Parson Capen House

photo of Parson Capen House
1 Howlett Street
Topsfield, MA 01983

The home of Joseph Capen, minister at Topsfield for many years, The Parson Capen House is one of the finest surviving examples of Elizabethan architecture in America, and “a faithful counterpart of the English manor house of the 17th century." The house is situated on a knoll overlooking the Common, originally on a twelve acre lot of land granted Reverend Capen by the Town in 1682. Parson Capen served the Church in Topsfield for 44 years until his death. The Topsfield Historical Society purchased the house in 1913. It was restored during the Colonial Revival under the direction of George Francis Dow, and an official housewarming was held on January 14, 1914.


Open June 15 - Sept 15, on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, from 1pm - 4pm



Driving Directions: 

Take Route 1 to Route 97 intersection. Go west on 97 for half a mile to East Common Street. Go right on East Common Street 150 yards to the house on your right.

Site Notes & Advisories: 

Architectural features: The Parson Capen House is known especially for its "superb" Elizabethan-style interiors crafted by English artisans. Its heavy oak mortised and tenoned framework rests on a foundation of unmortared field stones. The second story overhangs the first in the front of the house in typical First Period style; more unusually, the third floor overhangs the second at each end of the house. The eight-foot-wide cooking hearth dominates the hall, and contains rounded back corners and a large flue. Designations: National Historic Landmark (1966); National Register of Historic Places (1966); National Historic District (1976). Guided tours are available.


  • First Period Architecture
  • Historic Resources
  • Early Settlement Trail
  • Museums

Property Owner/Organization: 

Topsfield Historical Society
Essex Coastal Scenic Byway
Rail Trail
Rail Trail Trailhead