Thursday, 24 February 2011

Another home with a history, across the pond

I'm still on the look-out for properties with interesting associations, like the Brewster home I described at or the writer R.F. Delderfield's former house in Sidmouth that you can see at

And having told you about the life of former Budleigh Salterton resident Surgeon Commander Murray Levick and his pioneering work to help the blinded veterans of World War One at how could I fail not to notice the interesting property shown above in Budleigh Salterton's Cape Cod sister-town of Brewster?

Especially as it has a connection with someone who was one of America's most famous blind people.

It's a beautiful house with its own merits of course. Listed by the realtor [estate agent for my UK readers] as "gracious 18th century Georgian Colonial rich in detail and history" it has all the usual sought-after features such as high ceilings, dentil moulding, wide pine floorboards, raised panelled walls and five fireplaces with fine carved surrounds. Outside there are three acres of rolling lawns and woods. You'll find more details if you click on

Of course it's not the kind of house that would suit most of today's homeowners who would insist on en-suites for each of its four bedrooms. One and a half bathrooms is all that this classic Cape Cod property can offer.

The house is likely to have been built in the late 18th or early 19th century since a previous owner was Sophia Crocker Hopkins, whose father and grandfather were builders in Brewster at that time. And therein lies, in my wandering mind anyway, the connection with Budleigh Salterton's Commander Levick and his concern for the welfare of blinded ex-servicemen.

For the house is noted for its association with Helen Keller, the deaf-blind woman who, in the words of the RNIB website, showed millions of people that disability need not be the end of the world.
It seems that Mrs Crocker Hopkins, widowed when her sea captain husband Charles died on one of his voyages, moved from Brewster to Boston where she became a housemother at the Perkins School for the Blind, one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the US. Here she met and became a mentor to Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher and companion.

When Mrs Crocker Hopkins returned to Brewster it was in the Cape Cod resort at the house at 1491 Main Street that Helen Keller spent the first of several seaside holidays with Anne.

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. On March 6, 2008, the New England Historic Genealogical Society announced that a staff member had discovered this rare 1888 photograph showing Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan which, although previously published, had escaped widespread attention. Depicting Helen holding one of her many dolls, it is believed to be the earliest surviving photograph of Anne

Whoever buys this house will be buying a unique piece of US history. At $649,900K, which works out at £403,33K on my calculator, that's not a bad price.

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