by Alice L. Curtis
Alice L. Curtis lives in Ilion. She was chairperson of a group which developed the Clarence W. Seaman Local History Room at the Ilion Free Public Library.
SOURCE: "LEGACY - Annals of Herkimer County" (Volume 4, issue 4 1989) is published quarterly by the Herkimer County Historical Society, 400 North Main Street, Herkimer, N.Y. 13350.
Individual copies of LEGACY may be purchased by contacting the Society at the above address, or by visiting their website: http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyhchs/ On the site you can review a list of which copies of LEGACY are still available and their content under "gift shop" then "books".
We are grateful to the Herkimer County Historical Society, which holds the copyrights, for granting us permission to reproduce the following article for our reader's enjoyment.
Philo, the first son of Eliphalet Remington, Jr. and Abigail Paddock, was born in 1816, the year Eliphalet made his first rifle at the forge in the Ilion Gulf. Eliphalet made good products and his business prospered. After attending Cazenovia Seminary, Philo joined his father and, when Eliphalet died in 1861, took over operation of the enterprise.
In 1864 the Remingtons introduced the breech-loader rifle, which was an instant and world-wide success. Orders poured into the factory as did important visitors. Philo and his wife, the former Caroline Lathrop of Syracuse, were urged to build a new home in which they might properly entertain the diplomats and representatives of the U.S. and other governments who came to Ilion to do business with the company.
It is said of Philo and Caroline that they were quiet people with simple tastes. But when it came to building a proper 19th century mansion, they did not stint. H. N. White of Syracuse, the architect they chose, built them a three-storied edifice of pink and grey sandstone, turreted after the fashion of European castles, surrounded by landscaped lawns and gardens, graveled walks and drives, a greenhouse, a stable as ornate as the house and a large, terraced fountain.
The design was Italianate, a style which dominated American architecture from about 1850 to 1880, many examples of which can be seen throughout the county today. Both the house and stables were characterized by their high level of decoration, including bracketed cornices, stone quoins at the corners and elaborate towers.
The interior was rich with carved black walnut woodwork, imported tiles, mantels of Italian marble and deep, colorful carpets. The bedrooms were hung with red and blue satins, the library furniture was of leather. There was a ballroom on the third floor; an elevator; a kitchen, a laundry and two baths; steam heat and even speaking tubes between the rooms. The place remained in the Remington family for many years. Philo and Caroline's daughter, Ida, who married Watson Squire, lived there until her death in 1918. Her son, Shirley Squire, the Ilion village engineer, was the last to occupy the house. After offering the house to several community groups, without success, the Remington descendants in 1928 decided to demolish the mansion, rather than have it become an eyesore. Only the stables, now the home of the Ilion Little Theater Club, remains.
The decision to manufacture the typewriter, an invention of C. L. Sholes, Milwaukee, was made in 1873, with the first machine ready for the market in 1874. This machine had all capitals and had invisible type (i.e. you couldn't see what you had typed until you rolled the paper). The first typewriter machine developed for manufacture by William Jenne, head of the Remington Sewing Machine Co, had the carriage return by the action of the foot-treadle. "This form was soon abandoned and the hand lever substituted", according to Henry Benedict who gave the paper before the Herkimer County Historical Society on Sept. 12, 1903 on the "Evolution of the Typewriter."
[Above Right] This easel is a recent gift of Dee Squire Dickinson of Seattle, Washington, great grand daughter of Philo & Caroline Remington. Her father, Shirley H. Squire, lived in the Mansion in the 1920's. When the house was taken down, the easel was among the treasures that went to his home in Seattle. The embroidery work on black silk panels was done on a Remington Sewing Machine. The stitchery is behind glass panels on the handsome black lacquer frame trimmed with gold built at the armory.
In the west view of the drawing room (above) are a black walnut easel, now in the Society's collection, and a portrait of Philo Remington which now hangs in the Ilion Free Public Library.
The east view shows the custom made carpet which a contemporary described as being of turquoise, blue and brown brocaded with satin with Turkish lines and with matching lambrquins (short drapes) above the windows. The parlor set of furniture and the pier mirror are Renaissance Revival, massive and deeply carved. The bamboo style table (in both [this and the previous photo] presumably to improve composition) gives us a hint of the interest in things Oriental during the late 19th century.
The west view of the main living room (above) shows an example of the popular use of live plants as decorative accessories at the time. Home decorating guides promoted houseplants as being both beautiful and educational. The sofa is rococo and the mantel decorations followed the asesthetic principles of the period in their symmetrical arrangement. On the table at right is a popular sculpture of the time known as a Rogers Group. These were plaster sculptures made for the mass market by John Rogers. He produced more than 80 such groups depicting scenes of everyday life in America, of the Civil War or from popular literature. Each of the 80 was reproduced in large quantities in Rogers' factory and were avidly collected. The group here is called the Council of War and shows a seated Abraham Lincoln flanked by two advisors.
The east view shows the music room through the arch. The large lighting fixture in both views was called a gasolier. The room received auxiliary heat from a cocal-burning fireplace.
Here are two views [Above and Below] of the Remingtons' dining room. This room's strongest features are the dramatic pier mirror and panelled dado in the Renaissance Revival style. The Corinthian pilasters flanking the door are a variant of that style. The chandelier appears to accommodate both candles and kerosene.
[transcriber's note: the following is in chart form, but has been reproduced here as a listing for ease in publishing on the web.]
1. Eliphalet Remington, Jr. 1793-1861, m. to Abigail Paddock 1792-1841
Page Created: 12/18/05
Copyright ©1989 Alice L. Curtis / Herkimer County Historical Society
Copyright ©2005 Paul McLaughlin / Lisa Slaski
All Rights Reserved.