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Five fireplaces add warmth to 1700s Colonial

January 25, 2009

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137 North Road, Bedford
Price: $749,000
Style: Farmhouse
Built: 1781
Square feet: 2,709
Rooms: 10
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Sewer: Public

This house is so old that the wood planks beside the fireplace likely entered the world as saplings in the 1500s. It's so old that the nails pinning down the floorboards were made by hand, each one flatter or wider than its neighbor. The country was still an infant when this house was built, and the 300-year-old white oak tree out front was a young adult. This red clapboard house with five fireplaces also has a name: The David Lane House, built in 1781 by a fifer believed to have played at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. (His cousin Job Lane's house is now a museum down the road.) The Rumford fireplaces, shallow so they bleed less heat, and the chimney they feed lie at the center of the original section of the house, and reportedly took five years to build.

The house is brighter than many Colonials, thanks to its southern exposure and unusually high ceilings (8 1/2 feet). Chris Upton and her husband bought the house three years ago and tried to restore its style, as much as possible, to its original state. They ripped up carpets and sanded floors to expose wood. They steamed off wallpaper and painted the walls and wainscoting white.

"We felt that the house had so much character that we wanted to really keep it the way it was and not change anything, just kind of restore it to its beauty," said Upton, a real estate agent and one of the house's listing brokers. "We felt that the plain walls would accentuate the character of the house. We've decorated it sort of sparsely because we think the house . . . is better off if it's not encumbered by a lot of clutter."

The couple also renovated the kitchen, which is in an addition that probably dates to the early 1800s. Beside the kitchen is a still newer addition, built in 1972, now used as a office. That room has a door to a two-story garage, with a large, unfinished room upstairs that could be turned into an office or studio. The backyard holds a small wooden screen house.

Upton has scheduled an open house today from 2-4 p.m.