So let's take a look at what will be on the tour, starting with the houses and gardens: We have seven homes plus gardens on this year's tour. All of these historic homes were built between 1802 and 1885 giving visitors a real inside look at 19th Century life. All have been loving cared for by present owners.
Beginning with the oldest house on tour (top right photo), the Smith home (originally built in 1802) was once part of a larger home still standing on Paris Hill Road. It was moved to its present location some time in the early 1800's. Amazing how they were able to accomplish that with just horses and oxen. The home has been modernized, but still retains its old farmhouse charm, with a repurposed stable, barn lofts, shop and garage.
Crossroads was built in 1818 by Stephen Emery a local judge and state office holder. Built in the Federal style the house has been modified several times resulting in additions to the back of the house, and exterior porches. The interior of this stately home is simple and yet elegant as befits the style of the era. The gardens of this home join with those of the Old Courthouse and feature many trees and flowers that were planted early in the 20th Century.
The Cummings House was also built in 1818, but suffered a devastating fire in 2000. Current owners rebuilt carefully to recreate the historic home complete with mural and wall paper details. Only the old lilacs survived the fire, but modern gardens reflect the flowers and shrubs of the 19th century.
The Registry was built in 1826 and served as the County Offices until 1895. The building consisted of four rooms: two upstairs and two down. The four smaller back rooms were added later as vaults for town documents. This home has been owned by the same family since 1920. The side yard was the location of the First Universalist Church from 1859 - 1955 when fire destroyed the structure.
The Marble Farmstead on Lincoln Street was built in 1840 as a four room farmhouse. As fortunes increased the original owner added on creating the New England "big house, little house, back house, barn" connected farmstead. The connection ell was torn down in 2004 due to structural issues and the barn saved, but reduced in size. The house has been recently completely restored and a three season porch added.
Hammond House was build by Benjamin Gates in 1853. The original large farm barn was removed, but the remaining house and attached carriage house are original to the property. The footprint of the original house remains intact as the does interior woodwork. A four season porch was added in 2003, and the former ell was reworked in 2008 to include a back stairway.
The Birches was built in 1885 by a renowned Paris Hill hostess who threw legendary parties in the 18 room house. The home has six bedrooms, five bathrooms and five working fireplaces. Current owners have completely restored the house over the past 12 years and are still at work on the gardens including a kitchen courtyard and stone pathways.
Don't miss your chance to get inside these historic homes, some of which have never been open to the public. Tickets may be purchased on the day of the event at the Marble Farmstead on 57 Lincoln Street, or near the Registry on the Common. Next blog will preview the 8 gardens on the tour.