Archive for December, 2011

Happy Friday, Readers. Today’s fantasy isn’t a house but a house of Worship. It’s Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, and it is the oldest synagogue in America (building wise, anyway). I know, I am a bit late for Hanukkah, so please forgive me.  I had intended to post this last week,  but Ash and I had a change of plans for the holidays so this post got a bit delayed.

The Picture below is the exterior of Touro from the website Panaramio (by Dana Jensen)

Touro has a great website  and you can find it here. It also has a fascinating history.  In 1658, a group of 15 Jewish families came to Newport (from Spain) after they heard about the religious freedoms that Roger Williams proposed for the new colony of Rhode Island. They started a community there that grew for over 100 years, and in 1758, they colony adopted a spiritual leader named Isaac Touro, who was a Dutch Jew. The following year, they the congregation purchased land and hired well-known architect Peter Harrison to design their synagogue, which was finished in 1763. When the British occupied Newport in 1776, they commandeered Touro Synagogue for use as a hospital, which essentially saved the building from being burned or ransacked like so many others in the city.

After the British were defeated, the synagogue was used as a meeting place for the Rhode Island General Assembly and the Supreme Court. In 1790, Touro was mentioned by Washington in a letter telling the Newport Congregation that this new Nation would  “give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

Touro survives to this day as an active house of worship.

The amazing interior shot of Touro below comes from Stevens.edu, The older image is from Offbeat Travel and the last image is an historic postcard view from the National Museum of American Jewish History’s Jewish postcard exhibition.

Touro Synagogue: Newport, RI

You all know how much I encourage you to visit Newport, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but when you do go MAKE SURE you go to Touro. It’s breathtaking!

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!



Read Full Post »

Hey Readers, a co-worker of mine came across this Preservationist Gosling site on Tumbler and I just had to share it with you all.  Click here to experience the sultry ways of Ryan Gosling as he both enchants and educates you with Preservation!

I’ve added a photo and caption example below just for fun!

Hey girl, I’m really digging this sash, but it’d be more appropriate if it was a 2 over 1.


Hey girl, you want to re-glaze this with me? I’ve got some spare glazing points in my tool belt.



Edit: I just found out that we have the students in the HP program at U Penn to thank for this awesomeness! Thanks ladies and gents!

Read Full Post »

Happy Friday Readers! I continue to be in the Christmas Spirit, so this week’s fantasy will again be a festive one filled with Yuletide cheer. But don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten my Jewish friends! I have a special Hanukkah treat coming sometime next week!

Today’s Fantasy is the Victoria Mansion, also known as the Morse-Libby House, in Portland, Maine.  I got my pictures from a blog called Cindy’s Photo Quest  and her work is AMAZING, so you should all go check it out right after you finish reading this! She is a professional photographer and her site offers a lot of images for sale so you just might find a Christmas gift for someone special while you are there, like say the picture of the stairs  at Portland Head Light (hint hint, Ash). I really can’t say enough about her work!

The construction of the Morse-Libby house began in 1858 and continued for two years. It was built for Ruggles Sylvester Morse, a Maine native who made a fortune operating hotels in New Orleans. Morse died in 1898 and his wife then sold the home to J.R. Libby. Luckily, the Libby family maintained the house in much the same state they found it in, which is what makes Victoria Mansion so special… its interior is truly breath-taking, so unaltered that you feel that women in bustled skirts and men in morning suits and top hats are waiting to greet you in the drawing room, much that same way that reading the Great Gatsby takes you to the Roaring Twenties.

The house suffered some damage in the Hurricane of 1938, which led to the decision  to demolish the house to make way for a gas station (Such a Preservation cliche but the truth in this case). Fortunately for everyone who loves history and communities with some character, Dr. William H. Homes stepped in and bought the home, which he proceeded to open to the public as a museum to honor Queen Victoria. Later, the Society of Maine Women of Achievement took over operation of the museum, and they continue to run things to this day, under the auspices of the Victoria Mansion, Inc., a non-profit group. The museum’s website is VERY detailed and it can be found here.

Now, without further ado: The Victoria Mansion!

Edit:  The Victoria Mansion graciously alerted me to some pictures of this years Christmas displays so I am am adding them here. The photos are from the mansions facebook page and are by Gregory P. Sundik

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Victorian Christmas Splendor! I think I know where Ash and I will head this weekend while we visit my family! Have a great weekend!


Read Full Post »

Happy Friday readers. I’m feeling particularly Christmas-y this year!  In honor, today’s Friday Fantasy is the Hotel-de-glace in Quebec, Canada. It’s a hotel made entirely of ice and snow. I know this building isn’t a house, nor is it old, but the form is an old one and I think this it’s just too neat not to mention!

First built in 2001, it was the first ice hotel in North America. Due to the fluctuation of air temperatures accompanying the changing of the seasons, the ice hotel melts every spring, only to be rebuilt bigger and better the next year.  The original incarnation had 22 bedrooms when it was opened, while subsequent versions have grown each year to the present 85-bed accommodation. The hotel is built within a metal frame and takes more than 60 workers over a month and a half to build it.

The hotel not only houses guest rooms, but also has a chapel, a club (with an awesome slide) and a cafe.  The beds are made of ice, but are covered with deer skins and mattresses, with sub-zero sleeping bags to cuddle up inside when you’re ready to call it a night.  Don’t worry about sitting on a chilly commode, though.  There are separate heated bathrooms with all of the conveniences the modern traveler has come to expect located in another structure.  This grand hotel-castle is generally made up of countless arches (although it varies from season to season), and is reminiscent of the massive stone edifices of medieval Europe.

The Hotel-de-glace is a huge tourist destination for Quebec, so if you’re in the area around New Year’s, make sure you stop-by and enjoy a tour and a warm drink at this winter wonderland!

Photos below from style-designer, my motels and Wikipedia.

Well, I think this calls for some hot chocolate!

Have a great weekend!


Read Full Post »

I saw this Italianate house with its great paintjob in Wells, Maine this weekend.  Now, if you live in an historic district that controls paint colors this would be a no-go for sure, but I say paint is reversible, so have fun! What better advertisement for a seaside B&B could you have than ‘stop at the wave’?

Happy Monday!


Read Full Post »

Happy Friday readers. It’s getting into the Holiday season, which officially starts for me, not with the masses of shoppers on Black Friday, but at the annul Christmas Prelude celebration in my home town of Kennebunkport, Maine. Kennebunkport is the #2 Christmas town in America according to HGTV’s Christmas Towns special… it is second only to North Pole, Alaska.  I guess we’ll let Santa have this one, but Prelude is still #1 in my heart.  Growing up, my Elementary School choir would sing at the lighting of the Christmas tree (topped with a lobster holding a star, NO JOKE!).  This was exciting to me because we’d always be on the Today show the next day!  As I got older, my High School’s chamber choir would stroll the streets singing carols all afternoon and lead crowds of tourists on a carol walk to the near-by Franciscan monastery for an outdoor church service.

During the mornings of Christmas Prelude, however, I would spend my time at the Nott House, an 1853 Greek Revival House at the head of the intersection of Spring and Maine Streets.  This Temple front Greek Revival home is owned by the Kennebunkport Historical Society today, but it was originally built for the wealthiest man in town and then passed through the family until it was left to the Historical Society in 1983 by a descendant.

The Nott House is where I first fell in love with Preservation. When I was younger (middle school aged), I would get into costume and give first-person narratives from the perspective of people associated with the house.  Some of my classmates and I were even in the newspaper for this a few times, dressed in our Victorian garb.  As I got older and learned more of the history of the house, its furnishings and its occupants, I would give guided tours of the home, and even talk a little bit about the architecture of the home and the small additions the family made through the years (like the 2 story conservatory on the side of the home filled with windows).

The best part about the Nott House is how intact it is. It’s a veritable time capsule, with only the kitchen and bathrooms updated in the 1950s, but the rest of the house unchanged since the 1880s, right down to the hand-rolled French wallpaper in the stair hall and the heavy Grand Rapids furniture that was taken apart to fit through the small doorways and reassembled inside the rooms where each piece remains.

Christmas Prelude is something everyone should experience. I hope you might be able to make a trip this year, but if not, you can check out this clip!

Have a great weekend and Happy Prelude.


Read Full Post »