Monday, February 15, 2016
LOOKING BACK ON OUR NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATION OF THE HOYT BARNUM HOUSE
HOYT BARNUM ON NEW YEAR'S DAY, 2016
This was certainly a different kind of New Year's Resolution: Save a 317 Year Old House From Likely Destruction. We decided that the period of time running up to dusk would be the best time. Sure enough, look at the results. Phil came up with a very simple idea for lighting the steps to the house - votive candles in a bag weighed down with some sand from the beach (We put the sand back later). As the picture shows, it created a wonderful effect. A soft, gentle glow that matched the time of day. If you look carefully, you can see a couple people in front of the building at a distance.
I find we learn something new with each of these pilgrimages to the house. The stonework, features of the house's construction, features of the landscape, there is always a surprise. This suggests something else that has not been discussed much about the Hoyt-Barnum House. Historians suggest that there is no remarkable story connected with the house. Washington didn't sleep there. No battles were fought there. No recognizable names of the American Revolutionary War have been associated with the house.
Not so fast. I offer they have not looked hard enough. A history as long as this can only have gaps just like ancient scrolls are found in fragments. There is still work to be done. The Stamford Historical Society has materials which are so extensive they still need much investigation. So, don't assume the Hoyt-Barnum House lacks greater historical significance.
As I stood there giving my speech that night, with the lights cast on it,and as cars drove by, I could only think of how plain the structure looks. Simple, utilitarian, to the point. That also means it can surprise you. There is nothing obvious to draw your attention. The door is as plain as the windows as the walls as the foundation. The structure is almost Sphinx-like, guarding secrets and giving no hint. So, can the curious mind penetrate this inscrutable exterior? Are there clues somewhere which we have overlooked because our eyes and minds are only accustomed to things that appear unusual or out of place?
Also, to this day, there is an occasional discovery of America's founding documents that nobody expected to exist. So, don't discount that there is still in some attic somewhere, a document, a picture, a journal in which the hidden truths about Hoyt-Barnum will come forth.
Save Hoyt Barnum