Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Little More Play--The New York Times on Croquet

We came across this neat little article in the New York Times today.  Need a summer game that's ripe for flirtation?  Croquet is the way!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wedding Bloggers Blog Clermont!

Over the past 6 or 7 years Clermont has become quite the wedding destination.  If you are thinking of a wedding at Clermont, you'll probably want to book early, because we are often booked up to a year in advance.

Once you've grabbed your date and picked your spot, the site is blank canvas.  Beyond offering a selection of yards, we don't tell you how to set up your tent or where to point the chairs for your ceremony.  It can be a bit daunting.

Which is why I love it when past couples from Clermont are willing to share their experiences on the internet.  This was one of the sweetest couples of the year, and they've been so kind as to post their experience where everyone could see.  Thanks guys!



"A Harty Wench": One Woman's Struggle with Slavery and Motherhood

Slavery is one of the ugly facts of Colonial life.  For most people, the word slavery conjurs images of sprawling southern plantations under the hot, hot sun.  But the northern colonies had no qualms with human bondage and considered it part and parcel to building wealth.  Philip Livingston (brother of the Robert Livingston who built Clermont) saw importation of slaves from Jamaica and Atigua as being a source of considerable profit; he owned a number of vessels for the purpose in the 1730s.  These carried shipments of as many as 50 slaves at a time from the Caribbean to New York.  His sons later cut out the middle-man and went straight to Africa for their slave imports.

Without the labor-intensive staple crops like rice and indigo, northern families tended to own fewer slaves per household.  In the 1790s, Chancellor Livingston owned 9.  His mother owned 15.  They were often house servants and farm workers.  Occassionally they worked in the Livingstons' mills.  Sometimes, the Livingstons hired their slaves out as part of a land lease agreement.  Other times they lodged young children in other households where they were to serve until they were grown strong enough to put to work at home.

There seems to be a tendancy to cut northern slavery a bit of a break.  Smaller numbers might suggest less commitment to slavery or that somehow it was gentler than the vast slave holdings of the antebellum South.   And then you come across a harsh reminder like this one: a letter from Robert Gilbert Livingston in New York to his brother in 1752.

Slavery, regardless of the number of peole involved, requires dehumanization that can be hard to swallow for the modern reader, and this letter was just the sort of thing that reminded me of that fact.

Robert G was a grandson of Robert the Founder, and it seems that in 1752 he was having trouble with an outspoken and contentious household slave.  In mid June this woman (who is never named in the letter) had a major altercation with the women in the family:

Since She has Yesterday made a Great Disturbance in ye family and that with our nurse molly.  Which has so Disturbed my wife that she is now Quite unwell & our child much worse, as Hansie Can Inform you...

The woman had always had a "devilish tongue" since he'd bought her and her family 16 months earlier for 70 pounds.  She'd lived in her past household for 15 years, but that family had finally given her up for her outspokeness as well.  She was strong, a good worker, and honest.  "I cannot Charge her with stealing any thing that ye family knows," he wrote. Sure she was strong-willed, but with a tougher master, he was sure she could be "as humble as a dogg."

Apparently she'd had previous arguments with the family.  Robert had tried to sell her before for this reason, but the woman had appealed to his wife, and she convinced Mrs. Livingston that she would behave well and was allowed to stay.

But after this latest affront, Robert decided it was time for "our Wench" to go.  And apparently she decided it too.  She asked for permission to be sold and went to the "afternoon sale...to Get a master" but with no luck.  It was a risky business being sold--would the new master or position be better or worse?--but it seems that she was so unhappy in the Livingstons' household, it was worth the risk, even with a 6 or 7 year old son and a 22 month old daughter tagging along beside her.

Maybe she was trying to leave Robert G.'s house because of her children.  After all, the boy was apparently shaping up to be more pliant than his mother and would make a valuable sale in the master's eyes.  Robert had already tried to sell him at least once "but she'l not part with him."  It was a shame, he thought, since the boy was easily worth 40 pounds.

All the same, her attempt to get out was not successful.  She was stuck at Robert G.'s mercy.  He lodged her and the children with "Hansie" while he made preparations to send her off to his brother in Poughkeepsie for sale there--just to make sure that she didn't appeal to his wife again.


"The Greatest reason she won't sell," he mused, "She is near Time.  She says 2 1/2 months to go."  Oh that's right, and by the way she's pregnant.

So here we have a mother who's six months pregnant, trying to care for a six year old son and a toddler daughter, and fending off her master's attempts to sell her son.  In spite of being a good worker (which arguably requires some pride in the outcome), she won't or can't quietly do as she is told.

Unsure of how to convince the woman to go to his brother's house, Robert G. decided to lie.  He would tell her that she was being sent there to give birth, and then once a new master was found, move her out--perhaps even before she gave birth.  "wee Tell her She's Going at yr house to Ly in first, & then Sell her, which you Can Tell, her Til you have a master fr her," he wrote.  Even worse, Robert recommended that she go from a house servant with some 20-25 pounds worth of clothing (a pretty nice wardrobe) to a farm laborer, a more physically demanding area of work that often carried fewer perks but would prevent her from interacting with the owner's wife and children.

The story continued a month later when Robert G. sent another letter up to Poughkeepsie.  Some members of the slave woman's family had gotten sick, endangering his brother's family and the financial potential in the slaves.  "I hope ye boy will recover," wrote Robert G, "If he does I desire he may not be sold but send him down as soon as you have Sold his mother & Child..."  After all that, he'd decided to separate the family anyway.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the letters is the callous way in which Robert discusses the whole problem.   How would he get some money back out of this bad investment?  How should he separate the valuable boy from his contentious mother? Would the child even live?


The relationship between masters and their slaves was incredibly complex and underpinned by a master's willingness to see blacks as an inferior species and an "other."  Accounts of the Clermont Livingstons indicate that they treated their slaves with "goodwill," that they were "treated more as aquaintances of a lower order than as subjects."  Nevertheless, they were "a lower order," frequently seen as less intelligent and childlike.

Surely some households were better than others to work in and some personalities (master and slave) were better or worse matches.  But the fact remains that even in "good" households, slaves had no legal power to exercise control over where they lived, what work they did, and what became of their children.  They were dependant on their master's opinions and their own ability to influence them, whether through compliance or disobedience.

In spite of how difficult it can be to swallow, looking at slavery in the Livingstons' own words reminds us not to paint them in our own vision of Modern and Enlightened.  Sure, the Chancellor had some forward-thinking ideas and did participate in discussions that would eventually help to end slavery in New York (though not until the Chancellor, this woman, and her children were dead and gone).  He still bought, owned, and sold people like horses and partook to some degree in the mindset necessary to engage in this behavior.  He and his family were products of their time, when slaves were big business and often times nothing more than a good investment.


New York ye[the] 18 June 1752

Lovg Brother

I have Allready wrote by Hansie & Concerning our Wench.  Since She has Yesterday made a Great Disturbance in ye family and that with our nurse molly.  Which has so Disturbed my wife that is now Quite unwell & our child much worse, as Hansie Can Inform you, So that wee are Determ-- now to part with her at Almost Any Shape.  She yesterday Desired a note to be sold (ye firest since wee had her) accordingly I gave her one, & yesterday att ye afternoon sale this day She Tryed to Get a master, all to no purpose.  So have put her on board of Hansie with her sone of 6 or 7 years old a fine boy I would fain keep him but she'l not part with him, her daughter 22m old.  The Greatest Reason she wont sell here at present She is near her Time  She says 2 1/2 ms to go.  I was mistaken in her Time in my Last, You Can try her in your house a day or Two & If you don't Like to keep her, you Can put her to any house in you Place Till She's sold & I will with Thanks pay for all Cost or Trouble & will do so much fr you any Time.

She's a strong harty Wench She Can Earn her Victuals anywhere (If she will) therefore do with her as If your own.  I gave 16ms ago fr her & her Two children 70 [pounds]. & ye boy is at Least worth now 10[pounds] more, as to ye Girl I don't value much--If you Can possibly put her & her Child of So as to keep ye boy I should be Very Glad, for I always took a great Likeness to him--If it was not for her, I wou'd not take 40 [pounds] fr him  But Reather then Keep ye mother I must part with ye boy.

I do asure that ye only Reason I have to part with her, she has a devilish tongue & will be Mistress in any family onless She's over powered by a Master that Can manage her & then She'l be as humble as a dogg-- She will now and then drink a Little to free of Rum, which She Cant Come at in ye Cuntry--, here are so many Little dram shops that Ruins half ye negroes in Town; I cannot Charge her with stealing any thing that ye family knows & If She Could but bridle her passions I wou'd not Take 70[pounds] for her alone--

To amuse her wee Tell her She's Going at yr house to Ly in first, & then Sell her, which you Can Tell, her Til you have a master fr her.  She wou'd do Exceeding weele for a farmer to do Laborious work
Shel no doubt Tell you a Great many Stories, which you are not to Give Credit To, for shll talk a Great deal & Lye a great deal

If She Shoud not bee Sold before She Lys in, Prhaps She may then fetch more then She Woud now, She has at Least 20[pounds] or 25[pounds] Value in Cloathes with her, I bo't her of My John Coes for he was obliged to sell her, or go to Jail, or else shoud not had her so Cheap--When We bo't her wee knew she had a Tongue--and he Sold her for Such, but did not Imagine She was so bad as wee found her & ye reason wee bo't her was that She had Lived ab't 15 years in ye family that with my wifes Aunt Allair, only fr ye Reason before mentioned

Wee was Selling her this 3 or 2 month & have had 2 or 3 Times Masters for her, & when it Came on parting then my wife's mind was Altered, Ocassioned by the Wench's prelaviring Tongue, promising to behave well, But now She's resolved to part with her at all Events, But ye Inconveniency is Just as wee want To Sell her wee Cant at that Juncture Git a master, is ye Reason wee send her up now for fear her mind may alter (as it has happened) & then keep her till She behaves again as She has now, ther fore Since its Gon So farr it must now Go farther, fr I never will have So much Uneasiness again with her, I told her If she was opstropolous with you you woud Send her to prison & there Kept Till sold & that you must do, If She wont be Quiet, but I belive sheel Have more Sense When She finds Earnest

I know it will be a Great Trouble to you & Sister, but hope youl Excuse it, and If and Time I Can do you  ye Like service, It shall not be wanting in me & am with our Loves yr Loving Brother

RG Livingston


--------------------------------

NY 13th July 1752

Since what on ye otherside I rec yrs pr Hansie & and Extreem Sorry you have had so much Uneasiness & Trouble with ye blacks I sent up [to Poughkeepsie]  I hope in ye Lord it will not Effect yr family they say ye Infection is not taken when they Begin to Come out, which Gives me some hopes your family will not Get it from them, I hope ye boy will recover If he does I desire he may not be sold but send him down as soon as you have Sold his mother & Child phaps Children, for If anny youl not be able to sell her till diliv'd.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Remembering Mothers of Clermont

In just over two hundred years Clermont was home to nine mothers and 29 children.  With Mother's Day just around the corner, it seems like the right time to honor some of Clermont's moms with their own bios.  Each had their own set of expectations and challenges and advantages, but each one devoted their blood, sweat and tears to helping their children grow into the best adults that they could.



Margaret Beekman Livingston:
1724-1800
This stalwart mom gave birth to eleven children.  That's about 104 months of being pregnant for anyone who's counting.  She had one child about every two years, making it so that from 1743 (Janet's birth) until 1765 (the year after Edward was born) she always had at least one infant and one toddler in house.   

For wives in Margaret's generation, motherhood was not a choice; it was both a duty, and (for most) an unavoidable side effect of the marriage bed.  That is not to say that it was always a burden or that it was unrewarding or even unwanted.  But repeated pregnancies were simply a fact of life.  Nevertheless mothers and fathers loved their children and did their best for them, and Margaret was no exception.

While she most likely took advantage of the family's considerable financial resources to hire nannies that would help her manage her youngest children, she still believed that "the feelings of a mother" meant being concerned about her children's happiness, well-being, and development, and it was vital that a woman demonstrate this concern.  When her granddaughter Peggy was staying with her in 1783, Margaret was at first "most Mortifyed" when the mother sent no letters to inquire after the girl.  It turned out that the three letters that had been sent were only delayed, and Margaret breathed a sigh of relief that her daughter-in-law was a suitably-concerned parent before spelling out the critical details of the little girl's life.  She was proud to announce that the 20-month-old girl had grown "quite fat" and she was "as happy as an Angel."  Although Margaret did her best to describe the little girl's precocious development, she felt that her adoration for the child made her a biased judge, and she tried not gush too much.

Most telling about the affectionate relationship that Margaret held dear with children were her frequent descriptions of kisses and other physical contact with her granddaughter.  "No person especially Gentlemen enters the Room, but she goes to them and says upe, and sites on their Lap..." she wrote, and also "she knew of no way to shew her affection but by taking betsey in one hand, and peggy Luis...in the other; then kissing one, then the other, repeating it five or six times to each."  (Peggy Lewis and Betsey were the little girl's 3-year-old cousins)  Even while Margaret was writing the letter, her granddaughter stood at her knee and kissed the paper that way destined for her mother.

The Livingstons were a particularly close-knit and affectionate family.  In fact, Margaret continued to have direct involvement with her children's lives all the way through adulthood, once admonishing her 29-year-old son Chancellor Livingston to practice moderation while he was attending parties in Philadelphia during the American Revolution and later interceding between her son Henry and his wife Nancy during their troubled marriage.

There is no denying that motherhood was huge part of Margaret's life from age 19 when her first baby was born until the day she died at age 76.  Her family was always around her, be it when she lived at Clermont in the summers--with her eldest son next door at Arryl House and other children mostly within a short carriage ride--or in the winters when she was in New York City in the townhouse she once shared with her husband.  Letters show that she was constantly surrounded by her children and grand children.

For Margaret we have lost much of the day-to-day information about motherhood.  Temper tantrums and dirty diapers and telling stories and bedtime are all lost.  Even so her ideas about the importance of affectionate family life can be construed through later letters about her grandchildren, and the sense that she needed to keep advising her grown children speaks to her concern and her sense of her own importance in their lives.  For Margaret, motherhood was her duty for life.



Elizabeth Stevens Livingston:
1780-1829
Like her grandmother, "Betsy" gave birth to eleven children, including one set of twin girls.  Her first child was born while she was in France in 1802, which makes it entirely possible that she was in the early stages of pregnancy when she undertook the hazardous trans-Atlantic journey from Boston to France.  In addition to all of the probable first trimester discomfort, she endured a terrible storm while on the boat, and all passengers were quite certain that they would be sunk.

Betsy's experience as a mother always makes me a little sad because she lost six children over the course of her life before finally passing away herself at the young age of 49.  In the space of just five years (1810-1915), Betsy gave birth three children and lost another three.  Child mortality was a hard fact of life, and many babies did not survive past infancy.  The figures, depending on the study and location, are as high as 50% of children not seeing their first birthday.  Even the family members of new babies kept in mind that their survival was not a given.  When Betsy herself was born in 1780, her own aunt Janet Montgomery wrote to Sarah Jay, "As this girl is designed for your Boy, whom I admire extremely, I can only pray that she may live to cement our familys in a still closer union." (emphasis mine)

This looming knowledge or even pragmatism did not mean that women did not bond with their new children.  They still took great pride in their new babies.  Even while Betsy's aunt Janet was acknowledging the risks of infancy, Betsy's mother bade her "tell [Jay] a hundred fine things of her daughter."   Still, women had to keep in mind that infancy was a treacherous time for their children.  It was said by some mothers that it was much harder to lose older children, and most of Betsey's children made it past age two.

Diseases like Scarlett fever, whooping cough, dysentery, smallpox, pneumonia were common killers and so were accidents, including falls or encounters with large animals and other daily hazards.  What was a mother to do to defend her offspring?  Removing from the city to the countryside in the summers was common for the well-to-do, and the Livingstons were no exception.  Crowded cities, where people, animals, sewerage, and garbage were pressed against one another on a daily basis were often site of summer epidemics, and even Betsey's uncle Edward was once nearly felled in an 1803 epidemic of yellow fever that struck New York City.

Women, even elite ones, were also the trusted medical advisers in their homes.  It was their job to know how to nurse fevers and minor injuries.  Mothers taught their older daughters as a matter of course, and some learned additional tricks through published manuals (for instance, the 1837 "Family Nurse" at right).  Professional doctors were in increasing demand by this time (even her father the Chancellor built up a relationship with a doctor of his own), but women were still serving as their family's first line of defense and primary nurse.

After Betsy's early death in 1829, her husband eventually found another wife by the name of Mary C. Broome.  It is possible that, like many widowers, he felt that he needed female assistance to oversee the household raise the four children who were yet unmarried.  In fact, for several generations, while Livingston widows tended to remain single for the rest of their days, their widower counterparts were much more likely to remarry.  The moral?  A house without a mother just wasn't complete.




Emily Evans Livingston: 
1851-1894
Married to John Henry Livingston, Emily Evans (also called "Bessie") did not give birth to any children of her own, but she took on the role of step mother to both her husband's daughter Katherine, and his nephew Clermont.  When Emily married into the Livingston family in 1880 at the age of 39, Katherine was 7 and Clermont was 12 years old (having already lost both parents and his sister to an assortment of illnesses).

At least in literature, step mothers were viewed with some suspicion in the Victorian era, as though they could not love their new children the same as their biological children (think Cinderella's wicked stepmother favoring her own children).  But the fact is that blended families and stepmothers were very common.  Particularly in cases where a widower had young children, a woman was needed to step in an oversee their care and feeding, early education, and their emotional and moral development.   Women were generally (though not always) considered to be indispensable for these tasks.  For example, after John Henry's first wife passed away, his daughter Katherine was sent to be brought up for a time with her Hammersly aunts.  It was not until Emily married into the family that Katherine could move back into the family unit at Clermont.

So Emily certainly had her battles to fight.  In addition to working against the public stereotype of neglectful stepmother, Emily was also considered an "outsider" to the Livingston family--that is, her family was not related to the Livingstons, but instead came from the Philadelphia area. 

It's hard to know what the home life was like at Clermont for this blended family-of-four, but we do know that daughter Katherine became as close as a sister to her cousin Clermont.  It seems pleasant to imagine a life of cozy family time in the drawing room (pictured at right in the 1880s), a nest decorated by Emily in her characteristically energetic style.  I say Bravo! to Emily for building her family at Clermont in spite of any public opinions.
 

Alice Delafield Clarkson Livingston: 
1872-1962



As the last resident of Clermont who documented her life and those of her daughters so prolifically, much has already been said about Alice.  But I feel that she deserves some respect as a woman who truly threw herself into family life at Clermont, and I can't imagine a post about motherhood without her.

As a woman of 34 years when she got married, you might think Alice was starting to wonder if motherhood was going to be in her cards at all.  Often we in the modern era think of having babies in your mid 30s as being on the late side (boy, was my 34-year-old friend stung when her doctor labeled her pregnancy "geriatric" last year!).  But you have to remember, although women of the 18th and 19th centuries usually began having children in their early 20s, without many birth control options, they often continued having children until their 40s or even 50s.  So Alice's first baby at age 36 (Honoria Alice Livingston on Feb 7, 1909) was not quite a rarity.  Her second baby arrived 14 months later (Janet Cornelia Livingston on April 11, 1910), and Alice's family was complete.

In spite of having the assistance of two nannies, Alice appears to have been an involved mother.  Her daughter remembered her by declaring merrily "Yes, she loved being a mother and bringing us up..."   Alice had matured as home photography was becoming increasingly available, and she often snapped albums full of pictures of her girls as they grew.  Posed pictures, candids, travel photos, costumes--you  name, Alice did it.  


The photos suggest a mother who wanted to preserve the memories of her children's early days--much as many mothers do now.  The photos were all lovingly pasted into albums, and she even created albums for each of her two daughters to have when they got older.  This was not the "Downton Abbey" idea of "1 hour a day with your children" for wealthy mothers, but rather a mother who brought her children into the garden with her (nannies still in tow to keep an eye on them), who helped them plan their own garden, and who accompanied them sledding or into the rabbit hutch. With her husband retired from work, Alice's family was all around her at all times.

To be sure, having a full house staff meant that Alice had help.  This was not a mother who stirred the cookpot with one hand while she bounced the baby with the other.  She had a coachman to take the girls for rides in the pony cart (at left).  She had a cook to make all their meals.  She had two nannies (they later down-sized to just one).  There were governesses, house maids, and even a ladies' maid for Alice herself.

But one might argue that this meant that the time that Alice spent with her children was not burdened with work or some secret longing to get away for some "me time."  Instead Alice was free to make sure that their exploits together were in pursuit of mutual pleasure.  It may not be how it's done by most of us today, but to any mother who's ever tried to recall the last time she saw a grown-up movie or drew a big sigh as she cleaned the toys off the living room floor (again), there are parts about that which might seem appealing.

And just like Margaret Beekman Livingston 150 years before her, Alice staid a part of her children's lives.   Honoria married in 1931, but she and her husband returned to Clermont each summer to live in a Sylvan Cottage on the edge of the property.  They shared afternoon pleasantries with Alice in her shady backyard at Clermont Cottage.

Janet came up from the city on weekends (where she'd gotten a job as an investment banker) to help her family care for the estate.  Alice even built a garage addition onto her little cottage with several rooms in it just for her younger daughter.



These four Livingston women all lived very different lives at Clermont with social expectations that changed vastly over 150 years.  But all of them shared the same primary concern: raising healthy, happy children who would go on to be productive adults.  They faced the English army, staggering family losses, and even a Great Depression along the way.  Others faced much quieter crisis that weren't recorded in history--the exhaustion and discomfort of repeated pregnancies, unruly children, illnesses nursed through the middle of the night, even the simple emotional strain of doing the best you can as a parent.

Bravo to all the mothers of Clermont and happy Mothers' Day to the other moms out there who are reading this blog!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Veranda: Clermont's Spectacular Porch (that's now gone)

 Is there anything that epitomizes summer relaxation more than having the whole family gathered out on the porch?  The front porch, the back porch--whatever.  Preferably you should have a cool drink in your hand and a cool breeze drifting by.

Although large porches and verandas may seem to be inseparable from our idea of historic American houses, they didn't start out as part of our architectural landscape.  Instead, grand American houses started out with imposing faces that found various ways to focus your attention on the front door.  Take Walter Livingston's Teviodale at right for instance, this late 18th century house featured a grand white pediment and arched transom window right above the door.  These features, combined with that big Palladian window above it, created a formal visual impression that gave the viewer a a sense of the importance of the house and its owner.  Clermont, like its Georgian and Federal contemporaries followed this model.

But by the 1830s, porches and piazzas were showing up on the most up-to-date houses, and Edward Philip Livingston added these details to his wife's historic family home--first the porch, then the piazzas.  In the summers this space hosted three or four wooden rocking chairs and was apparently ornamented with long flower boxes, as seen here.

By far the biggest impression to be made on Clermont's fair facade was the great big veranda that John Henry put on 1893-95.  He actually did this in tandem with changing the driveway to treat the east face as Clermont's front door (seen below) so the giant outdoor structure was actually Clermont's back porch.

I've always been fascinated with this space--perhaps it goes along with my fascination for anything that's gone.  It permitted a mix of shade and sun, as a wide wing extended out from under the porch roof and off to the sunny south side of the house, where another roofed-over section shaded the windows in library and drawing room.

How did this porch figure into daily life?  I have found several pictures of Honoria and Janet playing on the sunny portion of the porch.  I love this one of them with a scooter--which gives you an idea just what a large open space this was for them to be rolling around there.  it also seems to have been one of Alice's default photo studios, which makes sense given the improved lighting (over any indoor spaces) and wide open space.

I also just recently found this photo of Alice in 1908, posing with John Henry's dog Punchy on the veranda.  There are too many things to love about this image.


For one, you get an excellent sense of the interior space.  The rounded shape (stead of just a linear porch along the face of the house) really gave a sense of this being a room.  You can also see its furnishings: rounded wicker chairs in at least two groupings and a few matching tables.  You can also see one of these tables in this photo of Honoria and Janet with Punchy again and a crop of baby bunnies.  Alice's photo above also gives you a great view of the striped awnings that ornamented the front.  Extending these would have created a space of deep shade that cooled no only the porch, but also the mansion itself, by preventing the entry of sun.

So what happened to our porch?  John Henry Livingston removed it in 1926 shortly before his death.  While he and the rest of the family were away in Italy, John Henry made a number of changes to the house to reinvent it in a Colonial Revival image (seen at left, 1936).  He removed almost the entire porch, changed the shutters to solid white, and added the stairs and lions at the west door.  At the same time, she changed the driveway to again treat the west side (facing the river) as the front door.

Honoring Chancellor Livingston by attempting to recreate the house as he had known it (sort of--that chateauesque roof and the north and south wings were added later) may have been the most lofty of his goals, but the remaining section of porch in the southwest corner provides another possible reason.

This deeply-shaded portion of the mansion is also at an inside corner, getting rain poured down from several roofs each storm and never quite getting enough sun to dry it out all the way.  If the rest of the porch was a shady, especially with all those trees around it, it probably suffered the same rot problems that we deal with each year.  Perhaps John Henry simply tired of maintenance drain it created. 

Along with other portions of Clermont's past, this grand veranda is a piece of the history that helps us to really look at the importance and difficulty of picking a date of interpretation for any historic house that was occupied for such a long period of time.  As much as I love that porch, would I bring it back?  What else would have to change if we suddenly chose to make it 1920 around here?  Would I really be willing to give up the lions that are there now?

Whatever the reason, John Henry tore down his own creation and left us Clermont as we know it now, and I love it just the way it is.