Westfield Newsroom

Scrooge visits Westfield

WESTFIELD – Ebenezer Scrooge took up residence at the Joseph Dewey House yesterday during a Dickens Days tour of the historic homestead.
Art Sousa portrayed Scrooge, dressed in his finest nightcap, awaiting his old friend Marley’s return in Joseph’s own bedroom. Although Marley never showed, residents did visit the home for a tour and a sample of wassail.
“”Wassail is mulled cider, but I think it was probably cider with whiskey or rum in Dickens’ time,” said Susan Kingra, president of the Western Hampden Historical Society, owner of the house on South Maple Street.
Dewey House Trustee President Candy Pennington said the Dewey House has been part of the Dickens Days tour for several years. She said at first the House hosted paid tours to raise funds for a grant to have a National Historic District declared in Westfield. Once they raised enough for that, Pennington said the trustees wanted to continue opening its doors and joined the Dickens Days events, including Scrooge as a nod to the holidays.
“It’s educational,” said Docent Dianne Fuller. “It’s a learning experience.”
The tour begins in what was originally the home’s kitchen. Joseph Dewey constructed the Dewey House circa 1735 on a thirty-acre plot of land that had been
bequeathed to him in 1715 by his father, Jedediah Dewey, one of the earliest European settlers in present-day Westfield. Joseph Dewey and his wife, Sarah, had 12 children and added onto the two-story, four-room home. A large kitchen was added to the rear of the house, as well as a winter storage room and the “borning room,” where children were born. Later, the borning room was used as a small guest room. The original kitchen became the family’s keeping room, and a formal parlor completed the first floor.
Upstairs, Joseph and Sarah had a bedroom, and the boys shared one room, while the girls shared another.
Docents Kay Drummey and Fuller said every fourth grade class in Westfield takes a field trip to Dewey House and the students are fascinated with the lack of a refrigerator. However, the Dewey home was considered fairly modern and lavish at the time.
“The Dewey family was rather wealthy and owned several businesses,” said Drummey.
Dewey was a prosperous farmer and also served as a militia sergeant and selectman in 1726. He owned a sawmill and a gristmill and the Dewey family was an important part of Westfield’s history.
In 1756, Joseph sold the house to his son, Joseph Dewey II, and the house remained in the Dewey family for nearly one hundred years.
Originally built as a Georgian-style saltbox with plank wall construction, the house underwent renovations at the hands of Benjamin Dewey in the early 1800s that consisted of replacing the roof, realigning the chimney, adding two bedrooms and a center hall to the second floor at the rear of the house, remodeling the façade, and installing new windows and a new doorway. When the renovations were completed, the house was of the Federal style.
The Dewey House went through a number of owners from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, even being used as a two-family residence. In 1972, the house came under the ownership of the Western Hampden Historical Society, which purchased it from local developer Thomas Conlon for one dollar, with the promise of moving the house so that Conlon could build an apartment complex. The Dewey House was moved 200 feet west, and the Historical Society decided to restore the house as much as possible to its original Georgian appearance.
Drummey said the home was actually purchased by the historical Society in 1969 and underwent several years of painstaking restoration by volunteers. The volunteers turned the house from a modernized two-family duplex back to its colonial state, complete with the original fireplace and wide-plank wood floors.
“It was opened for tours in 1977,” noted Fuller.
Today the Dewey House offers educational programs and serves as a reminder of both 18th Century architecture and one of Westfield’s earliest families. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes.

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