Historic Homes of New England
OF NEW ENGLAND
HISTORIC HOMES OF
MARY H. NORTHEND
AUTHOR OF "COLONIAL HOMES AND THEIR FURNISHINGS"
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
By Little, Brown, and Company.
IS DEDICATED TO
THE BEST OF MOTHERS
The study of old houses grows in interest with each additional discovery of good material, such as can be found in the old New England towns and cities, more especially those along the seacoast. The preservation of these old houses has done much to give us correct ideas of the interiors, though many of these, with the change of owners, have been stripped of their colonial furnishings.
Most of the houses that are shown in this book are private homes which have been opened by the owners to allow pictured representations of correct ancestral furnishing. Houses such as these possess the greatest charm—ancestral homes that have descended from generation to generation in the same family since their founding.
It has been a great pleasure to be allowed to visit these old mansions, which show wonderful staircases, richly carved mantels, and colonial windows, each one of which is an architectural gem. Through pictured homes like these one is given a deeper interest in the early life of our country and realizes more than ever before what the colonial period stood for in home building.[Pg viii]
I wish to acknowledge the kindness of my many friends in helping me to make this book possible, particularly Mrs. Charles M. Stark of Dunbarton, New Hampshire, for use of the old Stark mansion; the Colonial Dames of Massachusetts, for allowing correct representations in pictures of the Quincy Mansion; the New Hampshire Society of the Sons of Cincinnati, for the use of the Ladd-Gilman House; Miss Caroline O. Emmerton of Salem, for permission to show the historic House of Seven Gables; the Historical Society of Marblehead, for the use of the Lee Mansion; the Medford Daughters of the Revolution, for the old Royall House; the Dalton Club of Newburyport, who have thrown open their club-house to be pictured; Mrs. Jacob C. Rogers of Boston and Peabody; Mr. Jacob C. Peabody of Danvers; as well as many others, including Mr. John Pickering of Salem, who have allowed me access to their houses.
We of New England are deeply interested in our historic homes, and it is to the lover of the colonial that I wish to show by picture and text the wonderful old mansions that are still in our midst, which have done much to bring New England into prominence in the architectural world of to-day.
MARY H. NORTHEND.
LIST OF PLATES
HOMES OF LONG AGO
Scattered here and there throughout the South, the Middle West, and the New England States, we find the homes of long ago standing as mute witnesses and representatives of periods in our country's settlements that have become historical. We come across them by the wayside, when driving along country roads, or we catch glimpses of them at the end of grassy lanes, surrounded by pleasant meadows, while others, jutting in between twentieth century houses in our large cities, serve to link the old days with the new. These old mansions are often tenantless; some, with sagging roofs and gaping sides, are fast falling into decay. Still others, well preserved and freshly painted, surrounded by the well kept lawns and posy beds of our grandmothers' time, are survivals of a glorious past.[Pg 2]
Old houses are like old romances; both are filled with mystery. Could they but speak, what fascinating tales they would reveal. They carry us back in imagination to one of the most eventful periods of our country's life—that of its struggle for freedom—and they inspire us with a desire to weave them into stories that will give authentic glimpses of the days when our country was young. Surrounding these ancient landmarks we find an irresistible and intangible charm that never fails to appeal, not only to the house-lover but the antiquarian as well. For, no matter how shabby the exterior may be, inside its four walls has been enacted a series of comedies and tragedies, which, if known, might overshadow the romances of the great masters of literature.
In spite of the mystery surrounding these old homesteads, there is, nevertheless, something definite about them which has for the student of the past a deep meaning and a distinct appeal.
Harking back, we find that each particular type of house represents a stage in the development of architecture. They cover a period when architects were practically unknown. Many were evolved from the master builder's brain, while others have been developed little by little from[Pg 3] early designs. Monuments of departed days, they stand models to which our present-day architects turn for inspiration.
Few, if any, of the first houses are still standing. They were constructed of logs and had thatched roofs. The timber was, at first, hand sawed in saw pits dug for that purpose, a tedious process. Later on, sawmills were erected, but not in sufficient number to meet the demand for frame houses.
The second period of house building brought out a new idea in construction. Some of these houses were built with two stories in front and one in the rear, this lower story being covered by an extension of the sloping roof. The most imposing of this type were those which were designed with gables at the front and chambers underneath.
In those days, the best kinds of lumber were plentiful, so the frame could be built of picked wood, preferably white oak. In houses of this style, the outer walls were daubed with clay, covered with boards. At first, they were called clay boards, the name being afterwards corrupted to clapboards. Lime was rarely used in daubing, since lime was obtainable only by burning shells. Sometimes clay was intermixed with straw. Many windows had small, diamond panes, set in lead[Pg 4] cases. These may be found to-day in some of the old houses that have escaped vandalism. The windows were often divided into two parts and opened outward.
The entrance hall in these old homes led into a large and imposing apartment. On the walls were hung frames containing hair flowers and funeral pieces wrought by hand. This was known as the "company" or "guest" room, used only on state occasions. The principal room was the kitchen with its sanded floor, often laid herring-bone pattern. This was used as a dining-room and kitchen combined. Through the center of the house ran a chimney six feet square, around which clustered the closets, many of them secret. Here were concealed the family treasures, plate, and perchance a refugee. The family gathering place was the kitchen. It requires little imagination to repeople it with guests. Seemingly, we watch the elders seated on large, wooden settles inside the fireplace, roasting their faces, while they freeze their backs. The old iron crane swings outward, holding the jack, spit, and pot hooks. The Dutch oven covered with ashes contains the evening meal.
The only light save the firelight was the pitch-pine torch, by whose flickering flame one read or[Pg 5] sewed. Close at hand on a nail hung the old horn lantern ready for use, either to tend the stock or light a visiting neighbor home. It is an appealing picture of colonial life.
Among the old houses there are none so full of interest as those which have been carefully preserved in the same family, handed down from generation to generation. Over the threshold of these homes have passed men and women whose names are linked irretrievably with important events in our nation's history.
In the early history of our country, few seaport towns stand out in bolder relief than Salem, Massachusetts, a city noted at the commencement of the nineteenth century for her commercial prosperity, and whose ships sailed to every port on the globe. These ships were small, clumsy affairs, but staunch in build. The cargoes were valuable ventures, sent by Salem merchants who were fearless plungers. The flavor of the sea still lingers about this seaport town, particularly along Derby Street, where, in the prosperous shipping days, social life was centered.
Years crept on apace, and the country grew more prosperous with the increase of population; and in the seaport town, more especially, came a[Pg 6] demand for larger and better houses. Money circulated freely, and ventures proved successful. Trade steadily increased, bringing prosperity in its wake. Commerce was at its height, and the harbor was filled with incoming and outgoing ships, whose holds were stored with rich cargoes of household goods, furniture, and glass, intermixed with merchandise. Much of the valuable furniture is still to be found in the houses of to-day.
The story of those stirring times reads like a bit of romance. The tide still ebbs and flows at Derby Street, lapping the piers much as it did a century ago, when ships four tiers deep lay tied up at the now deserted wharves. The crews were boys, many of them, sons of the merchants, who, from sailing before the mast, rose rapidly to positions of importance, becoming captains of their ships at an age when the lads of to-day are just leaving school.
Like a dream seems the life of long ago. No more, save in imagination, do we see the jolly sailor lads with sea legs on, bowling along Derby Street, bound for Kit's Dancing Hall, there to indulge themselves in merry dance or quench their thirst at the flowing bowl. The Old Inn or Ordinary has long since passed away, as has the[Pg 7] lumbering stage and jolly drivers, who snapped their whips and cracked their jokes around a cheerful, open fire while waiting for the incoming ships. The large, square homes of yesterday are now degenerated into tenement houses.
Three of the most prominent merchants of that day were William Grey, Joseph Peabody, and Elias Hasket Derby. They owned the greater number of the ships that sailed to foreign ports, and their names are household words. On the wharves still stand their old counting-houses, now put to other uses.
With the decline of commerce and the decrease of shipping, the tide of building turned inland. Large, imposing houses were erected in other parts of the town. Elias Hasket Derby chose as a site for his new house what is now known as Derby Square. The estate was a large one, terraced to the water's edge. The house was of wood, three stories in height, and costing eighty thousand dollars. Much of Samuel McIntire's best wood work was used here. Not many months after its completion, the owner died, and his entire estate was sold. The house was torn down, much of the timber being used in other houses that were in the process of building. Captain Cook was at that[Pg 8] time erecting for his daughter, who married Henry K. Oliver, a stately home on Federal Street. Into this were introduced some of the best specimens of the wood carving. This mansion was a type that came into prominence at the close of the Revolutionary War, a large, square house, three stories in height, showing in exterior finish many of McIntire's best designs. The gate-posts on either side of the little picket gate were especially carved for the old Derby Mansion, as were the classic columns that support the porch. Not only outside the house but inside as well, one comes across McIntire's wonderful carving. Step over the threshold, enter the spacious hallway, that like most constructed in that day extends entirely through the house and opens on to an old-fashioned garden beyond. Here the door frames and stairway show the master's handiwork. The broad landing is lighted by a window especially designed. Large, square rooms open on either side of the hall, the one at the right showing scenic wall-paper made in Paris and hung in 1808. A feature of this room is a hob-grate, one of the first ever placed in any Salem home.
The old merchants knew well how to build for comfort and beauty. One of their old houses,[Pg 9] still standing on Essex Street, Salem, was built in 1750 by one Joseph Sprague, a merchant. It is a rambling, spacious affair, three stories in height at the rear and two at the front. The grounds were extensive, leading to the water's edge.
Major Sprague was a man of standing, interested in military affairs. It was he that commanded the first uniformed company of light infantry. Organized on April 22, 1776, they applied to the General Court to make them independent of the militia but not of the regiment. In those days their uniform was much more striking than at present. Green coats with gold trimming were worn, also ruffled shirts, the ruffles falling over the hands, under dresses of white, black gaiters, and black hats of beaver ornamented with ostrich plumes. This company soon disbanded.
The ancestral home of Major Sprague has never been out of the family. It was built by him for his bride. Lifting the ponderous knocker, one enters the open door, passing into a broad hallway with a colonial staircase showing fine, hand-carved balusters. Opening out of this are large, square rooms, filled with rich, old Chippendale. Much of this was brought over in the major's ships. Huge open fireplaces are found in every room. One of[Pg 10] them is surrounded by tiles, picturing Æsop's fables.
Closets innumerable, such as would delight the heart of a twentieth-century housekeeper, are everywhere. There are large ones and small ones. Sometimes, concealed behind panels, were secret closets, but the most important of all, as well as the most historical, has disappeared. This was used in Revolutionary times to shelter one of the servants, a deserter from the Continental Army, who was discovered and shot.
Major Sprague had a comely daughter Sarah, who was a reigning belle of that day. Her beauty attracted the attention of one William Stearns, a Harvard collegian, who lived in the Craigie House at Cambridge, afterwards the home of Longfellow. Every Saturday night he swam the unbridged Mystic River and walked to Salem to see her. They were married in 1776 and lived in the town. He was one of the largest stockholders in the turnpike road built between Salem and Boston, and the story runs that he declared after it was finished he would be able to stand on the steps of his Salem home and look directly into the Boston market. A son of the fair Sarah married Thresea St. Agnan from Trinidad. She was an intimate of[Pg 11] Josephine Tascher de La Pageree, afterwards the consort of Napoleon. A beautiful gold-banded tortoise-shell comb is still kept in the family, a present from Josephine to Agnes.
Many are the interesting historical houses to be found in this city, each of which has a story hidden away under its roof. One of these standing next to the Old Witch House was owned originally by a Captain Davenport. It is mentioned as early as 1662. Later, the captain removed to Boston to take charge of the fortification at Castle Island and on July 15, 1665, was killed "By a solemn stroke of thunder." The estate was then conveyed to one Jonathan Corwan, afterwards called Curwin, a man of prominence in the witchcraft trial through being appointed one of the judges.
Later on his grandson Samuel, an exceedingly interesting man with a most irascible disposition, lived in the same mansion. Graduated from Harvard in 1735, he became a merchant, afterwards taking part in the Pepperrell Expedition against Louisburg as captain and rose to the rank of "Judge of Admiralty." Espousing the cause of the Loyalists, he was forced to leave for England. Returning in 1784, he found his estate in a very bad condition, most of his valuable library[Pg 12] having been sold. For many years afterwards he was a prominent gentleman in the life of the city and was often seen walking the streets, wearing his English wig, clothed in a long cloak of red cloth, his fingers covered with rings, and using a gold-headed cane as he walked.
There is no purer type of colonial house in the city by the sea, than the Cabot House, built by one Joseph Cabot in 1748 and which was for thirty years the residence of William Crowninshield Endicott, who served under President Cleveland as Secretary of War.
Near Derby Street stands the house made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Here, in May, 1840, he called to see his cousin "The Duchess," Miss Susan Ingersoll, on which occasion she told him the story of the house, and the name struck him so forcibly that he is said to have repeated it again and again as if to impress it on his memory. From this incident we have the romance of The House of the Seven Gables.[Pg 13]
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES
The visitor to Salem has no difficulty in finding the House of the Seven Gables, for any one can direct him there, and he is waylaid by boys who wish to guide him to it.
His way lies through what was once the court end of the town. This quarter, long since deserted by fashion—its fine old houses are now turned into tenements—still retains enough of its ancient state to arouse the visitor's interest. So his mind is in a most receptive mood when a final corner takes him into Turner Street, and he descries at its very end the rear of the ancient mansion, embowered by trees, the long sweep of its lean-to crowned by a cluster of chimneys.
The House of the Seven Gables is most pleasantly situated, overlooking Salem harbor, with a view across the water and of Marblehead in the distance. The house faces the south. Its east end borders on Turner Street, crowding down so[Pg 14] close to the narrow sidewalk that the picturesque sign over the shop door swings just over the heads of the passers-by. At the back of the house the lean-to already mentioned slopes down to the yard, while to the west the land extends beyond the garden to the next street.
The steeply sloping roof of the ancient mansion, its sharp, pointed gables, its gray, weather-beaten clapboards, the faded red of its brick chimneys, all attract the visitor. Romance speaks to him from the tiny casements and, dreaming that he shall find Miss Hepzibah herself behind the counter, he opens the shop door and hurriedly enters. The bell over the door jangles his welcome.
It would be hard to find a tinier place than that little shop. And how full it is of everything: of toys, of candies, of baskets and rag mats and antiques and bits of embroidery and, best of all, quaint Jimcrows, the gingerbread men so thoroughly appreciated by Miss Hepzibah's young customer.
The present presiding genius of the little shop stands behind a high, narrow counter surmounted by a very old, quaint, glass show-case. She is a lady of far more charm and tact than was poor Miss Hepzibah, with much of interest to tell about[Pg 15] her wares, and answers with great patience questions about the house and the families who lived in it.
The house was built in 1669 by John Turner, a Salem merchant, and was successively owned by his son and grandson, both John Turners. The third John Turner sold the house in 1782 to Captain Samuel Ingersoll. Hawthorne's connection with the house begins with the Ingersolls, who were his kinsfolk. Mrs. Ingersoll was a Hawthorne and a cousin of Hawthorne's father.
Her daughter Susannah was eighteen years older than Hawthorne, although of the same generation. She inherited the estate while still a young woman and was at first fond of society, but after an unfortunate love affair she became a recluse. She spent a long life in gloomy retirement in the ancient mansion with no companion except her under-witted maid. Her young cousin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, was one of the few men allowed to cross her jealously guarded threshold.
Miss Ingersoll's old age was cheered by an adopted son, a boy of mysterious birth, supposed by some to be the child of her servant. Whoever he was, Miss Ingersoll was devoted to him. She gave him a fine education and started him in life[Pg 16] as a clergyman. He was known at first as Horace Conelly but later took the name of Ingersoll. Miss Ingersoll left him her entire fortune, even her family homestead, the House of the Seven Gables. But unfortunately he proved to be a man of very weak character. He dissipated the fortune, and in 1879 the house was sold for his debts.
In the next few years the house changed owners many times, until in 1883 it came into the possession of the Upton family, who occupied it for twenty-five years. In 1908 it was bought for the use of the settlement to which it gives its name.
In 1909 the house was repaired and fitted up for settlement work, and while it was under repair, many of the original features, or traces of them, were discovered. During its two hundred and forty years of existence some of its gables and its lean-to had been taken off, the overhang closed in, and the secret staircase taken down. A careful restoration was made of all these missing features, a matter of great interest to architects and antiquarians and even to the casual visitor.
Leaving the little shop, the visitor enters directly the old kitchen. This is a small room sheathed with pine boards put on perpendicularly, after the fashion of the earliest times, so as to form[Pg 17] a simple pattern. This special pattern is peculiar to the House of the Seven Gables.
An immense fireplace occupies nearly the whole of one side of the room. It is filled with old-fashioned cooking utensils and illustrates the evolution which has taken place along this line. The pots and kettles are swung from a long iron bar placed well up in the chimney. (The crane with which we are all familiar is simply a later development of this primitive bar.) There is a brick oven built into the fireplace, also a Dutch oven, which is a pot with a rim around the cover to hold the hot coals; and, the last step in evolution before the cook-stove, we find the tin kitchen standing in its place before the andirons.
The most precious of all the furnishings of the fireplace is an old-fashioned toaster from which Hawthorne has had many a slice of toast. Close to the fireplace is a panelled oak chest as old as, if not older, than the house. Flanking the chest is the top of a highboy, which once belonged to Miss Ingersoll and may have been bought of the Turners with the house. As Miss Ingersoll was a conservative person, it was probably not until after her day that the highboy was divided, and the top part set on the floor with feet of its own.[Pg 18]
Opposite the highboy is an old-fashioned kitchen dresser, part of which was found in the house, and the rest designed to match. Its shelves now contain samples of crockery and old salt glaze, with specimens of Bennington and tortoise-shell ware. If the visitor is up on such matters, he will have noticed that certain articles in the room are of much later date than others. He is then told that the idea in furnishing the house is to make it look as an old, conservative Salem house would have looked in 1840, the period of the story. That is to say, there is practically no furniture later than 1840, and most of the pieces are much earlier—survivors, so to speak, of the many periods through which the house has passed. The later and more elegant pieces of furniture (generally speaking, mahogany of about 1800) are to be found in the parlor and dining-room, while the earlier pieces of walnut, cherry, pine, and oak have been relegated to the kitchen and attic; the same is to be said of the china—Lowestoft and lustre supplanting the earlier wares in the parlor and dining-room.
With the determination to note this evolution in household furnishing, the visitor continues on his tour of the house. He leaves the kitchen by a[Pg 19] dark, narrow passage. A door at its end admits him to a large, sunny, low-ceiled room, which has always been used as a combination dining and sitting-room. The Turners called this room "the hall," a term the early settlers brought with them from England. The Ingersolls called it "the keeping room." To the settlement residents to-day, it is simply the dining-room. It is certainly most attractive with its rare, old, white painted panelling and old-fashioned furniture. The sideboard, dining-table, and secretary are fine old pieces of mahogany. The chairs are of the Windsor pattern. On the wall are pictures of clipper ships and foreign ports and one portrait of a rather grim old gentleman. Under the portrait is the dinner-wagon and a red lacquer tray, once the property of Miss Ingersoll.
In the novel this room is called "the parlor of more moderate size" in contrast to the grand reception room. And here, more than anywhere else, the scene of the story is laid. For this was the room where Colonel Pyncheon was discovered dead by his little grandson, and here after many years that grandson received Matthew Maule the carpenter and sent for his daughter Alice to join them. And this was the room that Miss Hepzibah[Pg 20] Pyncheon used as the living-room, and where she and her brother Clifford and her little cousin Phœbe ate their meals under their ancestor's frowning portrait. Here it was that Judge Pyncheon came and bullied Hepzibah and sent her to find her brother. The story tells how poor Hepzibah, sadly against her will, goes over the house looking for Clifford. But she does not find him in his room, and when she hurries back to the living-room, Clifford himself comes out of it and points to the judge, who is sitting dead in his chair. Hawthorne does not explain in the novel how Clifford left his room and got down to the living-room, but the house itself offers an explanation.
Beside the fireplace in the living-room is a round-topped door opening into a brick-lined closet. Entering the closet the guide opens a secret door, revealing a mysterious staircase by which the visitor mounts apparently right into the heart of the huge central chimney. The staircase is very steep and narrow and makes many a turn. Finally, the door at the top opens, and the visitor steps out into Clifford's room. The door closes with a snap behind him. The visitor looks round but sees only the pine sheathing with the pattern peculiar to the House of the Seven Gables.[Pg 21]
In response to the question: "Why was the secret staircase built?" the guide confesses that no one knows. There have been many surmises. Some have thought it was a refuge from the Indians. Others have fancied it was for purposes of smuggling. The most probable explanation seems to be that it was a temporary hiding-place in case of a recurrence of the witchcraft delusion. About 1889 Mr. Upton began to take down the great central chimney and then discovered the secret staircase, which was rebuilt in 1909 from his description. It looks so old that the visitor can hardly believe that it is only a very exact reproduction of the original.
Clifford's room is only a small attic chamber with a mahogany bed and bureau and an attractive set of painted chairs, which belonged in the House of the Seven Gables but were given away at the time the house was sold for Horace Ingersoll's debts. All the furniture was scattered at that time, but since then many pieces have found their way back, either by gift or purchase.
The visitor leaves Clifford's room and makes his way into the open attic, for he came up two stories by the secret staircase and is now under the sharply pointed roof and surrounded by trunks,[Pg 22] chests, and bandboxes. This is a good place to understand the structure of the house. The main building had at first just two gables in front and one at each end; then a wing was built on in front, covering one of the gables, which was largely cut away. This wing had three gables, and the porch, which was built in the angle of the wing and the main house, was roofed by another gable. An old plan of the house shows a wing built on to the lean-to in the rear, which was probably roofed by another gable; so the house in the time of the first two John Turners probably had eight gables. It seems likely that the third John Turner took off the porch gable, which must certainly have been very troublesome, as its position made it a pocket for the ice and snow. If we omit the porch gable, assuming that it was gone long before the Ingersolls bought the house, we find that the rest correspond very closely to Hawthorne's description of them as they are mentioned in different parts of the novel.
The stump of the cut-off gable is a great object of interest in the attic, as is also a piece of the old front door, which is studded with nails after the fashion of the early colonial days.
One flight below the attic is the great chamber,[Pg 23] Phœbe's room in the story. This splendid, great, sunny room has fine panelling, dating from about 1720, and good examples of early furniture. To give an idea of how the room looked when first built the guide moves aside the Queen Anne mirror and opens a small door behind it, cut in the wall of the room. This reveals one of the great supporting posts, which is roughly carved in mediæval manner. This post, with its companion beams and posts, once stood out in the room, but since the panelling was put in, that is nearly two hundred years ago, it has been hidden from sight. This silent witness indicates the great age of the house, which has outlived so many styles and fashions. Another flight below is the parlor or "grand reception room," as it was called.
In the story it is described as unfurnished—an empty room that Miss Hepzibah was too poor to heat, where Clifford took his exercise on rainy days. Into this room the hero Holgrave drew little Phœbe, that she might not enter the living-room and have the shock of discovering Judge Pyncheon sitting there dead. One forgets about the story in admiring the very happy color scheme of this finely proportioned room. The wall-paper is gray, a reproduction of some wall-paper found[Pg 24] in the house. The graceful little classical groups indicate that it was designed in the early part of the last century. Against the gray wall-paper and fine white painted panelling, the red curtains at the three windows are seen in pleasant contrast. They are a wonderfully soft yet brilliant red, with a beautiful brocaded design. A set of Sheraton chairs covered with black figured hair-cloth give character to the room, and the warm Turkey rug on the floor helps to carry out the color scheme.
The fireplace in this room is of especial interest. It is large, but the guide opens a wood closet and shows that the original fireplace was very much larger. At the right of the fireplace opens a quaintly panelled door, disclosing a buffet with a carved shell overhead and shelves crowded with delicate and beautiful old china, while on the floor of the closet an array of ginger jars reminds one of the Salem ships that brought home such good things from the East. One is also reminded of the East by the lacquered work-box, chess-board, and teapoys. In front of a slant-top desk stands Hawthorne's favorite chair. It looks so comfortable that we can readily believe that he would select it when making a call on his cousin.
Her portrait looks down on the chair. Hers is[Pg 25] an unusual face, striking though hardly beautiful. Was she the original of Miss Hepzibah? Her lonely life in this old, gabled house, the wealth of affection she bestowed on a weak and selfish man, certainly suggest that Hawthorne had his cousin in mind when he drew this character.
After a lingering inspection of the parlor, which looks so homelike because, like the dining-room, it is really lived in by the settlement residents, the visitor passes out the front door to study the exterior of the house and enjoy the old-fashioned garden.
The first object of interest is the overhanging second story. The "overhang," as it is called, was closed in, probably for a century or more, simply because overhangs had gone out of fashion. It was accidentally discovered when the house was repaired by the carpenter, who was examining the soundness of the sills. Some of the old clapboards can still be seen, and a small piece of the drops which originally ornamented the corner posts. The present drops are reproductions, except a bit of the old drops that were left to nail to.
At the end of the garden, which is bright with old-fashioned flowers, stands the counting-house. This is a small building found on the estate in use[Pg 26] as a wood-shed. Its age and previous history are not known, but as it is of the same size and shape as the old counting-house mentioned in the inventories of the Turner family, it has been furnished to represent it. There is the master's desk, a wonderful affair with many secret drawers, the clerk's desk, and armchairs, models of ships, a barometer, a telescope, etc.
Adjoining the counting-house is a grape arbor, where the visitor can refresh himself with a cup of tea, and while he sits there enjoy a view of the harbor across the garden. On his left is the House of the Seven Gables, and on his right is another old house used for the settlement clubs and classes. It is the Hathaway house, dating from 1683, but that is another story.[Pg 27]
THE PICKERING HOUSE
It is doubtful if any other historic home in New England can boast, as does the Pickering house situated in Salem, Massachusetts, of being in the direct line of a family for nine generations.
This family originated in Yorkshire, England. John Pickering, the founder of the Salem branch, was born in old England in 1614; he came to the colonies and lived in Ipswich from 1634 to 1636. In the early part of 1636 he came to Salem, and on December 7, 1636, John Pickering, carpenter, was granted to be an inhabitant of that city.
Long years ago, when this city was in its youth and sparsely settled, large estates, many of them original grants, were founded. It was then that this now famous house was erected. It was commenced in 1650 and finished in 1651 by one John Pickering, the emigrant ancestor of the present owner of the old mansion, who became a considerable landowner, purchasing his estate[Pg 28] in different lots until his property extended from Chestnut Street to the Mill Pond, then known as South River.
The twenty-acre lot known as the home lot, on which he built the historic mansion, was originally a part of the governor's field, once owned by Governor John Endicott. It was conveyed by him to Emmanuel Downing, who sold it, so tradition tells, to one John Pickering to pay for the commencement dinner of Sir George Downing, who was graduated in the first class at Harvard. The original deed is still in the possession of the family.
The house was built in the Elizabethan style of architecture and resembled the famous Peacock Inn in Rouseley, England. It was constructed of white oak, which grew in a swamp on the estate. The exterior is practically unchanged; and the interior shows low, beamed ceilings and small windows. The entrance door opens into a low hall, from which the stairs ascend to the second story floor. This has been lengthened within the last few years by taking out one of the chimneys. As in many old houses, large rooms open on either side. At the right is the library, which has been enlarged by opening up an alcoved recess. This[Pg 29] was formerly a chamber, and is used to-day to accommodate several bookcases filled with rare old books, many of which are in manuscript. The colonial fireplace, with its scriptural tiles, is a feature of this room, where is shown a wonderful old English ball table that was brought over by the emigrant ancestor. The chairs, many of them, were made by Theophilus Pickering, whose old desk where he wrote many of his sermons stands at one side of the fireplace. Rare books and interesting mementoes are found on every side.
Opposite is a large drawing-room filled with Chippendale and colonial furniture, and showing Colonel Timothy Pickering's picture on the wall. At the rear of this room is a dining-room which, as does the rest of the house, contains more fine furniture.
Autograph letters fill many books, some of them received by Colonel Timothy Pickering from President Washington. Rare old glass, china, and silver speak of bygone days.
Up-stairs are interesting, rare old four-posters, still showing their quaint hangings; and one notes the old chimney that occupies such a large space in the house. Inside one of the closets is the old army chest marked with Pickering's initials and[Pg 30] showing his rank. It was used by him when quartermaster in the Revolutionary War.
The builder of the house married Elizabeth, whose surname is not known. He resided upon the estate until his death, which occurred in 1657; the property descended to his son John, who increased his landownings by the purchase of the eastern or Anthrum lot from Edmund Batter.
The second John married Alice Flint, a most estimable lady, in 1657. He served as a lieutenant in the Indian War, in 1675, and particularly distinguished himself in the memorable fight of Bloody Brook at Deerfield, Massachusetts. He died in 1694 and was succeeded by another John, third in line, who was a farmer, frugal and industrious, and who held many positions of trust in the community. He married Sarah Burrill, of an influential Lynn family. There were two sons, Timothy and Theophilus. The latter was graduated from Harvard and was called to Chebacco parish, first as assistant to Reverend John Wise, and afterwards as minister. There is in the Pickering house a manuscript book on physics bound in leather and illustrated by him. There is also a set of ten chairs made by his hand in 1724.
His brother Timothy, who inherited the estate,[Pg 31] was deacon of the Tabernacle Church in Salem at his father's death. He was the father of nine children. During his lifetime he added three more rooms on the northern side, raising the roof, which sloped almost to the ground after the fashion of buildings of that period. At the time of these improvements, the eastern part of the house was one hundred years old and the western part eighty. When the weather boards were ripped off, the sills of white oak were so sound that it was decided they would last longer than new ones. One of the peaks was removed at this time because of leaks but was replaced in 1840 by John, the son of Colonel Pickering.
When Timothy inherited the estate, he was the first to break the line of Johns. He is described as a gentleman of great piety, firmness of character, and decided convictions. He died at the age of seventy-five and left the estate to his son John, the fifth of the line, who was a bachelor and lived in the old home with his sister, Mrs. Gool, as housekeeper. His occupation was agricultural, but he held several public positions. He represented the town in the General Court for many years, and was town treasurer in 1782. His brother Timothy, who was Clerk of Register of[Pg 32] Deeds, entered the Continental Army, and at that time John took his place with the intention of returning the office to him on his return from the war, but he became so accustomed to the work that he kept the position until 1806, when he was compelled to resign through the infirmities of age. It is related of him that at one time he was supposedly fatally ill, and the question of his successor in office coming up, it was proposed to canvass for a candidate. This so enraged John that he recovered from his illness. He was one of the original members of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and was noted for his honesty, industry, and the careful management of his affairs. At his death, the ancestral estate passed to his nephew John (the fifth), the only break in the transmission of the property from father to son.
John's father, Colonel Timothy, the brother of John (fourth), although never owning the estate, spent his early boyhood upon it, and much of its fame comes from his connection with it. Colonel Timothy was born in the old house July 17, 1745. Upon his graduation from college, he entered the office of the Register of Deeds as clerk and was appointed head of this department a few years later. In 1768, he was admitted to the Bar, and[Pg 33] became the leader and champion of the patriots of Essex County; he wrote the famous address from the citizens of Salem to General Gage, relative to the Boston Port Bill. He held the office of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Essex County, being sole Judge of the Maritime Court of the Middle District. This was an office involving great responsibility and decisions concerning large amounts of property, as that was the day of privateers. His military service began in 1766, when he was commissioned lieutenant of the Fourth Military Company of Salem.
Three years later he was promoted to the rank of captain and by his interest and careful training raised appreciably the standard of discipline. He was commissioned by the Royal Government colonel of the First Regiment, Essex County Militia. He led the troops who marched out to oppose the entry of Leslie and his Redcoats into Salem on February 26, 1775, when the famous colloquy on North Bridge took place, and the munitions of war concealed in the town were saved to the colonists.
In the fall of 1776, he joined Washington in New Jersey with a regiment of seven hundred men, and the next year he was made Adjutant-general[Pg 34] of the Continental Army, commencing his service July 17, 1777. When Congress decided to change the personnel of the Continental Board of War from members of Congress to three men not congressmen, Colonel Pickering was chosen to serve on the Board, whose powers and duties were many and important. He was made Quartermaster-general of the Army, also, holding this position until its abolishment, July 25, 1785. He was a member of the committee which wrote the farewell address delivered to Washington, November 15, 1783. With the close of the war, Colonel Pickering withdrew from public life to devote himself to agriculture. He settled in Philadelphia, but his private life was of short duration, as his services were needed for the adjustment of claims made by Wyoming settlers. He had a thrilling experience in the West, being captured by a band of masked men who carried him off and subjected him to horrible torture.
Colonel Pickering was a most charming host and though apparently stern and forbidding, delightful in the midst of his family. He retained his inherited fondness for agriculture, at seventy-five still filling the position of President of the Agricultural Societies of Essex County and bearing off the[Pg 35] first prize for plowing, in competition with the farmers of the vicinity. It was his habit to preserve letters and documents of every description, the most important of which were published after his death in 1829, and which, owing to his prominence in national affairs, are very interesting reading.
Colonel Pickering is an example of one of the best types of a New Englander of his time: a brave, patriotic soldier, a talented writer, an impartial, able, and energetic public official, a leader of the Federal party, occupying four Cabinet positions, serving his country whenever he was needed, but content to return to his simple life when the need for him in public life was over.
At the death of Colonel Pickering's brother, John, the ancestral estate descended to the colonel's son, John (fifth). He inherited his father's public spirit and served in the General Court, three times as representative from Essex and twice from Norfolk and Suffolk counties. He was Secretary of the Legation at Lisbon and later under Rufus King in London, and finally became United States Minister to England. He was a member of many learned societies in Europe, received several diplomas, and brought home a fine library collected[Pg 36] on the continent. He was a profound scholar, a writer in law, and especially interested in philology, understanding twenty-two different languages.
The house is now in the possession of John Pickering, the eighth of the line, whose son John will succeed his father. The ancient house, in all the dignity of old age, is the central feature of the lot, a picturesque historic mansion, considered one of the most important landmarks of Salem, Massachusetts.[Pg 37]
Nowhere in American history is there a colonial home more closely linked with England than is "The Lindens," for here it was that Governor Gage, during his sojourn in the colonies, made his official home. This house, situated at Danvers, Massachusetts, was erected in or about 1770. The exact year is not definitely known, as at that early period the records were scanty, but about this time the mansion, which is now standing, was built by one Robert Hooper, a rich Marblehead merchant, who was thought to be a Tory at heart.
When Governor Gage, sent over by order of the king from England to convene the General Court, came to this country as a stranger, he naturally demanded a residence suited for his station. This was in 1774, probably four years after the completion of the building.
Robert Hooper offered this house to the governor as a summer home. Being retired, as it was several[Pg 38] miles from Salem where the court convened, and also surrounded by extensive grounds, it proved most suitable for the general's residence, a magnificent home in keeping with what he demanded.
Those were troublous times. The edict had gone forth forbidding the passage of many measures that would have given to the colonies more freedom than the mother country thought best. It was even feared that if these measures were adopted, the colonies would eventually be allowed to do practically as they chose.
In considering this subject, it must be remembered that the colonies were supposed by England to have very rich possessions, and it behooved her to keep a strict hand on her unruly subjects who were planning for separation from the mother land.
General Gage was sent over to look into the condition of affairs and to see what could be done to bring about harmony. It was the middle of July when the troop ships sailed into the harbor of Boston, and landed General Gage, who later made his way through Salem streets to his headquarters in the Hooper house. During his residence, this mansion was the scene of many a merrymaking, and within its walls was often heard[Pg 39] the clanking of his officers' swords as the brilliantly uniformed men, members of His Majesty's army, visited the house and were entertained by their commander.
While "The Lindens" was the headquarters of General Gage, or Governor Gage, as he was generally known, he had his office at the Page house in Danvers, where the tea drinking episode took place on the roof. He formed a brilliant spectacle, with his officers accompanying him, as he rode over the highway every day in the fulfilment of his official duties.
At that time the country was not thickly settled, and the houses were so few that from his windows he could obtain an uninterrupted view of Salem harbor. One reason for his taking the Page house was because he could watch the vessels sailing in and out and thus guard himself against capture by surprise.
Not long afterwards British troops were brought into Salem harbor, disembarking at the point where Derby Wharf now is. There were two companies of the Sixty-fourth Royal Infantry who, with their brilliant red uniforms, made a striking spectacle as they marched through the streets to the governor's house, where they encamped on the plain[Pg 40] opposite the headquarters. Later on these troops were followed by the Fifty-ninth Regiment, who were quartered at Fort Pickering on Winter Island. Messengers were constantly passing from one body of troops to the other, carrying messages from the commander.
But little imagination was required to realize that the defender was not popular, and that the people had very little respect for him. They had never forgotten the Boston Massacre, neither did they fail to remember that they had come to this country for freedom of thought. There was a growing hostility among them, though they were under discipline and generally kept within bounds. Still, enough restlessness was manifested for the camp to be watchful against surprise. They knew only too well that the independent citizens would let no occasion pass for a taunt or a scornful word. During their encampment many practical jokes were played on the troops, one of which was particularly amusing. At the drum call to arms one morning, a thoroughly disguised man dashed in among them on horseback and in a very loud voice cried: "Hurry to Boston, the devil is to pay!" The troops were on the alert, however, and paid no attention to his cry.[Pg 41]
Standing near "The Lindens" in those days was a large oak tree, to which culprits were tied and flogged. This was known as the whipping-post. Singularly enough a part of it was used for the sternpost of the frigate Essex.
In late September the British soldiers were withdrawn, and Hooper was given back his summer home. Still visible on the door is a large hole made by a musket ball which is said to have been fired to warn the Tory owner. A more probable legend, however, is that the gate-posts were ornamented with large balls showing lead ornaments attached, and that one day a party of patriots who were going by to join the army spied the precious metal and helped themselves to it to melt for bullets. This aroused the wrath of the owner, who came to the door and remonstrated in such a violent way that one of the men lifted his rifle and fired close by his head, the bullet entering the door.
The estate on which this house stands was originally a part of the Governor Endicott grant. It must be remembered that this grant covered one thousand acres.
At the death of the governor in 1665, this land which was owned by him came into controversy, and the courts were called upon to settle definitely[Pg 42] the boundary line. A part of this grant fell into the hands of one Doctor Amos Putnam, familiarly known the country around as the good old Doctor Amos on account of his gentle manner and his extreme kindness to the poor. When he came into possession and how long he held it can never be definitely known, as there is no record of any deed passing until 1753, when we learn that the doctor and his good wife Hannah transferred the property to Doctor Robert Hooper of Marblehead, or as much of it as that on which the house stands, the exact number of feet not being recorded. This was in consideration of £186 13s. 4d. It is definitely known that the Marblehead merchant added to his original purchase from the fact that in 1755, two years later, more land was bought.
Robert Hooper, who erected this colonial mansion, though a man of lowly birth, was a wealthy merchant who lived in Marblehead. He possessed great prudence and sagacity, so that he rose to be a man of power and for a period of years practically monopolized the fishing industry of Marblehead. During his life there, he entertained in a most lavish way, rivalling Colonel Jeremiah Lee, not only in grandeur of equipage but in liberality as well. His name of "King" was given to[Pg 43] him by the fishermen on account of his integrity and his personal honesty in dealing with them. His ships sailed to almost every part of the civilized world, and his name became well known in every country.
King Hooper erected a beautiful residence in Marblehead, one of the few elaborate mansions that still remain. It was a common sight in those days to see his magnificent equipages, drawn often by four prancing steeds, come dashing through Salem on his way to Danvers.
The first record of the Danvers house we find is in 1774. Who the builders were will always remain a mystery, but one fact can never be challenged: that the work was done honestly and well, and that McIntire must have been connected with its wood-carving as is shown from the fine examples which are to be found in the interior.
The house, as it now stands, is recognized as one of the best examples of provincial architecture in Massachusetts, ranking in the same class with the famous John Hancock house in Boston, which was later torn down.
The mansion, surrounded at the front by a stone wall, stands far back from the street. The entrance is by a wide, circular driveway enclosing a central[Pg 44] grass plot of carefully shaven lawn, the decorative feature then as to-day being the magnificent elms that shaded the home. It received its name from the fact that lindens lined either side of the entrance drive. The grounds are extensive, mowing fields and grass land interspersed with fine old trees showing at the rear of the house. At the rear, also, is a fine old-fashioned garden carefully preserved, where appear the same kinds of flowers that blossomed in our grandmothers' day.
The building itself is a stern, dignified, two-story house with a gambrel roof. This is surrounded with a curved balustrade similar to that found in the Page house, as well as in many others of that period. At the front are four dormer windows, but the central feature is the high porch extending to the dentation in the roof and showing a pointed cap above. The Corinthian column supporting it on either side is an example of fine hand-carving, while the white trim corresponds picturesquely with the gray of the exterior. The house is panelled on the outside and painted to represent a stone house, although in reality it is wood. The entrance door is unique, lacking the distinguishing porch that is found on so many colonial homes. It is framed with white instead.[Pg 45]
Just how long the estate was owned by Robert Hooper will never be definitely known. We find that later Judge Benager Collins lived there, thus giving the name of "Collins House" to the mansion. Subsequently Francis Peabody, one of Salem's most noted citizens, occupied this residence as his summer home until his death, when it passed into the hands of his son. During the elder Mr. Peabody's residence, the place was restored to its former dignity. The grounds were materially improved, and the garden was changed back to its original design.
Within the walls of this house have been entertained some of the most notable men in the country. Mr. Peabody was a lavish entertainer, and many important events occurred during the time of his residence. One of the most frequent visitors at the house was the late J. Pierpont Morgan.
Dignified and imposing as is the outside of the house, the interior is even more impressive. Entering the sturdy door that swings back on its long strap hinges, one finds himself in a wide hall extending entirely through the house and opening on to the old-fashioned garden in the rear. This remarkable hall shows some of the most wonderful wood-carvings found in any colonial home. This is[Pg 46] particularly noticeable in the balustrades, probably McIntire's work. The newel post and the balustrade are of mahogany, the former most elaborately carved. The walls are hung above the panelling with a rich old-time paper, depicting different scenes in the story of the adventures of Telemachus.
The furniture throughout the house is of either the colonial type or massive old carved English pieces brought over centuries ago, most of them heirlooms that have descended in the family for many generations. On the extreme right are the stairs, rising by low treads; on the wide landing is a window flanked by pilasters on either side. On this same landing stands a rare colonial chair associated with the witchcraft times. The upper hall, practically a replica of the lower one, is wide and ample in its dimensions.
Opening from the hallway at the right is the library, finished in mahogany and showing an Oriental paper of the seventeenth century design. The mantel is one of McIntire's best, the central feature being a basket of flowers with festooned ornamentations on either side. Here, as in every room of the house, we find massive pieces of English oak, richly carved cabinets and chairs.[Pg 47]
The drawing-room, also finished in mahogany, is perhaps the most elegant room in the house, with its fireplace of supporting pilasters rich in elaborate hand-carving. There is a dignity and charm that surrounds every room in this house, telling of the days when honest labor gave thorough workmanship. All through this mansion the woodwork is particularly impressive in its richness and careful finish of hand-carving.
The dining-room, a large room in the rear of the house, is in close harmony with the other apartments, the most notable feature here being the strap hinges of wrought brass. These show most unusual ornamentations, which differ from those on the entrance floor. Here the trim is painted white and gives a most effective background to the brass hinge. On every door is a ponderous brass lock of elaborate design. Few houses, even among the most famous found in this vicinity, can boast of more wonderful furniture and such a wealth of old-time wall-paper.
No two chambers are alike. Many of the fireplaces are particularly fine, as McIntire has taken special pains to give good samples of his work. The fireplace motive all through the house seemingly runs to baskets of flowers.[Pg 48]
In the days of commercial prosperity, the Peabody family was among the most prominent of the Salem merchants. On the walls of "The Lindens" are many paintings of ships that were at one time in the service of the Peabodys.
The house to-day is owned by the son of the late Francis Peabody, who has kept it in perfect preservation and intact as in his father's day. Little wonder that romance clings about the place, leading one to tread reverently through the different rooms, where, during the colonial period, both American and English history were made.[Pg 49]
THE ROGERS HOUSE
There was built in Peabody, Massachusetts, in the early part of the nineteenth century, one of the most magnificent colonial homes of the period. It still stands, a large, pretentious, two-storied house, known as "Oak Hill" and the summer residence of Mrs. Jacob C. Rogers. The house itself is in the center of well laid out grounds, being placed far back from the road and showing at the front a wide stretch of lawn interspersed with trees, one of which, a purple beech, is among the tallest and largest in New England.
The avenue which starts between stone gate-posts shows a wide gravelled road lined on either side by magnificent trees, many of which were planted at the time of the house building. At the left, standing by itself, is a wonderful oak, notable for its symmetry and its height. It is from this tree that the house derives its name "Oak Hill." The grounds at the rear of the house show a garden[Pg 50] that covers three acres, the garden proper being geometrically laid out with a fountain in the center and a sun-dial at the end. Back of it all are arches of woodbine that make a most effective setting for the floral display, while catalpa trees, weeping mulberry, and other varieties are found scattered through the estate.
At the left one comes upon the most wonderful feature of the place. It is a large lotus pond, where during the season are found many varieties of the Egyptian lotus, there being sometimes one hundred of these marvellous blossoms open at once. Just back of the house is a lily pond, which is laid out in a decorative manner. It shows many varieties, including the Cape Cod lily, the blue, the pink, and the white.
The grounds cover an area of two hundred acres, which are laid out at the front and sides in lawns resembling those of England. The rear gives a background of flowers, while beyond sweep to the boundary line extensive grain fields and vegetable gardens. Entrance to the grounds is through carved gateways, the boundary being a well built wall of stone.
In the early days these grounds belonged to Nathaniel West, who was a very noted merchant[Pg 51] and the owner of the ship Minerva, the first of the Salem vessels that circumnavigated the globe. Nathan West married Elizabeth Derby, one of the daughters of Elias Hasket Derby, familiarly known as King Derby and who was one of the three merchant princes that led the commerce in Salem. The house, which at the time of its building was one of the most notable ever erected, was designed by a celebrated English architect and is a type of the Adams period. Originally it was much larger than it is now, for at the death of Mrs. West two portions of the house were detached and moved away to meet present-day requirements. The parts taken were so large that one of them to-day forms a private residence on Chestnut Street in Salem.
The Rogers house is colonial in design. It is two stories in height and was built at the time when wood-carving had reached the highest degree of excellence in the historic city by the sea, and when skilled workmen had been attracted there from every part of the land. Doubtless many of them were employed by Samuel McIntire on this house which contains some of his most wonderful work. These men, with the native ingenuity and wonderful skill in the handling of tools, took great[Pg 52] pains to execute in wood what many of the master architects across the sea were doing in stone, more particularly as regards decorative molding. In studying the work on this house, one cannot too carefully take into consideration the tools which these men had to use, and the precision with which the fine scale detail is carefully thought out, making these workmen compare favorably with those of to-day.
The house where so much fine woodwork is shown is painted white, with green blinds, and is an exceptionally good example of what the century-old architecture in and around Salem stands for, possessing character, dignity, and grace such as is seldom found. This is particularly exemplified in the front doorway, the porch being perfectly balanced, its well proportioned fanlights and sidelights giving it rare dignity and refinement. Ornamentation in the balcony shows McIntire's work in baskets of flowers picturesquely carved, while the steps are flanked with marble vases filled with geraniums, the bright blossoms giving just the right touch of color to bring out the white of the house. The flooring of the porch is tiled, and the hallway is most imposing, the stairway being lined with pictures of the old masters, including Van Dykes,[Pg 53] and Salvator Rosas, Oliver Cromwell proroguing the Long Parliament, Diogenes with his lantern hunting for an honest man, and many others. The dado here is most unusual, being fabric painted red, while the hand-painted landscape decorations show a section of the classic Zuber wall-paper.
The front entrance displays on the inside a well planned elliptical arch over the door, with a frieze motif of reeded sections between applied rosettes tied into the cornice, the charming pattern in these sashes being brought about by iron bent against the glass. In most houses of this period, as in this, the elliptical arch of the fanlight is echoed elsewhere in the house.
The staircase cannot fail to attract notice, with its twisted newel post and balusters and the molded mahogany railing. The box stairs with panelled ends show decorative brackets. It is interesting to note the twisted portion of the three balusters on each stair, each differing, although the tops and bottoms are alike. The newel, hand-carved and turned, is a specially good specimen of its type, and with the balusters, which are also hand-carved and turned, represent a direct development of the shipbuilding industry in their likeness[Pg 54] to the rope moldings of the ship cabins, so much used in those days.
In this hallway the door caps are placed above the lintel, showing no supporting pilasters. They represent different designs of McIntire, in some cases showing baskets, in some flowers, and in others garlands.
The entire house is finished in white pine, a wood that is rather rare to-day but which shows lasting qualities. This is particularly noticeable in the drawing-room, which lies at the right of the hallway. Over the fireplace is a wonderful old painting representing Saturday Night. This is almost priceless in value, and shows a European peasant scene where little children are gathered around their grandmother for a good night parting.
The woodwork of this room is painted a soft brown, the carving on the mantelpiece showing Neptune with sheaves of wheat, and the whole is supported by Ionic columns. The center of the room at the rear is arched, showing wonderful carving, molded pilasters giving an effect that is fine and distinctive. Here we find, as through all the house, the marked individuality of the Adams period.
Inside this arch is a background of rich, dark[Pg 55] red leather, on which are fastened wonderful old plates, many of them brought over by the ancestors of the owner, and without duplicates in this country. These plates are arranged to form a most artistic archway. Most of the prints on the wall are from Sir Joshua Reynolds' paintings. Upon the chimneypieces, not only in this room but also in the several others, it would seem as if McIntire had put his best work. They appear to stand out with exceptional grace and dignity, with charm of line and proportion. Here we find applied work of the most delicate nature and hand-carving that is exquisite in detail, adorning not only the moldings of cornice or frieze, but re-echoed in the pilasters of the over-mantel. The architrave of the mantelboard proper and its frieze, the capitals of the colonnettes, the edge of the shelf, and the molding that surrounds the panel over the chimney-breast, are masterpieces in bas-relief. The architectural treatment in this room convinces one of the great possibilities that lie in the white wood finish and how appropriate it is as a background for the rare pieces of old furniture that were used in our forefathers' day.
The living-room on the opposite side of the hall furnishes a most satisfactory tone for mahogany[Pg 56] furniture in its white wood finish, there being a somber richness in the combination of the mahogany and white that is most harmonious. For instances of that, we have only to go back to our great-grandfathers' time, for a white finish was a popular fad in colonial days.
Over the mantel in this room is "Sunday Morning," a choice picture that is worthy of its setting. The casings of doorways which are often elaborated by the addition of a beautiful cornice and frieze, are further examples of McIntire's wonderful skill. Sometimes the cornice includes wonderful hand-carved molding showing between the dentiles fine spears which are supported by pilasters on each side. There are dainty grapevines and superbly modelled fruit baskets, while the door-cap frieze often shows dainty festoons and straight hanging garlands, with rosettes between. In the pilasters we find carved eagles and fruit-filled urns.
While most of these decorations are carved in wood, some of them are made in French putty and applied to the surface of the wood with glue. This idea is being carried out to-day by our leading decorators.
The morning-room is at the rear of the living-room,[Pg 57] a large, handsome apartment opening on to the wide veranda, which is a feature of one side and approached by broad steps. The dining-room leads off the morning-room and is finished in English oak. The entire house, more especially in its interior decoration, is considered by architects all over the country to be one of the finest examples of colonial architecture that was built during the period of Salem's prosperity.
The furniture follows also the same period. Rarely in any private home does one find such a gathering of rare pieces of the three masters: Hepplewhite, Sheraton, and Chippendale. Most of these pieces, in fact practically all, are heirlooms which have descended directly from generation to generation, for this family has the distinction of being one of the oldest connected with Salem's early history.
It is fitting that McIntire should have put his best work into a house like this, where one finds no plain spaces, no wide panels without decoration, and no simple pilasters, for there is a dignity and a charm both in exterior and interior bespeaking not only wealth but good taste.
While the house does not contain as much old-time paper as do many of the residences of that[Pg 58] day, yet the pieces that are shown are exceptional and comprise subjects such as one can seldom find. It is refreshing to find such a house as this, where great taste has been shown in the selection of furnishings, and where there is so much harmony in surroundings.[Pg 59]
THE COLONEL JEREMIAH LEE HOUSE
Of the many noted colonial houses found in New England, one of the most distinguished is the Colonel Jeremiah Lee house situated on Washington Street, in the picturesque old town of Marblehead, Massachusetts. The quaintness of Marblehead, situated on a rocky peninsula, is world renowned; and its name heads the list of patriotic towns in New England, for from its rugged shores went forth a larger majority of soldiers than from any other place of its size in our country.
The celebrated Lee mansion, erected in 1768, is of the purest colonial type, and was the most costly residence ever built in this seaport town. Many traditions relate that the timber and the finish were brought over in one of the colonel's trading ships as ballast. However that may be, the material used was pine, such as was known in the old days as pumpkin pine. The trees of that species sometimes allow for boards four feet in[Pg 60] width, and the fact that boards of this width are found in the Lee mansion is claimed by many to refute the idea of English wood, as the pines in the old country did not produce boards of such width when Jeremiah Lee commenced to build.
Standing back from the street behind a granite curb and iron paling is the old mansion, its dimensions being sixty-four feet by forty-six feet, and containing fifteen large rooms. The exterior was built of brick, over which were placed huge, bevelled, wooden clapboards, more than two feet in width, and one and a half in height. From a distance the observer might mistake the gray of the exterior for stone, as the block style of construction was employed, the wooden cube being painted and sanded to resemble dark gray rock.
This gray wooden building, with its two wide-girthed chimneys pushing up from the red roof, has the same appearance as in the days when the first housewarming took place, in 1768. The handsome porch and the gray cupola are distinguishing features, and from the former in the olden days the colonel swept the seas with his spy-glass to watch for incoming ships just as sea captains do to-day.
In the early part of the eighteenth century[Pg 61] Jeremiah Lee came to this country and settled at Manchester-by-the-Sea. The little that can be learned of him shows him to have been a keen trader, who took care to make his savings increase his income. In 1760 we find him living in Marblehead, prominent in town affairs and serving on important committees, being one of the Board of Fire-wards in the first fire department of the town. He was also one of the building committee that had charge of the construction of the powder house erected about that time.
Originally Lee was a Loyalist, but he later became a patriot and was foremost in all the movements that kindled the spirit of independence in the colonists. Before the struggle had fairly commenced, his career was cut short by an early death; otherwise he would have been as well known to posterity as was his intimate friend and fellow-townsman, Elbridge Gerry. As a member of the Province Committee of Safety and Supplies, which held a meeting on April 18, 1775, at Weatherby's Black Horse Tavern, situated on the highway between Concord and Lexington, he was among the number who decided to spend the night at the tavern rather than to go on to Lexington. The advance guard of the British troops was[Pg 62] sighted in the early morning, and the colonel and his friends hastily dressed and escaped by a rear door, the colonel thereby contracting a cold from which he died.
During Lee's life in Marblehead he entertained royally in this mansion, which was erected at a cost of ten thousand pounds. Within a few steps of this mansion there was also a cooking-house, the same building being used to shelter the carriages of the family. Originally the large brick building now used for the store was made his slaves' quarters. Not long ago was found inside the house a small brass button, bearing the coat of arms of the Lee family, which was doubtless once worn on the livery of one of his slaves.
In the flagging that leads to the side door has lately been uncovered a central stone bearing the date of the erection of the house.
As the ponderous front door swings open, one enters a grandly spaced hall, wainscoted waist high in solid mahogany. At the right is a deeply recessed window, and a door on either side of the hall leads into rooms beyond. Above the casing of these entrances runs the classic egg and tongue molding. The feature of the hallway is the wall-paper. This represents scenes of Grecian ruins,[Pg 63] such as shattered columns, temples, landscapes, coats of mail, each set in a separate panel, handsomely carved. It is finished in soft tones of gray, beautifully blended, doubtless the highest development of early decorative art.
At the rear of the hall, ascends the grand staircase, with boxed stairs spacious enough for several people to walk abreast. It is quite likely that the stair rail was made on the other side of the water. The finely turned balusters of regularly varying style, together with the exquisitely wrought carvings and delicate panels running along the side of the staircase, are expressive of the taste and skill which went into its building. A great, arched window, which floods the hall with light, is inserted at the landing, and is flanked by several pilasters, which seem to support the high ceiling encircled with heavily dentated corners, and heighten the effect of grandeur. From this lofty window the broad hall is lighted.
In this hallway at the time of Lafayette's visit to the house, the banquet tables were set. The ever-loyal ladies of Marblehead sent for the entertainment some of their choicest belongings: table-cloths of wonderful damask brought from over the seas, rare old silver, and choice English glass.[Pg 64]
At the right of the hallway is the drawing-room in white and gray. Two Corinthian pilasters flank the fireplace, rising to the molding and following the line of the wall. The whole chimneyside of this room was panelled in huge white slabs. This was the living-room of the house, and here were doubtless entertained the members of the Secret Council.
On the opposite side of the hallway is the dining-room, which was known as the banquet hall. Here Washington was entertained, also Monroe and Jackson. This room shows a huge open fireplace and a richly carved mantel. So carefully have the chimneypieces been wrought, that there are no two alike in the large house.
The tiles in many of the fireplaces are fascinating. We find some quaint and humorous, while others are sentimental. There is the wide-skirted shepherdess climbing the stile with the aid of the swain, a sailor taking leave of his lass, a ship lying in the offing, nymphs and shepherdesses piping and playing. These tiles of blue and pale pink afford a study of interesting pictures to the lover of the antique.
In the former days scriptural texts and marble tablets were placed over the mantel in one of the chambers. One of these, a representation of[Pg 65] Susannah and the Elders, was purchased from the family and is now found in the Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Great care as to detail has been exercised in the finish of every room. Notwithstanding the talk of secret stairways and mysterious trap-doors, there is nothing at all uncanny about the place, which was built for comfort and good living.
It is easy to be carried back in imagination to the days when Colonel Lee and Mistress Martha, noted for their open-handed hospitality, dwelt in this mansion. Its great rooms echoed with the laughter of the gallants of the day, who in short clothes, silver buckles, and laces, made love to the stately dames in trailing gowns and powdered hair and danced in the state chamber over the parlor, used then as a dance hall.
In this house the venerable Marquis de Lafayette accepted the hospitality of the Lees, when he came to America in 1824 at the invitation of Congress, accompanied by his son, George Washington Lafayette. It was during this visit that he danced a minuet in the great southwest room. An old letter, discovered recently by Miss Dixie, of Marblehead, discloses the fact that her mother led the dance with the gallant Frenchman.[Pg 66]
This room is panelled in wood of dark finish, with exquisite designs over the fireplace, where a shelf on consoles shows over it an ornate panel made from a single board and exquisitely carved. On the opposite side of the room is the large apartment which was originally used as a chamber, probably by Colonel Lee. Here the pictures all relate to the sea,—one of them depicting Neptune and another a fish.
The Lee mansion, like many of the Marblehead houses, stands with one foot on the land and the other almost on the water, bespeaking the maritime side of the community. Within the house, the arrangement of rooms and passages suggests the troublous times in the years just before the Revolution. A secret stairway connects two of the upper rooms, while the front hall shows a trap-door which led to the cellar. This doubtless gave rise to stories of intrigue but probably was concerned only with the contents of the cellar. A small cupboard door, leading apparently into a clothes-press, gave access to a narrow secret stair leading to a bedchamber above. A smaller panel, sounding hollow, was discovered to have a pair of hinges. On being opened, this revealed an iron safe with double doors, buried in the[Pg 67] brick work of the chimney. Doubtless it was the private safe of Colonel Lee, for according to tradition there was always plenty of money in the house.
In the early days an effort was once made to surprise the bank of which Lee was an official. A party of men came into town after the closing hour, and meeting the genial colonel, explained that they had come to collect money on a note. Without a moment's hesitation, they were escorted to the Lee mansion, where the entire sum, which was an unusually large one, was paid by him in gold. This story has been vouched for by one of the earliest inhabitants of the historic town, and the finding of the safe discounts the idea of the secret closet being used for any other purpose. In the upper floor are plainly found marks of sliding panels to mask a retreat by secret floors and false walls to reach the garret.
The kitchen fireplace has been a recent discovery. When the house was restored, the fireplace was a practical but shallow affair, not showing the generous depths found in many houses of that day. In the process of repairs it was discovered that this was a false fireplace, back of which two feet more were found, and behind them the deep oven that[Pg 68] had not been used for cooking since Massachusetts Bay was a royal colony. This kitchen fireplace is believed to be in what was used as the family dining-room, for doubtless the cooking was done in the slave quarters, much as in the Southern homes, the food being brought into the house through a covered passageway.
In the early days, a little after the building of the house, there was a great demand for lead to make bullets for the Continental army. It has been discovered that in the upper casements of the house, in rooms which were rarely occupied, the lead weights are wanting. This leads one to believe that the old tradition of their being melted during the time of the Revolution for ammunition may be true.
In the attic is a mark which shows the house to have been built by English architects. This is an inside dormer window used in those days by architects in the motherland for ventilation. This idea is rarely if ever carried out in a house where the architects or master builders are of this country.
On the death of Colonel Lee, the house was occupied by his widow, who continued to extend hospitality to the townspeople and visitors from[Pg 69] other places, much as during her husband's lifetime. At her death the estate passed into the hands of her son, and afterwards was owned and occupied by Judge Samuel Sewall.
A grand old landmark this colonial mansion makes, and even now the old sea captains climb to the gray cupola to scan the horizon for incoming ships, much as they did in the days of long ago.[Pg 70]
THE LADD-GILMAN HOUSE
Closely linked with romance and history is the Ladd-Gilman house, one of the notable colonial houses at Exeter, New Hampshire. This mansion was not always of its present dimensions. When built by Nathaniel Ladd in 1721 it was of brick and about half the size of the present structure. It is situated on a large area of land, with a frontage on Water Street, on a part of the original lot that was purchased of Oliphalet Coffin in the year above mentioned. For many years this estate was held in the possession of the Ladd family, descending from father to son until 1747, when it was purchased by Colonel Nathaniel Gilman, a leading citizen of the place and a man of influence. Gilman came from a family which had been prominent in the town for many years.
Here in 1752 his son, Colonel Nicholas Gilman, then only twenty-one years of age, brought his bride, Anne Taylor, a very beautiful young woman[Pg 71] who had descended from Puritan ancestors and who was very popular with the patriots of that day. During their residency the house, considered at that period one of the best in Exeter, was enlarged to its present size, and the exterior was entirely covered with wood to correspond with the additions.
Colonel Gilman was distinguished as one of a quartet who furnished brains for the Old Granite State, being known as the Robert Morris of the province and possessing not only influence but wealth and ability. He was a close friend of Governor Wentworth who, with his son, was a frequent visitor at the house; so sincere was their intimacy that when Colonel Gilman sided with the colonists Governor Wentworth declared that instead of making a rupture in their friendship, if the Rebellion were crushed, he should save his friend. This great intimacy was also shared with Count Rumford.
It was in 1775, several years after the house was enlarged, that Gilman was made Treasurer and Receiver-general of the State, in which office he stayed until his death in 1783. The treasury building was a room in his own house. This may in a way account for there being two entrance[Pg 72] doors, one for family guests and the other for business purposes. The house has never been altered, with the exception of the introduction of modern improvements, since the day that it was enlarged. It is a fine, substantial building, two and a half stories in height, showing dormer windows and a six-foot chimney. The huge fireplaces are still kept intact, few if any showing hand-carving. The porches are dignified but ample in their lines of architecture, and the entire exterior shows an unusual type.
The room nearest the entrance door at the extreme left was used as a treasury, for in addition to the office of State Treasurer, Colonel Gilman held the position of Continental Loan Officer of the State, all the money being received here. In this same room the Committee of Safety used to meet, and it was here that the Battle of Bennington was discussed and planned.
Gilman was a great friend of Daniel Webster, who never came to Exeter without passing the principal part of his time in this house, the bed in which he slept being still shown in one of the large continental chambers.
The house was noted for its hospitality, a home where many gatherings, both for charity and[Pg 73] pleasure, were held. The mistress of the household was a famous New England housekeeper, who possessed the whole art of housekeeping at her fingers' end. Beautiful as a young bride, she was even more so in after years. Her trim figure became rounded out, while her dark eyes and fresh, rich color preserved their brightness. Colonel Gilman was a striking figure, six feet tall, with an erect carriage. He wore until the day of his death a ruffled shirt-front and a cue.
It was during his occupancy that the Declaration of Independence was passed. The Legislature had not adjourned when the message came, and the President, who was in waiting, decided the documents must be publicly read. The news spread like lightning; the farmer eager to hear all dropped his scythe in the swath, the mechanic rushed from his shop, while the housewife forsook her spinning-wheel, all meeting in a general enthusiasm to hear the words that gave them freedom and a country. The document was brought into Exeter by a courier, who dashed suddenly into the village, bearing in his hand a letter addressed to the Convention of New Hampshire and signed by no less a personage than John Hancock. On, on, he rode, until he reached the Gilman[Pg 74] house and delivered it into the hands of the host. It was read in the village square amid intense enthusiasm by his son, John Taylor Gilman, who was also destined to play an important part in our country's history.
John Taylor Gilman was then just out of his teens. He was a handsome man with magnetic power and an idol of the people. No one in the whole audience was more thrilled than was the father of the reader, who, filled with ardor, paused often to crush down the rush of sentiment that overmastered speech. Colonel Gilman was distinguished as one of those who financed the Revolution, and his son succeeded him in this service.
After Colonel Gilman's death, in 1783, the house was left to John Taylor Gilman, who inherited his father's love for political power. He, like his sire, was a most comely man, just entering into manhood when he married Dorothea Folsom, a great-granddaughter of the noted Revolutionary hero. She was only twenty-one years old when she married, being one of the belles of the village and a most estimable young lady. For sixty years she directed the affairs of her household in a most exemplary manner and was the personification of hospitality.[Pg 75]
Directly after their marriage, the young husband, then only twenty-two years of age, gathered a company together and marched for Cambridge, where he was encamped for a short time only. Later on he acted as commissary to supply the three regiments of the State at Cambridge, for he was considered too important a person to be allowed to take a place in the field.
In 1779 he was elected a member of the New Hampshire Legislature and was called in 1780 as the only delegate to attend the gathering which was to take place at Hartford, Connecticut. Those were the days when there was no money or credit in the treasury, so that he was forced to take the journey on horseback. He was absent six weeks, paying his own expenses everywhere out of his personal income.
So popular did he become that he was elected to Congress in 1782, being one of the youngest and most popular members. Later on he became Treasurer of State, succeeding his father in this work. He was made Governor of New Hampshire, which office he held for fourteen consecutive years and later on accepted the nomination for two years more. In 1816 he declined the election, giving as an excuse that he preferred to spend his remaining days in quietness.[Pg 76]
This Governor Gilman was a portly man, weighing two hundred pounds and standing six feet in his stockings. He was a dignified old gentleman, preserving his vigor to the very end. While the latter part of his life was spent in renewing social relations with his friends, the memories of the past were always with him, and he was never so happy as when he recalled the days of Washington, who was a personal friend. Strong and original in intellect, few men were able to foresee as he did the future of his country.
It is said that the night before his death he was brought downstairs by a faithful old negro retainer to spend his last evening with his family. He had a clear realization that his time was drawing near, and he gave full instructions to his family concerning his burial and the manner in which they should cherish his memory. He requested particularly that no one should wear mourning for him—"Spend upon the living, not the dead," he said. After a short time he was reminded that he was getting very tired, and he left the room remarking: "I have no disposition to leave this precious circle. I love to be here surrounded by my family and my friends." He commended them to God, saying: "I am ready to go and I wish you all good night."[Pg 77]
The brothers of this noted man also held positions in State affairs and in the militia. His brother Nicholas at one time lived in this house. He occupied the position of lieutenant, captain, adjutant, and adjutant-general in the Revolution, being also a member of Congress. He took his seat in the United States Senate on March 3, 1797, and came out in views a solid Federal.
Governor John Taylor Gilman, who succeeded his father, Colonel Nicholas, had eleven children, many of whom were married in the State Room of this house, which is so closely connected with the political events of the Revolution and where so many distinguished guests have been entertained.
The Gilmans were one of the most distinguished families in Exeter, coming up from Massachusetts to join Reverend John Wheelwright's little colony. Their enterprise, energy, and thrift made them natural leaders in the community. If there was a meeting-house to be erected, there was always a Gilman on the committee. Should there be a military company to be enlisted, there would always be a man of that name in the ranks. When the commissioners, seven in number, distributed the common lands in 1739, there were four of this[Pg 78] family among the band. Little wonder then that their name is allied with the principal events of history.
The hallway of this home is found to be a small and unpretentious one, with a winding flight of stairs at one side that leads to the second-story floor. At the left of the side entrance is the Treasury Room, where, during the lifetime of Gilman, important meetings were held and State secrets were often discussed. The furniture from this room has long since been gone, but the white pine walls with their coat of paint are still as fresh as they were the day they were built. The huge fireplace without tiles bespeaks plainly the days of prosperity. At the right of the hallway is a large, square room that was used in the olden times as a dining-room. There are no secret closets in this house, with the exception of a sliding panel in the Grill Room, which when lifted gives access to the wine closet below. Beyond that is the old kitchen, which is now used as a dining-room. It still shows the old brick oven, where during Governor Gilman's occupancy the baking was done, and also the Dutch oven, where the meat was roasted in the governor's day. On the mantel over the old fireplace are displayed some fine bits[Pg 79] of old pewter, while the windows of this house still retain the small panes.
The room at the right of the family entrance is known as the State Room. It is a dignified room, large enough to have held easily the notable assemblages that must have met there during his occupancy. The fireplace has no mantel, but a wide panelling, such as is found only in houses of that period. The only ornamentations are the elaborate columns that define the fireplace and panelling. The room is finished in wood panels. The huge beams have been cased in, and the windows with their wooden shutters remain as they were first built. The furnishing is all of the colonial period, showing slat-back chairs and cane-seated ones. A feature of this room is the wonderful old mirror, one of the largest ever made and so tall that an opening had to be made in the ceiling, that it might be set up. It is a room typical of the period and shows woodwork that has never been replaced. The andirons are painted in brilliant colors, showing the Hessian soldiers,—a kind that were in use directly after the Revolution.
The chambers have each an old four-poster, while their fireplaces are unlike many of that period, being finished in stone instead of wood.[Pg 80] In the middle chamber is a fine example of a field bed, which was used by Daniel Webster. In this room also is a queer little mahogany piece that, when the cover is lifted, shows a foot-bath that was taken by Governor Gilman to Washington during his term of service there. In addition to this there is a quaint little trunk of leather, which was used by the governor to transport his belongings to and fro,—not a very elaborate wardrobe if it all went into the one trunk.
The Middle Chamber, as this is familiarly known, has also one of the old fireplaces without a mantel. Every room in the house shows the wide-beamed ceilings that came into use about that period.
Probably the most interesting room is a small one at one side which was used as a prisoner's room. Here the windows are very small and were formerly barred over. In this room the poor debtors were kept until released by their friends.
In the capacity of Treasurer of State, Colonel Gilman had his office in the house, and here he affixed his signature to the paper bills of credit to which the State and country were obliged to resort in order to carry on the war. It was a duty, however, that still permitted him to devote part of his time to military service, holding the position[Pg 81] of colonel of the Fourth Regiment of Militia and aiding in the capture of General Burgoyne. Within the walls of this mansion were born his children, three of whom became conspicuous in the history of the State.
John Taylor Gilman, who succeeded his father, held many offices of trust and in 1814, at the alarm of Portsmouth, he took personal command of a large detachment of militia stationed by his order in that vicinity.
Nicholas Gilman, Jr., who resided in the house until the age of twenty-one, became senior Deputy Adjutant-general of the Continental army on the staff of General Washington and participated in all the important battles and campaigns in which, under Washington, the army engaged. In 1787 Captain Nicholas Gilman and John Langdon were chosen delegates to the Federal Convention of States, which assembled at Philadelphia and framed and adopted the Constitution, the delegates signing in the order of States. The signatures of Langdon and Gilman followed immediately after that of General Washington, as President of the Convention. Gilman was one of the youngest members of that body, that combined patriotism, experience, and character.[Pg 82]
The third son, Colonel Nathaniel Gilman, succeeded his father Colonel Nicholas Gilman, Sr., in the treasury department—The Continental Loan Office—as early as 1783. From 1818 to 1824 the mansion was occupied by Captain Nathaniel Gilman, son of Colonel Nathaniel Gilman and grandson of Colonel Nicholas Gilman, Sr.
The house itself is in an excellent state of preservation. The partially panelled walls, the quaint windows with wide sills, the large and cheerful fireplaces in which the original dogs still do duty, belong distinctively to colonial days. The small, high windows fitted with wooden shutters show the great thickness of the house wall, and the whole surroundings impress one with solidity and comfort.[Pg 83]
THE ADAMS HOUSE
One of the first settlers at Newbury, Massachusetts, was one Henry Sewall, who came over from England in 1634, bringing with him cattle, servants, and provisions. He was allotted six hundred acres of upland and marsh land at Newbury, according to agreement made before he left his native country. This land bordered the river Parker, near what is now known as Byfield proper, a fertile, woodland country with rolling hills and rich land. He married Jane Dummer, settling later on the grant of land that had been apportioned to him for the first stock farm in America.
Near the foot of the hill, at the parting of four roads, was a lot of land that he bequeathed to his wife, with ten pounds yearly. The grant of land later on was divided into several house lots, one of which was the home of William Longfellow, the emigrant ancestor of the Longfellow family in America, who married Anne Sewall. This shows[Pg 84] the connection through marriage of the prominent families who settled in this region.
Captain Abraham Adams was born in Newbury, May 2, 1676. He followed the sea in early life, sailing first to the West Indies, and soon rose to the command of a vessel, making fourteen trips to England, besides many coastwise trading voyages. In 1703 he married Anne Longfellow. She was a niece of Judge Samuel Sewall, and lived on the part of the old Sewall grant then known as "Highfield," which name was given to the estate that Abraham Adams' father gave to him at the time of his marriage, although the deed was not passed until two years afterwards. Upon this land Captain Adams built his mansion, an unpretentious house following the lines of that period. It stood in the midst of the tract which at that time was much larger than it is to-day, although even now it is still possible to walk a mile in a straight line from the homestead on ancestral ground covered with heavy timber and showing broad meadows.
Stone walls were not then built to define boundaries, and the highway was a mere bridle-path running by the door and on between the houses of Henry Sewall and William Longfellow to the ford over the brook, at that time a considerable[Pg 85] stream. The captain, who took kindly to farming, greatly improved the land, and on the grant are still found small apple-trees that grew from those set out by him in 1706. The seeds for these trees were brought by Captain Adams when he returned from one of his voyages. Tradition relates that while bringing them from the ship his oxen stopped in the ford at Cart Creek, and the captain, in a discouraged mood said: "I would rather dump the seeds in this cart into the creek than to put them in the ground." He changed his mind, however, and became a very successful farmer.
After Captain Adams' marriage to Anne Longfellow, he promised to give up his life on the sea and devote his time to farming. Whether with this he made a mental reservation is not known, but in his shipyard half a mile away he afterwards built several vessels and engaged in a coasting-trade. Unlike the other farmers of the day, the products of his farm were carried to New Orleans and other ports and bartered for rice and molasses. The old shipyard can still be seen, but the vessels have long ago disappeared. The narrow river winding to the sea shows little space for shipping, and even in its most prosperous days it was necessary to launch the rudely built ships sidewise.[Pg 86]
The old house is still standing. Some of the original shingles and clapboards, covering a solid wall of home-made bricks, are still in a good state of preservation, especially on the west end. The innovation of a modern porch has added to rather than detracted from the pleasing appearance of the house. The diamond paned windows that were imported from England have been removed. Inside, the smoothly finished beams, the great fireplaces with panelled sides, the heavy doors, the broad, low steps, the fine woodwork in staircase and mantel, all speak of former pride and prosperity.
Many an ancient legend is related concerning this old dwelling. Under the attic eaves is still shown a bunk known as Booth's bin, on account of an Indian slave by that name who for many years slept in it. Many years ago David Adams, while on a visit to Deny, New Hampshire, took with him a slave who became suddenly ill. No regular physician could be secured who was willing to attend him, so a cow doctor was called. He advised a hot bath. As nothing could be found large enough for the bath, an old dug-out was dragged up from the river, pitched, and filled with boiling water, into which the negro[Pg 87] was unceremoniously thrust but escaped with his life.
During a fire that occurred in this house sometime during the residence of Abraham Adams, this slave wished to aid in putting it out, he rushed up over the stairs to cut a hole in the roof with a hatchet. The hatchet was dull and the roof was high, so he battered it with his head until a hole was made.
Somewhere on the bridle-path that led to the house in the early days of its occupancy there lived for a time a little band of twenty-five Indians, many of whom died there. One beautiful day in the early spring Mother Anne sauntered down the lane and strolled across the fields, as was her custom, to sit down outside the wigwam and chat with the old squaw. She was all alone, as Quanto, the brave, was absent attending to work around the place. Soon the old squaw stirred up the blaze of the camp-fire and set the kettle on to boil, making ready for the return of her husband for the midday meal. She put in beef and turnips, for it was before the days of potatoes. The smell of the savory stew was most appetizing, and Mother Anne, who had been often urged to partake of the Indian hospitality, decided this time to accept.[Pg 88] Suddenly a slight rustle in the branches caused her to turn her head, and there by her side stood the brave, Quanto, who had come out silently from the shadows. His blankets were cast aside, and twined around his arm and shoulder was a big black snake which he held by its head. With the characteristic grunt of the Indian he saluted his guest, then stepping quickly forward, he removed the cover of the kettle with his left hand and with his right threw the writhing snake into the stew. Needless to say, Mother Anne's important household duties called her home before the meal was ready.
When the house was first built, the land was covered with forests which were afterwards felled. Since then many generations have ploughed and sowed the fields which, with incredible toil, were wrested from the wilderness. Six ponderous oxen and a pair of steers were attached to a massive wooden plough, on which rode a man and boy; the stronger of the two held the plough upright. Thus were the sods turned and the fields prepared.
The labor of Mother Anne in those days was as arduous as was that of Captain Abraham. At the east side of the house, close by the old well, stood the leach-tub holding one hundred gallons.[Pg 89] Here lye was made to be used in working the flax. Soap-making followed the cattle-killing in the early spring, for butcher and baker did not come near the house at that period.
From the apple trees cider was made, forty barrels being put in for a yearly allowance, for it was drunk much as tea and coffee are to-day. The Indians naturally craved some of this drink. One of them, after being repeatedly refused, came with a basket filled with gifts from the woods and asked slyly if "Him Captain" would fill it with cider in return. So persistent was he that the captain told him yes. The Indian answered: "Him, Captain, wait a little!"
Quick as a flash, attaching the basket to the rope, he swung it down the well. After several dippings it froze, making an excellent receptacle in which to carry the cider home.
Captain Adams was a very prominent man. He had two sons, twins, who both were sent through Harvard. There was a daughter, Anne. All three of these were very religious, for we read that the twins established the Lynnfield church and also the Old South in Newburyport, while the daughter Anne, with her husband, established the First Baptist Church in New Hampshire. Jacob, another[Pg 90] son, started the first seminary for girls in America, called the Adams Female Seminary, one of its teachers being Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College.
Samuel Adams was the same type of man as his father and succeeded to the homestead. He had five sons, the eldest of whom was blind, and with four of these sons he fought through the long war of the Revolution. From this old doorway loving wives looked anxiously for the return of their husbands and sons from the wars.
Singularly enough, although five generations of Adams' went to war, and the heads of the families wore side-arms, no trace of them is found in the household, with the exception of one sword that did duty at Bunker Hill. What they did with their arms was never known, but if they were melted into ploughshares, the work must have been done quickly.
After the death of Abraham, the house was left to Samuel, his son, in consideration of one pound and the love and affection borne him; after his death it went to Samuel's son, Captain Stevens, born in 1760. Captain Stevens, so the legend runs, was a very tall man, standing six feet four inches in his stockings at the time of his[Pg 91] enlistment in the Continental army when sixteen years of age. Still kept in the house are his spectacles which were made to order from silver dollars which he had saved. His desk still stands in the living-room and was bought with money paid him as a soldier. It cost forty dollars even at that period.
Entrance to the house is through a colonial porch that gives into a small hallway. At the left is a large, square room that is used as a living room. In one corner is the old desk in which is the original deed of the house, signed by Samuel Sewall and Hannah Sewall. The dwelling is a treasure-house of old colonial furniture, many of the pieces having been originally in the old Longfellow house. One of the most interesting of these is a fine example of banister chair, the one that was brought by Anne Longfellow across the fields to the Adams house when she came there a bride.
On the opposite side of the house is a second large, square room, also filled with heirlooms, among which is a fine example of an 1800 mirror of the picturesque type showing "Dawn." This was also brought by the Longfellow bride. The fireplace in this house is the original one around which the Adams father and son gathered the night[Pg 92] before the battle of Bunker Hill, to mold bullets that would be used on that occasion.
Back of this room, which is used for a parlor, is a dining-room with an old desk secretary, of 1800, showing the ball and eagle ornamentation. Here also is another large old fireplace, for the interior of the house has been unchanged since it was built by Abraham Adams, in 1676.
The house has descended in a direct, unbroken line, and has been handed down from sire to son for the consideration of one dollar. It is one of the most charming of country-seats, enriched by history, and retaining still all the atmosphere of the old colonial homestead.[Pg 93]
THE SPENCER-PIERCE HOUSE
An unusually picturesque location has the Spencer-Pierce house at Newbury, Massachusetts, which stands at the end of a long, grassy lane, leading off from the main road not far above the old town church. The house itself is unique and forms a fascinating study for architects in its fine state of preservation, its beauty enhanced by overhanging vines. Old houses are like open books, disclosing by their type to what period they belong, and it is interesting to find one that stands out so distinctly from other houses of long ago as does the Spencer-Pierce mansion. At first glance of its foreground of open lawn and its background of trees, one readily perceives that it was intended for a gentleman's residence. It has been falsely called a garrison house from the fact that its walls are of stone and brick, but a knowledge of the first owners and their time shows this to be a fallacy. Later it might have been used for some such purpose, but if so there is no record.[Pg 94]
Whoever built the house had an eye for the beautiful. It stands in the midst of a large farm surrounded by grass land and trees, with the ocean stretching beyond. In construction it is different from others of the period, being shaped like a cross.
The northern projection, the kitchen end of the house, shows a large brick chimney built on the outside with a stone foundation. It is so high and big that it reaches far above the roof, and possibly is the first one of its kind ever shown in colonial architecture. The self-evident age of both the brick and the plaster, broken here and there, leaves no reasonable doubt to the student of the antique as to the period of its building.
On the opposite side is the porch. This is familiarly known as the great porch of the house. Architects come from all over the country to copy the lines of this particular bit of architecture, for it is one of the most beautiful specimens in New England. Much of its beauty, however, lies in the mellow, many-toned coloring of the exterior produced by its two hundred years' exposure to wind and weather. A settled air of old age surrounds it, and without doubt it will last as it is for centuries. The arches of this mansion are interesting,[Pg 95] showing bevelled brick and most carefully introduced casements, while the wonderful ornamentation has helped to establish the fact that it is not in reality a genuine garrison house.
Much doubt is expressed as to the exact year of its building, the erection of the house being generally credited to John Spencer, the younger, while others assert it is the elder who was the first owner and occupant of the house. This leads to a confusion of dates, placing the time of building anywhere from 1635 to 1651, at which time it fell into the hands of one Daniel Pierce.
One of the first settlers was John Spencer, the reputed builder of the house. He came to this country in the Mary and John and settled on the banks of the river Parker in 1635, his name showing on the first page of the proprietors' records, where it appears that he was the grantee of the houselot which was next the great river. He was a man of means and took an important part in the formation of the little settlement which was established by his influence. Searching through the records of the time, we find his name constantly mentioned in the list of proprietors, and the statement that he built a mill at the falls of Newbury, where he had a mill lot of fifty acres, and rose to[Pg 96] such prominence that the following year he was chosen magistrate in Newbury in the General Court.
In other ways, too, he was a prominent man, being very much interested in military affairs. In April, 1637, we find him captain of a battalion that had been sent out under Captain Stoughton against the Pequod Indians. His religious opinions, however, did not agree with those of the settlers, and he was discharged from his command and returned to England after having been disarmed and condemned, being one of three under sentence; the other two were Richard Dummer and Nicholas Eaton, but he was the only one who went to England, where he remained until his death, which took place about 1647.
Considering the enormous amount of work that went into the building of this house, which was a very large one, it is evident that he could not have built it before he left for England, as it could not possibly have been completed before then. While the records are scanty on this point, we have reason to believe that even if he commenced it, his nephew, who succeeded to the property, must have finished it. The brick used in the making of the old porch, and the square tile we find in the floor, were both[Pg 97] in all probability brought over from the motherland. History relates that previous to 1680 brickyards had been established in Salem, as well as in Medford, but the bricks found to-day that were made at that period show them to be of very inferior quality. They were made by order of the Superior Court and measured nine inches long, two and a half inches thick, and four and a half inches wide.
In this house the bricks used were much smaller and were also very smoothly molded. This leads one to believe that they were imported English brick, perhaps brought over as ballast in some of the ships that came to this country with settlers. The walls, however, were composed of a great variety of stone, some of which was probably brought by boats and rafts down the Merrimac River. There were also many that doubtless came from a long distance, but these facts are difficult to determine because of the scanty information to be obtained.
Young Spencer, who was the next to own the land and who may have begun the construction of this house, was a careless, improvident man. He soon became involved in pecuniary troubles and sold the farm in small lots, eventually getting rid of the entire property. His uncle, Daniel[Pg 98] Pierce, a village blacksmith, bought part of the land in 1651 with the proviso that any time within the next seven years, if Spencer wished, it could be repurchased on the same terms. This transaction was through the old ceremony of "turf and twig," the transfer being supplemented by a deed. It was a blind transaction, there being nothing to ascertain the worth of the place. Pierce was a thrifty man, and tradition relates that he kept all the money he possessed tied up in an old stocking that was hung up in his shop.
Through Mr. Coffin, the historian of Newbury, we learn that the house was not built until 1666 to 1670, but no matter how carefully we trace the records, we find it impossible to determine the accuracy of this fact. Nowhere in the Pierce family is there a tradition that it was built by any of their ancestors, and even the oldest inhabitants failed to swerve from their assertions that the Spencers were the first occupants of this stone house. The only fact that points to its presumable erection by a Pierce is that Daniel Pierce, who was a member of Governor Carteret's first Council, and who with others founded the town of Woodbridge, two years later returned to his native place with a well-lined purse. We read how he valued his[Pg 99] estate highly and desired to entail it in his will, saying: "It shall never be sold nor any part divided." Whatever his intentions were, they were never carried out, as is shown later on.
Pierce supported the cause of the pastor in the famous Parker controversy, and died in 1677 at the age of sixty-six years. His son Daniel was his sole executor, and he was asked to do for his brother Joshua's children as he thought best. The will also has a singular provision, allowing that his wife Anne, according to his marriage agreement, should have "twenty pounds a year and all the proper necessaries of which she stands in need, and during her life to enjoy her former liberties in the house."
Daniel Pierce, Jr., or Colonel Daniel Pierce, was the next to live in the house. He was most prominent in military and civil affairs, marrying Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Anne Millwood, who was only sixteen years of age at the time of her marriage. He was considered the most important man in town, as is shown by an extract from the town records, where is found a statement that the minister's wife's pew shall be built close to the pulpit stairs and that Daniel Pierce shall have the first choice of pews. This was a difficult[Pg 100] and delicate matter, as the seats were assigned according to age, dignity, and deafness.
"To my son Benjamin" was the estate next left. Benjamin received it on August, 1771, and died in May of the following year. Charles, his eldest son, became the next owner. He was a man prominent in church affairs. We find him a firm adherent of Whitfield, taking part in the great controversy which eventually divided the old town church and led to the establishment of the old South Society at the Port. Among the most distinguished descendants of the Pierce family was the late Franklin Pierce, the fourteenth President of the United States, who was said to have been a visitor at this historic house.
It is hard to say whether Nathaniel Tracy, the merchant, or his father was the next owner of this house. It was sold by Daniel Pierce, who owned half of the estate, to Nathaniel Tracy in 1778, and by the widow of William Pierce the same year. This was at a time when Tracy was possessed of great wealth and lived in magnificent style, owning a large house on State Street in Newburyport nearly opposite the Dalton house, and a large farm at Medford, as well as the Craigie house in Cambridge. Nathaniel Tracy was well known in[Pg 101] the mercantile profession. He was a dashing young man, who loved to change his place of residence at his whim. Few men of the period had a more brilliant career than did he. At the breaking out of the Revolution he was a very young man, and with patriotic zeal he fitted out a fleet of privateers to prey on British commerce, the first privateer ever fitted out in our country being his, and sailing in 1775. They were small vessels, manned by intrepid men and having but few guns which, however, were handled in so masterly a manner that many valuable prizes were brought by them to both Boston and Newburyport.
During the next eight years he was the principal owner, according to records, of one hundred and ten merchant vessels which had a gross tonnage of fifteen thousand six hundred and sixty tons and cargoes valued at $2,733,300. Many of his fleet were lost or captured,—so many indeed that at the end of the war there were only thirteen left. The value of the work they had done in aiding the government can never be estimated. They brought into port quantities of stores and ammunition that were designed primarily to supply the British army. The records show that during this period Tracy's men captured one hundred and[Pg 102] twenty vessels with twenty-two hundred and twenty-five men, and their cargoes were sold for $3,950,000. His patriotism is well shown from the fact that in addition to these services he loaned the government $167,000.
Rivalling Tristram Dalton, he is said to have had some of the finest horses and coaches in the country and to have lived in grandeur and luxury, his house being the meeting place for the dignitaries of the land. He was also very fond of reading and had in his possession a large and well selected library. With the close of the war, his money vanished. His successful ventures met with disaster, so that in 1786 he was bankrupt. His estates were all given over to his creditors with the exception of the Newbury farm, which had been secured by his father to his family. Here he lived the remainder of his life, pressed by no claims for money, and loved and respected by all. This was his favorite home, and it was no disappointment to spend his declining years here, walking around his extensive estate and listening to the sound of the seas while reviewing the troublous times of the Revolution.
In size he was a large man, comely of feature, and noted for his wit and humor. He married[Pg 103] in early life the daughter of Colonel Jeremiah Lee of Marblehead, who was a great beauty; during her lifetime the house was filled with noted guests.
Few houses with such numerous changes in occupants have had so many noted owners as the Spencer-Pierce house, which after the death of Mr. Tracy was sold by his wife, through the authority of the General Court, to one Offin Boardman for $12,800. Captain Boardman was well known, particularly in a military way, on account of his performing the daring feat of capturing a transport as it came into Newburyport harbor. It was a British ship, Friends, with Captain Bowie commanding, that appeared off the mouth of the harbor, tacking and wearing in such a way as to indicate that she did not know her bearings. This led Captain Boardman, whose house guarded the mouth of the river, to suspect that it was a British ship bringing ammunition for the troops that were stationed in Boston. Calling seventeen men to his aid, they manned three whale-boats and rowed off to the stranger. When in speaking distance, they hailed her to know where bound, rightly suspecting she bore contraband goods. She replied that she hailed from London and was uncertain[Pg 104] as to her situation, whereupon she was offered a pilot. The vessel was boarded by Captain Boardman and his valiant crew who carried no arms in sight, thus preventing the suspicion of the captain. The boldness of the attack won success, and the ship was taken into Newburyport, where she was overhauled.
For twenty years afterwards the house was occupied by the same owner, being sold at auction in 1813. It was purchased by one John Pettingell, who is said to have used it as a summer residence only; during the time of his occupancy the wooden buildings at the back, together with the farm, were let to tenants.
The mansion house has been owned and occupied by wealthy families ever since it was built. It is considered one of the most picturesque homes in New England. Unlike other houses built at that period, the walls, which are two feet thick, were made of granite interspersed with stone and brick, over which a thick overlay of plaster was placed, and having arched doorways and windows and small niches introduced over the door. The wooden additions at the back were built for the use of servants. The porch of the house is unique. The bricks that form the arch of the door have[Pg 105] fancy, rounded edges that distinguish them from those made in the colony. Hanging vines add to the picturesqueness of the house.
The entrance door is divided like the Dutch doors of to-day, showing two sections acting independently, the upper part being at one time protected by an inner shutter. This was arranged so as to hang down from the ceiling, the old hinges which are still left plainly attesting to this fact. There are also shown to-day marks of the pulley through which ran the cords to raise and lower the shutter. The old-fashioned door swings back on wrought hinges twenty-four inches in length. These, as well as the old hardware in the house, have been carefully preserved.
Between the outside porch and the inner one is a second set of doors, in between which are hanging buckets. These are of leather and were kept in the hall of every house for use in case of fire. The stairway starts at the right-hand side of the hall, which is merely a narrow passageway. It leads by two turns to the second-story floor and has a most unusual background in the brick work of a large chimney. Tradition tells us that the builder of these stairs received no ready money for his work but, instead, eight acres of land, since it was a[Pg 106] very common practice at that time to pay for work in this way.
At the right is the old parlor, which is now used as the family dining-room. It is a spacious apartment, nineteen feet square, with walls two feet thick, corresponding in depth to all those found in the main house. Great oak beams, rough with marks of the adze, support the chamber floors. These beams, for many years boxed in, have been lately revealed. The table in the parlor is of the empire period, while the chairs are rough bottomed, Windsor, and other types, all colonial, though of mixed periods.
Singularly enough, the house differs from most of its kind in that it has two main chimneys, one providing fireplaces between the front rooms and the other built in the kitchen. During the summer months these are still used, but in the winter stoves are substituted.
The inner kitchen is now used as a living-room. It has been remodelled within the last few years, there being no plaster on the wall except that which was put directly on the stone. The old fireplace is still seen in this room, although adorned with a new mantel. Window-seats have been introduced, and many Sheraton chairs and Hepplewhite[Pg 107] tables are seen. Indeed, every piece of furniture belongs to the same period.
While the eastern part of the house is the original building, the western end shows an attractive addition that was built on during Captain Boardman's lifetime for the benefit of his wife, who was a confirmed invalid. She had believed it was unhealthful to live between stone walls and so asked that this addition be built. This part shows the same finishing as other rooms in the house and is furnished like them in colonial style. The central feature is a gate-leg table, while a Sheraton chair of the Martha Washington type is found here, and a Chippendale, together with Dutch chairs having rush bottoms, dating back to 1740.
The chambers show a likeness to the lower rooms, and the attic is especially large. In the chambers there is little or no hand-carving but very good woodwork.
Long before this house came into its present ownership, during the time of the Pierce occupancy it was used to stow away a part of the town's powder. While this was stored here, one of Pierce's slaves, a negro woman, went up-stairs to her room and carelessly placed a lighted candle near one of the kegs. She was weary from a long[Pg 108] day's work and fell asleep without any thought of serious consequences. While she slept, the candle burned lower and lower, finally sputtering and falling over. A grain of powder that had been carelessly spilt on the floor was ignited. A blinding flash, a tremendous report, an unearthly yell, and the negress flew out of the window, bed and all, and landed safe in the top of an apple-tree which is still standing!
The old home is a splendid example of the houses of that day. It is in a perfect state of preservation, and from its windows one still overlooks the river, where in the olden days the ships of the Tracys passed to and fro, bearing rich cargoes in their holds.[Pg 109]
THE GOVERNOR DUMMER MANSION
Richard Dummer, emigrant ancestor of the family of that name, came to America in 1632, joining the little company who were banded together at Massachusetts Bay in 1632. His first residence was in Roxbury, but he removed afterwards to Boston. While here, he became interested in starting a stock farm, in which venture he was joined by two other prominent citizens named Richard Saltonstall and Henry Sewall, the ancestor of the chief justice who bore that name. When looking about for a suitable place to start their enterprise, they came to Newbury, Massachusetts. This was in 1634. Here they selected the territory bordering on the river Parker, or Great River as it was called at that time.
It was a most suitable place to carry on this enterprise, both on account of the fertility of the upland and because of the large quantity of salt marsh grass which was considered of special value[Pg 110] for forage, so they immediately contracted for the importation of a large number of cattle. In May, 1635, the same day that this territory, known as Wessacumcon, was by the General Court of the colony allowed to be a plantation under the name of Newbury, a committee was appointed to set out a farm for Richard Dummer about the falls of Newbury, not to exceed five hundred acres, that is, provided it be not prejudicial to Newbury.
On the eighth day of July it was further ordered by the General Court that a convenient quantity of land be set out within the bounds of Newbury for the keeping of the cattle that came over in the Dutch ship that year and to belong to the owners of said cattle.
Richard Dummer removed to Newbury in the spring or summer of 1635, and other grants of land were subsequently made to him. It is a little difficult to determine the precise boundaries, on account of the scanty records. A short time before his death he executed deeds for his sons that showed him to be the owner of most of the uplands and marshes bordering on the south side of the river Parker, a tract more than three miles in length and including most of the extensive[Pg 111] marshes, assembling a farm of three hundred and thirty acres. Whether he had more land or not is uncertain, but it is known that it never exceeded five hundred acres.
Since the early grant this farm has been in the family, Richard Dummer making his first home on Newbury Neck on the place that was known as Mr. Dummer's farm. A very rich and benevolent man, he contributed much toward the growth of Newbury, being elected one of the assistants of the colony in 1635 and re-elected in 1636, taking the highest office with the exception of governor and deputy-governor. He was an ardent supporter of Governor Sir Harry Vane, taking active part in the election of 1637 which resulted in Vane's defeat. Although he was disarmed, with seventy-two others, he was not removed from the colony.
Richard Dummer was an unusual man. Manifesting no resentment at his treatment, two years afterwards, when Winthrop, owing to his impoverishment, called for contributions, Dummer gave one hundred pounds,—more than one-fifth of that contributed in the colony. Two of his sons, Richard and Jeremiah, became very prominent, the former living on the farm by the falls and the latter becoming a judge. It was this Jeremiah who[Pg 112] was the father of the governor, William Dummer, and also of Jeremiah, Jr., who was graduated from Harvard in 1699.
At this period the names of the students were arranged in the catalogue in rank of family, and Jeremiah's headed the list. He was also the first scholar in his class and was spoken of by President Mather as the best scholar ever at the college. He was very prominent all his life. Bancroft, speaking of him, said: "His writings were the fruit of loyal colonial liberties and contained the seed of American independence."
In 1687 his brother William was born in Boston. William was not a student, being educated simply at the Boston Grammar School. Enlisting in the Artillery Company in 1702, he rose to its captaincy. England was his residence for several years prior to his marriage in 1714 to Katherine, daughter of Joseph Dudley, then governor of the province and son of Thomas Dudley, one of the early governors of the colony. In 1716 Governor Dudley refused re-appointment, and Colonel Samuel Shute was appointed in his place by the Crown, who under the Province Charter reserved the right to appoint governor, lieutenant-governor, and secretary. This was a time of continual conflicts in the colony[Pg 113] through disagreements in appointments, so that the province governors enjoyed little ease.
After an uneasy administration of six years, Governor Shute left in 1723 in disgust, remaining in England until the arrival of his successor, William Burnett, in 1728. This left Dummer in the gubernatorial chair for nearly six years.
Governor Dummer was placed in a very trying position. The Administration made it practically impossible for him to render strict and impartial judgment and give satisfaction to the people. His alliance with Dudley and Shute, however, proved no obstacle to his influence with them, for Governor Dummer was born in the province, and his education, his experience, and his family traditions were with the people. It is said of him, too, that during the critical period of his administration, his wisdom and impartiality, as well as his kind, conciliatory spirit brought about the confidence and respect of all who were thrown in contact with him.
The office of lieutenant-governor was his until 1730, when he was succeeded by Lieutenant-governor Tailer. The house in Newbury was only a summer estate, for he occupied in winter a brick house on School Street in Boston, bounded northerly[Pg 114] on Province Street, and being separated from the Province House estate by a six-foot passageway.
Governor Dummer was a very religious man, attending the Hollis Street Church and presenting it with an imperial folio Bible in two volumes, richly bound in rich crimson Levant morocco, splendidly gilt on the edges and elaborately tooled by the bookbinders. It was presented on condition that it should be read as a part of the Divine service, and at the present day retains its former richness of color and gilding. The paper is rich and smooth and creamy as though just made, while the size and clearness of type are a comfort to any minister's eyes. After Dummer's death he was buried in the Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street, Boston.
Governor Dummer was a man of great firmness, strict integrity, and warm benevolence. In civil and administrative affairs he showed a rare combination of qualities, leading his administration to be spoken of by Dudley as the "wise administration of Dummer."
The Dummer Mansion, which is situated in Byfield, then Newbury, Massachusetts is prominently connected with the town's history, being one of the[Pg 115] most notable colonial homes in New England. It was built by Governor Dummer about 1715 on a farm which was given him by his father on October 15, 1713, a few months before his marriage. It is a fine specimen of the houses of that day, showing brick sides and resembling in architecture the Royall House at Medford, Massachusetts.
Just after he and his bride took up their abode in the newly completed mansion, a housewarming was held. Governor Dummer, so the legend runs, was a famous horseman, and on this occasion he is said to have dashed up the broad front staircase to the second floor, mounted on a magnificent white charger, much to the consternation of the guests. This event took place in the month of August in the time of the full moon, and tradition relates that he repeats this performance even unto the present day whenever in August there are two full moons, riding forth on the occasion of the first full moon and charging up the stairs and down again.
In the kitchen of the mansion house on several occasions a little child appeared. Whenever the apartment was left vacant, the next person to come in would find a little golden-haired, blue-eyed girl about five years of age, balancing herself upon the door-sill and peeping in and out just as[Pg 116] a real child naturally would do at play. She was never seen in any other part of the house. Where she came from no one ever knew. She always appeared in the same doorway and after standing awhile would vanish. She became so familiar to the people of the house that they called her Elizabeth. She had such a pleasant, smiling face that even the most timid person felt no fear of her.
During the oiling of the kitchen floor a child's ring was discovered in a crack where it had lain for years. In trying to get it out, a secret spring was seen and a trap-door was disclosed. On opening it, an old ladder was revealed, leading to the space below, but it fell to fragments at a touch. The cellar underneath was explored. In a secret recess was a small chamber not larger than a grave. Inside was a large, round, cheese box, which contained the bones of a child. These were properly buried, and the apparition ceased to appear.
In the slave quarters, which were in the ell of the mansion house, the slaves were chained each night to prevent their escaping. The rings to which the chains were attached were to be seen until quite recently, and when the wind was right, the clanking of the chains could plainly be heard.
Outside the house on the green, so the story runs,[Pg 117] a duel was fought by an English officer and a gentleman over an affront concerning Madam Dummer. The English officer was killed, and tradition relates that he appeared subsequently. He was clad in epaulets and gold lace, wandering about as if in search of his adversary. He always wore an amazingly large, powdered white wig and carried a dress sword in its sheath, as on the occasion of the fateful encounter.
The present mansion, remodelled, is to-day a famous landmark. It is considered an excellent example of a colonial home, with its pitched roof, its huge stone chimneys covered with mortar, its dormer windows, and its Georgian porch. One enters through the wide doors into a noble hallway extending entirely through the house, the woodwork showing fine panelling of white pine. The box stairs rise by easy treads to the wide landing, where a colonial window gives light to the apartment. At the foot of the staircase is an arch, a great ornament to the hallway. The balusters are hand-carved, the newel post being plain. The balusters and stairs are of mahogany and the furniture is Windsor.
Opening from the hall at the right are double parlors. On the wall hangs a fine portrait of[Pg 118] Governor Dummer and his wife, Katherine Dudley. The portrait of the governor is in oil by Smibert, while a copy of it by the late Frederick Vinton is in the Senate Chamber of the State House in Boston. The parlor shows woodwork in place of plastering or paper. The old shutters have been carefully preserved as have the window-seats. The furniture is of the colonial type, including Chippendale and Windsor pieces.
Opposite the parlor is the living-room, with its fine carvings shown in the mantel. This carving is done in wood and not in French putty glued on, as is the case with many ornamentations. Although there is fine panelling and woodwork in this room, it shows plaster and paper as well. Double doors open into the rear parlor, now used as a dining-room. These doors show strap hinges and are considered fine specimens of the colonial period. Wonderful woodwork is seen in this room, as in other rooms in the house.
When the parish was renamed, the name of Dummer was proposed. Finally, however, it was called after Judge Byfield on account of a handsome gift proposed by him. In acknowledgment of this compliment a bell was presented to the church by Judge Byfield.[Pg 119]
THE MACPHAEDRIS-WARNER HOUSE
One of the noted houses in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the Warner house. This is a large brick mansion of ample dimensions, which stands at the corner of Daniel and Chapel Streets, and has the distinction of being the oldest brick residence in town. It must be remembered that the use of brick in house-building was not extensively carried out in the colonies, even as late as the early nineteenth century. Occasionally we find houses where brick was used to cover the frame, outside of which was an exterior of wood. This was for the sake of warmth, for, as we know, in the early days not only was the climate more severe, but there were not the scientific methods of heating known to-day.
While the frame of these houses was generally of oak, yet the shingles or clapboards were of white pine. White pine was very generally used then, chiefly on account of its lasting quality. This is[Pg 120] evidenced very plainly in many old houses of that period which are found to-day in a remarkable state of preservation. This same wood was used not only for clapboards but for the principal interior finish, and we often find it in large panels as perfect as when put in place two hundred years or more ago.
Wood was generally used during the eighteenth century, but we occasionally find a brick house such as the Macphaedris-Warner house. The brick used was generally imported in those days, for the American brick was of rather an inferior quality to that obtained on the other side of the water. The bricks and tiles used in this house were imported as ballast from Holland in some of the vessels owned by Captain Macphaedris.
It is two centuries ago that this mansion was erected and it is still as perfect in construction as it was the day of its finish. There has been no change in either exterior or interior, so that it can well be considered a fine example of a house that represents true honest labor and the skill of the master mechanic. Another thing in its favor is that it has always remained in the family. Much of the furniture shown there to-day was formerly imported by Captain Macphaedris, who felt the[Pg 121] need of furnishing it for his bride in accordance with his station.
At the time of its erection, Captain Archibald Macphaedris was a wealthy merchant and Tory at heart, being a member of the King's Council. He came over from Scotland, attracted by stories of the new country's wealth, in the early part of the eighteenth century, and taking kindly to life here, he entered into trade and was so prudent that later on he was able to build this splendid house. The building was designed as a town residence, and although twelve miles distant from his industry, was considered a suitable situation for this very reason. He preferred to leave business cares at the close of the day and spend the intervening time as far removed from them as possible.
Early in the eighteenth century iron works were founded at Dover, New Hampshire. They were the first of the kind ever established in this country, and Captain Macphaedris was the chief promoter of the new industry. In addition to this, he carried on an extensive fur trade with the Indians, with whom he was very friendly; by combining the profits from his two ventures he was able to amass a considerable fortune.
A distinct feature of this house is the design of[Pg 122] the roof and the high brick chimneys, which convey a hint of Dutch sturdiness and which resemble many of the houses in the Netherlands. This goes to show that the valiant captain imported Dutch ideas along with his bricks and tiles.
When finished, this mansion was three stories in height, being perfectly plain with the exception of two fine doorways, the one on the front being much the more elaborate. These have never been changed since the days they were placed there. Whether the walls were built to resist attacks of the Indians or not will never be known, but they are eighteen inches thick, making the house one of the warmest of that period.
The plans of the house were designed in accordance with the wishes of the bride, who was no less a personage than Sarah Wentworth, the daughter of Governor John Wentworth, and one of the reigning belles of Portsmouth. That it was an expensive house is shown from the fact that it cost six thousand pounds or thirty thousand dollars, a considerable sum to be spent in those early days, when money was not plentiful. The furniture was all imported, brought over in Captain Macphaedris' ships and especially designed for the house. It was in many respects quite different[Pg 123] from much of the furniture that had been brought into the colony, and as much of the original is still shown, we realize how carefully the captain must have sought to combine beauty and comfort.
The house was most carefully built, for it was first commenced in 1718 and not completed until five years later, in 1723. In all probability the opening of the house was attended by a large housewarming, to which the dignitaries of Portsmouth, including Governor John Wentworth, were invited, but the event was considered of too little importance to be mentioned in the annals that are left concerning the mansion.
By a strange irony of fate, the name of the man whose money and brains built the house is rarely associated with it; the fine old pile is known far and near by the name of the man who married the captain's daughter Mary, a comely lass who was a great belle in the town. He was the Hon. Jonathan Warner, a member of the King's Council until the Revolution made his commission ineffective. Mr. Warner was a familiar figure about Portsmouth in the latter days of the eighteenth century and is spoken of, in an old review, as "one of the last of the cocked hats." He invariably wore a long-skirted brown coat, small clothes,[Pg 124] silk stockings, and buckles on his shoes. He always carried a cane, and his dignified bearing never failed to impress the youngsters of the place with proper respect, and they always courteously saluted him as he passed. And to-day the visitor at Portsmouth has the Macphaedris-Warner house pointed out to him as the Warner house.
There can be no better proof that this house was well built than the fact that it has withstood the ravages of New England weather for nearly two hundred years and is still in good condition, the eighteen-inch walls of honest Dutch brick as staunch as the day they were laid. The gambrel roof, the Lutheran windows, and the quaint cupola all mark this three-storied house as a genuine old-timer, and the broad, simply ornamented doorways are suggestive of good old colonial hospitality, for this house was the scene of many a merrymaking. Over the brick pavement, laid herring-bone pattern, and up the stone steps came many a dignitary of the land, who lifted the ponderous brass knocker, and as the panelled door swung back on its long, strapped hinges, entered the spacious hall, which extends the entire length of the house.
There are a few pieces of the old mahogany furniture[Pg 125] left, showing to best advantage against the white panelling of the wall. The staircase at the extreme left is hand-carved, the newel post being exceedingly plain.
The heavy iron bar that still securely fastens the entrance door bespeaks a time when the red men lurked in Portsmouth and made this protection a necessity. If reliance is to be placed on old traditions, the captain was a great friend of the Indians. The fact that two portraits of Indian chiefs are still hanging upon the wall seems to corroborate this story.
But the most distinctive and remarkable feature of this hall is the wall fresco, reaching from the foot of the stairs to the second-story landing, on the rough plaster of which are depicted various scenes, all the work of a master hand. These wonderful frescoes, covering an area of from four to five hundred feet, were hidden many years ago, and have only been exposed within the last sixty years. As proof of the fact that the frescoes must have been covered up for many years, the story is told of an old lady eighty years of age who was a constant visitor at the Warner house during her girlhood days. When shown these paintings she looked at them wonderingly and asserted that[Pg 126] their existence was unknown at the time when she was an intimate of the family.
Opening from the hallway on the right is the parlor, a spacious apartment, panelled from floor to ceiling. A great fireplace, faced with quaint Dutch tiles, occupies one corner; and on the narrow mantel above, resting against a beautiful old mirror, is the Warner coat of arms. Beside this is the coat of arms of the Sherburne family, into whose possession the old house passed in the early part of the nineteenth century. At one side of the room is a broad, arched doorway, where once stood a large pipe organ which was removed some years ago.
Several fine pieces of Chippendale and Sheraton furniture are placed about the room, and from the panelled walls stately dames and old-time gallants deign to give the intruder a haughty glance. These fine old portraits, all painted by the famous Copley, were originally encased in Paul Revere frames. During the great fire which swept through the town a number of years ago, the pictures were removed to insure their safety, and before their return all the frames, with the exception of the one encasing the portrait of Mary Macphaedris Warner, had mysteriously disappeared, and no trace[Pg 127] of them has ever been found. Included in the collection are portraits of Captain Macphaedris, Hon. Jonathan Warner, and his daughter Mary. The latter is pictured as an old-time belle, in a gown of stiff brocade and rich red lace.
Opposite the parlor is the living-room, panelled like the hall, and possessing the same charm as the rest of the house. The walls are adorned by queer, old-fashioned pictures and heavy, gilt-framed mirrors, the latter reflecting in their depths the beauty of the rare old mahogany with which the room is furnished.
Beside the broad fireplace, tiled in brown, is a spacious cupboard, deftly concealed in the panelling, where are stored quantities of fine old silver and china, the treasured possessions of many generations of Warners and Sherburnes. This fireplace is framed in quaint Dutch tiles, but instead of grate and andirons it contains a Franklin stove, surmounted by a queer coffee-urn once owned by Governor Langdon. Although quaintly attractive, this stove is not nearly so interesting from an historic point of view as is a stove still used in one of the chambers. The latter, although not nearly so pretentious, has the distinction of having been set up by Franklin himself, one of three in Portsmouth[Pg 128] whose installment he personally supervised.
A fine example of mahogany is shown in a beautiful secretary standing at one side of the room, and through its traceried-glass doors are caught glimpses of curious shells and bits of pink and red coral—brought home by some seafaring Sherburne—as well as numerous Indian relics. It has also a few old books left from a rare collection. Near by is a diminutive desk, interesting from the fact that it is said to be an exact reproduction in every detail of one brought to this country by John Alden.
Each chamber shows wonderful four-posters, hand-knotted spreads, odd candlesticks, foot-stoves, and powder-horns, each piece enhancing the flavor and romance that clings to every nook and corner of the old house. All these relics, as well as the fire-buckets hanging in the rear hall, have been in the family for generations.
Carefully treasured in an old chest up-stairs are many things connected with Colonel Jonathan Warner. There is the embroidered military suit which he wore when serving in the Continental army, together with his sword and cocked hat. These, with a bill of lading presented with much[Pg 129] of the family plate and imported furniture, have been preserved in the family ever since 1713. Indeed, every piece of furniture and every treasure is historic and has its own distinctive story.
The fine simplicity of colonial designs is well illustrated by the outside of this house. Its simplicity verges almost upon the forbidding, as there is nothing but flat walls of brick, windows of severe design, and a simple cornice that sets off fine old doorways enriched with delicate dentations and supported by hand-carved Corinthian columns.
To-day, after nearly two centuries of existence, the house is as solid as it was on the day it was erected, and with its quiet atmosphere of age, its old-time flavor obtained through steady and long continued use, and the treasury of relics shown here, is conceded to be the most picturesque house in Portsmouth.[Pg 130]
THE WENTWORTH HOUSE
One of the most historic houses in New Hampshire is situated at Little Harbor, about two miles from the city of Portsmouth. It was built in the latter sixteenth century, or early seventeenth, the exact date not being known, for the records of the early days were carelessly kept, so that there is nothing legible to determine the time of its erection. The houses that were built during this period are generally of such a distinct type that there is little or no difficulty in placing them and ascertaining their age.
This is not true of the Wentworth Mansion, for its design does not definitely indicate the architecture of any special period. One does not wonder, when history tells us that it was bought by Governor Bennington Wentworth in 1750, that it was at that time simply a farmhouse of moderate size which had been occupied by one of the earliest settlers in this section, whose name has never been handed down.[Pg 131]
After its purchase, great pains were taken to make it an attractive and habitable house. Rooms were added, and ells were built, until it assumed its present size. It is a stately pile, with wings joined to either side of the long main building, occupying three sides of a hollow square, and showing open ends facing the water.
Its original appearance has been carefully maintained by the present owner, who occupies the estate as a summer residence. With great care the garden has been restored to the distinctly old-fashioned type, while all the memorable traditions of the building have been preserved. There is about it an atmosphere differing from most houses of that time, partly due to its retired situation.
From the high road one enters the curving avenue to seek the house, hidden from the entrance behind hills and trees. The main entrance is the same as in the governor's day. There is a second entrance, however, nearer the house, through which we get glimpses of the mansion beyond. This is flanked by two marble statues, one of which represents an angler dressed in colonial costume, while the second is a hunter, armed with a Rip Van Winkle fowling-piece.
They seem to extend, with outstretched arms,[Pg 132] a mute welcome to the guest, for hospitality has ever been a characteristic of the Wentworth mansion.
The grounds are extensive and are laid out in lawns and grass lands. The house is surrounded by shade trees, some of which were there when the governor occupied the mansion.
Its exterior shows a gray finish, the same coloring that was originally in use. The porch through which the house is entered is the same one through which Washington passed when, during his visit to Portsmouth, he came to this mansion on his return from a fishing trip, and was royally entertained by the widow of Governor Wentworth.
The rear of the house faces the harbor, at the spot where the governor's wharf used to be, for in the early days ships were anchored near by, and their officers were frequently entertained at the mansion.
It is said that in the early days of its occupancy by the governor, a secret passage connected the house with the wharf, and boats were kept always in waiting, ready to be off at a moment's notice. This was done so that the unpopular head of the government might escape at any time if an attempt was made to take his life.[Pg 133]
On a neighboring island which is in plain sight, there were several small houses, moved there on a scow.
Governor Wentworth, who was the first owner of this house, was the governor of New Hampshire during the most troublesome times of our country's history. He was elected in 1741 and served for twenty-five years, during which period he conducted the affairs of government through stormy times and two bloody wars, and there is little doubt that he administered the affairs as well as most men could have done under such trying circumstances. It is well known, however, that he pleased neither people nor king. At the end of his term of office he was courteously superseded by his nephew, John Wentworth, whose popularity had won him favor.
It was then, in 1767, that Governor Wentworth retired to the colonial home at Portsmouth. During his administration, his wife and his children had died. Lonely and discouraged, he offered himself in marriage to one Molly Pitman, who chose instead Richard Shortridge, a mechanic by trade. Doubtless through his instigation, because piqued at the indignity of her refusal, a press gang seized Shortridge and carried him away.[Pg 134] He was sent from ship to ship, until a friendly officer listened to his sad tale and allowed him to escape and return home, to find his wife still true, although tempted by the allurements of wealth.
Not cast down, however, by his ill luck, the governor soon after made the house at Little Harbor his all-the-year-round home. The house became the rendezvous for prominent personages—not only in New Hampshire, but through the land. During one dinner party given to distinguished guests an important event occurred. In the governor's employ was a girl of most attractive personality, who had entered the house as a domestic, and bore the name of Martha Hilton. Her beauty attracted the attention of the governor, so that he desired to marry her. Among the guests was one Reverend Arthur Brown, of the Episcopal church. The dinner was served in the style becoming to the governor's table. Just as it was over, the governor whispered, so low that no one else could hear, to a messenger who stood near by. Then Martha Hilton came in through the hall door, on the west side of the parlor, and looking down, a blush upon her cheek, took her stand in front of the open fireplace.
She did not bring anything with her, nor did she[Pg 135] seem to expect to take anything out. The governor, his hair bleached with the frost of sixty winters, arose, and turning to the rector, he asked: "Mr. Brown, will you marry me?"
The pastor looked up aghast. "To whom?" he asked.
Stepping to Martha's side, and taking her hand in his, the governor answered: "To this lady."
The rector still stood confounded, and the governor, angered by the delay, in an imperative manner said: "As the Governor of New Hampshire, I command you to marry us."
Then and there, in the presence of the assembled guests, the ceremony was duly performed, and Martha Hilton became Madam Wentworth. As a careless, laughing girl, barefooted, and carrying a pail of water, with a dress scarcely sufficient to cover her, Martha was said to have declared: "No matter how I look, I shall ride in my chariot yet," and she now achieved her ambition. In a charming little poem Longfellow relates this incident and assures us that she filled the position with great dignity.
The old governor did not live long to enjoy his New Hampshire home. His widow, however, soon forgot her solitude, after rejecting many offers of[Pg 136] marriage, for we read of her marriage not very long afterwards to Michael Wentworth, a retired colonel of the British army. One daughter, Martha, was born as the fruit of their marriage.
In 1789 Washington came to Portsmouth to visit the Wentworth mansion. He sailed into the harbor on one of his ships and was received with characteristic hospitality by Colonel Michael Wentworth and his lady, both of whom accorded him a royal welcome.
The colonel was a high liver and prided himself on his horsemanship. The legend runs that he started from Boston at eight o'clock in the morning and arrived in Portsmouth at 6 o'clock in the afternoon, a feat which was considered remarkable.
He was not master of the house for many years, for he died suddenly in 1795. After his death, Sir John Wentworth, a lawyer in Portsmouth, married Martha Wentworth, the daughter, and they occupied the house in Little Harbor together with Madam Wentworth until the time of her death in 1805. Upon their departure to Europe in 1816, the house passed out of the family.
The house stands as it was built, the massive door, three inches in thickness, at its main entrance, showing enormous locks and strapped hinges that[Pg 137] extended eighteen inches in either direction. Strap hinges were a necessity in those days, as the doors were fastened together with wooden pegs, and unless this precaution was taken, they would sag.
One enters a narrow vestibule which gives into an inner hallway. This, too, is narrow, severely plain, and strictly colonial in type. The old staircase has hand-carved balusters. There is no change in the panelling upon the walls, and the original bull's-eyes are in the door opposite the entrance.
The hallway leads at the left into a colonial dining-room, with rich panelling, and an old fireplace which is large enough to hold a yule log. The room is spacious and fitted with furnishings of colonial type. Over the mantel is hung an old powder-horn and flint-lock, while at one side are colonial relics: a cabinet of old china and a Sheraton table with late mahogany chairs form the furnishings.
Adjoining the dining-room is a large pantry, which contains some ovens that were at one time used for the making of rum, doubtless partaken of very freely during the governor's residence there.
At the right of the hallway is the present living-room, where are many relics of the old governor;[Pg 138] in one corner is a chair in which he sat. The old fireplace before which Martha Hilton stood on her wedding night is in this room.
Passing through, one reaches a narrow landing and a short flight of stairs which connect with the hallway below, where we come upon the original entrance. The walls on either side over the door are decorated with arms. These are thirteen in number, and are the muskets of the governor's guard, so long ago dismissed. Yonder is the Council Chamber. In this spacious apartment for many years were discussed public affairs of the utmost importance; heated debates were carried on in the stormy times that ante-dated the Revolution. It is finished in the best style of the last century, the carved work around the mantel taking more than a year's work with the knife and chisel of a master carpenter.
Around the room were formerly a great many pictures of the family. Among them was a choice painting by Copley of the beautiful Dorothy Quincy who became the wife of John Hancock, and who came frequently to visit in Portsmouth. There were wonderful pictures of Secretary Waldron, who was killed by the Indians at Dover, and also of his son Westbrook. Sofas and rare bits[Pg 139] of colonial furniture furnished the room in the governor's day, and the closely jointed, smooth white floors, which are none the worse for a century's wear, have been pressed by the feet of many a merry dancer.
We look at pictures of the old-time occupants, in periwigs and silver buckles, who people the shadows in the dim grandeur of this wonderful old room. In one corner still stands a rack, with sixteen flint-locks, some of which have bayonets attached. This stand of arms was discovered by the present owner hidden away under plaster. Just what is concealed to-day in the old house is not known, for it has never been fully explored. Naturally one conjectures secret closets and hidden passageways, such as were built in many houses of that period.
Beyond is the billiard-room. There is now no billiard table but instead a spinning-wheel, and a dainty, old-fashioned spinet upon which little Martha Wentworth learned to play. One wonders if it was in this room that Madam Wentworth dropped her ring to be picked up by the maid. All at once the maid became near-sighted, and it was not until Martha herself stooped down and touched her ring that it could be found.[Pg 140]
Several smaller rooms lead out of the billiard-room. They were used in the olden times as card-rooms, and here many a close rubber was played by the great and reverend patriots of the land.
Underneath is a huge, rambling cellar where the builder of the mansion kept stalls for thirty horses, ready at a moment's notice to be off. The gun-rack in the hall of the Council Chamber does much to convince us that the great man whose personality is stamped so deeply on this interesting pile, must have led a very uneasy life. There were no descendants to inherit the old home, but he left a lasting memorial to himself in the house which embodied so many of his ideals.[Pg 141]
THE FRANKLIN PIERCE HOUSE
In the little town of Hillsboro, New Hampshire, stand two notable houses. One of them was formerly the home of Governor Benjamin Pierce, while the other was occupied by his son, Franklin Pierce, who was the fourteenth president of the United States. Both houses are in a good state of preservation, the former being used as a village inn, while the latter, still filled with interesting mementoes connected with the life of President Pierce, is now occupied by his nephew, Mr. Kirk Pierce. These houses are not in the village proper but just outside, in a location known as Hillsboro Bridge, a romantic, wooded section on the main road, where in the early days the stage-coach passed on its way to Concord, New Hampshire, not so very far away.
Franklin Pierce was born on November 23, 1804, in the old homestead where his father, Governor Pierce, lived, and here he passed his[Pg 142] early days. The old governor was a prominent character in the history of New Hampshire, being one of the heroes of Bunker Hill, afterwards becoming governor of the State of New Hampshire, a man revered and loved, not only by the military element of the State but by politicians as well.
Even when Franklin Pierce was a child, there existed a true companionship between the boy and his father. He was an attractive lad, with light curling hair that fell to his shoulders, blue eyes, and a winsome face. Not particularly fond of study, he was the ringleader in all the pranks played in the neighborhood; yet he was beloved by all the townspeople, who were a bit suspicious of him, however, never knowing what tricks would be played on them through his love of fun and influence with the other boys.
It was a pleasant sight during the long winter evenings to see this fair-haired boy sitting upon his father's knee, listening to stories of his army life. These filled the boy with a desire to enter the militia and win for himself glory on the battlefield.
His early education was obtained in a little brick schoolhouse that is still standing at Hillsboro Centre, about a mile and a half distant from[Pg 143] his home. Here in his boyhood days he attended school with twenty other children. At one time during his school life here, a visitor who was talking to the children told them to have a high aim in life, for in that very room might be a future president of the United States,—a prophecy that rang true.
Later on Pierce was sent to Hancock to enter the academy. Unused to discipline, he became very homesick and walked all the way home to see his family. It was on a Sunday morning that he appeared in the yard and found that the household had gone to church. On their return, they found him sitting on a bench waiting for them. When asked the reason why he came home unannounced, he pleaded homesickness. His father was a stern disciplinarian and without a word had a horse harnessed into a chaise; Franklin was driven into the midst of a dense wood and left to walk the rest of the way back to the academy. It was a dark day and a heavy thunder shower came up, so that he was drenched to his skin by the time he reached school. In speaking of it afterwards he said: "It was the turning-point of my life. I learned the lesson that my father wished to impress upon me."[Pg 144]
At the age of sixteen he entered Bowdoin College and became one of the most popular students. Not inclined to study, the first two years of his life were spent in partial idleness, until suddenly he awoke to the value of education and was graduated with honors.
Another turning-point in his life lay in the time when he first met Nathaniel Hawthorne. This meeting was in a stage-coach, in 1821, when Pierce was returning to college during his sophomore year. In the same coach also were Jonathan Cilley and Alfred Mason, both intimates then and in after years.
It might be said that Pierce's political campaign commenced at college, for here he held his first civic office as chairman of the Athenean Society, also being elected captain of a little company formed in the college.
There are still treasured in the college library at Brunswick, Maine, two mementoes of his college life. The one is a silhouette found in a little red book containing the pictures of the members of the class, which was made before the art of photography was known. The second is a theme that was written in Latin, one of his later works.
He followed his father's career as politician,[Pg 145] making his first stump speech in favor of the victor of New Orleans and against John Quincy Adams. He entered Congress at the age of twenty-nine and quickly rose to high political favor; he was elected to the Senate in 1837, being at that time its youngest member.
During his term of office, he stood firm for his party against the opposing members, and yet so popular was he that when his hour of departure came, the senators crowded around him as though he were a personal friend, and no member of the Senate ever retired with warmer friends. Among his associates in Congress were such men as Calhoun, Wentworth, and Clay,—men who were helpful to him in his political life. He decided, however, that he had had enough of politics so he returned to his own State and took up his profession of attorney, devoting much of his time to caring for his invalid wife.
His views, nevertheless, did not meet with the approbation of the people. Soon the Mexican War broke out, and he was forced to enter the fight, accepting the position of Colonel of the Ninth Regiment. During all this time Hawthorne and he remained intimates.
Across the road is a simple little farmhouse where[Pg 146] Pierce spent his early married life, and where Hawthorne was a frequent guest. The life of Hawthorne is connected with that of Franklin Pierce far more than is realized, unless one has delved deep into the unusual friendship of these two men. The one, standing at the front of the literary world, sad, morbid, and needing the helpful hand of a friend, was encouraged to work by the other, whom he loved. He shows his appreciation by his dedication of Our Old Home and Biographical Sketches. In the preface he tells of the love and appreciation of his work given to him by Pierce, and the praise the latter considered his due.
On the other hand stood Franklin Pierce, the lawyer, soldier, statesmen, friend, one who had battled with the world and whose term of office fell at a time when it was hardest to fill—when the slavery question was being weighed. These two men, strongly differing from each other in every trait, were peculiarly united by strong ties of mutual love and helpfulness.
It was not to the Hillsboro house alone that Hawthorne came, but also to the colonial mansion where Pierce spent his childhood days. There is still seen on the grounds an old tree where one can[Pg 147] just decipher, cut on the bark, the names of Hawthorne and Franklin Pierce.
This old homestead in which Franklin Pierce's father lived, has on the drawing-room wall a wonderful old paper as fresh and bright as when placed there a century ago by the original owner. During the governor's lifetime, this mansion was on the direct route of the Washington stage, which brought many a distinguished guest to enjoy the bounteous hospitality that was dispensed here. Nearly all the leading men of New Hampshire visited Squire Pierce's house, among them being Judge Woodbury, Governor Steele, and the McNeils.
The grounds were not extensive, comprising a little more than an acre of land, but were for those days wonderfully laid out with walks, gardens, summer-house, and artificial pond, well stocked with trout. The garden was considered to be one of the show places of the time, and here from the summer-house the casual visitor fished for trout in the pond beneath.
The mansion, a colonial type, stands just back of the road. It was a pretentious house in the olden days, as revealed by the broad stairs and hand-carved balusters. The walls are lined with[Pg 148] family portraits, representing three generations of this distinguished family. The great parlor at the left shows heavy cornices, massive hearthstones, and many historical relics. The wall-paper shows landscapes, tournaments, and festivals. In this house Franklin Pierce lived until he was married in 1834 to Jane Means, daughter of Rev. Dr. Appleton.
Following this event, he purchased the farmhouse across the way, which remains in the family and which contains a wonderful collection of fine paintings, autograph letters, and historical relics. Among the latter is a picture of William H. Marcy, Secretary of State under President Pierce, who ordered the picture painted at a cost of one thousand dollars. Near by is one of the best paintings of Hawthorne extant, which was also painted at the same cost by order of the president. In addition to these paintings are many others of distinguished men, including one of Pierce's father and many of himself. His wife's picture is not among the collection, but is owned by Mrs. Charles M. Stark of Dunbarton, New Hampshire, who descended from the same ancestry.
Many mementoes connected with the life of Franklin Pierce are still treasured in the old house[Pg 149] and include several swords, one of which was given by the ladies of Hillsboro when Pierce entered service in the Mexican War. This, together with a letter that accompanied it, is shown to the visitor, as well as a second sword given him by the State of New Hampshire at the close of the war. There can also be seen many interesting and historical canes.
But the most important collection in the house is that of autograph letters representing correspondence with his old friend Hawthorne, whose friendship was terminated only by death; of Presidents Jackson and Polk, and many others of equal note. Perhaps the most pathetic of this collection of letters, however, is a little one written in a childish hand by his son Benjamin, who was killed in a railroad accident near Andover. This letter is as follows:
"I am having a pleasant time at Aunt Mary's and I should like to stay until next week. To-day is a rainy day. I don't go out much but stay in the house and play with Jamie. Edward has just brought the news from Boston that father is a[Pg 150] candidate for the presidency. I hope he won't be elected, for I should not like to live in Washington, and I know you would not either. I am very well and so are the rest of the family. Little Fanny is quite well again and as bright as a bird. Little Mary can walk if somebody takes hold of her hands. Aunt Rebecca sends love to you. I hope you are much better than when you went away. I want you to excuse my bad writing. I have an extra bad pen. It is full of everything but ink. Give my love to father. I will now end this letter, so good-bye.
"Your affectionate son,
He had his wish gratified, for on the threshold of the presidency his father's heart was broken by the untimely death of his son.
Among the many treasured letters of Hawthorne's is one written from the Old Manse.
"Concord, Dec. 3, 1861.
"Here is a letter from old Sullivan, and as he wished a portion of it to be communicated to you, I think it best to send the whole. After reading it, please return it. You will be glad to see how[Pg 151] confidently he writes respecting the success of his copper mines, but I shall hardly share his hopes at present. After knowing him for so many years and seeing him always on the verge of making a fortune and always disappointed, poor fellow, I am not sure that the fate he half anticipates would not be the best thing for him—to be shot or hung—but perhaps I am as usual too despondent as he is too sanguine.
"We are all perfectly well and as happy as the times will permit anybody to be.
"With kindest regard to Mrs. Pierce,
There is another letter from Hawthorne showing the close intimacy that existed between the two men.
"I suppose your election to Congress is absolutely certain. Of course, however, there will be opposition and I wish you would send me papers laudatory and abusive of you. I shall read them with great interest, be what they may. It is a pity that I am not in a situation to use my pen in your behalf though you do not seem to need the assistance of newspaper scribblers. I do not feel[Pg 152] very well and will close my letter here, especially as your many associations will not permit you to read a longer one. I shall be happy to hear from you as often as you find leisure and inclination to write.
"I observe the paper styled you as Hon. Franklin Pierce. Have you already an official claim to that title?
And again we find a letter written later.
"I deeply regret we are not to have our mountain excursion together, and especially grieved that the disappointment should be on account of Mrs. Pierce's ill health. As the greater part of my pleasure would have been your companionship I question whether I shall press the matter any farther, although I do not as yet decidedly give up the idea.
"Some spiteful abolitionist took trouble to send to me a compendium of abusive paragraphs from the newspapers in reference to you, and it seems to me that the best way of disappointing his malice[Pg 153] was to lay them aside without reading one of them, which I accordingly did.
"With best regard to Mrs. Pierce and most earnest wishes for a speedy recovery,
In addition to the Hawthorne letters are some written by Jefferson Davis, who was a close friend of President Pierce, and who was appointed by the latter Secretary of War during his administration. The friendship between Jefferson Davis and President Pierce commenced during the time when Pierce was a member of the Senate. Mr. Davis thus writes concerning him to one of his personal friends.
"Mr. Pierce, then a member of the Senate, sustained every cardinal principle asserted by Mr. Calhoun, and there was not a member of the Senate who more uniformly voted to sustain them. As an auditor I heard the debate, watched the votes, and then commenced the affectionate esteem and high appreciation of Mr. Pierce which grew and strengthened with every succeeding year of his life. The position he then assumed clearly indicated the views subsequently expressed in the extract you have incorporated in your article.[Pg 154]
"Like many other practical statesmen, he was not disposed to disturb the 'Missouri Compromise,' but I have little doubt that at any period of his political career he would have said that it should have never been adopted. When he saw by the legislation of 1850, with which he was no more connected than that of 1820, the manifestation of a purpose to assert sound political principles and follow more closely the Constitution as it was written, he could but rejoice in this triumph of the creed he had so bravely defended in 1837-8.
"The situation made by you from his message of Dec. 1885, and especially the closing words of the extract, 'Existing or Incipient States,' proved undoubtedly that his understanding was that institutions were to be ordained and established not by the first adventurers into a wilderness, but by organized, self-governing communities, such as the people of States, either of the Union or about to enter it.
"I send back one of the two copies received of the Granite Monthly and on the magazine you will find pencil marks opposite the passages on which I have ventured freely to comment.
Nathaniel Hawthorne and Jefferson Davis were two of his most intimate friends, men entirely different in standards, political ideas, and life. The friendship between Hawthorne and Pierce lasted until the death of the former, May 19, 1864, Pierce being with him much of the time during his last illness and was by his side when he passed away.
Hawthorne in his "Life of Pierce" tells us: "The administration of Franklin Pierce presents the only instance in our history of the continuance of a cabinet for four years without any change in personnel. When it will be remembered that there was much dissimilarity, if not incongruity, of character among the members of the cabinet, some idea may be formed of the power over men that was possessed by Mr. Pierce. Chivalrous, generous, amiable, true to his friends and faith, frank and bold in the declaration of his opinions, he never deceived any one, and if treachery ever came near him, it would have stood abashed in the presence of his truth, his manliness, and his confiding simplicity."
The old Hillsboro house stands to-day unchanged. By its side is a small building formerly used by the ex-President as a library and it still[Pg 156] contains a part of his books, many volumes of which have been transferred to the library of the main house.
This room is a perfect treasure trove, for on the walls hang pictures of historic value, many of them painted at the order of the late President. The most valuable collection of all, however, are the autograph letters, the most important of which are written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Jefferson Davis, letters that form a connecting link between the history of the Civil War and the life of men who made history.[Pg 157]
THE SAVORY HOUSE
We turn to old houses as we turn to old books—for information—for inside old mansions is generally a wealth of furniture and china, the history of which has a never-dying charm to the collector and the lover of the antique. These houses are rapidly passing away, and it is only now and then that we come across one where furniture may be found that covers the periods between the Chippendale and the Empire.
One of these old houses, in which there is an especially rich collection of antiques, is found at Groveland, Massachusetts, and is known as the Savory house. Let us step over its threshold, and wander through its rooms, studying the furniture and the periods which they represent.
Here we find many of the works of the great masters: the simple, dignified charm of Chippendale gives way to the more elaborate and delicate pieces of Hepplewhite and Sheraton, leading us on[Pg 158] to the Adams period, and ending with the Empire. Examples of all these are seldom found under the same roof, and to the student of the antique, such a collection is far more instructive than pictured examples in books.
Much of this old furniture was brought from over the seas about 1800, at a time when colonial homes were in vogue. Others came with the earliest settlers. These pieces, however, are rare, for the ships of that day had but limited capacity, fitted to bring only the bare necessities to furnish a home. Many of them were rare and unusual bits, and connected with them are stories of the past, which carry us back to the early struggles for existence in an untried land.
The Peter Parker, or Savory house was built early in the eighteenth century. It is situated just back from the street, surrounded by well-laid-out grounds and has preserved intact all its original characteristics.
The keynote in its construction is a dignified solidity. It represents an example of careful thought that gives to it an air of quiet elegance which is rarely seen, even in houses of this same type. It is to be numbered among the really few genuine old dwellings which date back to pre-Revolutionary[Pg 159] days,—a veritable old home, combining in construction unusual architectural features.
The house differs much from the square houses of colonial time. It has a wing-like projection at one side and was designed with two front doors. This is a departure from the old-time custom of a central porch and is not without significance, for each door has its own special use.
The main porch is in the central part of the house. It is a very handsome entrance, well proportioned, showing a fan light over the entrance door. It has for ornamentation a knocker of the ring type. The second door in the ell was the family entrance. This opened upon a hall which led to the living-room. On the opposite side of the house is a small ell, showing domed windows and a handsomely carved entrance. At the rear is the orchard, where can still be seen some of the fruit trees that were planted when the house was built. The old-fashioned garden, with its box-borders and its wealth of old-time flowers so popular in colonial days, lies at the right of the orchard.
This estate was purchased by one Moses Parker, the great-grandfather of the present owner, in 1777, for the consideration of one thousand[Pg 160] pounds sterling. The house has sheltered since then five generations of that name. During its early life, it was the haunt of most of the prominent men of that time, for the owner was a chosen leader in all town affairs and was also considered one of the most prominent men of his day. There was a secret chamber in this house, shut off from the main part of the building. It is spoken of in the old records and letters that are still treasured in the family. This was reached from the outside only, through a secret door, all traces of which have long since disappeared. In this room were held the most important of the many Masonic meetings of that day. The little group of men who formed this secret society, at the time of Groveland's settlement, chose this meeting-place on account of the privacy of the chamber and the thickness of the walls enclosing it. There were curious neighbors even in those days, and secret meetings were a necessity. Where could they better be held than in this secluded room, beyond the bounds of unwelcome intruders?
The main hallway is reached from the family entrance,—the company door opening into the large room used in the olden times only on special occasions, such as a marriage, death, or ministerial[Pg 161] calls. This hallway is unusual: it is panelled and painted white, showing at one side a quaintly designed staircase. The narrow stairs wind to the second-story floor by two turns, instead of one. At the foot of the stairs are two fine examples of the Chippendale type. These are chairs which formed a part of the wedding furniture of the great-great-grandmother Parker and were brought over from England by the emigrant ancestor. They are a rare type of Chippendale, showing the splat, diamond pierced, and handsome carving. They were made about the middle of the eighteenth century, before Chippendale began to lose favor or had any rivals in the field.
On the first landing is a little light-stand, now so rarely seen, which was designed about 1765, and still holds the guest candles which were used in colonial days to light the family to bed.
The old-time parlor opens out of the hallway. It is now in common use, being converted into the family sitting-room. On one side of the room is rare and choice woodwork with panel effect, broken in the center by a deep and wide fireplace, a dominating feature of this homelike room. The cheery glow of the great oak logs, as they burn on the seventeenth-century, steeple-topped andirons, fills[Pg 162] the imagination with pictures of the people who lived here many years ago. The furniture could no doubt unfold many an interesting story: the Dutch table in the center of the room, for instance, was a part of great-grandmother Parker's wedding furniture; and the Hepplewhite card-table, designed in 1785, was a part of the first bride's furnishings.
There are Chippendale chairs, with carved rosettes, in low relief, vis-a-vis with a child's slat-back chair. The carpet, which has always been in this room, is one of the first ever laid in a Groveland home.
The well-lighted living-room shows many quaint windows with small paned glass and broad sills. These, during the winter time, are used as conservatories. Large, built-in cupboards, with glass doors, are filled with the rarest sets of old-time china. A full set of old Lowestoft, with the monogram of the bride, was imported from China, arriving just before the wedding. There is Staffordshire ware of the choicest kind, and a wealth of English glass. Not a piece has been broken since it was brought to the house, a century and a half ago.
In this same room are many of the rarest bits of[Pg 163] china to be found in all New England, while in the bookcases which line two sides of the room are many old books, some of which show the Parker bookplate.
Between the living-room and the dining-room is the den, where, on the shelves of a built-in cupboard, are wonderful pieces of old pewter. These date back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a period when this metal was in vogue for household use. Many of the pieces bear the excise stamp, a cross and a crown, showing that they are of early make. The rarest pieces, however, show three distinct stamps. Fortunately, even though pewter went out of fashion, and was consequently melted, the family was one of the few who appreciated its worth, so that not even one piece has ever been destroyed.
Rarely are found even in New England houses such a wealth of closets as are seen here. They have been carefully built to conform with the general breadth of construction and low stud that emphasize the interior finish of this house. In each one is a collection such as would make a connoisseur envious, for in handing down through the generations, there has been no division, a fact which gives the collections additional historic value.[Pg 164]
The most interesting room is the dining-room. Here the furnishing has never been changed. The sideboard is of the Empire period, and on it is shown wonderful old family silver, including some communion pieces of rare make. The chairs are of the Windsor type, painted white, with the exception of one, an old pulpit chair. This was originally used by an ancestor of the family, who was a pastor of the Groveland church. At the time of remodelling, it was removed and brought to the Parker home.
A very rare set of Canton ware is on the closet shelves. It differs from the usual Canton, and is said to be the only set of its kind to be found in America. The blue is much deeper and richer, and the pattern is unusual. This set was brought over as a wedding gift in one of the old Newburyport ships, during the height of commercial prosperity.
There is a peculiar charm and mystery to a house like this, which endears itself even to a stranger who steps over its threshold for the first time. It is a revelation of colonial furnishing which is most interesting. The sturdy old house is both simple and dignified. It typifies in the best manner the construction of the early days; the staunchness[Pg 165] of its build is evinced in its frame and walls, which are as sound as when first laid. To-day none of the rooms are unused. The partition in the secret chamber has been torn down, so that it now connects with the other rooms.
An unusual feature of the house is its many windows, which give it abundant light and sunshine. Cheeriness lies in its open fireplaces, one of which is found in every room of the house. There is no elaboration in wood-carving, this being perfectly plain, though varying in shape and design.
The chambers are also furnished with ancestral furniture, and in a room facing the south is a fine example of an old sleigh-bed, finished in mahogany veneer. The chairs are of Sheraton make, while the little low table was designed about the middle of the seventeenth century. In every chamber in the house four-posters are still seen, some of which are Field beds, while others have testers. Each room is kept as near as possible as it was when first occupied by the Parker family.
In the attic under the eaves is a veritable treasure house. Innumerable hair trunks, studded with brass-headed nails, are filled with beautiful silken damask gowns, camel's-hair shawls, and rare laces, which were once worn by the brides.[Pg 166] In one of them lies Lady Catherine, a most wonderful doll, dressed in the fashion of colonial days. Her gown of fine white mull is yellowed by age, and, as you take her out, she holds in her hand a letter which tells her name and age. It is over a century ago since she came into existence, but she has been so carefully preserved that she is in perfect condition.
The exact date of the erection of this house is not definitely known. It ante-dated the Revolutionary war, and at the time of its purchase by Mr. Parker, in 1777, it was considered by the residents of the town as an old mansion. In build, it resembles the seventeenth century houses, while in design it is unique and, save for its colonial porches and fences, might have belonged to an earlier period. It stands to-day a landmark of the old town, and the touch of time has not marred it with the air of age.[Pg 167]
THE STARK MANSION
There is no more fascinating study, both for historian and architect, than that of colonial houses: homes that represent an epoch-making period in our country's history. They are the dividing line between the early days and the period when we ceased to be colonists, the time when we secured a firm footing in the land we have made our country.
One of these old houses stands not many miles from Concord, New Hampshire. This is the Stark mansion at Dunbarton, a colonial house which is of especial interest for the reason that under its roof are gathered the relics of five famous families: the Starks, McNeils, Wentworths, Morrises, and Pierces. This house is one of the few old landmarks which still remain in the possession of the descendants original patentees. More than almost any other house which has historic connections, this one has been made famous in American history[Pg 168] through two of its owners,—General John Stark and his son, Major Caleb Stark.
One leaves the little railroad station at East Weir, New Hampshire and drives along country roads to visit the historic place, which is situated about a mile from the heart of the country village. The grant itself comprises over one hundred acres, in the midst of a fertile country, and includes woodland and meadow, orchards and gardens, the latter in the immediate vicinity of the house. The home lot is in the very center of the estate, and here the old-time details have been most carefully preserved.
The grounds are entered through a wide road, lined on either side by stately trees, whose branches, meeting overhead, form a shaded driveway. Just before the boundary line is reached, one sees at the right-hand side of the road a small wooden structure. This is the little old schoolhouse, where in the days long gone by the neighbors received their early education. As a memento of those early days, it is still kept carefully preserved, but unoccupied.
The fine country drive stretches on ahead, winding in and out under the leafy archway. At a sharp turn of the road, is seen at the left, ensconced[Pg 169] among the trees, a picturesque old mill. This was erected in 1760 for the grinding of grain, being the fulfillment of one condition of the grant. Here the farmers from far and near brought their loads of corn to be ground, and it ran uninterruptedly until 1889, when its voice was stilled. The stream which once ran merrily over the rocks, turning the great wheel, is now silent, while the mill is fast falling into decay. Nature has done much to make this one of the most picturesque parts of the estate.
Keeping to the left, a sweep of the road takes us to the old cemetery, laid out, as was the custom of the early days, on every large estate. It is surrounded by an iron fence and is fringed with trees, among which is a staunch willow which was brought as a slip from the grave of Napoleon I. It was fittingly planted here, and taking kindly to its new home, lends additional interest to the historic estate.
Inside the cemetery all of the Stark family lie buried, with the exception of the emigrant ancestor, Archibald Stark. Passing through the gates and up a flight of stone steps, a second enclosure is reached. Here lies Caleb Stark, so famous in American history, and over his grave a monument is erected to his memory.[Pg 170]
Leaving the cemetery and following the wide stretch of road which winds in and out, with stone walls on either side, we drive through the heart of a woodland in the direction of the house. The road was bounded by monarchs of the forest,—tall, lofty trees, many of which bear the mark of the broad arrow and were known as "King's Trees," being marked in this manner in the early days, when they were set apart for use in the royal shipyard. Fortunately the king was cut down by One greater than an earthly forester, and they still stand to-day in all their glory,—monuments of the past and ornaments of the present.
In and out winds the wide avenue, between the drooping branches of these fine old trees, until it reaches the colonial mansion, which is a full half mile from the wooded entrance. The house is hidden from view, until the home plot is reached, by the dense foliage. It stands in the center of a large, open space showing fine lawns and old-fashioned gardens, bordered by more venerable trees, some of which are worth more than passing notice. For instance, a certain black walnut, which Major Stark transplanted from Ohio to its new home, took root here and is now grown to be one of the finest trees on the estate. Another, a[Pg 171] beautiful elm, was set out by Miss Charlotte Stark, the last owner of the grant. Ancient button woods, veterans scarred and faithful, still stand as sentinels to guard the house, while mulberry trees shade the opposite side of the road. At the rear of the house is the garden, bright with old-fashioned flowers and fragrant with the odor of the blossoms our grandmothers loved.
Across the street are the barns. Here is stored many an interesting relic, including a saddle with silver mountings that was used by President Franklin Pierce during his term of service in the Mexican War. In the corner is the queer, old-fashioned, two-wheeled chaise used by Madam Stark for their annual drive to Portsmouth. In the house is still preserved the old-fashioned green calash which was worn by Miss Harriet Stark on this all-important trip.
The house was erected in 1785 by Major Caleb Stark and is known as the Mansion House. It was modelled after the manor houses of England, combining stately grandeur and picturesque repose. It is built of wood, two stories and a half in height, showing dormer windows, a gambrel roof, and a large, two-storied ell.
Everywhere an old-time atmosphere prevails—from[Pg 172] the time one enters the grounds until the front door is reached. This entrance door is a curious one, being three inches thick and bearing a handsome brass lock and knocker which were brought over from England by Major Stark. Over the door is a row of old bull's-eyes, specimens of early American glass, green in coloring and rough inside where they were taken from the molding bar.
The door swings open on large, wrought-iron strap hinges, which extend two feet each way, and one enters the long hallway. This apartment divides the house into two parts and ends in a duplicate door at the rear, which opens upon the old-fashioned garden. During the summer-time this door is left open, and here, in the cool recess of the hall, accompanied by the droning of bees and the sweet scents from the posy beds in the garden below, it is a favorite custom to serve tea in the long, warm, summer afternoons.
Flowers, books, old-fashioned furniture, and pictures of the choicest are everywhere. A fine portrait of General John Stark, painted in 1830 by Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, is hung on the wall at the right. Facing the door another beautiful portrait is seen. This[Pg 173] is of Miss Charlotte Stark and was done by Jane Stuart, the daughter of Gilbert Stuart. A third picture, which is a fitting companion for the others, is a portrait of the great American statesman, Daniel Webster, done by Lawson.
Curious old prints, priceless in value, have their appropriate places on the wall, and beside them are queer old miniatures. Hepplewhite tables and chairs are artistically arranged to form the furnishing of this old hall, while the crowning piece of furniture is the old roll-top desk, which has drawers underneath. This, as did many of the other ornaments and furnishings found in this old homestead, belonged originally to Robert Morris, the financier of the Revolution.
The hall opens at the right into an old-fashioned parlor, where hangs a portrait of the mother of President Pierce. On the table is a Baskerville Bible, in two volumes, illustrated by valuable prints by old masters and also once owned by the "Great Financier." A set of Dresden china, originally in the possession of the first French Minister to America, and presented by him on his return to France to Mr. Morris, is kept here. A large mirror, once the property of Robert Morris, fine old paintings, including those of[Pg 174] Governor and Mrs. Pierce, and of Lieutenant John and Mrs. McNeil, painted over a century ago, a brace of flint-lock pistols carried by General Stark at the battle of Bennington, a magnificent, gold-headed cane with the inscription "Robert Morris, from his friend, John Hancock" are among the relics shown in the interesting room.
Opening out from the parlor is the den of Mr. Charles Morris Stark, the present owner, who is of the sixth generation, his maternal grandfather being Robert Morris. This room is also an interesting apartment, exemplifying his life as a sportsman.
Opposite the parlor is the library, which is fitted with bookcases filled with queer and valuable old books, while cosy seats are placed in the windows. The hearth of stone, as originally made, is still shown in the fireplace. In this room is placed a cane given to Major Stark for valiant conduct in the defense of Fort William, and another, made from the bone of a whale and headed with ivory, is also kept here. Statuettes in bronze of Napoleon Bonaparte, brought from France and presented to Major Stark by Lafayette, as well as General McNeil's mahogany desk, are other mementoes of the past.[Pg 175]
Everywhere historic bits are displayed. Especially noteworthy are a fine old mezzotint of the Duke of Wellington, and one of the Morris mirrors.
The bright and sunny dining-room, which leads off the library, ends with a wide fireplace, over which are hung portraits, painted from life, of Daniel Webster and Jackson. The house is filled with the most beautiful pieces of old colonial furniture, a rare old sideboard and grandfather's clock, which were the property of Governor Pierce, being found in the dining-room. Both of these stood originally in the governor's house at Hillsboro, New Hampshire.
Opposite the sideboard is a wonderful old wine cooler which belonged to Robert Morris, while above it hangs a speaking likeness of the man himself, painted by Gilbert Stuart. This is indeed a rare and beautiful treasure, as is the framed letter below it, which is addressed to Mrs. Morris, bearing the date 1790, and signed by both George and Martha Washington.
Rare old china, a full set of Tokio, together with cut glass presented to Governor Pierce when he was the chief magistrate of New Hampshire, are among the treasures in this room. Throughout this old house there is not a piece of furniture or a[Pg 176] bit of china that is not rich in historic associations. Every room has its large old fireplace, fitted with old brass and iron fenders and accessories, each of unusual shape. The hearths are filled with birch logs and pine cones.
Ascending the odd old staircase at the end of the entrance hall, which winds by low treads to the second-story floor, one finds, lining the walls, wonderful old ancestral portraits, not only of inestimable value, but of great public interest.
There are several chambers in this upper story, one of which is of special note, since General Lafayette slept here during his visit to Major Stark in 1824. All the furniture in this room, including the high four-poster, is the same that furnished the room when visited by the distinguished guest. It has been left unchanged, and is held to-day in great reverence by the survivors of the Stark family.
The house has always been in the family since its erection and was occupied by Charlotte Stark previous to its coming into the possession of the present owners. Miss Charlotte was one of Major Stark's favorite daughters.
This house, more than most colonial houses, is of abounding interest. Everywhere within its[Pg 177] four walls are treasures which could not be found elsewhere. It was the home of the brave Indian fighter, John Stark, the friend of Washington, and later on of Major Caleb Stark, the friend of Lafayette, who retired at the close of the Revolution, at the age of twenty-four. Few, if any colonial mansions are filled with such veritable treasures,—and there are still fewer houses where from five distinguished families have been gathered relics of such extraordinary interest, as in this home of long ago.[Pg 178]
THE SALTONSTALL HOUSE
One of the most distinguished of Haverhill families was and is the Saltonstall family, who are first mentioned in the history of that town through Nathaniel, who was born at Ipswich and who came to Haverhill and married Elizabeth, the daughter of John Ward, December 28, 1663; from this union are descended all the people of that name in America. Saltonstall is spoken of by Sewall in his diary, where he tells of "Son Saltonstall comforting me on account of his father-in-law's health;" and Whittier, in a supposed journey of his heroine, tells of a visit to this man who later on lived in a fine house.
Saltonstall was in command of the militia in Newbury and many adjoining towns and is mentioned as among the most popular and well principled military men. He was judge of the Inferior Court of Pleas for Essex until his death. Samuel Sewall, who gossiped about everybody, gives us a[Pg 179] little glimpse of this noted man, who was appointed one of the judges for the trial of witches, but who would not sit upon the case, being very much dissatisfied with the proceedings.
His grandson Richard became a judge of the Superior Court in 1736, and it is of him that the celebrated Samuel Moody speaks.
"Lynde, Dudley, Remington and Saltonstall
Judge Saltonstall had three sons: Colonel Richard, who lived at Buttonwood, a loyalist and refugee; Leverett, who died in the British army, and Doctor Nathaniel, who was descended through his mother from the patriotic Cooke family in Boston. It was he who built the house which is now situated on the border of Lake Saltonstall in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
This mansion is one of the historic houses in Massachusetts. It is a large, square dwelling, painted yellow with green blinds, showing at the front a porch ornamented with dentation. The house has never been out of the possession of the Saltonstall family.[Pg 180]
He was a descendant of Sir Richard, who came to America with Winthrop in the Arabella and helped to form the settlement at Watertown, bringing with him cattle and servants, showing thereby that he was a man of property.
Nathaniel Saltonstall, who built this house, was sent to Harvard after his father's death and was graduated in 1766. He devoted himself to the study of medicine during the early Revolutionary movements of the Stamp Act Riot and the Tea Party. Returning to Haverhill against the wishes of his family, he began the practice of medicine in his native town. Later, he enlisted as a volunteer in an artillery company, being the only one of the family who espoused the colonists' cause, but more interested in establishing a comfortable practice than in war, he soon resigned and continued his profession.
In 1778 he married the daughter of Samuel White. His father-in-law presented him with a lot of land on Merrimack Street, and here he built his residence, at a cost of three thousand dollars, which in that time gave him the handsomest house in the vicinity. This land abutted on the river, and was one hundred and fifty feet deep, laid out in terraced grassland and garden. On July[Pg 181] 24, 1788, a contract was made between Doctor Saltonstall and Marsh and Carleton, joiners, to build the house, to be completed on or before the first of July of the following year.
In the day book of the young physician, opened in 1774, we note that many of his patients worked out their indebtedness on the house. One Enoch Page gave work for nine days, and also helped out upon the doctor's flax. David Bryant brought him five thousand bricks, and among the many others who paid in product was Joseph Whittier, the grandfather of the Quaker poet, who brought a jug of hay, six pounds of butter, and one and a half bushels of oats, "in full payment of my bill, one pound, five shillings, and eleven pence."
We also find an entry in the same note-book that in 1774 he received for services rendered in the town proper a shilling. If he had to cross the river to Bradford, in 1800, it cost thirty-three cents, and in 1812 the charge was raised to fifty cents.
The house was wonderfully furnished with fine old furniture, china, and glass, much of which has descended in the family, and is owned to-day by the present mistress, Mrs. Gurdon Saltonstall Howe.
In 1806, Doctor Saltonstall's daughter married[Pg 182] one John Varnum, who was the leading lawyer of the town, and was given as her marriage portion a handsome outfit, a highly respectable sum of money, and one warming-pan, one silver teapot, one sugar pitcher, one cream pitcher, one jug, twelve silver spoons, and one brass kettle. Many of these articles are still to be seen in the old home.
Sally Saltonstall married her neighbor, Isaac R. Howe, who was said to be descended from the old-fashioned stock, with "beauty of conduct" which was, alas, even then a little old-fashioned.
As years went by, Haverhill became more thickly settled, and the estate grew so valuable that it was necessary to move the house. This was no easy matter in those days, and in order that it might be more conveniently accomplished, the structure was sawed in two, the separate parts being carefully boxed in and moved by oxen. The timbers, which were brought from England, were so strong that although moved for several miles, not a single part of the frame was started. As the oxen toiled up the long hill near the Pentucket Club, they became stalled, and more oxen had to be brought before the building could be finally landed in its present position.
It stands back from the road, facing Lake[Pg 183] Saltonstall, in the midst of green fields, over which are scattered beautiful trees and flower gardens. Entrance is at the front through a colonial porch, supported by dignified columns and showing dentation, which is repeated in the roof-line of the house. The entrance door, with its ponderous brass knocker, swings back on its long strap hinges, and reveals a wide hallway which extends entirely through the house to a second door, which leads to a garden beyond. This door shows plainly the mark of the saw where it was cut apart at the time of moving, and the scars of the joining are shown with great pride by the present owners as evidence of this achievement.
At the right of the entrance is the staircase, showing the spiral newel post and carved balusters of the early period. The wainscoting is a feature of this central hall, as is the arch midway between the two entrance doors. A grandfather's clock ticks off the time, and beyond is a wonderful old dresser with a rare collection of pewter, showing many pieces that cannot be duplicated in this country. There is enough of this metal collected to set an entire dinner table, reminding us of the days when it was used extensively in this country, before the introduction of china and glass.[Pg 184]
Opening out of this room at the right is the den, where a wonderful Franklin stove is used for heating. All around the room are pieces of furniture which are not only historic but have much intrinsic value.
Opposite is the drawing-room, with its let-in window-seats and narrow, panelled, wooden shutters, locked at night and serving, if need be, instead of curtains. Many of the chairs found in this room were covered with wonderful specimens of handiwork done by the wife of Elisha Cooke, one of Doctor Saltonstall's ancestors, while much of the furniture came over, as did the timbers, from the mother country, for the first occupant of the house.
The dining-room is, perhaps, one of the most attractive rooms in the house. It is well lighted by small-paned windows and contains Hepplewhite chairs and side-table. At one side stands a sideboard which was originally in the possession of Governor John Leverett, who was Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony at the time of King Philip's War and who was a friend of Cromwell's, and created baronet and knight by Charles II in 1676. Governor Leverett was an ancestor of the present owner. On this sideboard are many pieces[Pg 185] of old family silver, including a tankard which was also owned by the governor.
The fireplace is a true colonial one, showing blue and white tiles two deep, each illustrative of a Bible story. The upper hall has undergone a change since it was built through the introduction of low, built-in bookcases. Here the furniture includes Chippendale chairs of a design that was very popular all through this period, being of beautiful proportions and showing fine workmanship.
Chambers open off the hallway, each of which contains a great deal of rare furniture. There are the Field beds with their drapings of white, some showing testers of 1800. Modern wall-paper and frieze, as well as the draperies, have been introduced within the last few years, but are in harmony with the old-fashioned furniture, many pieces of which were inherited from the maternal side of the family, being the property, originally, of Middleton Cooke and also of Mary Cooke, third daughter of Judge Saltonstall and great-granddaughter of Governor Leverett.
The Cookes were a noted family and eminent politicians. Elisha Cooke, before mentioned, was an assistant under the old government, holding for forty years many positions of public trust; he[Pg 186] was also a noted orator and politician, a member of the General Court and of the Council, and a leader of the Public Party.
The Saltonstalls also were a distinguished family, Dudley being in command of the Continental navy and captain of the Alfred in Hopkin's fleet in February, 1776, while Gurdon Saltonstall, a governor of Connecticut from 1707 until his death, was distinguished as an orator and statesman, and bequeathed to Harvard University one thousand pounds to students studying for the ministry.
Singularly enough, since the first class graduated from Harvard, there has always been a Saltonstall connected with the college. This covers a period of over two hundred and fifty years, and during this time not one of these men has ever done anything to disgrace his Alma Mater.
Pieces of furniture associated with all three of these distinguished families are to be found in this house, many of them belonging to the old governor and handed down in direct line to the present owner.
Perhaps the most interesting piece of all is an old desk which was once owned by Daniel Webster, who at one time was a law partner of the late Mr. Gurdon Howe's grandfather. It is filled with[Pg 187] valuable papers, almost all bearing upon different business transactions in the great statesman's life.
This was brought from Boston at the time that Mr. Howe removed his law office from that city. One of these documents, a note characteristic of Daniel Webster, is still treasured.
"United States Senate, June 3d, ...
"I arrived here last evening and found all well. One of the latter trials, as it happened, comes on this very day, or is expected to. This may delay me,—otherwise I expect to be at home on Saturday. A note enclosed, as this falls due the 9th. Please do the needful.
The house has stood practically unchanged since the day of building, some slight changes having been made, but not enough to mar the colonial architecture. It is large and square, three stories in height, of simple, dignified proportions, and showing colonial details. The windows are the small-paned ones that were used in the long ago, with the exception of one of stained glass, which has[Pg 188] been introduced over the entrance porch. The house is one which reflects the period,—a notable mansion filled with interesting colonial relics which formerly were owned by some of the most prominent men in our country.[Pg 189]
THE DALTON HOUSE
Because of the distinctive place that houses of the middle period hold in the present architectural world, architects from all over the country are now looking for specimens of these dwellings to which they may turn for copy. The master builders of that time knew well their art, and their work is characteristic of us as a nation. Houses of that period, while comparatively similar in type to those of the old world, yet show enough variation to make them interesting, and stand in favorable comparison. There is the large, square house, three stories in height, which came into vogue early in the nineteenth century. Then there is the double-decked house with its roof ornamentations, and the plain house of the purest colonial type, an illustration of the latter being the Dalton house at Newburyport, Massachusetts.
This house stands on the principal street in Newburyport, a seaport city, where in the days of[Pg 190] commercial prosperity ships lined the wharves, as they came and went in their traffic with foreign lands. Those were the days when merchants made and lost fortunes, the days of golden prosperity and of flashes of romance. To these days we turn as a most interesting period of our country's architectural history.
In fancy we see the Newburyport of that day, situated on the banks of the Merrimac River, a breezy old town propped up on a granite base. Its principal street, three miles in length, overlooked the quays, where in the olden days vessels arrived from Russia or Antwerp or perhaps from the West Indies, laden with rich furs, strange wooden shoes, guava jellies, wonderful old shawls, and many other exports that were piled high on the now silent wharves.
On this the principal street stands the Dalton house, two and a half stories in height, with gambrel roof and a wide, inviting porch—a mansion that suggests the days when money was piled high in the coffers and when the prosperous men flaunted their wealth, spending it freely, not only in frequent entertainments but in equipages that were the envy of the less fortunate townsmen. There were no more beautiful or expensive carriages than[Pg 191] those owned by Tristram Dalton, who succeeded his father, Michael Dalton, in the ownership of the house.
When the mansion was first built, there was a spacious estate in keeping with the house instead of the limited grounds that we see to-day. At the rear, just back of the courtyard, were large, well-built stables, in which were sheltered fine horses. Beyond, were gardens and grass lands, for, when the estate was first planned, it consisted of three acres of land bounded westerly on Greenleafs Lane, southerly on Nathan Hale's land, easterly on Newman's land, and northeast or northerly on the land of James Pierson.
Michael Dalton, who built the house in 1720, was a great-grandson of Philemon Dalton, who came to New England in 1635. Michael was very ambitious, and when quite young he left his father's home to engage in a seafaring life. He made many successful voyages and augmented his wealth to such a degree that he added greatly to the family possessions. Later on he became a prominent merchant, and married in 1733 one Mary Little. His means continuing to increase, he became interested in agricultural pursuits and bought a country estate at Pipestave Hill at West[Pg 192] Newbury. Just before his death, he deeded his house to his son Tristram Dalton, who became a prominent figure in American history.
Tristram Dalton was graduated from Harvard in 1755. There is still seen in the house a portrait supposed to have been painted at about that time. One of his closest intimates was a classmate, John Adams, their friendship ending only with death. Young Dalton began studying law in Salem but afterwards entered business with his father; in 1758 he married Ruth Hooper, the daughter of Robert Hooper, a rich merchant of Marblehead, familiarly known as "King" Hooper on account of his great wealth. Until within the last few years there was a pane of glass in one of the windows, on which was written with a diamond the name of Ruth Hooper Dalton. It is still preserved and from letters kept is shown to be a perfect facsimile of her handwriting.
During his life, he became devoted to public interests and was a very prominent citizen of the town, the State, and nation. He served on numerous town committees, was a delegate to the Provincial Congress, a representative of the General Court, a Speaker of the House, a member of the State Senate and a delegate to the Constitutional[Pg 193] Convention of 1788, being a zealous advocate of the adoption of the Constitution. He was ever active and energetic in his many efforts to reconcile political differences. So successful was his political life that after a long and sharply contested battle he was elected senator from 1789-1791.
He came of Irish descent and was considered one of the most learned, wealthy, and influential persons in the country. He was a near and confidential friend of President Washington, who induced him to remove his household goods to the city of Washington, foreseeing that it would eventually become one of the grandest cities in the country. There is a portrait of Dalton painted by Blackburn, that is still kept in the house, which shows him tall and well-formed, with fine, clear complexion and smooth, open brow. His dress was after the fashion of the time, with short clothes and knee breeches, coat with standing collar and broad deep lapels faced with silk, white satin waistcoat, ruffled shirt bosom, and deep lace cuffs. That he was fond of dress is shown from the picture, his hair was puffed on either side, giving him an appearance of dignity and age, and making it difficult to believe that the portrait is of one so young. He was a fine specimen of a gentleman[Pg 194] of the old school and was well fitted to take a leading part in the best New England societies. The distinguishing traits of his personality continued all through his life, for even as late as 1816 we read of him as erect, firm, and showing a fine presence. He was a man of emotions rather than of ideas, the warmth and sincerity of his feelings lifting him above all personal considerations and giving him that elevation and nobility of character that appeals so strongly to one's affections.
At that period the Dalton house was noted for its hospitality, and many men of national and world-wide fame, whose portraits hang upon the walls to-day, were entertained therein. Stately hospitality continually opened the door of this dwelling, to which had been brought from the treasure-laden ships embroidered shawls, sheer muslins, and bright silks for the ladies, as well as rich furniture for the house. During the Daltons' life here, their house was a perfect treasure-house of wonderfully fine old furniture, now generally scattered among the descendants; but there are still kept in the mansion some wonderfully fine specimens of Hepplewhite chairs, originally owned by the Daltons.
They were lavish entertainers, these Daltons,[Pg 195] and it was here that Washington came during a visit to Newburyport. He later writes that he partook of an early breakfast at the home of his friend, Honorable Tristram Dalton, on State Street. While he was being entertained at this meal, an imperative voice was heard in the hallway demanding entrance to the dining-room. Washington recognized the voice of his old servitor, Toffee, and requested that he be admitted. The most cordial greeting took place between the two, and the old commander gave to Toffee a silver piece which the servant wore about his neck all the rest of his life. It must have been an early breakfast, for Washington left town at eight o'clock in the morning, crossing the river at Salisbury, two miles above. This was no uncommon deviation for the president, as we find that while visiting New England he was often entertained at the houses of private citizens and personal friends.
In addition to George Washington, President Monroe, Talleyrand, Jefferson in 1784, Lafayette in 1824, John Quincy Adams, and John Hancock were also among the personages of note who accepted the hospitality of this house.
On September 13, 1775, Colonel Benedict Arnold, at the head of his troops, left Cambridge, dining at[Pg 196] Mr. Tristram Dalton's on the Monday following, before sailing from Newburyport to aid in the capture of Quebec. The fleet consisted of eleven sailing vessels, which carried eleven hundred men.
In those days lavish wealth blazed in the town, and the owner of the Dalton house made the people sigh as he drove into town or to his country-seat at Pipestave Hill in his white satin lined coach drawn by six prancing white horses, with four outriders in white livery. Inside were such guests as Talleyrand, George Peabody, and even that eccentric personage, Lord Timothy Dexter, who had the ambition to figure in genteel society and cultivated as much as possible the society of Dalton. His coaches and open phaetons drawn by two or three spans of horses with the liveried outriders, after the style of the nobility of Europe, were more magnificent than were those of any other citizen of the town. His sideboards were weighted with silver, and his chests filled with money, for the incoming ships brought back great bags of gold realized by the sale of cargoes in foreign lands, and large amounts of money were kept in the house by the merchant princes of that day.
In addition to his large house in Newburyport, and his country-seat at Pipestave Hill, Mr. Dalton[Pg 197] had his fishing station, with boats and outfits, on the banks of the Merrimac, while his hunting-lodge was in the upper woods of West Newbury. All his surroundings were of a princely nature, befitting the fortune that he owned.
Many were the weddings that took place here, among them being that of Mary, the eldest daughter of Tristram Dalton, who, upon her marriage to Honorable Leonard White of Haverhill, "drove out" in the large white satin coach drawn by six prancing white horses with four white-liveried outriders. Later on, her sister Ruth married Louis Deblois, a prominent Boston merchant, leaving her home in the same coach.
The house itself is one of the best preserved buildings of that day. It has never deteriorated, always being occupied by people of wealth. With the growth of building in the town, the estate has become reduced, until there is now very little of the original tract left. The courtyard has disappeared, as have the expensive stables, for with the dwindling of wealth the need of them has vanished. The house, which was built in 1720, is of gambrel-roof type and a fine example of that period. The blinds are the same ones that were hung at the time when Michael Dalton built the house. Its façade,[Pg 198] the lines of which are dignified, seems beaming with welcome.
Entrance to the house is through a colonial porch of ample dimensions, showing dentation, which is supported by Corinthian columns; the hall is lighted by a fanlight and sidelights on either side the wide, hospitable door. The exterior is painted white, as it always has been. A feature of the house is the wide clapboards. The original small-paned windows have been kept, so that the exterior remains practically unchanged. Who the carver was is unknown. It must be remembered that in those days ship carvers were employed to work upon the ornamentation of the ships, so that it was probably some one employed by the Daltons on their vessels who designed and carried out the carving of the woodwork, both on the exterior and in the interior.
The entrance door gives into a large hall with wonderfully fine panellings on either side. Each of the three balusters has a different design. The stairs are box stairs leading by low treads to a wide landing, where a colonial window admits a flood of light to the hall. A second low flight of stairs leads to the second story, where the hall corresponds with the lower one. It is here the[Pg 199] Hepplewhite chairs are found and also a wonderful picture of the late Tristram Dalton, painted later in life than the one already mentioned. The woodwork in this house is considered the finest to be found in any house in Newburyport. The hall is finished in panel effects, but the door-casings and the fireplaces in many instances show rich hand-carving.
The house contains twenty-five rooms, sixty cupboards, and ample halls, and yet even then was scarcely large enough to accommodate the Dalton family, their many guests, and their servants. Many of the latter were slaves, who in those days were kept in the household. One of them was buried on Burying Hill in Newburyport, and on a stone placed at the head of his grave is carved "Faithful Pompey."
The living-room, or drawing-room as it was called in those days, is a large, square room that is at the left of the hallway. In this room are shown the pictures of many of the distinguished guests who in former years were visitors at the house and intimate friends of the owner. The fireplace is a large one, the woodwork hand-carved, and in the large panels above has been inserted the Dalton coat of arms. The windows are recessed, showing[Pg 200] window-seats; each one has the hinged shutter such as was used in the early days for security, being closed and barred every night. These are still used in this same way in this mansion to-day. A feature of this room is the fine wood-carving shown in the casing of the door. At one side, hanging on the wall, is a scrap of the old wall-paper that once adorned the wall. It is of seventeenth-century pattern, with garlands, and is finished in light colors and pink groundwork, a delicate and most unusual wall-paper. This is the only room in the house, so far as is known, which was covered with the old-time wall-paper.
At the right are double parlors which may have been used for dining-room, or living-room and dining-room, combined. Here are also found wonderful panellings, but very little of the elaborate hand-carving. All of the wood in this house, as in most of the houses of the same period, is of white pine, for this wood is considered one of the best wearing kinds that has ever grown. The timbers are of solid oak and are as staunch as they were in the days when the house was built. In these rooms have been entertained the dignitaries of the land, while in the parlor were celebrated the marriages of the daughters of the household.[Pg 201]
The mansion has an atmosphere of attraction and spaciousness rarely found in houses of this description. It is shown in the abundance of light and in the arrangement of the rooms, which have been planned for elaborate entertaining. At the rear of the house are the servants' quarters. The large, old-fashioned fireplace, where in former days the cooking for the Dalton family was done, is now a thing of the past, modern appliances having replaced the spit and the large brick oven. The ell of the house, a part of which was removed, was originally nearly as large as the main portion. It was once used exclusively for servants' quarters, and even then was barely large enough for the enormous retinue that was needed to run the Dalton household.
Up-stairs the rooms correspond to the large ones downstairs, with the exception that on the right-hand side a partition divides what was formerly a large room into two smaller ones. These rooms still show the same fine panelling, the old-time brass locks and hardware that were features of the house at the time of its building. They have never been replaced by modern fixtures.
The third story was used for guests' rooms, the slope of the roof being eliminated by boarding the[Pg 202] gambrel roof so as to make square chambers. The old chimneys, six feet square, have been taken down, and small ones have replaced them. The railing of this house, which was originally a two decker, has been removed and while not materially changing its appearance, still gives it a little different look. An iron fence has been substituted for the old paling fence which once enclosed the grounds, while new posts have replaced the old ones. The courtyard is grassed over, also the space between house and fence, and a wide, paved stone walk leads to the entrance porch. In 1796 this house was sold, together with Dalton's other residences, after he had been defeated for re-election, a serious disappointment, although his letters written at the time do not show any signs of anger or ill-nature.
The Pipestave Hill Great Farm residence was sold for thirty-seven hundred pounds, while his land on State Street brought a much lower sum. The house was practically cleared of all the Dalton furniture, the household goods being carefully packed and shipped on a sailing vessel bound to Georgetown, District of Columbia. During the voyage the vessel was wrecked, and a part of his household belongings were thus lost. Since then[Pg 203] the house has passed into various hands. Fortunately the different owners venerated the old homestead and it has been carefully preserved, so that notwithstanding its many years of life, it is practically in perfect condition.[Pg 204]
THE KITTREDGE HOUSE
Among the most prominent delegates to the convention that was summoned by the Legislature to meet in Boston, in 1787, to take under consideration the perfecting of the National Constitution, we find heading the list one Doctor Thomas Kittredge of North Andover, a prominent gentleman and one whose loyalty has never been questioned.
North Andover lies to the north of the town of that name and was originally known as the North Parish. It was divided from the original town in 1709. Previous to that it had been reserved for inland plantations, all persons who settled there having three years' immunity from taxation. During that period farms were cultivated, dwellings erected, and the church built, where doctrines most severe were meted out, those neglecting to attend meeting for three months being publicly whipped. The houses erected in this village, with the exception of a very few, were[Pg 205] not distinguished for architectural beauty or for fine or costly furniture. Of the better class only a few remain. Prominent among these is the Kittredge mansion, which is typical of the highest development of colonial architecture in the early part of the eighteenth century. The owner was not only one of the ablest surgeons of the Revolutionary army, but a public-spirited citizen, a capable officer, and the ancestor of a line of surgeons and physicians who have done most important things in the community.
The fine old house at Andover is closely associated with the history of the family in this country. It is a large, square mansion, three stories in height, crowning the crest of a hill. It is situated far back from the main road, a terraced lawn reaching down to a colonial fence that surrounds the entire estate. Entrance is through a picket gate that swings between dignified colonial posts and which gives into a path leading by terraces straight to the house, at the rear of which the grounds extend for many acres. On them are large barns, which provide ample space for cattle.
The house has sheltered many generations of the same family. It was built in 1784 by the doctor, who was one of the third generation in America,[Pg 206] a son of Doctor John Kittredge, who came to North Andover from Tewksbury about 1741. At the time of his settlement, this Doctor John Kittredge purchased large tracts of land, covering the entire site of the present village, and lived in an old farmhouse which has only recently been torn down.
Doctor Thomas Kittredge was one of three sons. He secured a portion of the holding from his father about 1745, and on it he erected what was considered to be the second finest house that had been built in that section of the country. It was so dignified and impressive that it was surpassed only by the residence of Joshua Phillips, whose mansion was situated in the so-called South Parish of the town. In its construction skilled labor was employed, as was shown by the fine hand-carving around the fireplaces in many of the important rooms of the house. The site occupied originally many acres, including what was once known as the old training field. It was here, in the early period of our history and before the estate was used for private grounds, that the early militia were wont to gather on Muster Day, dressed in the picturesque old-time uniform. Here they performed wonderful feats of skill that were viewed by the country folk for many miles around.[Pg 207]
On these same grounds was the first Kittredge mansion, and not far away were the slave quarters, significant of the fact that the owner of the old homestead was a man of means and also that he owned many slaves, as was customary in those days among the wealthier class in Massachusetts. To-day the old quarters have disappeared, and only tradition hands down the many stories connected with their past.
The immediate surroundings of the present mansion are very much the same as when it was erected so many years ago. There have been some improvements, however, since the time when the great housewarming took place, an important event in those days and attended by friends and neighbors for miles around.
The dignified house is well proportioned, fitting picturesquely into its surroundings. The main portion is square of build; in each corner a massive yet graceful pilaster shows hand-carving wonderfully fine in design. The windows have retained their small panes and show carved cornices. These, by their formal appearance, lend an additional dignity and carry out the scheme of simplicity evident in the handsome, well-proportioned porch, which is a feature of the home.[Pg 208]
The main approach is through the quaint gateway in the center of the colonial fence. This gives upon a narrow path leading between tree-dotted grass plots to the main entrance. This entrance is characterized by finely carved columns that prove an admirable foil to the door of dark, panelled wood, flanked on either side by narrow lights of glass and ornamented with a colonial knocker of the hammer type. From this porch one obtains a most extensive view of the surrounding country, for picturesque vistas are found on every side.
The heavy door swings back on its strap hinges and the visitor finds himself in a wide, large hallway extending entirely through the house, dividing it in two. The interior remains unchanged, and the lofty ceilings, the great hallway, and broad staircases are in contrast to the small entry and narrow, winding stairs found in many colonial dwellings.
As one steps into the great hall, with its handsome, panelled woodwork and old-fashioned furniture, he feels no jarring note. The deep cornice showing dentation affords a correct finish to the soft-toned hangings which divide it from the wainscot. To the left and right lead fine, large,[Pg 209] square rooms filled with the rarest models of Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton.
The colonial staircase with its fine, hand-carved newel-post and balusters is at the left of the hallway. The stairs are boxed, the risers low, and the treads wide. Half-way up is a wide landing, lighted by a fine example of a colonial window, showing an arched top. Through this the sunlight streams upon an old grandfather's clock, which has steadily ticked off the hours since placed there in the early days when the house was first furnished.
A short flight of steps that turn at the right leads to the second-story hall, which corresponds in size and finish to the one below. It is finished with wonderful examples of the old masters' pieces shown in Sheraton and Chippendale design. No modern touch has been introduced to rob this home of its colonial atmosphere, and everywhere are found rich relics of a distinguished past.
The house is divided into four large rooms on the entrance floor. Here one discovers a perfect treasure trove of antiques, for in addition to wonderful furniture, there is some of the finest china to be found in the country.
At the right is the living-room, where the woodwork[Pg 210] shows wide panels, the fireplace having an old-time, soapstone fire-frame. Every piece of furniture is of the colonial type, the sofas being of the Empire period, and the chairs of Sheraton, showing rush bottom and often known as fancy chairs. A wonderful old cabinet is filled with relics such as are rarely found, even in a colonial home.
The parlor is on the opposite side of the hallway; the woodwork around the fireplace in this room is hand-carved, with baskets of flowers for the center ornamentation, and festoon effects on either side. It has a facing of tiles, on which are depicted Biblical scenes. The woodwork shows well planned panelling, with a deep cornice above the quaint wall hangings. The recessed windows are fitted with built-in seats and the old-time shutters which were originally used as safeguard against the Indians.
Every piece of furniture is a genuine antique, the Hepplewhite with the favorite shield or heart-shaped back and straight legs, and the cozy arm-chair of Sheraton design known in this country as "Martha Washington," owing to the fact that one of this design was included in the furnishings at Mt. Vernon, all being choice examples. Equally as[Pg 211] interesting as these fine bits is a quaint, old bronze lamp, 1820, with lusters and glass shades. The Roundabout Chippendale chair, and the center table, with its thin top, plain tripod, and ball feet, are typical of those designed about the first of the nineteenth century.
In the dining-room, which opens from the rear of the hallway, the same dignified simplicity is a dominant feature. The furnishing of mahogany, the china cupboards, and the rare pieces of Chippendale and Sheraton are worthy of their attractive setting. The fireplace, with its exquisite carving, brings into relief the fine lines of the mantel above. Rare old pewter, silver, and exquisite bits of Sheffield plate are found in the deep closets in this room.
The second story is in keeping with the good taste displayed on the lower floor. The furnishings here are antique also, including some of the best examples of four-posters to be found in New England. The fireplaces vary from the Franklin stove, to the large, open fireplaces of our grand-dames' time, with broad spaces of panelled woodwork; the white finish, mellowed to ivory tones, affords a suitable background for the wonderful old pictures.[Pg 212]
The house as a whole typifies the highest ideals of a bygone period. No modern touch is allowed to mar the beauty of its simple dignity. Never since its erection has it been out of the family. As before stated, the builder was one of three sons, all physicians. There was also a sister Elizabeth, who inherited medical ability to such a marked degree that she took charge of her father's patients, and after her marriage and removal to Londonderry, New Hampshire, was frequently called upon to assist at surgical operations. There is a story extant relating to her visit to a patient during a dark night. While on her way she slipped and fell, breaking her leg. Nothing daunted, she set the bone herself, and so well did she do it that she suffered no serious inconvenience from her mishap.
Doctor Thomas Kittredge commenced his practice in Andover about 1775. At the commencement of the Revolution, he enlisted in the Continental army, rendering very valuable services as surgeon in Colonel James Fry's regiment. Of him it has been well said that he had more natural skill than any man in the country. A dignified and commanding gentleman, he enjoyed unusual facilities for aiding the sick and the wounded,[Pg 213] not only through his wealth, which allowed him to procure for them many delicacies, but through the services of his brother-in-law, Major Samuel Osgood, who was in charge of the department of supplies.
His father, while not taking an active part in the work, did much for the welfare of the soldiers who were sent home to recuperate. He frequently kept them in the old house for many months, or until they had fully recovered their health.
At the close of the Revolution, Doctor Thomas served a long term in the Legislature, and his sterling character and fine intellect combined to make him one of the most valued members of this learned body of men. The last act of his life was in keeping with the kindly traits that had always distinguished him and had made him generally beloved. He encountered at the roadway a man coming from afar, with yet many miles to go before his destination was reached. Noticing the worn-out condition of the horse he rode, the doctor commanded the animal to be installed in his own barn and offered the stranger the use of one of his horses that he might continue on his way. The next morning the borrowed animal was sent home, but the kindly master who had so[Pg 214] graciously loaned him was not present to note his return, having passed quietly away in his sleep during the night.
In his day slavery was countenanced in Massachusetts, and the affairs of the colored servants, however trivial, were attended to by the good doctor and his wife, who were ever thoughtful of the interests of their slaves. The raising of the great house, known as the Kittredge mansion, was a source of great rejoicing among those servitors, and one of the slaves, Cæsar by name, held in his arms the baby of the family, Doctor Joseph Kittredge, first, then nine months old, that he might be able to say, when he was a man grown, that he was at the raising.
There were many incidents in which the slaves afforded the doctor great amusement, particularly one which occurred when Cato was about to be married. The family and guests were gathered in the parlor, and Doctor Sims, the pastor of the church, was asked to officiate. Cato had been presented for the occasion with a suit of small-clothes, and half a crown for a wedding fee. He was very much impressed with the responsibility of the money, but he could not determine when or where the fee was to come in. This led him to keep[Pg 215] his ears and eyes wide open, watching the minister's every word and action. The ceremony concluded, Doctor Sims said in a solemn voice: "Let us pray," stretching out his hand as he spoke. The nervous bridegroom understood it as "Let us pay," and he thrust his hand hastily into his pocket and brought out the half-crown, placing it in the minister's hand before the voice of supplication showed him that the summons was to "pray" and not to "pay."
Doctor Joseph Kittredge succeeded to his father's practice in 1818. He married Miss Hannah Hodges of Salem, and two of their sons were educated for the medical profession,—Doctor Joseph Kittredge, second, and Doctor John Kittredge. The first named succeeded his father in practice and was a highly respected and beloved physician of North Andover until his death in 1878. Two of his sons are doctors, Doctor Thomas Kittredge of Salem, and Doctor Joseph Kittredge, third.
The standard of hospitality established by the builder has been rigidly adhered to through all the passing years, and more especially during the summer season the old rooms re-echo with the merry chatter of gay young voices, much as they did in the olden days.[Pg 216]
THE ROYALL HOUSE
The types of mansions described in this book are found not only in New England but through the South. They show marked differences, which give to them picturesqueness and absence of monotony in build. In studying these homes, we must remember that master carpenters were steadily gaining opportunities to brighten their wits by books dealing with architecture, which were being imported into the colonies. We must also remember that increase of wealth had brought about more advantages, and that the nation was demanding better and more elaborate homes.
With change in exterior came a corresponding one in the interior. Transatlantic ideas were incorporated in the newer homes. There came a progress in the interior finish, showing artistic staircases, colonial windows, and hand-carving in mantel and cornice. Thus was introduced a new and lasting development along architectural lines.[Pg 217]
With the larger houses many features of the original ones were discarded. There was no longer the wide central chimney around which the rooms clustered. We find no longer in the chimney-places bricks set in clay, and lathes split from logs, but better and more lasting work. The wood commonly used in these old houses was white pine, which is not so common to-day, although there is nothing more lasting.
Unfortunately, not many of these mansions have survived, many having fallen into decay and disappeared. There are, however, enough left to aid the growth of colonial ideas in twentieth century homes.
One of these houses that deserves more than passing notice stands on Main Street in Medford, Massachusetts, "a house within a house," and is called the Royall house. It is the only building standing on this land, which is known as "The Ten Hills Farm." This estate, with additional grounds, was granted to Governor Winthrop in 1631, and as early as 1637 the homestead lot was set apart and walled in. Not long afterward we find that tenants and employees of the governor were located here, the Royall house being one of their places of abode.[Pg 218]
The original mansion, which was two and a half stories in height, was much plainer and smaller than is the present one. Since its erection it has been raised one story, and the present house has been made to enclose the original structure. Among the old houses that are still standing, few have the dignity and stateliness of this mansion, and its roof has sheltered some of the most important men and women connected with our country's history.
The estate is situated on the western side of the main road of what was then known as Mead's Ford, from which the town of Medford derived its name. It was owned by John Winthrop between 1641 and 1645, becoming the property of his son, John Winthrop, Jr., after this period. It was purchased of the Winthrops by Mrs. Elizabeth Lidgett, who made it over to her son Charles. He, however, being an adherent of Andros, was ordered to leave the province, together with the unpopular governor.
The house at that time was two and one half stories in height, with dormer windows in the attic. There were two rooms on each floor, and the dimensions over all were eighteen by forty-five feet, the west, north, and south walls being of brick.[Pg 219]
Lieutenant-governor John Usher, brother-in-law of Colonel Lidgett, came into possession of the house through the entanglement of its owner in lawsuits. During his possession he enlarged it by building a lean-to on the west side, leaving the original brick wall to form a partition between the eastern and western rooms.
By careful inspection of this brick work on the south side of the building, one can follow the original outline of the gable end. There is a little window in the lean-to, differing in finish from the two others above it and yet not in line with them. This directs the attention to the second period in the evolution of this historic mansion.
Lieutenant-governor Usher was Councilor and Treasurer of Massachusetts under Andros. He married the daughter of Peter Lidgett, and later on married for a second wife the daughter of George Allen, who bought the New Hampshire grants from the heirs of Mason. This home on the Mystic was a favorite resort of the Tories but the last of the governor's life was surrounded by business troubles and lawsuits, in which he was most unsuccessful. In fact, before his death, he put his farm out of his own control, the deed to be returned to his widow at the time of his death.[Pg 220]
In 1732, nine years later, Isaac Royall, who owned a large plantation in Antigua in the Leeward Islands, a man of considerable means, purchased the estate, and it has since borne his name. At the time of its purchase it embraced five hundred and four and three quarters acres and twenty-three rods of land, and the house and grounds were bought for £10,230 10s. 9d.
Isaac Royall was a wealthy man; he brought to the estate twenty-seven slaves, for whom he paid as head-tax, five pounds each, the slaves acting as his body servants and coachmen. Immediately work was started on remodelling the whole building, and it took five years to complete it. The house was made three stories high throughout. Barns were laid out; the slave quarters and summer-house were built, and a high wall enclosed the grounds from the highway. This was broken by a low wall and a fence that ran directly in front of the house. In those days an elm-shaded driveway led from the main road to a paved courtyard that was on the west side of the house, its picturesqueness enhanced by flower-bordered walks that reached from the mansion on the west to the summer-house, and on the east to the road.
The house was clapboarded on the north side,[Pg 221] panelled and embellished with hand-carving, on the garden side, while the street front was not greatly changed. It is to-day in fine repair and probably contains the only slave quarters to be found in Massachusetts. There is still to be seen in the interior the original fireplace where the slaves did their cooking; the brick portion of this was built in 1732, while the wooden part is much older. An arch of masonry underneath the fireplace is one of the largest in existence and is used as a support for this portion of the building.
At the west of the house is an extensive courtyard with a foundation of cobblestones. Here, in olden days, Royall's chariot, the only one north of Boston, with four horses, would come rolling up to the side door to leave the guests. This led to the erroneous idea that the western side of the house was the front.
The Royalls were descended from William Royall, who came to Salem with Governor Craddock; during the time he lived here it was a rallying place for social life, no one of importance riding by without alighting. It was the scene of many a merrymaking and was the show place of the town.
At the end of the garden was the summer-house that is still carefully treasured, being octagonal in[Pg 222] shape, with carved pilasters, bell-shaped roof, and cupola surmounted by a winged Mercury that swings with the breeze, and was used as a weather-vane. This figure is a fine piece of carving that stands nearly five feet high. The summer-house stood on an artificial mound, within which was a walled cellar which was entered by a trap-door, adding great mystery to the structure. Tradition states that this was a prison for slaves, but it is more practical if less romantic to believe that it was used for storage purposes. This summer-house, with its arched windows and the tender sentiments scratched upon the woodwork, was a pleasant place in all weathers except the more severe.
The architecture of the house is interesting. The doorway on the east is the true entrance door, showing Corinthian columns, while the Georgian porch at the west, supporting Ionic columns, is also considered a fine bit of architecture.
There can be but little doubt that a house showing the dignity of exterior of the Royall house must have equally good interior woodwork. One realizes before opening the colonial door that he will see inside a fine old staircase, richly carved newel-post and balusters. The carving in this house as[Pg 223] well as others of its type is not confined to the capitals that adorn its architraves.
The long hallway extends the entire length of the house, with doors at either end. The stairway is on the eastern side facing the entrance, and is approached through an arch showing fine hand-carving. The balusters are carved in three different designs, while the newel-post is a combination of the three, one carved within the other. The staircase leads by low treads to the second-story floor. It is made under the old stair-builders' rule:
"Twice the rise plus the tread equals twenty-five,
There is no stucco work either in the hallway or in any other part of the house, and the wood throughout is pine.
At the right of the hallway are double parlors, the western one being finished in wood which shows wonderful hand-carving done in 1732, and is lighted by arched windows. The outside shutters remain just as they were all through the lower part of the house when remodelled. The fireplace is finished in old Mulberry Dutch tiles and contains Hessian andirons, which differ from those generally[Pg 224] seen in that they face each other. These andirons came into vogue just after the Revolution and were used to support backlogs.
The eastern parlor is reached through folding-doors, which mask the original walls of the Winthrop House. These rooms, during the Royalls' reign, were used for many social events. The old wing arm-chair with Dutch legs came in about 1750. The silk-embroidered, Chippendale fire-screen shows beautiful, mythological pictures, while the old, steeple-topped brass andirons display to advantage the Mulberry tiles of 1847 and also the quaint old fireback. On the wall hangs a picture of Isaac Royall, who gave money to Harvard College to found the Royall Professorship of Law which was the foundation of the Harvard Law School.
During the life history of the house, nineteen marriages have taken place in these rooms, one of them being that of the oldest daughter, Elizabeth Royall, to Sir William (Sparhawk) Pepperrell. Here also Penelope Royall married Henry Vassall of Cambridge, uncle of the builder of the Longfellow House and of Christ Church. Vassall and his wife are the only ones buried under the church. It was during their life here that Agnes Surriage, according[Pg 225] to Abigail Adams' diary, came to the house frequently with Henry Frankland.
The dining-room which is opposite the double parlors is at the present time being restored to the Royall period and will include much of the rare old panelling and fine hand-carving that are shown all through the house, as well as quaint closets.
The kitchen contains many old relics. Among them is the Porter sign which was used in Medford Square in 1769, on the Royall Oak Tavern. The New Hampshire soldiers had such an intense feeling against the English sign that before the battle of Bunker Hill they fired against it in anger, the bullet marks being still plainly seen. In this kitchen, also, is kept the first fork in the colony, brought over by Governor Winthrop, also candle-dips made over one hundred and twenty-five years ago by the old process of taking wicks of twine and dipping them in fat in a cold room.
The chambers are, many of them, most interesting. Several of them show quaint tiles. One of them, the northeast chamber, has a wonderful old fireplace with sixty ancient Bible tiles, many of them original. These depict different scenes in Bible stories, such as Cain slaying his brother with[Pg 226] his left hand, the whale and Jonah, Mary and Joseph fleeing into Egypt.
The southeast chamber shows a great deal of the old Winthrop panelling. This was transferred when Royall reconstructed the building. Here, as in the northeast chamber, are wonderful old tiles, the Royall house boasting more of the best specimens of that early period than any other.
Everywhere through the house we find indications of the luxury introduced by the wealthy Royalists. All of the rooms are large, with high ceilings and wide windows showing inside shutters. The hand-carving is especially noticeable, being beautifully done and most original in design.
In the guest room, or marble chamber as it is generally known, cornices or moldings are exquisitely carved. There is one panelling over the fireplace that is three feet wide and five feet long, while the thickness of the walls is shown by the width of the window-seats. Each window is enclosed in an alcove, and some of them retain the original glass.
It is said of Isaac Royall, second, that his love of display and his liking for good things were known throughout the town. He was one of the[Pg 227] most hospitable citizens, giving the finest of dinners to his friends, the Vassalls, who occupied the Craigie House, the Olivers, and other citizens of Tory Row, besides dignitaries of Church and State. His wines were the best, his horses and carriages the most stylish, and it was said of him that he was one of the most eccentric men in the colony. He kept a journal describing minutely every incident and every visitor, even going so far as to tell what slippers he wore. His ambitions were political, but he was never very prominent.
At the outbreak of the Revolution, Isaac Royall left the house, and his estate was taken under the Confiscation Act. Finding that the place was deserted by a hated Tory, it was made a lawful retreat for the Continental army, and used by Colonel John Stark for headquarters. He lived there with his officers, and his regiment was quartered near by. In the old summer-house were held many councils of war, and from here the troops went forth to fight at the battle of Bunker Hill.
During the time that General Stark and his wife lived here, which was over a year, they entertained a great deal. Molly was a most loyal wife. At the time of the evacuation of Boston, it[Pg 228] was said that she went to the top of the stairs leading to the roof above the attic after her husband had marched to Dorchester Heights, and watched to see whether the British ships in the harbor landed troops on the north side of the Mystic. In such an event, she had orders to alarm the people.
Lee and Sullivan were quartered here for a short time. The fine old wines left by Colonel Royall did service for the officers. The cellar was ransacked in search of goodies; the soldiers, in oddly designed uniforms, passed up and down, stacking their guns in the wide hall, while their flag of thirteen stars fluttered over the entrance.
After the government took possession of the property, it was returned to the Royall heirs in 1790, and they in turn sold it to a syndicate.
In 1810 Jacob Tidd came into possession of the estate, his wife living there for fifty-one years. She was Ruth Dawes, sister of William Dawes, who took the midnight ride to Concord, April 18, 1775. Her bedchamber, in which hangs a picture of William Dawes, has been restored by her descendants.
The house has been acquired by the Royall House Association, being used to-day for patriotic[Pg 229] and educational purposes. In a closet of one of the rooms is shown a tea-chest, the only one left from the memorable Boston Tea Party. Few houses in colonial history possess the interest of this one, and the Royall House stands unique and distinctive among the many colonial houses of the period.[Pg 230]
THE LONGFELLOW HOUSE
With the exception of Mount Vernon, there is perhaps no house better known in America than the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow house at Cambridge, Massachusetts, its reputation having been gained from the fact that it was the home of the late distinguished and beloved poet. Here have come most illustrious guests from all over the world, and under the roof-tree was given to Longfellow the theme for his famous poem of Evangeline, during a visit of Horace Conelly and of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
There are few mansions of more stately dignity than this large, colonial house, standing back from the main road, surrounded by smooth, velvety lawns dotted here and there with mighty elms. It was built in 1760 by John Vassall, of a family prominent in the history of our country, whose name had been traced back to the year 1500, and many members of which have married into distinguished families.[Pg 231]
John Vassall was the son of "Colonel" John Vassall, who married Elizabeth Phipps, daughter of Lieutenant-governor Phipps. His uncle, Henry Vassall, married Penelope Royall of Medford. These two brothers were sons of "Major" Leonard Vassall, who was twice married and had eighteen children.
John Vassall, like his father, was graduated from Harvard. On January 12, 1761, he married Elizabeth Oliver, daughter of Lieutenant-governor Oliver. His sister Elizabeth had previously been married to Lieutenant-governor Oliver, who lived near by at Elmwood.
When John Vassall built the Longfellow house, the estate was not so contracted as it is to-day, but embraced large grounds of more than a hundred acres. Concerning his life here, there is little known, save that the family were very hospitable and were numbered among the Royalists, who in those days formed a small colony of their own, later known as "Old Tory Row." This included many wealthy people of Boston who had not as yet embraced the cause of the colonists.
In 1775, at the commencement of the Revolutionary troubles, this group of men were naturally out of favor and eventually it ceased to exist.[Pg 232] About this time Vassall left to take up his residence in Boston, and soon afterward, failing to agree with the colonists' ideas, he removed with his family to England. In accordance with the custom of that period, the estate was confiscated in 1778, shortly after its desertion by its original owner. This was some years after the encampment of continental troops in Cambridge, when this mansion, like many others, was used for officers' headquarters.
On the grounds were encamped the regiment from Marblehead under the command of Colonel Glover. This seems to have been a favorite rendezvous for the colonial troops, for later on General Washington made this his headquarters, remaining for a long period. While he was here, Madam Washington joined him, and tradition tells of much gaiety and many banquets given at the residence by the general and his wife. There are still in existence notes from his account book which deal with this house, as for instance:
"July 15, 1775, Paid for cleaning the House which was provided for my Quarters, and which had been occupied by the Marblehead regiment, £2 10s. 9d."
It is probable that this house was used for a[Pg 233] longer period than any other during the war for headquarters of Washington, as it was not until March of the following year after the evacuation of Boston by the British that it was again left empty. In this dwelling the generals met often to hold secret discussions. Representatives from the Legislature, then convened at Watertown, held here many long conferences concerning the advisability of different schemes to defeat the British, and many people of note from all over the world came here to meet Washington on both social and political affairs.
We are told that a "Twelfth Night" party was given in the drawing-room opposite the Longfellow study, where many entertainments took place, and that the oldest inhabitants were invited to this party. Down the stairs, where now stands the old grandfather's clock made famous by Longfellow's poems, the stately colonial dames of Revolutionary times came slowly, dressed in their silks and satins, with powdered hair and patches, to take part in the festivities within.
Longfellow's study, which is at the right of the house, and which to-day fronts the long conservatory occupying the entire side of the house, was used by Washington as his dining-room.[Pg 234] Above it was his private office, where councils of war were held. It was a very convenient room for this purpose, being off from the main house, quiet and retired. When Longfellow first purchased the house, he also used this room for a study, afterwards converting it into a chamber.
It is said that Washington never permitted his affairs to destroy his sense of humor. During the time of his occupancy here, an elderly woman was brought before General Putnam. She was believed to be a spy, although she stoutly denied it. It is said that the general, familiarly known as "Put," regarded the case of sufficient importance to be brought to the attention of his commander and insisted that she come with him to headquarters. She was an obstinate woman, and having no fear of capture, resented his treatment, absolutely refusing to enter the gate to the grounds. In vain was she reasoned with until at last, in desperation, the valiant general slung her on his back and brought her up to the house. As Washington witnessed his most courageous officer entering his house in this manner, he could not refrain from laughter, which only incensed the woman all the more.
During conferences at headquarters, great care[Pg 235] had to be taken lest they be surprised by the British. While one of these conferences was being held, word was sent out that the British were on their way. Without a moment's delay each officer hurried for his necessary adjuncts to meet the emergency. In the midst of the confusion, however, General Greene lost his head and could be heard above the din, calling loudly: "My wig, my wig; where is my wig?" His demand was so emphatic that the attention of the little group was instantly seized. General Lee was the first to regain his composure and with ready wit called out in an equally loud voice: "Behind the looking-glass, General." Greene, passing the mirror, found to his consternation that the wig was on his head. Overjoyed that he was not to go into battle wigless, he joined in the general laugh that followed. The report of the British approach proved false, however, and the officers returned to their consultation.
After the estate had been confiscated, it was purchased by one Nathaniel Tracy, an intimate of Washington, whose principal home was in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Tracy was a very wealthy merchant, indeed one of the most brilliant financiers in the country, and his spectacular[Pg 236] ventures had given him a prominent name in local history. Tracy was a large landowner, having estates practically all over the country, and while he owned the Vassall house, he rarely lived there, using it simply as a place where he could spend week-ends if he so desired.
Andrew Craigie was the next prominent owner of the house, purchasing it on January 1, 1793. At that time the grounds had been enlarged until they comprised one hundred and fifty acres, a part of which is now used for the Harvard Observatory. This Craigie was an "apothecary-general" or, as he would be known now, a commissary, for the Continental army. He was a most eccentric man but clever enough to acquire a large estate. This house appealed to him, both from the fact that it had been Washington's headquarters and from its own beauty both of exterior and interior. He married a Miss Shaw of Nantucket, who had been in love with a young sailor of limited means. The wealth of Craigie dazzled her, and while she never forgot her early lover, treasuring his love letters until just before her death, she made a charming mistress for the mansion.
Craigie, like other wealthy men of his time, was[Pg 237] pretentious and spent money lavishly. While it is believed that he built the service department on the western wing of the house, yet this is not definitely known. During his occupancy, the large, square, eastern room was enlarged and adorned with many columns to afford more space for his frequent entertainments. Prominent merchants of Boston and many noted people accepted his hospitality. An amusing instance is told of a visit of Talleyrand, who conversed entirely in French with Mrs. Craigie, the host not understanding a word that was spoken. It is currently reported that the Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria's father, who for a long time was stationed at Halifax, paid a visit here; impressed with the honor, Craigie afterwards purchased the coach and horses the duke had used in Boston.
Craigie built the bridge from Boston to East Cambridge which bears his name and engaged in many investments. He speculated once too often, however, and lost nearly all of his money. He died soon after, but his widow remained in the same house, yet under such reduced circumstances that she was obliged to let rooms to college students. Two of these were Edward Everett and Jared Sparks, who afterwards brought their brides here.[Pg 238]
Later on, when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow left Bowdoin College to take a position as professor in Harvard University, and desired extensive apartments, he appealed to her. She at first refused him, having tired of the care of students and not wishing to let rooms any longer. He was an attractive and agreeable young man, and when Mrs. Craigie learned that he was a professor, she invited him to visit the different rooms, telling him of Washington's connection with the house, but informing him that he could not have the use of any of the apartments. At length, however, after a long controversy, she agreed to let him take the southeast chamber, to which was afterwards added the west front chamber for his dining-room.
At that time the back part of the house was given over to a farmer and his wife, the latter caring for Longfellow's rooms and supplying his meals. During a part of the time that Longfellow had rooms here, Worcester, who wrote the dictionary, was another occupant. To this house came Cornelius G. Felton, Charles Sumner, and many others to visit Longfellow, who in 1842 entertained Charles Dickens here.
In 1843 Longfellow bought the house of Mrs.[Pg 239] Craigie. He was the last occupant, and every room in the house is connected with him. In one of the upper chambers Hyperion was written, as were many other poems, including The Courtship of Miles Standish and Hiawatha.
To this mansion one pleasant day in June came Hawthorne to dine with Longfellow, bringing with him his friend, Horace Conelly. On reaching the house, to Hawthorne's surprise and chagrin, he found two other visitors, George S. Hillard and Professor Felton of Harvard College. Hawthorne had hoped in this visit to review with Longfellow old times in Brunswick and the history of some of his class of whom he had lost sight since leaving college. After the departure of the other guests, Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Conelly held an animated conversation on their literary work. At this time the story of the French Acadian girl, just married, exiled and separated from her husband, was told. Hawthorne had never been interested, but Longfellow saw in it a popular theme and with permission wrote the poem that has been considered one of his best works.
The Longfellow house faces the main road, a large, square mansion with entrance porch. The grounds are now reduced to a small area surrounding[Pg 240] the house and are pleasantly laid out in gardens and lawns. The main door bears a ponderous knocker, and one enters a wide, dignified hallway. On the first landing of the staircase stands the old grandfather's clock so familiar to all readers of Longfellow's poems. The principal room open to the public is the library, which leads from the right of the hall, a square room finished in brown and containing many mementoes that were there during Longfellow's lifetime. This room has been left practically unchanged. Over the fireplace is a beautiful girandole, with convex glass and gilt frame and ebony rim inside. This is said to have been made in 1800—an heirloom. There are many fine old pieces of furniture, each one of which bespeaks some event connected with the poet's life. The furniture is not old-fashioned and no attempt has been made to keep it up to any period. It is simply left as a memorial in the room where Longfellow sat and wrote and received his friends.
The grounds cover scarcely half an acre, but the mansion with a few modern improvements remains as it was in the early days when it was first built by John Vassall.[Pg 241]
THE QUINCY MANSION
Long years ago before our country was thickly settled, and when our forefathers extracted from the soil a scanty living, the houses were simple little ones, often built with only four rooms. It was in such a house as this that William Coddington made his early home. It was delightfully situated, close to the bank of Black Brook, and surrounded by overhanging trees.
In 1635 William Coddington and his fellow associates received a grant of five hundred acres at Braintree, now Quincy, Massachusetts, extending from the old Dorchester line at Squantum to Howe's Neck, and about a mile inland. This was a goodly tract of land, with level meadows that promised good plowing. The next year, in the heart of the grant, Mr. Coddington built a house that consisted of a large kitchen, a living-room, and two chambers. Near him was a small colony of settlers, including Reverend John Wheelwright,[Pg 242] Anne Hutchinson, and Sir Harry Vane. They composed a congenial group of free thinkers, who met often in the Coddington kitchen to sit around the large open fireplace, while they discussed religious views much more liberal than the Puritan's way of thinking. Many of them, for holding these views, were banished to Rhode Island.
Coddington did not live long after the house-building, and was succeeded by Edmund Quincy, the first of the name to live in what is now known as the Quincy homestead. He was a man of considerable wealth and importance, coming here from Boston and bringing with him six servants, which was considered a most pretentious establishment in those days. His wife, named Judith, was a woman of great ability, and after the death of her husband, managed the estate with good judgment. Her daughter, also named Judith, married John Hull, the mint-master, and became the mother of Hannah Hull. Hannah became the wife of Judge Samuel Sewall, and as the story runs, received for her dowry her weight in pine-tree shillings.
The second of the name of Quincy to occupy this house was also named Edmund and afterwards received the title of colonel. He was a man of[Pg 243] dignified personality and forceful character and had held at various times most of the important offices in the town. His death in 1698 was followed by that of his wife, two years later, and the reins of government fell into the hands of Edmund third, then a youth of twenty. The responsibility made the latter a very thoughtful man. He became more distinguished than either his father or his grandfather, passing nearly his whole life in public service. It was this Edmund who, in his twenty-first year, married Dorothy Flynt, the first Dorothy Q. of history, and ancestress of all the other Dorothy Q's.
In 1706, as the house had become too small for the family, Quincy built additions at the front of the old mansion, giving it its present appearance. The rooms added were the present dining-room, the parlor, and the chambers above these rooms. With the raising of the new part, little attempt was made to have the dimensions match, so that the rooms of the older building showed a different floor level from those at the front.
Later on, a two-story ell was added near the brook, consisting of a study and bedroom. These were occupied by Dorothy's brother, Henry Flynt, who was the famous Tutor Flynt of Harvard.[Pg 244]
Of the children born to Edmund, third, and Dorothy Q., two are well known in history. Edmund, the fourth, who married Elizabeth Wendell and became the father of the Dorothy Q. who married John Hancock, and the Dorothy Q., "My Dorothy," as Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes called her, who married Edward Jackson, and was the great-grandmother of the poet.
After the death of Judge Quincy, the house was not used as a permanent residence by the family, for Edmund, who inherited it, had a fine home in Boston. It was kept open, however, and used at frequent intervals as a summer place. We read of large parties coming down by coach and horseback from Boston, to be entertained at the Quincy mansion. Many a pretty bit of romance has been enacted within these walls, and many a famous traveler has found shelter in this house.
When the wedding of Dorothy Q. to John Hancock was planned, preparations suitable for the important event were made, and a wall-paper was ordered from Paris to be hung upon the walls of the parlor. This room was destined not to be used, however, for the purpose intended. The Revolution broke out and Hancock was forced to flee for safety to Lexington. Here he was[Pg 245] joined by his aunt, Madam Hancock, and Dorothy, on the memorable "18th of April, '75." Dorothy, fearing the approach of the Redcoats, desired to return to Boston, to seek refuge in her father's house, but her lover knew only too well the hatred of the Tory for the Quincy family that had been shown when a British soldier thrust his rapier through the portrait of Dorothy Q., the niece of this Dorothy, and he forbade the attempted journey. Wishing to assert her independence and also to have her own way, Dorothy insisted, and a lovers' quarrel ensued. Hancock and Samuel Adams were forced to make their escape to Woburn, with Madam Hancock and Dorothy, who continued on to Fairfield, Connecticut, taking up their abode in the family of Thaddeus Burr. In consequence, the Quincy mansion did not see them again for a long time. The patriot troops were stationed at Fairfield, and Aaron Burr, meeting Dorothy, fell in love with her. He paid her such serious attention that Madam Hancock became alarmed for the consequences and sent to her nephew, explaining the situation.
John Hancock was a wise lover and wrote Dorothy immediately, asking her if she had made him the hair chain promised and reproaching her for[Pg 246] her unfaithfulness, sending with the letter a box of silk stockings. Dorothy, with little liking for his interference, continued her flirtation with Lieutenant Burr; again Madam Hancock wrote to her nephew in such a peremptory manner that during a recess of Congress he came to Fairfield. Once there, he swept away all resentment, and Dorothy became his wife on August 28.
Sir Harry Frankland, previous to this, came to the Quincy Mansion bringing with him Agnes Surriage, and a merry house party spent part of the time catching trout from the little black brook and cooking them in the old kitchen fireplace.
Benjamin Franklin was also a visitor at this house, accepting the hospitality shown him by Mr. Quincy, and sending in return a stove, still shown in one of the chambers. A Flemish grape-vine was also sent by him to the family; this took root and until a few years ago was in thriving condition. Many other men of note came as visitors to this noted mansion, including Lafayette, who was entertained here when he returned to America after the Revolution.
During the Revolutionary period, the house passed out of the hands of the Quincy family. It[Pg 247] has been recently restored by the Colonial Dames of Massachusetts, who have brought back as far as possible its old-time dignity. In the restoration, great care has been taken with the furnishing. The central hall is entered through the colonial porch. It is long and wide, wainscotted and showing above this an odd, colonial paper, representing an English hunting scene. The baluster and newel-post are hand carved and fine examples of the early work of that period.
At the right of the hall is the dining-room, hung with a quaint Chinese paper. This room shows high wainscot, wooden shutters, and the original beams cased in. The furniture is all of that period, including simple Dutch chairs, about 1770, with rush bottoms. The sideboard, too, is of the seventeenth century, and on this is a knife box of the latter quarter of this century. The corner buffet is about 1740, and unlike the majority of these cupboards, is movable, instead of being fastened to the walls. The table is a beautiful old Empire piece and a china closet at one side containing several rare pieces, shows the shell pattern at the top. The fireplace is tiled in blue and white Delft, dating back to about 1750.
On the opposite side of the house is the parlor,[Pg 248] which still shows the old wall-paper intended to grace the wedding of John Hancock to Dorothy Quincy. Here are Venuses and Cupids in vivid blue, with garlands of red flowers, all as fresh as when first hung. The panel front of the chimney-piece was recently removed, and the original fireplace, fifteen feet wide, discovered. The back of this chimney is curiously bricked in herring-bone pattern. Many interesting relics are kept in one of the cupboards. There is a parasol which once belonged to Mrs. Hancock, a shoe of a little son who died in childhood, a pipe filler which belonged to John Hancock, Edmund Quincy third's baptismal robe and cap, and a piece of the dress worn by Abigail Adams when she was presented at the Court of St. James. On the wall hangs her portrait showing the same gown.
The chairs in this room are rare examples of Chippendale, 1791, and Sheraton, the latter being one of the best examples of the master's make, and showing the fan back design, which is more usually found in the South, rather than in the North. Here, as in the dining-room, are narrow shutters with hinged panels, which could be bolted and barred against attacks of the Indians.
Back of the dining-room, and one step lower, is[Pg 249] the old kitchen, built in 1636, the most interesting room in the house, containing a great many household articles of early colonial days. The broad, hand-hewn beams bear the marks of the axe, and the great fireplace is flanked on one side by larger brick ovens and on the other by a secret passage. Back of the chimney is a ladder which leads to the secret closet above, also a little dumbwaiter shaft, through which food and water could be sent to the people in hiding.
In previous years, an underground passage led out of the kitchen to the brook. Through this contraband goods were smuggled. The entrance to this passage has now disappeared, so that the exact locality is not definitely known.
The window glass was made at the first glass factory in America. This was erected by a guild of Hollanders who had established themselves in Quincy. The worthies of Quincy objected to the large families of the emigrants, and they were driven out and moved to Maine. The first iron foundry in this country was built beside this brook, which was sometimes known as Furnace Brook.
Above the kitchen is the Coddington Chamber, named for the original builder of the house and[Pg 250] fittingly furnished with rare pieces of the colonial period. Above this is a very low attic, lighted from the upper panes of the chamber windows and reached by the secret passage behind the chimney. At the further end of this attic is a trap-door connecting with a second attic, through which one could escape by galleries below the dormer windows, and thence reach the ground.
Across the hall is a smaller room known as the nursery. Tradition has it that John Hancock concealed himself from the British in this apartment, making use of the secret passageway. On one of the window-panes is scratched with a diamond the initials, "J. H." and again in handwriting similar to his: "You I love and you alone." In this room are preserved the breakfast-table of John Hancock; a linen chest which belonged to the wife of William Penn; various articles of clothing that at one time were used by the Quincy family; a bed spread hand-embroidered on homespun linen quilted by Madam Burr and used in her guest chamber when Dorothy Quincy was staying at her house.
Over the dining-room is the Quincy room, so named from the fact that many of the Quincy children, including the two Dorothys, were born[Pg 251] here. By a curious trick of fate, there still remains here a nail-studded chest which once belonged to George III of England, bearing the date 1790. One wonders, if the old chest could speak, whether it would pour vituperations upon the heads of those who brought the possessions of the tyrant to the colonies, to be stored in the Quincy mansion.
Across the hall is the guest chamber with its canopied Field bed, and the little trundle-bed underneath, used in the olden times for the children of the family. The Franklin stove, presented by the inventor, is also in this room. Opening from it, and approached by a second staircase, we find the chamber of Tutor Flynt, here the recessed bed is an interesting feature. The room is furnished with fine pieces of the olden times.
Every room in this house contains mementoes of the days of long ago. The house was one of the first to be built on American soil, and has sheltered some of our most important citizens. To-day it reminds us of the past, carrying us back to the earliest days of our country's history.[Pg 252]
"HEY BONNIE HALL"
As a nation Americans have grown to feel a deep reverence for the homes of their ancestors, those stately colonial houses that were erected during the period of commercial prosperity. These mansions were built from about the middle of the sixteenth to the early part of the seventeenth century. Recently a wave of sentiment has swept through the country, awakening a desire to save the old mansions, many of which were fast falling into decay. Prominent among those which have been preserved is "Hey Bonnie Hall," a quaint house built in the Maryland manor-house style of architecture, with long, projecting ells, a type prevailing throughout the South. "Hey Bonnie Hall" is situated on Papoosesquaw Neck in Bristol, Rhode Island. It was built in 1808 by Honorable William deWolf, great-grandfather of the present occupant.
These Middletons and the family into which[Pg 253] they married have been makers of history. They date back to the time of Charles V, of France, being among his followers. The name was originally St. Etienne, but for valiant services it was changed to deWolf. The Middletons have played an important part both in English and American history, and the English branch of the family still occupies its ancient Middleton Hall. The American line starts with the immigrant ancestor, Henry Middleton, who settled in Carolina and became a considerable landowner at a time when there were only three states in the Union—New England, Virginia, and the Carolinas. This is shown in the old atlas inherited from the immigrant ancestor and still treasured at "Hey Bonnie Hall." Henry Middleton became a politician and was an important agitator before the Revolution. For his distinguished services he was made president of the Continental Congress. He was not the only member of the family whose name has been handed down in history. His son Arthur was also very prominent and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The name "Hey Bonnie Hall," given to their country-seat in the Carolinas and transferred to the Rhode Island mansion, grew out of a pretty custom of Mrs.[Pg 254] Middleton, who used to sing a little Scotch song called Hey Bonnie Hall over and over again to please her grandfather.
The house stands back from the road, being approached through a broad, colonial gateway flanked on either side by beds of old-fashioned flowers. The semicircular drive is shaded by magnificent trees, which hide the mansion from the main road so effectively that it is not until one is half-way up the avenue that a glimpse of the house is obtained.
The mansion itself is about one hundred and forty feet long, showing the most perfect type of Southern architecture. There is about it a dignity that is impressive and at the same time an air of comfort. The eastern portico is formed by two dignified Corinthian pillars, which rise to the very roof. The smaller columns at either side of the entrance door support a balcony protected by the porch roof. Verandas have been planned on either side of the house, facing north and south. The southern one overlooks the blue water of the harbor with the picturesque old town of Bristol in the background.
Old-fashioned flower-beds are scattered here and there over the smooth lawn, making a landscape[Pg 255] picture that is most alluring. The entrance door opens into a spacious hallway that is about twenty feet in width. The staircase at the left is five feet in width, an unusual breadth, even for one of that period. It has treads of solid mahogany, with simple but substantial balusters on either side, topped with mahogany rails. This hall is used for a living-room and a hall combined and is well lighted by doors on either side showing well-proportioned fan and sidelights. Like many halls of the colonial period, there is a groined arch. This was specially designed by one of the Middletons who married Henry deWolf. This is supported at the corners by slender white columns, the woodwork being white pine.
In every room are found examples of the most impressive pieces of furniture designed by the old masters. Many were originally in the Southern home and brought over by their immigrant ancestor. Among them are some most artistic pieces, including Hepplewhite, Sheraton, and Chippendale. Two chairs of the latter make show shell pattern, one of the most popular of Chippendale's designs. Upon the Chippendale sideboard are specimens of thirteenth century silver, including some tiny spoons that date back to the Tudor[Pg 256] period, and saltcellars engraved with the McGregor crest. In the china closet are rare specimens of Lowestoft, Chelsea, and Sevres, while on the wall are hung original Stuarts, and paintings by Benjamin West. In many colonial mansions of that period we find the well-designed windows opening off the broad landing, a feature which has been cleverly introduced into the Middleton mansion. The type and characteristics of this entrance hall are more in keeping with Southern architecture than are most houses of New England. There is little ornamental woodwork, but a great dignity and charm.
Two large, square rooms open on either side of the hallway, and the arrangement of the interior is on the exact lines followed in Southern manor-houses, a wing being introduced on either side of the main building. One of these is used for kitchen and servants' quarters; the opposite wing, connected with the house proper by a covered passageway, is used as a carriage-house and harness-room. This gives the house interesting and unusual proportions.
In the main building are two rooms, one on either side of the hall. At the right is the large living-room, and back of it the dining-room, both[Pg 257] of which are filled with treasures,—wonderful old pieces that have been in the family since its earliest days, each having its individual story.
On the left are the double drawing-rooms and showing an elliptical arch that has a frieze motif with dentation ornamentation and reeded pilasters. The dividing arch is gracefully ended in the cornice. This is a feature in many colonial homes and is generally echoed in other rooms of the house. There are no carved wooden fire-frames in the lower story, but we find some of foreign marble that were set at the time the house was built. This is an unusual feature in houses of that date, where wooden mantels and elaborate hand-carving were the prevailing style.
Many pieces of furniture are historic. Some belonged to President Adams, an intimate friend of the deWolfs, who were frequent visitors at the Adams house in Quincy, Massachusetts. Over the fireplace is a charming portrait, the work of a master, showing a child in an early eighteenth-century gown. It pictures Mrs. Nathaniel Russell Middleton, when only six years of age. About the time of this painting she was visiting her uncle, and was present at the reconciliation of Lafayette and President Adams, which occurred during Lafayette's[Pg 258] second visit to America. She was at that time a very beautiful child and attracted the attention of the general, who finding she was of French descent, took her in his arms and kissed her.
Every piece of furniture here is of the old-time type. The Hepplewhite chairs have been handed down from generation to generation, as has a great deal of the furniture that is used in this room, including the chair in which President Adams died.
The long, or east room leads out of the parlor and is filled with rare furniture. The most important piece being the French piano, one of the earlier makes. This was imported by Henry deWolf for his daughter Alicia. It was considered of such fine quality that it attracted the attention of celebrated musicians all over the country. Pianos in those days were rarely seen, for the old-time harpsichord and spinet had scarcely gone out of style. Even to-day it would be considered a wonderful piece of work, with its ornamentations of gold showing scroll patterns and musical designs.
Directly above the piano is hung the most famous picture in the house, a Madonna supposedly by the hand of the Italian master Mazzuoli, better known as Parmigiana. This Madonna was[Pg 259] originally known as one of the world's lost art treasures, since its whereabouts were unknown for several years. There exists abundant historical evidence of its value, and prominent artists have pointed out the merits and the peculiarities that stamp this canvas as a Parmigiana, although definite proof is lacking.
The interior of the house is most interesting from an architectural standpoint. The proportions are well balanced, there is a dignity of design and a care in its finish that attracts experts. The value lies not so much in the workmanship as in the choice bits of design shown principally in the exterior, and that are well worth introducing into a twentieth-century home.
The upper hall has an elliptical arched window and a hand-carved balustrade. It is of the same proportions as the lower hall, and it, too, is fitted up as a living-room. Beautiful pieces of furniture are well chosen and well placed. A large bookcase showing torch ornamentations contains rare books that cannot be duplicated. In each one is a bookplate, the work of Henry Middleton. A certain charm pervades the second story of this mansion, which does not lie in the furnishing but in the architectural details of the window, the pilasters,[Pg 260] the hand-carving of the balusters, all of which are simple but unusual.
Large, square chambers open from either side of the hallway, and like the rest of the house are furnished in seventeenth-century pieces. The fireplace, decorated with bow and arrow design, is of Scaglioni composition and was found in an Italian palace. The furniture of this room is unusually rare. There is not a single piece of ordinary make.
The bed is a fine example of Sheraton, showing a tester, and decorated in gilt bows and arrows brought out clearly on the white enamel. This bed, showing the cupid pattern, was purchased for the first bride of the Middleton house. It has within recent years been repainted, but the pattern kept intact. Unique are the drapings of this bed, the counterpane being very rich gold and white satin lined with white and edged with French lace. The same idea has been carried out in flounce and hangings. The chairs are also rare examples of Sheraton, and follow the color scheme of the room.
A second chamber in this house has a fine four-poster imported from Leghorn at the time when the house was built. It is a Chippendale and one[Pg 261] of the best examples of that master's designs. A painting in this room is very valuable, being a picture of Lady Mornington, the mother of Wellington. It was painted by her daughter, Lady Berghurst, who posed her model with a gazette in her hand containing an account of the battle of Waterloo.
A most interesting collection of furniture belonging to the deWolfs shows earmarks of the old masters' designs kept in the group of houses that were built by this distinguished family. The most prominent being the house of Charles deWolf. It was a large, square structure with roof sloping on all sides, and containing low-studded and spacious rooms that were heated by fireplaces only. An odd feature of this house were the hallways, running at right angles and meeting in the center. Spanish furniture, richly carved and showing odd patterns, vied with French pieces in magnificence.
The walls of the double drawing-rooms were hung with paper showing birds of paradise in brilliant plumage. Between the two rooms were gorgeous portières of gold and silver damask. On state occasions the table bore solid silver candelabra and goblets of gold, spoils of the early siege of Oyapoc.[Pg 262]
Here General Knox of Revolutionary fame was a frequent visitor. After his death the splendid estate of ten square miles given him by Congress and situated in Maine was sold, and much of the beautiful furniture was introduced into the deWolf house.
A third house, which was destroyed by fire, was built by Captain Jim, the youngest son of old Mark Anthony deWolf, who built the first house for his family in Bristol. The builder was a most successful merchant, his estate at one time comprising nearly the whole eastern part of the town. The mansion was built at about the same time as "Hey Bonnie Hall." It is of plain exterior with simple lines and shows fine proportions.
Inside are twenty-eight rooms that were fitted up with the choicest pieces of Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton. So wealthy was the house owner that when the fashion changed from English to French, and the Empire style came into vogue, this furniture was replaced by examples of the best designs and construction, including both European and American styles. Many of these pieces were worthy a museum.
On the walls were wonderful portraits by Copley, Stuart, Thompson, Alexander, and many other[Pg 263] famous artists, as well as miniatures by Malbone and Hall. In many of these rooms the walls were decorated with veritable works of art.
These old colonial houses with their beauty of line, their harmony of detail, and their air of dignity, richly repay study by architects and house owners. More and more we turn to them as models for our modern homes. They are a rich heritage from one of the most important periods of the nation's history, and will ever be cherished for the memories they evoke. Truly American in every respect, they will remain forevermore as revelations of the sturdy spirit, the breadth of mind, the gracious hospitality, and the fine ideals of our forefathers who built them.[Pg 264]
Academy of Arts and Sciences, 32