Old Houses of Needham





Fuller House | Townsend House | 2nd Fuller House | Tolman Gay House | Hearthstone Farm | Bird House | Hawes-Newell House | Lewis House | Ebenezer McIntosh House | Nathan McIntosh House | Whitney House |Ezra Fuller House | Mills House | Little Red School House | Needham Historical Society

The Josiah Hawes-Newell House 1756
1795 Great Plain Avenue

The Hawes-Newell house was built by Josiah Hawes-Newell in 1756. The original house had four rooms: two upstairs and two downstairs.

The house has changed ownership many times. An addition, which greatly increased it size, was added in 1833 by Jabez Smith.


The house has a handsome door with Ionic columns and glass panels on either side. The door is called a funeral or coffin door. Back then most people had important ceremonies such as weddings, births, and funerals in their home. The front door needed to be wide enough for the coffin, so the extra panel next to the door was removed to get the coffin in and out of the house. Other large objects like furniture would be brought in and out of the large back door, but in a funeral the family would want to bring the person in and out of their front door, not the back!

In 1946, a large barn that adjoined the house was destroyed by fire. The house was renovated in 1998 and is now owned by Olin College.


Julie Likel Minarski and Kathleen Martell
Needham Public Schools, Needham MA
June 2006