Digital Commonwealth

The Parson Capen House and the Captain Joseph Gould Barn

Topsfield Historical Society

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The Parson Capen House is one of the finest surviving examples of Elizabethan architecture in America. The house is situated on a knoll overlooking the Common, originally on a twelve-acre lot of land granted Reverend Capen by the Town in 1682. He served his congregation for forty years, including the period of the Salem Witchcraft Delusion, in which Topsfield was actively involved. The house was purchased in the spring of 1913 by the Topsfield Historical Society and was restored it to its original 17th-century condition by George Francis Dow. In 1960, the Parson Capen House was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Captain Joseph Gould Barn is a Restored 1710 historical barn. It is one of perhaps a half-dozen known first period New England Barns and is a rare survivor reflecting the agrarian roots of New England's original settlers. It was built about 1710 and originally stood at 129 Washington Street, about a mile from its present site. It was built by the Goulds, one of the founding families of Topsfield and given to the Society in 1982 by Dr. and Mrs. Michael Schiff. It was carefully dismantled prior to its timbers being stored for future preservation and reconstruction. Local trees furnished much of the lumber for the reconstruction and much effort was made to reconstruct the barn as authentically as possible. The Gould Barn, in conjunction with the Capen House, makes an important contribution to the understanding and interpretation of early life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

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