Restoration complete on historic Williamstown home tied to Benedict Arnold


Photo Gallery | Smedley House project complete in Williamstown

WILLIAMSTOWN — Renovations are complete on a Colonial-era home that once hosted Col. Benedict Arnold.

And for the price of $685,000, the historic Smedley House could be yours.

Real estate developer Bruce MacDonald, owner of MacDonald Construction, has preserved and partially furnished the structure in the vein of its colonial heritage.

He bought the 4,400-square-foot house and 1.3 acres of land more then a year ago for $180,000, and invested another $650,000 in the structure for the studs-out renovation. It now stands on Main Street, with brand-new period clapboard siding and shiny new windows.

MacDonald's team tried to preserve as much of the original structure and aesthetic as they could, including floor boards and fixtures. What couldn't be saved was replaced by locally sourced wood and period reproductions of fixtures like hinges and door handles. The carriage house that once stood next to the main house was recreated from scratch.

The home's new mechanical systems, like heating and electricity have been subtly tunnelled through the north wall so that they provided modern convenience and efficiency without getting in the way of the colonial appearance.

The structural envelope was exposed and sealed to conserve heat, and the five original fireplaces, two of which once served as cooking fires and baking ovens, have also been reclaimed and preserved.

The cellar is of particular interest, because that is where the Smedley Tavern once hosted Col. Benedict Arnold, on May 6, 1775, who was on his way to take Fort Ticonderoga from the British.

In the center of the basement tavern stands the original, three-sided stone fireplace, which provided warmth and cooked food for the guests. A few period-looking tables and chairs have been set up, and one can sit in the spot Arnold likely sat while discussing the purchase of provisions for his regiment with the builder of the house, Nehemiah Smedley.

"That's the spot where Arnold wrote the contract for the supplies," MacDonald said. "Right there."

Not including the basement tavern, the house has three stories, with the master bedroom and bath on the third floor. There are two other bathrooms, one on each of the first two floors. There is also an unattached two-car garage, and a deck graces the back of the house.

MacDonald anticipates the total cost of the project, including the purchase cost, at about $850,000.

He counts money lost on the project as part of the cost incurred "to save the house."


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