‘Home: A Novel’ was written by George Agnew Chamberlain and published by Century Company in 1914. The book is centered on three houses on the top of ‘Red Hill’. A summer guest in New Hartford for many years, Chamberlain modeled the houses (and borrowed a few people, though not the story line) on three houses on the top of Town Hill in New Hartford.
“For such a one Red Hill held locked a message, and the key to the lock was the message itself: “Turn your back on the paralleled rivers and railroads and plunge into the byways that lead to the eternal hills and you will find the world that was and still is.”
Let such a traveler but follow a lane that leads up through willow and elderberry, sassafras, laurel, wild cherry and twining clematis; a lane aligned with slender wood-maples, hickory and mountain-ash and flanked where it gains the open with scattered juniper and oak, and he will come out at last on the scenes of a country’s childhood.
At right angles to the lane, a broad way, cutting the length of the hill, and losing itself in a dip at each end toward the valleys and the new world. The broad way is shaded by one of two trees, the domed maple or the stately elm. At the summit of its rise stands an old church whose green shutters blend with caressing foliage of primeval trees…..
….Some of these clustered homes live the year round at full swing but the life of some is cut down in winter to a minimum only to spring up afresh in the summer like the new stalk from a treasured bulb. Of such was the little kingdom of Red Hill.”
The three houses on Town Hill have since been joined by many more; the elms are long gone; and there are no more summer homes on the hill. However, the elderberry and sassafras, the cherry, the oak all remain. And at this time of year, as one drives up the hill, the clematis are white veils drifting down through the trees. Timeless? no. Yet, there is an age there, an age that all old New England town centers have, though the road flashes past across the top of the eternal hills.