NEMA Museums New England

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Museum Profile

Balch House

448 Cabot St., Beverly, MA 01915
(978) 922-1186

John Balch was born in Somerset, England in 1579 and arrived with the Dorchester Company at Cape Ann in September, 1623. The remnant of this group, including Balch, settled at Naumkeag (Salem) in 1626. In 1635 five of them, including Balch, received a 1000 acres grant at what became Beverly and removed there.

John and Margary Balch were founding members of the First Church in Salem. John was active in town government and served as one of the "overseers and Layers out of Lotts of ground.”
On his portion of the grant, Balch built a farm house, assumed until recently to be the present house. A recent dendrochronology study, however, dates the present building to the 1670s. The early part was probably a one-room story and a half house that forms the northeast section of the current house. Benjamin Balch, grandson of John, added the southern part of the house, another one-room two-story structure. The two sections were connected by a common roof and a central chimney. Still later the original north end and chimney bay were enlarged to the west. A symmetrical gable roof, higher than the roof of the southern room, was built over the widened structure.

The Balch ancestral home was owned by Balch descendants through 1916 when it was purchased by the Balch Family Association through the efforts of Balch Association member William Sumner Appleton, founder of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England. The first important restoration of the house, which recreated the original roof slope on the east facade was done at this time under the supervision of renowned historical architect, Norman Isham. The property was turned over to the Beverly Historical Society in 1932. Another restoration was undertaken in 1960-1961 by Roy Baker. The Society continues to preserve and interpret the Balch House and opens it to the public seasonally five days a week. Four rooms are included in the tour; the furnishings include period appropriate items and Balch family possessions from the 18th and 19th centuries.