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Farmington: Franklin County's Shiretown

The Brick Inn

By Nancy Porter, Researcher and Page Creator

The Brick Inn, now an apartment building. (photo taken in 2020)

Located on High Street, this building has been a rather prominent structure in town. Built in 1859-60 for the new owners, Timothy Belcher and new wife, Margaret, may have been the “Talk of the Town” for a young couple starting out.

In a letter written by Clementine to Mrs. York and donated to the Farmington Historical Society by Ellen Greer, Clementine shares her thoughts on this matter. (Letter dated Feb. 1860)

Supposing you would like particulars, I will mention some of the changes, and events that have transpired among us during the past season; but presume I shall repeat some things you already heard. The great event of the times, as I suppose it is considered by the parties concerned, is the final marriage of Tim Belcher and Margaret Butler, which came off the 19 of Jan [1860] . They were married before breakfast and gave a fine treat, I understood. The wedding was composed of all relatives as distant as cousin, including some second cousins. They took the cars immediately after for a bridal tour – as, of course they must go the whole figure if it was cold weather – they returned in ten days and commenced housekeeping immediately, as they previously arranged everything. He has built during the past season, a fine two story brick house, in Mrs. Daniel Belcher’s beautiful garden, and Margaret went to Boston, and spent four thousand dollars in furnishing it, so that now commence the married life in a much higher style, than anyone else in the place. Their morning dawned fairly, and I hope their setting sun may be as cloudless. So far as temporal comforts are concerned, I should think they might be very happy, but sincerely hope they will not receive all their “good things in life”. The while village are paying their respects to the fine lady, who keeps {house} dressed in her brocade, for the reception of callers. I heard she was intending to make a large “house-warming” but it has not come off yet.

Timothy F. Belcher was born in Farmington, 6th child of Clifford and Deborah A Fuller Belcher. He was born into a prominent family, his grandfather Supply, was one of the early settlers who came here from Stoughton, Mass. Supply brought his desire for music and education to a young settlement. And provided support to the town while it was considering becoming an “official” town, delivering the documents to Boston to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ authorities.

Timothy was educated in local schools and attended Farmington Academy. He went into business with his brother selling merchandise as A.W.F. Belcher. He later became involved in Banking, and since 1858 held the position of cashier of Sandy River National Bank. (Butler’s History of Farmington) He married Margaret J. Butler, daughter of Francis G Butler, Jan. 19, 1860. One son, Arthur, was born in 1861. Timothy Belcher died in 1890, and is buried in a private cemetery in Farmington with his parents. Margaret continued to live in Farmington with one servant; she died in 1920. The abstract of her will, along with dispersal of her estate, commanded her trustees not to sell the house for one year after her death. She left much of her estate to her granddaughters set up in trust for them until they reached 28 years old.

Arthur attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Andover Mass, and later attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 1882. He married Annie Smith in Bedford Mass. and was living in Portland in the 1900 Census with wife Annie and daughter Margaret; a daughter, Ruth, was born in Portland in 1901. Unfortunately, Arthur died in 1904. However, it is interesting to note that Arthur made sure, in his will, his mother was taken care of; and his family members were adequately supported, also. Annie, with daughters Margaret and Ruth, moved to Massachusetts and lived in the Newton-Waltham area. Once Elder Margaret died in Maine, her estate was turned over to Trustees - Thompson and Richard; from probate records it appears they took very good care of her money. During that time, the granddaughters received yearly sums from the investments. Starting in 1921, the "homestead" began to be broken up.

The location of the Brick Inn has been noted on this 1861 Walling Topographical Map of the Franklin County with Town of Farmington noted (map from Library of Congress).

In 1932, part of the original Belcher Homestead became the site of the original Mallett School, and later the new Mallett School built in 2011. But the Brick Inn remains on part of the original lot. Over the years, the original lot was pared down, selling pieces off to people whose land abutted the original Belcher Lot.

While there is no apparent survey, it appears the homestead included all the land behind the house toward what is now Quebec Street. Small lots with road frontage were sold piece-meal, often referencing Belcher's Field. That field was later known as Pratt's Field and was used by the High School for games and practice since the High School was on the lot adjacent to the Brick Inn. In 1922, the Brick Inn was sold to Florence Nimmo; the Belcher's held the mortgage. Florence Nimmo sold to Raymond Cottle, who later sold to Herbert and Gerrude Day. The Days sold to Errol Dearborn. (He was President of the Normal School at that time) Dearborn and wife sold to Bernard "Bing" Etzel; Mr. Etzel sold the Jonthan Luce. Jon Luce sold to Thomas Williams of Quincy, Mass. He never lived in it; it was likely an investment. Williams sold to Bill and Karen Marceau in 1991. And Bill Marceau sold to Brick Inn LLC, Byron and Taffy Davis.

Door of Brick Inn. Notice the complex brick work around the entrance. (photo taken in 2020)

Who actually turned a one-family home into apartments in unknown. Errol Dearborn would be a good guess. He was President of the College, and would have realized living space for students attending the "Normal School" was in short supply. There's speculation that the Brick Inn at one time may have been a Boarding House.

Today, the Brick Inn houses many of the local college students, The present owners, much like the previous owners, have continued to maintain the building and grounds. This house has one of Farmington's more attractive entrances. The brick layers who created it were artisans.