Way Back When … 1750
Published 12:00 am, Saturday, July 29, 2017
If you live in New England, chances are you’ve heard of a “saltbox” house. The saltbox style home originated here in the 1600s and was given that name because it the shape of the roofline of theses houses resembled the wooden boxes in which colonists kept salt. The earliest Saltbox homes were created by simply adding a lean-to addition to the rear of an original 2-story house, but by the early 1700s, the design was seen as so successful, and so fitting the needs of the settlers in the Northeast, that builders began to build saltbox houses with the addition built right into the original design. Most saltbox homes have two stories in the front and one in the back, a sloping gable roof with unequal sides (sometimes with the back roof reaching as low as six feet) and a central chimney. The long, low pitch of the back of the roof was, where possible, planned to face North, to partially deflect the blowing snow and rain that frequently came along with the North wind.
The Odgen House at 1520 Bronson Road in Fairfield, is an exceptional example of a mid-1700s saltbox home. During the spring of 1750, newlyweds David and Jane Sturges Ogden moved into their new home on the road to Greenfield. They had reason to look forward to their future. Both came from established families who could afford to start them out well in life. Jane brought a reasonable dowry and David’s family provided the house and land. For the next 125 years it was home for the Ogden family in the farming and coastal shipping town of Fairfield.
Today, the Ogden House retains its beautiful situation overlooking Brown's Brook in the fertile Mill River Valley. It contains fine furniture, spinning wheels, tableware, iron pieces, textiles, and other objects from the Fairfield Museum collections. An eighteenth-century style kitchen garden behind the house is laid out symmetrically with raised beds. The garden features herbs typical of those used at the time, and is generously maintained by the Fairfield Garden Club. A bridge across the brook leads to a trail planted with native Connecticut wild flowers and shrubs. In 2013 an apiary was established to respond to the Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder and to signify the importance of beekeeping in colonial times. Bee pollination insured the garden's productivity — the key to surviving in colonial New England.
This Sunday, July 30 at 1pm, there will be a lecture on “What’s Best for Bees?” at Odgen House. The presentation is free, just bring a lawn chair! In addition, during the summer, visitors can tour Odgen House on Sundays from 1pm to 4pm. Tours begin every ½ hour. The last tour is at 3:30pm. Admission is $5, $3 Students & Seniors; Free for Members.