This 1 1/2 storey wooden frame house is a typical example of the folk or vernacular architecture of working class people during the nineteenth century. The house is modest in its overall design; it displays economy of materials and plainness of decoration. In fact, it retains only the most functional minimum exterior trim. The Cape Cod style influence is evident in the simple gable dormer of the upper level and the smaller end chimneys. This latter aspect of house planning increased interior living space and permitted a utilitarian arrangement of rooms around a central hall. The five-bay facade features 2/2 hooded windows and a central door with a plain transom (which has been recently altered). A later addition was attached to the rear of the original structure.
The house was built around 1840 by a yeoman, Walter Shea and it is possible that he farmed the land behind the building. In 1857, the property was purchased by a currier, James O'Brien who built a large tannery directly behind the house where he operated a successful business. The house and business were inherited by O'Brien's son, John who was also a tanner and through modern innovations, he increased production. The house remained in the O'Brien family until 1908.
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