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A Quest of Gray Shingles
By Charles H. Crandall
The great throat of the chimney laughed ! consequential things with a rare So it seems that the old houses must value because the effect is so unique go, as irrevocably as the generations that as well as delightful. The things that pass away are being more and more
Vi ed appreciated, and sometimes challenge a
SA higher valuation than the more pompous
Ya but more modern vericies that abide. So we are making treasures of the old daguerreotypes, the samplers, the old hall clocks, the ancient prints, the quaint pottery, the settles and stools and candlesticks which enjoyed their youth-time when great-grandmother enjoyed hers.
Unfortunately, we cannot preserve all our antiques. We cannot put a cabinet of glass over the old-fashioned country houses that are crumbling, crumbling
OLD DUTCH HOUSE, EASTHAMPTON, LONG ISLAND away on the hillsides of New England. they sheltered, and so there seems more Almost daily their knell is rung by the of pathos about the old house than about hammers of the great wave of “improve the andirons and blue china that we are ment," and a great villa rears its alleged able to seize and save like brands from “colonial” pretensions where yesterday the burning. Even the old gray homestead stood the low-gabled, gray-shingled home has its period of bloom, a sort of second slead, with its big square chimney of youth that comes to dear old ladies also, dove-gray granite, its broad windows of when the pink comes in their cheeks and seven-by-nine panes, and, inside, its low a dewiness in their eyes, and they are ceilings, tiny cupboards, and motherly big more charming than ever in this last fireplaces that have often taken a dozen Indian summer just previous to final logs, like a dozen children, into their arms. decay. This is the stage at which you And ever, as a louder blast
must portray the old homestead; and Shook beam and rafter as it passed, when it has arrived at this ripe bloom of
age, do not delay if you wish to paint it, or photograph it, or enjoy an afternoon in just admiring and loving the dear old house. For, ere you foresee, decay has done its work, and the fabric totters to its fall. Or, it may be, the renovator, w.th the best intentions, strips off the splendid old shingles, a yard long and rived by band two centuries ago, and puts a spick-span new sid'ng in their place. What impertinence! Go, tear the old lace cap from your grandmother and put on her the latest miiliner's nightmare of a bonnet! Where will you
find such_shingles to-day, split
AGED 1OO YEARS
from the primeval pine, nearly an inch well, and that was that when the rain thick in the center? No wonder they ran the way of the grain the wood lasted lasted a hundred years after the hand twice as long, and that a rived pine that shaped them moldered in the little shingle an inch thick was good for two resting-place walled out of a
hundred years ! of the meadow! We can chuckle over It is pleasant to note that while the one thing, at least—the carpenter earned Philistine is too frequent in the land, and his wages in taking off those same shin- the old house is not suffered often to die gles. They were nailed on with the old a natural death, yet there are those who wrought pails, driven into oak siding that appreciate it. We are reminded of sevhas hardened with age until it clasps the eral of the literary guild, since the days nail as if it were indeed brother iron. when Poe lived at Fordham, Cooper at
The Nemesis of outraged sanctity like- Mamaroneck, and Irving at Tarrytown, wise follows the unlucky man who con who have enjoyed exploring some of tracts to remove one of those old stone these ancient dwellings, and it must chimneys and put a small brick one in its be confessed that a few even went into place. The top of the square chimney ecstasies of admiration. One of the most rising above the roof, challenging the azure sky with a hue as delicate, is an innocentlooking affair. But the chimney widens toward the foot like the pyramid of Cheops, and, after furnishing a halfdozen rooms with fireplaces, a smokehouse for hams in the attic, a brick oven or two, it expands in the cellar into a generous support for the floorbeams, fifteen feet squire, of solid masonry. Once in a great while one knowing old carpenter who can judge as accurately of the age of an old house as if he were counting typical homesteads found, but not here the rings in the stump of a tree.
A pictured, one with great trees, bluestone certain style of molding, of wainscot, chimney, shingles showing a foot to the cupboard, 'doors, cornice, or what not, weather, a quaint porch, long, mossy fixes the period when the structure was gable, and a neighboring well-sweep_ founded. Of course, houses that were
all the ear-marks—was occupied by a famous as mansions when they were built young writer and his bride for two sumwould hardly pass muster now as comfort
so appropriately, it seemed as able farm-houses. As for that matter,
if two doves had alit to bill and coo the country home of George Washington under the eaves. This old “
“ Young's would be sneered at by a third-rate beef- homestead, on a corner, fenced by mossy packer of to-day, who must have his walls, situated near a gurgling waterbay windows, and balconies, and porte- fall of the Rippowam River, in North cochères, and wide piazzas. One wonders Stamford, was such a typical specimen of how the modern villa will look when it the gray-shingled antique as one may not has passed its one hundredth birthday. see in many a drive. But fate was enviOne thing the old builders did know ous, and it all lay in ashes one morning
ashes that were wet with genuine tears In a quest for the old gray-shingled for the pity of it.
house one soon learns that he will not Fortune favored the camera in our discover many well-preserved ones in a morning call on the old Barnum house in day's driving unless he is familiar with the outskirts of Stamford, pictured below. all the roads—knows their haunts, so to Only a few months later the exquisite old speak; for the old house in its habitat so shingles were stripped off the gable and harmonizes with its surroundings that it rew ones put on. But on this particular hides among bushes and rocks as slyly morning the old dwelling was radiant in as a partridge or quail. Even its adornthe soft, clear light. All its homely details ments and environment serve to draw and unconventionalities were transfigured. one's attention away from the old house, as It was cherry-time, and in chromatic if it were an old lady saying: “ Bless you! harmony a robin perched near by, and a Look at these pretty grandchildren of poor woman in a red bodice fitted in and mine. Pray, do not notice an old woman!" out about her washing. It seemed a sort Lilacs, syringas, trumpet-flower, red and of Rip Van Winkle vision of the old pio- pink and yellow roses, crocus and tulips,
Jacob's-ladder and wanderingJew, bleeding-hearts and lovein-a-mist, seem to spring up spontaneously all around the old gray houses. How can the old-fashioned flowers know how well the delicate gray in the background sets off their beauty ? Sometimes one will wish to buy one of these old places, to try to preserve so much of old-time charm, if may be, by ownership. Occasionally, of course, such places are for sale, but again one may be met by some sedate, grave person who will say, with quiet
dignity, "No, we prefer to keep THE BARNUM HOUSE-THE OLDEST IN STAMFORD, CONN. our home while we live." It
is easy to see how impossible it neer days set down here “on a bias" to would be for such people to invest any other the modern street, as nearly all old than their own gray dwelling with the attrihouses are left by the changing of road butes of home—that is, home with a big H. ways.
It is said that the place was orig The oldest house in the township of inally owned by kinsmen of the great showman, who never had anything so rare in his collection as such a house will be hundred years hence. This is a house that has seen General Putnam ride by at the head of his Continentals, has seen Lafayette's enthusias ic welcome by the populace, and
many other such scenes,
now almost forgotten.
THE SHAW HOUSE, NOROTON, CONN.
New Canaan, Conn., is situated on his- mony, for he muttered something about toric Carter Street, so called, a high ridge its being customary to pay a dollar on east of the village. This is the house such occasions, but, as it was a pretty bad once occupied by the Rev. John Ells, the night, it was not essential; and he trooped first pastor of the local Congregational off through the puddles with his bride church, which dates back to 1731. The under his arm. This house was built by fame of Brother Ells's wit promises to one of the first settlers of Carter Street, last longer than his house, however well about 1640, when white men first came to preserved the latter. It was uoder a New Canaan, and the red chiefs, Ponas window of this house, it is said, that the and Wascussue, were as common a sight minister made use of the formula also as First Selectmen are to-day in the town. attributed to Dean Swift, in marrying a It was an old house when the smoke of couple who appeared for the ceremony Danbury was rising in the north, and the lite on a stormy night. The minis'er British, after their work of pillage and did not cure to rise and dress so late, so sharp fight at Ridgefield, were driven by called the pair under his window and General Arnold and his co-patriots to their pronounced this quatrain :
boats on the Sound. Many of the original Under this window, in stormy weather,
shingles are still in place on the old house. I join this man and woman together;
On Oenoke Avenue, north of New Let none but Him who made this thunder Canaan, are several houses that date back E'er part this married pair asunder. to pre-Revolutionary times.
One now Tradition credits the bridegroom with as occupied by Mr. Bona was built in 1740, nimble a wit as the parson. The latter had by a settler, whose name, Haynes, still remarked that it was customary to offer clings to that ridge of land. This old
prayer on such occasions, but, as the structure also sheltered one of the worthy thunder-storm was growing violent, he parsons of early days, the Rev. Justus would omit it, as it was not essential. Mitchell, whose gift of oratory, percolating The bridegroom must have thought him- through three generations, flashed out self slighted by such an informal cere again with perennial charm in the person
of his great-grandson, Chauncey Mitchell homesteads on Long Island, and in the Depew. A furlong further north is the course of some months or years may have old Davenport mansion with its quaint made the acquaintance of many a grayporches, oval windows in the gables, shingled home. They have their chosen large rooms, old-fashioned halls, broad localities. If you go too far west, you windows of innumerable panes, all charm- will find the old houses made of rough ingly situated on a corner surrounded by brown stone; and further north they will large trees, with a guide-board in front, be of limestone. Where the saw.pit was and a watering-trough where the four-in- planted earliest, there the weather-board hands stop nowadays on their way from was used by early builders, but rarely Stamford to Ridgefield.
have clapboards survived from the last We find the old well-sweep, too, at the century, unless constantly painted. Paint Youngs homestead, previously alluded is an excellent thing within its scope, but to, and at the Crabbe cottage, not gray- that scope has nothing to do with investshingled, indeed, but gray-clapboarded, ing old shingled houses with the æsthetic when we photographed it (see page 68), charm that comes from the natural tints and remarkable for its tenant, Mrs. Phæbe of age. No, nol our grandmotherly old Crabbe, on whose head the summer of house shall not paint her cheeks! Yet 1897 promises to set the crown of a hun we have seen some homesteads that made
“Ah,” said the bright old a neat, sweet appearance with natural lady, with delicious disdain of old age, gray shingles, but with window-casings, “ what is the use of repairing an old sashes, door-casings, and cornice trimmed house? You may fix it, and mend it, and with white—a quaint dress that suggests patch it, and after all it is an old house a nice old Quaker lady with gray gown
and immaculate cap, collar, and ruffles of So we may go wandering over the hills white. Such a one is pictured on page 70 and vales of Connecticut and Westches —the Shaw homestead, west of Norotonter County, and among the old Dutch a finely preserved, hospitable old house.
By Octave Thanet
adding the fumes of kerosene than somebody oughed, and he shut
to the sickening riot of smells them again. I'm waiting to get at him!” in a crowded car in winter. To pre “You were always impatient, Thorne; vent any rash lover of fresh air from you were impatient at college I” raising a window, the railway authorities Thorne smoothed his brown Vandyke had thoughtfully screwed the outside win- beard and smiled a little. He looked dows to the car. They reasoned that like a genial man who might fall into fits most travelers want warm air, no matter
of passion. how foul, but that the few who want ven “I don't seem to have ever got any. tilation are sometimes violent, and might thing by being patient,” he grumbled. force pure air on unwilling receivers ; “ Look at that fool over there getting the therefore they had kindly but firmly taken last ventilator in the car closed, confound away the cause of dispute.
I hope he'll catch a cold from the At least this is what the pale man in a bad air. That woman in front of us has black suit, with the black mustache, said more sense ; see the poor thing huddled to his companion, the portly man in the up to the wir.dow for more air-fairly middle row.
dying, I know.” - Maybe,” grunted the portly man, The other man looked curiously at the 6 but if I come much nearer suffocation
She was of a truth huddled as I may accidentally break a window; I close as she could get to the window; paid that black scoundrel to open the and she had raised the inner sash. She