Saturday, 13 June 2015

Edmund Wilson's "The Old Stone House"

The Talcott family founded Lewis County, New York's first settlement, Talcottville.  On the banks of the Sugar River, they constructed a two and a half story limestone house, which was later purchased by the Wilson family as a summer home.  Author Edmund Wilson made many childhood memories in its foot and a half thick walls.

In the 1950's, Edmund Wilson inherited the family home, now a "musty, ghost-ridden wreck".  Yet it sill held his treasured memories.  He wrote an essay, packed full of local lore, about the Talcottville house for the magazine Scribners.  As a blogger said, "History is a language for him."  Here is an excerpt from The Old Stone House (

"It was begun in 1800 and took four years to build.  The stone had to be quarried out of the out of the banks of Sugar River, close by, beside the falls.  The walls of the house were a foot and a half thick, and the plaster was applied to the stone without any intervening lattice.  The beams were secured by gigantic nails made by hand and some of them eighteen inches long.  Solid and simple as a fortress the place has also the charm of something which people have had made to order for themselves. There is a front porch with white wooden columns which support a white wooden balcony, running along the second floor."

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