operate and maintain a public house.” She goes on to state that it was called “the old Freeman house and in more recent times “Stage Coach Inn.” It also states that “before 1730 it passed into the hands of a Rust and then a Stanwood from whom it was bought by a freed slave named Robin who became Robin Freeman and it remained in that family until the last of his line died in 1928 or 29.” I could totally have the wrong house but a lot of info matches.


  6. I just received more information from my relatives about this house and also some pictures and old newspaper articles. My relative, Sylvester Everleigh, was a shipbuilder so that would maybe explain the above reference to a retired sea captain. Some of the old newspaper articles also state that the house was constructed in 1648. The article also states that the house was purchased in 1932 by Peter J. Keffer who did a major restoration on it. It goes on the state that the house was purchased in 1943 by Richard Bell, a manufacturer of sportswear. I do not have the last page of the article which was in the Boston Sunday Globe dated August 1, 1963. I also have another copy of an article from the Globe dated October 28, 1928 which states that either Sylvester or his son actually built the house.


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