John Jarvis House/Town Pound

Before the John Jarvis house was built in 1831, its property belonged to Gershom Swan, who owned loads of surrounding land as well as a chair factory nearby.

Swan leased this Arlington, Mass., to the town to create the first “town pound.” The pound, which held stray pigs, horses and cattle, was about 20 square feet and six feet tall, made of heavy planks and “surmounted by a broad timber on which boys of the day loved to roost,” according to its entry in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Inventory System.

Swan earned about $3.00 per year from this venture, up until his death in 1826.

John Jarvis bought this land from one of Swan’s heirs in 1832. The town pound was moved elsewhere and Jarvis, a housewright, built this home later on. His carpentry skills are displayed in the elegant doorway with Federal fanned detail, and he had a carpentry shop out back.

At the time of his death in 1855, his land, house, carpentry shop/tools and furniture were valued at $5,000, which was a boatload in those days. He was pretty much a baller.

The family lived in the house until the death of Miss Helen Jarvis in 1911. Helen was the town’s fourth librarian from 1851-1861.

The town doctor, E.P. Stickney lived next door and bought the house, eventually selling to Dr. Saunders, whose family lived here in 1970. wo doctors owned the home at different times. It was eventually gifted to the town, and is now used as town offices.

The house is across the street from the Old Burying Ground, which dates back to 1732.

Local folklore says that a female skeleton with a bullet hole between her eye sockets was unearthed on the property back in the day. An ancestor of settlers, lore say she was victim of an accidental shooting during a Thanksgiving day festival.

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