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[p. 16] Willis' dwelling. Without doubt it was built some years previous. Stephen Willis, Jr., was a housewright, and he owned all the land that fronted on what is now High and Salem streets from the Seccomb lot to the lot on which stands the church of the Mystic Congregational Society. His wife, Susanna, was a daughter of Major Jonathan Wade, whose house is now standing on Pasture hill (or Governors) lane in the rear of the Savings Bank building. The lot on which the old house stood was 23 feet in width on the road and 171 feet in depth. It was bounded on the north by Brickyard pasture, a portion of which is now the site of the High School house. This estate passed through several ownerships until, in the year 1783, it came into the possession of William Gowen, father of Maria Gowen Brooks (‘Maria del Occidente’) who had a high reputation as a poetess. She is supposed to have been born in this old house in the year 1794 (see Historical Register, Vol. 2, page 150). In the year 1796 the estate came into the possession of Joseph Patten Hall above referred to. The brick building was subsequently erected, probably in the early part of the nineteenth century, and it is very likely that the old house was moved back from the street to make way for the new brick building. All the buildings on each side of this estate stood near to the street line, as was the custom in those early days. The correctness of the statements made in Vol. 18, No. 2, of the Register in regard to the raising of the grade of the square have been verified by the several layers of filling brought to light by these excavations.
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