Captain William Irving House – Hillsborough

Captain William Irving House - Hillsborough

Captain William Irving House – Hillsborough

The Captain William Irving House in Hillsborough is designated a Local Historic Place for its association with its enterprising owners and for its architecture.

In 1848 Captain William Irving, (1816-1905) built a home for his bride, Ruth (Steeves). Captain Irving became a ‘Schooner Man’. These merchants of the deep combined the interpersonal skills of the market place with the hard knowledge of navigation and seamanship. He skippered his own three-masted schooner, ‘The Hillsborough’, up and down the eastern seaboard. Farm produce, plaster, coal (albertite), and maple sugar were carried south. Sugar, rum, molasses, machinery, manufactured goods, and flour were brought north. His cargos were bought and sold from Hillsborough to the Caribbean and sold and bought again back to Hillsborough. He operated his own store for a time, but, for the most part sold his cargos wholesale to merchants at home and along the way. The panoramic view of the Petitcodiac River from the front rooms of his home must have kept Captain Irving abreast of the changing moods of the sea even when on shore with his wife and their five children.

The Snider family has likewise coupled their professional and personal lives. Mr. Herbert Snider began work in Hillsborough in 1939 as one of the first auto mechanics in the village. In 1949 he opened Snider’s Garage, a business his son still owns and operates adjacent to his home. Like Captain Irving before them, both men have mastered the skills of running a business, while employing the determination, patience and resourcefulness required to make a machine run. When faced with a puzzling repair Herb Snider would say, “Well, I guess we will have to rig a rig”, meaning a tool would have to be devised before the mechanical problem could be solved.

The tall ships of Captain Irving’s day have cast off and drifted into history. The numerous privately owned garages, which once thrived in every community, are traveling toward the same destination. This house has watched the rise and fall of both means of livelihood. 

The Captain William Irving House is also recognized as a good example of rural Cape Cod residential architecture from the mid-19th century. This classic Cape Cod house was built in 1848. The basic design was brought to New England during the 1600’s by the Puritans. The Puritan adaptations of the English crofter’s cottages were intended to make their versions easier to heat and less resistant to wind. The purest examples were preserved on Cape Cod, MA. Thus the design’s enduring name. The numerous variations on the Cape Cod theme have made the design difficult to distinguish. Most of these alterations were intended to correct the most glaring original flaw. Because of the steeply pitched roof the living space on the upper level was very confined. As a result ceilings were low and upper windows were small. In this example one of these draw backs was solved by extending the upper windows down to floor level.

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