The family seat of the Thorne family was built in the hamlet of Rayville (now considered part of Old Chatham) in 1826, by William Kippen Thorne, who had inherited money from his mother, whose father, William Kippen had owned property on Wall Street where Deutche Bank now stands and also on Fulton Street. The house was architecturally designed in the popular center hall style. There were four Thorne children born at the house to William and his wife, Julia: three daughters born in 1832, 1834 and 1837 and a son, William Henry Thorne, born in 1840. The property was a prosperous farm and one of the most charming artifacts in the house at the head of the basement steps where an 1890 note is written on the plaster that hams were put to brine on December 6th, 1890 and others will be ready to eat on the 10th.
The original homestead featured a large dairy barn to the left of the existing house, which has been replaced with the striking post and beam barn to the rear that stands today. In
The photograph attached is probably from the 1880's or 1890's based on my wife's examination of the clothing worn by the two women. They both look too young to be Julia Ann Adee who died in 1896. William Kippen Thorne and Julia had three daughters, one died in 1877, the other two died in 1903. They were born in 1832, 1834, 1837. (My ancestor was William Henry Thorne, born in 1840.) Anyway, that is pretty much what the house looked like when I was a young lad. The fence was long gone and there were big maple trees in front of the right-side porch. The original classic dairy barn was to the left of the house. I remember Uncle Clark's two draught horses, Tom and Dick, standing in the barn-yard, with nothing to do but swish flies.
The division of old houses like that are not uncommon. Our house was built in stages starting about 1800 with the central part (were I am right not) was basically two rooms and a loft. Then a Greek revival end was added and the roof raised at the same time to make two stories on the central section. Then the 'summer kitchen' was attached and a wood shed and storage was added to that. When my father returned from the war he officially divided our house in two. The main part of the Rayville house was built as one unit and the section to the left was added at a later date (my guess, no evidence.) When I was young my grand uncle Clark (Elisha Clark Thorne) lived in the right end of the house (as you face it), and the youngest of the three brothers, Seymour lived in the left end of the house. I don’t remember the house being actually divided, it was more like the central hall and stairs divided the house, to the left was Uncle Seymour's side, and to the right was Uncle Clark's side. There was a back hallway (more like a long room) that ran the length of the house, the right end was in Aunt Emily's kitchen, the left end was in Aunt Ida's kitchen. My grand father, the middle son, had purchased his maternal grand father's house here in Chatham where I live. The Rayville house was a well built house, designed by architects, and constructed by professional carpenters, we believe. William K. could afford that as he inherited money from his mother, who has inherited money from her father. Her father, William Kippen, owned a house one block over from Wall Street where Deutche Bank is located now. He also owned income property on what is now Fulton St. in NYC. William K Thorne's father, Stephen Thorne, was not a poor man either, but I have not found his will and probate yet.
I don’t remember a Palladian window. My mother may remember, I'll ask her if I think of it. She painted a large picture of the house which hangs in her family room today. The large chimney on the left end of the main part of the house was put on by Masse when he owned it. I think he put in a fireplace also. There were no fireplaces when I was young. Fireplaces were 'old fashioned' when that house was built (and this one, too) and people put in modern coal/wood stoves. Much more practical. I remember Aunt Emily having a hand pump for her kitchen sink though there must have been running water in the house.
That's about all I can think of right now. Probably other things will occur to me later. I haven't been in the house since Uncle Clark died in 1963, and Aunt Emily sold the place to Masse. Coffee would be good some time. Maybe after I get back from taking my mother to Florida for the winter. I'll see if I can find more pictures. There are some of family gatherings but they don’t show much of the house. And, of course there are none of the outbuildings. Unfortunate. Anyway ...
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