Thursday, December 13, 2012

Learning from Visual Clues Part 2

In Part 1 of Learning from Visual Clues I asked everyone what we could theorize based on what we see in these photos. I concluded with "Remember, every house, no matter what age, has a story to tell!"

And therein lies the trick to this question.



New England can be very challenging to interpret because of all the changes that have occurred through the years. Sometimes old houses can look new. Sometimes clues from the property can speak to the changes that have occurred on the site.

In the example above the house is in fact not old. It's a two year old modular home what was placed on the property. The big clue is the old barn. This property formerly was the site of an old house. The previous house was placed to the left of the new house. After the modular home was installed the old house was taken down but the barn was kept in place.

We can also surmise that a different house was sited here because it's unlikely that a barn such as this would have been built without a house nearby. You can't tell but this property is located on an old thoroughfare hence the reasoning for a house and barn instead of just a barn.

The reason this is significant is that there are often multiple houses located on one site at different times. If you are referring to old maps you need to be open to the possibility that a house designated on an early is not the same house as one on a later map. This was exactly the case for the house I used as my example when I spoke to the Beebe Memorial Library in Wakefield back in October.

Iif you miss the physical clues (which are there if you just take a close look) you can try to find archival clues, even when researching in the 21st century.

Similar to when determining the year built by carefully looking for increases in 19th century tax records, you can do the same with modern records.  Look at this recent data from the local assessor:

Previous Assessments
Year Code Building Yard Items Land Value Acres Special Land Total
2013 101 - ONE FAMILY 296,400 3,000 155,000 0.56 0.00 454,400
2012 101 - ONE FAMILY 296,400 3,000 158,300 0.56 0.00 457,700
2011 101 - ONE FAMILY 99,200 7,100 164,900 0.56 0.00 271,200
2010 101 - ONE FAMILY 105,900 7,100 163,500 0.56 0.00 276,500
2009 101 - ONE FAMILY 105,900 7,100

Notice how the acreage stayed the same yet the total value jumped from 2011 to 2012? That would indicate a major change to the property. Also note that the "Yard Items" decreased. Perhaps there was another barn or outbuilding on the property that was taken down.

We can learn so much from properties just by looking for the visual clues. Once we have a hunch we can search for supporting documentary evidence. This will help us to accurately interpret what we are seeing.

Walk around you property and look at it with fresh eyes. Perhaps you won't discover new information about the age of your house but maybe you will discover old cart paths, a grown over road or foundations for barns or outbuildings that are no longer there. There are lots of surprises waiting to be discovered!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Learning from Visual Clues

There are so many aspects of discovering your historic house that will help with uncovering the details and clues to its history. While it's important to search for historical documents and to analyze the architecture there is something much simpler you can do.

Spend some time conducting a visual survey of your house and property. Looking at your home and the lot that it sits on can be very revealing.  Sometimes we get so caught up looking at the minute details such as paint, nails or cornices that we forget to step back and see what the big picture is trying to tell us.

Look at these two photos. What important information can we theorize based on what we see in the photos? You can click the photos to enlarge. Leave your suggestions in the comments. Tomorrow I will post the answer.

Remember, every house, no matter what age, has a story to tell!

What to do the photos tell you about this house and property?
(click photos to enlarge)

Have I stumped you? It's probably not what you're expecting. But that's good because you need to expect the unexpected especially when it comes to houses!

Read the answer in Part 2.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Random Thoughts from a Docent

In February of this year I started my journey as a docent at the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts. My tenure this year will soon end as the house readies to close at the end of October.

Here are some random thoughts on my observations as a first time docent.

1) There is no better way to get to know an historic house (short of living in it) than by visiting it every week. I suspected this would be the case when I signed up and I was proved right. There is no way you can get to know a house from a one-time visit.  Being a docent allows you to really get to know the nuances of an old house.

2) You will see something new every week. Without fail on every tour that I gave someone asked me a question about something I had never noticed before. There is no better way to try to see everything. It is also interesting to discover and interpret objects and houses through the eyes of visitors. Every visitor has a different bent on what they are interested in seeing.

3) It is difficult to learn and internalize someone else's research. This may be the case because I'm an historical researcher myself. I find it so much easier to talk about my own research than someone else's but that's exactly what you need to do to prepare for giving house tours. The thing that worked best for me was following along on tours given by the curator or other docents.  I could copy their performances quicker from hearing and watching than from reading.

4) It is really fun to work with a group of people who all love the same thing you do. Being a house historian can often be a solitary task. Being a docent for a house museum allows you to get to know the board, the staff and the other docents, not to mention the visitors and the descendants who come for the annual reunion.

5) Your faith in mankind's multi-generational interest in preservation will be restored. I worked at the Fairbanks House with docents from age 17 to 70+. I worked with high school students, college students, grad students, retirees.  They all had a passion for this old timber frame house. They all had a curiosity and drive to know as much about history as possible. Each one of them brought their own special expertise. It was an incredible learning and sharing environment.

6) You become a cheerleader. I know I did. I was so impressed with the energy, determination and professionalism of curator Meaghan Siekman. She is an inspiration and every day with her brought a new adventure. It's exciting to watch what she brings to the world of public history. I know I'll be a big fan for a long time to come.

If you find that you want to get involved with historic houses more than just the research you are doing on your own, I would highly recommend becoming a docent.  Join the team at the Fairbanks House or find another house museum close to your own area. I think you will find it a rich and rewarding experience.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Real Estate, Politics and Historic Houses

When we talk about researching the history of houses the focus is typically on the past.  Yet recording the present is just as important.  As historic house owners or historic house fans we are in a unique position to consciously preserve history as it happens.

How many times have you found an old photo of your house and wondered when it was taken? If you are careful and pay attention to the details in the photo you may be able to narrow down the date by examining the clues.  Wouldn't it be great if all old photos had revealing clues?

You can do your part to help house historians of the future. Here are two types of photos that will make it easier to date photos that are left unidentified.

1) Political signs are a gift to historians

Election season is upon us here in the United States. In my neighborhood I have seen signs sprouting up for State Representatives, Congress and the President. Let's put a positive spin on this otherwise dreaded political season by using the campaign signs to capture history. What better clue to date a photo than one that has a political sign in the yard.  If your yard is devoid of political signs then capture a street scene. Perhaps one of you neighbors is displaying their support for a politician. The politician's name and the campaign slogan can forever be used to determine the year of the photo.

2) Real Estate signs

Similar to campaign signs, real estate signs can be a great help to determine when a photo was taken.  The combination of the real estate agency and the agent should help in future identification of house photos.  While tracking sales electronically in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a relatively new resource, this is a growing database will continue to track information about sales and sales agents.

If your house isn't for sale, take a street scene that shows your house and another on the street that is displaying a sign in front. While deeds don't list information about real estate agents, you could narrow down the date based on when the house sold.

While you're at it, ask a real estate friend to print out the MLS listings of all previous sales of your house (with photos) and include those as a part of your house history documentation. Keep in mind that sales prior to the 1990s might not have photos available.

Don't miss an opportunity to further document the living history of your house while it happens. Go to the effort to photographically record your house while including the most historic clues possible. What a great contribution this will make toward preserving your house!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Free House History Webinars: Mass. Mini Series

I am pleased to announce that the New England House Historian will be offering a series of  webinars presented by Marian Pierre-Louis. All you need to access these webinars is a connection to the internet. The webinars are free but registration is required and space is limited. Everyone with an interest in house histories or Massachusetts research is welcome to attend. 

Massachusetts Mini Series

1. Researching Massachusetts Deeds

The most important place to start your house history research is with the deeds. Without understanding who owned your house it is difficult to effectively research other record types. Join Marian Pierre-Louis, the New England House Historian, to learn how to do deed research in Massachusetts. After this talk you'll be on your way to Massachusetts house history research!

Time/Date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 8:00pm EST





2. Tips from Town Hall


Town Halls across Massachusetts have all sorts of information useful to house history research. You would be surprised at just what you can find. Come discover what kind of records are available and how you can make use of them in your research.

Time/Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 8:00pm EST





3. Prime Time Probate

Some of the richest information for house history research come from probate records. Probate records include a range of files such as wills, administrations, guardianships and estate inventories among others. This webinar will focus on showing you how to access Massachusetts probate records and examples of the information you will find..

Time/Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 8:00pm EST




See you at the webinars!



Friday, June 29, 2012

Taking a Stroll at Historic Deerfield

Historic Deerfield in western Massachusetts is one of the most stunningly preserved historic neighborhoods in New England.  The museum of over 40 buildings is also unique because it is spread across a public street and village.  You can pay to enter and take tours of the historic houses or you can simply spend an hour or two strolling along the street.  The old burying ground located nearby completes that sense that you have stepped back in time.  Historic Deerfield is one of the most satisfying historic house experiences you will ever find. Start your journey with this virtual tour and then plan for the day when you can visit in person. (click the photos to enlarge)












Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Essential Summer Historic House Destinations

Historic Deerfield
This summer, in between the beach and the barbeques, perhaps you'll find some time to do some touring around New England.  You'll want to include historic house destinations on your itinerary.  Here are my top 6 Picks (in no particular order).

1) Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth, NH

Experience four centuries of history in one location in one of the quaintest places in New England. Reserve a full day to visit this 10-acre site. You will get your fill of historic houses as you tour the 42 buildings, many of which are on their original foundations. Strawberry Banke is open daily 10am - 5pm through October 31.

2) The Moffat-Ladd House & Garden, Portsmouth, NH

While you are in Portsmouth to see Strawbery Banke, make sure you save some time to see the Moffat-Ladd House.  This is one of my most favorite house museums.  It must be something about the combination of beautiful architecture, seafaring history and a site overlooking the water that makes it so appealing.  After your visit stroll across the street to eat in some great restaurants on the harbor. Open Monday - Saturday, 11am - 5pm and Sunday, 1pm - 5pm through October 21.

3) Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA

Journey to rural New England in 1830s with more than 40 original buildings in this outdoor museum. I never tire of going to Sturbridge Village because they have done a superb job of making the experience hands-on and interesting. Your kids will have fun too with running around, trying on costumes, carriages rides and a hands-on craft shop. Don't forget to stop for a snack in the General Store to buy some homemade chocolate chip cookies. Open daily 9:30am - 5:00pm.

4) Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA

This is another trip that will take you a full day to fully appreciate all the sights. This is perhaps the best preserved 18th century neighborhood in all of New England.  The English arrived in 1669 but Deerfield is better know as the site of the 1704 massacre at the hands of the French and Indians. There are 22 houses still standing that were built in the village before 1776.  In addition to guided or self-guided house tours, take advantage of the other museums and workshops available. Lodging at the Deerfield Inn and a food wagon catered by Deerfield Inn chefs provide services for both stay over and day visitors.  Open daily 9:30am - 4:30pm through December 30.


5) Historic New England, Across New England

Historic New England is the oldest and largest regional heritage organization in the nation. They maintain 36 historic sites across New England. Visit the 1807 Nickels-Sorrwell House in Wicasset, Maine, the 1678 Coffin House in Newbury, Massachusetts or the 1796 Watson Farm in Jamestown, Rhode Island.  The houses are spread across New England so be sure to plan your visits ahead of time. See the website for individual opening times.


6) The Fairbanks House, Dedham, Massachusetts

The Fairbanks House is the oldest timber-frame house in the United States, built circa 1637. What makes it even more significant is that it is the least altered original dwelling and was occupied by a single family for eight generations.  It is perhaps one of the most significant cultural assets in the country. Open 10am - 4pm Tuesday to Saturday through October.  The guided tours start every hour on the hour.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Parking Options at the Norfolk Registry of Deeds

Before I'll take a trip anywhere I want to know my parking options. That comes after years of living around Boston and having to fight for parking spaces. I don't like to be surprised with limited availability nor do I like to pay exorbitant amounts when there are cheaper options nearby.

It used to be that you could drive to the Norfolk County, Massachusetts Registry of Deeds and park all day in the large parking lot behind the registry for free.  That changed a year or two ago. Now you have to pay.

If you are planning on doing research at the Norfolk Registry (I highly recommend it. It's a wonderful place!) then you'll want to check your options before you go.  There are positives and negatives for all these options so you'll have to determine which is the best for you.

Paid Parking Lot

source: maps.bing.com
click to enlarge
If you want ease of parking and you don't mind paying the cash, then the best option for you is the lot behind the registry building. You access this by taking the road, Old River Place, which is just to the east of the registry building.  The cost is $5 for the entire day. [#2 on the map]


Street Parking Meters

If you would like to stay close to the registry building but pay less, you can choose the option of street parking. Here you can feed the meters at a rate of 25 cents per hour. The meter will take up to four hours worth of coins.  There is ample parking on both High Street and perpendicular Court Street.  High Street is the closest to the registry but also the busier street. You will want to have strong parallel parking skills if you choose this option. You'll have a longer walk if you choose Court Street but you'll likely be able to slide directly into a spot without having to parallel park. Personally, this is my option of choice. [#3 on the map]

Free Parking 

There is a free parking option if you are willing to walk a few blocks. [#4 on the map] A municipal parking lot at the corner or High Street and Eastern Avenue offers two hours of free parking. I've never used the lot so I'm not sure what happens if you go over your allotted time. The best part about parking in this lot (which I pass by every week) is that it is located next a wonderful assortment of cafes, coffee houses and ethnic restaurants which are perfect for grabbing lunch or meeting a friend.

If you are determined to pass by the restaurants in order to get down to business you will enjoy the several blocks of wonderful historic buildings lining the streets before your arrive at the registry. The last added benefit besides saving some money is that you will have a refreshing short walk before diving into more stationary tasks.

The only limitation I can really see to the free parking is that it is limited to two hours. That could be inconvenient if you plan to stay for a whole or half day.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Two Important Reasons to Research Deeds

So you're all excited to research the history of your house! You've seen an 1855 map with your house on it as well as the name of the Jones family who lived there at the time.  Why not jump right in and start researching county histories or other records?

When I give presentations about how to do house history research I always recommend starting with searching the deeds. Yes, it's true that deed research might not be as exciting as exploring census records.  But doing the deed research is important for two reasons:

1) Addresses have changed over the years

You may want to start searching for information based on your street address.  You'll be surprised to discover that is not as easy as it seems. The trouble is that your street address is very likely to have changed over the years, perhaps even several times. Say you live on Plain Street in Millis, Massachusetts. Over a hundred plus years ago the road may have been referred to simply as "the road to Sherborn."

Even if the name of your street hasn't changed the number of your house could have. For instance, if you now live at 1052 Main Street, the address of your house might have 49 Main Street only 30 years.

By searching for the deeds to your house you will find descriptions of your property that will help you pinpoint its exact location through the years. When a street or number change occurred the deed  very likely mentioned "1052 Main Street, formerly 49 Main Street" or "Plain Street, formerly the road to Sherborn" thus helping the chain of title link from the current address to the former address.

2) Not all records can be searched by address

Another reason for searching for deeds is that certain records weren't sorted by address or street location.  Many records, even early 20th century tax records, were sorted alphabetically by the owner's name with no address mentioned, or perhaps only a street with no number.  Census records are also much easier to search when you have the owners names. Residents lists and city directories are also based on alphabetically listings. If you don't have the names of the owners of the house then your search will become much more difficult.

By doing your deed research first for all previous owners, you will be armed with the information you need to get past alphabetization and missing address stumbling blocks.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Houstory Publishing Founders Visit New England

(left to right) Mike Hiestand, Maureen Taylor,
Marian Pierre-Louis and Dan Hiestand


The Founders of Houstory Publishing, Dan & Mike Hiestand, who are based in Seattle, Washington have been visiting New England to share information about their Home History Book archival journal. Today they met with The Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor and The New England House Historian, Marian Pierre-Louis. Maureen and Marian got a close up look at the heirloom quality Home History Book which allows home owners to chronicle their home's history.

They are all in agreement that they would love for home owners to be able to preserve the stories and photographs of their houses from generation to generation.

Thanks for stopping by Mike and Dan!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Heading to Connecticut...

Photo: Bob Maxon, NBC Connecticut
The New England House Historian is headed to Connecticut!

Tomorrow night I'll be presenting a house history talk at the Simsbury Genealogical and Historical Research Library branch of the Simsbury Free Library. During this very special event I will be using the historic home of  NBC Connecticut Weatherman Bob Maxon as the backdrop for the talk. Join us and learn how to research the history of your Connecticut home!

As a bonus, Houstory Publishing will be donating one of their Home History Books as a door prize to one of the attendees. The Home History Book is custom engraved and retails for $300.  The prize will be given away at the end of the talk.

"Researching The History of Your House"

Presented by the
SIMSBURY FREE LIBRARY

Time: 6:30 pm EST meet the speaker; 7:00pm EST start of talk

Date: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Location: The Simsbury Free Library, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT 06070

Pre-registration is required. Call 860-408-1336 or info@simsburyfreelibrary.org. Cost for this event is $5.00 for members, $10.00 for non-members.

See my website for my complete lecture schedule.

I hope to see you there!

Medway Residents Asked to Share Oral History

April 23, 2012 | Medway, MA - Medway, Massachusetts residents are being asked to share stories of the history of their houses, neighborhood and the development of Medway for a project that will be turned into a book for the upcoming Medway 300th celebration. House historian Marian Pierre-Louis will be compiling the oral histories from local Medway residents. Participants will be asked to discuss what they know about the history of their own home, how their neighborhood has grown and how Medway has changed in the time they have lived there. They are also encouraged to bring old photos of their home and neighborhood. All Medway residents are welcome to come share their stories regardless of how long they have lived in Medway or the age of their homes.

The interviews, which will be 30 minutes each, will be held every Tuesday in May from 10:00am to 12:00pm at the Medway Senior Center, 76 Oakland Street, Medway. Appointments can be scheduled by calling the Medway Senior Center at (508) 533-3210 or by signing up on sheets posted at the Senior Center. For those not able to make those times, a limited number of appointments on evenings or weekends will be available by contacting Marian Pierre-Louis directly at MarianPL@FieldstoneHistoricResearch.com.

Interviews will be recorded using a digital recorder, the files of which will later be donated to the Medway Historical Society. Participants will be asked to sign a release so that their stories can be published in the book. For further information please contact Marian Pierre-Louis at the email address above.

About Marian Pierre-Louis
Marian Pierre-Louis is a house historian, lecturer and writer. Specializing in the histories of New England homes, she frequently speaks throughout New England on house history and genealogical topics. She is the author of the popular blog, The New England House Historian. For more information about Pierre-Louis and her work, visit www.FieldstoneHistoricResearch.com.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Visit for Free with a Library Pass

The Fairbanks House, Dedham, MA. Photo by Marian Pierre-Louis, 2012
Have you ever thought about visiting the historic Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts? This circa 1637 home is the oldest timber frame house in the United States.

You can visit for free if you are a resident of one of nine Norfolk County towns. The towns of Dedham, Norwood, Needham, Canton, Sharon, Walpole, Medfield, Foxboro and Westwood all offer free visitor passes from their local public libraries. Pick a day, reserve the pass from your library and you are on your way!

In fact your local library, regardless of where you live, is likely to offer free or reduced price passes for many regional museums and attractions. Check out your local library website to see what passes they offer.

Tour season is starting soon at the Fairbanks House! The house opens for visitors on Tuesday, May 1, 2012.  Tours start every hour on the hour from 10:00am to 4:00pm. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Get Your Cameras Out Now!

Whether you want to capture your own historic house, that of your ancestors or even the local historic houses in your town now is the perfect time in New England to photograph historic homes.

The long winter months display your historic house against a stark backdrop. If you've been lucky there will have been some snow to provide a pretty setting for photographs. However, early spring is the best time of year to take photos of your house.

How could I select one season as the best? It's all about being practical. April is the month when the grass starts to turn green and flowers such as daffodils and forsythia bloom. The key factor, however, is that the trees have not started to leaf. The result is lovely, colorful photos of historic houses without extensive growth blocking the view of the homes.

Fall, is a lovely time to take historic house photos in New England because of the vibrant foliage colors. But that same foliage is blocking the view of the house. It will make for great photos but will limit what you can see of the exterior architectural detail.

If mother nature cooperates and you pay close attention to the coming of spring you should be able to get photographs when the daffodils, forsythia, tulips, azaleas and cherry trees are all simultaneously blooming.

I've been out photographing like crazy because I know that my window of opportunity will be brief. I've been sharing some of my photos over on my new Historic Metrowest Boston blog. That blog deals specifically with historic homes in Massachusetts.

So get your camera out, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and get some great photos of your house!



Photo credit: Marian Pierre-Louis, April 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The 1940 Census of Housing

This week everyone is talking about the 1940 Population Census which was released publicly for the first time by the National Archives on Monday. Even though that census hasn't even been indexed yet genealogists everywhere are trying to find friends in family in it.

What you might not realize is that in 1940, along with the Population Census, there was a Census of Housing. The Census of Housing asked detailed questions of urban and rural home owners such as the year the home was built and whether there was a toilet or not. It even asked what type of company held their mortgages.

Even vacant properties were documented. Questions were asked to determine if the vacant properties were for rent or whether the owners were simply away.

This training video available on YouTube from the National Archives shows how information was collected and even shows the forms used providing a glimpse about the specific questions asked.



Unfortunately, the 1940 Census of Housing was destroyed after the statistical information was extracted from it. You can view the statistical information online on the government census website. You'll have to scroll about half way down the page to see the information which is provided in pdf links. Even though the statistical information doesn't provide the granular detail that house historians need it is still very interesting none-the-less.  Take a peek and get a sense of what your town or state was like in 1940.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Find Old MA House Photos in the Forbes Collection

The Varnum House in Lowell from the Forbes Collection
at the American Antiquarian Society
Harriette Merrifield Forbes (1856-1951) is better known by taphophiles for her photographic documentation of gravestone carvings than she is for her interest in architecture. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a collection of old house and structure photographs that she had taken between the 1890s and the 1930s.

Known as the Forbes Collection, it is housed at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The collection includes 800 negatives of 575 structures, mostly houses, from Middlesex and Worcester Counties in Massachusetts from the 17th and 18th centuries. The photos capture early New England vernacular architecture.  There is a geographic place index, name index as well as a subject index. It is not clear to me (short of counting the links) as to whether whole collection is viewable from the index or not. Additionally, the photos are viewable one by one, with no links going from one photo to the next. So expect to do a lot of forward arrow and back arrow clicking if you want to browse the collection.

If you live in either Middlesex or Worcester County and your house dates no later than the 18th century then you should check this valuable resource for early 19th century photos of your home.  Visit the Forbes architecture collection online and if you have any further questions about the collection please contact the American Antiquarian Society.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Next Big Adventure

I am very excited to be starting a new adventure. This one was too hard to resist.

A few  weeks ago I did a short post on the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts. The Fairbanks house has the unique distinction of being the oldest timber frame house in the United States. Imagine how a house historian would feel living within a half hour of the oldest house in America!

I finally realized I was missing an incredible opportunity. I felt this house could have a lot to  teach me about history, architecture, research and how people value historic houses.

This Spring I signed up to be a docent for the 2012 open season.  The program is run by curator Meaghan Siekman and the training started in February. During the training sessions I will learn about the family, the house's place in history as well as details about architecture and museum pieces.

I am both excited and terrified at the same time. I am really excited to be able to learn about the house and view it on a regular basis. When I work with private clients I typically only get to see a house a few times. Now I will be able to learn and observe on a weekly basis. I am also excited to work with tour groups. I love meeting people and I'm sure I will learn a lot from the many people who will come through the house. Undoubtedly they will include Fairbanks descendants, historic house lovers and hopefully some archaeologists, historians and architectural historians as well. I hope I will be able to learn from them just as they are learning from me.

I am slightly terrified, however, at the thought of trying to remember 8 generations of Fairbanks family history. On top of that I will need to know architectural details and information about the museum pieces. But my excitement is greater than my fear and I can't wait until the house opens and the tours start in May.

If you're coming to Massachusetts in 2012 put the Fairbanks House on your list. You just may have me as your tour guide!