The Acquisition of the Oaks


As told by a voice from the past:

“In 1913, the Col. Timothy Bigelow Chapter, D.A.R. was holding its meetings in the Woman’s Club building.  The room was entirely adequate as to size, for our membership was then about 170, with many living in other cities, as at the present time.

At that time, this Paine property was for sale and several members of the Chapter thought it would be wise to purchase it and have a permanent home for the organization and an object to work for.

The house was colonial commenced before the Revolution but was not finished until 1794.  There were great possibilities in acquiring such a large holding near the center of the city and the terms of purchase were more than favorable.

For five years, we were to pay no interest on the $13,500, the price of the estate. During that time we could be repairing the house and put the grounds, a perfect tangle of underbrush, in condition to house a strong, patriotic group of earnest women, bent upon providing a home, not only for themselves, but for generations to come.

At the first proposal to purchase the property, a strong opposition was aroused.  Members were aghast at the idea of assuming such a burden, and promptly voted the measure down, saying we were crazy to even think of it.

Nothing daunted, the matter was brought up at the next meeting for discussion, and at that time the vote to purchase the property was successful — some members resigning on that account.

Then the work began and it was work.

The grounds were covered with knee-high and waist-high grass, weeds, shrubs and small trees.  The house, not having been occupied for twenty-five years,  and the grounds having had no care, you can imagine the conditions then existing.  It had evidently served as a public dumping-ground, for loads upon loads were taken away.  And the interior of the house! The beds were made, but evidently  had served as nesting places for squirrels and cats.  The paper hung in strips from the walls and it seemed impossible to ever remove the damp moldy odor which permeated the whole house.

The stairs at the back led to a long narrow hall, with small bedrooms opening out to the north.  That is the section where the greatest change has been made, for the partitions were removed and the the result was the attractive hall where we hold our gatherings.

A heating plant, the gift of a brother of one of our members, was installed.

Donning old dresses and aprons, energetic members removed the old paper from the walls —  layer upon layer in some places — scrubbed the paint and the floors, and made rooms clean and in condition to be redecorated.

Care had to be taken in selecting papers and fittings to conform with the period, but from that maze has emerged this wonderful old house with only a $6500 mortgage on the property, and loyal members to carry on.

The rooms are filled with fine antiques, some loaned, some our own.  Cases of genuine antiques are ours, collections of cup plates, sandwich glass, tea pots, china, caps, old linen, pewter, and innumerable relics of older times.

To you, Children of the American Revolution, we will pass on all of this, to preserve and cherish.”

2 thoughts on “The Acquisition of the Oaks

  1. Beth Tivnan says:

    The story is coming alive. I love to think of those determined women taking on this enormous task with such passion. Just imagine – this was before they even had the right to vote. I can’t wait to see what else our dedicated chapter historian uncovers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda Hart says:

    Thanks for setting this up, Jenn. A perfect place to capture our history and all the stories we are uncovering as we organize our collection


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