Tag Archives: Architecture

Today on the Farm

Today was hot and sunny in Holliston. A workday for me, but I had a chance to grab a few things from the garden and grounds. The yellow pear tomatoes and cucumber for lunch, the bush beans for dinner, and some hydrangeas for the counter and peppermint for water.

Generally it’s hard to break away from work – meetings, and the real work between them have a way of gluing me to my seat. But outside the sun shines on the farm and there’s so much happening — so I try to get outside at lunch and then after work for sure.

Tonight we made dinner on the grill and because I had some frozen fries from the market we took a toaster oven outside and plugged it in to cook them without heating the kitchen.

We have resisted putting air conditioning in because the house is so sprawling the cost to run it would be crazy. Plus they are so ugly hanging out of the windows. We avoid cooking/baking during hot days. The kitchen itself is “new” – from the 1900s, we think. The original – now called the “keep” at the center of the house – hasn’t been the house kitchen for some time. We aren’t sure who moved it to the annex that was once a 1900s garage for Porsche’s – but today it sits in an addition to the east side of the house which we think Sam Elliot built for his Porsche collection.

Sam Elliot – a wealthy Boston real estate man – bought this house as a summer retreat for his family in the early 1900s. They spent lavishly, installing an in ground pool to the south west of the house, a giant cistern under what is now the kitchen, and was once a garage that was attached to a barn on the east side of the house, and a west wing of two 14 by 14 bedrooms. Sam was a Porsche enthusiast, and old photos of the house show our present kitchen with garage doors – no doubt there to house the Porsches that we have photos of him and Anne Elliot, his wife, in.

The previous owners of this house were kind enough to leave us the history they collected, which includes some photos of the Elliots enjoying their summer property, and we’ve begun to build on it, intending to leave more still for the next owners.

More on the history – and some of my partner Jon’s research – in the next blog.

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Major Miller’s House

This New England house was built around 1750 by Major Jacob Miller of Holliston, MA. Jacob fought in the revolutionary war with Paul Revere, who most certainly was in this house. They fought together at what is now castle island and Jacob was at the battle of Lexington, too. During the war, Jacob gifted Rever land at the bottom of the hill we live on – Miller Hill – to hide his family out during the war. And John Adams’ family had a house around the corner on Adams Street. The place is storied.

This house has a spirit of its own. It was home to the family that built it for over 100 years and to several families since. Now, I live here with my children, partner of 7 years, and our two dogs and cat. The energy of the place has a way of welcoming people and making them feel safe. Many have remarked on it when they’ve visited.

I dare say the house hasn’t changed much from when Jacob built it. It retains its old beams, its old horsehair walls, its old floors, the revolutionary irons in the fireplace, the old chimney stack…

The old kitchen, called “the keep,” has a great old mantle and parson’s cabinet – a hidden panel that concealed a shelf for liquor, in case the parson turn up – liquor was strictly forbidden in colonial times, apparently. I am thinking of using it to hide my booze from my teenagers.

We’ve been here for almost four years, now. We reinforced the floors, adding columns in the old fieldstone cellar to support the sagging old wood beams, swapping wallpaper for colonial color paints, and trying generally to keep up with repairs and updates to plumbing and electricity. The previous owners did a beautiful renovation, replacing 12 over 12 windows and generally updating electricity, fixtures, siding, etc… and the grounds. There are 3.5 acres of land previous owners have grazed their horses on and, rumor has it the Millers grew hemp. We’ve saved 2 of 3 giant old ash trees and my boyfriend has learned a lot about John Deere tractor maintenance.

We’ve made a kind of project of the place, creating a reasonably large vegetable garden and I’m creating a kitchen herb garden, too. I prepare food from our garden, we keep chickens, and I cook with and make tea with the herbs I grow. And it seems to me that all of this effort on such an historic property deserves to be shared, so I’ll be posting updates and stories about the house here. I may even change the title of this blog if this sticks.

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