The Old Freeman House

Old Freeman House, Gloucester, 1928 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin
The Davis-Freeman house, built in 1709 on 17 acres, is a first period colonial house located at 302 Essex Avenue (Route 133). It’s named after owner Charles Freeman, a descendant of eighteenth century Gloucester slaves. For many years the house served as a tavern on one of the two roads into Gloucester before 1950. From the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s, the Freeman house was the Stage Coach Inn, a restaurant serving lunch, tea, and dinner: “In this old tavern – one of the earliest – you’ll enjoy our hospitality and delicious food in an atmosphere of the old stage coach days.” The photograph below shows owner Harriet Johnson in the doorway of the house. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Freeman house is owned by Wellspring House, a Cape Ann organization assisting families and individuals to become financially self-sufficient.
Harriet Johnson, 1928 Alice M. Curtis/©Fredrik D. Bodin

Printed from the original 5×7 inch film negatives in my darkroom. Image #A8557-063 (house), and A8557-061 (Harriet)
Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930


  • Still standing, I guess? If so, I hope someone will post a present day photo of it. I’ve probably been by the address a thousand times. Wonderful photos here!


  • Wow! Who knew!


  • Isn’t it the house that Wellspring is in at 302 Essex ave??


  • My understanding is it was built in 1649, by retired sea captain of no historical reference but allegedly his name was John Smith–It was in its first machination his residence and a stage coach house. Our parents Dick and Winnie Bell bought it around 1942 from the Keffers,( who ran it as the modern Stage Coach House)they bought it from a German gentleman named Poole-He was the restoration artisan woodworker who bought it in severe disrepair(picture above-turn of the century)after Hadie Johnson the last descendant of the Freeman had died–Her father was allegedly part of the Northern Railroad as was the house. Winnie and Dick are still alive –working towards their 70th Anniversary and 90th and 100th Birthdaze respectively,they sold the house in 1978 to Richard Chevoor and partners –they intended to create a LaDeeDaaa restaurant but when their backer the Black Senator from Massachussettes,Edward Brooke got into n trouble-They sold it to The WellSpring Group around 1981–It was an amazing gift in my life to have grown up living in it–til my senior year in high School-when my mom and dad who had spent 30years doing their own continue restoration care bought an equally amazing home on the water cross town in 1971–they held on to it and supported the creation of the Stage Coach Gallery and Books–The used book store was the creation of our local talented author and Antiquarian Marine Expert Gregor Gibson


  • My mother and father (Dick and Winnie) bought the house with seven acres in 1942 for 7,000$. We sold the property in 1978 to Richard Chevoor (a business partner of Black US Senator Ed Brook) who intended to open a ladedah restaurant.
    The Freeman house was built in 1649, (our understanding, based on restoration (previous owner Poole’s research, 1920’s) originally a four room – lodging house.
    Haddie Johnson, was the daughter of a freed/escaped slave who took the last name of Freeman…the house was in rough condition as it served as part of the “Northern Railroad” in the mid 1800’s allegedly.


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