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NUTPLAINS IN THE RAIN
By Max H. Peters

    Everyone has a place, or should have a place, to steal away to when life seems overly rough. A place to cherish memories of loved ones too soon taken from this earth. A place to sort through the rubble of the way it was supposed to be. A place to see the forest for the trees.   For the girl and young woman Harriet Beecher, Nutplains was such a place.

   Nutplains, as it was called in olden days (It’s now known as Nut Plains), is a village in the woods a few miles north of Guilford.Harriet Beecherlost her mother when she was five years old, in 1816. When this happened, Harriet was shipped off from her home in Litchfield to her mother’s family home in Nutplains. Harriet’s mother’s family, sophisticated Episcopalians, couldn’t have been more different than the Congregationalist home she was born into, headed up by her father, Lyman Beecher, one of the most prominent Congregational ministers of his time. Early exposure to both these cultures was crucial to the making of the writer Harriet Beecher Stowe.


The General George Foote House 1810, the front façade faces Foote’s Bridge Road, one of the last unpaved sections of the original New York to Boston carriage road.

   In recollections written many years later, Mrs. Stowe remembered how much she had enjoyed wandering the woods, fields, and along the streams surrounding the old farmhouse. Evenings were spent around the fireplace, sewing, playing games, or reading the latest in English literature aloud.

   After she returned home, Harriet would return to Nutplains during the summers and any other time she could manage a week away from Litchfield.

   One rainy weekday this past October, I went in search of Nutplains. I wanted to find out if it retained even a fraction of the charm that Mrs. Stowe remembered. On the east side of Guilford there is a Goose Road exit off I-95. Follow Goose Road north for about three miles and you will find Nut Plains, formerly known as Nutplains. As the rain started beating down harder, I spotted the old farmhouse, now known as the General George Foote house.

   As it turns out, Nut Plains is very unchanged from Nutplains. Late 18th century and early 19thcentury homes abound, with plenty of woods and fields between them. I pulled over beside the big red barn and walked out into the rain, which let up a bit. The front façade of the General George Foote house faces Foote’s Bridge Road, one of the last unpaved sections of the original New York to Boston carriage road. Mrs. Stowe recalled that the front room on the right on the second floor was where she stayed when she was there. Walking across the little bridge, I was immediately faced with multiple trailheads heading off into the woods and fields of municipal parklands. Another day, for sure. One thing I found out: The charm of Nutplains, like Mrs. Stowe’s work, has survived.

 


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