The Parson Smith House looks majestic sitting on its perch on an elevated site on Windham’s River Road. Built in 1764, it was the home of the Rev. Peter Thatcher Smith, a graduate of Harvard College and the second minister of the town of New Marblehead.

The son of Thomas Smith, the first settled minister of Falmouth (now Portland), Peter Thatcher Smith began his life in what would become Windham in 1761. He was ordained as a minister in 1762 and in 1764 began building his house in anticipation of his marriage to Elizabeth Wendall of Boston. The house was completed in 1765 when he brought his bride home.

Though the house was built eight years after disputes with the native population, it had all the fortifications to make it a garrisoned house, including Indian shutters in one room that remain today. It was constructed as a classic center-hall Georgian-style home, which is reflected in its exterior. The interior rooms, however, were not all completed in 1765 so the house reflects a number of different period styles.

All eight rooms have fireplaces and the old kitchen fireplace with its beehive oven is still operational. Upon entry, you are greeted by a wide hall with a beautiful staircase with parlors on either side. The formal front parlor was finished in 1794 and has Federal features such as wainscoting and chair rails. The interior also has paneled walls and 12-over-8 pane windows. Original wide pine floors and hand-planed boards are throughout the house.

Parts of the house were completed in the Greek Revival period that was popular in the mid-eighteenth century. The front door was altered at that time. The ell has more of a Victorian style with fir floors and stained woodwork of Southern Yellow Pine. The upstairs bath has an early sink and a clawfoot tub.

The Reverend lived in the house until his death at age 95 in October of 1826. He and his wife raised 11 children there, and though many years were happy ones, there were also some that had their trials. In 1775, for example, the town voted to discontinue Smith’s salary. He tried to resign, but the church would not allow it. In 1788, a town meeting called for his dismissal, but he decided to ignore it. He continued conducting church services in his house. The Town Council finally upheld him in 1790, but recommended his dismissal with the agreement that the town pay his tax exemption for 17 years and that he be allowed to use his home to minister until a successor could be found. He continued ministering until 1795 when the Rev. Nathaniel Stone took over as New Marblehead’s minister.

Smith continued being active in the town after his retirement. He was a Justice of the Peace and in 1804, he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

The house remained in the Smith family for generations, until the last Smith family descendent bequeathed it to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities in 1952. It had caretakers for a number of years, and in 1973, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was purchased as a private residence in 1996 and has been lovingly maintained by the same owners ever since. The people of Windham are fortunate to have such an authentic and gracious Colonial classic as a part of the history of our town.

Haley Pal is a Windham resident and an active member of the Windham Historical Society. 

The front entrance of the Parson Smith House taken during the structure’s 250th birthday celebration in 2014.

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