Miller-Cory House Museum

Interpreting America’s past 1740-1820

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Facts About theFrazee Building

The Frazee House exhibits such details of 18th Century Construction as hand-hewn beams with pegged mortise and tenon joints, and cedar shingles applied directly to wood strips, enabling the roof to breathe.

It also exhibits a spirit of community cooperation.

The Frazee building is named for John Henry Frazee, a resident of Westfield for 99 years, who, besides being part of the history of the town, had a soft spot in his heart for that history. Originally this building was a corn crib on the property at 1922 Central Avenue, where he spent his later years. He adapted it to serve as a small den "museum" to house his collection of early Westfield artifacts, many of which are in the Miller Cory House today.

Upon John Henry's death, his heirs gave the building to the Miller Cory House Association. The Y's Men's Club of Westfield carefully dismantled three walls of the structure, numbering each piece carefully for exact reassembly. The fourth wall of the building was a fireplace of a later period and therefore wrong for the Miller Cory House.

In keeping with the Museum's educational policy to recreate not only the atmosphere but the activities of everyday colonial life, it was decided to replace the fourth wall with an authentic open hearth fireplace and beehive oven to enable Miller Cory House volunteers to demonstrate 18th Century cooking and other hearthside tasks. The corner cupboard, constructed of 18th century wood by Miller Cory House craftsmen, conceals two concessions to modern living: running water and electricity.

The Westfield Rotary Club contributed $2,500 for the reconstruction of the building. The Miller Cory volunteers used the proceeds from a Historic House tour, gave $2,500 for the construction of the fireplace and oven and an additional $2,000 to equip the building.

It was necessary to assemble 18th Century building materials. Floorboards, base boards and over 300 bricks came from the Dunn House, circa 1715, in Piscataway. Mr. Charles Detwiller, Miller-Cory's architectural consultant, contributed a massive lintel from the house, circa 1720, on Woodbrook Farms in Edison, NJ. The crane and measured drawings of an authentic 18th Century fireplace were constructed by his son, Mr. Frederick C. Detwiller. Additional bricks were obtained from the Vail House, which was dismantled by the Greenbrook Baptist Church. Wood from this house was used to complete the loft floor and to construct the table in the Frazee Building.

It also was necessary to use some modern materials. We are indebted to a number of local building supply companies for materials and to many people in the building trades for their services. We called on Miller-Cory volunteers to reproduce specialized items such as the over door, the new hand-hewn peand the window latches.

From the first dismantling to the final painting, the efforts of hundreds of volunteers of every age and inclination were unified. This has been truly a community effort!