The Thayer House


    Thayer House with cannon donated by West Point
      Thayer House with Braintree Time Capsule (left)
      Thayer House and well in rear yard

      Looking North
    Looking South - A classic  New England "Salt Box"

    The Sylvanus Thayer House, located at 786 Washington Street (commonly known locally as Thayer House), is a principal landmark in the Town of Braintree. The original house, built in 1720 by Nathaniel Thayer, was a two-story structure consisting of a hall and parlor on the first floor, and two bedchambers on the second floor. Subsequently, a front vestibule was added and a large modern kitchen (by 18th-century standards) was constructed across the rear of the house, together with a rare sunken buttery, spare room, carriage shed, and shoe shop. General Sylvanus Thayer , the “Father of West Point,” was born in the house in 1785.


    The saltbox structure as it appears today was largely finished by shortly after 1800, situated on 92 acres of land approximately one mile south of its current location. In the late 1950s, Walworth Steel Company acquired the property and began the construction of a $5 million plant. Realizing the significance of the building, the firm offered it to the Historical Society, along with restoration and moving funds to be matched by other donations.

    The house was dedicated on its present site, following fastidious restoration, in 1960. Sixty percent of the major timbers of the house are original.  The others are exact replacements, hewn with old style tools from the same type of wood, and cut and mortised exactly like the originals.  The interior sheathing and paneling are all original, except for individual boards that required replacement or patching. The house contains a wide variety of furnishings, cooking and dining implements and other items that would likely be found in a middle class American country home of the late 18th or early 19th century. New programs designed to make the agricultural aspects of Braintree’s past come to life are frequently held in the Thayer House and on the grounds.

    Since the move to the present site, a sizeable basement exhibit space has been added. Here we have the Braintree Room, the Military Room and the 19th Century Room. These spaces artfully display a wide range of pictures and artifacts that show significant and fascinating aspects of local and national history. A collection of antique ladies’ fans, manufactured by Braintree companies that were industry leaders in their day, is especially popular.

     The Braintree Historical Society seeks to preserve and share the history of Braintree, MA and its people. To this end, the society operates the Gilbert Bean Museum of local history, a research library, and the Sylvanus Thayer Birthplace. The research library collections include town records dating from 1640 onward, archival materials, and a display of military artifacts. Thayer (1785-1872) advocated engineering education, and is known as the "father of West Point." His birthplace holds exhibits on the railway, military history, and coopers, as well as circa 1785 period rooms.

    The society offers exhibits, period rooms, guided tours of the Thayer house, and research library access. Appointments are necessary for all visits, with the exception of Thayer house tours taking place April through November.

    The society hosts period tours of the Thayer Birthplace House. Unfortunately at this time the facility does not have regular hours.

    You can take a virtual tour of the Thayer house right now... (You will be leaving the Braintree Historical Society's webpage) 
    The Braintree Historical Society would like to thank Dr. Gorman Lee, K-12 Director of Social Studies in the Braintree Public Schools, along with the 375 Committee and Nancy Nicosia, Gail Burns, Rosemarie Bonani and everyone involved in this wonderful presentation of The Thayer House. 
    After the introduction please just touch the room you are interested in and follow along through the historic house. 
    It is planned that all 3rd graders will now visit the Thayer House for a hands on experience with history.  We'd love if parents and grandparents, unable to visit, will have the knowledge and the ability to share among the generations, an ongoing conversation about our Town's impressive history. 
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