Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reflections of Centuries Past

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed this cool combination of shadows and reflections on one of Madison's historical homes, the Deacon John Graves home, 1681. How many eyes have peered from this window through the centuries? What did they see? Whose return were they awaiting? What did they think about, personally and about the news of the day? How many blizzards and hurricanes were viewed through these panes? How many tragedies, how many joys?

Growing up in a house built in 1766 (rebuilt in 1784 after the British burned it), the Daniel and Charity Leete House, these are questions I've thought about my entire life. It was quite well-known among my family members of several generations that our house had spirits—many of us felt their presence and several of us saw them—and I have no doubt this ancient home is similarly equipped! Apparently in the latest restoration done after we sold that family house in the mid 1980s, some of the charred rafters from the roof were replaced and put on display. They were still very much in use during the almost 150 years my family owned it!

The front of the Graves House is classic 17th century architecture. When I thought about my adult life, I never pictured living in any other type of house, but life has a way of changing those pictures... Maybe someday, maybe someday... For more information about this historic home, click here.

On the front lawn of the Graves House is this ancient stone. It's approximately 4-feet in diameter, and has grooved edges. I think it might be some sort of mill- or grinding stone.

The home's backyard includes a classic New England barn, and this lovely perennial garden.

A closeup view of the perennial garden. This is perennials done perfectly. I'm going to add some flowers to my gardens next year following these plantings. It's just beautiful for fall with sedums, rudbeckia, asters, ornamental grasses and chrysanthemums. Pretty as a picture, right, lol?

The plaque on my adopted town's green. I'm originally from the town next door, Guilford, which was incorporated in 1639, almost 200 years earlier than was Madison. Perhaps that's why my family always thought of Madison as being "new money," versus "salt-of-the-earth money," lol.

B O N U S   P H O T O S :
Looking very much like a Greek temple with its severely classical architecture, the First Congregational Church on our town green is just a few steps away from the Graves House. There has been a church of this denomination on the green for more than 300 years, but this building dates to 1807.

I'd like to meet the people that drove by this sandwich board in front of the local travel agency and decided on the spur-of-the-moment to spend almost $40,000 for a vacation. That's my town. I'm lucky they let me live here, lol.


  1. What an interesting reflections photo. I love your pondering about the eyes that have looked through these panes.

    The perennial garden is very pleasing to the eye - yep, pretty as a picture for sure.

    Thanks so much Casey.

  2. thanks, Annie. I used to lay in my bed, or on the couch, and wonder how many other people from the 'olden days" had stared at the same ceilings, the same chipped woodwork around the fireplace, the same wainscoting, the same forged hinges. I always felt a kinship with those that came before me. I wouldn't change those experiences for anything.

  3. Hi Casey! My favorite of all of your posts are the ones in which you talk about life growing up in your old house. Or your family. This was an interesting post. The history and photos are wonderful to go along with that. Saved the pic of the garden for wallpaper. Hee hee (I've seen you give permission before.)

    Thanks for taking us with you and you stroll through Madison and down memory lane. :)


  4. thank you Katie. It'll be winter soon, homebound, I'll probably do more writing than I have this year.

  5. This is an excellent post describing personal experience and those that have existed before in a mini well crafted bio/autobio.

    There aren't many people I know that can trace their family roots that long ago. I'm second generation American and my family has only lived on Long Island for the past 45 years. I assumed that my house was built on an old potato field being that it is flat. I did dig up some horseshoes out back and really don't want to find what else is down there.
    Just recently, I discovered that in one of the major hills on my high school's field lays an underground mass burial dating back to colonial times . I wonder what that was only about, but who would I ask?

    In the "old town" of Roslyn, George Washington had slept in an inn. Hundreds of years later they converted it to a restaurant. I can only imagine some ghost/spirits chewing on a burger after hours…hahaha.

  6. very kind words, Woody, thank you.

    You might be able to go the town/city hall, and research their death/cemetery records, if they go back to colonial times. Many times because of fires or other natural disasters, they're not available anymore. You could research land deeds also, and see how far back they go to figure out who might be buried there. Many antique homes/farms had their own family cemeteries, perhaps lost to the ages now if they didn't use headstones, and many didn't. In our original family plot, only three people that died in my lifetime have stones. No one else wanted them, and there are perhaps 15 people buried there.