Author Archives: Peter Chipman

About Peter Chipman

I'm a lexicographer, an editor, and a lover of language and literature. Also a proud father of two, an occasional bell-ringer, a thirteenth-generation New England Yankee, a former owner of a one-room schoolhouse, and the current owner of a 220-year-old farmhouse.

Historic colleges

Included here are institutions of higher learning that date back before 1850. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Established in 1636 as a college for the training of young men to the ministry. Now, of course, it’s America’s most prestigious university and has the … Continue reading

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Athenaeums

These were (and are) educational and cultural institutions, often featuring a private subscription library and reading rooms and sometimes a lecture hall or art gallery. I suppose the proper Latin plural should be “athenaea.” Boston Athenaeum, Boston, MA  Near the top of Beacon Hill, … Continue reading

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Covered bridges

Bridges were covered mostly in order to protect their timbers from the elements; it was a lot easier to replace the roof shingles every decade or two rather than having to rebuild the bridge. Southern New England doesn’t have many remaining … Continue reading

Posted in History, Transportation | 3 Comments

Town pounds

These structures, usually consisting of four low walls either of fieldstone or of rough-cut granite, were built as a temporary holding place for any livestock that escaped from their owners. In order to reclaim the pig or cow in question, … Continue reading

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Old Inns and Taverns

  In colonial times, there was an ordinance (in Massachusetts at least–I don’t know about the other colonies) requiring that every town have at least one tavern or inn for the accommodation of travelers. Most of the surviving early tavern buildings aren’t … Continue reading

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One-room Schoolhouses

In the 19th century, when kids had to walk to get to school, it wasn’t practical to have a single central school for an entire town–some kids would have had to walk four miles or more to get there and … Continue reading

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Free Camping

Even in a densely populated region like New England, there are still places where it’s perfectly legal to pitch a tent for free, if you’re willing to put up with a total lack of civilized amenities. Most such places, unsurprisingly, … Continue reading

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