Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Historic New England
Oh, I’ve had such a wonderful day! I took a day off work to meet a college friend who lives in New Hampshire. We chose a spot on the Maine-N.H. border – South Berwick to be exact.
Historic New England (formerly known as The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) has 3 properties in South Berwick, but only one was open today: The Hamilton House. So that’s where we met, and took the tour, before having lunch (an amazing lunch) at the Pepperland Café. This fabulous restaurant is across the street from another Historic New England property, the Sarah Orne Jewett House. Do you know the name? I know it, but I don’t know if one would if one hadn’t read Country of the Pointed Firs for their New England Literature class (sprinkled in with Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson and Frost).
On the tour, guests are not permitted to take photos inside the house. But, oh did I have an itchy shutter-release finger. The house, built in 1785-6, was home for Hamiltons, then Goodwins, before being bought and restored by the Tyson ladies of Boston. They must have had significant resources at their disposal, and worked hard to restore it to the grandeur of its early 19th-century life. They added gardens and used the house as a summer home, wintering in Boston, and ultimately leaving the house and garden and much of the furnishings to the Society, I think they said in the 1940’s. Do see the photos of the interior on the website.
We strolled in the garden before and after the tour, enjoying balmy breezes off the Salmon Falls River.
So, I’ll share with you some shots of the lovely gardens. In the picture below, I have my back to the house, and you can see a little cottage. Apparently, this was situated in N.H., and was to be demolished. But the Tyson ladies had it moved. This garden area used to be the location of a decrepit barn, which they obviously removed. By placing the cottage among the gardens, they had a little place for seclusion, or for entertaining. Currently, the docents have some office space in there, and they begin the tour there.
The cottage has a little garden all its own. (And I didn’t adjust the color on these morning glories!!)
Apparently, it was a common practice to use a millstone as a paver in gardens, and the Tysons collected no less than 14 for their gardens. I photographed many of them, but I’ll spare you.
You probably recognize the pineapple as a colonial symbol of hospitality. I read (I think on the Colonial Williamsburg website), that when a sea captain came home from exotic places, a pineapple was displayed prominently (perhaps on the gate, or above the front door?) to indicate that he was receiving callers.
This fountain is marble, and a treasured piece, and is replicated on a painted mural in the sitting room overlooking this garden. (oops, I just realized I uploaded this photo twice, but it’s so pretty, I’ll leave it.)
There were some lovely cherubs cavorting here and there, see them hold up the bird bath?
One feature of Georgian architecture is Palladian windows. This one in the door below was installed in the little garden cottage to echo those in the main house. There was a much larger one opposite it, which I wish I had photographed, but it was in shadow. You could see that both were entirely the original glass, completely with ripples, bubbles and wavy distortion. I was hoping that would show in the pic, but it doesn’t.
Just a striking bouquet, even in shadow, in front of the large Palladian window that I didn’t get a picture of.
So sweet, I wish I had taken close-up pictures of the facial expression.
Just a gratuitous view of an old New England barn, where one of the 3 full-time gardeners has just finished mowing.
After my visit with my friend, I drove and drove all around the hilly farmland, enjoying rustic pastoral views at every turn. Farmers’ Markets, antique shops, and PYO (pick-your-own) apple orchards. In all my years here, I have never picked apples. Everybody always asks: “Have you picked your apples yet?” And for years, I would shrink guiltily, and say vaguely, “No, not yet…”, and silently wonder if I should feel ashamed of not harvesting the bounty allotted to me. I’ve since gotten over it.