The Knox Museum is a replication of the original mansion built by Henry Knox in 1796. His estate in Thomaston, Maine was called "Montpelier" and the beautiful mansion was the heart of the property. Unfortunately, the original structure was demolished in the 1870s after years of abandonment, in order to make way for a railroad passing through the town. The current structure was built using old photographs, plans, and stories about the original home; its specs and details are amazingly close to those of Knox’s own mansion. The museum is open for public tours during the summer months.
Backstory and Context
General Henry Knox built his mansion, a farmhouse and several other buildings when he retired to this estate after years of service in the Revolutionary forces at the command of General George Washington. When Washington became President of the United States, he had appointed Knox as his first Secretary of War. Knox retired in 1796 to attend to his growing family. He moved them to Thomaston, Maine and built this estate. Knox’s wife, Lucy Flucker, was a member of the noted Waldo family, so he was able to inherit this large tract of land in Thomaston through the Waldo Patent . He called the estate “Montpelier.”
The home was designed by Ebenezer Dunton of Boston. The architecture is Federal-style with a symmetrical façade and columnns in the front. The only building still standing from the original group of structures is the former farmhouse (a home for the tenant farmers and other workers on the property) that houses the Thomaston Historical Society. After the last family member died in 1854 (Knox’s daughter, Lucy Thatcher), the property stood abandoned for several years. Knox’s beautiful home was razed to make way for the new railroad in 1871. The farmhouse was converted into Thomaston’s railroad station.
In 1929, General Knox’s celebrated mansion was reconstructed by the Knox Memorial Association. They didn’t have the plans left over from the original building, so they built the home the best they could using Knox’s correspondence to the architect Mr. Dunton, diary entries from the home’s guests, and old memories from surviving visitors. Some of the Knox family relics were willed to the museum by Knox’s great-great-grandson, Henry Thatcher Fowler. Other members of the community returned items to the mansion that their families had purchased when the home’s last resident passed away in 1854.
The Knox mansion, albeit a recreation, is part of the Thomaston Historic District. The historic district, which includes several homes and commercial buildings, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Knox’s mansion stands as a living memorial to the General and is filled with many of the beautiful things that he purchased with his fortune throughout his lifetime.
One of the photographs shown above depicts a display of paintings in one of the hallways at the museum. From left to right are Lucy Flucker Knox Thatcher, Marcus Camillus Knox, and James Keadie Swan. Lucy Flucker Knox Thatcher was the the oldest child of Henry and Lucy Knox. She was also the last family member to live in the home before it was abandoned and eventually demolished. Swan was the first husband of Caroline Knox.
The Knox Museum is open for tours during the summer months – from the end of May to the beginning of September – on Tuesdays-Fridays from 10:00AM to 4:00PM and on Saturdays from 10:00AM to 1:00PM. The hours wind down during September to the beginning of October, opening only on Fridays from 10:00AM to 4:00PM and on Saturdays from 10:00AM to 1:00PM. Tours of the home usually last about 45 minutes.
 The Waldo Patent was a land claim granted to Samuel Waldo, a wealthy Boston merchant who was instrumental in getting midcoast Maine under Massachusetts’ control and eventually settled by European immigrants. His heirs, including Knox and his wife Lucy, inherited portions of the land after his death.
Visit Knox Museum. Knox Museum. Accessed December 30, 2017. http://knoxmuseum.org/visit/.
Montpelier, The General Henry Knox Museum. Maine Memory Network. Accessed December 30, 2017. http://knoxmuseum.mainememory.net/page/2581/detail/9903/display.html.
Knox Mansion, Thomaston, Me. Penobscot Marine Museum. Accessed December 31, 2017. https://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/PMM-Reader/knox-mansion-thomaston-me/.
History of the Society's Building. Thomaston Historical Society. Accessed December 10, 2017. http://www.thomastonhistoricalsociety.com/FarmHouse.html.
History Valley Forge. Who Served Here? General Henry Knox. Accessed December 10, 2017. http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/knox.html.
The Waldo Patent. Penobscot Marine Museum. Accessed December 30, 2017. https://www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org/pbho-1/our-maine-ancestors/waldo-patent.