By Eleanor Phillips Brackbill
When Eleanor Phillips Brackbill acquired her suburban Westchester apartment in 2000, 3 mysteries got here with it. First, from the previous proprietor, got here the knowledge that the Thirties residence used to be “a Sears residence or whatever like that.” extremely joyful to imagine it would be a Sears, Roebuck & Co. mail-order apartment, Brackbill was resolute to discover facts to end up it. She stumbled on as a substitute a home pedigree of a distinct sort.
Second, or even extra provocative, used to be the invention of a number of iron stakes sticking out from the property’s huge, immense granite outcropping, larger in sq. pictures than the home itself. whilst queried approximately them, the previous proprietor informed her, “Someone many years in the past stored monkeys there, chained to the stakes.” Monkeys? was once this a few form of suburban legend?
A 3rd secret got here to gentle at final, whilst a construction inspector’s letter contained a connection with the home having had, at one time, a unique deal with. Why might the home have had one other tackle? Her interest aroused, and rationale upon discovering the proof, Brackbill progressively peeled again layers of historical past, permitting the home and the land to inform their tales, and uncovering a prior inextricably woven into 4 centuries of yank background. whilst, she stumbled on thirty-two proprietors, throughout 350 years, who had only one factor in universal: possession of a selected parcel of land.
An unusual Cape not just tells the tale of an eight-year odyssey of fact-finding and hypothesis but in addition solutions the wider query: “What got here before?” and, via fabric offered in twenty-two sidebars, bargains readers insights and directions on how to define the tales at the back of their very own homes.
Eleanor Phillips Brackbill is former Curator of schooling on the Neuberger Museum of artwork, buy College–SUNY.
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An Uncommon Cape: Researching the Histories and Mysteries of a Property by Eleanor Phillips Brackbill