By Barbara Emery Moseley
No doubt Jonathan Hunt, early on, had built a rough, cabin-like dwelling on his many riverside acres in Vernon. It was likely that it became attached , on the east side, to other sheds and barns. That was a practical New England style that allowed settlers access to their stored firewood and provisions, and to attend to the farm animals in all kinds of weather. His bride, however, would expect a more comfortable home.
Jonathan had the means to hire a master builder. Also, there was close access to a sawmill built several years earlier by his father. It was located on Lower Salmon Brook, near today’s Post Office Plaza (George’s Mill).
The home’s construction plan is post-and-beam, with a huge central chimney. Its oddities are a very tiny entrance hallway, and a cramped staircase leading to second floor bedchambers, and then up to an open attic as big as the house.
The craftsman’s superior skills are apparent in the paneled walls throughout the “mansion.” In that time of giant white pines, Hunt had access to trees that would produce boards of enormous width, entirely free of knots. The most elaborate panelling is in the drawing room, to the left of the front entrance, where the fireplace mantel is framed by modified Ionic columns. To the right of the entrance is an elaborately paneled dining room, as are the two large upstairs bedchambers.
A large kitchen spans the back of the house, with its interior wall dominated by the huge brick fireplace and its baking oven. A small room is partitioned off on the north kitchen wall, probably used as the “birthing room.” In those days, women were confined to bed about two weeks after childbirth, the “birthing room” provided warmth and the ability to oversee daily household activity.
Next month will introduce the bride-to-be, Levinah Swan. Her family background includes a “burning at the stake,” goldsmithing, music written in the sand, and flocks of blackbirds kept as pets—maybe even a “mad hatter.”