We were able to squeeze in two Nathan Hale related sites while we were in Connecticut. The first was the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, and the second was the Nathan Hale School House in New London.
The Nathan Hale Homestead is the land that Nathan grew up on, but this actual house was under construction while he was in the army, so he never actually lived there. His family did, though–his father, step-mom and some of his brothers and sisters…
From reading about the site, I was always under the impression that the home that Nathan actually grew up in was originally at the bottom of the hill. However, the docents showed me the site of the original foundation, which was no more than 20 feet away from this long addition in the back.
As a matter of fact, they told me that they believe that this little add-on was actually part of the original home. When I toured the School House in New London, that guide actually was a bit skeptical, not because it wasn’t feasible, but I guess that it hasn’t been dated to find out. He mentioned something about tree rings. Yeah… I have no idea how you’d figure that out, but in any event, it was neat to stand in that little kitchen and think that there was a very good chance that Nathan grew up there.
Inside that little addition was this! The Nathan Hale shadow portrait. Okay, okay, I won’t lie. It wasn’t the actual shadow portrait… The actual one was upstairs, with his army trunk, fowler gun, and shoe buckles. But none of those things I was allowed to take photos of. le sigh. But the shadow portrait supposedly belonged to Nathan. It’s carved into a door, and if it really was of him, it is the only surviving portrait of him. Nathan’s niece Rebecca wrote in a letter that it was commonly known amongst the family that the shadow portrait on the door was of “Uncle Nathan.” Whoever did it, it was essentially graffiti, ha ha, and Diana pointed out to me that it’s unfinished in the back as if the boys were ‘caught in the act.’ lol!
Speaking of Diana, she and Natalie, both hard-core Dreamer fans, gave us a private tour of the place. Thanks, girls!!
Me, Natalie, and Diana.
Imagine my shame when they told me that the way they discovered The Dreamer was because one of the docents working there came across my, uh, “Sexy Nathan” drawing on DeviantART. I tried to apologize to them, but they would have none of it. Diana said he’s hanging on her wall, and Natalie said he’s taped to her history book. lol!
They had a Brown Bess replica that I guess they fire at certain events. We didn’t get to fire it, but we did get to play with it. I. Loved. That. Thing. It was so heavy, and so long, and gahhhhh. Pretty musket!!
Steve threatened to video my geekasm and post it on YouTube. To my knowledge, he did not. ;)
Speaking of Steve Sunu, we love him so much we even bring him on vacation with us. And defense of my own musket-giddiness, I didn’t make this crazy face while pretending to fire it:
(I think this needs to be made into a Dreamer cover.)
And I fell in love with Mike all over again at this moment:
Oh, Alan, you’re so dreamy! I mean, Mike! Mike’s so dreamy… heh. ^^;
In the gift shop they were selling these scary, scary Nathan Hale plushies. Ewww, they were creepy. I did NOT buy one:
The Nathan Hale plushy that Caera made me is a thousand times cuter than that thing!
Well, we finally had to call it a day, and say goodbye to the Hale Homestead, but we had a fabulous time!
The next day we drove to New London where Nathan Hale taught for a year before enlisting in the army, marching to Boston, and sitting, bored, in Roxbury for another year. ;) But he really enjoyed New London, and made a lot of friends and connections here, so it was really wonderful to go visit the school that he taught in!
If you bought the Nathan Hale: Matters of the Heart short story, most of it actually takes place in this little room! Stephen Shaw, of the Sons of the American Revolution gave us a fantastic, fantastic tour of this place. He told us all about the different rennovations it’s had over the years, and took us down into the basement to let us see how it was built. He showed us all the surviving sketches and early photos of it. On the wall they had a poster that actually had the newspaper ads for Nathan’s job listing–both before he took it, and after he left with the army and his position became available again. That was really, really neat to see.
Upstairs was unfinished, and they are working on restoring it and finishing the walls. I think, so they can put electricity and heat up there! (It was only October and that place was chilly!) But Stephen explained to me that Nathan had split his students because some were learning Latin, so there was an upstairs class room and a downstairs classroom. He also taught female students for two hours before and after his regular classes. Go, Nathan!
Upstairs there were three indentions in the floor. Stephen showed me how they were right next to the teacher’s desk, and right next to the fire. So someone had stood their leaning against the desk, either facing the classroom, or facing the fire until his heels dug holes into the floor. Granted, Nathan only taught there one year, so I doubt that’s enough time to carve your bootprints into the floor… But I have a picture of my feet where “Rocky” stood at the Philadelphia art museum, so I figured, what the crap! I have to put my feet where Nathan might have stood. Well, it was all the original flooring up there, so he definitely walked those floors many-a-time.
It was actually a really cool experience for me…
Well, we’re back home in Ohio now, but already plotting which town we want to live in. So far Mystic, Conn, is in the lead. Lexington was up there, but only if we make it rich.
See you tomorrow for your Friday update! I finished the pages this morning, and they’re a lot of fun. Do we have any Colonel Knowlton fans in the house? You’re gonna love tomorrow!