Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Research on the Waite-Kirby-Potter house in Westport, Massachusetts, included mapping historical resources visible on the surface and excavating 25 test pits and units near the house foundations in the fall of 2009. Field investigations were complemented by extensive documentary research including a complete chain of title and genealogical research on the three families who have owned the property between the late 17th century and the present. The visible historical features include elements associated with the former stone ender (the standing stone end and chimney, an adjacent brick chimney, and a stone-lined cellar hole), stone walls, a 19th-century barn foundation, a family cemetery, and the standing Restcome Potter house. The excavations uncovered a clean gravel work yard in front of the stone end house and sheet trash scatters with artifacts from the mid-18th to early 20th centuries behind and west of the house, as well as the remains of post holes for an agricultural outbuilding or fence at the edge of the near-by agricultural field. A primary trash deposit from a space within the chimney complex was probably deposited c. 1860 and contained numerous reconstructable ceramic vessels and glass bottles. Several of the ceramic vessels date to the previous century and had been curated for some time before being discarded.

The most significant contributions are to the architectural history of the property; the combination of archaeological and documentary research has suggested some new or more specific dates for events previously dated only by tradition. We suggest that the stone-end house, traditionally dated to 1677, may have been constructed in the early 18th century between 1707 and 1721 by Thomas or Benjamin Waite. The western addition to the house, attributed to David Kirby, was constructed during the period when David and his father Ichabod’s families both occupied the house (1763-1793). The construction of the Restcome Potter house has traditionally been attributed to Restcome in 1838, but the property’s previous owner David Kirby mentions his “new dwelling house” in his 1832 will, pushing the construction date of this house earlier. Finally, the modifications to the stone chimney took place after 1858, demonstrating the Potter family’s continued use and upkeep of the older house. Test pits around the foundations of the western addition to the stone ender uncovered stone foundations and sill supports intact immediately beneath the modern ground surface.


Prepared for the Community Preservation Committee (Town of Westport) by the Fiske Center at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Cultural Resource Management Study No. 37.