For the last few years, a small community of concerned citizens have been trying to save one of Framingham's most historic homes, the 300 year Sarah Clayes house. Like several of Framingham's earliest settlers, Sarah and her husband were refugees from the Salem witch trials. Sarah was imprisoned awaiting trial for witchcraft but escaped and settled with her husband on land owned by Thomas Danforth, in an area that became known as Salem End (hence Salem End Road). In a strange twist of fate, the land Sarah and some of the other refugees settled on was owned by Thomas Danforth, a judge in the Salem witchcraft trials, who presided over Sarah's pretrial hearing. (The town was named after Danforth's home town of Framlingham England.) How Sarah and Peter and other refugees from Salem came to live on land owned by Danforth is unknown, but he is rumored to have regretted his role in the trials. Peter Clayes went on to become one of Framingham's first selectman when the town was founded in 1700. Like perhaps no other structure in Framingham, the Sarah Claye's house tells the story of Framingham's early history. Other towns would leave no stone unturned to save such an important part of their history, but sadly the Sarah Clayes house is on the verge of being lost forever. Recently, several squared x's were spraypainted onto the house in day-glo orange leading to speculation that the house may be slated for demolition. See pictures here:

Now it turns out that another historic home, the Gates-Rugg house, which is visible from Route 9, also is marked with the same markings. The house was built in 1774 by a local blacksmith who also planted an elm tree that grew so huge that it became a well known local tourist attraction well into the 20th century.

Does anybody in Framingham know what is going on with these houses? Does anybody care? If you do, please contact your town meeting representative or selectman. State Rep. Chris Walsh was once involved in trying to save the Gates-Rugg house, so he might be a good person to contact ( Unless local officials hear from constituents, they will rightly assume that nobody in Framingham cares about the town's history. To lose both houses would be sad statement about the community.

Tom Hoyt