Falmouth Field Guide

Moulton Barrett House

The stately building at the corner of Market and Trelawny Streets is known locally as the “Moulton Barrett House.” The plot on which the house stands was purchased from Edward Barrett in 1775 by Rebecca Lake, a free woman of color, along with another lot on Market Street for £1301. Lake was a substantial landowner in Falmouth; in addition to the two lots sfrom Edward Barrett, Lake also bought a lot from Thomas Reid in 1771 and owned at least 100 acres of land in Trelawny2. Lake presumably sold the corner lot back to a member of the Barrett family. A cornerstone, at the northwest corner of the house, reads “MB 1795,” which traditionally has been interpreted to mean “Moulton Barrett” and the year of construction, although interior finishes suggest the building dates to the second quarter of the nineteenth century.

7 Market Street is an important example of the house-storehouse typology in Falmouth, with commercial space on the first floor and a residence above. The original block of the house is three bays wide and three bays deep, with the ground floor exterior walls now covered in 20th-century stucco, disguising a lightly framed wall with masonry nogging. The upper story of the house is of timber frame construction with exterior horizontal clapboard siding clad in shingles. The grand, second story reception room, which occupies the full front of the building, projects over the ground floor, creating a sheltered porch and walkway below, supported by four original turned wood neoclassical columns. This second story façade has three six-over-six sash windows, the center window flanked by two-over-two sidelights, and the spacing determined by the intercolumniation below. The lower façade also features three openings, though not all original nor so evenly spaced: to the far left is a six-over-six sash window like those above, at the center is a wide double door into the original commercial space, and the door to the right is a later addition opening into the interior staircase.

The plan of the ground floor has changed substantially over time, and is currently subdivided for office space. Originally, a narrow central passage aligned with the rear door and divided the space into two halves, with the left half entirely open for commercial functions and storage. An original partition on the right side suggests a possible subdivision of spaces, and a neoclassical door in this wall once led to the original stairway in the right rear corner of the house.

At the front of the house is a late 19th-century stairway that replaced the original stair at the rear of the house, and provides access to the reception room on the second story. The reception room is one of the best rooms in the house with sheathed walls, bases, and surbases and the possibility of once having a tray ceiling. The focal point of the room is an arched opening with scrolled keystones and paneled columns which frames an off-center passage and a similar archway at the end of the hallway. The spatial layout of the second floor is much more intact, with two nearly square, communicating bedrooms to the left of the passage and a single formal room – the second best room in the house - likely used as the dining room, to the right. To the rear right of the second floor is a small space which would have housed the original stairway, and at the end of the longitudinal passage is a formal enclosed porch with a sheathed tray ceiling, sheathed walls, a base, and a surbase, supported by turned columns below. To the left rear is a small room with exposed framing which was likely used as a closet or pantry.

The enclosed porch at the end of the passage, known as a “cockpit,” allowed the owner of the house to monitor movement through the house and activity in the rear yard. Yellow brick, Flemish bond walls of a carriage house and a remodeled kitchen structure remain to suggest the organization of domestic support buildings located in the yard.

This entry depends on an extensive on-site field report and analysis of surviving historic fabric written by Ed Chappell in the summer of 2004.

1 Edward Barrett to Rebecca Lake, 21 November 1775, Deeds, Island Record Office, volume 270, folio 120.

2 Thomas Reid to Rebecca Lake, 29 May 1771, Deeds, Island Record Office, volume 247, folio 162; Trelawny Estate Map T272, National Library of Jamaica