Historic Deerfield purchases former Champney home

  • Historic Deerfield announced this week the purchase of the property at 43A Old Main St. in Deerfield. The house was built during the 1760s. Staff Photo/Domenic Poli

  • Staff Photo/Domenic PoliHistoric Deerfield announced this week the purchase of the property at 43A Old Main Street in Deerfield. The house was built during the 1760s and was known during the late 19th century as “Elmstead." It was then the home of the artist James Wells Champney (1843-1903) and his family. The Creelman family were the owners since 1984.

  • Staff Photo/Domenic PoliHistoric Deerfield announced this week the purchase of the property at 43A Old Main Street in Deerfield. The house was built during the 1760s and was known during the late 19th century as “Elmstead." It was then the home of the artist James Wells Champney (1843-1903) and his family. The Creelman family were the owners since 1984.

  • Staff Photo/Domenic PoliHistoric Deerfield announced this week the purchase of the property at 43A Old Main Street in Deerfield. The house was built during the 1760s and was known during the late 19th century as “Elmstead." It was then the home of the artist James Wells Champney (1843-1903) and his family. The Creelman family were the owners since 1984.

Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2018 9:53:21 PM

OLD DEERFIELD – Historic Deerfield Inc. this week purchased the property at 43 Old Main St. as part of its mission to preserve and protect the authenticity of colonial buildings on the street.

Philip Zea, president and CEO of Historic Deerfield, said the museum paid $2 million to acquire the house and land from the Creelman family, which had owned it from 1984 until Monday.

“We’re delighted,” Zea said. “I’ve known the Creelmans for a long time, as many of us have. I saw the for-sale sign in the yard, which wasn’t a huge surprise, and I just reached out to the Realtor and tried to move as fast as we could.”

The house is 5,158 square feet and sits on 1.03 acres.

“It’s absolutely huge,” Zea said. “There’s an apartment in the back, numerous bedrooms, large front rooms on the first floor that can be used for public programming of various sorts.”

He also said the house can be used for storage and to house members of Historic Deerfield’s summer fellowship program and other students. Other Historic Deerfield houses have been restored and are house museums open to the public. Laurie Nivison, the director of marketing at Historic Deerfield, said there are no plans at this time to use the newly acquired property as a house museum.

Zea explained Historic Deerfield’s independent appraiser valued the property at $1.9 million and the Creelmans originally asked for just under $2.4 million. He said the property’s proximity to Flynt Center of Early New England Life and the Apprentice’s Workshop made it appea ling, as did its size and presence.

According to Historic Deerfield, the house was built in the 1760s by Capt. Timothy Childs and was later the home of artist James Wells Champney, who died in 1903. Champney, known for his portraits and American landscapes, was the first professor of art at Smith College in Northampton and was one of the founders of the Smith College Museum of Art in the 1870s. He also provided illustrations to children’s books and and travel books penned by his wife, Elizabeth Williams Champney. The artist Champney built a studio on the property in 1876, though it was torn down in 1939.

The restaurant and tavern at 81 Old Main St. is named after the artist.

Historic Deerfield cites “Family and Landscape: Deerfield Homelots from 1671” as saying the property was known as “Elmstead” because in 1886 the Champneys moved the house back from the street to shade an elm tree after the largest one in town was cut down the year before. Zea said the property will now be known as the Creelman House.

Historic Deerfield maintains more than 50 buildings in Old Deerfield. The museum’s most recent significant property purchase on Old Main Street was that of the Moors House in 1991.




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