Published: August 3, 2021
DANVERS, MASS. – In 1991, members of the Putnam and Emerson family transferred ownership of the General Israel Putnam Home on Maple Street to the Danvers Historical Society with an additional $100,000 for an endowed maintenance fund. The historical society, facing financial problems, has been charged by the family of failing to uphold their initial promises and a judge recently ordered the house be sold back to the families for $225,000.
Since the historical society acquired the house, the family gave them $165,000 towards maintenance and repairs, and an additional $100,000 in 2016 to remediate a mold issue.
The settlement draws a line under four years of litigation, and more than a decade of dispute, over the fate of the Seventeenth Century house, which the historical society voted to sell in 2017 to a private buyer who planned to convert a portion of the house into a “sober living” home.
Lieutenant Thomas Putnam built the house in 1648, more than 100 years before it was the residence of Israel Putnam, who became a leader in the Revolutionary War and was quoted “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” Another notable family member was Robert Winthrop Putnam, a Civil War soldier who died at the age of 16.
The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.
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