The oldest house in New England owned and occupied continuously by the same family for over three centuries. Built in 1641, this house was traditionally called the Fort House because of its possible use as a refuge from Indian attack. In 1646 it became the home of Stephen Wing, one of the early settlers of Sandwich, son of the Reverend John Wing and Deborah Bachelor. Stephen and his descendants occupied the house from then on, adding on as families grew and changing tastes dictated. Now restored, it is furnished almost entirely with Wing family antiques showing the different periods of its long history. The house is maintained by the Wing Family of America and open to the public.
The purchase of the Wing Fort House was accompanied by much soul searching, hand wringing and dire visions of financial ruin. All of this was shared in the family newspaper which was currently being called the "Wing Family Annals" in 1942.
The process to decide to buy the Fort began in 1940 when "Cousin Cora," (Cora Wing) the last personal owner of the Fort decided to sell. "Cousin Cora" should be commended for her remarkable patience. Finally, her patience evidently wearing thin, she informed the WFA that she had
been approached by several parties who were interested in buying the property. However, out of regard and respect for her family roots she still continued to stall until finally the right offer was made and she informed the WFA that she would probably accept the offer of $5000.00.
In May of 1942 (two years after "Cousin Cora" decided to sell the property) the WFA finally decided to complete the purchase. With the money that had already been donated toward the project and promises of annual donations, the Board of Officers finally decided to match the price of $5000.00 offered by the other party and informed "Cousin Cora," that the WFA wanted to purchase the fort. Oh happy day, I am sure "Cousin Cora" did some handstands over that decision. A description of the property was detailed in the Wing Family Annals;
"In addition to the house and out-buildings, the association will take over four acres of land consisting of lawn, grass land and meadow. The frontage on
Spring Hill Road is 275 feet. The land extends back from the street about 550 feet, with diverging boundary lines to the rear, where the width becomes approximately 365 feet. With a space of 100 feet between each end of the house and the lot lines,
ample room for future landscaping and development is allowed. This space will also serve as a guarantee against future encroachment by other buildings. The view to the rear affords a broad vista across the fields and salt marshes to the ridge overlooking Cape Cod Bay."
While I have been somewhat glib and fatuous about the WFA's hesitant approach to the purchase of the Fort House, we must remember there was a war going on. The Annual Reunion which was scheduled to be held in Chicago was cancelled because of the war, "For the past month or six weeks it has been incresingly evident that ability to travel long distances by automobile will force the abandonment of plans for a general Family Reunion in Chicago in 1942 and probably for the duration of the war period." It was with deep regret that the Annual Reunion had to be postponed. Yet, because of their purchase that was made in August of 1942, some 64 years ago, our family has a touchstone to revere and honor. Personally, I gratefully thank
those men and women who so thoughtfully added to our heritage.
I feel it is fitting here to re-print the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF GIFTS that was printed in that edition of the "Wing Family Annals."
"Grateful appreciation is expressed to Wilson G. Wing, his sisters Miss Adeline F. and Miss Caroline R. Wing, Miss Grace S. Sisson and George Sisson Jr., Dr. and Mrs. Albert D. Mead, Miss Harriett L. Cornell, Dr. Elihu S. Wing, Mrs Lucy Madeira Wing and Miss Laura S. Wing for their liberal contributions, without which this fund could not have attained its present proportions.
We are no less grateful to the many other givers of smaller amounts according to ability, each an expression of loyalty and pride in perpetuating the family name and traditions. Without a large constituency, no organization or institution can be truly stong. We look for further evidence of this spirit in additional contributions, large and small,
from many who have not yet given and from some who may find it possible to add to what they have already subscribed. To all of you, who read this, I send greetings. We do not know how long this war will last nor whether the next Reunion will be in 1943 or 1945. Of this, we are confident: That the Wings will hold true to the ideals and convictions inspired by Mother Deborah
and our New England ancestry. We look confidently to the future years when that freedom and justice, for which the Wings have always fought, will be assured throughout the world."
Frank E. Wing