Tiverton high students lend hand to history


TIVERTON — On good weather weekends over the past two months, some Tiverton High School students and their teacher, with tools in hand, have played a role in preserving local history.

They have been re-shingling the 282-year-old Chase-Cory House at 3908 Main Road in Tiverton Four Corners. From the students' perspective, that old house was built about 10 or 11 generations ago and is about 17 times older than they are.

The current restoration project began in about 2005, said Paul Celemme, president of the Tiverton Historical Society which owns the house and the other three structures —an outhouse, a corn crib, and a wash house — on the property.

First to be done back then, he said, was the installation of new electrical wiring, a new boiler, and a modern oil-fired heating system. Last summer, new red cedar roofs were put on all four structures by professionals.

But it was the students' arrival on the project this fall that infused new energy into the project.

"When these guys came in," Mr. Celemme said. "they moved like gangbusters." The students included seniors Ryan Mirka and Zach Silveira, and junior Hannah Cook-Dumas.

They were led by their teacher, William Phillips, an instructor in technical education at the high school.

"They brought with them their pneumatic tools and did it professionally, an excellent job," Mr. Celemme said.

Helping in the re-shingling effort, and working alongside the students, was Tiverton Historical Society Vice President Jeff Cobb who, 42 years ago when he was a student himself at the high school, participated in another restoration under the direction of Carlton Brownell, a Little Compton historian and former Tiverton High School teacher. Other members of the historical society also participated.

All the re-shinglers were volunteers, Mr. Celemme said.

Funding for the restoration project was entirely by donations — no grants, no taxpayer funds, he said. Co-leaders on the project are Mr. Cobb and John Manchester.

"John has been the fire to get this all going," Mr. Celemme said. "He's been quite the catalyst."

Left to do are the re-shingling of the north and south sides of the main house, and the sides of the wash house and corn crib, Mr. Celemme said.

The Chase-Cory House is a 3/4 cape with gambrel roof, a large brick center chimney and a transom over the center entrance.

It was built either by Benjamin Chase or his son Abner Chase. Benjamin was said to have been married to Amy Borden, who is the great-great-great-great-aunt of the infamous Lizzie Borden. In its early years it was home to whaling captains and their families, descendants of one of the first of twenty seven freemen listed as original residents of Tiverton.

Website information says the house and grounds retain many features original to a Colonial village farm.

In 1964 it was taken over by the Tiverton Historical Society and was restored to its present condition. It is one of the best preserved examples of a modest Colonial farmhouse to be found in Tiverton.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.