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Archive for the ‘New Hampshire’ Category

Saint-Gaudens

Other than that portion of the Appalachian Trail which runs through the state, New Hampshire’s only national park site is the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. Located in Cornish, just across the Connecticut River from Windsor, Vermont, the site comprises the home, studio and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, probably the preeminent American sculptor of the late 19th century. Thanks to the presence of Saint-Gaudens, a summer art colony flourished in the Cornish area from the 1890’s until after the end of World War I, attracting many famous artists and sculptors as well as literary icons and politicians, including the odd President. (Wilson was very odd.)

Our visit was somewhat hampered by on-and-off rain, wind, and the chill factor. Other than the small gift shop, the indoor spaces felt unheated. Touring the house was not offered as an option, possibly because of a group of elementary school students on a field trip. Listening to kids individually react to the sculptures and overhearing a couple of docent-led discussions with the group was the best part.

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hishouse2(Photos of some of Saint-Gauden’s work on display below the fold)

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After waking to a windy, very much colder morning with rain expected throughout the day, we scrapped our original plan for a leisurely drive through New Hampshire’s Monadnock region to Harrisville. We decided to head north along the Connecticut River to Windsor, as there were a couple of museums in that area that sounded interesting, dry and warm. (We were right about them being interesting, half-right about them being dry, and 100% wrong about them being warm.)

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Until completion of Ohio’s Smolen-Gulf Bridge in 2008, the 449′-long Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge spanning the Connecticut River since 1866 was the longest such bridge in the United States. Despite being widely referred to as a Vermont covered bridge due to it’s proximity to Windsor, it is actually entirely within the state of New Hampshire.

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The Vermont Republic was created at the Old Constitution House on July 8, 1777. Vermont’s constitution was the first in the Americas to ban slavery and indentured servitude, provide universal suffrage for adult men, and require free public education for all citizens, both male and female.

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Lebanon & Hanover

While we were staying in White Water Junction, we crossed the Connecticut River to Lebanon, New Hampshire one evening for dinner. Lebanon has the largest village village green we’ve seen with delightful federal-style homes and buildings fronting onto it.

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On the way back to our hotel, I missed the turn-off and we ended up in Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College. Even in the dark of night, it was quickly obvious that this town was unlike the others we’d passed through the past week: it was vibrant, the buildings well cared for, and affluent. We went back the next morning and drove/walked around a bit before heading on to Woodstock and then south to Brattleboro.

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After reviewing our itinerary, we opted to make some changes. We decided to visit the Shaker village in Canterbury, New Hampshire instead of the one near Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the GPS took us down what I think of as fast Model A roads, rather than an interstate.

According to wikipedia:

Canterbury Shaker Village, is a historic site and museum in Canterbury, New Hampshire. It was one of a number of Shaker communities founded in the 1800s.

It is one of the most intact and authentic surviving Shaker community sites, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993.[2][3]

The site is operated by a non-profit organization established in 1969 to preserve the heritage of the Canterbury Shakers. Canterbury Shaker Village is an internationally-known, non-profit museum and historic site with 25 original Shaker buildings, four reconstructed Shaker buildings and 694 acres (2.81 km2) of forests, fields, gardens and mill ponds under permanent conservation easement. Canterbury Shaker Village “is dedicated to preserving the 200-year legacy of the Canterbury Shakers and to providing a place for learning, reflection and renewal of the human spirit.”[2]

Visitors learn about the life, ideals, values and legacy of the Canterbury Shakers through tours, programs, exhibits, research and publications. Village staff, largely volunteer, conduct tours and its restaurant serves traditional Shaker lunches and dinners spring, summer and fall.

As we were there early, we enjoyed a highly personalized tours of the dormitory and some of the workshops manned by volunteers. No photography was permitted inside the buildings.

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The dormitory had separate staircases for men and women

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Workshop buildings

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All that remains of the massive 250’x 125′ cow barn are parts of the foundation. It burned down in the ’60’s.

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Those pillars supporting the carriage shed are made of solid granite

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Obama Slept Here

As already noted somewhere below, we stayed at the Hampton Inn in Littleton, New Hampshire. During the 2008 primary campaign, then Senator Obama stayed there twice. The framed photo proving he stayed there did remind me of all those places that like to claim “George Washington slept here.” The staff were especially friendly and well-informed, with great ideas about places to go not just in this area but later in our trip as well.

Littleton itself doesn’t appear to be particularly remarkable, but the downtown association does a great job of making it interesting to the casual tourist. Their walking guide detailing the history behind various buildings and monuments in town brought the otherwise mundane to life. One side of the main street literally hangs on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River, yet for the most part the town seems to ignore the river. We had a delightful dinner at Bailiwicks in the basement of Thayer’s Inn. (Thayer’s was established in 1843. While the exterior and lobby looked somewhat run-down, the rooms are said to be beautiful.) The main street and sidewalks were being completely re-done while we were in Littleton. We were told that the project was held up for some time when digging in the main street unearthed a forgotten bowling alley underneath the street.

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The mess caused by road & sidewalk construction is visible here. For some time, blacktop was laid every Thursday night and then taken up every Sunday night to accomodate weekend tourist traffic.

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The combination U.S. Court House & Post Office is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings

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The white building is the Town Hall & Opera House

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The original grist mill on the river bank has been restored and is operational

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The Ammonoosuc River just below the main street

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The Littleton Diner in a parlor car of one type or another since 1928

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Chutters candy store, a Littleton fixture since the mid-1800’s

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According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Chutters has the longest candy counter in the world.

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Center Sandwich

Center Sandwich is a small village on the northern edge of the New Hampshire lake district. There really isn’t any particular reason to go to Center Sandwich, but we did enjoy a delightful lunch at the rambling Corner House Inn. It looks like most of the businesses in Center Sandwich were abandoned years ago, with only the restaurant, a coffee house, and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen store still open. There were some very nice pieces available in the crafts store. (The history of the league is worth reading about – it dates from the depression era – click on the link for a short version.)

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The coffee house is in the building at left

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The Corner House Inn

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The general store looks like it was abandoned a decade or more ago

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There were some well-maintained homes like this one in the village

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That was one mammoth maple tree. Wonder how old it is.

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This is a side view of the tree in the first photo above.

(A reminder that not everything is as it first appears to be?)

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Chocorua Lake

Heading south from the picturesque Kancamagus Highway, we weren’t too sure what we’d see along the White Mountains Highway (SR-16) before reaching our ultimate destination for that day, Center Sandwich. Placid Chocorua Lake was a delightful surprise.

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Thanks to a triangular summit, Mount Chocorua in the distance is sometimes called the Matterhorn of the White Mountains

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The colors in all of the photos above are incredibly vibrant in their original versions, and look the same in editing mode, but once published seem washed out and almost not worth leaving up. Oh well.

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