Be joyful even though you have considered all the facts...practice resurrection. -Wendell Berry

Saturday, August 17, 2013

a fine day, a fine man

Vermont marked The Battle of Bennington Day yesterday, and state offices and courts were closed. Many historical sites were open and free to the public. My cousin Kristen, her partner Gary and I went over to the Justin Morrill Homestead in Stratford. Justin Morrill was a self made man and served in both the House and the Senate, and he introduced the Land-Grant Acts, which enabled colleges to built in each state. These colleges offered women and other minorities free access to affordable higher education. 
Morrill helped design the house, and it is caught in between both the Gothic and Victorian styles. It's full of quirky features, artwork and hidden cupboards. The library is just as Morrill left it, filled with many handsome leather bound volumes. Researchers appreciate the collection of primary sources on the Civil War.
There are stained glass and hand painted glass windows in several rooms. The Morrills enjoyed time spent in Scotland, and this scene is incorporated in one of the library windows.
An avid horticulturist, Morrill's gardens are now maintained by folks participating in the local Master Gardener programAn orchard and berry patches fill a hillside above the gardens. 
An ice pond sits at the top of the property, and a series of aqueducts brings water to the different buildings The ice house was in use until the 1940's, when electricity was finally brought to the village.
The maid who lived with the Morrills for years ("the girl", as she was referred to...perhaps the Morrills were not entirely enlightened...) had a suite of rooms to herself. The walls in her sitting room caught the afternoon light in a most magical way, thanks to the tiny mica chips that were often an ingredient in the paint pots of the time.
I loved her work room, tucked under the eaves, where she mended and stitched. 

So many of the features of the homestead were a reflection of good stewardship and I often wonder if all "progress" has really brought us to a better place in history... 

Our costumed tour guide did a great job of sharing a sense of the times with us. I don't know her name, but think I'll write her a thank you note. I'll bet she'll get it.

(Sorry for the weird formatting today, Blogger and I had a tussle. Blogger won.)


  1. oh nice
    I bought a book at our library decades ago
    Bennington Souvenir 1904
    I will see if I can find him there

  2. Great post, fantastic photos:) Greetings