About Me

Growing up in a small New England town with a mother who was an antiquarian it was inevitable that I would be exposed to old things. After graduating from UMass/Amherst I lived in Connecticut, taught school, married, and raised three children in suburbia. A move to Newburyport MA renewed my interest in all things old. This background has now evolved into research, writing, consulting and all the things I love to do.

Prudence Fish

Monday, October 28, 2013


Thank you to all the readers who have looked at and responded to my posts.  It is exciting.

As a newcomer to blogging my primary goal was to reach people through an old house blog.  I hoped to advance my mission to save our architectural legacy  from needless destruction.  In general, I particularly wanted to make people more aware of the old houses around them.

One day many years after I had done a series of talks about old houses at a local historical society I was verbally accosted in a store.  As I stood in the checkout line at the market a woman ahead of me pointed her finger at me and blurted out, “ That’s the lady who’s going to cause me to have an accident!  I’ve been driving around looking for big chimneys ever since I heard her speak instead of watching the road!”

Wow!  I don’t want anyone to have an accident but I do want to heighten your awareness of our architectural treasures and inspire you to notice the buildings around you.  I hope you will become more proactive when you see senseless demolition about to take place.
On the other hand, it has been interesting to watch the number of hits and comments to the posts I have submitted so far.   It turns out to be somewhat of a bellwether telling me what you like.

I deviated slightly from facts about old houses to include the two posts of my grandmother’s memories. After all,  her house played prominently into the story.  Well, I should have known.  Myra has stolen the show!  In death as in life, Myra is a hard act to follow! Your response to her story has eclipsed everything else I've written.  One hundred and seventy five years after her birth she has fans all over the country.

It stands to reason that some of her relatives from the past might also have great stories.  They do.  So I have a few more gems to bring to you down the road but if I share them all at once I will soon run out of ancestors who left their stories behind to be told.  Stay tuned for stories of Sally Bramhall of Plymouth and Jerrus Madison Bryant of Paris, Maine whose stories are right up there with Myra’s.  There are probably other interesting ancestors but most remain anonymous because they didn’t save their stories and no one else did it for them.
Researching old houses always involves a certain amount of genealogy so it is fair to talk about genealogy in this blog.  That will be part of the agenda going forward.  Is it just me or have you had extreme coincidences in you genealogical research?  Have you found people, names or photos that are nothing short of miraculous? 

As a result of the blog a relative in Ohio, Myra's great granddaughter, sent me a copy of a letter written in the 1890s involving people in my hometown.  It was a very melodramatic letter and the owner of the letter wondered if I could identify the people in the letter or figure out what was going on.  With the help of Ancestry and NEHGS  I was able to reconstruct the whole scenario although I stayed up almost all night doing it,.  I was able to report back the facts gleaned from a letter that was supposed to have been burned in the 1890s.  All the players are long gone but the letter revealed an episode from the distant past.  More importantly it shed light on the mindset and prejudices of those that lived in that place at that time. 

It’s all fun and I hope that you will be entertained and inspired at the same time

In closing I will leave you with  views of one of my favorite houses in all New England; the Ruggles house in Columbia Falls, Maine.

Way down East in Columbia Falls is the ultimate example of Federal architecture.  Federal period architecture is supposed to be airy, light and graceful.  The 1818 Ruggles house, although almost miniature in size compared the large Federal mansions along the New England seacoast, epitomizes everything that is wonderful  in Federal /Adamesque architecture.

It was miraculously saved from the ruins that it had become.  It is now on the National Register of Historic Places as it should be.  As a museum house it is open to the public.  The drive to Columbia Falls is long from almost anywhere.  It is in the northeastern most corner of the US.  If you appreciate the best the Federal period has to offer seeing this house is a must. The Ruggles house embodies the best of the period.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog and sending your comments.  I will endeavor to make my posts entertaining but always remembering my mission;.  increase awareness;  save houses;  restore them correctly.
The Ruggles House restored
Ruggles House circa 1920
Ruggles House flying staircase.


  1. Yes, I have enjoyed reading your posts. Both homes and family! I love the pictures and the fact you are spreading the word that historic homes needs to be saved. It is not just the homes that are interesting - it is the people who lived in them - the gardens - the towns near them, and their lifestyles that interest me. Please keep up the interesting posts!