Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Old Gott House

The Gott House a century ago
The parking lot to today's State Park occupies the pasture to the right.
Postcard courtesy of the Sandy Bay Historical Association
Samuel Gott, weaver, came to Halibut Point from Wenham in 1702. Over the next nine years he amassed some 120 acres of colonial-era lots, early on selling to his brother-in-law William Andrews the south-eastern portion, which became Andrews Point. Prior to their coming the land had been thoroughly timbered. 

Among the immediate demands on Samuel's energies were a dwelling place for his family that grew to fifteen children, and sheep enclosures built from boulders scattered over the land. He dug a well and sized up the possibilities of the rough countryside.
Samuel Gott's spinning wheel in the house today
Samuel Gott's descendants have occupied the house continuously since its construction. Patrimonial names have evolved through intermarriages with other old-stock families around Folly Cove, the Woodburys and the Amazeens.

Kenneth and Lizzie Mae McLellan, 1919
The last owner bearing the original surname was Phoebe Gott (1835-1911), who married Charles McLellan. Their son Kenneth and his wife Lizzie formed the next generation in residence. The bloodline if not the name remained unbroken.

The Gott House today
The house itself has changed very little over the centuries. Current owner Steve Amazeen has managed to square it up sufficiently to replace the six-over-nine windows with insulated ones so the wind doesn't blow through. His great-grandmother Lizzie Mae "Ma" McLellan wouldn't allow electricity and indoor plumbing to be installed during her lifetime. She was the matriarch of the family. Steve remembers that "everybody came there to live at different times, or to visit." He himself spent many summers in the house and a couple of years when he attended the Pigeon Cove School. And Ma was there with a room for him when Steve got out of the Army.

Lizzie Mae "Ma" McLellan (1883-1965)
Ma's daughter Leonie married Karl Amazeen who was of Woodbury lineage down in Folly Cove. Steve grew up in his grandmother Leonie's colonial-era Woodbury house. As a teenager he stripped off layers of paint to reveal its rosy, original pine paneling. He mentioned to Leonie after she inherited the Gott house in 1965 that he'd like to do the same thing up there.

"Ma" McLellan with her daughter,
Steve's grandmother Leonie Amazeen (1907-1984)
Leonie understood that Steve would be the best steward of the old house. In her will she conveyed a half share of it to him, which he inherited in 1984.  Through a couple of intra-family purchases he eventually consolidated the remainder. Over the past twenty-five years he and his wife Pat have coaxed the building into year-round comfort while preserving its antique features.

Steve Amazeen and restored paneling around the fireplace
During his renovations Steve has been into most of the nooks and crannies of the house, developing a knowledgeable relationship with it that he plans to share in a program at the Sandy Bay Historical Society in the coming year.

The beehive oven
Steve Amazeen photo
New wiring snakes between a rafter and its collar tie
which were paired and marked on the ground prior to erecting them.
Steve Amazeen photo
An H&L door hinge,
said to stand for "Help Us Lord"
Chestnut posts
To either side of the front door, and at the corners of the house, 'gunstock' posts - wider at the top than the bottom - support the structure. Little boys willingly heard stories that the mortised holes beside the door held barricades against Indian attack. Family legend also attributed the chestnut posts to beams from the ship carrying Samuel Gott to his new home on Halibut Point. All the rest of the wood is fashioned from white pine. 

The chestnut was originally among the most prevalent hardwoods in the northeastern forest. A blight introduced from Japan obliterated the species in the first half of the twentieth century. The Gott house, on the other hand, has withstood innumerable challenges in service to a family, through the care of a few of its determined members.

1 comment:

  1. My mom always told of the most wonderful stays there with Aunt Nonie.❤ Beautiful article!