• October 9, 2004

Contact With The Original Family

Restoration Diary,

It has been a very exciting week for us. Through our website we were contactd by the great granddaughter of John L. Welsh, the man who built our house.

Spending so much time restoring the house and peeling through all the layers to learn about it’s history, I thought a lot about how the house was when it was originally built. It was natural that this would develop into a curiousity about the family who lived in this house 92 years ago. Who were they and what were they like? What happened to them after they sold the house?

Of course, we would LOVE to see some old pictures of the house and the family. Sometimes I hope that maybe the Welsh family or John L. Welsh himself are looking down at us and glad that we are working so hard to restore the house.

I think that a house is more than a place to live. To me a house is about family roots, beginnings and endings, a context for our lives.

Comments { 5 }
  1. Mark O'Hara

    Heather,

    I stumbled on your site yesterday and have spent the better part of two days catching up on all your restoration projects and research into the family history of your house. My wife and I recently purchase a 1912 Tudor Revival in Connecticut – in need of repair!

    We are very lucky to have descendants of the orignal family living very close by as neighbors. – we live in “Aunt Bessy’s House.”

    The house has a fascinating history. It was built in 1912 for Bessey Fuller. She and her brother George both lived across the street from the house in large 1700′s house known as “Fullers Corner.” The Fuller family were among the second settlers of the Town around 1710. (The first settlers were chased out during “Kings Philips War” in the 1680s and the town remained abandoned for 30 years) Anyway, the Fullers were quite affluent, and made a substantial amount of money from the production of Tobacco. (Did you know that Connecticut River Valley still produces the finist Shade Leaf Tobacco in the world, and it is used for wrappers on fine cigars?).

    Around 1911, George was married. His new wife lived in town but refused to move into Fullers Corner until George ousted Bessey. Bessey was about 30 years old at this time and all thought her prospects for marraige were dim. Thus, George and Bessey had the Tudor Revival built across the street from Fullers Corner. To everyones suprise, a few years later, Bessey married Spencer Perry (a Doctor no less!) and the two lived in the house periodically. The Perry’s also had a series of Fuller Aunts living with them in the house for some time. No children, however!

    In the 1940′s the house was subdivided for the first time. Bradley Field (Now Bradely Airport) was just down the road and used as a Pilot training center during WWII. Since there was a lack of Officer’s housing in the area, Apartments were created in many homes in town, ours being one of them. The third floor of the house remained an apartment for transient pilots up until 60′s. Apparently, the officers had their meals with the family but had their own bathroom and bedroom.

    After Spencer died, Bessey could no longer negotiate the stairs. She had a rather large addition built, and further subdivided the house into two proper apartments complete with kitchens etc. Bessy died in 1966. There were a series of renters from 1965 – 1999, when the house was sold outside of the Fuller family for the first time.

    The new owners coverted the house back into a single family and restored the the three story staircase, living room, dining room, and kitchen. We purchased the house in July of 2004. We have redone the master bedroom, put on a new roof, and are having the outside painted this summer. I also built a wine celler, which according to my neighbors, has Bessey turning over in her grave as she was a “notorious tee-totaler” and an active member in the Temperance movement… (and they wonder why she married late in life!)

    I need to create a site like yours! Its wonderful!


  2. Mark O'Hara

    I can’t believe I posted that incredibly long and boring story about my house!


  3. heather

    Not boring – I promise! We LOVE to hear stories about other houses and the histories behind them. That is what makes having this website so great! :)


  4. Crystal Alexander

    I couldn’t agree more with your definition of “house”!
    How exciting to have past owner visitors. I can remember an older woman visiting my childhood home and telling tales of when she lived there. I thought it was so neat then, and I think I wasn’t even ten! I have DREAMED about past owners knocking on this little bungalow’s door. Oh well, if not in real life, at least I have my dreams…


  5. JBanker

    Wow! You’re SO lucky to know so much about your houses! It makes me jealous! We moved in about two years ago in our 1911 house and I’m trying to learn something about its history. But I don’t have much success (yet?)
    I found that the house was kept in the family till late 60′s, but since than had quite a lot owners and was a rental for a while too. Thanks God they didn’t alter the house too much, but what they did is still a lot of work for two of us having two little kids and no relatives in our Washington state…



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