Posts Tagged ‘Old Houses’

Happy Friday readers! As some of you may know, Ash and I went to grad school in Vermont. (We got our Master’s in Historic Preservation there, in addition to our undergraduate degrees in preservation from a school in Rhode Island) To celebrate Ash’s upcoming birthday (it’s a big one), we decided to go back to Vermont for a little trip and revisit some of the places that we used to love in Vermont. With that in mind, and due to the fact that I will not be around next Friday to post, today’s fantasy is  a Vermont treasure: the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead (Vermont’s first National Historic Landmark).

The Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Vermont is a Downingesque Cottage with Carpenter Gothic trim (see this post on Downing for a refresher). Justin Smith Morrill was born and raised in Strafford, where he attended school until the age of 15 (so around 1870).  After that time, he was removed from school to help his family earn a living. Morrill wanted to attend college but didn’t have the means, so he taught himself in fields that interested him, including architecture. It was this love of learning that led him to become a senator and sponsor the 1862 and 1890 Land Grant Acts that established Land Grant colleges for students who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to go.

The Morrill homestead just went through a big restoration. If you are in Vermont anytime you should check it out!

Have a great weekend!



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Happy Friday readers.

Today’s edition of Friday Fantasies is dedicated to the celebration of laborers since Labor Day is just a few short days away. I though I’d make today’s post about the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford, Massachusetts. I know slavery isn’t often though of as a northern thing ( thus why the Royall slave quarters are thought of as the only ones in the Northern U.S.) and that slavery wasn’t really what they had in mind when they started Labor Day, so forgive the stretch.  Don’t get me wrong, slavery is a social injustice that left a deep wound in the heart of American history, and I believe that the best way to avoid reliving the past is to learn about it, good or bad.  Accordingly, the Royall house and Slave quarters really are quite a gem, as they tell the story of a frequently forgotten chapter in the story of slavery.

The site was first owned by Colonial Governor John Winthrop, who built a house here in 1637. That home was replaced with a 2-1/2 story brick house, which remains today as part of the main block of the house.  Isaac Royall, a weathy merchant from Antigua (heavily involved in the rum and slave trades) purchased the house in 1732.  Renovation of the original home was started in 1732 and lasted for roughly 5 years, during which time Royall built the slave quarters and brought 27 African slaves from Antigua. Ten Hills Farm, as the house and property came to be known, soon passed to Issac Royall, Jr.,  who continued remodeling the house into the impressive Georgian mansion we see now. The Royalls, a Loyalist family, eventually fled the house for the safety of England during the American Revolution.  General John Stark set-up his headquarters in the vacant house shortly before the evacuation of Boston.  General Washington is rumored to have paid a visit to the home, where he may have interrogated British soliders taken prisoner who were held on the property. The house passed through many hands following the Revolution, but that’s not what makes it unique. It is unique, of course, for the only intact slave quarters still in existence in New England, as well as its elegantly refined Georgian details. Since this isn’t a blog about social injustice and the past sins (however numerous they are) of our American forebears, I won’t go into great detail about slavery in the north, but I will leave you with a great link to a blog called US Slave that talks in detail about slavery and how it ties to the Issac Royal House.  Please check it out because it’s very interesting!

Below is a picture of the Royall House from C.S. Manegold’s site. C.S. Manegold wrote a book about the Ten Hills Farm and  forgotten slavery in the North.  As you can see, the facade of the main house is wood made to look like stone with very classical details.  The level of detail and craftsmanship that went into this facade were a testament to the Royall family’s status in society.  The facade pictured below is actually the rear, or garden, facade. The buildings to the right are the “out kitchen” or slave quarters.

The front facade, which is less ornateyet still classically detail, is pictured below.  Note the spandrels between the windows and the ranking of the windows, typical in the Georgian and Federal periods. This picture came from Artwanted.com, and I believe the prints are available for sale if you search for Warren Ballard.

Well that’s all for today.  I’d highly recommend reading up on slavery in the North and the role that the Royall House plays in making sure it isn’t forgotten!


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Good morning all.

Today’s Friday fantasy is one that I have visited no less than 10 times and it is so famous it even had a book written about it (and I don’t mean one of those guide book things you get in a gift shop, I’m talking about actual “Literature” here), by a man you might have heard of. His name is Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the house is, of course, the House of Seven Gables.

The House of 7 Gables is located in Salem, Massachusetts, the site of America’s most infamous trial, which took place in 1692-1693 and during which I actually had a relative (Sarah Wildes) tried and hanged, so I always feel an extra sense of connection to history in Salem. Salem, by the way, has TONS of great places to visit, and it has THE BEST Halloween celebration (possibly in the world, if you can stand the crowds).  Since Halloween is my favorite holiday, I try to get to Salem in the fall whenever possible. (I think Gingerbreadbagles would agree that Halloween is the best holiday out there. Check out her blog, she has the sweetest treats around!)

Anyway back to business, one of the best parts of the House of Seven gables (well, besides everything) is the element that all fantasy homes wish they had: A Secret Passage!  That’s right. When you visit the House of Seven Gables, you will get to use the secret passage (assuming you’re built like an 18th century New Englander and aren’t claustrophobic, because it’s a tight fit) as part of your tour.

The House has roots to 1668, when the first portion was constructed by Sea Captain, John Turner. It remained in the Turner family for 3 generations before it was sold to Captain Ingersoll.  Ingersoll died at sea, leaving the house to his daughter, Susanna, who was cousin to Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Hawthorne so enjoyed his visits to the home that he made it a focal point of the setting when penned his famous Gothic romance in 1850.

For more information and to plan your visit, check out the House of Seven Gables website and take a look at all of the great things Salem has to offer here.

And I’ll leave you with a couple more pictures for good measure


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