Tuesday, October 1, 2013

'The Old Red House' 56 Central St., Andover, 1704

A Share by Jane Griswold Radocchia and her blog  

Home of Andover colonists reveal family had little privacy

In 1692, 43 people in Andover were accused of being witches. In Salem, "witches" were killed. 300 years later, it is hard to believe that witchcraft was such a serious crime.
The local historical societies suggested I write about that time, and I liked the idea. But the landscape has become so altered over the last 3 centuries that there is almost nothing to photograph. I decided that perhaps these changes themselves might be a way to see what life had been like. So in the next several articles I'll try to touch on parts of ordinary life in 1692 in the Merrimack Valley.

"The Old Red House" was built in 1704 by John Abbott. Although it was built 12 years after the witch trials, the house shows how a family in those days expected to live. The gable on the right in the drawing is the original house: 2 stories, each floor a 20' x 20' room, with a stair entry and fireplace. As the picture shows, lean-tos and wings were added over the years. But they were not rooms for the family. With doors leading directly outside, and windows for light, not view, they were spaces for food storage, equipment and animals. The family - John Abbott, his wife and children - lived in the original 2 rooms. They had no privacy and did not expect it. This is partly because their lives were full of the labor which was necessary on a farm, but mostly because they had
never known privacy. Our notions today that people need their own spaces would seem very strange to them. In 1858, the house was gutted by fire and then razed.

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