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By Rachel Gore
Medfield Hometown Weekly Intern
Anyone looking for a fun, free, and educational way to spend a Sunday afternoon should consider stepping back in time and touring Medfield’s historic Peak House.
Restored by the Medfield Historical Society, the Peak House is one of Medfield’s oldest buildings and a potent reminder of the town’s roots. Although historians originally believed that the Peak House was built around 1680, new information acquired by dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, has allowed them to more accurately date the construction of the house.
“A few years ago, we hired a dendrochronologist and he was able to determine that [the tree used for the timbers] started growing in 1492, when Columbus was sailing the ocean blue, and it was cut down in the winter of 1710 and 1711,” said Nancy Horan, a volunteer with the Medfield Historical Society. “The house presumably was built the following summer in 1711, not in 1680 as the original sign says.”
During the school year, Medfield’s third grade students visit the Peak House along with other historical sites in town as part of their academic curriculum. Nancy and other volunteers use the example of the misdated wooden board to teach the students about the continuously evolving nature of research.
“I love telling the third-graders … that this is what happens when you study something,” said Horan. “You do your research and you get your facts and you put them together the best way you can, and then something else comes along and you have to shuffle it up and come up with a better conclusion.”
The Peak House is a gem not only because of its rare post-Medieval English architecture, but also the various historical objects that it currently houses. Between an old-fashioned spinning wheel that evokes thoughts of “Rumpelstiltskin” or “Sleeping Beauty,” an antique 18th century foot warmer used during church services, and a goffering iron used for pressing bonnets, seemingly every corner of the Peak House features an object of curiosity sure to inspire inquisitive gazes.
Perhaps most importantly, it provides Medfielders with a tangible reminder of their town’s Colonial past.
Walk-in hours for Peak House tours will run throughout July and August on Sunday afternoons between 2 and 5 p.m.