ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Federal Style Home


Silas Newcomb Property


Watertown Daily Times, 06 12 1976



A Federal style home built of back and mortar, with 18 inch walls and a solid foundation was one of only three homes on Octagon Hill in the early 1870's.  This home is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Miller, 1215 Western Avenue, on the corner of Western and Richards.


First owner of the 140 acre parcel which included the Miller property was Silas W. Newcomb who acquired the land in 1838 from the United States government.


In 1846 he sold the land to John Richards, builder of the Octagon House.  The land was surveyed for individual lots in 1870.  It was at this time that the Federal style home was built. The property was purchased by the Millers in 1962.


There have been 13 owners of the property since the original land grant. Among these were Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Bentzin who owned the home from 1930 to 1947.  The Millers have done interior remodeling but always with the intent to keep the home historically authentic.  They have painted the exterior a federal gold with attractive black shutters added recently.


One unique feature of the house is its four corner chimneys. In early times stoves were located in different rooms to provide heat to various rooms in the house.  Still in existence but not in use is a large concrete cistern located just south of the house.  Other early time identifying features include old time pull-up latches on basement doors, an outside entry to lower level, and a section of lead water pipe in the basement.


In the basement also is a room whose floor is cobblestone but now partially covered by concrete.  The original home had a kitchen in the basement.  Other early time features of the house are a metal foot scraper near the side porch, a very narrow stairway leading to the attic and the attic itself where one can still see hand hewn oak supports and rafters.  On the front porch one can see the cast mail box, the door knocker and the bases for outside lights.