The Huntington House in Scotland, Connecticut:
A Summary History of the Occupants, House and Property based on Documentary, Architectural, and Archaeological Evidence.(Extracted from a report entitled Integration of Resources for the Huntington Homestead, by Myron O. Stachiw, July 1999, prepared for the Gov. Samuel Huntington Trust, Inc.)
The following essay is based on documentary and physical research completed during the 1997 Summer Field School in Architectural History and in the summer, fall, and winter months of 1997 and 1998. While the research is far from complete, it does provide sufficient information to create this chronology and interpretation of the Huntington family's contribution to the development of Scotland's center village and of the site. Information on the family is presented by generation. The house is discussed both chronologically and room-by-room.
The Huntington House was probably erected sometime between the transfer of land in 1715 from Joseph Huntington to his son Nathaniel, and Nathaniel's marriage in 1723 to Mehetabel Thurston of Bristol, R.I. As originally constructed, the house consisted of a two-story structure with an end chimney on the west end and one large room on each floor. By the time of Nathanielís death in 1767, the house had been doubled in size with the addition of two rooms west of the chimney, one on each story. The result was a central-chimney, two-story, one room deep house. It is possible that the rear leanto had been added by this time as well, giving the house a saltbox form.
As a major landowner in the center of Scotland Parish, Nathaniel Huntington was an important player in the early development of the community. He was involved in the organization of the parish and the first church, for which he gave the land; he granted to the town land for most of the roads emanating north and south from what is now Route 14 near the center, as well as common land near the church (now between the two arms of Route 97 South); he sold house lots along the present Route 97 south of Route 14; and he granted land to be flowed by a gristmill on Merrick's Brook for the benefit of the town.
At Nathaniel's death in 1767, the farm passed to his son youngest son Eliphalet. At the time it totaled 180 acres. Eliphalet, who had married Scotland resident Dinah Rudd in 1762, remained on the farm at least through the 1770s and early 1780s. He and his wife shared the house with his widowed mother, Mehetabel, until her death in 1781. Changes to the house during his tenure might include the addition of the leanto and later the addition of a firebox in the leanto.
Eliphalet Huntington seems to have left the farm sometime during the mid- to late-1780s, following some financial difficulties that undoubtedly resulted from his long struggle with intemperance and several years after the death of his aged mother. In 1788, in an execution against him and one Zephaniah Huntington, he and his wife were listed as living in New London. Earlier, in the 1770s, Eliphalet mortgaged the homestead, and in the 1780s he transferred the property to his brother Samuel, then living in Norwich. Samuel made arrangements for his financially-strapped brother and his wife and children to live on a nearby farm in Scotland, while his nephew Nathaniel (a son of Eliphalet and Dinah) lived and farmed on the Huntington farm.
It is unlikely that significant alterations were made to the house during the 1780s and 1790s when the farm was occupied by Samuel's nephew, Nathaniel. Nevertheless, it is possible that the reconstruction of the chimney and fireboxes in the hall, parlor and leanto were carried out during this period if they were badly deteriorated.
At Samuel's death in 1796, the farm passed through inheritance to his nephew, Samuel Huntington, Jr., who sold this property and an adjacent farm to Roswell Fox of Bozrah, Connecticut, later that same year. Fox resided on the farm for five years, during which time he sold several parcels from the 180-acre farm, and in 1801 he sold the remainder of the farm to Jacob Burnett of New London. Fox was probably responsible for several important changes to the house. In all likelihood, it was during Foxís tenure that a portion of the chimney was reconstructed. Fox was also probably responsible for the refinishing of the hall chamber. A small brick firebox was added to this room, and the chimney breast wall was entirely sheathed with an assemblage of raised, feather-edged panels. The summer beam, posts, and girts were cased, and earlier wall sheathing was removed and replaced with plaster applied over lath.
Jacob Burnett moved into the house and almost immediately began a major renovation of both the interior and exterior of the house, probably continuing the process begun by Fox. By the time he was finished, he would have removed or covered over any finishes dating back to the Huntington occupation. Had Nathaniel Huntington or his wife Mehetabel returned to the house after Fox and Burnett were finished, they would scarcely have recognized the house as the same building, so thorough were the changes. On the interior, new plastered wall and ceiling surfaces were applied in all rooms but the hall chamber, and these were painted and stenciled in bright colors and fashionable border patterns; new wood finishes were applied in all rooms but the hall chamber, including baseboards and chair rails, doors and door trim, mantels, cupboards, window trim and shutters; a new staircase was built, reversing the direction of the original stairs; the parlor chamber and garret were carved up to create a new room for a domestic servant or a hired hand; and fireboxes were closed down further and the leanto fireplace had its bake oven built outside of the firebox in the newly fashionable manner to make baking easier and more efficient. On the exterior, the arrangement of the windows in the original portion of the house was altered to make them more regular, and larger twelve-over-twelve-light sash windows were installed in place of the smaller nine-over-six sash windows. New siding and cornice trim were applied, and a new front doorway with top lights created.
Jacob Burnett died in 1814, and the property continued to be occupied by his widow Esther Burnett as her dower right. The land continued to be farmed, as Esther rented the land to local farmers. When Esther died insolvent in 1835, the land was divided among several heirs, one of whom, John Burnett, the brother of Jacob, purchased the shares of the other heirs and occupied the farm for several years. In 1839 he sold the property to Daniel Tyler of Windham, a prosperous farmer, store- and mill-owner, and moneylender. At the time of his death in 1849, outstanding notes to his estate totaled $2600, nearly half the value of his entire estate.
Burnett and his heirs, as well as Daniel Tyler, sold off portions of the farm, including land for the development of the textile factory along Merrick's Brook south of Route 14, and the adjacent house lots to the east and west of the Huntington house. It is likely that Tyler was responsible for the erection of the small, one-story ell on the east end of the house and the related changes to the interior of the leanto.
At Tyler's death, in 1849, the farm passed by inheritance to Tyler's daughter, Mary Ann Bromley, and her husband, Dr. Calvin B. Bromley. A physician, Bromley appears often in town records, as he was frequently paid for caring for the townís poor and sick. After Dr. Bromley's death in 1871, his wife and children sold the house, outbuildings, and thirty acres of land to Marvin Barrett. This parcel was located entirely north of Route 14, and represented only a fraction of the original Huntington farm.
Over the next forty years the farm was owned by a series of absentee owners. Reduced to thirty acres, it had lost its vitality as an independent agricultural property, but continued to be farmed by area farmers who supplemented their acreage with the tillage and meadows of the former Huntington farm. Few changes other than painting and wallpapering occurred to the house at this time.
Barrett sold the farm, in 1875, just four years after his purchase, to Stephen Reynolds of Griswold, Connecticut. Reynolds owned the land until his death in 1910, when his daughters sold it to Adaline E. Murray of Scotland. She deeded the farm to Sadie Kimball, also of Scotland, in 1922. Sadie and her husband and four children occupied and farmed the land for more than seventy years. Only the Huntingtons owned and occupied the land longer. In 1994, Eva Kimball, Saddens youngest child and only daughter, sold the land to the town of Scotland. In 1994 the Governor Samuel Huntington Trust, Inc. was formed to purchase the house and to preserve it as a museum. In 1996 they were able to purchase the house and five acres of land immediately surrounding the house.
Poverty is often called the preservationists' best friend, and in this case it certainly did help in preserving the house. After the addition of closets in the parlor in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, very few changes to the house and site took place. It was not until the Kimballs' tenure that some changes began to take place, and these were mostly of removal. The large barn and most outbuildings were dismantled and a new concrete-walled barn with silo and a dairy house were built in the 1930s and 1940s. The stone walls along Route 14 and the driveway were removed, probably during the widening of the road. In the 1950s the east ell was converted to a kitchen and bathroom. The Kimballs also removed the partition wall in the hall, and added partition walls in the hall chamber to provide some private space for the children, and changed the window sash. A porch roof with a concrete porch floor was added to the east ell, and doors were opened from the hall into the ell and out to the ell porch. Layers of paint and wallpaper were added, as cosmetic changes were made to improve the appearance of the house, but not to really alter the arrangement and basic fabric of the structure.
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|The Huntington Homestead is owned and operated by the Governor Samuel Huntington Trust, Inc., PO Box 231, Scotland, CT 06264. A non-profit corporation formed in 1994, the Trust is authorized by the IRS to receive tax-exempt contributions. This site has been made possible by a grant from the Connecticut Society of the Cincinnati.|
|This page last modified on 2/17/01.|