Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Have You Wondered Why There is Nothing On That Corner?



This is my house, the white one, on the left, before 1900. It was built c1850 at this location.  But even at that early date, the builder recycled materials from older structures.  So parts of the house could be 18th century. This photo will be in a new publication of the historic homes in Northfield, Massachusetts.  But this is not where I live.  Huh?!  

In about 1902 (unknown date) this house was put on an oxen-pulled apparatus and taken up the hill about a quarter of a mile and placed where we now live on what was a newly made town road. Why? Because they could. and did do that often here.  I know of several other large homes that were moved, some before they were even finished being built.  

This top photo shows a view looking South down Main Street with the Homestead of D.L.Moody to the left.  His birthplace home is just to the left/east of my house.  Look at the boardwalk sidewalk! To this day, there has been nothing else ever built on this corner.

And here is what I find kind of astonishing:  The town historians, who are very articulate on house histories, had never connected this house to this present location and prominence to the Moody family history until my recent prodding helped them uncover this photo.  I give great credit to Sue Ross for locating this photo and properly identifying it.  Because it is winter and the photo archives are in a cold building, it is not a good time to look for things.  But I hear there is a picture of the actual moving day, complete with oxen.  BUT, it may also be a picture of the carriage house being moved.  I intend to find it soon.  And you can be sure it will be posted here.

The carriage house, which we call the garage (but cannot park a single vehicle in, because of its structural UNintegrity) is another Moody structure, I believe. The historical types believe D.L.Moody's carriage house where he kept his famous carriages used to be across Winchester Street from his birthplace.  It is said to have been destroyed.  But I believe I have it.  This will be my summer search.  My garage/carriage house has a very small engraved plaque from some of the earliest students giving it as a gift to "Grandma Moody," the mother of D.L.  I am also looking  for the other original barn door to the building.  It must be somewhere nearby.  Last year, a neighbor told me she had it in her barn.  So excited, we went to see.  But it was not the right size.

The story:  William Moody, son of the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moodybuilt a new, lovely brick home on a newly opened town road, away from Main Street, and a block from the campus of Northfield Mount Herman.  He wanted his mother, Emma Revell Moody, a widow by then, to live nearer him.  She died in 1903, so she would not have lived here long. His mother-in-law may have lived here also.  William moved this lovely white home from the corner of Main Street and Moody Street to a steeply sloping lot across from his new home.  The history books do not talk much about her in her last years.  William's history in the brick home is even sadder.  He lost some of his children very young. 

Here is the same side, now the backyard side.  The dormer with the row of windows was added in the late twentieth century.  The door on the left was our replacement of the window a few years ago. (still awaiting that deck or terrace.)  And the stairs are also an addition.  We no longer have the original shutters.  They look to have been the traditional black.  

If you know this part of campus, there is a little playhouse that Moody built for his grandchildren, that would sit in the backyard here.  And if you were to sit on the hill facing Little Round Top to listen to an evening conference talk by Moody, you would be sitting in my yard here.  The original chimneys were much taller and had more detail.  The chimney on the far left is gone now, but it left behind its marks in the cellar.  I have to cover a place on the dining room wall with a large piece of art because of the patching where the chimney pipe used to be. Now I can see why.  And it looks like the back bump out had more windows.  It may have had an angled side that is not there now.  Because of how steeply sloping the yard is now, I would have to stand in the top of a tree to get the same angle on a photo.
This would have been the side facing Moody Street, looking South.  It is not visible in the 1800's photo. The front door is not seen, it is around to the left side.  The house was sited this way because of the slope at the rear of the house.  This does confuse visitors who most often end up at the street-facing door into the rear of the house.  I have tried to landscape to help direct people.  See the BIG house numbers.  The front door is beautiful and painted a nice yellow.  There is an additional door just unseen to the right of the porch rocker.  
This is Grandma Moody's carriage house, also moved here.  The lower right side has stanchions for milk cows, and troughs for their pee to run out.  Those are probably much later additions.

Has anyone seen my original carriage house door?  Please, everyone in  town, take a look in your barns. My guess is that Arthur Bolton, another owner,  took it off and gave it to one of his many carpentry customers back mid-century.  It will look just like the one on the right.  The tracks are still intact inside of the awful automatic door.  This building has been painted and had some repair since this photo was taken.

The only other freestanding structure is the chicken coop, which is also quite old.  I wonder if it was moved from somewhere else also.  I'll keep my eyes open as I scan more historical photos.

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