By Eleanor Phillips Brackbill
When Eleanor Phillips Brackbill obtained her suburban Westchester condominium in 2000, 3 mysteries got here with it. First, from the previous proprietor, got here the data that the Thirties apartment used to be “a Sears condo or anything like that.” delighted to imagine it would be a Sears, Roebuck & Co. mail-order condominium, Brackbill was resolute to discover proof to turn out it. She discovered in its place a home pedigree of a unique 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. photos than the home itself. while queried approximately them, the previous proprietor advised her, “Someone many years in the past stored monkeys there, chained to the stakes.” Monkeys? used to be this a few form of suburban legend?
A 3rd secret got here to mild at final, while a development inspector’s letter contained a connection with the home having had, at one time, a distinct deal with. Why could the home have had one other tackle? Her interest aroused, and cause 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 yankee historical past. whilst, she came across thirty-two vendors, throughout 350 years, who had only one factor in universal: possession of a specific 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 awarded in twenty-two sidebars, bargains readers insights and guidance 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