14 June 2010

"Un Petit Vacance" in New England

We Californians visit New England with the excitement and fervor usually reserved for old European cities. We are thrilled to see a welcome sign on a house stating its origins as 1726, or to visit an Observatory (how quaint!) built in 1805, or the town limits sign saying "Founded in 1629". And don't even get me started on those Witches Houses in Salem..:)

compass ceiling of the Portland Observatory
where my great (7th) grandfather mounted
his telescope in 1805

the Portland Observatory, built in 1805 by my ancestor,
Capt. Lemuel Moody, a sea captain who had been
captured by French pirates in the Caribbean and
imprisoned on St. Kitts!

In Portland, Maine, we were drawn to the highest point, Munjoy Hill, to climb the 65 ft. tall Portland Observatory, built by my great-to-the-7th-power grandfather, Captain Lemuel Moody, as a way to launch the communications system he devised to alert the merchants below that their sea cargo was about to arrive. After soaking up the views, we wandered the waterfront and found wonderful artful things for the home at Foundry Lane.

Where Capt. Moody sat and looked at the
sea, waiting to spot incoming oceangoing vessels
and raise the signal flags to the wharfs below

the spiraling stairway and the cubbyholes
where Capt. Moody stored the signal flags in


We found that early June is the perfect time to visit Marblehead, Massachusetts. We stayed for a few days at the old Boston Yacht Club there, falling asleep at night to the clinking of the rigging on the 1,000 sailboats moored in the harbor below.

On Memorial Day, we were lucky enough tag along behind the fife and drum corps as they marched through the streets on their way to the sea. At the edge of the bay, lots of saluting and speeches were given, wreaths and flowers were thrown into the ocean, then the musketball rifles were hoisted to shoulders and three separate rounds shot out to sea to honor our military dead. It was quite moving, and when the local high school band struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner" it did bring tears to my eyes.

flag and bugle in the local museum in
Marblehead, Massachusetts

the venerable old Boston Yacht Club where
we stayed a few nights

the early morning view upon awakening in our room!

history in flags of the BYC, founded 1846

the way to the coffee shop for morning blueberry pancakes

we wished we had thought of one of these for getting
up and down those hills!

art deco sailing trophy cup on display at the BYC

our "spit & polish" deck for enjoying coffee in the morning
and drinks at sunset at the BYC

early metal chandelier in the museum
at Marblehead...I love it's spare and lively look!

there were a few of these "de rigeur" paintings of
schooners and vessels at the BYC

charming display of Americana at the
museum in Marblehead


the fife and drum corps took their job very seriously;
those musketball rifles actually work!

a picnic site waiting for the weather to warm up
just a bit from the early June chill

some people cannot visit this part
of the world without devouring
one of these red guys!


In Salem, we visited the home of one of the judges who sentenced those unfortunate young women as witches in those dark and scary years around 1623 in this little outpost village. The house was surprisingly..modern..with its lean and spare aesthetic, worn bare wood floors, simple and elegant furnishings, four-poster bed, and high ceilings.

this tall, clapboard house stained nearly black
was the home of a judge in the Salem witch trials
in the 17th century

architectural detail for 17th century
Salem, Massachusetts house

old village map, Salem and environs

found in the 17th century Salem house,
this intriguing vase would be right
at home in our modern times

a simple vignette includes dough bowl and pewter platter
from the 17th century

this wonderful French wallpaper was found in the 17th century
Salem house and could still work in contemporary settings

who today doesn't love the canopied four-poster bed?

I love these 17th century exterior windows in Salem



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  1. j'adore la nouvelle Angleterre,notamment l'ile de Nantucket.

    Bonne journée


  2. Bonsoir Manon, merci pour la visite! Moi aussi, j'adore la nouvelle Angleterre..en ete!!

    a la prochaine..je vous visitera a demain..

    bonne nuit


  3. Hello Kit.... such a beautiful post! I know what you mean about history and anything pre 1800's is big for us too here in Australia! We were only discovered in 1770! I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

  4. My first house was outside of Boston in Marshfield and built in 1668.... I loved restoring this house, and spent a lot of time visiting museum houses, reading books about life in that period. My husband family members all live in historical houses, their ancestor having been on the original Mayflower. Coming from a 12th century village in France, at first i tended to under estimate the plight of the original pilgrims, but this was after all a brand new world... I truly enjoyed reading your post.

  5. Hi Kit, that looks like a fantastic break, history, architecture and some beautiful pictures. It's funny how being in Europe means we simply take even something like 11th or 12th century history and architecture for granted not to mention even older bits... Makes me think. Thanks for a lovely post. Love from London x

  6. Hi Kit, I am appreciating history more and more the older I get. Fabulous architecture is the backbone of who we are. Lovely, informative post. Thanks. Mona

  7. HI Frances, so good to hear from you! I've been away so much, I've missed the regular contact!

    Australia is incredibly young; I honestly hadn't realized just how! to think my great-to-the-7th grandfather was sailing around the Caribbean and the Atlantic then is kind of incredible perspective.

    I'd love to visit Australia and New Zealand one of these days..

    hope all is well..you are going into winter now?



  8. Looks like you have been having a fabulous time. I love that silver sailing trophy! Thanks for showing us around.


  9. Wonderful post and so much you shared. Thank you!
    I know what you mean re. 'history' - I miss that a lot living in Sydney now. As you know I am from Sweden and we have a lot of tangible history there. Lovely art, architecture, design, fashion and generally lots of wonderful traditions that we honour and celebrate. I love that aspect of cultural heritage.

    x Charlotta


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