In the 1930s, avid 17th- and early-18th-century Americana collectors Miriam and George Maurice Morris were on a mission to own an authentic Colonial House. Since the couple lived in Washington D.C. – which was founded in 1790 (after the Colonial Period) – they decided to scour the East Coast for a suitable landmark that could be relocated. They found the Lindens, a 1750s Georgian masterpiece at risk for demolition in Danvers, Massachusetts. The Morrises purchased the three-story house for about $13,000 (approximately $227,000 today), and under the supervision of Walter Macomber, Colonial Williamsburg’s first resident architect, the frame structure was dismantled nail by nail and carted to Washington on six railroad freight cars to be rebuilt in the posh Kalorama neighborhood.
The Morrises created a house museum concealing radios and telephones with fake book spines and antique boxes. Bathrooms were tucked into closets once used for powdering wigs. Over the next 45 years, the home welcomed approximately 50,000 guests with Miriam wearing a damask hoopskirt and serving refreshments made from Colonial recipes. Following her death in 1982, Christie’s auctioned all of the couple’s prized antiques. The present owner (who purchased the Lindens from subsequent owners) hired designer Mariette Himes Gomez to preserve the integrity of the home, but to make it feel like a home and not a museum. Gomez took particular care to let the architectural beauty of the house shine, noting that the furnishings needed to defer to the elegant woodwork. “You want people to notice all that, not some decorator’s one-upmanship,” she said via Architectural Digest.
This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Architectural Digest. Please click here to read more of this fascinating story. Has anyone ever had experience in moving a house? What a wonderful way to prevent demolition!