original builder of the house was Benjamin Newell.
He was born in Concord, New Hampshire and moved to
Princeton in 1835. That same year he had married
Harriet White who was a native of Alden, New York.
purchased the lot for the house in 1849 for $500 and
probably built the house in 1853. It is believed
the contractor was Alvah Whitmarsh, who is said to
have built a number of similar homes in Princeton.
had a variety of occupations over the years,
including the dry goods business for thirty-five
years, insurance salesman, ice sales, and money
lender. He was also selected for the first petit
jury of Bureau County, and was among those who
called for a meeting to organize the Bureau County
Fair in 1855.
1872, Newell sold his home to Orris S. Phelps.
Phelps was another early settler in Bureau County
and had farmed for many years in Dover Township. He
and his wife, Mary Ann, had an adopted daughter,
Sarah, to whom the house was eventually deeded. She
in turn sold the property to Sam Clark in 1905.
only major changes to the house occurred in 1905-06
after Sam Clark purchased the property. The roof of
the one and a half story section was raised about
four feet, making it a full two-story house. Indoor
plumbing and steam heat were also added.
Frederic C. Duncan and his wife, Kate, rented the
house from Mr. Clark in May 1906. Captain Duncan
was a veteran of the Civil War and later traveled
the world for many years as a sea merchant on his
ship, the Florence. His wife and family accompanied
him on his voyages. After giving up his seafaring
lifestyle, Captain Duncan worked as Vice-President
and Treasurer of the Princeton Gas Company. His
daughter, also named Kate, married a member of the
of the Duncan and Bryant family continued to live in
the house for the next ninety years. Grace Norris,
Sam Clark’s daughter, received the house when her
father passed away, and she conveyed the property to
the Duncans and Bryants in her will in 1946.
Alice Bryant sold the
house to the Bureau County Historical Society in
1998. The building was completely renovated to
accommodate new displays and other museum features.
Among the exhibits are an 1853 parlor, an
interpretation of Princeton photographer Henry
Immke’s studio, a large costume room, and a research