Our lovely next door neighbor Emiko and her husband Peter stopped by today. Living in such an old house, we know much has happened in it—and to it—over the years. We are fascinated by stories of its origins, and are lucky to have two sets of neighbors who have filled in much detail. Marguerite and Tom, who live across the street, told us about the old mill (all that remains is the dam created to power it), and the history of our barn which once served as a general store and post office. We learned about a fresh water spring on our property and that once, while Marguerite and Tom were digging a new well, they pumped water from the spring, across our fields and the road, to their house.
Emiko and Peter have lived next door for close to 40 years, so they too know much of our house’s evolution. Today we walked room by room with them, hearing about the many changes wrought by three sets of owners before us (the last owners lived here less than a year). We can’t imagine why, but at one time the fireplace had been cemented over, and Peter helped break down the wall to expose it and bring it back into service. The brick facade of our fireplace was added by their friends, so it’s even newer than I’d imagined. Cherisse has done a lot of work on our house, replacing the front sill, taking walls and ceilings down to the beams, so we have seen many of the house’s “bones.” But hearing about little details (like where the original door to the 1740s part of the house once was), paints a fuller picture. As they left, Peter stepped out the door onto the huge stone slab, and said “Oh, I remember that stone well.” He and our neighbor Tom helped set it in place.
One of the things we love about our house is how it’s grown around each of its owners. From the people who first built it, 270 years ago, to the Otis Williams family, whose name is on the Foster historic plaque on the front (dated 1850), to the family that lived with their livestock (not so long ago as you might hope). This house has been added to, reshaped, and enjoyed by many families, and we are lucky to be one of them.