37 Birnie Road- #60 (see additional information)

This year's cover painting by Peggy Godfrey is a watercolor of the house now located at 37 Birnie Road. The home when first built was a Hale house, which stood on Longmeadow Street, but was later moved back to Birnie Road by Charles Birnie in 1894.  The present owners are the Dr. Edmund J. McNally family. The house bears a sign, "Home of the Hales 1710", together with a Bicentennial marker signifying an early Colonial home.

"In 1703, Thomas Hale was granted, from the meadow", after agreeing to build, "a double lot south of the Road that goes to the meadowe". The road, called Booth Highway, is now Birnie Road.

Hale was married in 1705 to Experience Burt. They had seven children; she died in 1719. When the Town was still a precinct of Springfield, in 1721 Thomas Hale was elected a selectman for the first time. He married again - to Abigail Ferry in 1724. Two years later, he was named a selectman again.

In 1736, Thomas Hale deeded to son, Jonathan, "... one half of his homelot and dwelling house and one half of all other buildings ... ".  Jonathan bought from his father the whole property in 1750, the year Thomas died.  The Hales were prosperous (the first marble headstones in the parish graveyard were Hales), influential, and large land owners.  Jonathan was chosen a selectman in 1757 - "like father like son". In 1790, Jonathan was living on the property with his two sons, Jonathan, Jr. and Hezekiah.  In 1793, Jonathan, the father, died and the two sons married, but neither had children. Both sons served in the War of the Revolution. Colonel Jonathan, Jr. was also a Selectman, Justice of the Peace, Town Clerk and Treasurer.

In 1831, Aaron Stebbins was living here and was still here in 1857. The 1870 map shows H. J. Coomes owned the house. The William Bliss family lived here in 1871. A photograph in the Historical Society shows the house, as it appeared at that time, with some of the William Bliss family in the picture. The outer appearance of the home was very different from today. It was large and square, and had a mansard roof which was unlike any other in Town. This type of roof has two slopes on all four sides, with the lower slope almost vertical, and the upper almost horizontal. Before the house was moved a new type of roof was built over the old one. Another early photograph taken, when the house stood on Longmeadow Street, shows a sideview with additions and a Beverly ell, an unusual feature in this area today. There were several barns on the property and some foundations are still there.

Further alterations took place when the house was moved back to Birnie Road. Some sections of the rear, the oldest part, was demolished, and the front was remodeled.

Later home owners were Charles Birnie, Frank E. Mason, J.K. Barker and Harry Ferry. Dr. Edmund J. McNally purchased the home from the Harry Ferry Estate in 1956, a year after Mr. Ferry died.

The original fireplace in the living room had been moved by previous owners from the inside wall to the outside wall, in the southeast room. The present fireplace frame, in the northeast room or dining room, came from the old Marchant Colton house, as did a fine, hand-carved, corner cupboard which was placed in this room.  The wood paneling in the dining and living rooms is original. The old double doorway had been removed by J.K. Barker after 1912.

The McNally family has been continuously restoring the old house.  They have changed the six-over-six paned windows on the first floor to match the 12-over-12 paned windows on the second floor.  Recently, they constructed an addition in the rear, from the old shed, making a family room on the first floor, and a bedroom on the second.  Also, on the second floor, they are exposing sheathing on the walls and beams on the ceiling, while making two bedrooms into one and restoring the southeast bedroom to its original design.  The original wide pine floor-boards remain upstairs.

/s/ Peggy Leete Godfrey

*        *         *

Registry of Deeds, Hale Genealogy, Storrs Library, Longmeadow Centennial book, old maps and Dr. and Mrs. McNally


a website of LongmeadowBiz, LLC