The house was passed on through the generations and Asa Upham, great-grandson of Phineas Upham lived his life there and died on August 20, 1869. He was the last Upham to spend his entire life in the house.
For sixteen years after the death of Asa Upham the house was unoccupied and fell into disrepair (between 1872-1888). The daughers of Orne Upham who were then the owners of the house, decided to repair it and then a number of improvements and stylistic upgrades were made.
After the repairs the house was used by the Orne Upham family. After the death of Orne Upham his widow and daughters continued to live in the house in the summer, and in 1903, the eldest daughter was married in the house. Between 1907-1913 the house remained vacant and in 1913 it was purchased by the Melrose Historical·Society. The Melrose Historical Society began to restore the house in 1914. A complete restoration took place at this time and was finished in 1915.
Before the 1915 Restoration
After the 1915 Restoration
Rear view of the house, circa 1915
1926: The Upham Family Society formed to raise funds to erect Malden grave marker for King Phillip’s War Casualty Phineas Upham
Since 1940, the house has been owned and maintained by The Upham Family Society. The Upham Society membership are lineal descendants of John Upham and their spouses. The Society meets regularly twice a year at the house. Today the house is open to the public by appointment.
Other Dates of Note:
1951-1952: Second major Upham House restoration begins which was undertaken by the UFS and included north façade rebuilt, small rooms on the north side of the first floor of the house were modernized as living quarters for resident caretakers, and new proper replica 17th century diamond pane style windows replacing 1910 rectangular pane casement windows.
June 14th, Flag Day, 1952: Installation of a large new flagpole between the house and Upham Street honoring the legacy of James Bailey Upham, the man who had the vision to realize what the American flag could and would mean to the people of all ages of the United States of America. With the color guard of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Auxiliary to the Veterans in uniform with the colors, it was an impressive site as the flag rose slowly to the top of the flag pole as “To the Colors” rang out in the stillness. This was followed by the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag” and the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by nearly three hundred people. Source: Marion Upham Mansur (1952)
1976: A special year for the Upham Family Society which marked both the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the UFS and the Nation’s Bicentennial year. Also; the City of Melrose adopted an Official City Flag and a sketch of the Phineas Upham House became “center emblem” on the official flag of the City of Melrose, MA
1990: The Upham House was placed upon the National Register of Historic Places (REP)
2003: The Upham Family Reunion and community-wide celebration was held on Saturday, June 21st, 2003 and drew a large crowd who came from 13 States and as far away as California and Texas to celebrate the Upham Family 300th anniversary in Melrose. The culmination of the day’s events were at the Melrose Memorial Hall with guest speakers and the film premier of “The House that Phineas Built”.
2005: Initiation of preliminary research of the history, architecture and architectural repair needs of the Phineas Upham House. This study was designed to lay a solid foundation for the final feasibility study as well as Construction Plans and Specifications for repair, restoration, and improvement of the property’s functioning as a First Period historic house museum and educational center.
This study was done by Historic Preservation & Design of Salem, MA headed by John V. Goff, Preservation & Restoration Architect.
2007: Full Renovation Project completed. Alan Kelley of the Upham Family Society said that the construction of the barn as well as recent renovations to the House itself were possible due to a $400,000 preservation and restoration Grant received in 2004 and administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The Grant was secured through the efforts of Melrosian Beatrice Wadland and of former State Senator Richard Tisei (Wakefield). “It was Beatrice who brought SenatorTisei through the house” Kelley said. “Then he went back and wrote the grant. Beatrice deserves all the credit in the world. Over the past 35 years, she and her late husband Robert were the ones who have helped to keep the house and the Family Society board going”.
While the barn was the newest architectural structure at the site; the house also has enjoyed several updates by the grant.
In restoring and maintaining the Upham House, members of the Upham Family Society, which boasts more than 200 lineal descendants of John Upham across the country, intend to keep the house a living museum, open for public and private tours. Currently a full time caretaker lives in a portion of the house.
“The house is presently half museum space and half caretaker/tenant space,” Kelley said. “Our ultimate goal in building the timber frame barn is that at some point in the future, with additional funding, it’s use as a barn/storage area will be upgraded to a caretaker residence in the future.”
This would leave the entire Upham House as museum space and allow the Society to display the many artifacts now in storage such as textiles, shoes, flags, etc.
April/2015: Plans are under way to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the initial Restoration of the House in 1915 by the Melrose Historical Society. An all day event is planned with a commemorative Plague being dedicated.
June/2015: The third Saturday in June is usually the Society’s annual meeting at the Old House.