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The Farmhouse

250 years of family history

Click for full-sized photos and captions.

ELIOT, Maine, 18 March 2021– John Gould must have arrived here at daybreak. When the sun has just come up, the woodpeckers are at work high in the pine trees, and a gentle breeze blows across the fields, the land at the end of Worster Road is like heaven. On horseback or still wearing the boots he fought the redcoats in, Gould arrived on the land and envisioned his dream home: a 600 square foot Colonial style farmhouse. 

250 years later, the farmhouse has been home to a dozen families who each found some of the same charm here that John Gould discovered in 1790. The Andersons (circa 1940-1960) moved in and immediately got to work: converting the woodshed into a kitchen, digging an inground pool out back, and planting an apple orchard in the field. They carefully conserved the graveyard in the woods (a staple of any New England farmhouse) in remembrance of the house’s founding family. A pocket-sized American flag still rustles in the wind next to John Gould’s grave: born 1754, died 1843. 


It was 1961 when a Political Science professor and his German bride drove into the farmhouse’s driveway in a car with New York plates. The Andersons, now hunched over from the years of renovating and revamping, showed the young couple around the property and were glad to discover their enthusiasm. “We’ve been looking for a place just like this,” the professor beamed. His wife smiled politely and silently. Looking out across the field at the house, she imagined owning her very own homestead: a place where her children, their children, then their children after that, could live, grow, and be a family. The professor and the bride moved in before the end of the week. 

My grandmother tells me about those early years over a cup of Earl Grey. “People were very suspicious of foreigners back then,” she says, “and I felt very lonely being here all day while your grandfather was at the University.” With nothing to do and nowhere to go (she didn’t get her driver’s license until she had children years later), she began transforming the farmhouse into her homestead. She painted the walls, added decor, and changed furniture: the old wooden sink became a cupboard; the broom closet was filled with vibrant scarves and cardigans; and two years later, a baby crib was pulled into the vacant upstairs bedroom. 

Born in 1972, my mother has lived in the farmhouse nearly her entire life. After leaving in the ‘90s to attend college and start a family, she moved back with her husband and three kids in 2011. She tells me it’s somewhat surreal to sleep in the same room that she had as a little girl, but it’s good to be home.

My bedroom is across the house and up a flight of crooked stairs. The light comes in all day through a frost-framed window and perfectly illuminates the room’s decorations, which look a bit confused. There’s a laptop sitting on top of a Victorian era desk, a box fan humming in a poured-glass window, and me, sitting in the middle of the room in the middle of a house whose history stretches further back than I can imagine. Maybe the decorations don’t reflect any one era– but maybe that’s what makes this house special.

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