Thursday, March 29, 2012

Celebrating General Montgomery's Georgian House, c. 1790

It was one of those very special days when past and present come together in a powerful and meaningful way. I had the opportunity to tour the Montgomery House in Haverhill at the Oliverian Brook, store, barn and grounds with the generous owners and a colleague. The day was sunny and the Montgomery site, with it's some 4 acres of land, was spell binding. I have been in the house several times over the last 15 years, but not since beginning work on the 1793 Montgomery Store Day Book (Haverhill Hisotrical Society Collections) and with the General's 1825 probate inventory at hand. It was possible to see the entire Montgomery family project in a new light and with countless avenues for research. As my colleague commented recently on the allure of these past life experiences "it is wonderful to be happy in several centuries." Still processing this magnificent day, I wanted none the less to share some views of this remarkable North Country survival. It has been home to only four owners since construction.

The house was completed by the early 1790s and one of the most remarkable aspects is the sheer size and scale of the rooms, with floor heights well over 10 feet, even on the second floor. Simply but well detailed, deeply carved molding is also present throughout the house.  Little expense was spared.  The stair treads and risers permit a gradual ascent or descent, with ample room between the wall and the well-appointed stair rail, with three balusters per stair. The front entry is capacious and the 1825 inventory reveals the presence of "1pair dining tables, 1 mat and 1 pair firebuckets."

The second floor retains the elegant cove of the ballroom, once a common feature in the Haverhill houses and taverns which accommodated gatherings during the twice annual court weeks. The second floor ballroom was an uninterrupted expanse, but it could be easily divided with the hinged doors shown above, intact. 

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