Joshua Chamberlain House

matthew mckeon

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#1
I'm vacationing on the beautiful Maine coast, and loving the rocky shores, lobsters, lighthouses, boats etc. On a rainy day I went to the Joshua Chamberlain House in Brunswick next to the Bowdoin College Campus.

The house was student apartments until bought by the historical society in 1990 or so. Its a curious building.

The original house was a small, one story farmhouse, where Chamberlain and family lived before the war. Longfellow had lived in there before Chamberlain.

After the war, Chamberlain became President of the College and Governor of Maine, and needed a home suitable for meetings and entertainment. He loved the old house, so he jacked the entire house up in the air, and built a big dining room, office, study and large formal room on the first floor. He and the family used the old house, now the upstairs as their private quarters.

It's an unusual looking house, full of character and the historic society does an excellent job interpreting it. Its a hour long tour that really seems too short.
 

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larry_cockerham

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#2
Chamberlain-Oates

An interesting post! Did you notice any reference at all to William C. Oates, colonel of the 15th Alabama who faced Chamberlain on the Little Round Top? Those two went after each other in court for years arguing about placement of monuments at Gettysburg. Oates later became governor of Alabama. He was an attorney who apparently lacked most if not all of Chamberlain's charm and finese.
 

matthew mckeon

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Dear Larry,
Actually very little was said about Gettysburg, and surprisingly little about the CW, the guides having the attitude that the visitors had heard it before, which is probably true. There was more about his tenure as college president and his family life.

I've been meaning to read "Gettysburg Requirem" a biography of Oates for a couple of years. I read the first half, got interrupted and never took it up again. I mean to get to it, it was pretty good.
 

matthew mckeon

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#5
Dear Milhisbuff,

I don't think so. A lot of the restoration was done very recently, in the last 5-10 years. The guides did say that Jeff Daniels toured the house a couple of years ago, and was quite interested. This would have been after the two movies.
 

larry_cockerham

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#6
matthew mckeon said:
Dear Larry,
Actually very little was said about Gettysburg, and surprisingly little about the CW, the guides having the attitude that the visitors had heard it before, which is probably true. There was more about his tenure as college president and his family life.

I've been meaning to read "Gettysburg Requirem" a biography of Oates for a couple of years. I read the first half, got interrupted and never took it up again. I mean to get to it, it was pretty good.
Matthew, thanks for the tip! Is this the autobiography or another work?
 

matthew mckeon

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#7
Dear Larry,
It was written by Glenn Lafantasie(spelling?) who also wrote "Twilight at Little Round Top," a good reassessment of that fight.
 

larry_cockerham

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#8
Oate's own book which mostly recounts the activities of the 15th Alabama Infantry is listed in our local library. My wife's ancestor Hershel V. Glenn was at Antietam and Gettysburg before parole at Appamattox much later, hence my interest. My son and new grandson are Glenn descendants. A quick check on Amazon in the book section showed about a half dozen things written on Chamberlain as well as Oates. May be time for more research on my part!
 

ole

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#10
Which just goes to show ya. Post most anything here and you will stir up some interest. Thanks for the heads-up on the house. I had no idea it was there.

ole
 

hoosier

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#11
I've been to the Chamberlain house, and heartily second the recommendations that it's worth the visit and the historical society does a good job with the tour.

For those who may get there in the future, keep in mind that the cemetery where Chamberlain and his wife are buried is very near the house.

As I recall, the word "Unveiled" appears on Chamberlain's wife's headstone. She was blind during the final years of her life, and the headstone refers to her and her husband's belief that she would be able to see again in heaven.
 

matthew mckeon

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#13
Historic houses and sites and how they're interpreted is always interesting to me. Some places people don't have many preconceived notions about what they're going to see, but anyone who goes to the Chamberlain house is bound to know something or believe something about Chamberlain and the CW.

The guide had a somewhat wary air and said that she was sure everyone had heard about Chamberlain and Gettysburg, and said little, which was not quite right, given Chamberlain's lifelong obsession with the CW and Gettysburg. But I couldn't blame her, she probably had had her fill on pontificating CW buffs. On my way out, sure enough a visitor was giving her an emphatic lecture on the Gatling gun.
 



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