In 1780 Jacob Coffin purchased this parcel of land from his father Benjamin Coffin and then owned the property until 1792 and it is assumed that he built this house. When the land was sold to Jacob Little in 1792, it included a dwelling as well.
Jacob Little was a prominent ship owner and in 1822 he established himself as a broker on Wall Street. His business prospered, there as it had in Newburyport. The Little family owned the house until 1878. At that time it was sold. The house had several subsequent owners before being purchased by James Lee Potter.
Mr. and Mrs. James Potter moved into the Jacob Little House on August 23, 1923. At that time Mr. Potter was an employee of the Haverhill Gas company. Later, he later took up employment in the field of investments in Boston. The Potters lived in the house at 360 High Street until 1988.
At that time, Gary Kincaid purchased the home and did major restoration efforts to bring the building back to its former glory. Its magnificent presence has been a landmark at the top of Jefferson Street since then.
In 1997, Angela & Rand Ackroyd purchased the house and further enhanced the beautiful garden that surrounds this already impressive structure.
Even though the house was built in the High Georgian style with perfect proportions (Let’s see some ‘replica’ do that!), the house was constructed just when the Federalist style was beginning to take hold. The front portico has Roman Doric pillars and the front door has side lights. What is most interesting is the interior is done in the Federalist style. This interesting blend makes the home feel impressive all around.
But what make this home so outstanding is the landscaping and the gardens that are planted in the general design. First that meets the eye are the frontage plantings. Believe it or not, the Privet hedge along High Street and the largest trees that surround the barn and the perimeter of the yard are from the nineteenth century though most of the remaining balance of trees were planted by the Potters in the twenties.
The Ackroyds have worked hard to turn the gardens into a feast for the eyes. Even then, the emphasis has been on perennials and shrubs and a relaxed open space. The home was, before it was placed on the market recently, a favorite of the annual Garden Tour held by the Historical Society of Old Newbury.
The house is presently on the market to be sold again to a new ‘steward’.
A. Hale, Old Newburyport Houses, Boston, 1912.
J. M. Howells, The Architectural Heritage of the Merrimack, New York 194I.
Assessor’s Records, 1851-1980
Personal interview with Mr. and Mrs. James Potter (Conducted by the Newburyport Historical Commission)
Grand Gardens of High Street, The Historical Society of Old Newbury, Newburyport Press, Newbury, June 2004.