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Larkin House, Once Dilapidated, Has Returned to its 18th Century State

The house was built for Deacon John Larkin, a man rich in American History.

Deacon John Larkin had the house at 55 Main Street built to replace the one he lost in City Square, which was burned, along with all other homes, by the British in 1775.

Larkin was born in Charlestown on April 3, 1735. He was the seventh of ten children and among the fifth generation of Charlestown Larkins. The first Larkin, Edward, arrived in Charlestown in 1638, following Governor Winthrop and the Puritans escaping England.

The Larkins were generations of craftsmen. Edward was a wheel-maker. Samuel, John’s father, was a chair-maker and a fisherman. John Larkin became a mariner and prosperous merchant and had a part ownership in a wharf and warehouse, where he ran an import-export business. Larkin and his wife Ruth Kettell had seven children.

Along with other Patriots, Larkin railed against the Stamp Act and taxes imposed by the British on tea and other goods. When the British closed Boston Harbor to trade, many families, including the Larkins, lost their means of making a living. Larkin, along with other town merchants, joined the Charlestown Whigs, opposed to the British crown.

When Paul Revere was rowed across the Charles to Charlestown on the night of April 18, 1775,  Larkin led Revere in the moonlight to his barn near City Square. There he saddled for Revere a mare belonging to Larkins’ father, Samuel. Revere rode out from the barn at 11 o’clock, and reached Lexington at midnight. All along the way, Revere shouted his famous alert.  When the British intercepted Revere, they ultimately let him go but kept the horse.

According to Boston Landmarks Commission, the Deacon Larkin house stayed in the Larkin family until the early 1830’s. Later owners included Edward Soley, Richard Rolins and Susan Robins.  For forty years, between 1870 to about 1910, the house was part of the Klous Real Estate holdings. The first floor was converted for commercial use.

Along with many other houses on Main Street, the Larkin house fell into serious disrepair. (See flickr photo). Luckily for Charlestown residents, the house was bought, most likely for a song, and restored to its original late 18th century beauty.

  • Where is it? 55 Main Street
  • When was it built? 1795
  • What was it built for and who was the first occupant? For the Larkin family. Deacon John Larkin and his family lived there.
  • Why was it built? As part of the rebuilding effort in Charlestown, following the end of the Revolutionary War.
  • How was it built? It is a clapboard-sided house, built of wood, in late Georgian/Federal style, with a ‘boxy, rectangular 5-bay by 5-bay main block.’ The house is enclosed by a ‘deck-on-hip’ roof. Smaller square windows are on the third level. The house’s foundation is granite.
  • What are the future plans for the structure? The ground floor was once used as commercial space. The 1874 Charlestown Directory shows the Klous clothing store on the first floor. In the early 1970’s the Larkin house was rehabbed, restoring it to its late 18th century look. The house is currently known as the Deacon Larkin Condominium Association.

Information for this article was compiled from various research materials, including AIA Guide to Boston by Susan and Michael Southworth; http://www.enjoyfoodtravel.com/2010/04/deacon-larkin-house-georgetown-ma.html; http://www.flickr.com/photos/bostonlandmarkscommission/6425696993/; Boston Landmarks Commission; notes from Carl Zellner.

Toonie September 14, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I admire this building on a daily basis. Gorgeous.
Jay K. September 14, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Very cool! That stinks though that the Larkins' horse got turned into a Redcoat. Poor fella.
Nancy Hannan September 14, 2012 at 03:35 PM
this story has the makins of a movie.
Helen O'Neil September 15, 2012 at 08:49 PM
This coming Tuesday, September 18 in the Bunker Hill Museum there will be a fascinating talk about Paul Revere's midnight ride given by Carl Zellner. Carl's research includes a handwritten account by Paul Revere himself. The talk is at seven.

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