Dorchester Illustration of the Day no. 1773 Bird-Sawyer House

Dorchester Illustration of the Day no. 1773


Photograph of the Bird Sawyer House published in Pathways of the Puritans. Compiled under the Direction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission and published by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Second edition, 1931.  The house was located at 41 Humphreys Street.

The Thomas Bird who built the house made his money from tanning, and even in the early 20th century, there were people who remembered traces of the tanning canals nearby.  It was under Corp. Thomas Bird, fifth owner, that the house played its proudest part.  Aged 21 when he inherited, young Thomas had fought in the Concord and Lexington engagement and at Bunker Hill, when coming home one evening early in March, 1776, from guard duty at Boston Neck, he found himself outranked in his own house.  Col. Gridley of the American engineers was quartered there with his staff—Putnam, Waters, Baldwin and Knox, later to become the famous general.

The house was ideal for use as a headquarters.  Its large upper chambers were used as draughting rooms for drawing up the fortification plan for Dorchester Heights, a hill that was within a short walking distance.  Washington rode over from Cambridge to direct the work, and when the thousands of bundles of birch and elder fascines for the ramparts were carried to the Heights, they passed down the lane in front of the house.

The house was demolished in the second half of the 20th century


The Dorchester Illustration of the Day (DIOTD) is sent weekdays. If you receive this e-mail by mistake, please reply to be taken off the e-mail list. If you know others who would like to receive the daily e-mail, please encourage them to join the group by going to You may contact Earl Taylor at

If you value receiving the DIOTD, please express your appreciation by making a donation to the Dorchester Historical Society, either by regular mail at 195 Boston Street, Dorchester, MA 02125, or through the website at

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dorchester Illustration of the Day no. 1773 Bird-Sawyer House

  1. Sharon Bird Bacon says:

    Hi Earl,
    Thanks so much for posting this information. I’m a direct descendant of Thomas Bird and will be visiting 41 Humphreys Street and the Dorchester North Burying Ground this coming Friday, Oct. 12th. I learned something new about this ancestor and the use of the Bird House from the information you’ve provided.
    So thanks again,
    Sharon Bacon
    Ventura, CA 93004

Comments are closed.