Last Thursday my mom was in town, and she took us out to dinner for DKC’s birthday. We went to a place nearby (great Italian food!) that also had a huge wall-sized map of the area, dating back to 1861. The food was a while in coming, so to pass the time, I got up to look at the map. After a bit of studying, I discovered that it not only had individual houses on it, but it had MY house on it–along with who owned it. This was pretty exciting for me. When we bought the house, we were told it was built around 1900 or so. When the home inspector looked at it, he guessed it might go back as far as 1830, but that was all it was: a guess. Now I had proof that it dated back to at least 1861.
So what did I do next? I went to the library. A bit of research later, and I found the total history of my house. It was built in 1841 by a man named Elkanah Oakes. His grandfather fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and Lexington. Elkanah’s daughter owned the house across the street–his son-in-law built it there when they got married. Not only that, but I found pictures of my house from 1900 and 1917. Wicked cool. Elkanah moved in the 1860s, and the house went to the Ellsworth family, who owned it until the late 1970s/early 80s, when the next family bought it, and we bought it from them. So the house’s heritage is complete. If I could find more pictures–possibly of the interior(!)–I would be even more pleased. What’s great is we now have an idea of how the house originally looked. That cupola that I wanted to put on the barn? It used to be there–someone removed it at one point. The enclosed porch? Used to be an open farmer’s porch. Like I said–now we have something to shoot for.
Nothing’s really changed about my house, but the way I look at it has changed. For example, it seems Elkanah might have been a wheelwright. Is that why he was able to build such a lovely spiral staircase in the house–because he had extensive experience working with bending wood? Maybe. I look at the big exposed beams and think about how hard it must have been to get those done right. Knowing that people have been living in my house for 169 years is pretty mind-boggling to me.
I really like it. 🙂