Is a House Just a House?

Is a house just a house or does it have a legacy? I have been to historical homes both virtually and actually of people who have had various legacies both good and bad. Bad things have happened there, good people have lived there and people who don’t share my views of the world. I enjoy going to places like that to learn about history and the people who lived and worked there. One question I have is would I live there if I had the chance. Would the legacy and the memories made in that house be too much or just right? Would I live in a home that my grandma would have lived in? Yes. Would I live in a home where Lizzy Borden lived in? Probably not. Are they not just wood and stone or are they more? I have been to Monticello, to Mt. Vernon, to the house where Jessie James was shot. I could not live there because they are historical, but would we want to? What is the weight of each property?

In the time of slaves here in America there were slaves who were not compliant to their masters. If a master could not bend them to their will and the slave was deemed incorrigible they were sometimes sent away to be broken. In this case there was a farm in the bay side of Maryland owned by slave breaker Edward Covey. Covey tried to work to death and beat to death the spirit of slaves so they could be returned to their masters compliant and docile. This property sits there today and was historically called and still called, Mount Misery.

The particular slave who endured this sentence of attempted breaking, whose legacy still carries the respect, inspiration and admiration all these years later, is the famous Frederick Douglas. His year long experience under the brutality of Edward Covey is documented in the book written by Frederick Douglas entitled, “My Bondage and My Freedom”.

Yesterday a politically famous American died and he owned and lived in the house on that farm on Mount Misery. The town near that is now called St. Michael’s. Fifteen years ago an article appeared in the Baltimore Sun suggesting that this site might be best kept as a commemorative site for contemplation as a museum or monument to think about the fight between slave and slave breaker. It could be a site for thinking about racial violence and the nobility against it. The meanings between democracy and despotism.

Turns out that about that same time 15 years ago Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld lived there. He served 4 terms in Congress, served various roles in government. He did stay on site at the Pentagon where he was on 9/11 helping to get others to safety. He was the one who planned for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and subsequent wars and the torture of prisoners. Another mixed legacy.

I understand there are many lands and properties that saw the hostile and cruel treatment of people, but would you live there. Is a house just a house?