Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Backus House Garret, Plymouth Street

This 1902 photograph by George Dorr of North Middleborough evokes the colonial era past of Middleborough.  At first glimpse the image seems to be reveal a candid look back to an earlier and "simpler" time with its view of the attic of the Reverend Isaac Backus House on Plymouth Street.  Upon closer examination, however, it may be seen that in fact the articles have been carefully staged to display them to the viewer.  The large spinning wheel for wool and its smaller counterpart for flax, the yarn winder, wool cards, flax comb or hackle, butter churn, cradle, andirons, pottery jug and bed warmer were all articles found in many homes of the late 18th century.  Despite the artifice of the picture, the collection  of heirloom articles it depicts is remarkable.  Following 1876 when Colonial Revivalism and an interest in the nation's past came into vogue, such items would be eagerly sought by antique collectors and decorators, and many could still be found stored away in attics and barns in towns like Middleborough and Lakeville.  Helping popularize the movement was the work of noted photographer and antiquarian, Wallace Nutting (1861-1941) whose work contained many views comparable to Dorr's photograph posted here.


Richard said...

What a wonderful Colonial Revival photo.

This has helped me confirm that a transitional William & Mary / Queen Anne chair passed down to me through my Sproat ancestors from Middleborough is a southeastern Massachusetts piece. I have a side chair identical to the pair featured in this photo.

What a terrific site.

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