Revolutionary Wethersfield

Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

Not only is the Historic Wethersfield district home of the largest collection of early homes in the State of Connecticut, but it also figured prominently in the events in and around the time of the Revolutionary War. In addition to working with Thursday Doors, I am also trying to satisfy Linda G. Hill’s JusJoJan prompt today. The prompt was provided by Kim, and Kim gave us “Understanding” as the prompt. So, in order to provide a better understanding of this town’s role in the Revolutionary War, I present the houses of four of these men.

Silas Deane – Lawyer and merchant who worked in Hartford and who later moved to Wethersfield. He was a representative in the Connecticut House of Representatives, and later named a delegate to the Continental Congress. He was appointed as a secret envoy to France to induce the French government to provide financial aid and munitions to the colonies.

Joseph Webb – (paraphrased from the Webb House web site) Was a merchant who operated a store out of this house. He died in 1761. His son, Joseph Jr. and his wife entertained often in their home which was given the nickname “Hospitality Hall.” In May 1781, they were the host and hostess when Gen. George Washington spent five nights in the house. Here, in one of the front parlors, Washington met with the French general Comte de Rochambeau to plan a joint military campaign that led to victory at Yorktown and the end of the American Revolution.

The other two houses in the gallery are those of sea captains Allyn Stillman and his brother Nathaniel Stillman, Jr. Allyn was a blockade runner and soldier in the militia during the war. Captain Nathaniel Stillman was one of General George Washington’s Life Guards – a unit charged with Washington’s safety and the protection of the army’s cash, and official papers during the War.

A Bit of Door Trivia – The separate photo below is the Nathaniel Stillman, Jr. house, and it includes an interesting feature found on many houses in New England. The door on the front edge of the side wall is known as a “Coffin Door” or the “Death Door.” The primary purpose of this door was to allow easy access to the parlor for a coffin in a home that had a central staircase (where it would be hard to maneuver a coffin). The expression, “being at death’s door” is thought to stem from the presence of these doors in European houses.

Nathaniel Stillman, House, note: the “Coffin Door” on the front corner of the parlor.

I hope you enjoy the pictures in the gallery and those of the other participants. I want to thank Cee Nuner for focusing the Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge on Thursday Doors this week. Please welcome the participants joining from Cee’s challenge, Note: I will be adding some of these posts in comments, as Cee’s challenge began before today’s link was posted.

If you are in a hurry and don’t wish to scroll through the comments, click to Jump to the comment form.

157 comments

      • I was watching “Seal Team” last night – season five and it takes place after the withdrawal from Afghanistan and of course the stories the shows tell are about the soldiers over there, what they experienced and what they experienced when they came home. In history they always say it is doomed to repeat itself and the episode where they talk about what they did over there, the sacrifices they made, just seems to now coming all undone and was it worth it. It is really an interesting view on what actually happened. History is interesting because it seems like we do not learn we do not learn from our mistakes. Guess I’m just putting that out there, sorry about that.🥴🙄😳 I guess my point was that even in the revolutionary war the French and Indian war that all of those wars we really didn’t learn much from them

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful pictures and specially the information about their importance in American History. I hadn’t heard about a coffin door not of the meaning behind the expression at death’s door, but it makes perfect sense now. Thanks, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always happy when people find history interesting, Olga. I knew about coffin doors (there’s another that will show in a later group) but I didn’t know about the expression being linked to them. I does make sense. There is so much history in this little area. If I wasn’t stopping to take pictures, the whole district could be a 15-minute walk.

      Like

    • I remember going to a wake that was held in my grandmother’s parlor. It took a long time to get the image of the coffin out of my mind when visiting her after that. That was in the 50s. ‘

      I like the before and after shots.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder what Mr. Deane had against symmetry. I have a real urge to move his front door. All these houses seem inviting and intimidating at the same time. Sometimes we wish walls could talk. I’m another one who didn’t know about “death’s door,” and count me another one who hopes you’ll go back and get more pictures — Wethersfield is fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If the individual houses are listed on the National Registry, you can usually find the history of renovations In this case, the district is on the registry, but some of these house are, too. I think the Silas Deanne house is listed, but I was more focused on the people and the role these house had in our Revolutionary War.

      Great doors from you today!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad, Judy. I knew about coffin doors, but I wasn’t aware of the “possible” connection to that expression. I found it mentioned a few times, but it dates back a long time. Still, it makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Who knows, you may inspire someone to enjoy learning. Excitement is often contagious. Vert few things were added to houses for appearance only. There usually was a reason for the choices they made.

      I really like St Andrew’s – thanls for sharing those doors.

      Like

  3. These are very impressive homes Dan. I like the entryway to the Webb house. The entryway on the Silas Deane home leaves something to be desired, like moving it to the middle of the building! Perhaps it was designed and built by one-eyed men who ‘thought’ the door was in the middle! 🤗

    That’s a lovely courtyard to relax in with a good book and a glass of ice tea. Or perhaps a glass of sherry and time spent with a dear friend.

    I find the terms “Coffin Door” and “Death Door” to make perfect sense when you consider their purpose. This is such an interesting piece of history and I thank you for sharing it.

    Wethersfield, CT is just packed with history. If I had you for my history teacher way back when, I would have actually learned something!
    Ginger

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Ginger. None of my history teachers inspired me to know more about anything. I listen to the storie my brother tells, about the way he taught, and I wish I could have had him fir a teacher. I do like being able to piece these things together.

      The courtyard might be a nice place to relax, but if you remember Lucky Lou’s Bar & Grill from last week, it;s right across the street 😏

      I’ve seen houses before with those off-enter doors, and I don’t like them. That would make me itch, every time I came home. It’s probably why George Washington stayed at the Webb house.

      I hope you’re finding a way to stay warm.

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  4. Hi, Dan and Cee, great to see us all together like this in door love. Lovely houses you’ve got for us and an interesting word origin, even thought Death Door sounds scary. I especially like the light in the first three photos.

    My post has some door gifts which always make me happy, and some not particularly castle-like doors from Lendava Castle in Slovenia. Always welcome.

    Thursday Doors + CFFC: Door gifts + Lendava Castle

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think Death Door should be scary, if you were going in that door, you’d be dead ;-)

      I love the photo you have where you remind us that you’re in a castle,. Otherwise, it isn’t as clear.

      Great photos and I’m glad Cee teamed up with us today.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Historical districts are the best, and these houses are beautiful! I especially like the courtyard area connecting the Webb and Deane homes. I picture the Deane’s looking out their window and thinking, “Why weren’t we invited to the party?!” ‘At death’s door’…who knew? Makes perfect sense, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked them John. I imagine someone’s parlor was particularly nice for viewing and someone created the first Funeral Home.

      In reading about the coffin doors,. I also read how the houses were oriented on the lot so the parlor wall faced south. That way it got more natural light and hat from the sun. They were practical people. I guess they had no choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s interesting about Deaths’ Door. I hadn’t heard that theory before but, it makes sense now!

    I like the Web house a lot…it’s the shape and all those lovely paned windows I like best.

    Was that the original color blue on that last Stillman house? It’s a lovely shade of blue and rare I think for the times.
    The ship captain must have a been a very successful one judging by the size of that house!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You never know, Janet. Great great great Uncle Joe might have played host to George Washington.

      Thanks for sharing some cool doors. I’ll try to get you a book of tickets you can issue in the future ;-)

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      • Tickets for blocked doors. What a great idea, if probably confusing to the recipients. But it made for a good theme. As the relatives would be from my husband’s side, I’m pretty sure they’re not related but you never know.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great photos and very interesting history, Dan!
    Funny, that in Englisch the expression is “being at death’s door” while in German it is “an der Schwelle des Todes” which means “at the the threshold of death”. The threshold is the actual part of the death door, while I always thought it was non-figurative.
    This is mine from Munich:
    https://wanderlustig2019.wordpress.com/2022/01/27/doors-of-munich-munchner-turen-3/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This museum ‘s details is worth the walk (also image wise). It took me going through each house’s image to understand that this is a historic museum (we don’t have many in this part of the country:)) If it’s about details, my top one is the last double door with the two wreaths and the small court yard. Thanks for hosting Dan!

    HERITAGE

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was an interesting time. I can see the discussion. “Well, honey. If you want the front door in front of the stairs, we’re going to need a coffin door in the parlor.” We are almost on a similar wavelength today, Marla. I have a house with a French connection, and you have doors from Paris.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan, I love the details and architecture in your photos, and I think it’s fascinating that it is so closely tied to our country’s rich history. Thanks for sharing and for hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Very interesting history, Dan. You included quite a bit of research. Are you a historian? I should be posting more of my Colonial Williamsburg houses here this week, but I have a couple of later models from Wickenburg for you instead. It will post tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not a historian, but someone who appreciates history. In school, we learned dates of settlements and battles. These places let us explore a little bit about how people lived.

      Like

  11. Hi Dan,
    I’ve overcome being grounded with a non-coronavirus and the omnipresence of omicron and decided to visit Cork, Ireland for this week’s Thursday Doors. Here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/01/28/thursday-doors-visiting-evergreen-road-cork-ireland/
    I’m trying to retrace the footsteps of my ancestor, John Curtin, but after further travels, I think he lived around Evergreen Street instead.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Dan – an interesting read and a good look around the houses and doors – sounds like Death’s door could come to that … thanks for the history and photos – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

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