James F. Comley’s House: Elijah Stearns Mansion in Massachusetts

December 21, 2023

Who Is James F. Comley?

James F. Comley, an entrepreneur and award-winning safety advocate in the elevator industry, has served on the Massachusetts Board of Elevator Regulations for over 20 years, assuming the role of Chairman in 2006. With a focus on enhancing safety standards, he has become a respected speaker at national conventions, sharing his insights on elevator safety practices. Comley is a historian, co-founder, and original National Elevator Museum board member.

In 2011, Comley was honored with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, recognizing his outstanding contributions and commitment to safety. This prestigious accolade celebrates individuals who demonstrate unwavering dedication to their communities while embodying values of diversity and inclusion. Comley's influence extends beyond the local sphere as he shapes safety standards in the vertical transportation industry.

James F. Comley is also a committed preservationist. He and his wife, Virginia Comley, took stewardship of the Elijah Stearns Mansion in 1984, embarking on a restoration journey that preserved its original details and palette. Today, James F. Comley continues to reside in this architectural and gorgeously landscaped gem, ensuring that the Elijah Stearns Mansion remains a living testament to Bedford, Massachusetts's historical significance and enduring elegance.

Where does James F. Comley live?

James F. Comley was born in Bedford, Massachusetts, a town with roots reaching back to 1640, unveiling a rich tapestry of history shaped by European settlers and the enduring architecture that witnessed the ebb and flow of time. Bedford is notable as the town with the oldest flag in the country, The Bedford Flag, which was carried during the American Revolution.

Amidst the evolving Bedford landscape, one residence is a testament to the town's historical legacy—the Elijah Stearns Mansion. Nestled in the heart of Bedford's Historic District, adjacent to Wilson Park on Great Road, the Elijah Stearns Mansion is a captivating relic of Federal-style architecture. This stately abode, built circa 1800, features a fieldstone foundation, brick ends, four chimneys, and an entrance adorned with a glass and wrought iron archway. The property consists of three buildings: the main house, carriage house, and four-car collectors garage on two lush, maturely landscaped acres.

The mansion underwent notable updates during the prosperous Empire period (1804-15). An intriguing discovery during the 1960s kitchen renovation revealed a well, providing a glimpse into the resourcefulness of earlier occupants who ingeniously spared themselves from venturing into the harsh New England weather for water.

Imported from England, the main entrance boasts a door with massive iron hinges, complemented by a brass lock and embraced by a leaded glass archway. The interior unfolds with a captivating early kitchen area with a large fireplace, Dutch oven, and a Parson's Cabinet securing cordials under lock and key. Window seats grace the front rooms, offering picturesque views of The Great Road.

The mansion's 6000 square feet encompass three bedrooms and an original Clawfooted bathtub in the main house. A 1920s addition introduced a Dutch colonial gambrel, expanding the residence to five bedrooms and three additional bathrooms. Ornate fireplaces, adorned with intricate wood and plaster friezes punctuate the grandeur of the dwelling.

Reflecting the architectural trends of the 1800s, the Stearns carriage house, once a haven for horse-drawn carriages and caretakers, was transformed into a separate three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the 1960s. James F. Comley, a lifelong Bedford, Massachusetts resident, has lived in the main house since 1984.


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