Directions to the Thomas Riggs House - the oldest existing home on Cape Ann

the oldest house on Cape Ann



Thomas Riggs purchased the squared-log house, one of only three surviving in Massachusetts, for his bride Mary Millett in 1661. Three adventurers, the Wakeley brothers and Mathew Coe, built it sometime during the 1640s or early 1650s. On the southern peninsula of Annisquam Harbor, the house looks across to Gloucester's earliest successful settlement of Annisquam. It was an ideal site for ship chandlery (repairing and provisioning vessels) in the protected harbor and for farming. Amazingly, the pasture between Thomas Sr.'s house and that of his son Thomas Jr. (1690) survives to this day.

Thomas Sr. was town clerk for 51 years, selectman for 20, a representative to the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Gloucester's first schoolmaster. Many of Gloucester's early records are in Thomas Sr.'s hand.

When Thomas Sr.'s youngest son Andrew married Mary Richardson in 1704, a single-storey cape was added to the log house. In 1753 Andrew's youngest son George built the gambrel roof, accommodating three upstairs bedchambers. The house remained in the Riggs family nearly untouched until the current owner designed a timber-frame wing of 18th-c. handhewn beams that provides a great room and loft as well as the house's first permanent electricity, running water, and heat (save for the six working fireplaces).




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