Roseland celebrates Henry Bowen's 200th birthday

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Mon., Sep. 9, 2013
Joan DeGusto and Melissa Meier were dressed perfectly for the occasion. Photos by D. Coffey.
Joan DeGusto and Melissa Meier were dressed perfectly for the occasion. Photos by D. Coffey.

Historic New England's Roseland Cottage was the site of a 200th birthday party for Henry Chandler Bowen on Sept. 8. Site manager Laurie Masciandaro said more than 90 people were on hand for the tree-planting that kicked off the festivities.

Bowen was a Woodstock native who became a successful merchant and editor in the mid-1800s. Roseland was his summer cottage, but it was outfitted with what were considered the high-tech developments of his day, according to Masciandaro. From a coal-fired furnace to an attic-based cistern, Roseland had the latest innovations and upgrades. The ice shed could hold up to 20 tons of ice. A windowed solarium provided a place for overwintering plants. One building held what Masciandaro called the presidential privy. “It was a very nice outhouse for the time,” she said. Bowen entertained Presidents Grant, Hayes and Harrison, and Senator McKinley.

“Mr. Bowen wanted to be at the cutting edge,” Masciandaro said. “He brought these things to Roseland. He shared them with his hometown. Maybe he showed off a little bit.”

Bowen traditionally planted a tree every Fourth of July. In keeping with that tradition, a Valley Forge American elm was planted in the commons, directly across the street from the house. A wreath was placed on his grave in the Old Burial Grounds. Tours were given that included parts of the buildings not normally open for viewing. Servant quarters, the attic and cellar, and several outbuildings were open to the public. The National Guard Band performed a free concert. Festivities ended with ice cream, cake and pink lemonade.

Woodstock Academy students made a life-size cut-out figure of Mr. Bowen so visitors could have their pictures taken with him. “You couldn't ask for a better day or for something better to do with it,” Masciandaro said.

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