Trellis on the door of the home of Oakes and Evelina Ames and extended family, ca. 1860
Tuesday May 4th Mr Healy & Morse commenced the trellis
for our front door We had quite a consultation how it should
be made I[t] was very cold & windy this morning & I fear I
have taken cold in being out so long Have mended Olivers
sack and cut the pattern and have done some other mending
Augusta made a long call. It is really very pleasant to have
her so near. Mrs S Ames went to Boston
The trellis that Evelina refers to today could very well be the modest trellis that graces one of the doors in the above photograph. The doorway facing the street in the approximate middle of the photograph was the door that Evelina, Oakes, and their family used for their own. The doorway on the far left, facing the yard, was likely the entry that Old Oliver and his daughter, Sarah Witherell, used. The house on the far right was a separate dwelling that belonged to Oliver Ames Jr. and his wife, Sarah Lothrop Ames.
None of these buildings is still standing. The one on the far right was torn down in 1863 and replaced by a larger, more formal house that is still extant today, with lovely gardens and a well-kept air. The house in the center, halved on the interior to accommodate the two households of Evelina and Sarah Witherell, was torn down in the 1950s, at the behest of Oakes Angier Ames’s eldest son, Hobart Ames. The site has since been reclaimed by trees and undergrowth.
The trellis was meant to add a fashionable air to Oakes’s and Evelina’s side of the house. Evelina was trying to bring the simple, old Federal dwelling into the Victorian age, inside and out. She had a particular vision for her home, and she worked hard to realize it. Small wonder that the construction required “quite a consultation.”