Count Rumford House – #ThursdayDoors

I like the contrast of the blue with the red house.

Benjamin Thompson was born in Woburn, Massachusetts (MA), in 1753. Last week, as I was driving around Woburn, I noticed that his birthplace is being maintained as a museum. When I see a home in this area of MA that is preserved as a museum, I naturally think that it must have something to do with a Revolutionary War hero. In this case, I was wrong…very wrong.

Thompson was good student of physics. He tried his hand at a number of trades and tried developing a number of skills, but initially, success proved elusive. His biography on Wikipeadia (yes, I know, there are better sources, but they agree) states that:

“Thompson’s prospects were dim in 1772 but in that year they changed abruptly. He met, charmed and married a rich and well-connected heiress named Sarah Rolfe.”

There you go, Ben. If you can’t earn your fame, marry it. Also according to that questionable resource, “His wife’s father was a minister, and her late husband left her property at Concord, New Hampshire, then called Rumford. They moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and through his wife’s influence with the governor, he was appointed a major in the New Hampshire Militia.”

His birthplace, but he didn’t stay here long. He married and moved to New Hampshire and to England during the Revolutionary War.

Here comes the good part, right? Major in the Militia in the years leading up to the first battle of the revolution being fought near his birthplace. This has got to be why he’s so famous.

One would be think.

One would be wrong.

‘When the American Revolutionary War began Thompson was a man of property and standing in New England and was opposed to the uprising. He was active in recruiting loyalists to fight the rebels. This earned him the enmity of the popular party, and a mob attacked Thompson’s house. He fled to the British lines, abandoning his wife, as it turned out, permanently.”

Way to go Ben…or not, really.

So, why is this guy famous? Well, it seems that he was a good student. He had an affinity toward the physical sciences, and without turning this into a lecture, did a lot of experimenting, hypothesizing and inventing things associated with heat. He designed industrial furnaces and you may have heard of the Rumford fireplace, which was considered to be a much more efficient way to heat a room.

OK, so the guy was a bit of a traitor, but a rather important scientist. The war is over, we won, and now we’re BFF with England and his house is still standing, has a cannon and a well in the yard. More importantly, it has a pretty door.

This post is a late (for me) entry to Norm Frampton’s fun weekly blog hop know as Thursday Doors. If you have door photos to share, or like looking at doors, head on up to Norm’s place and poke around in the comment section.

Somewhat of a traitor during the run up to the Revolutionary War, he was better known for his work with thermodynamics, and for designing furnaces and heating devices.

If you’re a regular here at No Facilities and you are wondering about the different look, I can explain. First, I am using the Guttenberg editor on my iPad. Second, I didn’t have time to sort through the photos I took in Woburn. I was going to skip Thursday Doors this week, but I love this weekly series. A blog friend was asking me yesterday if I always feature a large group of doors. I realized that I haven’t always done that, and I don’t always have to do that, so here we are.


    • I doubt it. I don’t think he ever made it back to the States. It’s interesting that they maintain the house, because he did become famous. I guess there were a lot of people who were sympathetic to England, especially those who enjoyed a good living due to the relationship.


  1. The contrast of the blue door/red house is neat! Very interesting history as to how this man became famous…..and certainly not because he was a nice guy!! Well, look at the guy in the White House….. I rest my case!

    You know Dan, I think you just proved that sometimes less is more. Great post.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ginger. I enjoyed writing this post. Maybe this format will work better for me. The twists and turns this guy’s life took are pretty amazing. I feel bad for the woman who started him on the road to success and then was left behind to deal with the angry militia. She was already a widow before she married him.


  2. Well, Thompson may be famous for what he invented, but as a husband and a patriot, he sure in my eyes was not a success, not in the least. Why is it some of the least loved people get to be famous? Hmmmmm ….. LOVED the blue contrast on that door against the red, Dan. I really enjoyed this post today. Thank you for more history I was not aware of. You educated me today. (smile)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan, that was a fun read. So basically, the guy was a smart scoundrel who became famous for an invention. Well, at least he achieved something. I’m laughing at the irony of scoundrels who have their names on buildings. Must just be my frame of mind today. Nice doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are correct, Suzanne. Maybe we should applaud the town for respecting him for his mind instead of military campaigns. Still, leaving his wife seems cowardly.


  4. Ya done good, Dan! Never heard of this guy, but he did leave an interesting story to his life and even if he did pick the wrong side, he did end up giving us a neat door and a handy fireplace!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks GP. The story wasn’t what I was expecting when I turned over that rock. I wish I knew what happened to his wife. He did figure out some important concepts, but questionable values, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Being one of our most consistent (and best) contributors I’m so glad you were able to join us this week Dan, despite your hectic schedule. It’s not always about the quantity of doors or the quality of the images. Sometimes a good historical story or anecdote is all you need to craft a compelling post, and you have do so very successfully again this week.
    Well done my friend :-)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Norm. Part of me said “if you can skip Thursday Doors, you can skip anything.” But a louder part said “you can’t skip Thursday Doors!” It is good to remind myself that I can mix it up a bit. I had fun with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That is one heck of a story, Dan. Not at all what I expected, but interesting. And, yes, I did notice you were absent for a bit this morning. I received Joanne’s doors post first thing in my email. My immediate thought: ‘Uh oh, what happened to Dan?’ Glad all is well with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you pointed out it has a pretty door (that’s my favorite color of a door – have it on my home now). And you’re right, I NOTICED right away that you were using “G”. I can’t wait to hear if you have issues with your older posts or if you are now stuck in that mode for the rest of eternity as a blogger (until they change it again?)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked this Shelley. No issues, I was on a train, using my iPad. Much harder to write the way I like to on that device, do I thought I’d give the new editor a try. It seems people like the layout, maybe this will work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I enjoyed it. I don’t have a Mac, so we’ll see. I’m concerned about my previous posts having issues showing my slideshow photos in G. I’ll keep watching to see how it goes for you!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sometimes a single door is all that’s needed. Today is one of those occasions!

    I wouldn’t necessarily call Thompson a traitor … if he simply chose a side and it failed to win. That’s the way it goes.
    However, what he did (and failed to do) as a husband is an entirely different story. I have choice words for THAT kind of man.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Despite the better fireplace, personal I don’t think he’s worth the fame. After all, the fireplace was also developed by Count Rumford. He reminds me of a guy I used to work with [if you can call what he do work]. I think someone trying to preserve history went too far the Benjamin Thompson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He did do some interesting and important work in the science of heat and thermodynamics. I like that they preserved the house, but it’s questionable in my mind. I wonder how they handle the history on the tour.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ben, you may have been somewhat of a traitor, but your Rumford fireplace was brilliant. The door photo is one of your best, Dan. The contrast with pale blue and dark red is terrific. And, I absolutely love how every photo is a full size. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know about that technicality. He was in the New Hampshire Militia, and the article states that he “gave valuable information to the British soldiers.” Patriot? Traitor? Spy? Hard to say for sure.

      But, yes, scientist for sure. He did good work in the field of thermodynamics, heat and heat transfer and insulation. I’ll give him an A in science, a D+ in Citizen and an F in Husband.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I’m not sure how often I can do one door, but some lend themselves to standing solo.

      As for the siding, it’s usually prohibited to replace the siding with vinyl in a historic district, and even in some developments, as specified by the Homeowner’s Association. It’s pretty, but it’s expensive to install and maintain.


  11. Hi Dan – fascinating … I suppose he took his wife’s money?! But how interesting … and he ended up living in Bavaria hence the Count title … Looks an interesting museum to look around – love the door and side of the house – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Hilary. The house was closed the day I was there. I would have liked to go inside. I’m curious how they treat his service to the British, as the house is only a few miles from the Old North Bridge in Concord where the opening battle of the Revolution was fought. There were many people loyal to England, but I’ve never seen any that were honored in any way. I would like to know what became of his wife.


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