Widow Roosts/Cupolas & Towers


Woman often had a nerve-rending worry if their husbands when returning would symbolize the comfort of the family knowing the captain and his crew were returned safe. Or, as the case was often; the woman would learn if she was a widow or not. 

Definition of a Widow’s Walk 

WIDOW’S WALK—a small, railed observation platform built out from the roof. Once used to scout for returning ships, such walks are usually square, done in elaborately-worked wrought iron or wood. 

Definition of a Widow’s Roost 

SEA-WIDOWS ROOST, or WIDOW’S ROOST, an enclosed building that women would use to seek out their husbands across the grand sea in Newburyport. 

Many styles of Newburyport homes involve a gradual turning away from the high drama of lost souls on the high seas to cupola’s and towers just for the sake of simulation of the old or as part of an architectural theme. Many later in the 19th century no longer needed to have peered from the ramparts and the towers called cupolas were installed.  

Definition of a Cupola 

 \Cu”po*la\ (k?”p?-l?), n.; pl. Cupolas (-l?z). [It. 

   cupola, LL. cupula, cuppula (cf. L. cupula little tub). fr. 

   cupa, cuppa, cup; cf. L. cupa tub. So called on account of 

   its resemblance to a cup turned over. See Cup, and cf. 


   1. (Arch.) A roof having a rounded form, hemispherical or 

      nearly so; also, a ceiling having the same form. When on a 

      large scale it is usually called dome

   2. A small structure standing on the top of a dome; a 


   3. A furnace for melting iron or other metals in large 

      quantity, — used chiefly in foundries and steel works. 

   4. A revolving shot-proof turret for heavy ordnance. 

   5. (Anat.) The top of the spire of the cochlea of the ear. 

Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) 

A Listing of Newburyport Homes that possess Widow’s Roosts    
Address Condition WR or WW Description 
42 High Street Interior WR  
73 High Street Interior WR  
77 High Street Interior WR Bradford Nursing Home 
80 High Street Interior WR  
96 High Street Exterior WW  
98 High Street Interior WR Cushing House Museum 
114 High Street Interior WR  
124 High Street Interior WR Business 
201 High Street Exterior/Interior WR Lord Timothy Dexter House 
212 High Street Interior WR  
207 High Street Interior WR Gothic 
209 High Street Exterior WW Morrill Place 
357 High Street Interior WR  
6 Washington Street Interior WR Italienate 
54 Lunt Street Exterior/Interior WR Near Purchase Street, looks new. 
8 Dexter Lane Interior WR Looks New, Music Hall. 
8 Market Street Exterior/Interior WW/WR  
25 Market Street Interior WR  
193 High Street Interior WR Twomey Funeral Home 
420 Merrimac Street Interior WR  
51 Woodland Street Interior WR  
1 High Road Interior WR Newbury at top of Marlboro Street 
56 Lime Street Exterior WW  
69 Bromfield Street Interior WR