Clayes House
Issue No.6March 14, 2013
Newsletter of the Sarah Clayes House Project --
In This Issue
* Make a donation
* Seeking nominations for board members
* Sarah Clayes House History
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Dear Friend,

You are receiving this e-newsletter because we think you might be interested in the efforts to save and preserve the Sarah and Peter Clayes House -- located at 657 Salem End Road in Framingham, MA -- for the public good.  You are part of a growing group of concerned citizens, who believe wholeheartedly in the importance of preserving this historic property for the local community and beyond.  For those of you who do not know the history, take a look at the article at the end of this newsletter -- it's a fascinating story.


I am writing today with some fabulous news:  Ocwen Bank, which is the servicer of record for the property, has let us know that "their investors are seriously considering a donation of the property to your cause."   
As some of you who have been involved with this project know, we have been working toward this moment for almost eight years now.  If you read through the archived e-newsletters about our efforts on the Sarah Clayes House website, you will see that it has been almost impossible to track down ownership of the property -- we've gone from Wells Fargo to Goldman Sachs to Ocwen -- always just one step behind the journey of the mortgage, which has been bundled and securitized and passed from one firm to the other.  
It is with enormous gratitude and thanks to my colleague Jeff Courey, an investment professional in the area and a friend of the project, who was able to track down the mortgage's chain of ownership and ultimately facilitate an introduction to the folks at the bank. We were then able to submit our proposal for the bank to donate the property.  THIS HAS BEEN SOMETHING WE'VE BEEN WORKING TOWARD FOR EIGHT YEARS!!!  Jeff, your role in all of this will, I'm sure, become historic, and not only we, but posterity, will thank you for it for many years to come.  
So what now?  That's the big question.  And that's the other exciting part of my update.  At a summit meeting of friends of the project held at the Framingham History Center on Monday, March 11, 2013, 
we decided together to establish a brand-new non-profit organization -- the Sarah Clayes House Trust -- that will accept the donation of the property, protect it, raise the money necessary to restore, renovate, and endow the house so that it can become a public resource.  
See the Sarah Clayes House website for the full business plan -- but in short, our dream is to make the house available by appointment to researchers, students and community members who wish to learn more about not only the house and the story behind it, but also issues such as social justice, "group think," the connection between Salem and Framingham, and the beginnings of Framingham as an incorporated town.  
We have our work cut out for us.  There are organizational, fundraising, legal and community issues to tackle.  But we are passionate about this project and know in our hearts that its benefits will reach generations of people, now and in the future.  
Here is where you come in!  It's now more important than ever to make a gift to the project.  Please see the article below for more details.  In addition, we are seeking nominations for new board members of the Sarah Clayes House Trust: read more about that effort here.  


Words can't adequately express how excited I am about this -- and I send thanks out to every single person who has helped to bring the project to this point.  As they say, "it takes a Village" -- and as we move forward that's more true than ever.  Please, please, please consider helping us -- gifts of any amount are greatly appreciated!!!!!
Cheers -- 

(978) 604-0869
PS -- Please spread the word!  These efforts will be successful only if we can gather a large enough of concerned people -- around the country -- who believe in the project and who might be willing to support it financially.  If you'd like anyone to be added to the distribution list for this e-newsletter, please contact me by clicking here.  


DonationPlease Make a Donation to the Clayes House Project!

It's now more important than ever, 
as we're working to accept a donation of the house from the bank 
Gifts of ANY AMOUNT are appreciated!!! 


Thanks to the Foundation for Metrowest for agreeing to be our fiscal agent, we can now accept tax-deductible donations to the Clayes House Project.  Gifts of any amount are much appreciated as we proceed with our work, establishing a new non-profit organization and carrying out its mission of acquiring and renovating the Clayes House, and creating a new house museum on the property. 


More important, as we proceed with our discussions with large prospective donors -- individuals, foundations, and corporations alike -- it helps our case tremendously to be able to report that we have a large number of gifts from a whole group of people, demonstrating quite clearly that the community is interested in preserving this vital property. 


Please consider using the donation form below to contribute to this project.  In addition you can make your donation on-line by clicking here.  Please make sure you click on the button that says "The Following Named Fund" and then select "Sarah Clayes House Fund" on the form.  And thank you!!


Please accept the enclosed donation of $                 to the Sarah and Peter Clayes House Project.  I understand that this donation is tax deductible. 


In the event that the purchase and renovation of the Sarah and Peter Clayes House is not feasible in the future, I understand that any unused portion of my donation be granted to The Framingham History Center in the name of the Sarah and Peter Clayes House Project.  


Please send acknowledgment of this gift to:
To make a gift:  cut out this section and mail it with your check to:  The Foundation for Metrowest, Attention: Sarah and Peter Clayes House Project, 21 Eliot Street, Natick, Massachusetts  01760 .  Please make out your checks to  The Foundation for Metrowest, and add "Sarah and Peter Clayes House Project" on the memo section.  Send your donation t THANK YOU!!!
Seeking Nominations for Board Members for 
the Sarah Clayes House Trust 
At the summit meeting in Framingham on Monday, March 11th, 2013, four people stepped forward to agree to serve as the inaugural members of the Board for the new Sarah Clayes House Trust (SCHT):
1.  Steven Frank, an attorney with Bingham McCutchen in Boston, and a neighbor of the Sarah and Peter Clayes House on Salem End Road;
2.  Annie Murphy, the Executive Director of the Framingham History Center;
3.  Janice Thompson, organizer of the project, Board member of the Framingham History Center, and currently Director of Advancement at The Meadowbrook School of Weston;
4.  Chris Walsh,  local architect, preservationist, and Massachusetts State Representative from the 6th district. 
Many thanks to all of these folks!  
And now we are seeking nominations for additional members of the board: can you help?  
We have our work cut out for us so we are looking for people who can devote significant time, energy and money to the project.  Traditionally, non-profit board members bring to the table a range of benefits.  Specifically, we are seeking individuals who have
some or all of the following skills:
1.  "Time."  This project will most likely take up several hours a week, sometimes more, sometimes less.  There will be regular meetings and each member will be assigned with specific tasks (see "Talent" below). We are seeking hard workers who can make this project a big priority (that said, all of the current board members have full-time jobs).
2.  "Talent."  We need work done in the following areas (not an exhaustive list):
- Administrative/organizational:  database management, marketing, "envelope stuffing," event planning, website management, file creation, grant writing, etc.
- Preservation: connections with the historic preservation community, building and contracting, etc.
- Financial: budgeting, gift acknowledgments, accounting, etc.
- Town/government relations
3.  "Treasure."  We are seeking individuals who can either support the project in a significant financial way, have connections with the funding community (individuals, foundations, corporations), and/or are willing to open doors and directly solicit gifts.  
Please let us know if you or anyone you know is willing to be nominated to the board by emailing Janice Thompson at   



historyThe Sarah Clayes House History
The house stands, windows boarded, unoccupied and in desperate disrepair on 657 Salem End Road. Not many people notice it. Very few Framingham residents are aware of how this single house represents the deepest roots of their town.
The original house was built in 1693 by Peter and Sarah Clayes, who had fled the witch hysteria that had terrorized Salem Village the year before. Known in that town as Cloyce, Sarah, along with her sisters Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty and countless others, had been accused and jailed for witchcraft. It is unknown why Sarah escaped the noose while her sisters were not so lucky. Whether she escaped or was set free from jail is not certain - though most historians agree that she was set free along with most everyone else who was jailed at the time, after the last hanging in September of 1692 -- but we do know that she and her husband Peter, along with members of her extended family, settled in an area 40 miles away, in the early part of the following year.
Their new home was in a region known as "Danforth's Farms," so named because it was owned by Thomas Danforth, Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under Governor Simon Bradstreet. Danforth himself was, in fact, one of the magistrates who oversaw Sarah's pre-trial examination in April of 1692, before the Court of Terminer and Oyer was established that summer. Later on, Danforth - along with his good friend and colleague Samuel Sewall -- was known to change his opinion about the trials, and worked behind the scenes to put a stop to the madness.
We don't know for sure the true connection between Danforth and Sarah and Peter Clayes. Did Danforth invite them to settle on his land out of some feeling of guilt? Or was the move just a coincidence? But what we do know is that the Clayes, along with their brethren Towne, Barton, Bridges and Nurse, were among the first residents of a town newly-incorporated in the year 1700 as Framingham (after "Framlingham," Danforth's home in Suffolk, England); indeed, these surnames can be found in many early local government records as elected officials and leaders.
The Enormous Importance of the Clayes House to Framingham and Beyond
As we stand at the beginning of the 21st century, in a futuristic era of constant change, high technology, and continual advances in the way we do business, it is more important than ever to preserve our roots.  In order to know where we are going, we need to understand where we come from.  Within the quickening pace of everyday life, there is an urgent need for a sense of community and place.
The Town of Framingham - and, indeed, all of the New England region - has seen enormous change over the last decades and centuries.  Yet this is where modern American history began.  We cannot afford to lose the artifacts of our beginnings.
The Clayes House is a tangible reminder of some of these early stories, preserving for new generations a whole range of important lessons.  The birth of a town.  The connection between Salem and Framingham.  The personal story of Sarah Clayes, Mary Esty, and Rebecca Nurse.  The larger context in which their story took place: the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, and how that historical moment involved so many different elements: religion, intense fear of a seemingly wild and untamed new world, conflicts over land boundaries, "groupthink," misogyny, and social injustice.  The Clayes House even has potential for architectural history: Stephen Herring, recent Framingham Town Historian, has called the property "one of the five most important houses in Framingham;" it is likely one of the very last houses with first-period details that has not been preserved or razed in the entire New England region.

 If you would like to hear more about current progress, please contact Janice C. Thompson at, or 978-604-0869









Framingham, MA
Framingham, Massachusetts 01721