HARVARD — A grandfather oak tree that Oak Hill Road resident Al Combs had fought to keep in place when he installed a raised septic system for his historic home, nearly wiped the house out when it crashed down during last week’s freak wind storm.
Combs owns the Margaret Bromfield Blanchard house, built in 1848, and has brought it back to original specifications that include a porch at the side on which Blanchard sat to view her grandfather’s house, which was then located a half mile away at the site of the present day Bromfield School library.
A limb from the oak tree punctured the roof of the renovated porch, but it missed the main house. The structure was being repaired last Friday by workers Combs hired.
“People ask me why I rebuilt a porch on the side of the house,” Combs said, “then I tell them the story.
“It was all farmland then,” he said, “and she could easily see the house and the pond in the distance.”
Blanchard endowed the Bromfield Trust, which enabled the school to be built as well as the continuing scholarship for Harvard children.
“The house later became a girls dormitory,” Combs said. “What many people don’t know is that her endowment carried the stipulation that 60 percent of Bromfield School students be women. That has since changed.
“The tree could have taken down half the house,” he said. “I’ll probably have to take the rest of it down.”
Two giant oaks dominate the front yard of the home. Each is set four feet into a pit surrounded by stone walls created when the septic system was installed.
Combs, whose business is restoration of historic properties, has researched original plans in bringing the house back to period standards, including the reconstruction of a bay window in the front where a front door stood for years.
He said the house has been placed on Harvard’s historic home tour list.