East façade of the original Glover House and ell as it most likely would have appeared during Glover's residence (circa 1910, Swampscott Public Library)
House & Site History
The General Glover Farmhouse is over 250 years old, located on what was formerly known as the Glover Farm, a shared historic site between Swampscott, Marblehead, and Salem. The Glover farmhouse is thought to have been built in the 1750s in what was then Salem, although new evidence suggests it may have been built as early as 1732. The house was built in the traditional colonial style of the period, and the back ell is thought to be a similar age to the main house.
The site that the house sits on is in an area that has been occupied for centuries. Located near multiple fresh water sources, and near both Native American settlements and the fort of the great Nanepashment on Leggs Hill, it has most likely been a crossroads for generations of inhabitants. Native burial sites have been discovered on a portion of the former Glover farm that extended all the way towards the Clifton area of Marblehead.
During the 1600s directly across the street near the current Staples and Bank of America, was the Darling family house and orchards. The land and house were owned by George Darling who operated a tavern that sat near Coy Pond (Tedesco Pond) on the Salem-Marblehead line in the 1600s, prior to the the construction of the Glover farmhouse. He would later leave his house to his son James Darling, who became known for giving testimony against Mary Towne Eastey during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It is believed that house was gone by the time the Glover House was built, but elements of the old orchards would remain.
The Glover farmhouse would eventually be built on land previously owned by John Blaney. It would be located on the Ye old highway, or Lynn Highway, what is now present-day Tedesco merging into Vinnin Street. This was one of the older colonial roads in Salem and Marblehead and the location of the Marblehead Gate, one of the entry points into town.
Recreated map shows the site as it would have appeared in 1700
(Sydney Perley, Essex Antiquarian)
William Browne's Farmhouse
The house and farm were first owned by William Browne of Salem, a prominent citizen and descendant of John Winthrop. He was a graduate of Harvard College and friend and classmate of John Adams. Browne was a colonel of the Essex County militia in Salem and was appointed as collector of the port of Salem. With his connections to both the port and militia, Browne and Glover most likely would have crossed paths.
Just prior to the American Revolution, William Browne accepted an appointment by General Gage as judge of the superior colonial court. Browne was a British Loyalist, which led him to eventually flee with his family to Boston and then to England in 1776. The Massachusetts government confiscated all his property in 1780, including the house and farmland. William Browne never returned to his farm and would go on to eventually become the Royal Governor of Bermuda.
Although they had different political views, John Adams remembered his friend and former classmate as "a solid, judicious character...they made him a judge of the superior court and that society made him a refugee. A Tory, I verily believe, he never was."
General John Glover's Farm & Final Home
Original front façade view of the Glover House facing present day Vinnin Street
(circa 1910, Swampscott Public Library)
In February 1781, during his final year of military service, General John Glover purchased the house from the Massachusetts state government. He paid 1369 pounds for the house and 180 acres of land that spanned Salem and Marblehead (and later Swampscott). Glover used to say that he wasn’t quite sure what town he lived in, as the boundaries at the time weren’t well established, and one could literally step out his front door into another town.
John Glover would move his family to the farmhouse in 1782 after retiring from the army. He wanted to escape the noisy, congested Marblehead waterfront where his prior house sits, and would also move his business operations to the farm as well. While living on the property, he proposed building a canal via Forest River that would link his farm to the sea. This would have allowed his vessels to unload goods in Salem and bring them up in smaller boats to his store at the farm, but this never materialized.
While living at the farm, John Glover would stay active in local and national politics. He was elected as a delegate to the Massachusetts ratifying convention for the U.S. Constitution, served as town selectman, and was in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
During his time living here, Glover would also lead the official welcome of President George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette who came to Marblehead in 1789 to see their old army friend, and thank those who served during the war. John Glover would live on the farm for the remainder of his life, until his death in January 1797. Glover's legacy and name remained connected to the site for the next 200 years.
Preliminary Sketch floor plan of original house as it would have appeared during Glover's era.
(Plans subject to refinement pending further survey of house. Completed by architect Frederic C. Detwiller, New England Landmarks)
The property would continue to be used as a farm by Glover's descendants, including his daughter Mary Glover, who married into the Hooper family of Marblehead. In 1867 the land the house was situated, known as the "Salem Finger”, would become part of Swampscott.
Map when Glover house was part of Salem (location indicated at boundary stone)
(Plan of Marblehead made by John G. Hales, dated 1830)
Views of the house and farm from Salem Street
(circa 1910, Swampscott Public Library)
1852 map after the incorporation of Swampscott. Glover House would remain in Salem as part of the "Salem Finger" (pink area) until 1867
Glover House when still in use as a farm, as viewed from Salem street with three towns boundary marker stone visible on left (circa 1910, Swampscott Public Library)
The Glover Inn on the left and the former barn transformed into the A.E. Little residence on the right (circa 1920s, Swampscott Public Library)
General Glover Inn
In the 20th century, the house would be purchased by Alexander and Lillian Little. Mr. Little was known for having been the founder of the famed New England shoe manufacturer: A. E. Little & Co., makers of Sorosis Shoes, located in Lynn, MA.
The couple made the effort to restore many of the 1700s colonial elements in the Glover House that had been covered up in the past. They turned the house into the General Glover Inn and Tea Room, which became part of the Sunbeam Farm. Many additions and outbuildings were added or renovated on the site during this period, including the large barn that the Little's transformed into their home. The house of this renowned shoe manufacturer still stands on site today behind the Glover House. After their deaths, the property would be sold to Anthony Athanas.
Glover Inn exterior views and interior view showing one of the original 1700s fireplace still intact today (Swampscott Public Library & Glover Inn Brochure, circa 1930s)
Interior view showing one of the original 1700s fireplaces still intact today
(Glover Inn Brochure, circa 1930s)
Winter view of Glover Inn from intersection of Vinnin and Salem Street
(circa 1920s, Swampscott Public Library)
Glover Inn (circa 1930s, Swampscott Public Library)
View from Salem Street with rear addition
(circa mid 20th century, Swampscott Public Library)
The General Glover
In 1957 the house became the famous restaurant the General Glover House. It was owned by the Anthony Athanas, founder of many restaurants around the Northshore and Pier 4 in Boston. The house and restaurant would become a focal point for generations of special events and community gatherings. Known for their popovers and fine dining, the historic house would be incorporated as part of the colonial themed hospitality and dining spaces. While many additions would be added on around the historic house, the original interior features including 18th century doors, molding, fireplaces, and framing remained. The General Glover closed in the mid 1990s, and the building has been vacant ever since.