Jan and John Maggs Antiques
THE RESTORATION OF JABEZ NEWHALL’S TAVERN
CHAPTER 1 -- SEPTEMBER 1985 -- AS FOUND
Welcome to this serialized account of our discovery and restoration of our home in Conway. This series was published to show in words and pictures the work we did on our property in Conway. Our library of photographs is spotty; few if any photographs were taken during many periods of our most intense labors, and many of those that were are not of the highest quality. Nonetheless, for those of you who have expressed interest, and for others who might know us a little better through our 18-year labor of love, we offer this series.
It was a stroke of fate that brought us together—an off-hand comment in her Smith College office by Jan's boss, Bill Sheehan. Jan was poring through real estate advertisements, hoping to find an early house that a couple with less than modest means could afford. "You're looking for a house that's about to be bulldozed?" Bill said. "I have one of those."
Before the day ended we had driven to Conway from our apartment in Northampton and had crawled through the foliage which engulfed the derelict house to get a closer look at its insides.
Vacant for decades, it had evolved through two centuries, beginning as a humble 18th century dwelling in the "west part" of Deerfield. After the incorporation of the town of Conway in 1767, the owners of the house flourished, as did the fledgling town, and the property expanded in size and sophistication to become a tavern on the town green of colonial Conway. The print below is taken from John Barber's Historical Collections, first published in 1839.
At the beginning of the 19th century the town's fortunes shifted as new roads diverted traffic and commerce from Conway's historic center. As this shift occurred, and the town became agricultural once again, the Newhall farm became one of Franklin County's important dairies. Their prosperity is reflected in the following print, published in The History of the Connecticut River Valley, published in 1879.