The Walter Spencer House

Contributing Writer

In 1857 Walter Spencer Jr. purchased 4 lots of undeveloped land bounded 138 ft. East on the railroad, South 264 ft. on Queen St., West 138 ft. on Exchange St. and North 264 ft. on land of the Greene family.  In the early 1870s Walter built a new house at what is now 60 Queen St. Today the lot has been reduced in size to about 75 x 75 ft. square, but it still bounds East on the Railroad, and South on Queen St. The original house was 27 x 16 ft., but sometime after 1974 a large 14 x 40 ft. ell was added to the north side, and the house now has 6 rooms and 1,984 sq. ft. of living space.

Walter Spencer, Jr. (1805-1879) was the son of Walter & Hannah (Card) Spencer, and a descendant of John Spencer, the first EG Town Clerk, 1677-1682. Walter was a house carpenter and may have built this house. Walter married 1) Rachel L. (1811-1854), and 2) Emeline Tillinghast (Huling) Spencer (1822-1901), after 1863, daughter of James & Elizabeth (Clarke) Huling. When Walter died in 1879, his widow sold the property to Walter’s sons with his first wife Rachel, Washington and Sterry.

Washington I. Spencer (1836-bef. 1893), married at Boston, 1867, Mary E. (Burlingham) Spencer (1839-aft. 1893), daughter of Anson & Almira Burlingham. Mary was living as a widow in Worcester in 1893. Sterry Spencer (1842-1908) married Sarah G. (Chappell) Spencer (1845-1917). Sterry died in Stonington, CT. Both of the brothers, like their father, were house carpenters. The 1884 Sanborn Atlas shows this house labeled “Print Shop”, so it appears that it had a commercial use at first. In the 1891 Sanborn Atlas it is labeled as a “Dwelling”. The Spencer brothers ran into some financial problems and in 1889 lost this property in a bank foreclosure sale. The new owners were the principals in the firm of A.B. Rice & Co. The partners of A.B. Rice & Co. were Archibald B. Rice; William K. Potter and Lewis W. Spencer. All 3 of these men were lumber dealers.

Archibald Bates Rice (1819-1899) was the son of John & Amy Rice. He married at Fall River, 1844, Asenath (Bassett) Rice (1821-1885), daughter of James & Sarah Bassett. Archibald & Asenath’s daughter Anna Jane (Rice) Potter (1851-1932) married her father’s partner William Knight Potter (1844-1914), son of Arthur & Elizabeth (Luther) Potter. The third partner was Lewis William Spencer (1852-1922), born at Pomfret, CT, son of Orrin & Mary (Scranton) Spencer. He doesn’t appear to be a close relative of previous owner Walter Spencer. Lewis married Waity Manchester (Hopkins) Spencer. In 1901, Rice, Potter and Spencer, and their firm of A.B. Rice & Co. defaulted on their mortgage, and the property was sold in 1903 to Isaac D. Miner.

Isaac Dwight Miner (1846-1913) was the son of Zebulon Brown & Huldah (Main) Miner. He married Susan Kinney (Main) Miner (1842-1935), daughter of Stephen & Lydia (York) Main. Isaac was a farmer in 1860, 70 & 80 in North Stonington, CT; a retail grocer in EG in 1885; a grocer in Stonington in 1900, and a retired grocer in Warwick in 1910. Isaac & Susan had 2 sons: Albert D. Miner, b. 1868, and John D. Miner, b. 1869. In 1907, Isaac & Susan transferred this property, and the lot to the north, which abutted King St. to their son John D. Miner.

John Durward Miner (1869-1958) married 1902 Alice (Owen) Miner (1877-1948), daughter of William Aldrich & Mary (Morris) Owen.  John was a storekeeper in 1910, a dry goods merchant (consumer goods that are distinct from those carried by hardware and grocery stores) in the 1930s. In 1922 John & Alice Miner sold the property to Fritz L. Johnson.

Fritz L. Johnson (1873-1931) was born in RI, the son of Levi & Maria Albertina (Anderson) Johnson who emigrated from Sweden in 1871. He married in Boston 1899 to Naemie (Bergstrom) Johnson (1877-1973), daughter of Anders G. & Sarah (Johnson) Bergstrom. Naemie was born in Sweden and emigrated in 1893. Fritz had his own “Teaming Business” which involved wagons and teams of horses, oxen or mules, driven by teamsters. Fritz died in 1931, but the family retained ownership until 1947, when his widow and children Marion, Gordon, Lillian and Edna sold the property to William T. & Almira E. Northup.

The owners since 1947 have been: William T. & Almira E. Northup, 1947-57; Aud-War Realty Co. Inc, Warren B. Finn, Jr., President, 1957-1979; Pamela K. Bertholdt, 1979-1991; Pamela K. (Bertholdt) Perry and Michael E. Perry, 1991-2003; Adam J. Perry, 2003-2006, and the current owner since 2006, Queen Street Realty LLC of East Boston, MA, John C. Flanagan, Manager.

Bruce MacGunnigle is the East Greenwich Town Historian. He can be reached at greenwich1677@gmail.com. His book “Strolling in Historic East Greenwich” is available at the Green Door, 130 Main Street.

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