The Reed Homestead, a federal-style dwelling located on the banks of the Townsend Harbor Pond, was built in 1790 by tanner John Jewett. It was solid to Oliver Reed in 1809. Also a tanner, Reed married Letty Wilson that year and the couple raised five children, four of which survived into adulthood. Five generations owned the property until 1972 when it was purchased by the Townsend Historical Society. The building not only maintains a significant amount of architectural integrity but also its associated furnishings.
Of particular note in this building are the fine works of Rufus Porter. An itinerant painter, Porter traveled through this region and decorated several local buildings. The remains of a black and white mural remain on the first floor and stand in stark contrast to the vivid colored paintings on the second level. Experts consider the mural room to be among the best examples of his work. The colors, bright and cheery, are suspected to be early mixtures done by Porter’s own nephew, Jonathan Poor, also considered an important painter.
The Reed Homestead is listed on the Massachusetts State Register of Historic Places. Townsend Harbor has been designated a local historic district and this property is a contributing resource. The few alterations made to this building over its long history means it maintains a high degree of integrity. It was restored with assistance from the Massachusetts Historical Commission and is permanently protected through preservation easements that encourage the use of the building as a museum.