Archive for 'House'

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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Harriet Beecher Stowe in Scotland, Part Twelve: Making Calls


On the evening of the 26th of April, 1853, the day that Harriet Beecher Stowe visited Abbotsford, Dryburgh and Melrose, she attended a meeting of the Scottish Temperance League. She describes her itinerary for the following day in Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, Volume I:

The day after we returned from Melrose we spent in resting and riding about, as we had two engagements in the evening—one at a party at the house of Mr. Douglas, of Cavers, and the other at a public temperance soirée. Mr. Douglas is the author of several works which have excited attention; but perhaps you will remember him best by his treatise on the Advancement of Society in Religion and Knowledge. He is what is called here a “laird,” a man of good family, a large landed proprietor, a zealous reformer, and a very devout man.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe in Scotland, Part Nine: Abbotsford

AbbotsfordAbbotsford as depicted in Morris’s County Seats (A Series of Picturesque Views of Seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. V, 1880)

On April 26, 1853, Harriet Beecher Stowe visited Melrose in the Scottish Borders. Her husband, Calvin Stowe, and her brother, Charles Beecher, did not accompany her as they were not yet back from a trip to Glasgow, where the previous day they had spoken at a temperance meeting. Melrose is famous for Melrose Abbey, considered to be one of the most beautiful monastic ruins in Great Britain. Near Melrose is Abbotsford, the home of poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott. Harriet describes her arrival at Melrose in Letter VIII of Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands: › Continue reading…


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…

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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Olana (1872)

Last Friday, I visited Olana for the first time. The orientalizing “Persian”-style home of Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church, Olana is located on a hill (surrounded by an extensive property) in Hudson, New York. Church, aided by architect Calvert Vaux, constructed Olana between 1870 and 1872. He added a studio wing to the house over the period 1888–1891. The house has been a New York State Historic Site since 1966. › Continue reading…

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