Oldest House in Marstons Mills


When you drive west of the village center on River Road, as you cross the river, you see the oldest house in Marstons Mills. Built before 1708, it is the third oldest house in the west half of town (after the Jenkins and Blossom houses in West Barnstable). It’s also a couple of decades older than any house in Cotuit.

This 300 year-old Cape Cod cottage was built by Ebenezer Goodspeed, Senior. He was born in Marstons Mills in 1655, perhaps the first white child born here. That he lived to be 101 says how healthy our climate must be.

His father Roger Goodspeed had been one of the first settlers of the town in 1639. He first lived in the very center of Barnstable village, where the Trayser Museum/ Custom House is now. He was one of the first to see the rich potential of the south side of the Cape, then called “the South Sea”.

Roger crossed the Cape to the Indians’ Misteake in 1653, only five years after Miles Standish made a deal with the local boss, Paupmunnock to “give” the settlers nearly a third of the present town from Wequaquet to Cotuit for two kettles and a fence to keep the white mens’ cows out of the Indian cornfields. Ten years later the fence had not been built, and a second agreement had to be made, in which the famous “Kittle” and a “Howe” were paid for an even more generous grant including Marthas Vineyard. Goodspeed was presumably part of this deal, building his first home near the mouth of the Herring River, close to Paupmunnock’s own wetu.

We do not know the location of Roger’s second house, built about 1665, on higher ground somewhere closer to the ponds, perhaps even where this oldest house is today. The local tradition was that this was Roger’s house, and it was recorded on the National Register in 1985 as dating about 1653. Robert Frazee’s research for his degree in historic preservation concluded that this was his son Ebenezer’s new house built between 1685 and 1710.

The Goodspeeds expanded the west side to create a full Cape Cod cottage, added a kitchen wing after 1840, built the barn about 1850, and tacked on a milk room before 1900.

This old house stayed in the Goodspeed family for over two centuries, until it was sold in 1954 by the estate of the last Goodspeed to live here, Apphia “Affie” Goodspeed Jones. In 1968 the present owner Joseph P. Muranyi bought it, and made some interior improvements but keeping much of the original house. Joe Muranyi is a well-known jazz clarinetist who played with Louis Armstrong’s “Allstars” 1967-71.

First published in Barnstable Enterprise 6 March 2010.


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