The Gothic Revival style Hamill House is a 2½-story gabled roof wood frame residence built on a stone foundation in Georgetown, Colorado. William Hamill purchased what was a simple circa 1867 residence from his brother-in-law in 1874 and gradually transformed it into an elegant reflection of his increasing personal wealth and prestige. Two hipped roof stone buildings are located at the rear of the property. The more elaborate one, of cut coursed granite, served as Hamill’s office. The other, of rough cut uncoursed stone, served as a stable and carriage house. Since the 1970s, the property has been operated as a museum by the Georgetown Historical Society.
Originally constructed by Joseph Watson as a modest Country Gothic house in 1867, it was later purchased by Watson's wealthy brother-in-law William Arthur Hamill. By 1879, Hamill had greatly expanded the mountain estate into a lavishly beautiful home with its conservatory, gas lighting, bay windows, walnut woodwork, central heating, and luxurious interior decor. The new house was designed by Robert Roeschlaub, Colorado's first registered architect. The other buildings on the property include the carriage house, Mr. Hamill's granite office building, a laundry/summer kitchen, and a spacious six-seater privy, with two doors, one for the staff and the other for the family. Hamill owned the Silver Plume quarry that was the source of the granite used to construct the stone buildings and the stone wall which encloses the lawn.
William A. Hamill was a silver mining magnate. He made his fortune in land speculation buying and selling mines in the Georgetown and Silver Plume area. Hamill was a bit of a scoundrel, when a productive mine was identified, he would buy unproductive mines around it and entangle the owners in lawsuits until they sold to him. He also had interests in many other business in the area, including newspapers, wagon roads, and railroads. Mr. Hamill served as State Senator in the first Colorado State Legislature, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Colorado Republican Party and State Railroad Commissioner. The conservatory of the Hamill house, shown above, is an ostentatious display of his wealth, it would have required significant heating in the long cold winters of Georgetown and it was the only conservatory I have ever seen in the mountains of Colorado.
Willam and Priscilla Hamill had five children: William Jr., Henry, Hannah Elizabeth, James and Thomas. The family fortunes were greatly affected by the silver crash of 1893 and Hamill moved on to Denver shortly thereafter. His wife remained in Georgetown with the youngest son and family. Hamill died in 1904 and Priscilla died in 1910. The last of the Hamills left Georgetown in 1915. Many of the Hamill descendents are still in touch with Historic Georgetown, Inc. and visit the Hamill House from time to time. The most well known is actor Mark Hamill of the Star Wars movies.
Traditional music boxes gained popularity in the 18th Century with the French court of Louis XIV. A long and established tradition, music boxes were well known in Europe and America. The problem was that they were made with cylinders that could not be changed. By 1886, a new music box style appeared in Germany called the disc playing music box. The new disc-playing machine allowed music box owners to change disks with ease. The disks were mass produced inexpensively using metal and by 1890, disk manufacturers were dedicated to the production of disks for the new machines including those produced by one of the most impressive firms in American music box manufacturing, the Regina Company of Rahway, NJ. In 1894, the Regina Company was founded. The cylinders on most Regina and other high-end name brand boxes may have as many as 10,000 pins on a 13 inches long comb. The tuned music combs have teeth that must be tuned after a piece has been moved or relocated to a particular location. The Regina Music box's rich sound remains unsurpassed in America and elsewhere as the mechanism for the instrument differs from others of the period. The interchangeable music disks made by Regina would fit all of their boxes of the same size. These were expensive and another display of wealth although the company went out of business with the advent of the gramophone.
In the early 1950s, the first efforts were made to preserve Georgetown's remaining 19th-century buildings as historic resources. The importance of Georgetown's place in history was given national recognition in 1966 by the Department of the Interior. Through the National Park Service, the towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume were recognized as a National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) and protected to help tell the story of the American West. The Hamill House Museum is located at 305 Argentine Street in Georgetown, Colorado. The home interprets 19th century living in Georgetown and includes original and replicated architecture, furnishings, plants, landscaping ideas, and cultural lifestyles. Physical and virtual tours are available to the public. When visiting the museum in person you can witness the luxurious decor that was once popular during this time period, especially the beautiful interior walnut finishes. If you get the chance, you should visit the historic Hamill House in Georgetown.
Interior Views Hamill House: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11537676@N06/2190708692/in/photostream/
Regina Music Box: http://www.drloriv.com/Tips/ID/46/Regina-Music-Boxes