The Murdock-Whitney House
151 Front Street
Colonial Revival & Victorian - Circa 1850
Winchendon History and Cultural Center Museum
Five generations occupied the Murdock-Whitney House. Elisha Murdock, founder of E. Murdock Co. (later known as New England Wooden Ware) built the original house in about 1850. It was home to his wife, Rohanna (Morse) and their three children: Ellen, Sophia, and son George who died at age seven. At the turn of the 20th century, the house was greatly enlarged by Sophia, widow of William Webster Whitney.
The architect for the project was H.W. Francis of Fitchburg. The original house was moved north away from Front Street in order to accommodate the new part of the house on the property. The interior of the house is a harmonious blend of classical and Victorian styles, generous in its use of contrasting woods of cherry and oak decorous carvings, mirrored mantels, pillars, and leaded stained glass windows.
The addition made it possible for Sophia's niece and nephew, the children of Ellen and her husband Dr. William Whitney Godding, to spend part of each year visiting Winchendon from their home in Washington D.C. The spacious southwest living room accommodated Sophia's Chickering concert grand piano, which she played at recitals held in the home. The piano was inherited by Margaret Urquhart, and was later given to the Unitarian Church in Winchendon.
Family members continued to occupy the house throughout the 20th century. Sophia's only child was Elisha Murdock Whitney. His wife, Mary Mathilda Whitney, was the daughter of Baxter Whitney - well known Winchendon inventor and industrialist. They had two children, William II and Emily. William married Adelaide Jane Hazzard, daughter of Dr. Charles Hazzard, a renowned osteopath from New York. Adelaide met William while attending nursing school here in Winchendon. Not having any natural children, the house was left to William's niece, Margaret.
William's sister Emily married Alexander Crawford Peters, a civil engineer. Emily's daughter Margaret and her husband, Alex Urquhart, took over the family business, Margaret and Alex, who was President of New England Wooden Ware for 24 years, lived in the house for five years prior to the death of her Aunt Adelaide in December 2000. At Margaret's urging, Adelaide left the house to the Winchendon Historical Society upon her passing.