One of my stops on my trip was a stop in to visit the Thurston-Wells House built about 1848 on Main Street in Hopkinton, RI. Built by Benjamin Thurston, he sold the house to Augustus L. Wells in 1864. Augustus was the son of Edward Sheffield Wels Jr. and Deborah Hoxsie Lewis and my 3rd cousin 5 times removed. I have to admit that I nicknamed him “Unlucky Gus” sometime back when I found the following articles about him:
Providence Evening Journal (Providence, RI)25 Feb 1863: Accident in Hopkinton – Augustus L. Wells in going out of his barn on Tuesday evening of last week, stumbled and fell, striking his head on a stone with as much force as to render him insensible until the next morning. He was recovering at last accounts. – Westerly Weekly.
Providence Evening Journal (Providence, RI)11 Nov 1863, Page 3: Hopkinton. Mr. A.L.Wells of Hopkinton, met with a serious accident on the 31st ult. He had placed in his pantaloons pocket a paper containing about half a pound of powder. Having occasion to try a fuse he lit a match, the fire from which, by some means, communicated with the powder in his pocket,and he was badly though it is hoped not dangerously burned.
The Thurston – Wells house is currently for sale. Here is a link to the website with the listing. http://www.historical-home.com/2012/05/historic-hopkinton-ri-home.html
In the 1950’s and 60’s the house had fallen into a deplorable state and certainly would have eventually been demolished if it weren’t for the efforts of a buyers who spent a lot of time and money of many years to get the house back into the lovely condition that it now enjoys. When they actually started renovating the house, the tore down about 5 rooms off to what in the photo below would have been to your right. You can kind of see this in the old black and white photo of the house if you scroll down
Here is a photo of the house from Page 70 of Images of America: Hopkinton by Kirk W. House. If you aren’t aware of the Images of America books you should check them out.
Here is a picture of Augustus L. Wells:
From: History of Washington and Kent Counties, Rhode Island by J.R. Cole. Published in 1889
“Augustus L. Wells was born November 7th, 1820, in Charlestown, where he resided with his parents until the age of twelve years, when his sight became so much impaired as to preclude study. At the age of sixteen, having to some extent recovered from his malady, he began farming, and continued this occupation until 1851. He then, in company with his brother, Edward S., under the firm name of A.L. Wells & Co., established a carriage manufactory at Hopkinton City. They grew from small beginnings to large proportions, until in the excellence of its work and its capacity, the establishment, with steam power and all the modern improvements for expediting labor, was second to none in the state. On the 21st of April, 1888, this factory was consumed by fire, much valuable property destroyed, and the structure has never been rebuilt. Mr. Wells and his partner are at present engaged in closing the business thus suddenly arrested in its successful progress” (This was published in 1889, shortly after the fire) Mr. Wells and his brother, Edward S., now reside together in Hopkinton.”
Here is a close up of the front door. The side panels on either side of the door are made of beautiful cranberry glass. The next photo shows them from the inside where you can see the light shining through.
Here is a side view and a view from the rear of the house.
At the back of the house still stands the original outhouse. The outhouse was a six seater, spots for 3 adults and 3 children!
Here is a view from the out house to the carriage house out behind the main house.
Here is the carriage house.
Here are a few pictures I took under the carriage house where you can see the support structure of the building. While out and about in the area, I saw several large stones like the one that is holding up the building below with the notched groves in it about ever 5 or so inches. I saw them used laying on their side a few times as steps. Anyone familiar with what they may be??
Here is what is inside the carriage house. I took this photo at night with no lights so the only in the picture is from my flash. Not the best picture in the world. The owner who game me the tour said this was a Spicer Carriage.
At this point, I’ll mention that the present owners where in the process of packing so their home was in something of an understandable state of disarray so please forgive their clutter in the following photos.
This blue room is the front room of the house and if you were standing where I was when I took this picture the front of the house would be to your left.
behind to the blue front sitting room is a dining room that is separated from the front blue room by a pair of sliding pocket door.
Behind the dining room is a more newly renovated a modernized kitchen. However it still is in character with the house.
Here is the main staircase leading from right behind the front door up to the second floor.
The second floor was bedrooms and bathrooms and a staircase leading up to the Belvedere or Cupola up top.
Here is the Hopkinton 1850 Census showing Augustus L Wells living with George Thurston when they lived in the house together.
Here is the 1860 census for Hopkinton showing Augustus and family living in the house.
Here is a copy of an advertisement for the A.L. Wells & Co., Carriage Manufactory that I bought on EBAY.
From: Narragansett Weekly, 26 April 1888. FIRE AT HOPKINTON: A disastrous fire broke out in Hopkinton City shortly after 10 o’clock Saturday evening, April 21st, which quickly destroyed the carriage shop of A.L. Wells & Co., the “Jerry Thurston” house, the “Spicer Tavern,” and two barns. Smoke was seen coming from the carriage shop by both E. Sterry Holdredge and Nathan Holloway at about the same time, and immediately an alarm was given. The fire must have been under strong headway when discovered, as it quickly broke through the roof, and, fanned by a northwest wind, swept over the carriage shop and the other doomed buildings quickly. The carriage shop was filled with carriages, old and new, and a large amount of material was at hand. Efforts were made to get the completed work out , but they were only partially successful, more than seventy carriages, including the best, being destroyed. There was nothing with which to fight the fire except by carrying water in pails, and it was quickly seen that such protection could not save the Thurston nor the Spicer houses. Accordingly an attempt was made to remove the furniture of Mr George K. Thayer, who owned and occupied the former, Mr. E. Sterry Holdridge and Rev. L. F. Randolph, who occupied the latter, Mr Holdredge being the owner, Mr. Thayer and Mr. Randolph each secured about one half of their goods, but Mr. Holdredge saved very little, his wife having hardly any time to dress her small children. In Mr. Thayer’s house was stored the household goods of Mrs. Adeline Wilbur, and they were burned. Across the street from the Thurston House is the residence and store of Mr. E.R. Allen, and as it thought that was also sure to go, all of the furniture and goods were taken out, but by hanging carpets over the building, and keeping them fairly drenched with water the house was saved. The same method was successfully used to prevent the firing of Mr. John Wells’ house, which stood next to Spicer Tavern. By 3 o’clock Sunday morning the fire was out, though smouldering, and hardly a trace of the building which had stood there so short a time before was to be found.