The Balch House
448 Cabot Street, Beverly
Closed for the season; reopening in June 2014
Admission: $5/free for members
Driving Directions: Click
Click on the house below for our virtual tour of the Balch House. We are grateful for
the support of Montserrat College of Art and the Beverly Cultural Council.
John Balch was born in Bridgewater, Somerset, England in 1579. He and his first wife, Margaret, were part of a group sent to New England by the Dorchester Company to establish a fishing industry. The Dorchester Company first landed in Weymouth in 1623, then moved north to Gloucester in 1624, but the settlement there was not successful. When the company was recalled to England, the Balches, Roger Conant, John Woodbury, Peter Palfry, and others stayed in Massachusetts and moved south to Naumkeg, now Salem, in 1626.
John Balch first gained title to the land through a grant - the so-called "Thousand Acre Grant" - on November 11th, 1635 and apparently was living on this property by 1636. His house was small - built a story and a half high - one large hall on the main floor plus a loft upstairs. He chose a site on a hillock that looked down on the nearby Bass River, where he had easy access to salt marsh and to his pasture land and orchards.
The ancestral home remained in the family until 1916. Through combinations of luck and foresight, the Balch House has survived while the hundreds of homes from the same era have fallen to progress or decay. The hero was William Sumner Appleton, a member of the Balch Family Association and Director of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA). Fearing loss of the house, he formed the Balch House Trust to purchase the home, joined by Charles Knowles Bolton, President of SPNEA, and Franklin Balch. The house as we see it today, in fact, is a product of its restoration as much as its origins.
The Trust turned over the house to the Beverly Historical Society in 1932, which maintains and operates it today. Caretaker Nancy Peabody Hood has been welcoming visitors to the house for forty years. Balch descendants (and others) may join the Society as a Balch House Associate to indicate their particular interest in the house.
You can enjoy a tour with Nancy Hood, Balch descendant, who has been showing visitors the Balch House since 1970.