- [Doug] The restoration of these buildings has
always been a passion for me.
To take some of the legacy that we all have
of these early homes and to make them
so that future generations have a chance to
come in and maybe see how these early settlers lived.
The house here, the Pilgrim House,
came from Billerica which is a couple hours away.
To think this is one of the 50 oldest houses
in this country that's still standing is,
I can't believe it.
The whole history and purpose of this house
was to be a shelter for women and children.
In other words, a garrison house and the room
that they came to is pretty much exactly the way it was.
It's an unbelievable room.
The items in the room are things from that period.
The Hadley Chest which shows you the carving
that they did at that time on these early chests.
This would date back early 1600.
The gate leg table in the center of the room
with the banister back chairs that go around it.
The court cupboard.
The court cupboard, other than the Bible box,
was certainly the most important piece of
furniture in the house.
It's where they kept their major documents and papers.
I'm blown away every time I go in there that
at a time in our country, when they were trying to
scratch out a living, that anyone could make a
room with such beauty.
The hallway there, the staircase, is unbelievable.
It's exactly as it was built.
The balustrade and the steps and the risers.
It's just the way it would have been done with
all the bricks exposed.
Much of the wood in this house has never been painted.
The patina on the wood is from mother nature.
It's got a tan look to it you just cannot get
in any way except being exposed all those years.
350 years! Imagine it!
Somebody hasn't lived in there and put wallpaper
or paint or decorated in some way.
It's really what I think is the greatest
element of the place.
The main house was built as two over two
and the lean-to was added later as a kitchen.
When you walk through the room,
you can't help but notice some of the things that
are typical of the Pilgrim period.
The Bible box, for example.
Theology was very important and this got a place of honor.
A lot of pewter which was mostly tin.
You notice a lot of things of horn.
But the fireplace is obviously the focal point of the room.
And while my fireplace tends to have way more
than they would typically have had back then,
I think all the things that you see in there
are appropriate as to what they would use.
And they had things that were the counterpart
of what we have today.
There's a broom here. It's all one piece of wood.
Except for the iron bands that go around it.
What makes a good Pilgrim broom is
one that would stand by itself.
Always at the end of either a keeping room or
in this case, a lean-to was a small room
that was located somewhere near the heat
of the major fireplace.
This is where the women would have had their children.
The birthing room.
There was a small cot in here and
it would be used all through the child raising years.
When I'm in the process of restoration,
the nails that we use are taken out of a building
and so when they pull them out,
sometimes they're turned circular,
they're crimped around, they're twisted.
These are blacksmith handmade nails.
The only way you can really get those
is to dismantle a building.
You don't go someplace and buy them.
So, one of the crazy little things that I do.
It doesn't matter how late I've been out the night before
or who I've entertained.
My goal is to straighten 100 nails every night.
Once the Pilgrim House was up, there needed to be
a connector to the shed of the building.
We call this an L. This happens to be not Pilgrim.
This is Colonial. So this would date to the 1790's.
The structure of it, the architecture of it,
is very different with the hand hewn New England beams
in the ceiling, the wide period floorboards.
All the cabinetry work is modern but it's been done in
an early way with hand planing.
The stone on the counters are all soapstone from Vermont.
The carriage shed dates to about the 1790's.
I get so excited to show everyone because
when I say it's the finest one they'll ever see,
and they come to look at the outside and they see
two doors and a rusted tin roof, they think
how great can it be?
They go inside and then I say to them,
now don't look at all my stuff I've collected
and then the modern buggies that are in here.
I want you to look up. It's the beauty of construction
as to why I fell in love with it.
The water tower dates to about 1890.
When I was restoring the property, I really missed
not being able to see the views in the back.
So, I wanted to get up high enough so I could see it
and I wanted to acquire a tall structure
like a water tower.
Hadn't any more than finished the last shingle
on the roof of completing the water tower structure
when the land owner next door decided to harvest
the trees, cut all the trees, and now I can see
everything from the ground.
Little by little, the other buildings came into being.
I wasn't quite ready to plunge into the Pilgrim House
until my research was complete.
And so, I began acquiring other accessory buildings
such as the schoolhouse.
I went to one room schoolhouse and my aunt was the teacher.
There were two or three kids in my class
and six grades in one room.
Kids today would have no conception of what a
one room schoolhouse was like.
So, in part of the town history is that there
were 18 of them here and I thought that if I could
restore and save just one of them.
And the best thing of all was the people in the
neighborhood who came to see this coming together
and offered things that they might have in
their collections that might relate to the school.
Now that it's complete, the local school system,
fourth grade classes primarily, all the kids come,
they get to sit in the chairs, they get to open the books
and see what a one room schoolhouse was like.
One of the regrets I have really as I look back
is not having had a better appreciation for my background.
I'm one of 13. We all grew up in the same house,
born there, that previous generations had,
going back to the house about 1810.
As I was growing up, I never really had an appreciation
for that old house. I really didn't.
I was envious of friends that had houses that had
modern things and I didn't really want my friends
to come there.
And my parents are both gone now and I think if I
could go back, I'd have them know that I really
did appreciate what we had and do so more today than ever.