Franklin Countys First News

Butterfield’s homes

Samuel Butterfield's "Red House" built in 1789.

By Richard Corey

FARMINGTON - As you drive along Routes 2 and 4 in West Farmington you pass two historic buildings that date back to Farmington earliest pioneer years. Both buildings were built by Samuel Butterfield. One is the brick “Mansion’ opposite Hannaford and the other is the oldest existing wooden framed structure in Franklin County. The latter is the unassuming two-story building with a large center chimney situated next to the Prompto 10 Minute Oil Change.

This former residence of Samuel Butterfield known as the historic Butterfield Red House dates back to 1789. The E.L Vining’s and Son have purchased the property and plan to develop the parcel of land containing the historic Butterfield House. The second historic structure, the Butterfield Mansion was built in 1800. This was the first brick structure built in Farmington and is currently the home of Skowhegan Saving Bank.

Samuel Butterfield and his brother Jonas arrived in Farmington 239 years ago in 1781 from Dunstable, MA. Prior to their arrival, Samuel Butterfield served in the American Revolution. The Butterfields were one of eight of families (Browns, Davis, Knowlton, Kannady etc.) that wintered over in Farmington in 1781. Samuel Butterfield chose river Lot no. 2 of the original survey on the west side of the Sandy River. This lot is situated within the general area of Jade Palace, the highway maintenance building and the historic Butterfield Cemetery.

The Red House in current times.

In Butler’s "A History of Farmington, Maine" he writes that on the property, Samuel “planted the apple trees that first fruited the town.” The first years after Samuel arrived in Farmington, he built a lean-to covered with elm bark, which served as his first home. This earlier crude structures served as his dwelling until about 1789 when Samuel built the two-story building, known as the Butterfield Red House, which we still see today. Since the building’s original construction, the color has changed many times and is currently white. In the late 1790s Mr. Butterfield purchased the adjoining Lot no. 3 and in 1800 built a brick “Mansion” which we now know as Skowhegan Savings Banks

The first town meeting of Farmington was held at Butterfield's earliest crude home on Oct. 15, 1783 and throughout the following years Samuel served in many capacities in town government. Mr. Butterfield was one of the proprietors of the town and along with Francis Tufts travelled to Boston in 1790 to conclude the purchase of the township. In 1808 Mr. Butterfield served as representative to the General Court in Massachusetts and died later that same year.

Samuel had several sons, two of which, Moses and James, ultimately settled on their father’s two properties. Moses Butterfield settled at the original Butterfield Red House where he followed in his father’s footstep and served in town and state government. Moses was only a little over a year old when the Butterfield family spent the first winter in 1881. In 1832 Moses was elected town treasurer and in 1834 was elected representative to the Maine State Legislature. His brother James Butterfield settled in the “Brick Mansion” and followed a similar path to his father’s, serving the town as selectman for various years between 1817-1839, and as our representative to the legislature in 1824-1825. James Butterfield was the first male child of Samuel and Hannah Chandler Butterfield to be born in Farmington in 1786.

Perhaps the most well-known child of Samuel and Hannah was their oldest son Samuel Jr., who was born in 1766. He was known as a resourceful man and had great mechanical ingenuity. In 1789 Samuel Jr. moved to East Wilton and within a year built a saw and gristmill at the falls within the general area of Shelly’s Home Town Market. In fact, Sally Butterfield, Samuel’s Jr. daughter was the first child to be born in Tyngstown (Wilton) in 1793. Eight years later Samuel Jr. sold his business to his brother Henry and moved to Wilton where he developed an elaborate waterpower system of canals at the outlet of Wilson Pond, again for a saw and grist mill.

So, the next time you are driving by Hannaford along Rts 2 and 4 and see the historic buildings of Samuel Butterfield remember a time when our community was being forged and the first fruits of agriculture were being sown. The enterprising spirit and hard work of these early pioneers left a lasting mark on our community that is still visible after more than 200 years. The Butterfield Red House and “Brick Mansion” connect present day Farmington to our early years when Maine pioneers first traced their way to the Sandy River Valley.

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