The Antique Flatiron Collection

Flat Iron

I grew up in Rocks Village, Massachusetts in the Deacon Phineas Nichols House. The house was built in 1740 and is a classic example of pre-revolutionary architecture. It has a central chimney with five fire places. The flooring is pumpkin pine and some of the boards are 24″ wide.  Before my parents purchased it, the house had served a store and school-house as well as a family home. When we lived there, all of the houses in the village dated from before the American revolution. The village had a small general store, a Firehouse that housed an ancient firetruck, a two room schoolhouse, a granite horse watering trough and the classic white Congregational Church. The village had sprung up around the Rocks Village Bridge that crosses the Merrimac River to West Newbury. The bridge had originally been a wooden covered bridge, however, in the 1930 the wooden structure was replaced with a steel one that opened to allow taller boats to continue up stream. My parents enjoyed antiques and after purchasing the house in 1945 they set out to furnish it with appropriate items. Many of our weekends were spent visiting antique shops, auctions and yard sales.

Crimp Iron
Antique flatiron – crimping iron
Flat Iron with Gauge
Flatiron with Gauge

Dad worked for the New England Electric Company. He started as an electric meter reader right after he graduated from high school and worked his way up to sales manager in Essex County. In those days, the electric company was encouraging people to use electricity. They had stores in most mid-sized cities. The stores sold and serviced electric appliances. One of the promotions that was quite successful was that customers could trade in a used flatiron for a new and improved model. The company had expected the flatirons to be the used electric versions. However, it was not uncommon for an elderly lady to walk into the store with one of the pre-electricity versions.  The salesmen would bring the antique flatiron to Dad’s office. He would go out onto the sales floor, give the customer the new iron of her choice. Then he would write up a sales slip and pay for the iron himself. That evening he would arrive home with his prize and we would all admire his acquisition and decide where it would serve as a doorstop. That was how the collection started.

Flat Iron
Flatiron with a heated brick inside and a cool wooden handle.

As a small child I can remember walking with my mother to Chip Germane’s house. Chip owned the fulling station on the Amesbury Line Road on the way into the city.  His brother also lived in the village and worked as the bridge tender and the janitor at the school. Chip’s housekeeper was an older woman named Dusty. My little sister would sleep in her carriage while Mom and Dusty would enjoy a cup of tea and chat. One sunny day as we arrived at Dusty’s kitchen door, we saw her ironing. She had the ironing board set-up in front of the black iron stove that she had stoked with firewood. There was an iron on the top of the stove and she was ironing a shirt with the another. When one iron would cool, she would switch it back to the stove top and pick up the other, wet her finger and rapidly touch it to the iron to see if it was hot enough. If she wanted to put the iron down in order to adjust the position of the shirt, she would place it on its holder that was on the end of the board. The handle of the iron would be quite hot, so she used a dish towel that had been folded several times to protect her hand. She also had a bowl of water on a table close by. Every once in a while she would lift up the iron, dip the fingers of her left hand into the bowl and snap the water on the shirt, then proceed to iron.  I sometimes think about how skilled she must have been to know just how hot the iron should be so that it did not singe the cloth. I guess that is one of those lost arts.

The iron collection has served us well at the Palmer House, decorating the fireplace and doorways. They are now being packed up and sent off to California to serve as doorstops in our daughter’s homes.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of our rooms have their own individual charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

 

 

A Cape Cod Antique House Restoration

Antique House Restoration

Antique House Restoration at 40 Main Street, Falmouth, Cape Cod

Antique House Restoration
Antique House Restoration

One of the many reasons why Bill and I became innkeepers is that we both enjoy collecting and restoring antiques. We wanted a home where we could display and share our collections and family heirlooms with others.  The Palmer House Inn is that dream come true. When Michael Jay, also a lover of period architecture, purchased number forty Main Street in Falmouth last spring, we took notice. This old house overlooks the Village Green and is about half a block from our antique bed and breakfast.

Since its construction in 1804, the house has been one of Falmouth’s gems. Most recently it has been known as the Tripp House, named for Dr. Edwin P. Tripp Jr. the Falmouth physician who moved there in 1941. While the doctor was living there the house also served as his medical office. Dr. Tripp retired in 1981. The house’s first inhabitant was Braddock Dimmock, who was the son of General Joseph Dimmock (known for standing up to the British during the War of 1812), a deacon at the nearby Congregational church and a member of the militia. It is said that he built the house because he wanted to live in close proximity to both the church and the Village Green,which served as the militia’s training ground.

Antique Brick Fireplace
Antique Brick Fireplace
Detailed Hardwood Floor
Detailed Hardwood Floor

In recent years the lovely house had fallen into disrepair. At this time Mr Jay’s contractors have almost completely gutted the house and the adjacent carriage house. He plans to make it into four condominium units, divided equally between the two structures. Each condominium will have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, living room and dining room. Each one will measure roughly 1,600 square feet. The project is scheduled to be completed by June 2013.

Antique Fireplace and Fan Fireplace Guard
Antique Fireplace and Fan Fireplace Guard

As one walks through the house, its historic details can be seen in the beams, framing wood and fireplaces. When the house was built logs were cut in half and used to frame the house. The bark is still on those logs. All of the lead paint on the exterior is being removed and the shingles will be completely replaced. In the  attic the beams are held together by wooden pegs. One unexpected project was the porches. They were sitting on an unstable rock foundation and the wood was completely rotted. It was beyond repair. At this time the roofs of the porches are being supported by two by fours while the carpenters replace the windows and siding.

Antique Stained Glass Window
Antique Stained Glass Window

Originally, the house was constructed in the Federalist style, with a symmetrical appearance. In 1894 it was up-dated to look more like a Victorian. Several of the accompanying photos show details that were added at that time; the stained glass window, the peaked dormer, the charming  balusters, the paneled doors, the porches, also the beautiful inlay work in the flooring and of course the lovely white picket fence.

Antique Banister and Staircase
Antique Banister and Staircase

Along with its history, it is noted that the house is rumored to be haunted. In Dan Gordon and Gary Joseph’s book, “Cape Encounters“, Contemporary Cape Cod Ghost Stories, it is said,  “The specter of a stooped man in a flannel shirt walks the halls of number forty Main Street, Falmouth Cape Cod.”


While each of our rooms have their own antique charm, we suggest our Richard Henry Dana Room with nautical antiques, or the Edith Wharton Room located in the oldest section of the house and in the historic turret.