Royall plantation essay


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Royall plantation essay

  1. 1. ARC337Prof. MasseyLeandro Cortez Architecture of EqualityThe system of Plantation in the United Stateshas always had a double connotation attachedto it. There are those who look at this time andare reminded of an old America, plentiful withagricultural life where large and green sprawlingplantations developed a romanticized rich andelegant socio-economic culture that translated aEuropean way of life in the new world. However,there are those that regard these columned edi-fices and sprawling agricultural lands as reminderof the dark history of slavery that used to existwithin the fields and homes of these Europeanmock ups. Geography takes these two distinctlifestyles and creates a setting for them that theedifice’s program and exterior must adapt to in You can observe the proximity of the plantation to the ocean while not evident is the proximity to the Mystic river. The Figure was created byorder to function accordingly. However, it is Leandro Cortez.through architecture that one truly sees a blend ofnot only the privileged cultural lifestyle and itsromanticized connotations but also a sight intothe dark lifestyle that was slavery while creat-ing an adaptation to the geography of each givenplantation. While it is uncommon to hear about slaveplantations in the North it is important to realizethat slavery in the New England colonies wasvery much present until the early 1800’s. Thefirst reference to African slavery in Massachu-setts is given in connection with the Pequot Warin 1637 when Native American war prisonerswhere traded for slaves in the West Indies. Mostof the slave trade in 17th century New Englandsurprsingly ocurred in Massachusetts and it wasBoston merchants who made the first attempt atdirect importing slaves from West Africa. Mas-sachusetts’ roots in scrupulous fundamentalismProtestantism did not impede it from viewingslavery in a bad light. On the contrary, Puritanssaw themselves as enlightened by god and slavery An image of slaves being brought out from the ships in New England, 1830 (HABS)was simply the law of the god of Israel. Cal-vanist idologies simply stated that, “blacks werea people cursed and condemned by god to servewhites”(Slavery in Massachusetts). One of the mostprominent Northern slave plantations of this timewas the Royall House located in Medford, Massa-chusetts. Slavery was prominent in this plantationfor 150 years and the architectural remnants of
  2. 2. this time demonstrate the intertwined lives of bothslaves and plantation owners. The Royall House and Slave Quarters are thelast remnants of a 600 acre plantation first owned byMassachusetts Governor John Winthrop. The Royallssettled in what was then the hamlet of the Mystick river.Isaac Royall’s father had made his money on the Islandof Antigua working as a slave trader. When the dangerof slave uprisings seemed eminent he moved his familyto New England where he purchased Ten Hill Farms.The existing farmhouse built by Gov. Winthrop was be-neath his standards and thus he began a major remodel-ing campaign by doubling the footprint of the home andby raising the roofs to enclose three stories. For this rea-son when observing the interior of the home one notices Section and Plan of Royall house demonstrating the house that John Winthrop built before the Rennovation made by Isaac Roy-that the dimensions of the first entry rooms are smaller all ( Manegold, C.S)while the renovated rooms are bigger in size. The Royallhouse was finished in 1732 but after the death of IsaacRoyall his son continued to remodel the home by updat-ing the garden front in Classical style that incorporatedadding pilasters, pediments, and wood shaped panels toresemble stone. Isaac’s son encased the East façadein clapboard and decorated the exterior with archi-tectural details and continuous strips of spandrelpanels If we look at the plan of the Royall housewe can observe a typical centralized hallway layoutthat is accessible from both the Eastern and Westernsides of the home. Each room gives priority to thehearth as it serves to not only heat each room dur-ing the cold New England months but to help createthe typical Georgian style exterior of two large ex-truding chimneys on the brick covered sides of the Eastern Facade of the Royall House ( Manegold, C.S)home. Furthermore, the expansion made by IsaacRoyall not only added two new rooms with a hearthbut it also expanded the magnitude of the home’sheight and higlight the hearth as an important ele-ment within the home. The addition of these tworooms allowed for a new dining space and loungearea to be created thus formalizing the interior ofthe home to more adequately resemble the wealthierNorthern plantations of that time. The facades were a response to the contextof the site, as the home‘s Western façade faced theMystic river and thus had the most elaborate deco-ration because this was the side that most visitorsfrom England coming from the dock nearby wouldsee first. The Eastern façade on the other hand wasless elaborate ,but still heavily decorated, as thiswas the side where wagons would come deliver Western Facade of the Royall House ( Manegold, C.S)merchandise from other colonies and then depart.
  3. 3. It is also important to note, that 28 feet behind theEastern façade was where the slave quarters resided asit was common for the slaves to unload the merchandiseand take it inside but also the placement of the quarterwas given the backside as it was generally consideredthe unimportant part of the house. Royall extended the brick end walls and placedtwo twin chimneys at the end of the house while add-ing two Doric pilasters in each corner. The additionor corner quoins and the arrangement of the windowsone on top of another resulted in a Georgian styleplantation home that was actually quite close in style“to the homes that were being built in London in the1730’s”(Royall House). Furthermore, the siding in theSouth Eastern façade utilized a method of wood panels“that made illicit the stone siding formal qualities ofEnglish housing”( Royall House). This result is not at The slave quarters share the same materiality as the Main house but lacks amenities when it comes to inside living conditions.all surprising as Royall sent decorative façade construc- (HABS)tion documents from London to his brother who wasin charge of the construction process in New England.Moreover, Royall’s ideals of loyalism to the king andhis patriotism for his home country led him to bring thisnew world translation of English architecture into thesprawling fields of Medford, Massachusetts. Isaac Royal built a separate slave quarter for theRoyall Plantation House in 1733 to house the 27 slavesthat he had newly acquired from Antigua. Interestinglyenough the two story brick and wood panel construc-tion is considered “the only such structure in the U.S”(Manegold) for the reason that the housing componentwas actually “quite rudimentary in accommodations”but very complex in terms of its construction. Brickswere utilized effectively in the construction of the wallsand as a form of insulation while wooden beams wereused for the general structural layout. Half of the build-ing was covered in wooden panels to resemble the ex-terior condition of the Royall house and in itself blendthe slave quarter within the main house. The reasonfor these complex slave quarters was that it was quiteexpensive to import slaves from the Caribbean so it wasimportant to give them amenities to protect them fromthe cold and harsh weather of the Northern colonies. Forthis reason when one looks inside the slave quarters onewill find a large hearth being the main component ofthe edifice while less attention is given to other programsuch as rooms and the kitchen. The kitchen for the mainhouse was located in the slave quarters as it was not Plan of the Slave Quarters in the Royall House. (HABS)common at this time for the kitchen to be in the mainhouse itself because cooking was seen as job adequatefor slaves.
  4. 4. Furthermore, careful attention is given to insula-tion by creating a well enough thick brick wall thatcan insulate the cold while containing enough op-erable windows that can be opened in the Summer.The placement of the hearth was very importantbecause it layed out the rest of the program in theslave quarter. The hearth ,unlike the main house,was a central component that needed to to createheat for the rest of the slave quarter in the cheapestway possible. “In the Ten Hills Farm (Royall plantation)slaves produced wool, cider, and hay while tend-ing livestock.” (Slavery in Massachusetts)Someof the slaves worked in the fields while othershad “higher status” jobs as boatmen, domestic A closer look at the layout of the centralized hearth. (HABS)servants, cooks, valets, and maids. However, theregion’s mercantile economy “meant fewer slaveswere required to plant single cash crops liketobacco, or rice to plant and harvest”(Hugh How-ard) As result, most slaves learned a specific tradeand many became shipwrights, carpenters, tailors,printers, blacksmiths, bakers, or coopers. It was ofadvantage for the masters of Royall house to havea slave with a skill because that meant that theycould be hired out and in turn earn more money.The slaves in the Royall plantation were a com-mon presence in the household in comparison toslaves in the South. Household slaves, would beconstantly called upon by their masters and for thisreason some of them would have to sleep within anupstairs designated room or in the attic. Householdslaves were put in charge of cooking, cleaning,gardening, and repairing. Household slaves in theRoyall house were very close to their masters andsome were freed upon the death of Isaac Royall in1739. The rest of the slave workforce were sent tosleep in the quarters upon hay layed on the groundfor them. They would gather around the hearthrooms and up to 20 would sleep together on thefloor. Programatically and in terms of interiordecoration both the Royall house and the slavequarter had nothing in common. The interior of theRoyall house was filled with many types of deco-rative motifs. There were leaf carvings on the arcsinside the home which were topped by carfullymade keystones at the top. The balustrades wereturned and decorated with flowers and finished A closer look at the ballustrades decorating the main staircase in the Royall house. ( HABS)with white paint. The purpose of these elaboratedecorations was to give the idea to visitors coming
  5. 5. in from either the colonies or Europe that thiswas a cultured house capable of the same ameni-ties found in England. The slave quarters werevery simple and very little attention was given toits interior decoration. the hearth was probablythe most complex interior amenity and this wasbecause if it was not given importance then theworkforce would die when the winter came. The Royalls were very proud of theirEnglish heritage and it was of importance forthem to demonstrate their capabilitie of simulat-ing the lifes they used to have in the “mother-land”. Furthermore, the Royalls obsession withimported materials from Europe such as marbleand mahogany tables, peer glasses ( mirrors), anda Turkish rug demonstrated their desire to want tobring the European culture in to the New World.The lives of the Royalls was striking contrastto that of the African slaves living just behindthe house. As US Slaves states, “ The mannerin which the Royalls lived was dependent uponslavery, and the new interpretation at the propertyposes a jarring contrast between English gentryand African slaves.” ( US Slave) Even though both Slave quarters and the“main” house in the Royall plantation had suchbig differences in cultural lifestyles it is architec- Slaves sleeping within the slave quarters and the Royal Family.ture that materialistically brings them together. ( Manegold, C.S)The wooden siding found in both the slave quar-ter and the main house are made similar to workin unison and imitate that English stone that is soprevelant in London Georgian homes. The focuson hearth in the most important rooms in bothhomes brings them together ,in concept, to onceagain imitate the portruding chimneys found inupperclass London homes. The desire to achieveperfect imitation of the European environmentinterestingly led to a sort of architectural equalitywithin what represents the slaves ( the quarters)and what represents the masters ( the Royallhouse). Moreover, It is but the mere woodensiding on the slave quarters followed by a brickexterior that connects the house to the quarter. Al-though materialistic, this architectural connectionthat happens as result of materiality and hearthdemonstrate the only elements that gave, the slaveand plantation owner lifestyle, a form of equalitywithin this 1700’s society.
  6. 6. BibliographyHistoric American Building Survey.Library of Congress.Built in America. Web. 2 Oct. 2012Hugh Howard, US Slave , Slave Quarters in Medfrod Mas-sachusetts“. Google. Web. 24 September. 2012Manegold,C.S. Ten Hills Farm. Princeton: Princenton Uni-versity Press, 2010. Print.“Royall House” .Youtube. 3 Nov. 2012.Web.“Slavery in Massachusetts” np,Web. 7 Mar.2007.