The William Pearl House in Hampton

Sitting at the curve of old Route 6 where it meets Main Street in Hampton, Conn. is a unique house that has stood as witness to Hampton events and history for some 80 years.  It is an amazing house which reigns large in my memories from childhood.

William Austin Pearl, 1880-1971
William Austin Pearl, 1880-1971

My mother, Dorothy Pearl Overbaugh grew up in Hampton with her 2 sisters and brother in a farmhouse at the foot of Hammond Hill.  My Grandpa William A. and Grandma Mabel Pearl farmed there for many years.  After her death in 1929 and their daughters marrying and moving away, Grandpa, who avidly read the National Geographic magazines he subscribed to, took a train trip to fulfill a dream of traveling to some of those marvelous places he’d read about.  On that train trip, he met a widow, Elizabeth McDuffee Fero.  They fell in love and soon married.  In the early 1930’s, Will and Elizabeth sold the farm to Will’s son, Bill, and moved to the top of Hampton Hill into a newly built home on Main Street and Route 6.

I grew up in Waterbury, Conn.  Our family made summer pilgrimages to Hampton to escape the city and revel in the clean air and loveliness of the old village of Hampton.  For Mom it was a coming home.  For me, as a child, Hampton was a new world of freedom, family and fun.  We often stayed with Grandpa and Grandma Elizabeth in that big house on Hampton hill.  Entering the house from the big front porch one was immediately aware of the sweet, fresh smell of wood.  Even today, most of the beautiful wood trim in the house is unpainted and the wood smell is still detectable.  The rooms were large and filled with light, the large, open kitchen where Grandma made the most delectable pancakes, fried chicken, baked beans and pies, always smelled inviting.  I am sure that she was a star at church pot luck suppers!

William Austin and Elizabeth (McDuffee Fero) Pearl
William Austin and Elizabeth (McDuffee Fero) Pearl

Immediately upon entering my grandparents home, I would first stop to enjoy a winter scene of miniature people skiing and iceskating in the little landscape of a snow covered hill and pond.  It sat in a glassed-in book cabinet directly opposite the front door.  I would then make my way into the kitchen where there was an old secretary desk with space underneath covered by a little curtain that held an old wooden box of blocks and toys.  That toy box was brought up to one of the front bedrooms on the 2nd floor for me and set on the wood floor at the foot of a bed where I was free to create imaginary cities, towns, castles, etc. to my heart’s content.

The Pearl House, Front View
The Pearl House, Front View

To me as a child, this house was a marvel, and it evoked wonder, pleasure and memories that I have never experienced from any other place.  It struck me, when I had a wonderful opportunity in recent years to revisit this special place, that as an adult it still seemed very large and still held a kind of magic for me.

The Pearl House of Hampton, Rear View
The Pearl House of Hampton, Rear View

As a child visiting there, I had the run of the house.  Large, easy to climb stairs linked the different floors of the home. I explored everywhere and developed definite feelings for certain special spots.   One was the sun room on the 2nd floor where Grandma had a day bed, wicker chairs and many flowering plants.  It was open and bright and had gorgeous views of the valley and her perennial garden below.  The attic was floored and held all sorts of treasures  stored there.  At each end of the attic were large windows which at the front overlooked the street and at the back overlooked the back yard and the valley.  The large basement also had windows and was well lit.  Grandpa had his workshop there and Grandma had shelves filled with her preserves and canned goods.

This house is an inviting and well designed treasure, very well constructed, and handily withstood the Hurricane of 1938 despite major wind damage to neighboring homes and structures.  When we retired back to New England, had it been offered for sale, we would likely have purchased it. To me, this place in the heart of the beautiful village of  Hampton, has a warm and embracing aura.

12 thoughts on “The William Pearl House in Hampton

  1. I always thought this was an interesting house, and remember some good times there. It proved to be a haven for my dad, Reuben Pearl, and me, on the day of the l938 hurricane. We took refuge there on our way back to the Post Office after delivering mail wherever we could because of downed wires and trees. We finally made it to the Post Office where my Aunt Evelyn was Postmaster. When we started for home we could not get through that portion of road in front of the church, so drove up the driveway to the church just as the steeple fell off to the side of us. We didn’t get hurt and eventually got home safely.

    1. Peg, This is quite a story. What is the old saying about how the mailman will not be deterred from his appointed rounds by snow, sleet, rain, etc. ? I am impressed!

  2. Thank you so much for this story. As a small child I had the fortune to live in that house with my parents. My father, William L. Pearl (Billy), tells similar stories and your accounts mirror his. Even though I only lived there until I was approx. 5 years old I have warm memories of that home and couldn’t agree more with the spirit your descriptions invoke.

    1. Shannon, I did not know that you had lived there in that house. It is nice to hear from someone who understands my love for this place! Thank you.

  3. This is a wonderful article of your beloved family home. Thanks for sharing . Peg: i love your memory also. I had not heard it before.

    What is the email info for Debra Macha? My brother, Don Stone, is looking to update his part of family genealogy.

  4. We are currently the new owners of the Pearl House. We are renovating and upgrading the house. We are painting it and clearing the back yard for a vegetable garden. We have 11 chickens and look forward to retirement in this beautiful part of Eastern Connecticut.
    Andrea Kaye and Bruce Spaman
    PS Contact us if you want to see the house. During the summer weekends we are usually sitting on the front porch!

    1. Andrea and Bruce:

      My mother has fond memories of visiting her grandparents there, and has often spoken of the large vegetable garden that was in the backyard and of the chickens that my great grandparents kept in a chicken coop there. It is good that it will be so again!

      Thank you,

      – Allen Vander Meulen III

      1. After the reunion on July 30th we would entertain family members wishing to stop by to see the house and property.
        Andrea and Bruce

      2. You are welcome anytime! And we are enjoying our summer here. We wish you best.
        Andrea & Bruce

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