Danforth House

228 Oak, 1854


This tidy, well-proportioned little cottage, dating from 1854, is actually some 23 years older than Oak Street itself, which was not opened until 1877. The house stood originally on West College, in the present space between Rice Hall and Dascomb Hall. It was built for Cornelia Danforth on land bought from the college on the condition (common in those days) that she employ students in manual labor.

In 1877 the town photographer Henry Platt arranged to have the house lifted from the West College lot and moved to Oak Street to made way for his new, larger dwelling. In the frugal village economy of the 1870s, the moving of wooden houses to nearby side streets was a frequent event, made easier by cheap labor, the flexibility of wood, and the lack of plumbing and electrical connections. This nineteenth-century version of the mobile home was a national phenomenon and drew much comment from European visitors, who laid it to the restlessness of a migrant, pioneering people. In the case of the Danforth cottage, the habit preserved a nice example of pre-Civil War simplicity. The little lie-on-stomach windows under the eaves, which ventilated attic crawl space, were a comely feature of domestic architecture in the 1850s.

(Blodgett 71)

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