MARIETTA - People toured the Anchorage in Marietta on Sunday while marking the passing of one of the home's original residents.
Dozens of people passed through the doors of the historical home on George Street, originally built in the late 1850s by David Putnam for his wife, Eliza.
Visitors learned about the history of the Putnam family and were able to tour the 22-room home which was built from 1855-1859, with proceeds from the tours helping with the ongoing restoration project for the home.
Photos by?Brett Dunlap
Tom Moore, with the Washington County Historical Society, talks Sunday with visitors to the Anchorage in Marietta.
"It is going to a great cause," said Tom Moore, with the Washington County Historical Society. "It is to help keep the restoration going here."
In the 1850s, Eliza Putnam took a trip to the East Coast in New Jersey and came across a house she very much loved which became the basis for the Marietta house.
"She thought she would come back home and have her husband build her a house very similar to that one which would be her dream home," Moore said.
Construction began in 1855 with estimates of $30,000-$40,000.
"In 1855, that was a large amount of money," Moore said. "By the time the house was completed in 1859, it cost nearly $60,000 to build.
"She was only able to enjoy this house for three years."
On Sept. 9, 1862, 150 years ago Sunday, Eliza Putnam passed away from heart failure at the age of 54.
"In her time at the house, she did have elaborate parties and had people over to view the house," Moore said. "This was a showcase in Marietta."
The house was built with sandstone and lumber from the original property.
During Sunday's program, historical society members read her original obituary which appeared in the Marietta newspaper of the time and discussed some of the traditions and superstitions associated with death and funerals of that period.
"The blinds were drawn when someone died," said society member Valerie Wright. "The windows and mirrors were covered up. The organ lids were closed. All the clocks would be stopped at that time to show the proper respect.
"Many of these things were done to prevent the deceased from choosing someone to accompany them to the grave."
Superstitions were prevalent at the time because death was very common, Wright said. People had traditions about how long they were suppose to be in mourning, how long the family had to wear black, when they could receive visitors and so on.
Moore talked about a casket where the body was displayed was a different one than the one the deceased would eventually be buried in. The display casket was packed with ice to help slow down decomposition of the body and the tradition of bringing flowers for a funeral was to help cover some of the odors that were becoming pronounced, he said.
Back then, photographers were hired to take a picture of a family with the deceased, although it could be days before the photographer might be able to arrive.
Skylar Moore, son of Tom Moore, had a number of photos and other items on display showing the Anchorage property through the years. After serving as a residence for the Putnams and other famous Marietta residents, the building served as a nursing home in the 1970s.
The proceeds from the tour go to the historical society for the Anchorage Restoration Project. The house has also hosted ghost hunting events and masquerade balls in which money raised has gone to restoration efforts, including some of the flooring on the main floor which was helped with a large anonymous donation.
The home needs work done to its upper floors and needs a new roof. The society is doing a number of projects as funds become available. Some projects can qualify for matching fund grants after a certain amount is raised.
"This family is so rich with history tied in with the area," Moore said. "We wanted people to feel like this is something they can be apart of and help to support this.
"If these walls could actually talk, the stories we could actually get from this place. We want people to see and experience and know they can be apart of something."
The privacy of donations will be respected, society members said.
Those tour the house Sunday were impressed.
"I'd love to see it restored back to its original shape just because of the shear size of it," said Paul Meredith, of Vienna.
Jennifer Sutphin and Kenny Siders, of Parkersburg, have been to the home before.
"We have come here several times ghost hunting," Sutphin said. "We were always here at night in the dark.
"It is a beautiful home. It looks different during the day. I hope they raise enough money to restore it."
Siders said there was a lot of interesting things to look at.
"There is a lot of history here," he said.