98 Main Street

This Federal style residence stands on the east side of Durham’s Main Street, close to the comer of Maiden lane. It shares its 1.14 acre lot with the old Bennet
Beecher shoe factory, 98 Main Street.

  • Record ID: 80
  • Address: 98 Main Street
  • Current Owner: Tucker, Allen and Ella
  • Name of Building: Allen Tucker House
  • Historic Name: Jonathan Walkley House
  • Download PDF of Original Record

Notable Features

Ornamental posts of milled lumber are doubled and joined by pieces of cast iron molded in botanical patterns.

Historical or Architectural Importance

This Federal style residence stands with its gable end facing the street. Its facade is fronted by a hip-roofed porch which covers the west, north, and south sides of the main block. The porch is supported by ornamental posts dating from the late nineteenth century. These consist of thin plain piece of milled lumber, doubled and joined by pieces of cast iron molded in botanical patterns. The main entry is centered on the facade and is flanked windows, two 2X2s on the left and one 2X2 to the right. The fenestration in the rest of the main block consists of irregularly grouped 2X2s. To the rear of the main block is a 2 1/2 story gable roofed addition which follows the lines of the main structure. It stands on a poured concrete foundation and dates from the twentieth century. The house was severly damaged by fire in the late 1930s, at which time major alterations were
made to the structure. These included changes in fenestration and in interior room arrangements. This house has been historically associated with the adjacent shoe shop at 96 Main Street. It was apparently built by Jonathan Walkley, a cooper, between 1773, when he purchased 42 rods of land from Job Camp, and 1778, when he sold the property “with a dwelling house and cooper’s shop” to Beriah Chittenden. Chittenden sold the property in 1784 to Phineas Squire, who sold it to Timothy Shattuck in 1786. Shattuck was a poor businessman. He was deeply in debt. In March of 1787, Joseph Chedsey of Richmond, Mass. sued Shattuck to recover a debt. The Sheriff of New Haven County levied execution upon him, seizing the southeast corner of his house-“being a bedroom about eleven feet one way & about eight feet the other, together with the cellar under said room & also the chamber above said room. Soon Shattuck’s other creditors closed in on him. In 1790, James Robinson, a Durham shoemaker, bought out the claims of Shattuck’s creditors, moved into the house, and opened a shoe shop in the adjacent shop. On James Robinson’s death in 1820, his heirs sold it to Durham
merchant Daniel Bates, who sold it within a few months to Charles Miller. He sold it in 1831 to Timothy Baldwin, a merchant, who also owned the distillery which once stood at the rorner of Brick and Maiden lanes. He went bankrupt in 1834, at which time Seth Seward, one of his creditors, took title to the house and the adjacent shop. Seward sold the property to Bennet Beecher, a young shoemaker from Woodbridge, Cormecticut, in 1837. Beecher operated a boot and shoe factory and lived in the house until 1884, when the Middletown Savings Bank foreclosed on his mortgage. The property changed hands frequently- and was probably used for rental purposes until 1901, when it was purchased by Wesley G. Tucker, father of the present owner.
This house is an interesting example of the transition from colonial period to the Federal style. Its historical significance derives from its association with Durham’s nineteenth century shoe industry .