Skip to content

This Old (Invisible) House

For the past decade at least, you could stroll by the house at 5 Francis Wyman Road without noticing it, even though the house is:

  • Red
  • Just a few feet from the sidewalk
  • A fixture since 1798, when Burlington was the “Shawshin” section of Woburn

The house became invisible when Mother Nature took full custody years ago, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can’t call it an eyesore if you can’t see it.5 Francis Wyman Road, Burlington, MA

Now the invisible house is emerging just in time to say goodbye.

5 Francis Wyman Road, Burlington, MASo let’s give it proper Burlington Retro burial, which means hopping into a time machine. The house began life with Clark Manning, the namesake of nearby Manning Street. Here’s the family farm around 1930, looking down Francis Wyman Road.

Manning Farm, Burlington MA c. 1930
The Mannings have very deep roots around here. They’ve owned this property at 56 Chelmsford Road (Route 129) in Billerica since 1696.

A 17th-century home? That puts it in rare company with the Francis Wyman house in Burlington.

And like the Francis Wyman house, the “Manning Manse” in Billerica has plenty of ancient artifacts. Here’s a Revolutionary War ammo box that belonged to Soloman Pollard. His brother Asa was the first person to die at Bunker Hill.

Pollad ammo bag

The Pollard house is thus memorialized a few miles east in Billerica (pics show 1902 and today).

Back to the Manning Manse. See the broken pot on the floor? It was used for making lead ammunition during the war. This is the kind of thing you’d normally find at Saugus Iron Works.

Iron ammo pot Manning Manse Billerica MA

Here’s Lucinda Manning’s hand-held chalkboard. She was a teacher.

Lucinda Manning's chalkboard. She was a teacher.

Unlike the Francis Wyman house, the Manning Manse has an attached pub. This double duty started in 1754 and never ceased.

So you can visit the Manse to eat and drink in the 21st century, then walk through a doorway into a burgeoning museum of Colonial America, assuming you make an appointment. Here’s a glimpse.


Circling back to the moribund Manning house at 5 Francis Wyman Road, here’s an honorable mention from the mid-1950s: Hubert and Mary Price owned the place and apparently kept it looking dapper indeed.

Hubert and Mary Price, Burlington MA
Wayne Higden photo

So when 5 Francis Wyman goes away for real, at least it won’t die in obscurity. There’s now an electronic record. That’s what Burlington Retro is all about.

17 thoughts on “This Old (Invisible) House Leave a comment

  1. I remember when they put the American flag roof on to celebrate the bicentennial in 1976.
    It was well done. Thank you for sharing.

  2. It is so nice to continue to learn more about Burlington’s history. We don’t have many historical buildings left in town, so it is important to have and post these records. Thank you for posting the story of this home and its connection to the history of Burlington/Billerica.

  3. I remember that house. I cycled past it many times as a kid. I always wondered why it was so close to the road.

  4. But alas the house on Francis Wyman Rd .has been sold to a developer who has his work cut out for him. Years of neglect have taken it and the barn away from us forever. Just another sign of how Burlington has been around as a town since before the automobile ruined it as a farming community. But “The British are coming” in a couple of years. Any body know about the “Famous Salmon Dinner” story? Thank you again Mr. Fahey for reminding us of Burlington has a history.

  5. If it’s the house I think it is it was owned by the Johnson family in the 60s?I lived down the street and we kids loved playing in the barn

    • Yes it was owned by the Johnston family. Frank and Judy were the kids. I grew up at 14 across the street.

  6. Yes, I remember a BIG painted US flag on the roof, back in 1975 -1976 Now part of Americana.🇺🇸

  7. that famous salmon dinner was the one prepared for john hancock and sam adams the night before the big shootout at lexington,april 19th…… was said to be at various locales,the manning manse in north billerica,or the one down the road from the francis wyman house,just over the billerica line………..carl johnson,,

  8. the famous salmon dinner of april 18,1775 is an ongoing dispute between burlington and billerica. both of course would like to claim it,, and both do at present. i recall hiking below francis wyman road in 1950,and finding a stone that said here was the site of the famous salmon dinner……….who knows………….cjohnson,bhs,54

Leave a Reply