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Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Happy Friday readers! As some of you may know, Ash and I went to grad school in Vermont. (We got our Master’s in Historic Preservation there, in addition to our undergraduate degrees in preservation from a school in Rhode Island) To celebrate Ash’s upcoming birthday (it’s a big one), we decided to go back to Vermont for a little trip and revisit some of the places that we used to love in Vermont. With that in mind, and due to the fact that I will not be around next Friday to post, today’s fantasy is  a Vermont treasure: the Justin Smith Morrill Homestead (Vermont’s first National Historic Landmark).

The Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Vermont is a Downingesque Cottage with Carpenter Gothic trim (see this post on Downing for a refresher). Justin Smith Morrill was born and raised in Strafford, where he attended school until the age of 15 (so around 1870).  After that time, he was removed from school to help his family earn a living. Morrill wanted to attend college but didn’t have the means, so he taught himself in fields that interested him, including architecture. It was this love of learning that led him to become a senator and sponsor the 1862 and 1890 Land Grant Acts that established Land Grant colleges for students who wouldn’t otherwise have the means to go.

The Morrill homestead just went through a big restoration. If you are in Vermont anytime you should check it out!

Have a great weekend!

-Etta

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Hey readers! As summer starts to wind down, Ash and I finally have some time to breathe, so I thought that I would share an amazing piece of architecture from Ash’s home State of New Hampshire with you. We have spent a lot of this summer traveling around our beloved New England and if you take a trip to New England any time soon, today’s Fantasy is one you shouldn’t miss!

Today’s Fantasy is Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. When it was built in 1913-1914, the manse was originally named Lucknow, but people have been calling it Castle in the Clouds since it opened to the public in 1959. Castle in the Clouds is a great example of the Arts and Crafts style, which is all about craftsmanship and a departure from the gaudily ornate Victorian architecture that dominated the last quarter of the 19th century (for more on this read the post on the Gamble House). Castle in the Clouds (Lucknow) was built for Thomas and Olive Plant, who were newly married. Thomas Plant made a fortune from the sale of his shoe manufacturing company to the United Shoe Manufacturing Company and retired to plan a country estate. To accomplish this, he bought over 6,000 acres spanning from the Ossipee Mountains to Lake Winnipesaukee, including the land known as the Ossipee Mountain Park .  One of the amazing things about Castle in the Clouds is that Mr. Plant not only had this house built, but he also built a pretty extensive network of roads around the estate that allowed the Plants and visitors to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounded them; including a series of waterfalls that feed into near-by Shannon Pond.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression hit the Plants, who tried to cut their losses by selling Castle in the Clouds.  Despite their financial duress, they still wanted to be good stewards of the estate they created, so when no buyer was found, they continued to live there until 1941 when Mr. Plant died. Only then was Castle in the Clouds sold.  Since then, it has undergone relatively few changes and today it is run by the Castle Preservation Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining this treasure! They have a website, with great pictures and a virtual tour in case you can’t make it to New Hampshire anytime soon (the photos below are from the Castle in the Clouds website).

I think this shot best illustrates why it is called Castle in the Clouds…. but now I’ll have Les Miserables stuck in my head ALL day…..

An up close view that really emphasizes Arts and Crafts principles.

Can you beat this view? Or the Art Glass panels, for that matter?

What a lovely living room… it almost seems cozy despite its size

One of the many natural features that Plant planned the property around.

Well, that’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed your quick trip to Ash’s home state.

Have a great weekend

-Etta

P.S.  A special thanks to my friend Peter who recently had a work project here and reminded me of how great Castle in the Clouds is. I think it made a great Fantasy.

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TGIF Readers! I feel like this is Friday #2 this week, with the holiday on Wednesday. Speaking of the 4th of July, since I am still coming down from my post-fireworks euphoria, I have decided to theme today’s Fantasy in honor of our recently passed holiday. As you may know (or may not, as I do have some foreign readers), Independence Day (often better-known as the 4th of July, for the date the holiday falls on) is an American Holiday in which the citizenry celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, by which the Founding Fathers of our nation stated that America was its own country and should be free of British rule. This act of treason led to war between Britain and the American colonies, which eventually led to the creation of the country we know today… and it all began on July 4, 1776 (granted, that’s the thumbnail sketch of the founding of the United States, as there were many acts of rebellion that led up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War, not to mention some confusion among when the Declaration was actually signed, but to avoid writing a book that’s been written several times over, I’ll leave us with the understanding that the holiday is on July 4th and we’re celebrating America).

Today, the 4th of July represents patriotism and love of country, both of which I can wholeheartedly support.  In honor of those sentiments, today’s Fantasy is tied to one of America’s most beloved Presidents: Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was America’s 16th President, responsible for leading the Union through the Civil War, writing the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, and he was also assassinated.  What many people don’t know about President Lincoln is that, although he loved the White House, he actually dearly loved another house in Washington, DC, more. This other  house was a seasonal retreat for Presidents.  It was (and still is) a cottage on the grounds of what was known as the Soldiers Home (Now known as the armed forces retirement home).

(Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Photo, by way of wikipedia)

The Cottage was built in 1842 for George Washington Riggs (who later went on to found Riggs National Bank… Yeah, I’ve never heard of that bank either, but the guy had enough money to found a bank, so there you go….) in the fashionable Gothic Revival style. However, it did not remain a private home for very long, as President Lincoln had taken up residence there by the summer of 1862. It is even said he wrote preliminary drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation in the cottage. (Photo from lincolncottage.org and Armed Forces Retirement Home)

The cottage underwent a major restoration beginning in 2005, and opened to the public for the first time in 2008.  The site was declared a National Monument by President Clinton in 2000, as well as a being included in the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark.   Today is is maintained and run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (Photo from National Geographic)

Hope you enjoyed this look at President Lincoln’s Cottage. If you are in Washington, D.C., you should check it out. If you won’t be in the D.C. area anytime soon, you can visit the Cottage Website here.

Have a great weekend!

-Etta

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Hello Readers,

Just wanted to share a couple of pictures that Ash took on a recent work trip to the Berkshires.

First we have the War Memorial on Mt. Greylock, Then the Bascom Lodge, and lastly the South East view over Adams Massachusetts from Mt. Greylock.

The Bascom Lodge was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. To replace the previous lodge which had burnt. It is made of locally sourced timber and stone.

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Good day readers and sorry for the long absence.  Are any of you as obsessed with Downton Abbey as I am? I started watching it from the very beginning, after years of being a quiet Masterpiece Theater fan, but then it just exploded this season! People are having Downton parties, dressing in 1910s fashion to hold discussion groups and mention of it has been on everyone’s lips wherever you go, so I thought that I would hop on the Downton train and give you guys the scoop on the Estate that we all know and love (though, if you haven’t watched the show yet, I forgive you). I now present to you the real-life Downtown: Highclere Castle.

Highclere Castle, like many homes belonging to English Gentry, sits on the site of a medieval palace (funny how that often seems to happen).  The earlier edifice was the residence of the Bishops of Winchester, later passing to the Carnarvon family in 1679, who have owned it since (and if you know anything about Egyptology, yes THAT Carnarvon). The house as we see it today, if one can really call it a house, was created in the 1840s. It was designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect for the English House of Parliament. He called the house “Anglo-Italian” because he felt that it represented a melding of English and Renaissance architecture, but today we just call it Jacobethan, and it represents a style that represents a hybrid of Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture, incorporating both Renaissance Revival and 16th century English elements.

The grounds and gardens actually predate this current iteration of the house.  They  were designed by one of my all-time favorite landscape architects, Capability Brown (no offense, Fredrick Law Olmsted, you’re still my favorite American landscape architect).  Though his name wasn’t really Capability.  His given name was actually Lancelot and he was just known as Capability… but still, either one is pretty awesome, you must agree! Capability Brown was the landscape architect to have if you were in the market to build an estate. He actually relocated the village to design the grounds of Highclere, you can still see the remains of the 1689 church at the Southwest corner of the manor.

Now on to the photos, which are from Wikipedia and a blog called Friday flowers.

Well I hope you enjoyed your tour of the real Downton Abbey. A fun bit of trivia for any British TV fans out there, Highclere also served as “Totleigh Towers” the home of the Bassetts in Jeeves and Wooster, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

Have a great weekend and enjoy Downton on PBS on Sunday.

-Etta

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Sorry for the long absence readers. I had a family emergency and then Ash and I went away for my birthday this past weekend.

This really quick post is just to share a picture with you. The pedestrian bridge below is located in Colt State park in Bristol Rhode Island and Ash snapped this pic on his iPhone and I thought it was so picturesque I just had to share.

A new Friday Fantasy coming in a couple days!

Happy Hump day!

-Etta

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Happy New Year Readers! Today’s Fantasy is about The Winchester Mystery House and new beginnings. It’s also kinda creepy, but that’s the way I roll so I hope you enjoy it.

The Winchester Mystery House (a huge Queen Anne Mansion in San Jose, California) is actually not as much of a mystery as it is the sad story of a grieving woman driven insane by an unscrupulous “spiritualist”, who preyed upon her pain and fears. It still makes for an interesting little architectural oddity, as well as presenting a great muse for Stephen King as the basis for the story of Rose Red ( a vampiric house that kept building itself even after its owner died by feeding on psychic energy). Being a Mainer, I love me my Master of Horror! Now onto some background!

Sarah Winchester was the wife of William W. Winchester (ya know, the one that made all the guns). In the early years of her life, Sarah was known as the “Belle of Hartford”, but after she married her life took a sad turn. Sarah gave birth to a daughter who died shortly after she was born, then her husband died of tuberculosis. Both deaths took a significant toll on Sarah, so her friends encouraged her to seek guidance from a medium and spiritualist (spiritualism was all the rage in the late 1800s, after all). So, Sarah went to a medium in Boston and was told that all of the misfortunes in her life were caused by spirits of the people who had died at the hands of men who wielded Winchester guns (naturally, instead of the easily explained high infant mortality rate of the time and the fact the there wasn’t a cure for tuberculosis yet). The medium told Sarah that the Winchester curse might be after her next!  However, there was an alternative to her demise…. If she went west to the setting sun and built a house for the vengeful spirits, then she would live a long life in peace. That’s exactly what she did without delay. Sarah moved to the Santa Clara Valley and purchased an unfinished farm house and began to make additions.  And more and more and more additions.  She continued building for the next 38 years without ceasing (that’s what a 20 million dollar inheritance would get you in the Victorian era), and she left behind what is know as the Winchester Mystery House today.

Why is it called the “Mystery House” you might ask? Well, other than the vast size of the mansion… which the New Englander in me cringes at, but it’s in California so heating it can’t be THAT bad right? The house also has some peculiar spirit confounding features such as staircases that end in walls and doors and windows that lead to nothing (except possibly to your death, if you weren’t careful). And if all those crazy architectural features weren’t enough, it is also said that Sarah slept in a different room every night just to further confound the spirits, lest one try to off her in her sleep.

Now for some pictures!There are some great photos of the quirkiness that is the Winchester Mystery House mine came from(from top to bottom): Wikipedia, Prairieghosts.com, Petticoatsandpistols.com and The Poison Forest.com,

This first photo gives you a good idea of what the house looks like today.

This next image gives you a sense of the overall scale of the house.

This next photo I call the “stairs to no-wheres”

Watch that first step, it’s a killer!

Hope you enjoyed Mrs. Winchesters “new beginning” and this bizarre tour of the Mystery house! For more information check out the Mystery House website. Have a good weekend!

-Etta

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