The Hartford Daily Times

September 23, 1905

The chief point of interest to Loomises from all over the United States, who will be here next Wednesday to attend the reunion of the Loomis Family, will be the Loomis homestead at Windsor center. Few Hartford people are aware of the rich historical associations of this house. The place also has an added interest by reason of the fact that there is an available fund of $1,500,000 set aside to be used in converting it into an educational institute where girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 20 will be taught in all departments of learning. The fund represents the combined estates of the last five lineal descendants of Joseph Loomis, emigrant ancestor of the name in America.

The Loomis homestead is located a short distance east of Broad street, Windsor center, on the original read to Hartford, the site being on the west bank of the Farmington river, on part of what is known as "The Islands." The original grant of forty acres, on which the house stands, was acquired by Joseph Loomis in 1640. The land had previously belonged to the Plymouth company which came over on the "Mary and John," following the Mayflower, arriving at Windsor in September, 1633.

One of the most remarkable facts in the history of the house is that the title has come down through generation after generation by inheritance, and has never been transferred by deed. It is believed to be the oldest homestead now standing in the United States. According to Edward C. Marshall's "Ancestors of General Grant," the Loomis home is the oldest in America, with the exception of the Van Rensselaer homestead at Albany, N.Y. The latter place was a few years older, but it is said that this house has been moved away from Albany, leaving the Loomis homestead alone in its distinction.

The original deed or paper which accompanied the first transfer to Joseph Loomis, in 1640, hangs on the wall in one of the "L" rooms, enclosed in a simple black frame. The paper is yellow and is ready to fall apart. The last owner of the property, Miss Jennie L. Loomis, has deeded the homestead to the Loomis institute, thereby perpetuating the title for all time in the Loomis family. The Loomis Institute was incorporated July 8, 1874, to carry out the project of the educational institute.

The homestead has the appearance of the typical country place. It is located in the midst of what is almost a jungle of foliage, weeping willows, locusts, maples and elms. Its height is two stories at the front, but the roof slopes so that the house is one story high at the rear, a style of construction which was used at that time by the shrewd colonists in order that the authorities would not assess their houses as double tenements. The term "Salt-box houses" was formerly applied to houses of this kind, because of the old custom of having a box of salt on the roof for convenience when the chimney caught fire.

The original part, now the "L," was built by Joseph Loomis in 1650. The main part was built by one of his sons. The oak framework has showed its worth by enduring its 250 years of New England winters and summers with less creaking than many modern frame dwellings. Some of the most trifling details in the construction of the house are of deep significance. The nails in the clapboards are hand-wrought, proof of how laborious and slow was building in those days.

The "L" has the usual low ceiling. The principal room on the ground floor of the "L" has an old-fashioned buffet, "bow-fat" the ladies used to call it, using a corruption of the French term. A Revolutionary flint-lock hangs over the door, and a sword used during the same period adorns the wall.

The house has no less than six fireplaces, of the broad colonial style. The fireplace in the sitting room has been reduced in size four times, and is still large and comfortable. The unique "H.L." hinges and door latches used were brought from England. Only one house in the country, it is said, has this particular style of door latch, that house being in Salem, Mass. Over the mantel in the sitting room is the cavalry sword used by Ebenezer Fitch Bissell during the Revolutionary war. The parlor contains three beautiful oil paintings of members of the Loomis family - the work of Loomis artists. There are six rooms on the first floor and six on the second, connected by a winding staircase. The rooms contain hundreds of quaint and interesting things, which make a detailed description of them impossible in limited space.

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