Historic Homes Lost & Who Lived There 

Who Burned Down the Freeman Farm House? 

An Unsolved Sandwich Mystery

By Kaethe O’Keefe Maguire - FOSTA President

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This is the first of a three-part series featuring one of the greatest historical losses to the Town of Sandwich, the destruction of the Freeman Farm House by arson fire in December of 1982.

 

In news reports at the time, Fire chief Fred Alvezi declared it an arson fire. Scientific testing revealed a petroleum-based product spread around much of the house as well as a roll of wallpaper spread over stairs between the floors and laced with this petroleum accelerant!

 

Fire Chief Alvezi said it was not an accidental fire and he knew that because the home had no electricity. He also said it wasn’t just kids playing with matches, it was a professional job.

 

The site of the Freeman Farm Solar Field in the shadow of the Canal Electric Plant is the site of the 2nd Freeman Farm House, built about 1651 after this first home built in 1637 by Sandwich founder, Edmund Freeman, burned. Edmund lived 1590 -1682 and was for many years the town’s largest landowner.

Our archival files reflect years and years of efforts to save and restore this home and barn. Although this property went through many family-related owners, the death knell for this historic structure came when the then named Canal Electric wanted the land upon which stood the home for a coal storage and coal conveyor shoot to feed the plant.

 

I can’t think of anything more incongruous for this rural historic site. Russell Lovell, our first Archivist and author of Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town, always lamented that the site of one of Sandwich’s first family homes was so close to the jarring tall tower of the 1965 Power Plant.

 

In spite of then Gov. Ed King’s support and approval of this coal conveyor shoot it was never built because there was not enough room to build an approved coal storage space.

 

That tower remains today even though it is my understanding that it is only used in an emergency. I don’t know what happened to the plan in the 90’s to paint it the colors of the sky and clouds to camouflage it. The power plant has been sold and bought by various companies over the last 30 years.

Here is a bit of history on Edmund Freeman.  He arrived on the ship Abigail in 1635 with 5 children and his second wife, Elizabeth (1600-1676). Like most of the other “Ten Men” who founded Sandwich, Edmund first settled in Saugus, now the Lynn area. He eventually moved with his family to Boston in anticipation of founding a new town. Others from Duxbury and Plymouth joined him in this endeavor.

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He was always referred to as a ‘natural leader’. It was he who bought out Plymouth Governor Bradford’s original purchase of what would become Sandwich from the native people. Edmund would eventually become deputy governor of the Colony, a member of the Court and a local authority in Sandwich, Barnstable and Yarmouth as a judge when cases were not brought to Plymouth.

 

In 1651 after his first home burned down, but Freeman rebuilt one a mile north on Sagamore Hill in the Scusset Marsh.

 

The new 1651 building was a 2 ½ story Georgian farmhouse with one square central chimney. The windows were 6 over 6. The Federal period entrance had sidelights and dental decorative molding. Sadly, it was later remodeled with Victorian style elements.

 

Stay tuned for the next Generation of Freeman’s and the fate of this very early Sandwich landmark.

He was always referred to as a ‘natural leader’. It was he who bought out Plymouth Governor Bradford’s original purchase of what would become Sandwich from the native people. Edmund would eventually become deputy governor of the Colony, a member of the Court and a local authority in Sandwich, Barnstable and Yarmouth as a judge when cases were not brought to Plymouth.

 

In 1651 after his first home burned down, but Freeman rebuilt one a mile north on Sagamore Hill in the Scusset Marsh.

 

The new 1651 building was a 2 ½ story Georgian farmhouse with one square central chimney. The windows were 6 over 6. The Federal period entrance had sidelights and dental decorative molding. Sadly, it was later remodeled with Victorian style elements.

 

Stay tuned for the next Generation of Freeman’s and the fate of this very early Sandwich landmark.