“While growing up in Western Massachusetts, I admired Colonial style houses like this, which are common throughout the State. Many have been “updated” and the purity of their origin compromised, but the ones whose character have been preserved are most attractive and historic. They represent, to me, the early settlers of a beautiful, yet sometimes harsh, countryside. The layout of these houses was conducive to enduring harsh cold winters in the Berkshire Hills. Large fireplaces in the center of the two story home with passive heat flowing through vents to the bedrooms upstairs. The one pictured was built in 1806 by a Revolutionary War veteran, in my home town of Middlefield. It now belongs to my sister.
The picture also shows the stone wall separating the property from the dirt road/ public roadway. Stone walls are also common in New England, historically representing property lines, animal barriers and other uses. The land is so rocky in New England, the walls were a logical use of the rocks that thad to be cleared to utilize the land.
The inset picture is another common site on rural acreage and represents cultural remnants of past ‘lives’ on that same ground. This particular stone fireplace is in the side “yard” of the larger house. The area around it is mowed and maintained, but the fireplace stands as a little recognized monument to the past. In general, these sites are the result of new land use developed around the old without much regard, as long as it wasn’t in the way. As kids, we would sometimes play on those sites, finding old artifacts, as if we were archeologists. It’s an interesting concept, now that I have a more removed perspective. Growing up, I knew a fireplace remnant represented the site of a home a long time ago but didn’t see it as odd that it was just abandoned and life moved on around it. There are some who take interest now and study the history of these various sites.
So, as another history followed that of the Pilgrims, Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere, Salem Witch Trials… the gradual settlement of ordinary farmers, tradespeople, etc. across the state. Many of whom built these Colonial style homes which stand strong today as testimony to those early settlers. Perhaps a part of Massachusetts history drifting away and beyond being synonymous with US History.” – Lisa
Header image: map of Northeast Houston in 1922, courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.