This week's blog column is actually the second part of a photo mystery. The first installment appears in my Photo Detective article in the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine
. That issue should be in your mail boxes starting this week.
Here's a synopsis of the problem: Bergetta Monroe has a mystery photo (of course!) of a farm. She doesn't know where it was taken or when, but she has a list of possible surnames for folks that could have owned the property.
In the article, I offer tips to solve this family mystery and promise to discuss the architectural details in this blog.
I've taken this picture apart section by section, looking for elements that could help identify this mid-19th century farm. The main house appears to be in the Greek Revival style, which is characterized by Doric columns on the front porch and a pitched roof. The windows feature six-over-six panes of glass. Greek Revival design was popular from 1825 to 1860.
Other features are visible when you enlarge the front yard of the house:
Look closely. You can see the simple Doric columns, but also visible are nine hitching posts for horses and a fence on the other side of the house. That could signal a road nearby.
The dominant greenery are pine trees. In front of the fence in the foreground is tilled land and some young trees, possibly fruit bearing varieties. If this house and yard is still intact, those saplings would be much bigger by now.
My favorite building on the property is the Italianate style barn, with its turreted roof and bracketed cornices (along the roof line). It even has arched windows, one of the determining details in that architectural style.
This particular building style dates from 1850 to 1880, possibly making the barn newer than the house. Why else would the owners build their dwelling in one style and the barn in a more elaborate style? So many questions...
There are many outbuildings on this property, and the size and condition of those structures suggest this was a prosperous farm. It appears that there are smaller farms in the vicinity. Note the dwelling to the rear left, behind the barn. That doesn't appear to part of this estate.
In the July 2009 Family Tree Magazine
, I discuss a date for this photo, but that only begins to tell the story of this farm. Given the family information Monroe supplied, this picture was taken in New England, either Vermont, New Hampshire or Massachusetts. The likeliest location is Vermont. You'll have to read the story to find out why (grin).
We're still trying to identify the exact location.