Lord Timothy Dexter


I just learned about a famous New England eccentric named Lord Timothy Dexter. People like this make me proud to be a Yankee.

Just one of his whimsicalities, from this write-up:

In 1798, Mr. Dexter returned to Newburyport, and August 15th of the same summer he bought the large house on High street that had been erected by Jonathan Jackson in 1771. Its situation is high, and commands an extensive view of the coast and the Isles of Shoals. The grounds were laid out by intelligent landscape gardeners. Everything about the house was in excellent order; but not to his wish. He raised minarets on the roof, and surmounted them with gilt balls. He caused it to assume a gaudiness and cheapness that was most undesirable to a person of taste.

Directly before the front door of the house, on a Roman arch, he erected a figure of Washington in his military garb, and on his left, a figure of Jefferson, and on his right one of Adams, the latter being hatless. On columns erected in the garden were figures of Indian chiefs, generals, philosophers, politicians, statesmen, and goddesses of Fame and Liberty. He changed the name of the statues by the aid of the painter's brush as he pleased. General Morgan was thus transformed into Bonaparte, and to the latter Dexter always touched his, hat. There were more than forty of these figures, including four lions, two couchant, and two passant. These images were of wood, life size, and fairly well carved. The lions were open-mouthed and looked fierce. The figures were made by a young ship carver who had just come to Newburyport, named Joseph Wilson, and were gaudily painted. The images were all in good condition when Dexter died, and the first to fall was an Indian. The remainder stood until the great September gale of 1815, when all but the presidents were cast prostrate upon the earth. The images were sold at auction, the specimen that brought the most money, five dollars, was the goddess of Fame. William Pitt was sold for a dollar, and the "Travelling Preacher," fifty cents. It is said that the arch and figures of the three presidents, all the presidents there had been in Dexter's day, cost at least two thousand dollars, the lions two hundred dollars apiece, and the other images a similar amount.

     Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 18, 2014
     Category: Eccentrics | Landscaping | Eighteenth Century | Nineteenth Century

Oh! Gasp & horror! Why didn't the housing committee do something about this person & allow him to destroy the property value of the whole ar.......

Oh... that's right! This was in an era when everybody had the RIGHT to use their property THE WAY THEY WANTED TO!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 07/18/14 at 09:33 AM
If the Wikipedia writeup is halfway accurate, I'd say that Dexter, even without any formal education, was smarter than most of his social "betters". I find the autobiography description especially funny.
Posted by KDP on 07/18/14 at 09:46 AM
His mansion sounds like the type of place that would be listed on Roadside America, if that guide had existed back in the 1700s. I wish I could time-travel and see his residence in all its statuarial glory.
Posted by A Traveler on 07/18/14 at 12:02 PM
What? No Pink Flamingoes???
Posted by tadchem on 07/18/14 at 03:15 PM
Bless him, he did not have to deal with the HOA Nazis!!
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 07/18/14 at 07:49 PM
I sort of enjoy such art or whatever turns him on. In many of todays gated and cloned proper communities all must be the same to meet community standards. Heck you can't even take a piss in your back yard with out a threat of eviction. Heaven help the couple that decides to have frisky sex in the grass on a pleasant afternoon. Nothing wrong about being a bit weird.
Posted by GatorGuy on 07/18/14 at 09:38 PM
I wonder how a president-loving fellow like him came to style himself "lord". It's a bit royalist, isn't it?

If you want a laugh, try(!) and read his "Pickle For The Knowing Ones". Project Gutenberg has it here: <http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/43453>.
Posted by Richard Bos on 07/19/14 at 06:46 AM
"... he erected a figure of Washington in his military garb, and on his left, a figure of Jefferson, and on his right one of Adams, the latter being hatless."

Hatless. Hatless! Oh the humanity! That such crimes be allowed to go unpunished!
Posted by Sebastian on 07/20/14 at 08:41 PM
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