Historical society searching for 18th century house
ORANGE - Where can it be? That’s the question the Orange Historical Society is asking about an eight-room, two-story Georgian Colonial house, which once stood at the corner of Lambert and Boston Post Roads.
Ginny Reinhard, OHS president, first saw a sketch of the Lambert-Buckholz house while archiving the society’s collection of Town of Orange documents in what will eventually be the Mary R. Woodruff Research Center on the second floor of The Academy at Orange Center Road.
While sifting through historical papers that included railroad memorabilia, arrest warrants from 1860, and property taxes dating back to 1909, Reinhard found a file on the Lambert-Buckholz house, built about 1780. “I was intrigued by what little information we had,” said Reinhard. “The house was located where the Medical Center of Orange is now, facing Lambert Road, at a slight angle toward the Post Road.”
Boasting high ceilings, 11 fireplaces, and a massive post and beam frame of oak and chestnut, the house was originally owned by the Lambert family. “What we know is it was bought by the Buckholz family, who lived in it from the mid-19th century until they eventually had it dismantled by Willard Restorations in 1983,” said Reinhard. “It was put in a trailer and purchased by someone in Stamford, who decided they didn’t want it, so it was subsequently sold to someone in Rhode Island.”
That’s where the paper trail runs cold. There are no names or notes from the sale, so the mystery is, where is it now?
Reinhard decided to search for it by calling several restoration groups in Rhode Island. This resulted in Susanna Prull, from the restoration organization Preserve Rhode Island, posting a sketch of the house online in the group’s e-newsletter asking, “Have You Seen This House?” Prull included what information the OHS had available about the house, which only two families had ever lived in while it was in Orange, plus contact information for Reinhard.
“I feel like I’m chasing the house, but we hope someone sees the Preserve Rhode Island listing and calls the historical society,” said Reinhard, who plans to drive up to Rhode Island and photograph the house once it’s located. “I’d like to take pictures of both the outside and the inside of the house, if allowed, and put them, with whatever information we get, in the file at The Academy so we’ll at least have a history for the house.”
Reinhard mentioned several colorful anecdotes about the house, found in an old newspaper clipping, which was based on the memories of Joan Sullivan, who grew up in the Buckholz house and lived there until it was dismantled. “Joan said her grandparents bought the house and 100 acres of land from a Mr. Lambert - no one could recall his first name,” said Reinhard. “When the couple paid Mr. Lambert, he tied the money from the sale of the house in a handkerchief, put it on a walking stick and headed down Route 1, which was then a dirt road. No one ever saw him again.”
Sullivan also described what it was like to herd the family’s cows back and forth to the pasture, which involved using a red flag to stop traffic, as the cows sauntered across Route 1.