While the Bellamy House isn’t as architecturally distinctive as the houses of other Gilded Age writers (think Mark Twain’s Hartford, Connecticut home), many small details still come together to give it a unique character. In this blog post, we take you on a tour of some of our favorite features.
The Front Entrance
Simple but welcoming, the front entrance on the main part of the house retains historical details including the sidelights and transom, twist doorbell, and the original newel post on the front stairs. While the walls in the front hall are currently painted white, Marion Bellamy Earnshaw remembered them as being covered with a wallpaper printed with a design of squirrels eating nuts.1
Between the tall windows in the front parlor is an elegant black marble fireplace; a matching one sits opposite in the back parlor. Rather than wood, these fireplaces burned coal and were likely installed by Edward’s parents in the 1860s.2 Peeking inside, you can see that the grates were manufactured by Conover & Woolley of New York, and that the openings were closed up some time ago. Pages from the Springfield Republican were crammed into the gaps to stop drafts.
The Bellamy House contains examples of multiple styles of windows. The large, sloped windows that Daniel Hanifan installed to let natural light into his photography studio are the most obvious and unusual, but there are some other historically interesting styles as well. For example, the windows that face the street in the front parlor extend to the floor. The upper sashes comprise six panes of glass, and the much larger lower sashes are made up of twelve. These windows lend the parlor a more open feeling, which is especially important as they are shaded by a porch and face north.
The back parlor features a bay window that was added by the Bellamys. According to Edward’s daughter, Marion, her father sat in this window while he wrote Equality, the sequel to Looking Backward.3
Also, while the round (aureole) window in the Bellamy House’s attic is a distinguishing feature of the façade, fewer people know that there used to be a second round window on the main part of the house, just above the porch that shelters the #93 entrance. No evidence of the window exists on the outside, but its outline remains on the inside wall, just below the second floor landing.
A look around the unfinished attic provides a view of the house’s braced-frame construction. In her memoir, Marion recalled the treasures that this unfinished space held:
For generations our family has been readers. Bookcases and shelves and tables in every room including the attic were piled high with them. […]
One rainy day when Paul and I were up in the attic rummaging happily among the cast-off accumulations of three generations, we caught sight of our father coming up the stairs to see what we were up to. Sure that something of interest was in the making, we ran to meet him, and joined him on the top stairs under the small dormer window that gave some light from the grey overcast sky. We sat there entranced while he regaled us with the age old tale of the Golden Apple and Helen and the Siege of Troy.4
- Consulting Services Group, The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, “The Bellamy Homestead: Historic Structures Report,” November 1977, 11.
- Ibid., 11.
- Ibid., 9, 12.
- Ibid., 5; Marion Earnshaw, “The Light of Other Days,” n.d., Marion Bellamy Earnshaw Collection, 9-10.