What We Do

We are the stewards of the 17th century Parson Capen House and Gould Barn, both located in the town center. Every summer, we open the House and are docents for residents and visitors. We give teaching demonstrations to Topsfield’s school children and hold a very popular Thanksgiving Day cooking demonstration over the House’s open hearth. For children especially, we sponsor a Toy Clinic and a Witches’ Roost Halloween event.

You may have noticed that the large old ash tree in front of the house had to be removed last year. Partnering with Topsfield Green, we held a family Arbor Day Festival to bid farewell to this beautiful tree, providing games, a contest and local experts’ presentations on our natural resources. This event’s success has led us to sponsoring an annual Arbor Day Festival on the Parson Capen House Lawn.

We provide a monthly presentation in the Gould Barn, free to all, on a variety of history-related topics. We bring in local historians, authors and historical re-enactors. Our January talk, by an historian, on the 19th century history of Boston’s North End and our February performance of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life, by an historical re-enactor, filled the Barn to its capacity.

We maintain the archives of Topsfield’s history including documents, maps and artifacts from Topsfield’s nearly 400 years of official settlement. We receive requests for genealogical and historical study and our physical archives are open to all on request. We’ve begun digitizing our archives onto our website,

The most popular activity of all that we do is the Strawberry Festival in June! This is a community-wide effort with many volunteers involved, especially in making and serving our hugely popular strawberry shortcake. The Festival provides an opportunity for local emergency responders, service organizations and community groups to present their work to a wide audience. We have presentations in the Barn and on the lawn and hand-crafters from all over New England display their wares.

We invite you to support us through becoming a member of the Topsfield Historical Society. Members receive our bi-monthly publication, Local Lore, with professionally written local history pieces, often based on items from our archives. We hold two exclusive member events, a Christmas Party and a Soup Supper. We have many opportunities for members to share their interest in history with friends and neighbors.

Download our Membership Form