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 | Luther Morse House

The Jonathan Townsend House 1720
980 Central Avenue

The Townsend House, also known as The Old Manse, was built for Jonathan Townsend. the first minister of the First Parish (Unitarian) Church. His father in law, Captain Gregory Sugars, built it for him. At the time it was built, the house stood near the old town center (the intersection of Nehoiden Street and Central Avenue), and was a center of town activity. Other ministers that lived in the house were Samuel West and Stephen Palmer.

Needham's East Militia Company assembled at the house before marching out to Lexington in 1775. Throughout the Revolutionary War, the Militia's weapons and gunpowder were hidden in the basement -- a safe place, since the British would not suspect the minister of hiding guns.


This picture of the house was taken sometime before 1875, and shows how it looked when it was first built.

A third story and mansard roof were added in the 1850s. The house is still standing on Central Avenue; it is set back from the road on a long driveway, but can be readily identified by the "1720" painted on the chimney.



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