Brown House

Brown House
Excerpt taken from Brownville Comprehensive Plan

The Brown House is located on High Street. The Francis Brown House is one of only two houses in Brownville to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1815 Francis Brown came here to build a lumber mill and to oversee the town on behalf of his uncle, Moses Brown. Francis lived for a while in what had been the Rev. Hezekiah May house, while he had a house built for himself and his family. As the town grew, so did Francis Brown's house. It is said to have taken twelve years to complete, and when one looks at the terraced yard, the heavy wood peg construction and the fine woodwork, and remembers that this was a frontier town, that is not difficult to believe.

The hardware came from Boston and the foundation granite from the coast. Clay for bricks that built the massive cellar arches, chimney and top quarter of the foundation was dug 30 miles away in Charleston, brought to the site by oxen and then shaped and fired in a kiln on the property. When it was finally completed, Mr. Brown's house was not only the grandest in town but also somewhat of an architectural wonder.

In the attic of the Francis Brown House the entire second story ceilings of 2x4 and 10x10 hand hewn beams are suspended from a 40-foot length of hewn timber, which forms the ridgepole. A visiting architect from Sturbridge Village noted that the building would stand even if all the interior walls were removed.

Another unique feature is found in the wall above the great fireplace between the kitchen and the living room. A cabinet slides out of the wall to reveal a secret hiding place that purportedly gave refuge to runaway slaves in the days of the Underground Railroad. The owners Woody and Susan Higgins have since meticulously restored the Francis Brown House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985. Mrs. Higgins is a descendent of the Brown family.

(The Brown House is on the National Register of Historical Places.)