Brownington Historic District Quest
Written by Orleans County teachers at Quest workshop with Steve Glazer
Alexander Twilight in 1830
Built this farmhouse nice and sturdy.
He and Mercy boarded eleven girls
Some had straight hair, some had curls.
From granite steps follow stepping stones
Turn right at the road past lost maples’ bones.
Behind the next triplet Maple trees
Is the English barn where critters took their ease.
Although the barn looks right at home
In 1997 it had to roam.
It used to live in Albany, ‘tis the truth,
At the Lawrence farm of Roland and Ruth.
And now that it’s here, it holds treasures dear —
Tools farmers used throughout the year.
So take a minute and peek inside;
See tools to push, to swing or ride.
Leaving the old weathered boards of gray
Head up through the maples, the steeple’s way.
At the octagon turn north and spy
A square with double brick towers high.
As you stop and gaze, can you do the math?
Would you like to give all these panes a bath?
In all the wall windows, we see 27×24;
And transom, sidelights and fan add even more!
This house with many panes belonged to Samuel Read Hall
His list of accomplishments is very tall:
Started the first teacher-training school, wrote the first book to train by,
Brought blackboards to classrooms, taught, preached…what a guy!
Turn your back on the post where you’d hitch your steed.
Cross the road and go to where verses you’d read.
Here Mr. Hall and Mr. Twilight were preachers.
They were both preachers and teachers!
From the crowded lofts of the second floor
To a worship hall which houses more
A church was born in the year 1841,
Later remodeled with wealth from a native son.
At the stately shape and house of prayer
Approach the front steps, look left, and stare.
Walk through the gate where creeping myrtle grows
Serenity lies in ancestral rows.
Many souls repose in this quiet place.
The Twilights lie together, t’wards their school faced.
Civil War soldiers are buried around.
One starved to death in prison bound.
Now head out of the graveyard and go to the road.
Follow the fence line downhill as you’re told.
Views of two mountains on each side you’ll see,
Pass West Road and stop at the Academy.
Built with Mr. Baxter’s money,
Downstairs was learning, the upstairs holy.
In 1869 it moved down hill to this place
Now it’s the Grange, it has a new face.
From the hitching post on your right
You’ll see the barn where cows spend the night.
Advance past the Maple Grove
And up the road continue to rove.
Turn your back on Twilight’s resting place,
And admire the the garden that you face.
Now you’ve reached Cyrus Eaton’s place!
This 1834 vernacular Greek Revival home
Was built by Cyrus Eaton; many acres he owned.
Three children in school he enrolled;
A friend of Alexander Twilight’s, we’re told.
Wait! Before you leave the Eaton dwelling
Duck behind for some fragrant flower-smelling!
Then head east toward the great granite sight,
But pause at the first home of Mercy and Twilight.
Today this building’s a buzzing beehive for kids learning history,
But in it’s first life, ‘cross the road, ‘twas the home of Twilight & Mercy.
They built on the big farmhouse to this cozy little place,
Then it was an ell, leading to the barn—a great use of the space!
Head to the stone house, past a red door and a wooden floor.
Turn towards the road, walk past four windows and a door.
Around the red oak and right past the great Athenaeum Hall
Turn the corner and go to the 4th window in the granite wall.
In 1836 Twilight built his dormitory
From stones cut from a local granite quarry
‘Til 1859 students lived inside, in rooms small.
Now it’s a museum, holding treasures for all.
With your back to the window head straight toward the Gap.
(You’d see it’s Willoughby Lake if you had a map.)
Beneath the arching bough of the old apple tree
You’ll find the end of this quest mystery!