Artifact Corner: Episode 20

Hi everyone, and welcome to a particularly interesting artifact corner. One of the members of our board just so happens to be a drone pilot. He decided to use his talents and take some pictures of the museum on a lovely Fall day. This seems like a perfect time to talk about the home itself, which not only houses our collections but is a part of it as well.

The original home was much smaller than what you see today. The original structure, built in 1797 was a single story timber framed building. In 1810, Henry Delord purchased the home and the 3 acres of property from Mrs. James Kent for the sum of $850. Henry Delord and his wife Betsey wanted to expand the structure. In August of 1811 Henry contracted with a master carpenter named David Hawkins. Henry drew up the plans for the home himself, wanting a grand Federal style building. In his contract with Hawkins it states that Hawkins should build “in a workman like manner.”

As construction was happening on the home, Henry stayed on their farm in Peru while Betsey stayed in Plattsburgh to look after the workman. Betsey writes letters to Henry to keep him informed of the progress. Here is a letter she wrote to Henry.

“Dear Hub,
I have been as busy as a bee. Every day I have been to our house. Our men all appear to be doing very nice. The window blinds are all up nice. Got one room lath’d and most another. They will begin today the floors. Miller came and is preparing to go to work. I exhorted him to be vigilant. I spend some time there every day and Hawkins gets some liquor of me every day. I feel quite the woman of business. Adieu, yours ever, B. Delord”

In the late Fall of 1811 the Delord’s had moved into their new home, despite construction still being underway. At this time, Betsey is directing the packing of their possessions at the farm in Peru. She writes to Henry and says, “The loose things have been well secured in the large chest: books, your papers, tea urns, candlesticks, blankets, and have nailed it. In the small box is cordials, empty bottles, the tallow. Tomorrow I shall send tables and chairs, &c.” In April of 1812 Henry made another contract with David Hawkins to build a barn with room for grain, wood, and a carriage. In total Henry paid Hawkins about $500 for his work on the home and barn.

Work on the home continued throughout the next hundred years. As any home owners knows, there is always something breaking and needing repair. In 1830, Betsey writes to her daughter Francis, while she was away at school about more repairs and work being done on the home. Betsey writes, “I thought I would just write and tell you we are going on bravely with our work. Altho we are all dust and lime, we can only occupy the parlor and kitchen, and then we are all covered with dust. We can’t expect to be any thing like settled until the work is completed and that will be some time.” Having lived through construction, these sentiments are all too familiar even 190 years later. Right now we are working on replacing the siding on the home and repainting it. So, construction and repairs continue on the home even to this day. We hope you have enjoyed this unique birds eye view of the museum.

For more of Betsey’s journals, check out Love and Duty, a collection of letters and diaries from three generations of Delord-Webbb women.

Music: Acoustic Breeze by Benjamin Tissot,

Thanks so much for stopping by.