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Alice T. Miner and The Colonial Revival

by Mary Skulan-Toran, 2022 Joseph C Burke and Joan T. Burke Scholarship Recipient

Industrialization and The Colonial Revival 

Alice T. Miner as a young lady in Chicago.

Alice E. Trainor was born in 1863 amid a changing world. Rapid industrialization raged throughout both Canada, Alice’s birthplace, and America. This industrialization, in part, would lead to the birth of The Colonial Revival movement, which started roughly in the 1880s and reached its zenith in the early 20th century. 

The movement pushed for a re-embrace of “authentic American history,” through careful documentation and preservation of historical architecture and artifacts. It stove to offset the perceived degradation of American society and revive the nation’s colonial history. 

Industrialization would lead to a drain on both people and resources in rural areas. Many rural youths were moving from the country to the city for work and opportunities, which most did not find. Add to this the rising rates of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe at the turn of the century, many of whom made their homes in the same urban centers as country youth. Fears that the future generation was being corrupted by “city-living,” and that America was losing its moral fabric swelled in the hearts of many. 

The Colonial Revival wanted to ensure the longevity of an “authentic America,” the essence of which became tied to the New England Colonial village. In many rural areas, colonial architecture came back into vogue, and small towns strove to emulate their colonial past through architecture and city planning.  

Though much of the thought process behind the Colonial Revival was unsavory and often prejudiced, the movement did some good. It emphasized the preservation of history, and many artifacts, which otherwise may have been lost or destroyed were instead collected and carefully preserved in museums and private collections. 

The Origins of The Alice T. Miner Museum

Alice T. Miner reclining in her Chicago home.

Alice would become the curator of one such museum. After her parent’s death at a young age, Alice was raised by her nineteen-year-old sister Matilda. In 1887, Alice relocated to Chicago where she met her future husband William H. Miner. The pair were married by 1895. By all accounts, it was a happy and equal communion. Sadly, the couple lost their first and only son ten days after his birth in 1902. In 1903 Alice and William made themselves a summer home in Chazy after William Miner inherited the Miner family homestead, William’s childhood home.

Alice’s friends, worried that she may grow bored in this new country setting, encouraged her to take up a hobby. With the Colonial Revival in full swing, Alice began collecting various artifacts from all over the United States. 

The Old Stone Store as it looked before being turned into the museum. The photograph was taken in October of 1920.

Alice procured the Old Stone Store in 1924 and commissioned the Miner’s favored architect, Frederick B. Townsend to expand and restructure the building into a museum. The building would become the Alice T. Miner Museum still standing and active in Chazy.

The blueprint for the original design of the museum, drafted by Frederick B. Townsend.

Each room is filled with a variety of different artifacts, from cannon balls to Cuneiform tablets, to a 13th-century breviary. The touch of the colonial revival is evident. There are portraits, commemorative plates, and other artifacts related to US presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington holding special providence. She even managed to collect what is allegedly Lincoln’s footbath, still on display in The Library.

Truly it is a wondrous museum. You may need to take multiple trips to fully get a sense of the volume and a staggering variety of artifacts hidden within. 

 

For more information please visit about Alice Miner and her museum, please visit The Alice T. Miner Museum website at: The Alice T. Miner Museum – A colonial revival museum in Chazy, New York

 

See below for more images of Alice and her museum.

 

 

Archive Items

The original Ballroom layout in the Alice T. Miner Museum. This room housed Alice’s vast collection of china.

The Old Stone Store after its rebirth as the Alice T. Miner Museum. Designed by Frederick B. Townsend.

Blueprint for the fifth floor of Chazy Central Rural School.

The blueprint of the fifth floor of Chazy Central Rural School. Designed by Frederick B. Townsend.

Blueprint for the fourth floor of Chazy Central Rural School.

The blueprint of the fourth floor of Chazy Central Rural School. Designed by Frederick B. Townsend.

Blueprint for the third of Chazy Central Rural School.

The blueprint for the third floor of Chazy Central Rural School. Designed by Frederick B. Townsend.

Blueprint for the second floor of Chazy Central Rural School.

The blueprint of the second floor of Chazy Central Rural School. Designed by Frederick B. Townsend.

Blueprint for the first floor of Chazy Central Rural School.

The blueprint of the first floor of Chazy Central Rural School. Designed by Frederick B. Townsend.

Blueprint of the roof plan for Chazy Central Rural School.

The blueprint for the roof plan of Chazy Central Rural School. Designed by Frederick B. Townsend.

The transportation routes for Chazy Central Rural School. This map details the routes that the school’s fleet of buses and […]

Photograph of the Chazy Central Rural School auditorium.

A photograph of the Chazy Central Rural School auditorium. This auditorium could hold over one thousand occupants. The stage featured […]

The nurse's office in Chazy Central Rural School.

A photograph of the on-site nurse’s office inside Chazy Central Rural School. The school also employed an on-site dentist for […]

Projects created by the students at Chazy Central Rural School.

A photograph of the projects created by students at Chazy Central Rural School.

The shower room of Chazy Central Rural School.

A photograph of the showers adjoining the pool within Chazy Central Rural School.

Yearbook page detailing the Physical Education Department of Chazy Central Rural School.

A yearbook page detailing the Physical Education Department of Chazy Central Rural School. The school contained two pools separated by […]

The heating system within Chazy Central Rural School.

The comfort and well-being of the students were paramount when planning Chazy Central Rural School. The school’s heating system, featured […]

Medical Department of Chazy Central Rural School. CCRS offered both physician and dental services to its students, courtesy of William H. Miner. This photograph was taken from the CCRS yearbook.

Medical Department of Chazy Central Rural School. CCRS offered both physician and dental services to its students, courtesy of William […]

A young man in a woodshop class at Chazy Central Rural School.

A young man in a woodshop class at Chazy Central Rural School.

Situated in Chazy, this homestead originally belonged to Huldah and John Miner, William Miner's Aunt and Uncle. Mr. Miner grew up on this homestead after being orphaned at a young age. Years later, after Mr. Miner had established himself as a successful businessman, he returned to Chazy and bought the old homestead. Mr. Miner kept the structure intact and built up Heart's Delight Cottage around it.

William H. Miner’s family homestead. Situated in Chazy, this homestead originally belonged to Huldah and John Miner, William Miner’s Aunt […]

Students of Chazy Central Rural School practice theater in the school's auditorium.

Students of Chazy Central Rural School practice theater in the school’s auditorium.

The plaque hung in the original Chazy Central Rural School. It features a quote written by Alice and William Miner, directed to the students at the school.

The bronze relief plaque hung in the original Chazy Central Rural School. It features a quote written by Alice and […]

This photograph features the Home Economics class at Chazy Central Rural School. Here, young ladies would learn to cook and sew, along with other practical household skills.

This photograph features the Home Economics class at Chazy Central Rural School. Here, young ladies would learn to cook and […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. Sunshine cottage and Happy Hours cottage are visible […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. Heart’s Delight Cottage, House Tower and the Main […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

To view the reverse side of the postcard click here.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. The House Tower and barns are visible.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

Bridge near McGregor power house and LaSell Dam, Altona

LaSell power house and pool, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Power House, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Dam Reservoir, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

McGregor Dam Reservoir, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

McGregor Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

Flat Rock Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

Reservoir at Flat Rock Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Power House and pool with surge tank in background. Photo by Mr. W.H.W. Strafford. From: Book 46 – Farm […]

LaSell Power House and pool with surge tank in background. Photo by Mr. W.H.W. Strafford. From: Book 46 – Farm […]

Front view of Village Power House, 1901. Also known as Hillbrook Cottage. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water […]

Village Dam, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Chazy village dam pond, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

A full reservoir at the Chazy village dam, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Lower Dam, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

McGregor Dam. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Middle Dam and empty fore bay, 1908. Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Lake Alice with boat house in distance. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Workers upload lumber from a cart on the crest of the Altona Dam. September 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam […]

Construction activity around dam wall, cribbing around structure, September 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Frank Hart at Altona Dam, April 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Altona Dam Basin/Reservoir, September 1914. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Cement Road and Reservoir from north embankment/Cobblestone Hill, September 1913. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Workers in trend to extend the cut off wall at Altona Dam, September 1913. From: (Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Workers pour cement on east bank of reservoir, September 1913. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Low angle photo from the top of the Altona Dam wall looking east before the wall turns north. From: Book […]

Laying rock for the edge of the Cement Road on Cobblestone Hill, September 1913. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Steam Shovel Trench. Steam Shovel Trench adjacent to dam wall. From: Book 14 – Altona Dam Vol. 2

Workers add mix into cement mixer with a cart on tracks. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Spillway. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Workers standing at a cross-section of the dam buttress, July 10, 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Dam buttresses. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Workers man the concrete mixer. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Workers at Cement Mixer and man with fur coat walking down ramp. March 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Pipe on wood frame through construction area, June 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Close up of construction at the Altona Flat Rock dam wall near the spillway outlet. 1911. From: Book 13- Altona […]

Pile of rocks, likely from Cobblestone Hill. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Work operating steam shovel and others on the ground. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Side view of steam shovel at Flat Rock. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Man pushing wheel barrow with other workers on rock pile in background, Altona Flat Rock Dam, March 1911. From: Book […]

Side profile of buttress form Altona Dam. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Crane system at the Altona Flat Rock Dam construction site. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Worker camp at Altona Flat Rock Dam construction site, January 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1.

Camp at Altona Flat Rock dam, looking south, January 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Altona Flat Rock Dam, April 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Workings digging the trench for the Cutoff Wall at the Altona Flat Rock Dam, May 1911. From: Book 13- Altona […]

Close-up of the cribbing foundation for the cutoff wall at the Altona Flat Rock Dam, April 1911. From: Book 13- […]

Looking north from Cobblestone Hill at the Altona Flat Rock Dam construction, May 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Looking west at the Altona Flat Rock Dam construction site, April 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Visitors inspect the Altona Flat Rock Dam, August 1911. (Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1), Well-dressed ladies back right

Looking northeast during rebar installation at the Altona Dam, April 1911. From: “Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1”

Surveying at Tracy Brook for the Lake Alice hydroelectric project, 1907. From: “Book 10 Panoramic Views Vol. 1”

Men surveying at Tracy Brook for the Lake Alice hydroelectric project, 1907

Penstock for the McGregor hydroelectric power project with power house construction in background