116 Main Street

This house stands on a narrow 1.14 acre tree shaded lot in Durham’s residential center .

Notable Features

entry is framed by pilasters and narrow sidelights and is surmounted by a narrow, flat entablature

Historical or Architectural Importance

This 2 story Federal/Greek Revival residence stands on a sandstone block foundation with its gable end facing the street. Its facade contains two 12×12 windows on the first story and two smaller 8x8s on the second. The main entry is set off to a one story shed-roofed projection which appears to be contemporary with the house itself. The entry is framed by pilaster and narrow sidelights and is surmounted by a narrow, flat entablature, with crown moulding and a keystone. The modesty and delicacy of the entry is characteristic of the Federal Style. The front door itself appears to be a twentieth century replacement. The house has been altered in minor ways over the years. A five-sided, Victorian-style bay was added to its south side during the late nineteenth century. A substantial one story rear addition which stands on a concrete block foundation dates from the mid-twentieth century. The original clapboards have been replaced with aluminum siding. ‘
Although this house is credited with being an eighteenth-century structure, this is probably not the case. A house did stand on this site in the eighteenth century, which Jesse Cook built on land purchased from Elnathan Camp in 1769. Cook sold this structure in 1770 to Job Merwin. He sold it to Daniel Merwin, his son, in 1784 who, in turn, sold it in 1786 to Phineas Squire. In 1788, Squire sold the property to Samuel Fenn Parsons, Who already owned the property to the north of this parcel. In 1822, when Parsons sold his five acres to Isaac Newton, the only dwelling on the lot was his own homestead–the Jesse Cook house had been dismantled or moved.
The house is not mentioned in Newton’s 1822 sale of the Parsons homestead to John White in 1822, nor does it appear on the 1827 Wadsworth map. Seth Seward purchased 40 rods of JohnWhite’s property in the l840s and built the structure presently standing on it for his daughter, Nancy (Seward) Johnson (1802-1882), widow of David Johnson. In 1873, she sold the house to Dwight M. Seward, reserving to herself the right to occupy it until her death. Shortly after her demise, Dwight Seward sold the house to Joseph A. Rogers. In 1886, his estate gave a life lease on the house to his children, Lottie and Elias Rogers. In 1899-1900, the house passed to Lizzie L. Hull, who sold it to Curtis Atwell. ‘The Atwell ‘s occupied the house until 1947. In 1979 it passed to its present owners.
Architecturally this house is significant to the extent that it illustrates the transition from Federal to Greek Revival styles in a vernacular context. Historically,
the modest structure, which originally stood at the northern end of Seth Seward’s homelot, illustrates one of the modes by which families in nineteenth-century Durham
looked after the interests of their dependent members.