Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

4. the Jonathan Townsend House (980 Central Avenue)

The Townsend House (also known as The Parsonage or The Old Manse) was built for Jonathan Townsend, the first minister of the First Parish Church, by is father-in-law Capt. Gregory Sugars. Townsend was Minister of the First Parish from 1720 until his death in 1762; he is buried in the Old Cemetery, near the gate. The next three parish ministers, Samuel West, Stephen Palmer, and William Ritchie, also resided in the house.

As the Minister’s residence, the house was a center of community activity. Churchgoers would gather at the house between services for refreshment. In April 1775, Needham’s East Militia Company assembled at the house to collect their shot and gunpowder before marching out to Lexington. The militia’s illicit stores of powder and shot were more safely hidden from the British in the Minister’s house, than in the more obvious Powder House up the road. Later, the town’s first Post Office was located here, established in 1826. The house had two stories and a hipped roof when it was first built. It was remodeled to its present form in about 1870.

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