Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where, Oh Where is Cassandra?

A place near and dear to my heart: our 180 year old farmhouse in upstate New York...

Established in 1830, our farm is situated on 80 mountain-view acres in a historic (Iroquois Indian, Revolutionary War, and near the old Erie Canal) and geologically-interesting (near Howe and Secret Caverns) area between Albany and Cooperstown.

The farmhouse, located under an old “spreading chestnut tree,” is reputed to have been a stop on the “Underground Railroad”. It was purchased 53 years ago from the family of the original owner/builder by my husband’s aunt and uncle. Until recently, the house had undergone very little modernization - the aunt and uncle installed the first running water, indoor toilet and bath in the 1980s and we recently installed the home's first furnace, hot water heater, and dishwasher.

Features of the farmhouse which are especially notable are the wide board chestnut floors, the exposed hand-hewn beams (hewn with a broadaxe and exposed in the living room), the original steep wooden staircase, the original wrought iron nails and Blake’s patent cast iron thumb latches on several of the upstairs doors, and the original crane in the fireplace graced by a simple Greek Revival style mantle. I enjoy digging up old china, glass shards, and clam shells in the earth surrounding the house and identifying the 19th century china patterns of the farm’s founding family (on which I have researched a genealogy).

An early 20th century photo of hay harvesting on our farm

Blake’s patent cast iron thumb latch

View of stone fence from dining room...

The second story of the house retains its original plank constructed doors. Two bedchambers are located on the northern side of the staircase and central hallway and two on the southern side. The former small closet on the south side of the central hallway was recently converted to a half bath with sink and toilet. (Note the original hand-wrought nails and the pencil-written initials on the back of the half bath door – possibly those of the carpenter who constructed it.)

From the hill on which the farm is located, one can see mountain views of the high peaks of the Adirondacks to the far north, the Green Mountains of Vermont to the far northeast, the Helderberg Mountains to the east and the Berkshires of Massachusetts to the far east, and the Catskills (seen below) to the south.

Our property boasts several “Northern Spy” apple trees;

wild strawberries;

 daisies and black-eyed susans;

buttercups, clover and Queen Anne’s lace;

wild aster and goldenrod.

Our acreage includes three corn /hay fields farmed by a dairy farmer down the road, who sells his milk to Vermont’s Cabot Cheese Company.

We also have many birds - crows, red-winged blackbirds, robins, red-tailed hawks, mourning doves, wood thrushes, uireos, and owls; mammals - white-tail deer, cottontail rabbits, chipmunks, red and eastern grey squirrel, woodchucks, red fox (and we have been told of an occasional coyote); and amphibians - newts, toads, and yellow-spotted (see the beauty recently spotted below) and red eft salamanders.

We love the old stone fence full of fossils...

...and the amazing sunset views, which change with the seasons.

Two old pumps still stand in the front and side yards.

The old barns blew down several years ago - thankfully, we have old photos (this one taken by a local newspaper after a mid-May snowfall!)

We still have much of the old barn wood – and a much-in-need -of -restoration one horse open sleigh still resides in the storage barn.

A historic cave (under which is reputed to be an underground lake) is located in a forest in our “back 40” acres; and we have been told that the residents in the county seat village down the hill receive all their water from under our hill.

Our back deck at dusk...

A Mosaic of Interior Furnishings
To magnify the mosaic above, click on it ~ then click on it once again!

1. Crocks, 2. Flax Wheel, 3. Dome and Candle, 4. Dining Room Lamp, 5. The Shepherd, 6. Kitchen, 7. Kitchen Table, 8. Stenciled Chair, 9. Living Room Corner, 10. Living Room Desk, 11. Washstand, 12. Fireplace, 13. Lilac Table, 14. Clock, 15. Bedroom Corner, 16. Tole Tray and Dough Bowl, 17. Crane, 18. Toleware Candle Sconce, 19. Fall Dome, 20. Bookcase, 21. Bedroom 4 dressertop, 22. ., 23. Upstairs Landing, 24. Powder Room 1, 25. Bedroom 3 three

Photos taken in Fall of 2010 at the farm and in the "neighborhood".  
 (With thanks and appreciation to John and Linda!)


  1. It is wonderful beyond belief! Everything from the magnificent views, the history of the house and the wrought iron nails, I love it! We have been restoring our old house for many years, while living in it. I know what a labor of love it is. My family came from upstate New York, but I have never made the trip back to see the old town where I was born. Your photos give me the desire to take the trip, and find some apple trees along the way.

  2. Dear Cassandra, If I were to own such a lovely and historic property, then I know that I should have extreme difficulty in tearing myself away. What an absolutely fascinating second home to have and you must gain enormous pleasure from seeking out suitable furnishings for it. The views over the surrounding countryside are magnificent. Enjoy your summer there and, my advice, do no give a thought to the internet - I know I shouldn't!!

  3. Nice to hear from you !!great farm !!!! wowwwwww.i really like your pictures.....have a good trip home.........happy summer days..hugs from me.....Ria...

  4. Yes, Edith, I certainly DO have extreme difficulty in tearing myself away - even when SO much needs to be done and I am busy every minute while there, it makes me very, very happy to be there. The quiet and simplicity; the helpful,friendly, yet New England-reserved neighbors and the wonderful natural scenery all around make the place truly magical. Thankfully, there is no internet or television - while there, I listen only to a wonderful local classical music radio station. I will be posting more photos and info of and about the interior and exterior of the farm and about the historical area in the future.

  5. Yes, Jeri - DO take the trip to your family area in upstate New York. It is a beautiful place, not only in the summer, but especially in October with the fall foliage. When on my way to or from the farm, I love driving up I-88 and/or New York Route 7, which stretches from Binghamton to Albany, through the mountains and alongside the Susquehanna River. U.S. Route 20 is another beautiful and historic route through the state. Many old Greek Revival and Victorian home-filled towns and WONDERFUL values on early American antiques! Casssandra ♥

  6. Your farmhouse is glorious Cassandra - how wonderful to be able to escape TV and the internet! It must be fun searching out antiques and fittings for such an historic house. We have a smilar style latch on our doors in the cottage, called Suffolk latches - what else?!

    I love your sitting room.


  7. Oh wow. So peaceful and orgeous! All of it. Thanks so much for sharing such a splendid place with us. And thanks, too, for your comment at my blog this morning. I always like knowing others are on the same page. :) Blessings, Debra (p.s. I love your music choices here!)

  8. Ooh, what magnificence !
    My heart lends itself to Olde...houses being at the top of my list.
    My grandma's house was a mere three hundred years young, nut I have never forgotten the crooked stairs, and hand-blown glass windows, and hand-forged door handles and locks.
    Old houses have souls, yours my friend is truly breathtaking !
    Thank you for your kind comment today ;)

  9. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photo's. It really is the simple things that give joy to life. Happy holidays. Mitch Young, White Mountains NH.

  10. Your home is just gorgeous! I am so happy it has been able to stay in your family. I discovered your blog recently and I have been enjoying reading your archive posts.


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