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The history of General Miller’s home

  • Original to the house, this center fireplace served to heat the great hall used for dancing and entertaining guests. 

  • Current owner Lisa Beaudoin has kept samples of wallpaper original to the home, taken down during the homes renovations and repairs.

  • The long windows in the General Miller House’s dining room were installed by James Miller, who wanted to watch the town pass by.

  • The General Miller House has hosted war heroes, famous writers and gun fights over its more than 200-year history. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • The stately home at 242 General Miller Highway was once-home to General James Miller, and it remained in his family for more than 100 years. Staff photos by Ashley Saari

  • The General Miller home on General Miller Highway. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, November 23, 2018 11:11AM

Scattered throughout the stately home at 242 General Miller Highway are remnants of a bygone time – architectural features you don’t find in homes not built in the 1700s.

The house, now owned by Lisa Beaudoin of Temple, has its claim to fame as the once-home of General James Miller, the man for whom the highway where it sits is named.

But its history stretches even beyond its most famous inhabitant.

The building did not start as a house at all, Beaudoin said, during a tour of her home recently. Originally, the property was home to a much smaller building – still existing as part of the house today – which served as Temple’s original town store.

The store was built in 1760, and in what is now a rented room in the home there are a few touches remaining from its past use. A hook still juts from one of the ceiling beams, where ham hocks once hung, and some of the hinges are still the original wrought iron. 

While the store had a loft where the family lived, the largest part of the present colonial was built in 1786, when Ebenezer Edwards purchased the store and built on the house. 

“They call it a farm, but this has never been a farmhouse,” Beaudoin said. “It was always a gentleman’s house.”

Some of the architecture bears that out, Beaudoin said. Most of the ceiling beams throughout the house are enclosed, an expensive touch. The house was wallpapered, where a less affluent owner would have used paint. The five-flue chimney houses a beehive-shaped cooking oven. One of the bedrooms even has a closet that is original to the house – a sign of luxury, as closets in those days were taxed. 

General James Miller

General James Miller purchased the house in the 1830s, and it remained in his family for more than 100 years. During that time, the house saw prestigious guests and was also the site of one of the town’s most harrowing incidents.

Miller, who was born in Peterborough and operated a law practice in Greenfield, is best remembered for his service in the War of 1812. Most notably, he served as colonel of the 21st Infantry Regiment and led an attack and capture of British artillery at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. 

After the war, Miller held several posts in the American government, including governorship of the Arkansas Territory from 1819 to 1824, and collector of customs in Salem, Massachusetts, at the time one of the world’s most important whaling ports.

When Miller bought the home, he installed tall windows in one of the front rooms, and had the roadway moved back, to better sit and watch the town go by. 

Miller moved in circles with other affluent and influential people, including the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne visited Miller at his home in Temple, staying in and writing in one of the upstairs bedrooms. In fact, Miller is named as a character in the introduction to the “Scarlet Letter,” as the head of the Salem custom house where the narrator finds the letters that serve as the basis for the tale of Hester Prynne. 

A shootout at the General Miller house

In 1913, an unruly servant caused trouble on the lawn of the General Miller house.

At that time, General Miller’s grandson – also named James Miller – was the owner of the house. A manservant had been dismissed from the house for harassing a maid. He returned to the home to take his revenge, shooting at the house and shooting through the windows.

James Miller rode into town to gather a posse to confront the man, and there was a shoot out on the front lawn of the home. The manservant was shot, by what was later determined to be a bullet shot from the minister’s gun.

“[The minister] was cleared of any wrong-doing, but in any case, he didn’t remain for much longer after that to shepherd his flock,” Beaudoin said.

Renovations

The home remained in the Miller family for more than 100 years. By the time it was sold, it hadn’t much been changed from its original construction, Beaudoin said, but it also hadn’t been kept up as well as it might have, and was in need of major repairs.

In 1950, the Hildebrand family did a major remodel of the home. Most of that work remains today. 

A portion of the house also had to undergo repairs in 2014, when it was being operated by Beaudoin as a bed and breakfast. It was damaged by a fire started by an oil boiler in the basement. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.