Samuel S. Meigs House
586 Boston Post Road
This classic Federal structure is a fine example of what one might call one of Madison’s “ghost houses.” Why? Because it is no longer here. Demolished by its most recent owners, it now exists only in our memories—and its property is an empty lot.
Owned by the Meigs family for several generations, the house is named for farmer Samuel S. Meigs, descendant of Vincent Meigs and his son John Meigs, who were among the first planters at Hammonasset in the 1650s. Much later the house was strongly associated with dentist Robert Beecher and his wife Barbara, who owned the house during the last quarter of the twentieth century.
The house stood across from the Deacon John Grave House, just beyond the eastern end of the Madison Green Historic District. It had an elegant front portico of flat-pediment type with simple Corinthian order and a dentillated cornice at its pediment, which included a rectangular light with mullions common to the Federal period.
Although its condition in the 1978 Historic Resources Inventory was described as “Excellent,” the house suffered in later years from neglect and deteriorated substantially as a result. According to a real estate listing for its sale in 1999, the 2,700-square-foot house included ten rooms, two fireplaces, a keeping oven, built-in cabinetry, and wide-board pine floors. It was also billed, correctly, as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The listing agent even went so far as to remark that the house was “realistically capable of becoming a landmark on the Boston Post Road near the village center.” The property included two sheds and a corncrib. A lovely seasonal porch added to the west side was walled in glass windows that faced the setting sun.
To its subsequent owners, however, it apparently lost its appeal as a stately single-family home. Used and sometimes rented for office space, perhaps because of its proximity to the commercial area, it sat in transition, slowly deteriorating, throughout the period before and after the turn of the twenty-first century. No one came forward to repurpose it as a restaurant or shop. No one seemed to imagine that its history or its architectural features were worth preservation, although some deflected concerns by asserting that elements of its entablature would be saved.
Despite a 90-day demolition delay and appeals for preservation from the Madison Historical Society and the Madison Historic District Commission, the house was used for a firefighters’ training drill in the spring of 2014. The remains were destroyed by its owners in April 2014. Some say that a ghost has been sighted here. Presumably, it is a ghost of Madison’s past.