While returning from a lecture in New Hampshire one dark April night in 2001, I decided to stop off in Northampton and check to see if there were any old houses for sale near the rail trail that passes through town. I stumbled upon an old house that had just come on the market and it sat right next to the trail. Interestingly, though it was badly run-down, it had amazing potential.
The next morning, Kathy and I called the realtor and made arrangements to tour the house. In the light of day, we saw that it was even more run- down then we thought, but it also had even more potential than I originally foresaw. We put in an offer right away, finding out that three other families had put in bids as well. It turns out that our bid won, but our bid allowed for the previous owner to stay in place until September.
We then proceeded to sell our house in Agawam and plan for the restoration of 62 Chestnut Street. In our planning, we knew that we would not really have a pressing need for the upstairs bedrooms, so we decided to set up a bed & breakfast utilizing that space.
Before we opened, however, it was a major undertaking to restore and refurbish this house. The entire saga there—including before, during, and after pictures--can be seen by clicking on the site here. http://members.tripod.com/chestnut_street/
History of the House
Originally built in 1865 by Florence Sewing Machine Company (FSM), a major employer in town at the turn of the last century. The house was part of a series of a dozen similar homes built on Chestnut Street to house supervisory personnel.
The first FSM employee living here was David Ranney, Superintendent of the Machine Department. Mr. Ranney lived here as a tenant for about 10 years, starting in 1865. Ranney bought the house in 1874 and lived here with his family until his estate sold the house to the Orcutt family in 1900.
The Orcutts were merchants with a store on North Maple Street in Florence that now houses the Florence Hardware store. Two generations of the Orcutt family lived here until 1979, when the daughter of the family died. The house was then sold to the Bandourves family who lived here until 2001, when we bought it.
There is a genuine New Haven & Northampton Railroad built, cut-granite wall as a border to the former railroad right-of-way.
The house sits eight (8') feet away from where the railroad used to pass by.
The house itself has 9 different roof-lines, reflecting add-ons over the years.
Four different species of hardwood floors can be seen on the first floor, including a birds-eye maple kitchen floor.
A small, 12 inch bump-out on the back wall of the garage was installed in the 1930s to accomodate longer cars.
The original three front rooms on the first floor actually had canvas ceilings. These were installed by the railroad as a mitigation offer to prevent (or just hide) cracked ceilings caused by the passing steam trains. How they did this was interesting. First, they installed lath strips against the original plaster ceiling to hold the orginal in place in case of cracks. Then, 3 inches below the original ceiling, they installed the canvas. They nailed in two directions (into the ceiling and the upper reaches of the wall) hundreds of small, broad-headed nails. The resulting ceiling is wrinkle-free, taut, and shows no outward appearance of being anything but a conventional plaster ceiling. These ceilings have held up amazingly well over the past 135+ years. Unfortunately, during the renovations that involved a stronger carrying beam for the second floor, we had to remove the canvas over the living room and install a conventional sheetrock ceiling.
Click on the image to go to the file
Read what the Massachusetts Historcal Commsion has to say about our old house.
Click on the image to the left.
Sugar Maple Trailside Inn, 62 Chestnut St. Florence (Northampton), MA 01062 For info call: 413-575-2277 Craig@Sugar-Maple-Inn.com