Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Little Introduction to the Parris House

The Parris House, Paris Hill, Maine  - She's missing her shutters right now, but they'll be back up this summer!
Since we will be opening the Parris House here in Paris Hill, Maine to hookers this coming Spring, I thought I might do a little blog post about the house, its history, and what, in part, we will be offering here.

Located in the Paris Hill National Historic District, the Parris House dates back to 1818 and is named for its most well known owners, Virgil D. and Columbia Parris.  They purchased the home in 1853 and it remained in their family until the 1940s.  Virgil was a member of the United States Congress of 1840, a United States Marshall for Maine, and an acting Governor as well.  Perhaps more interesting, however, is the story of a young man Virgil and Columbia adopted after Virgil prosecuted a slave ship, the Porpoise.  One young man aboard that ship had been abducted to be a slave from East Africa.  His African name was Tovookan, but he came to be known as Pedro Tovookan Parris.  Pedro came to live at the Parris House and became a very popular member of Paris Hill society.  He was a public speaker, a water color artist, a ventriloquist, and an inspiring survivor of his time as a slave.  There is much more information on Pedro and his life that I can share with anyone interested in his story.  Our stewardship of the Parris House has brought us in to close contact with this story and it has been a very moving experience.  Below are some photos from the past centuries.
The Parris House, late 19th century

Pedro Tovookan Parris
Virgil D. Parris

Columbia Parris at right
Architecturally, the Parris House is a gable end, twin parlor Federal with pretty, cozy rooms and a screened  porch that looks out over the Mahoosuc mountain range of Western Maine and the Presidential Range, including Mount Washington, beyond in New Hampshire.  The house is surrounded by similar historic homes, with equally interesting histories.  Lincoln's first Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, was born and raised in our village, and the Harry Lyon house - called "Lyon's Den" - is also just a few homes away.  Harry Lyon was the navigator on the Southern Cross, the first airplane to make a trans-Pacific flight.  The village has at its center a large 19th century church with a bell cast at the Revere Foundry in Massachusetts by the son of Paul Revere.  From this central village green there are outstanding views of the White Mountains and Mount Washington just beyond the Hannibal Hamlin house.  On warm evenings it is not uncommon to see people who live here and also who have come up by car strolling "the loop" and taking in the scenery.

We have raised four sons in the Parris House, two of whom have left the nest, so to speak.  We are finding ourselves with a little additional time and space and will be opening the Parris House to hookers starting in May.  We plan to have hooking nights in the north parlor and, in fair weather, on the screen porch.  Refreshments will be served in the large open kitchen (with fireplace and/or wood stove burning in chilly weather!).  We will also be offering our patterns, wool, linen, and other accessories as we grow our stock for sale on site.  We will have at least one set day per week when the house is open for picking up supplies or hooking and also we will be open by appointment or chance.  We also plan to offer classes as needed and as teachers are available.

There are lots of things to do in our area.  We are about an hour from Portland, 40 minutes from the Sunday River Ski  Resort and also Shawnee Peak, and within minutes of numerous lakes and hiking/XC skiing/snowshoeing trails.  Mid Coast Maine, with its picturesque towns like Camden and Rockland, is about two hours away.  North Conway, New Hampshire with its tax free shopping, restaurants, and resorts is approximately one hour to our west, as is the White Mountain National Forest and the Mount Washington Auto Road.  For those so inclined, the new Oxford Casino is about 20 minutes away.  So if you are vacationing in our area, give a call to (207) 890-8490 or email us at parrishousewoolworks@gmail.com  for our open hours.

North parlor which leads out to the screened porch .  We will add comfy seating for all and shelves for hooking goodies & supplies.

Country kitchen - a great place to enjoy refreshments & chat hooking!

We also  hope to eventually offer hooking retreats, complete with lobster dinner night!, at our lakeside cottage, Sunset Haven, on Little Sebago Lake in Gray, Maine.  But that's the topic of another post and future planning.  :)        ~Beth

Sunset Haven, Little Sebago Lake, Gray, Maine

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