Built in 1853, Kemp Place is one of Reading’s more high-styled Italianate houses. It’s one of few houses with surviving cupolas in the town, and its chimney has terra cotta rosettes, which we were bummed we couldn’t see from the street.
The Barn was built the same year, and shares stylistic details with the house. Both properties are listed separately on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2014, both properties were proposed for demolition by the owner due to extensive wood rot. The place is fenced off, but still standing.
After working as a cabin boy at sea, Kemp formed a Boston shoe and boot business called Mansfield and Kemp. He commuted to the city, and also tried his hand at gentleman farming here.
Kemp formed an amateur singing group, “Father Kemp’s Old Folks,” which toured both locally and in the south and west, finally taking its act to England in 1861.
An author of two books, Kemp served on the school committee, where he stressed the importance of music education.
He sold this house in 1868, and bought one down the street, which we’ll post tomorrow!
A later owner of the house opened one of the first dollar stores in Boston. A prominent Harvard University lawyer, Charles P. Howard, who was active in state and local politics, inherited the house next. His wife, Katherine, was active in the Republican Party, serving as secretary of the Republican National Convention in 1952.