Staircase newel posts of the Bedford Homestead
Photo: Keller + Keller
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A Mysterious Past

Other features told a different tale. The staircase's newel posts, which Cornish says are original, closely resemble newels in the early-18th-century White-Ellery House, in Gloucester, Mass. "You wouldn't see vase-like shapes such as this in a 1600s home," he says. In a second-floor bedroom, gunstock posts (named for their resemblance to muskets) have a flared top that allows room for a framing joint connecting the walls and the roof. But, unlike posts from the 1600s, they lack decorative carvings. He and Grady also believe that paneled, Georgian-style interior doors were original to the house, not added later. And two major features were hard to miss: The windows were placed more symmetrically, and the roof was pitched less steeply, than those typically seen on First Period houses.

Turns out Tom's hunch was correct. The investigation uncovered many more Georgian than First Period elements. Cornish and Grady agreed that a more accurate construction date for the Nathaniel Page homestead is circa 1720—more than 30 years later than all the history books said.

Shown: Replacement balusters were likely installed in the early 1800s, when simpler details prevailed. The newel post and rail on the staircase are original, and conform with 18th-century styles.
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