Thursday, June 28, 2012

So, Where is Winthrop anyway?

An essay by a new guest blogger, Bette Pye Wing

The Deane Winthrop House circa 1675
Winthrop, Massachusetts
So where is Winthrop anyway? I grew up in Winthrop, but I always say I’m from Boston because no one knows where Winthrop is. I run into other New Englanders and they say the same thing, so I always say “me too, but I actually come from Winthrop.” Then I find out they’re from Lynn, Medford, Chelsea, Revere or another town they think no one has heard of. So then we have a great chat about Boston, the home towns and how much we miss New England. I call myself an outlander, but, in truth, I’m a died in the wool, sea water in my veins, New Englander.

But this isn’t about me, it’s about Winthrop. This little gem of a town is a peninsula jutting out into the northern reaches of Boston Harbor. There are only two ways into and out of town, one through East Boston and the other through Revere. This has provided the town with a bit of insulation. You usually have a reason for going there because you can’t go any further. There’s nothing beyond except the mighty North Atlantic. You don’t drive through Winthrop on your way to some other town.

Winthrop was settled in 1630 by just a handful of hardy people. Much of it was owned by John Winthrop, Gov. of Mass. Bay Colony. His son, Deane Winthrop (1623-1704) was one of the early settlers. The place that became his home was built in 1637 and he lived there 1647-1703. It has become one of the oldest wood frame houses in the country. Another distinction for this historical jewel is that it is the oldest continuously lived in home in the United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

When I was a youngster, the people, who lived there as caretakers, were friends of my family. I spent many an afternoon there with my mother while she visited with her friend. I treasure my warm memories of this house, but one stands out vividly. Across from the front door was a closet built in under the staircase. This small, cramped closet held a secret, though. Way in the back was another door. I was allowed to go into that place, have the doors closed and for a brief moment in time, I experienced the fear those early children must have felt, for this was a hidey-hole, where they hid the children during Indian attacks. I don’t know if the Indians ever did attack, but those first settlers were prepared to save their children. The Deane Winthrop House is open to the public but you must call ahead for an appointment. (617) 846-8606 40 Shirley St, Winthrop, MA 02152 Sources: 

and Personal experience

by Guest Blogger Bette Pye Wing

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo and Bette Pye Wing


  1. Great post -- I remember going to Winthrop from Cambridge to visit with your family and it seemed a world away! Magical, with the ocean just steps away -- thanks for the memories -- Oh, and the historical information, too.

  2. What a wonderful story of the history. And what an incredible experience of the hidey-hole. We forget how challenging it was for the early settlers, particularly if we've lived in cities for a few generations or so. Thanks for the post!