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Phone (207) 546-2337    E-Mail: peter@englishmansbandb.com

 

Historical Notes

(This information was extracted from an account of  the restoration and history of the Archibald-Adams House by Dr. Roger Dial, written in 1995)

The Archibald-Adams House is an important landmark in Maine, both for its pristine architectural qualities and for its association with significant historical personages and events. The house was restored to museum quality, with all the modern amenities, in the 1990s. For this reason the producers of This Old House (PBS-TV) were keen to film in the Archibald-Adams House as part of their long series on the restoration of a Samuel Mclntire Federal house in Salem in 1995. The property is probably closer now to what Thomas Archibald saw back in the late 1780s than at any time in the intervening years. The Narraguagus, aside from being one of the premier salmon rivers of New England, was through the 19th century a source of power for the forest industry. The nine mill dams along a roughly two mile stretch fueled a prosperous Cherryfield society through that century. However, the dams, leet runs, and log ponds also defaced the landscape. The last dam washed out (just below the house) in 1924 and with it went the last vestiges of timber prosperity that put Cherryfield on the architectural map.

Historic House Tour

The Court Room (Lounge)

This was the formal parlor for the Archibalds, but from the first decade of the 19th century this place very much belonged to Joseph Adams. For over a half century Adams presided over the community from this room; uniting families in matrimony, separating some families from their wayward kin, debating political issues, and marking the passage of time and circumstance for the village. Here is where the village mobilized for the impending attack of the British in the War of 1812, and, in fact, the village received the name "Cherryfield" in this room.

 

The Gold Parlor (Office)

This was, architecturally, the most formal room in the home when it was built by Thomas and Hannah Archibald. Though the Archibalds chose the most modern (post-revolutionary) architectural style (named "Federal" in the spirit of the new Constitutional Era), they were very conservative when it came to interior decoration. Taste and affluence drew up short of ostentation for the Archibalds, and features such as gunstock corners (intruding corner posts), wide board wainscotting, and simple country door hardware accurately reflect the measure of their aesthetic attachment to the "old" (colonial) things. However, in the Gold Parlor we find original ribbon work on the fireplace mantel, pretty mouldings, and porcelain portrait hangers.

The Keeping Room (Dining Room)

Here is where the Archibald and the Adams family life was focused, particularly in the winter. The fire in this massive hearth was kept going day and night, making ready the bake oven, and supplying coals to light the many other fireplaces throughout the house in their hours of need. In the very early colonial times and in the poorer homes of the late 18th century, the Keeping Room would have had a low ceiling for the sake of heat economy. This was also the style of the highway taverns of the day, and such rooms as this are still romantically called "tavern rooms". However, Thomas Archibald meant to stand tall and proud even in this, the most utilitarian, room of his mansion. The original 12-over-12 small pane windows and the dimmer "candlelit" effect of the reproduction tin lighting fixtures now give the Keeping Room real period warmth, by day or night.

The Hall Plan

The Archibald-Adams House has a center hall running from side to side of the home as designed in the 18th century. Here we find the rare "scissor" staircase, two flights front and back with a shared central landing, and then a third flight in the back hall leading to the attic. Doors on the ground level and the central landing were traditionally closed, enabling the servants and children to access the upper rooms without being seen from the public rooms. Not surprisingly, the treads on the back flights of the scissor stairs show considerably more wear.

The River Bedroom

This is a large and bright bedroom, with a queen bed, chaise lounge, fireplace, wide-board floors (pine and hemlock), 12-over-12 pane windows, a large closet, original door hardware, and river views.

The Estate Bedroom

This is a large and bright bedroom, with a king bed, fireplace, wide-board floors (pine and hemlock), 12-over-12 pane windows, a large closet, original door hardware, and river views.

Guest House/Apartment/Artist Studio

This dependency building was constructed in the 1990s to match the strict Federal style of the main house. Access to the guest house is from the veranda; that is, into the second floor of the dependency, with the garage below. This is wonderful and inspiring space. The wide pine floors, rough-hewn and beaded beams, and paneled fireplace wall lend a wonderful period atmosphere for working or just day dreaming. And, the views across the river valley, through the expansive small-pane windows, are simply peerless!