A house in Rye is up for grabs at no cost, but there’s a twist

Alex Herlihy, the town town historian in Rye, is trying to find a new owner for an 1800s colonial home before it's demolished. Photo courtesy of Alex Herlihy

By Katy Savage

February 16, 2024

Do you want a free house?

The new owners of an 1826 colonial home in Rye are giving it away for free. But there’s a catch— you have to move it.

Town historian Alex Herlihy said the home has been vacant  for about a year, and a new family plans to take the house down and build a new one.

Herlihy has spent the past month trying to find someone to take the house for free.

“We don’t want to see it demolished,” he said.

After trying to advertise the house in newsletters, Herlihy posted it on social media and it quickly went viral.

Herlihy was showing the house on Friday morning and he said six people were interested in taking it for free.

“It’s just a question of who wants to go forward with the project,” Herily said. “It’s very reasonable to dismantle the house and reassemble it.” 

Herlihy knows about moving old houses. In 1975, he bought a mid-1600s house in Hampton and moved it to Rye for about $6,000.

Herlihy estimated a new foundation and new materials for the home would cost under $200,000. 

“To put it back together, that’s the most expensive part,” he said. “It would need new plumbing, heating, and wiring and make the building up to code.”

The post and beam home was originally owned by descendants of Captain John Locke, who is credited as one of the first settlers in Rye in 1656. The Locke family owned it until about the 1920s, according to Herlihy. 

The house is about 3,000 square-feet and has five bedrooms and two bathrooms. It features s pine paneling throughout with a “beautiful staircase,” two chimneys, and multiple fireplaces,” Herlihy said. It boasts wide pine floor paneling and oak beams, and all of the closet doors have decorative molding around the edges. 

Herlihy said the house is one of about 300 historic homes in Rye. 

“What’s great is all of these old houses are being lived in, fixed, and preserved,” he said. “People care about old houses.”

Herlihy said the owner is “being patient” as he attempts to find someone to take the house. 

“He does have his (new) house staked out, out back,” Herlihy said. “He doesn’t want to have to demolish this thing.”

Photos of the home: 

Interior photos of a 1800s home in Rye. Photos courtesy of Alex Herlihy


  • Katy Savage

    Katy Savage is an award-winning reporter with more than 10 years of experience working in daily, weekly and digital news organizations as both an editor and reporter. Based in Enfield, Katy is a New England native and has a passion for telling stories about where she grew up. In her free time, she enjoys running and being outside as much as possible.


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