PEPPERELL — Having seen a Dumpster in front of the historically significant Joseph Heald Homestead at 113 Heald Street, some folks have wondered whether the property is again up for sale.
Property owner John Reese didn’t say one way or the other last week, but he did say the trash receptacle is in place because his daughter is “cleaning out” the contents of the vacant home.
Those contents, according to a visit inside the old house more than a year ago, are mostly assorted trash and plaster that had been removed by a developer who eventually defaulted on a purchase agreement with Reese — twice.
Over the years, thieves have removed much of the antique furniture. Reese’s wife, Leona, has stored away many of the remaining relics that were collected by her husband’s late grandmother, Maude Maxwell.
The Heald Homestead was built in 1850 on 18 acres of the original 100 acres that date to pre-Revolutionary times. The land, of varying sizes, has been owned during the past 300 years by such notable local names such as Wetherbee, Blood, Heald, Tarbell, Tucker and Shattuck, many of whom have streets named for them.
Reese, who owns Reese Enterprises in Lomar Park, has been quoted as saying he appreciated the historical value of the property but had become frustrated by failed attempts to sell it.
One such attempt came in 2001, when the Reese Family Trust signed an agreement with Fuller and Sons Development Corp., of Wilmington, trustee of the Heald Street Realty Trust, who planned an ill-fated five-lot subdivision that was hamstrung by wetlands concerns. The developer defaulted on payments and taxes.
A second agreement was made with Fuller, this time for $1 and a non-refundable $40,000 which was later lost in paying back taxes, when the developer defaulted a second time.
The property was placed on the market for $150,000 but to no avail. Former selectman John Lynch, who restored the Adamovich farmhouse and barn on Hollis Street, offered $130,000 for the house and the one lot it stands that was created by the ill-fated subdivision. Reese also considered an overture from Jewett Street resident John Rose but nothing came of either opportunity.
Reese’s ownership stems from Eugene Reese, who married Elizabeth Maxwell, the daughter of the aforementioned Maude Maxwell, in the early 1940s. Maude had acquired ownership from the daughter of Clarence C. Tucker. Tucker acquired the homestead in 1900 from Samuel Tucker, who was a grandson of Alta Shattuck.
Old records referenced in the Pepperell Reader indicate a 100-acre parcel was owned by Joseph Blood in pre-Revolutionary days. Blood had a camp on the east side of Heald Pond, then known as Joseph Blood Pond. The brook that feeds the pond is still known as Blood’s Brook.
David Wetherbee purchased the property from Blood and, in May 1777, sold the 100 acres to Joseph Heald, known as “Squire Heald.” The Squire had represented the pre-town-era district at the General Court in Boston for 21 years and after the town’s birth in 1753 was the equivalent of town clerk.
Heald died in 1831. His grandson, Joseph Gerry, kept the property until 1838, when he sold it to Luther Tarbell.
Samuel Tucker bought it in 1839. Tucker was a selectman and town clerk at differing times. He raised hops and made fish barrels, walking the finished products to Boston with an ox-cart and returning with supplies.
Tucker transferred 20 acres on the west side of his farm to his son, Samuel E. Tucker, who built Reese’s house about 1850. Tucker dammed the brook and built a planing mill mid-way between the pond and an old dam that an earlier generation had built. Both are gone, but the cellar and raceway walls of the planing mill remain.
Upon Tucker’s death in 1876, his wife, Clarinda (Ames), kept the property until her death in 1891.
Each room has a fireplace (nine total) attached to the central chimney. The kitchen has the largest, with a Dutch oven beside it. A trap door in the kitchen floor hides a water well. Two sets of winding staircases lead to the second floor bedrooms from the addition at the rear of the house.
Ceilings are low and the windows are multi-paned originals. Floors are swayed with age. Creaking, narrow steps lead to an uninsulated attic lit by windows on the gable ends that reveal the peg and beam construction of the roof.
Twenty-inch wide boards form the attic floor and surround a central chimney: two can be moved to reveal hiding places where slaves are said to have hidden to avoid capture.