Archive for 'Federal'

Henry Ward Beecher Describes Litchfield


In an 1856 article entitles “Litchfield Revisited,” Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, describes a return visit to the town where he grew up. Many of the things he described are still there:

The morning after our arrival in Litchfield we sallied forth alone. The day was high and wide, full of stillness and serenely radiant. As we carried our present life up the North Street, we met at every step our boyhood life coming down. There were the old trees, but looking not so large as to our young eyes. The stately road had, however, been bereaved of the buttonball trees, which had been crippled by disease. But the old elms retained a habit peculiar to Litchfield. There seemed to be a current of wind which at times passes high up in the air over the town, and which moves the tops of the trees, while on the ground there is no movement of wind. How vividly did that sound from above bring back early days, when for hours we lay upon the windless grass and watched the top leaves flutter, and marked how still were the under leaves of the same tree!

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James Madison’s Montpelier (1812)


Back in 2007 I visited Montpelier, the plantation estate of James Madison located near Orange, Virginia. It was an interesting time to visit, because the house was still undergoing restoration and so we went on a “hard hat tour.” It would be interesting to revisit now that the restorations have been completed. The oldest part of the house was built around 1764 by the president’s father, James Madison, Sr. James Madison built an addition to the house in 1797 as a residence for himself and his wife Dolley. In 1812 he unified the interior of the house and added two wings on either side. The house was enlarged and much altered in the twentieth century by William duPont and then by his daughter, Marion duPont. Now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the house has been restored to its 1812 appearance. › Continue reading…

Boalsburg Tavern (1819)

Boalsburg Tavern

Back in 2009, when I visited the Boal Mansion and Columbus Chapel in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, we drove by an old Georgian-style stone building called Duffy’s Boalsburg Tavern. Looking it up now, I discover it was built in 1819 and was first owned by Col. James Johnson. It operated continuously until the building was damaged by fire in 1934. Within three years, it was restored and reopened. Harry Duffy purchased it 1946. He named it Duffy’s Tavern and ran it until his death in 1961. It is part of the Boalsburg Historic District and is included in the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Houses on Union Street, Hudson NY

After visiting Olana and Cedar Grove, I took some pictures in the city of Hudson, NY. Warren Street in Hudson is famous for its Victorian architecture, but Union Street (which is parallel to Warren to the south) has many nineteenth-century houses. The house in the picture above is the c. 1850 Terry-Gillette Mansion at 601 Union Street, designed by Richard Upjohn. Below are some more of the interesting houses with approximate dates of construction. › Continue reading…

Cedar Grove (1815)

After visiting Olana, it was a quick trip across the Hudson River to Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, in Catskill, New York. Built in 1815 by the Thomson family, the house was later the home of painter Thomas Cole, who married a niece of the owner, a local merchant named John A. Thomson, in 1836. Cole is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. Frederic Edwin Church, who would later build Olana, was a student of Cole at Cedar Grove. The Greene County Historical Society purchased the property in 1998 and it has been open as a house museum since 2001. › Continue reading…

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During my recent trip to Pennsylvania, I also stopped by the city of Bethlehem, famous for industry. Bethlehem was founded by the Moravians in 1741. The historic downtown has many Germanic-style colonial buildings erected by the Moravian Church, as well as later historic structures. The Moravians originally lived communally, in separate buildings designated for different “choirs” divided by sex and marital status. The area is still home to the Central Moravian Church and Moravian College. Some books on the subject include: Historical sketch of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, with Some Account of the Moravian Church (1873), by John Hill Martin; A History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741-1892 (1903), by Joseph Mortimer Levering; and Historical Notes on Music in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from 1741 to 1871 (1873), by Rufus A. Grider › Continue reading…



Both on the way and returning from our most recent trip to Pennsylvania, we stopped at Milford, PA. Milford is the county seat of Pike County and is near where Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey border each other. Below are some images of historic structures in town. I used the map on the historical plaque above to guide me through the Milford Historic District. Click on the links to visit sites that have more info about the individual structures in Milford‘s downtown. And note that we visited on a very overcast day. We also drove up the road from downtown to Grey Towers, the home of Gifford Pinchot. It was too late to take a tour of the house, but it would be a good place to visit in the future. By the way, did you know that Pinchot was born in a house in Simsbury, CT? You can read about that house over at Historic Buildings of Connecticut.

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