Samuel Brown Hill House
524 Boston Post Road
Samuel Brown Hill, born in 1811 and married to Orphana Kelsey in 1838, built this house around 1840 and lived here until 1857. Samuel was a builder and a blockmaker, like his brother Albert, who lived next door. In Madison history, however, Hill’s house is most notable as the home of its second owner, Reverend Samuel Wheelock Fiske, the much-admired fifth pastor of Madison’s First Congregational Church.
A graduate of Amherst College who came to Madison in 1857, Reverend Fiske was a Unionist who encouraged the men of Madison to join the Union Army in the fierce fight against the Confederate States. He himself enlisted in 1862 as a private, leaving behind his young—and pregnant—wife, Elizabeth, and his two-year-old son, George. Swiftly promoted to lieutenant and then to captain, Fiske served in Connecticut’s 14thRegiment, engaging in the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Fredericksburg, among others. Well-known for his wit and flair for writing, he penned 90 articles for the Springfield Republican during his military service in the South. Under the pen name Dunn Browne, he described and sometimes criticized the warfare and carnage he witnessed. These articles, later collected as Mr. Dunn Browne’s Experiences in the Army, are published online and also in the book Mr. Dunn Browne's Experiences in the Army: The Civil War Letters of Samuel Fiske.
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Fiske died in May 1864 from a gunshot wound to the collarbone and lungs at the Battle of the Wilderness. Shortly thereafter, his home in Madison was sold, and Lizzie returned to Massachusetts with her sons. For nearly 100 years, between 1869 and 1968, this house was owned by members of the Redfield family.
The Italianate architectural style of this house distinguishes it from other district homes. The only house of this particular style on the Boston Post Road, it is one of only a few such houses in Madison. Beautifully situated a distance from the roadway, the Samuel Brown Hill House features a lovely front porch with square posts with molded capitals. The home’s second story was actually added by Reverend Fiske, who farmed the fourteen-acre property that once reached the Sound. The third story, with smaller “eyebrow” windows, is an attic space, and the back additions enclose the post-and-beam sections that used to be a summer kitchen and a carriage shed.