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Joseph Parker House : 420 Franklin Street Joseph Parker House : 420 Franklin Street

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Surprisingly, Reading’s earliest map drawn in 1765 does not show this house and yet historians believe it was built long before the map existed. Ownership can be traced back to the early 1700’s when Joseph Parker married Elizabeth Eaton. Her brother died in Annapolis, Nova Scotia while on the expedition against the French in 1712 and his land was left to his brother-in-laws. (Women had no right to inheritance at the time.) It is assumed that the newly married couple set about building a house on the inherited land. The house is and was called a “half-house”, a rather rare structure today. Initially, a half house was built with anticipation that as the family and finances grew, the house would be expanded into the traditional home with 5 windows across the second floor, two windows flanking both sides of the front entrance door and a central chimney. The original facade facing Pasture Road (and facing to the south as most early houses did) has been altered through the years. The three windows on the second floor are in the position to accept a new “half” with 2 more windows. The original door was under the off centered window above and has been changed to accommodate a first floor window. The Parkers never expanded their house despite raising 5 children here. One son, Ephraim, later became the innkeeper who lent his name to the Parker Tavern on Washington St. Ephraim was also a Minuteman who marched to Lexington and Concord, leaving from the Tavern along with his son, Ephraim Parker, Jr. They were aged 47 and 24 respectively. Joseph, a nephew of Ephraim was born in this house and was also a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He carried the name of his father and grandfather, the original Joseph Parker, who built the house. This Joseph left Reading on April 19th 1775 to march with other Reading Minutemen including his brother, Isaac. Joseph served for 5 days and later enlisted for a longer period when he was promoted to Corporal and later, Sergeant in 1777. Isaac Parker inherited the farm and 60 acres but sold it in 1800 after almost 100 years of Parker family ownership. The Nelson family also held the property for more than 100 years and the place was recognized as a Historic Homestead of Massachusetts in 2002. The late Fred Nelson accepted the certificate just one month before his 100th birthday! His wife, Ellen Nelson, was an artist, a sculptor of figurines, and founder of the Red Farm Studio card company. The house retains the same familiar red hued paint color today. New owners allowed the Historical Commission to observe recent renovations as some interior walls were peeled back revealing the many layers of history and changes. All the house lots on Pasture Road and Blueberry Lane were subdivided during the 20th century from the ancient Joseph Parker homesite.


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