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Ephraim Hawley House

The Ephraim Hawley House is a Colonial American wooden post-and-beam timber-frame saltbox house situated on the Farm Highway, Route 108, on the south side of Mischa Hill, in the historic area of Nichols, a village located within Trumbull, Connecticut, in the New England region of the U.S.[1] It has been said the house was built between 1683 and 1690 and was expanded to its present saltbox shape by three later additions, but this has not been confirmed by dendrochronology.[2][3][4] A piece of oak framing was carbon dated to 1710.[5] The house is unique, it has been located in four different named townships in its history, but has never moved; Stratford (1670–1725), Unity (1725–1744), North Stratford (1744–1797) and Trumbull (1797–present).

Ephraim Hawley House
Ephraim Hawley House Jan 2011.JPG
Image 2011
Ephraim Hawley House is located in Connecticut
Ephraim Hawley House
Location within Connecticut
Former namesSara Nichols Homestead
Alternative namesEliakim Hawley Place
General information
StatusPrivate home
Architectural styleColonial, Saltbox
Town or cityTrumbull, Connecticut
CountryUnited States
Coordinates41°14′05″N 73°09′34″W / 41.2348°N 73.1594°W / 41.2348; -73.1594Coordinates: 41°14′05″N 73°09′34″W / 41.2348°N 73.1594°W / 41.2348; -73.1594
Construction startedUnknown [4]
Renovated1787, 1881, 1919, 1987
Technical details
Structural systempost-and-beam
Design and construction



Spring 2015
Fall 2009

The exact date the Hawley Homestead was built is unknown, but was dated to 1690 during the Works Progress Administration Federal Writers' Project conducted during the Great Depression. Joan Oppenheim completed a research report on the house while studying Architecture at Yale University. She concluded, after examining the structure, researching land records, probate records and the Hawley record, that the house was built between 1683 and 1690 by Farmer Ephraim Hawley who married Sarah Welles, granddaughter of Connecticut Colony Governor Thomas Welles in 1683.[6][7] The date of construction was not only based upon architectural details of the house, but also upon comparisons with other homes of the period, facts given to her by the Curtiss family, who owned the house at the time, and information from the Hawley Record which stated that Ephraim resided in Trumbull.[8][9] Oppenheim also stated the dating of the house compared with that of S.S. (State Survey) on file at the School of Fine Arts at Yale. The Trumbull Historical Society dated the house to between 1683-1690 in 1964 when they organized. The house was dated to 1671–1683 in the 2002 Historic and Architectural Resource Survey produced for the Connecticut Historical Commission by Geoffrey Rossano, PhD. The 2010 Historic and Architectural Survey of the Town of Trumbull, Connecticut produced by Heather C. Jones and Bruce G. Harvey PhD for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, dates the house to 1670–1683.


Image before 1881
Image 2011
Began as a Cape Cod cottage

The house was built as a ​1 12-story Cape Cod cottage thirty-six feet wide by twenty-six feet deep with an eight-foot-wide central stone chimney with three fireplaces. There were three rooms on the first floor; a parlor, dining room and kitchen. The second floor was an undivided loft.

Oak frame and siding

The white oak post-and-beam frame has eight by ten inch girts, eight by eight inch plates and eight by ten inch splayed posts. The common rafters are eight by eight inches and taper to six by six inches at the ridge and have six by six inch collar beams. The floor joist are six by six inches and are twenty inches apart. The six inch by ten inch summer beams, or tie beams are parallel to the façade, dovetailed into the girts and concealed within the plaster ceiling.

The roof sheathing and flooring is vertically quarter sawn one-inch-thick oak boards with random widths between twelve and thirty inches. The flooring is laid directly over one-inch-thick oak boards that were not suitable to be used as flooring. The mortise-and-tenon joints are held by wooden pins, and the flooring is nailed with large hand-wrought iron nails (see image).

The four- to six-foot-length hand-riven oak clapboard siding is nailed directly to the oak studs with large flat rose-headed nails which was the typical material and application for the earliest New England homes (see images).[10]

Stone chimney

The first floor of the house is at ground level. There is a partial dirt cellar located on the south side of the house. The eight-foot-wide stone fireplace has three flues with clay mortar. The kitchen hearth is nine feet six inches wide by five feet seven inches deep. There is a one-foot crawl space around the chimney foundation below the first floor and a fieldstone foundation.

A forty inch deep brick beehive oven is built into the right rear wall of the kitchen fireplace and its opening has a wrought iron lintel. The brick are seven and one-half inches long by three and one-half inches wide by two inches thick, indicating they were made before 1685 when brick size was regulated by the Colony of Connecticut.[11]

There is a small tinder box in the left wall of the kitchen firebox. The fireplace inside dimensions are four feet four inches high by six feet ten inches wide and is spanned by the original ten-by-ten-inch oak lintel, which rests on oak blocks. The side walls of the kitchen firebox are roughly dressed granite. Cooking pots were hung from a lug pole. Above the ridge, the chimney flue outside measurements are forty eight inches wide by thirty eight inches deep with a course of three inch thick dripstones in the front and back.

Interior finish

The original stairs are parallel to façade of the house situated behind the wall between the parlor and the kitchen. There is poplar paneling alternating in width of thirteen inches and fifteen inches. The ceilings and walls are calcined oyster shell lime plaster on riven oak lath attached with small hand wrought iron nails. The ceiling heights are between six feet two inches and seven feet two inches on the first floor. The rear exterior door opening is five feet three inches high. An original casement window opening located on the east rear wall, in the kitchen, is twenty two inches square and is fifty four inches from the floor. This small opening was plastered over when the lean-to was built behind the wall in 1840. The upstairs ceiling height is six feet. The surviving oak sash window frames have dimensions of twenty eight inches wide by forty six inches high. The original interior doorways are twenty eight inches wide by five feet eleven inches high and the interior partitions are made of ​1 12-inch-thick vertical oak boards.


The first leanto was built after the main house was completed, and is used as a buttery (room) or pantry. The exterior walls are solid two inch thick oak planks. When the leanto was built, the roof was extended, without a break, to within six feet six inches of the ground and gave the house its saltbox shape. The second leanto addition was added in 1881 when the front roof was raised to a full two-stories in height, and the second floor was partitioned into five rooms. The original hand-riven oak clapboard exterior siding and original rafter feet are preserved in the leant-to attics.

Oak clapboards lean-to attic
Captain Robert Hawley

In 1787, Captain Robert Hawley gifted the house to his son Eliakim when he married his second cousin Sally Sara Hawley.[12] Sally Sara Hawley lived in the house for 60 years until her death in 1847.

Truman Bradley

In April 1881, Schaghticoke Indian Truman Mauwee, or Truman Bradley, bought the house from Charles Nichols Fairchild for $450 ($100 in cash and a $350 mortgage to Fairchild) and completed the second floor Colonial Revival renovations.[13] In October 1882, Bradley sold the house to his neighbor Clarissa Curtis for $525 ($175 cash and Curtiss assumed the $350 mortgage to Fairchild).[14]

Original end rafter configuration

Farm HighwayEdit

On December 7, 1696 the Farm Highway, present-day Nichols Avenue Connecticut Route 108, was laid out by the Stratford selectmen to the south side of Mischa Hill.[15] The highway was 12 rods wide, or 198 feet, where Broadbridge Brook runs off the south side of Mischa Hill, at Zachariah Curtiss, his land, and at Captain's Farm. Broadbridge Brook runs off Mischa Hill west of the present-day intersection of Route 108 and the Merritt Parkway and flows southwesterly to Broadbridge Avenue in Stratford.

In October 1725, when the Connecticut Colony approved the Parish of Unity, they referred to the Farm Highway as Nickol's Farm's Road.[16] The Nichols Avenue portion of Route 108 in Trumbull is the third-oldest documented highway in Connecticut after the Mohegan Road, Connecticut Route 32 in Norwich (1670) and the King's Highway, or Boston Post Road Route 1 (1673).[17]

1964 house tourEdit

The Trumbull Historical Society organized its first historic house tour on October 24, 1964. Tickets to the event were $2.00. The society printed a brochure with historical information on each house on the tour, which included the Ephraim Hawley House. The brochure proclaimed the Ephraim Hawley House was unequivocally the oldest house in Trumbull. It was presumed that the house was built by Ephraim Hawley between 1683 when he married and 1690 when he died. Mr. Elliott P. Curtiss owned and was residing in the house at this time, and put many of his 17th and 18th century antiques on display. The Hawley house was also featured on the cover of the first modern street map of the town of Trumbull published in 1965.

The house todayEdit

Over the last few centuries, the appearance of the house has evolved as each family has left their mark while expanding, adapting or preserving the house to accommodate changing ideas about space, function, comfort, privacy, cleanliness and fashion. Many original architectural details remain preserved including; partial dirt cellar, field stone foundation, oak post and beam frame, oak roof sheathing, stone chimney with brick beehive oven, oak interior walls, wide-board quarter-sawn oak flooring, calcined oyster shell lime plaster walls and ceilings over riven oak lath, poplar paneling, oak batten doors, oak window frames and the original riven oak clapboard siding preserved in the lean-to attic.



  1. ^ D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Fairfield County Connecticut, J. W. Lewis & Co., Philadelphia, 1881, page 790
  2. ^ W.P.A. Federal Writers Project, State of Connecticut 1935-1942
  3. ^ Geoffrey Rossano PhD, Historic and Architectural Resource Survey of Trumbull, Connecticut, produced for the Connecticut Historical Commission, Hartford, CT, 2002
  4. ^ Heather Jones and Bruce Harvey,PhD, S&ME, Inc., Historic and Architectural Survey of the Town of Trumbull, Fairfield County, Connecticut, Produced for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Hartford, CT, 2010
  5. ^ "Dating of Oak Framing" Report No. 866602 dated 12-16-85 prepared by Clarence M. Clegg, P.E. Senior Mechanical Engineer Metallurgical Department Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  6. ^ New England Families Genealogical and Memorial, William Cutter, 1914, Vol. 1 page 275 [1]
  7. ^ Lineage Book of Hereditary Order of Descendants of Colonial Governors (Google eBook), Robert Glenn Thurtle, Genealogical Publishing Com, 2009 [2]
  8. ^ The Hawley Record, Elias S. Hawley, 1890, p. 2
  9. ^ Magna Charta, John S. Wurts, Brookfield Publishing Company, 1945, p. 1995
  10. ^ Early Domestic Architecture of Connecticut, J. Frederick Kelly, Dover Publications, 1963, page 81 [3]
  11. ^ Colonial Records of Connecticut Vol. 3 page 192
  12. ^ Stratford Land Records Vol. 22, p. 431
  13. ^ Trumbull Land Records Vol. 12, p. 54
  14. ^ Trumbull Land Records Vol. 12, p. 126
  15. ^ Orcutt, Vol. 2 p. 1049
  16. ^ Colonial Connecticut Records 1636–1776, Vol. 6 p. 568
  17. ^ Kurumi Connecticut Roads retrieved on 2008-04-11


  • Reverend Samuel Orcutt, A History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Volume 1, Fairfield Historical Society, 1886
  • Reverend Samuel Orcutt, A History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Volume 2, Fairfield Historical Society, 1886
  • History of Trumbull Dodrasquicentennial 1797–1972 Commemorative Book, Trumbull Historical Society, 1972
  • Connecticut General Assembly, The Public records of the Connecticut Colony 1636–1776, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1885
  • William Cothren, History of Ancient Woodbury Connecticut, Bronson Brothers, Waterbury, 1854
  • Frederick Haines Curtiss, A Genealogy of the Curtiss Family, Rockwell and Churchill Press, Boston, 1903
  • William Richard Cutter, New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Lewis Historical Publishing, NY, 1914
  • Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Henry Holt & Co., New York, 1896
  • Elias Sill Hawley, The Hawley Record, Press of E. H. Hutchinson & Co., Buffalo, NY, 1890
  • D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Fairfield County Connecticut, J. W. Lewis & Co., Philadelphia, 1881
  • William Morgan, The Cape Cod Cottage, Princeton Architectural Press, 2006
  • Joan Oppenheim, Yale University History of Art-53a-Research Report, New Haven, CT, 1950
  • Nancy O. Phillips, Town Records of Derby, Connecticut 1655–1710, Sarah Riggs Humphreys Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Derby, 1901
  • Albert Mack Sterling, The Sterling Genealogy, Grafton Press, NY, 1909

External linksEdit