The Hartness Mansion
story of one man's life, James Hartness (biography), provides insight into
the history of Hartness House, one of America's most unique country
inns. Its worldwide reputation is due in part to the reputation of
its namesake. Its architectural style and its historic background have caused
it to be included in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hartness Observatory
ames Hartness' interest in astronomy and flight adds another dimension to a colorful personality. On the front lawn to the left of our entrance can be seen the Hartness Equatorial Turret Telescope, built in 1910. It was one of the first tracking telescopes in America. In 1908, Hartness began designing his telescope. Hartness designed what is known as a coude (elbow) telescope. In this system, the light is bent 90 degrees to the eyepiece by a prism at the base of the telescope tube. It is this design which allows the observer the comfort of a heated room and puts the telescope tube outside and away from the warm air. John A. Brashear supplied Hartness with the optics for his telescope. The object lens is 10-inches in diameter, magnifies images 600 times and has a 150-inch focal length. To build a tracking telescope, Hartness pointed the middle of his turret (dome) at the North Star, creating a polar axis. The turret rotates along the same angle as the plane of the equator. This east- to-west movement of the turret counteracts the west-to-east rotation of the earth and gives the telescope the illusion of tracking a star; actually, it is the earth which is moving not the star.
Inside the observatory, a one-half horsepower electric motor activates the drive shaft. The drive shaft turns the gears which move the three and one-half ton turret along the equatorial plane. Movement along this plane is called right ascension and is measured in hours of time on a sidereal click. A sidereal day is the length of time it takes a star to return to the same position in the sky.
The telescope tube points, or declinates, north and south of the equator. This enable the observer to focus on any celestial object that can be seen in full on a clear night.
eing an intense man, who disliked interruptions and noise, Hartness decided to build an underground tunnel leading to an apartment and climate controlled workrooms from which to operate the telescope. Today these rooms comprise a museum for the Stellafane Society (formerly the Springfield Telescope Makers, (STM) a group of amateur telescope makers) founded by Russell Porter, a Hartness friend and fellow telescope aficionado. It was Porter and other Springfield men with the encouragement of Hartness, who initiated the creation and construction of the Hale 200-inch telescope on Mt. Palomar. The underground museum is a fitting place to view the 200-inch telescope's conceptual drawings and other mementos of these special men.
James Hartness and Charles Lindbergh
will see artifacts throughout the Inn related to James
Hartness' many activities. In 1914 Hartness was awarded
a pilot's license - in a Wright Biplane. He was one of the
first 100 pilots in
America. As an aviator he became acquainted with Charles
Lindbergh and was instrumental in having Lindbergh land at
airport (now Hartness Airport) in 1927 after his trans-Atlantic
flight. Lindbergh was Hartness' house guest and stayed in
the room now bearing his name.
he house contains not only the memorabilia of a prominent man, a renaissance man and a former Governor, but the memoirs of the family's daily life written by granddaughter Mary Fenn, a copy of which is placed in each guest room. Her imagery makes the past come alive - "The atmosphere exuded a friendly, hospitable warmth - a reflection of the lady of the house."
James Hartness on the
Lindbergh Day Receiving Stand with Charles
James Hartness and Russell Porter
he Stellafane Organization, together with the Hartness House, host the Hartness Russell Porter Amateur Astronomy Museum in James Hartness' former underground work area. The museum occupies 3 rooms in the Hartness underground work area and contains hundreds of exhibits related to amateur astronomy; telescope making; Russell Porter artwork, drawing, and schematics; telescopes from the early-1900's; astronomical lens and mirror making; and photographs of the early 1900's of Springfield and the Hartness House.
Russell Porter shown with a telescope that he made in the 1920's
ussell Porter is featured throughout the museum for his achievements as founder of the Springfield Telescope Makers Association; his expeditions to Mt. McKinley and the North Pole; his artwork and paintings and drawings; his inventions like the Porter Garden Telescope, on display in the museum; and his work on the Hale Observatory on Mount Palomar in California.
The museum also features the Russell Porter drawings he made of the Hale Observatory. Porter's drawings show the cut-away views of the observatory's construction which clearly show its operation.
Oscar Fullam and his 8"Reflector Telescope
he museum contains several excellent examples of amateur telescope making with exhibits of telescopes from 1900's to 1950's. Several of the notable exhibits are shown here.
scar Fullam, shown here circa 1917 - 1920, a member of the Springfield Telescope Making Association, the forerunner of the Stellafane Organization, with an 8" reflector telescope that he constructed almost entirely of wood. The telescope is an excellent example of hand workmanship and is on display in the museum.
Oscar Marshall and his Reflector Telescope
scar Marshall is shown here, circa 1921,
with his 6" reflector telescope that was constructed out of sheet
metal. This telescope is on display is the Museum. Oscar was an early
member of the Springfield Telescope Making Association, the forerunner
of the Stellafane.
Frank Whitney and his Reflector Telescope
rank Whitney , is shown here ,circa 1927, with his 6" reflector telescope that he built with sheet metal. This telescope is on display is the Museum.
Frank was one of the early members of the Springfield Telescope Making Association, the forerunner of the Stellafane Organization.
The museum contains several of Frank's telescopes and telescope making kits and equipment.
Vermont Historical Museum - Hartness-Porter Astronomy Museum at the Hartness House
The Hartness House is home to the James Hartness-Russell Porter Amateur Astronomy Museum in cooperation with Stellafane featuring important amateur astronomy works and telescopes, and the antique 1910 Hartness Equatorial Tracking Telescope and Observatory. Stellafane's Virtual Museum of the James Hartness-Russell Porter Amateur Astronomy Museum collection at the Hartness House can be viewed here. Many historic astronomy exhibits and works of arts are housed here.
In addition, the Hartness House offers a unique underground museum and an antique 1910 Brashear telescope and observatory. Museum tours can be arranged by appointment. The museum collection offers interesting exhibits including Hale Observatory in Mount Palomar drawings, Porter Garden Telescope, Hartness sundial, 1917 Fullam 10" reflector telescope, and photographs of the early Hartness House.