Throwback Thursday - The Willoughby Grounds

The Mayflower Society House is not the only building on our grounds with history!

The Willoughby family, who purchased the Mayflower Society house in 1898, transformed a relatively plain, colonial house into one of the finest mansions in Plymouth with the help of architect and Mayflower descendant Joseph Everett Chandler.

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The Edward Winslow House three years prior to the Willoughby family ownership.

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Joseph Chandler, an authority on the restoration of New England houses, expanded and remodeled the Edward Winslow house in 1898. GSMD acquired the home in 1941 and changed the name to the Mayflower Society House in 1946. The above photograph was taken by Former Governor General Walter Merriam Pratt during his term in 1951.

Behind the mansion, Everett designed a handsome garden. In this photograph of the garden from 1931, the building that is now the GSMD Research Library is seen to the far left. 

Society House rear garden 1931 001 copy

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Mayflower Society House grounds, 1951

This building was originally a “summer kitchen” for the Willoughby estate. At its most basic level, summer kitchens were used to physically separate hot kitchen activities from the rest of the house during warmer months – a key way to survive summer before modern air conditioning! 

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Mayflower Society House grounds, 1951

When Mr. Charles Willoughby passed away, his wife continued on with improvements including a five-car garage at the far side of the garden. The garage was arranged so that it would be possible to use as a charity theatre, with quarters overhead for the gardener and his family, as seen above. 

After the General Society started establishing the Mayflower grounds as a formal headquarters, the library went through several expansions in the early 90’s at the request of the Historian General's office. The GSMD Research Library went through it's final expansion in 2004, opening to the public year-round Monday through Friday. Around the same time, the Garage Building was remodeled into the General Society’s Administration Center and is now where our Plymouth staff handles operations. 

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To see more, walk around our property with Google Street View!

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