By: Anne Knowles – March, 2012
Andover is one of the best known towns in Massachusetts. It offers great schools, a well managed town and residents from all corners of the world that make this town their home. Andover has an exciting history going back in time to the first settlers around 1634 and continuing to the present.
The Andover Historical Society has been at the forefront of providing excellent programs on the town’s history. One of the most enjoyable is the renovation and opening of the Amos Blanchard House as an ‘on site” representation of what it was like to live in the 1820’s in a New England town. Since the 1980’s when the Blanchard house was open as a living museum, it has been host to many with special tours for schools, events like the annual Christmas tree exhibit and other special events.
The Amos Blanchard House on Main Street was used as a family home and boarding of young men who were attending Phillips Academy just a short walk “up the hill”. Today the Blanchard House is a “living history” of the life of the community in 1820.
Depending on where you begin your tour of the House you are greeted and invited to step into 1820.
The kitchen has a large fireplace with several cooking utensils set around the fireplace. Many types of vegetables, spices and foods are displayed on the work table. Crock pots, dishes and other kitchen tools are shown. But, where is the refrigerator, the sink and microwave? Your guide will take you back to what a working kitchen was in 1820.
When you go into the family parlor, you will find a table set for supper, shutters on the windows, a sturdy floor covering and candles for light. And perhaps some games to play after supper.
Across the front hall is the formal parlor. It is much nicer than the family parlor and is used for special guests, formal meetings and other important occasions. The furniture is very fine, there is a thick carpet on the floor and an elaborate silver tea set. Portraits of family members surround the room.
Then it is up the front stairs to the bedchambers, a large room was designated for the boarders, another more feminine room for the lady of the house, a maid’s room and another room that served as a study. All of these rooms are furnished in the style of 1820.
Visitors are encouraged to ask questions about the many items contained in the rooms, some will surprise.
Then visitors will see the barn where farm equipment from that era is on display. The milking shed, the hen roost, where eggs are gathered for the family and sometimes used for “barter” at the store.
The store is set up aging to show what a typical store would be like in 1829. “Barter” was an important part of commerce at that time. Some of the items one could find at the store – mirrors, buttons, sugar, cloth, shoes, pots and pans and books.
Then visit the print shop. This was one of the most important industries in the Andover area. It was a tedious, difficult and rewarding occupation. Many of the graduates of Phillips Academy went on to become ministers and missionaries to many countries around the world. As a result they had to bring with them Bibles, pamphlets and tracts in the language of the people they were going to minister.
Therefore, printing was of major importance, both for the school and for Andover. There were three printing businesses in the town of Andover and they contributed to the prestige of the town.
The guides at The Amos Blanchard House are informative, gifted and held a wealth of insight into the lives of the people who lived in the Blanchard home.
History is exciting and to actively enjoy being a part of the early Andover scene will help everyone see that people of any era are just like we are today.
The Amos Blanchard House is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information the staff is available at 978-475-2236