10 Drop-Dead Gorgeous Homes Built Before Our Declaration of Independence

Essex, Massachusetts

Year Built, Give or Take: 1684
Yes, it’s THAT old. And given the fact that it was built by a famous Essex ship builder, it will probably be standing for another 300 years. The five-bedroom saltbox, formerly a bed and breakfast, sits on Chebacco Lake. It’s secluded, quiet and chock-full of First Period details. The over-9-foot fireplace is simply astounding!
What Was Going on in Colonial America
Several English settlements existed by this time, namely Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Carolina. North America was considered a “wilderness” to colonists, who entered into conflicts with Native Americans over land rights. Indigenous people were killed in battle, fled west or were enslaved. And sadly, the African slave trade was by now a 65-year-old institution in the colonies.
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Huger, South Carolina

Year Built, Give or Take: 1697
Middleburg Plantation, the oldest wooden plantation house in South Carolina, was built by Benjamin Simons, a French Huguenot planter. Revolutionary War battles and skirmishes are said to have taken place on the 326-acre property. The home, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, comes with a two-bedroom kitchen building, a two-bedroom butler building and a two-story brick and frame carriage house.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
King William’s War, a war between France and England that resulted in small battles in New England, ends in this year. War ended just as hysteria over witchcraft was coming to a head in the New England colonies.
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West Chester, Pennsylvania

Year Built, Give or Take: 1700
Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe this place. Elm Grove Estate is one of Bucks County’s most famed properties. The 75-plus-acre estate is being sold outside of the Paxson family for only the second time in its history. The estate began as a settler’s cottage and grew into a stone manor house, circa 1700, plus a carriage house, barns, workshops and extensive stables. Additions were added to the house in 1739 and 1938.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
The population of the colonies hovered around 275,000, with Boston being the largest city. A year later, Yale is founded, and the proprietor of Pennsylvania, William Penn, establishes a “Charter of Privileges” that dictates total religious freedom and tolerance in the colony.
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Durham, New Hampshire

Year Built, Give or Take: 1717
The General John Sullivan House, standing watch over Oyster River in the historic district of Durham, is a 13-room, wood-framed Georgian-style home built by Dr. Samuel Adams. John Sullivan, a general in the Revolutionary War and, later, governor of New Hamsphire, purchased the property in 1763. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
In the New England colonies, the “Great Blizzard” brought most activity to a screeching halt. In what is now the mid-Atlanta states, Scots-Irish, who fled Britian rather than be forced into the Church of England, began to settle. And down south, a brand new city was taking shape. The French, who claimed Louisiana as their own in 1682, made plans to establish New Orleans as a means to protect the entrance to the Mississippi River.
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Gloucester, Virginia

Year Built, Give or Take: 1748
Just 30 minutes from Colonial Williamsburg, this estate has quite a story to tell. The 38-acre property, which sits on the shores of the Severn River, traces back to a land grant that the British Crown bestowed upon Augustine Warner. The wealthy planter and politician is great-great grandfather to good ol’ George Washington. The estate remained in the Warner family until 1834 and most recently served as a bed and breakfast. The original structure was destroyed in a fire around 1740; a new home was built on the original foundation.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
Benjamin Franklin had expanded his printing business throughout the colonies, and retired so as to focus on politics and scientific experimentation (lighting rod ring a bell?). And we were heading west by this time: The Ohio Company formed in Virginia to settle the Ohio River Valley.
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Rotterdam, New York

Year Built, Give or Take: 1760
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and known as the Delamont-Wemple Farm, this brick Georgian-style colonial sits on 60 acres of land. No expense was spared in this home’s restoration: Features include energy efficient heating/cooling systems, wide-plank wood floors, reproduction wood paneling and woodwork throughout, reproduction windows with imported glass, four bedrooms, a chef’s kitchen and what seems like endless outdoor spaces. The fully restored Dutch barn, original to the site, is said to be one of the finest examples of the region's vernacular architecture.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
The French and Indian War ended in this year with a British victory. Which means the British government came into the possession of a lot of land (and debt) it didn’t know how to manage. And George III ascended to the British throne. Remember the grade school stories of unlawful searches and seizures? Yep, he’s the guy responsible for all that stuff. The population of the colonies hovered around 1 million.
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Skillman, New Jersey

Year Built, Give or Take: 1764
This grand estate, situated on 105 acres of land, was built by Cornelius Ten Broeck, who would go on to serve in the Revolutionary War as well as the New Jersey legislature. The first brick home built in Somerset County, this Dutch Colonial comes with a carriage house garage, three pole barns, four outbuildings and several paddocks.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
The British government was testing the limits. In this year, it passed the Sugar Act in an effort to squeeze some money out of colonists. This act placed duties on goods shipped to the colonies. This unpopular piece of legislation was followed by the Currency Act, which forbid colonists from creating their own money. Colonists hit the streets in protest and called for a boycott of all English goods coming into the colonies.
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Boothbay, Maine

Year Built, Give or Take: 1769
This clapboard-clad, Federal-style home includes a carriage house, a guest house, a barn and its own private island with old boathouse – no joke! The home’s interior has been lovingly maintained, features original woodwork and boasts five fireplaces, 14 acres of land, lush gardens and a a waterfront setting that's postcard perfect.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
Unrest is an understatement. The Virginia House of Burgesses passed resolutions that condemned the British siege of Boston. A year later? The Boston Massacre.
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Arlington, Vermont

Year Built, Give or Take: 1772
The first thing you must know about this home is that Ian Fleming penned many a James Bond novel here. He didn’t own the place, but stayed here several times as a guest. But back to history. Black Hole Hollow Farm is a 948-acre estate nestled right on the Vermont-New York state line. The home is a mix of fieldstone and clapboard and boasts ponds, gardens, four barns, English-style gardens and on and on.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
British aggression was rearing its ugly head. In New England, shady members of the Royal Navy were unjustly confiscating cargo from merchant vessels, which led colonists to retaliate. And Samuel Adams, founding father and cousin to future president John Adams, pens “The Rights of Colonists.”
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Salisbury, Connecticut

Year Built, Give or Take: 1775
Known as the Buckely House and looking very much like something straight out of the pages of a Jane Austen novel, this grand estate, situated in Salisbury’s historic district, boasts wide-plank floors, four fireplaces (two with beehive ovens) and lots of original latches, knobs and locks. The home includes a guest apartment and a barn-style one-car garage with potting shed (that you’ll need to tend the ornamental gardens) and plenty of studio space.
What Was Going on in Colonial America
Relations between the colonies and the British government by this time where on the verge of explosion. Perhaps you've heard the phrase “the shot heard round the world”? That describes chaos that culminated in the battles of Lexington and Concord, considered the first battles of the War for Independence.
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