|The Oaks—Entrance today|
The other day, I discovered a hidden gem nearby. The Oaks, also known as the Paine Estate, was not exactly hidden. I’ve driven past it scores of times without noticing. Building started in 1774, then paused during the Revolutionary War—the owner being a Tory. The house’s history is long and filled with characters and stories. The house itself is chockablock with objects which date from its earliest days on through its various building stages, its rescue in 1914 by the Timothy Bigelow Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and its life in succeeding decades. It had stood empty for twenty years when the DAR rescued and restored it—which included scraping the black paint off beautiful marble and slate fireplaces.
|The Oaks—Original Entrance|
Thanks to its being a chapter house, it still has vitality, something you can feel when you enter. As someone lucky enough to visit many historic houses, here and in England, I’ve noticed the difference between houses that are basically museums and houses that are museum-like but continue to have a real life, either as a family residence or, as in this case, an organization’s ongoing use. The Timothy Bigelow Chapter of the DAR meets, holds numerous events, and conducts tours here. A caretaker lives in the house. It’s loved and appreciated. The women who took us about the other day clearly loved the house, and delight in the discoveries they continue to make about it.
Rather than attempt to encapsulate in a short blog what others have covered in beautiful detail, I offer some photos and links.
|Small Dining Room|
We were invited to touch the table in the center of the photo—and I will tell you I had goose bumps when I learned that John Adams, our second president, dined at this very table, which currently stands in the small dining room of the house.
I loved this bedroom, simply because there was so much interesting stuff in it: the comb-back chairs, the rocking chair arrangement between them, which allowed for mother or nursemaid to sit next to the baby. As Jennifer Willson’s Revolutionary Oaks blog indicates, they are acquiring and finding objects all the time.
I plan to return for a private tour, my photographer armed with a tripod (the rooms are dark, making photography tricky). Then you can expect some close-ups and details about fascinating objects.
Meanwhile, you can view then (1890) and now photos of the rooms here. Please click on the images to enlarge.
You can find out more about its history here at the chapter’s site, and here at the College of the Holy Cross site.
You can find out about one of the colorful family members, at the the City of Worcester site.
Images by Walter Henritze. Please click to enlarge.