Red House eBook Ò Hardcover

Red House What would it be like to grow up in a home suffused with three hundred years of another family’s history When Sarah Messer’s parents impulsively purchased Red House from Richard Warren Hatch the great great great great great grandson of the original owner Walter Hatch they acuired much than a lovingly preserved colonial home The house contained Hatch family journals letters and daguerreotypes and Walter Hatch’s last will and testament which stated that the house was to be passed down “forever from generation to generation to the world’s end never to be sold or mortgaged from my children and grandchildren forever” With a poet’s eye for clever detail and an ear for the rhythm of place and language Red House is a real work of living history a story of America from its wild beginnings in colonial New England through nine generations of the Hatch family Based on an award winning article Messer wrote for Yankee Magazine about Red House this is a book for those of us who love old houses colonial history and beautifully written family stories


10 thoughts on “Red House

  1. Diane Diane says:

    This was a mixed bag for me It's half memoir half history and I much preferred the memoir partSarah Messer grew up in a centuries old red house in Marshfield Massachusetts Her father bought the home in 1965 from a descendant of the original owner Walter Hatch who reportedly built the house in 1647 The house was given a patchwork of renovations over the years and parts of it were in danger of falling down Hatch's will stipulated that the house should never leave the family but for various reasons Messer's father was able to buy the home despite not being a relation Messer alternates the chapters between her experiences of living in the house and the home's history which she pieces together through documents The colonial history was a bit dry and reuired a fair amount of skimming to get through By coincidence I had recently read another book about Americana Jill Lepore's Book of Ages which handled the history aspect gracefully than Red House My favorite parts of the book were Messer's memories in the old house and how she and her siblings made efforts to repair and renovate it There were also some great stories about ghosts who haunted the house and how Messer herself talked to one of them in her sleep one night ChillingI picked up this book after reading an interview with the author Elizabeth McCracken who said this is one of her favorite books While Red House won't be a favorite I did enjoy it and would recommend it to anyone who likes reading about the history of old buildings


  2. Diane Barnes Diane Barnes says:

    I started this book thinking that I would give it a chance but would abandon it uickly if it bored me I read the first 50 pages one night and decided to keep going Then another 100 effortless pages and I realized this was a keeper And when I read the last page today I wanted So much for unwarranted snap judgementsIt's the story of a house which is actually the main character; the history of the Hatch family of Marshfield Massachusetts who built the house in 1647 and their descendants; and a memoir of the Messer family who bought the house in 1965 and raised their 8 children there The author was one of those children She has a very understated style of writing which suited this book perfectly She left out a lot of things I wanted to know but that only whetted my appetite and kept me reading In short it was a perfect book for the week of Thanksgiving when I wanted something good but not a novel in which I had to worry about an emotional investment


  3. Sonya Sonya says:

    Some of the reviewers found this book a bit slow lacking a plot and exciting twists However I found it interesting Having grown up in Massachusetts most likely helped and overlooking the author's style of writing which could be obvious in several places but seemed to work in others I am familiar with many of the towns places and buildings the author mentioned I found the family histories both current and past laid out well in an alternating pattern going from history to current times in every other chapter It shows how the past and the present are intertwined in an old house such as this one I also couldn't help but take sides with one family over the other as she explains how the house was sold out of the family after over 300 years I would recommend it for anyone interested in home restoration early New England settlement and Massachusetts history


  4. Julie H. Julie H. says:

    This is a really marvelous book written very much in the spirit of the experimental narrative forms with which many social scientists have approached their subjects in recent years Where it departs from that tradition however is in the fact that the author grew up in the Red House and is not herself a historian anthropologist archaeologist or preservationist Thus her connection to the site is first person loaded potentially biased and most definitely circumscribed by the details controlled by her parents and the assorted limitations that direct access to information conveys Each chapter of the book is structured similarly that is each begins with a historic vignette account or some other detail about the house's past and then transports the reader to the present In this respect it very much calls to mind the Prices' First Time with its alteration between historic text and details on the upper half of each page and the material world of objects on the lower half of each page The book deals with a number of themes including truth permanency ownership of the past whose storyversion of the past gets told and significance as relates to small vs big stories and abandonment Also of note Messer is keenly aware that writing about the past as relates to this mid 17th century house has implications for social and family relations in the presentMesser is a solid storyteller and the Red House is a great vehicle for conveying several parallel stories Anyone who enjoys old houses family histories and the vicissitudes of interpreting the whole on the basis of the euivalent of partial x rays will thoroughly enjoy Red House


  5. Sarah Beth Sarah Beth says:

    'It's about growing up with someone else's history' I said 'It's the story of the house' 'There were daguerreotypes of your great grandfather on the fireplace mantels' I said looking at Josh 'not our' 314 In 1965 seemingly on a whim and because he fell in love with the house Ronald Messer changed his plans to move to California in favor of buying a ramshackle house near Boston For uncertain reasons Robert Warren Hatch had decided to sell Red House which had been in his family for eight generations Red House was built in 1647 by Robert Warren Hatch's great great great great great grandfather Walter Hatch and was one of the earliest houses built in the area Walter Hatch was born in England in 1623 and immigrated to Scituate in New England in 1634 with his parents and five siblings At the age of 24 in 1647 he bought some land in Two Mile and began building a house Over time and as the house was passed down to subseuent generations it was updated Rooms were added Fires burned down sections that were rebuilt Outbuildings appeared and disappeared around its perimeter over the years But the central Red House remained when Dr Messer bought it in 1965 Along with four children from his first marriage his four younger children including daughter and author Sarah would grow up in Red House It was cold it was ramshackle it lacked modern conveniences and most of all it was filled with another family's history In this world Sarah and her sisters grew up This book is told in alternating sections of the history of the Hatch family and the house and memoir of Sarah's memories of the house As the book progresses the sections collapse closer together with Sarah's chapters increasing including history when she moves back to Red House as an adult and begins efforts to restore it along with one of her older sisters I expected to enjoy the historical sections most of all but I truly enjoyed the lyrically written memoir sections This may also be due to the relatively sparse historical details shared although the ones shared were captivating Like the transition from Israel Hatch III who would have worn pantaloons and tied his hair at the nape and his son Joel who would've learned proper grammar and pronunciation at school Whereas his father said pint of the knife and spile his son in the next generation said point of the knife and spoil 137 And the revelation that a previous resident had painted the walls inside in a leopard pattern and the fact that the house was red because it was the cheapest paint at the time I also was intrigued by Sarah's descriptions of supernatural experiences within the Red HouseI was frustrated by Messer's difficulty in getting the facts straight from her father over the purchase of the house and his eventual fallout with the last Hatch owner I was also frustrated by her father's refusal to allow the house to be X rayed to determine its historical origins Additionally I would have loved a comprehensive history of the Hatch family and each generation of owners However overall this was a fascinating history of historical houses of the evolution of home over time on the history of domestic life in America over the nebulous boundary between your family's history and another's I'm glad the Red House still stands and is currently preserved for future occupants but I'm just as glad its history has been documented and shared with readers


  6. Dolly Dolly says:

    I remember that I was in Seoul Korea about two years ago at the base library when one of my fellow exercise participants I forget who sorry recommended this book to me I suppose that's typical for me I remembered the book but not the person sighIn any case the simple title of the book stuck with me and I added it to my to read list It's a sad fact that even though I diligently put books from my to read list into my on hold list at the library the to read list seems to just grow and grow and grow I've pretty much accepted the fact that I'll never be able to whittle it down to nothing but I still try There are just so many interesting books out there I want to read somedaySo anywayback to the book This is a very interesting account of both the long and detailed history of a house in Massachusetts and of the families who lived in it While it is a work of non fiction it is a melange of history anedotes personal recollections and somewhat of a journal of the process of compiling all of this information together The memories may be flawed but the feelings are laid bare for all to see As a Massachusetts native myself I was fascinated by the historical references and the descriptions of the area Also the references to the children's books written by Richard Warren Hatch intrigue me I would love to read a copy of The Curious Lobster andor The Curious Lobster's Island My sister in law once lived in the second oldest house in her town and I was always interested to see the old architectural details that melded with the new and how the house evolved over time It wasn't always pretty but the house truly had a character all of its own I can imagine that the Red House is much the same interesting uote Don't let any restorer lead you to forget that the object is not to recreate a mid 17th century house a museum he wrote early on A house grows and changes Restorers are too often obsessed with what they conceive to be the 'original' but no family continued living in an 'original' unless they were bankrupt which the Hatch land owners and mill owners certainly were not p 36new words gundalow sumptuary treacle glisters sublunary dory peregrination peripatetic


  7. Lesley Lesley says:

    Another uirky interesting bookmemoir If I was making a mini collection of these this one would go with Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and Dogtown I'm sure there are others that I'm just not thinking of right now This is the kind of book that I love discovering in the library stacks and why I would never want to be without the eclectic selection at the library vs the mainstreammost popular selection at chain bookstores


  8. Melinda Melinda says:

    Enjoyed the swap back and forth between the author's history in the house and the stories of the people who used to live there The house is definitely a character The way it was described helped me understand what life was like in the house from the late 17th century through the 1980s Fascinating narrative that creatively mixes historical record with the history made as the author lived it


  9. Kristin Kristin says:

    Messer brings a poet's voice to this nonfiction work about her childhood home the Red House Tying in themes of birthright purchasing power architecture and above all family she manages to create an interesting if not profoundly moving piece


  10. Karen Karen says:

    Every house no matter how grand or humble has a story to tell I enjoy books written by people who listen to old homes and take the time to tell the stories


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