How many American families have lived in the same home for six generations? The Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum along the Connecticut River Byway in Massachusetts tells the story of one such family, and more. Preserved by the museum, the family’s journals, heirlooms, and memorabilia not only introduce the six generations of one family who lived there, they illustrate more than 260 years of American history, agriculture, religion, and community.
Called “Forty Acres and its skirts” on the original deed, referring to the land and surrounding area, the house is named today for three generations of wives and daughters who inherited the house: Elizabeth Porter, Elizabeth Phelps and Elizabeth Huntington. The first owner, Moses Porter, farmer, soldier, and husband to the first Elizabeth, built the original farmhouse (now part of the museum) outside the town common in 1752, an unconventional action for the time. Moses was killed in the French and Indian War in 1755, but his battle sword became a family heirloom and is now on display at the museum. The farm prospered, and during the Revolutionary War, the second Elizabeth, Moses’ daughter, provided General Washington’s troops with supplies. The third Elizabeth, her daughter, married Reverend Dan Huntington in 1801, furthering the family tradition of religious and community involvement. In 1949, after nearly two centuries of single-family ownership, Mrs. Huntington's great-grandson, Dr. James Lincoln Huntington, turned his family’s home into a museum to share his family’s remarkable heritage.
The Museum is open May to October. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the Porter home still houses many of the family’s original furniture and paintings, as well as heirlooms such as a 1699 Hadley six-board chest. Discover the treasures of “Forty Acres and its skirts” on the House Tour or visit the special exhibits hosted in the corn barn. Attend the weekly outdoor folk concerts or have “A Perfect Spot of Tea” one Saturday afternoon. To plan your visit or learn more about the Porter family and their home, visit the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum’s website.
- Copyright © October 2012 Tom Paske.
- Public domain. Christopher Curtis