Tel: 203.245.4567 Email:

Jonathan Trumbell Lee House

circa 1833 ♦ 534 Boston Post Road

Built in 1833, the Jonathan Trumbell Lee House has the construction, form, and decorative elements common to the Greek Revival architecture of that period. The house’s appearance, with its gable facing the street and rectangular shape, follows the tendency of Greek Revival architecture to imitate the design of Greek temples. The entry also demonstrates the house’s Greek Revival architecture. Pilasters and entablature, both common in Greek Revival architecture, surround the front door which has five raised panels. Furthermore, the front door’s off-center location is also indicative of the house’s Greek Revival architecture. Behind the front door lies the main hall and staircase. The house’s off-center and unbalanced interior plan, also known as a side-hall plan, is an example of the interior design typical in houses from the 1830s. The house’s interior features a fireplace flanked by Doric columns and a chimney that stand in the attic at an angle to minimize its presence in the living rooms below while maintaining the house’s exterior architecture. The house’s architecture suggests that the house was built sometime in the 1830s, the period when Jonathan Trumbell Lee purchased 534 Boston Post Road.Jonathan Trumbell Lee purchased the two acres that became 534 Boston Post Road from Samuel Robinson in 1833 for $250. Shortly after purchasing the land, Lee built a house upon the property. Although Lee appears in numerous census records, his profession is not clear. In various censuses, Lee holds a variety of professions including blacksmith, horse doctor, retired merchant, and general agent. Born on May 5, 1803, to Jonathan and Mindwell (Hill) Lee, Lee was one of ten children. On November 22, 1827, Lee married Betsey B. Judd who was also born in 1803. Together, Jonathan and Betsey Lee had three children. Their son, William Brown, was born on August 30, 1828, and graduated from Yale in 1849. Their first daughter, Elizabeth was born in 1838 but died in March 1847. Shortly after Elizabeth’s death, the Lees’ second daughter was born and named Elizabeth. Around the time of her third child’s birth, Betsey Lee died. Following the death of his wife and daughter, Lee married Frances Lewis who was born in 1819. Jonathan and Frances Lee had one son, Francis Trumbell (b. 1856), who grew up with his half-sister, Elizabeth, at 534 Boston Post Road. When Jonathan Lee died in 1887 at the age of 74, his will, stipulating that his widow and children would own the house until they married or died, left the property to Frances, Elizabeth, and Francis.

Elizabeth Lee, never having married, inhabited 534 Boston Post Road until she died in 1924. After her death, a court awarded the property to relatives Frank and Elizabeth Lee Boyd of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1971, a probate court deemed Elizabeth Boyd an “incapable person” and sold the home to Frances Donnelly.

The Madison Historical Society © 2020 - All Rights Reserved