Tolman Gay House

Built in 1743 by Nathaniel Tolman around the time of his marriage, this home in Needham, Mass., hosted two early families for years.

When Nathaniel died in 1775, he left the house jointly to his wife, Mehitable, and son, John. The front of the house went to John, the back to his mother.

John was a member of the local militia, fighting in the battles of Lexington and Concord, which kicked off the Revolutionary War. After being seriously injured, he returned home to live with his widowed mother and fought again after his recovery.

A carpenter, John Tolman built a small, deep drawer in the mantel of his fireplace, where it is assumed he stored his sword. He married Elizabeth Fisher in 1778, and town records also show that he built coffins. He was involved in town affairs, including being the burying ground sexton and town assessor.

The house was sold to Jonathan Gay Jr., in 1804, when John and Elizabeth moved to Vermont.

Gay, the son of an old comrade Tolman knew from the military, was a schoolteacher and served in the state legislature. The Gay family owned the house until 1923.

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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