Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Butler's Manor - House History, Part 3


Houses are adapted to suit the needs of their owners. Wings or second stories are added to accommodate burgeoning families; basements finished to accommodate the privacy needs of teenagers or to function as recreational space. In houses as old as ours (150 years), it's sometimes difficult to know where the original bones are.

Unless someone decides to uncover them.

Chris and I had been told that at one stage in the many iterations of the house here at 244 North Main Street, the dining room's walls were two stories high and that the center of the house was vaulted to the ridge peak. To relate that to the layout of how A Butler's Manor appears today, this translates to two rooms missing: Cliffside (over the dining room) and Oak Knoll. I'm usually pretty good at visualizing things, but this one escaped me...until Mike sent his pictures.

As you see from the photo on the left, once it was possible to stand in the upstairs hall and look down into the dining room...or up and see the clouds through the round window up in the very top of the house's face. In the picture on the right, what is now the room Goose Creek opens off the doorway on the left, and the stairs go down to the front door.

I wish I knew how the owners used the space in the left foreground. Was it a sitting room? A library?
Was there perhaps a circular staircase in one corner, leading up to the loft above? And what was that space used for? For me, getting a taste of history whets the appetite for more answers, many of which can perhaps never be answered.

A later owner (re?) enclosed the space and added the two guest rooms, but in this case, what was literally uncovered were all the original beams, many of which are still visible today...incorporated into the walls in the rooms Oak Knoll and Villefranche as well as the living rooms and halls. Our guests invariably comment on them with appreciation.  History has a way of doing that to you, I guess.
the dining room today

Though never on the scale of the renovation pictured here, Chris and I have remodeled all of the houses we've ever lived in. While none was as historic as A Butler's Manor, we've always been conscious that others might find clues of the lives lived prior to their occupancy as interesting as we do. To that end, we've left little "time capsules" with a dated photo shut up in walls, for someone in the future to find...for it's certain that humans will continue to remake their abodes to reflect their needs and wants.






Quote of the Day: "He who loves an old house never loves in vain." -- Isabel LaHowe Conant



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