Archive for 'Colonial'

Henry Ward Beecher Describes Litchfield

henry-ward-beecher

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)

Montpelier

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…

Three Historic Houses in Brooklyn

In addition to he Wyckoff House, I also saw three other early historic houses in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The Lefferts House (above) was closed, so I didn’t go inside. The house was built in 1783 and was the former home of Continental Army Lieutenant Pieter Lefferts. In 1918, it was moved six blocks to Prospect Park, where it is now a children’s museum. › Continue reading…

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Wyckoff House (1652)

On my most recent trip to Brooklyn, I visited the Wyckoff Farmhouse, at 5816 Clarendon Road. Less than a century ago, this house was surrounded by farm fields and there were other Dutch colonial farm houses nearby. The Wyckoff House, isolated in Milton Fidler Park, now is surrounded by twentieth-century development. The oldest section of the house (on the right, in the image above) dates to 1652. Other rooms were added in the eighteenth and the first half of the nineenth century. › Continue reading…

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I’ve written before about my recent visit to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where there are many surviving colonial structures built by the Moravians. Adjacent to these structures is an area by Monocacy Creek (Flooding is a problem!) called the Colonial Industrial Quarter, where the industrious Moravians practiced a variety of trades. Some of these industrial buildings are in ruins, but others survive. The entire complex is now part of the Historic Bethlehem Partnership and is worth visiting. Click below for pics and info on some of the buildings. › Continue reading…

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After visiting Trout Hall in Allentown, we drove out to Egypt, PA to see the Troxell-Steckel House, which is also owned by the Lehigh County Historical Society. In contrast to the English Georgian style of Trout Hall, the Troxell-Steckel House is a German farmhouse, built in 1756 by John Peter Troxell, who sold it to Peter Steckel in 1768. The property also includes a barn with a display of farming equipment. › Continue reading…

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On my recent trip to Pennsylvania, I also visited two sites in the Allentown area. The first was Trout Hall, the city’s oldest house, built in 1770 as a summer home for James Allen, son of Allentown’s founder, William Allen. Allen was a loyalist during the Revolutionary War, which led to a lot of trouble for him, as you can imagine. There’s a pdf document online with more info about the house. On the tour, visitors can hear all about Allen and his travails and also visit the modern Lehigh County Historical Society museum next door. The house had to be restored because it was later part of Muhlenberg College and got attached to other structures that were later demolished. › Continue reading…

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