The Old Dodge House, State and Harris Streets, The Snow Collection, The Museum of Old Newbury (Detail)
William and Dana Dodge, who were brothers, built a beautiful double house around 1846 on the corner of Harris and State Streets. William and his wife Ruth had no children, Dana was married to Abby and they had a large family. Dana manufactured and sold carriages on Liberty Street, tragically died in 1873, at age 56 of a compound fracture of the leg and pneumonia, leaving debts and his wife and children.
Ruth, Abby’s sister-in-law, bought Dana’s side of the house with all the belongings. Abby and her children were forced to move out to 2 Harris Street, a smaller house behind the large Dodge House on State Street. Ruth and William rented out Dana and Abby’s side of the house in 1874, with Dana and Abby’s furnishings, the ad says “The house is in first rate order, containing eleven furnished rooms. Gas throughout, a good furnace and every way fitted for a genteel family.” It seems that over her lifetime Abby went to live with different sons and outlived them all except one. Abby Dodge died in Haverhill, living with her youngest son John in 1907. She is buried along with her husband and other members of her family at Oak Hill Cemetery.
It was decided that the YMCA would be built on the site of the Dodge House. In 1889 the Dodge house was moved, with its chimneys, to1-3 Garden Street where it exists in its altered form today as apartments. The large “Old Liberty Tree Elm” was cut down to move the house and to build the new structure.
“The moving of the Dodge house from State to Garden street was a lesson for building movers in this city. Nobody ever saw a large building so easily and quietly moved. It was not necessary to take down the chimneys, and had a family been living in it ethyl would have found no need of moving out. We don’t think a loud word was spoken, but every man had a place and knew what and when to do, and even the horses were like trained animals that knew the master’s voice and delighted to obey.” – August 23, 1889
The YMCA was completed in 1891, it was destroyed by a fire in July 1987. On May 6, 2001, the newly expanded Newburyport Public Library opened and exists today at the corner of Harris and State Street.
History and research by Mary Baker Eaton with many thanks to the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center for all their help in researching this story and to Jack Santos for helping me figure out where the Dodge House was moved to.
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More information about Newburyport and its history can be found on the interactive history map, “Newburyport – Keeping the Story Alive.”
Solve The Dodge House Puzzle
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