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 Lewis House 1776
178 South Street

The original house was built by Joshua Lewis in 1776. The house was a square, about 36 feet on each side. The room off the kitchen was a borning room. A borning room is where women of the family had their babies since there were no hospitals. In the kitchen there was a big fireplace and a baking oven. Later the side L and back L additions were added. Although the house has had many additions and changes, the original fireplace still exists.

After Joshua's death his widow Mary received one third of his estate. She was allowed to use one third of the house. She could wash in the back room, bake in the oven, use the well, and part of the barn. She was also given one third of the pew that Joshua owned in the Meeting House.

In 1874 the house was bought by Denys Zirngiebel. He owed a large florist business and even supplied flowers to the White House. He was most known for growing pansies and won many awards for his Giant Swiss Pansy. He became known as the "Pansy King" and this is how the pansy became the official flower of Needham.

Denys Zirngiebel is also the grandfather of another famous Needham resident, N.C. Wyeth. Zirngiebel's daughter, Henriette, married Andrew Newell Wyeth and they are the parents of the famous painter, N.C. Wyeth.

This is a photo of N.C. Wyeth in his studio. Learn more about his life and see some of his paintings.

N.C. Wyeth was especially known for illustrating adventure books about pirates, knights and American settlers. His son, Andrew, and his grandson, Jamie, are famous painters today.

The Lewis House can be seen in many of N.C. Wyeth's paintings.

An interesting fact about this house is that the dining room does not have any electricity. When the house was built they used corn cobs for insulation. The dining room still has corn cobs in the walls and can not have any electrical wires running through it. Instead the dining room is still lit by candlelight.




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