~~Samuel Daggett was with us in spirit~~
There is no serious history or factual information in this week's Passion for the Past posting. In fact, it is more of a personal notation of something I worked on and created over the past couple of weekends that I'm quite proud of. I pretty much followed the idiom of "If at first you don't succeed, try try again" to help make a dream sort of come true.
|Letter writing in colonial times.|
But never fear; more postings on reenactments and everyday life history are forthcoming!
In the meantime...
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It was twenty years ago, back in 1999, that my wife and I put an addition onto our 1944 suburban-Detroit bungalow. At one point we had planned to move and find the house of our dreams: something old - preferably from the 19th century or earlier - with maybe a bit of land to boot. With me visiting historic Greenfield Village quite often over the last thirty five-plus years and drooling at the beautiful everyday-life homes of the past, from the 1600s through the early 20th century, owning a historic house has been a dream of mine and my wife since our first date. And I would return to my own modern home feeling all down and depressed because I wanted to still be immersed in the past....living in one of those old houses at the Village.
So that's when we figured it would be very agreeable for us to purchase one that had some history behind it. Alas, it wasn't to be, for we got sticker-shock upon checking out the prices of our dream homes.
Yes, we did come to realize that we could never afford what we really wanted. However, I saw an advertisement in the local paper about not selling your home but, rather, adding an addition by the affordable way of re-mortgaging (we are not well-to-do by any means).
And that got me to thinking...what if I put on an addition to my house, to my specifications? I knew what I wanted in style and decor', so I needed to find a builder who was willing to work with me and my ideas. I did find one, after only a few interviews. And at a fair price, too.
We based the design of our new room on the combination of two separate rooms from two separate structures inside Greenfield Village - the front parlor of the Birthplace of Henry Ford, and the ladies parlor from inside the Eagle Tavern (with a little bit of Firestone Farm thrown in).
|This is a panoramic view of the Ford parlor, circa 1876. The |
three walls in the above photo look flat, because panoramic pictures
will do that, but it does show what we were attempting to accomplish
in our new addition.
|The Ladies Parlor (or Gathering Room) of the Eagle Tavern.|
So, this is what we came up with for our new addition:
|Welcome to our own version of a mid-to-late 19th century parlor.|
Here's another angle - - -
|Here is another picture taken a few years after the previous pic. |
I sepia'd it up a bit to give a more period feel. Many of our friends call it the "Greenfield Village room."
Here is the same picture in color:
It was everything I hoped it to be...and more.
Well, as you may know, though I have a strong interest in Victorian America, my true passion for America's past lies deeply and steeply in the colonial period - the 1760s and 1770s. That's not to say I don't love the 19th century as well. I do and always have. But there's something about that late colonial/early Republic era that has engulfed me since my youth.
So here we are in 2019 - twenty years after the addition was originally built, and as much as I love my Greenfield Village room, it was time for a change. Not a big change, mind you. But something that can satisfy both of my history passions of the 1770s and the 1860s. It was when I was visiting the Henry Ford Museum, as I was looking at a timeline of historic kitchens, that I had an idea...an epiphany rather:
|It was while I was gazing at this 1840s kitchen located in the "Kitchens Through Time" exhibit when my inspiration hit.|
This 1840s kitchen, though a half-century into the future from the 1700s, still had that strong colonial feel to it. And I wanted something like this in my own home. Not necessarily a kitchen, mind you. But a room in this same style...
|For sale in Ohio...|
A true dream come true.
Anyhow, in the listing there were around 35 pictures posted of this house, including quite a few taken inside, including this one here to the right.
This is just one of the numerous historic
rooms inside this Ohio breakback house.
Oh! How I would love a house like this!
Alas, however, I am but a poor man, so it is not to be.
However...like Henry Ford, I had a better idea, one that was suitable and could work pretty well for me:
why not create my own colonial-style interior? I mean, I built a Victorian room, so why not a colonial room?
Oh yeah, that's right...money.
But what if there was a way to replicate this, and do it at an affordable price?
|The great hall inside the Daggett House.|
Now, it's good to have brilliant friends. At least, brilliant to me, for after thinking about what I wanted to do and planning out the ideas in my head, I called my friend, Darrin, and told him my ideas about creating a sort of colonial wall, but I wasn't sure how to go about doing it. He suggested checking out the paneling at the local Lowes home improvement store, that they might have something I could use.
You know what?They did!
This is not your parent's paneling, that's for sure.
After speaking to another friend of mine, Al, who happened to be a carpenter, and explaining to him through the pictures of the above houses what I wanted, we came up with a plan: purchase the paneling then paint it the color I wanted (it was originally white, but I wanted a darker, more earth-tone brown). So a third friend, John, had a vehicle that could easily carry the load I needed to my house. Well, it wasn't really a load - just five 4x8 sheets.
We've had a pretty rainy spring here in the metro-Detroit area, so when we finally had a good clear day, I took advantage of it and got all the paneling outside and got the painting done in an afternoon, and the following weekend Al came by, measured then cut out the pieces, and then the two of us nailed it to the fireplace wall.
I must say, I am quite pleased at how it turned out.
|Scroll up a bit to the first picture I posted of this room to see the |
changes I made. Also, compare it with the actual colonial walls as well,
including the 1840s kitchen.
|I lit my candles for this picture - - - |
So? What do you think?
Does it have a touch of the colonial ambiance?
|The small wood desk you see here I purchased|
from Hobby Lobby! It is very colonial in style.
Oh, you can bet I will still be visiting Greenfield Village and the 1750 Daggett House (represented as around 1760), the 1750 Giddings House (presented as the 1760s), the 1831 Eagle Tavern (presented as 1850), and the 1861 Ford House (presented as 1876), along with other favorites such as the 1880s Firestone Farm, the early 18th century Plympton House, and the 1800 McGuffey Cabin. In fact, my wife joked that we should find faux logs to make our modern living room look like the McGuffey log cabin!
Wouldn't that be cool? (Can you see why we've been married for thirty four years?)
However, nothing but nothing beats the real deal.
But at least I got the feel of the past.
I suppose what I am trying to convey in this posting is: even if you don't or can't live in a period home, recreating the feeling of the past just takes a little bit of imagination and friends with the know-how to make it happen. For the most part, the costs should also be relatively low.
By the way, I do thank God for a wife who allows me to follow my/our dreams in such a way.
Well, with that---until next time, see you in time.
To learn more about the Daggett House, please click HERE
To learn more about the Giddings House, please click HERETo learn more about the Plympton House, please click HERE
For an overview of everyday life in colonial America, click HERE
For a posting about making memories in your home, click HERE
PS Samuel Daggett did not have a brother named Al.
Just so you know.
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