Monday - Thursday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
Friday, & Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
This house stands on a small tree-shaded lot at the intersection of Main Street and Haddam Quarter Road.
As built, the Moses Austin House was a five-bay center chimney colonial house with overhangs on the first and second stories. It has undergone considerable alteration over time. Two adjoining shed-roof additions were made in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries to the rear of the house, giving it, when viewed from the south, the appearance of a saltbox. A t’wo story shed-roof addition, which projected beyond the north side of the main block and which dated from the early nineteenth century no longer stands. A substantial four-bay gable roofed addition to the south side was built in the late eighteenth century, but was removed in 1925. (It now stands as a home on Maiden Lane) .
The central chimney was removed before 1930. A hip-roofed portico of mid-nineteenth century origins once protected the main entry to the house. The fenestration in the
house is various, ranging from the replacement 12x8s on the facade and north end of the main block, to 6x6s dating from the nineteenth century and 2x2s from the twentieth. The main entry, which is framed with plain molding, contains a double leaf door of modern construction.
In March of 1754, Ebenezer Steadman sold Moses Austin “one small piece of land with a dwelling thereon” for L1100. Austin, a merchant, lived and kept store in the house until the 1790s, when he and his brother-in-law, Moses Bates, left Durham. They went first the lead mines of Virginia. By 1798, they had moved to St. Genevieve, New Spain–in what is now Missouri–where they continued lead mining. Ruined in the Panic of 1819, Austin hoped to recoup his fortunes in real estate. He obtained a large land grant from the Mexican government. He was preparing. to settle his family in ‘What is now Texas when he died. in May of 1822. (His son, Stephen Austin, went on to become a notable Texas pioneer). Moses Austin left his house in Durham to those of his children who had stayed. behind in Cormecticut: Thaddeus, Dorothy (Austin) Hickox, and Hannah (Austin) Robinson. They sold the house in 1791. The house changed. hands frequently be~ 1791 and 1819, when it came into the hands of Joseph P. Camp, one of the leading figures in Durham’s community of shoemakers. He quickly set up one of the busiest shoe shops in town, working in partnership with Chauncey and Elizur Hall under the name of JP Camp & Company. Camp lived and made shoes on the property until his death in 1860, though never prospering at it and, as the industry became more centralized and mechanized, getting deeply into debt. On his death, his son turned the house over to the major lien-holder, L. W. Leach. The house oontinued its association with the shoe trade, however, passing in 1867 to Phineas Robinson and, in 1889, to Alfred White, both shoe men. On Alfred White’s death in 1900, the house became the property of his son, Edward White, a painter and decorator. In 1920, he sold the house to George and Emma Francis, owners of the Merriam Manufacturing Company. It passed. through several hands until 1977, when it was purchased by its present owners.
This house is historically significant for its association with Durham’s early shoe industry and for its oonnection with the western pioneers, Moses and Stephen