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Historic New England Living

No place in New England has a seat at the table of American history like Eastern Massachusetts. From the city of Boston to the hamlets that surrounded it and to the rugged settlements that grew from a yearning to be free and independent, history left an indelible mark that has withstood the unrelenting seasons of time.

A Link To History

One of those settlements was the town of Grafton, Massachusetts, a place originally called Hassanemesit (place of small stones) by the native Americans who called it their home. Only forty miles from Boston, it was then part of the “howling wilderness” when Joseph Merriam left his ancestral home in Concord, Massachusetts to settle and raise a family in the new frontier. His descendants continued to work the land for centuries to follow.

Stories of the region include one that says that on the first night Joseph Merriam arrived in the new frontier of what is now Grafton, he slept in the cleft of two large rocks, a natural protection from the elements and other dangers associated with the rugged territory that he was about to transform into the family farm. It would not be the only time that he and other members of the Merriam farm sought the protection of the large stone outcropping. The uneasy peace of the primeval woodland was disrupted from time to time by the inevitable confrontations with the regional native Americans who resented the expanding encroachment by the pioneers on their tribal lands, and those confrontations were often violent and tragic for both. The protection of the rock outcropping was utilized on a number of occasions by the Merriam pioneers when fighting broke out between the two factions who claimed those lands, and the spot became known as Indian Rock, and stands today at Merriam Woods as a marker of the hardships endured by all in the early days of American colonial expansion.

Today, a piece of the old Merriam farmstead remains, still harboring its wilderness roots and embraced by an additional three hundred acres of protected land, once walked by the many generations of Merriams who farmed it, hunted upon it and who raised and taught their families to cherish it.

That piece of historic ground is now called Merriam Woods.

Merriam Woods Today...

Merriam Woods is one of those places that is startling to find because it is a stone’s throw from the bustling economic endeavors of a modern society, and yet sleeps in the comfort of a long, undisturbed history. The streets and roads that lead from historic Grafton center to Merriam Woods are lined with the silent architectural markers of America’s history defined by the distinct architecture of the major stylistic periods. Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and more are styles of homes easily recognized as important participants in a revered architectural past whose common thread is simple elegance. And that common thread is the offspring of the most impactful architectural

influence ever experienced in human history, starting over two thousand years ago in ancient Greece and Rome and then England and then passed on to the American colonies.

Lands that once prospered as farms often yield to new uses when they can no longer sustain their agrarian pasts. A profound respect for that past is what inspires the Merriam Woods vision of what can and should be a proper legacy for its future. The woods and streams and woodland paths will be a part of the history that remains. A small settlement, not unlike what was

commonly carved out of the “howling wilderness” of the past, will be tucked into the edge of that history and become its future and its legacy.

Partnering with Quality Builders

Eric Gilmore has been a builder in eastern Massachusetts for over fifteen years, and has always had a passion for historic architecture and is an avid participant in the New-Old House movement. Surrounded by some of the foremost examples of early American architecture that have graced the local towns and byways for centuries, he has developed an eye and appreciation for the scale and proportion that defines classic architecture. A visit to one of his homes will quickly reveal that his understanding of historic architecture yields a new home imbued with venerable character that few builders can achieve.

When Eric’s company, Gilmore Building Company, was asked to take on the Merriam Woods project, he turned to an already familiar partner, Connor Mill-Built Homes. The company, owned and operated by Michael and Linda Connor and located in Middlebury, Vermont, is the beneficiary of nearly fifty years of experience by the Connors who have a national

reputation for designing and even manufacturing New-Old homes whose architectural detailing and execution is so fine that their homes are often mistaken for antiques. And yet, the proprietary building system used by the company allows architectural sophistication at a cost not typically associated with such a high level of excellence. Both companies have a keen understanding that aesthetic excellence is properly tempered by design and interior appointments that are at once compatible and at ease with modern expectations for living comforts and energy consumption. The marriage of simple elegance achieved through classic architecture, with the living comforts of modern technology is a seamless accomplishment of the New-Old house movement.

Building On A Unique Legacy

The unique contributions of two companies focused on creating homes of classic architectural detailing that is appropriate and worthy of the setting that will showcase them, is rare and remarkable in an age that has lost sight of its own

architectural heritage. For those who can appreciate the skill and craftsmanship of historic architecture coupled with the technology of today’s advanced building science, the Gilmore Building Company and Connor Mill-Built Homes alliance is cause for celebration that historic architecture is alive and thriving in an area that has long embraced it, and is now in the experienced hands of those who understand and revere it.

The Sarah Hampton House
The Sarah Hampton House

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