I needed a break; well after all, I have been home three weeks !!! And it was this time last year I felt the same way and spent 9-11 November 2015 in MAINLY MAINE. I planned an exploration of Providence, RI, but the downtown B&B I wanted to stay in was booked. I then realized I had never explored Manchester, NH — yes the downtown B&B there was also full. But hey, I can still explore there, but stay elsewhere – and that is what I did. I booked a B&B in Portsmouth, NH, that I tried to stay in last year. But it was closed last year, and I end up MAINLY MAINE instead. Still with me?
The plan was on Wednesday to stop first at the antique mall in Concord, and then stop at the shops along “antique alley” on the way to Portsmouth. “Pickins” on the road for books have not been good for years, but from noon to 4:30 PM things were different. I wrote a check every place I stopped – five in all. And when (if) the three cartons of books I bought sell, many more trips are paid for. But I love to buy, and have a nice excuse – it is for resale, and I am constantly challenging my knowledge — well, iPhone helps nowadays price checking.
I arrived shortly after 5 PM at the Inn at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth. It adjoins the Strawbery Banke Museum, which I visited shortly after Cathy died when I decided to get out and explore. Also, as my hostess told me, “don’t drive downtown to eat, we are a three minute walk to Market Square.” And, that is what I did. I walked, explored, window shopped, and then had dinner. I have always enjoyed my walks around Portsmouth, NH.
And, here is a panorama of Market Square. I am trying to learn how to do these – click on the image to get a full screen view.
Thursday, 10 November, I left Portsmouth shortly after 9AM to be at the Millyard Museum in Manchester when it opened. Arriving in the city, I did not recall ever driving through, and I was impressed with the architecture and cleanliness. The mile long brick mill complexes along the Merrimack River are amazing, and defy proper image capturing to share. I thought there would be a parking lot – wrong. It took me about 20 minutes to find a space within a mile of the beautifully restored and occupied mill buildings. Now, remember this. Street parking, but no meters – pay stations every once in awhile to get your paid display ticket. First pay station was not operating – I started to worry my credit card was skimmed. Not seeing another pay station, I began driving closer to downtown, and parked right in front of a pay station – but its readout displayed “not working, go to another station.” I saw one around the corner, and dumped all my change in it – got about 1 1/2 hours. Now to hike back to the museum.
The Millyard Museum concisely details the history of the “Queen City” (the state’s largest metropolis beginning in the 1830s) and the textile mills’ histories – which created the city’s history. On this 19th century map you can see the mill complexes along the Merrimack River at the bottom, and the canals created for additional water power.
Originally called Derryville, when the canals were built in 1810 for the textile mills, the city was renamed Manchester after the great manufacturing city in England. In the museum is the model below, typical of the elegant restored brick mill structures.
The city was totally planned out, even before the first building built. The industrialists wanted to create a community.
Above is another view of the city’s layout (looking west – the canals are now filled in). Following the Lowell, Massachusetts, mills’ methods, rural farm girls were hired and joined in the 1840s with Irish immigrants. Immigrants poured in from many European countries, and by 1900 the majority of the immigrants were French Canadians.
Besides documenting the history of the area’s development, the museum has wonderful exhibits on the textile industry itself, and its changes.
Many other industries developed in Manchester, including foundries, machine making, and the Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine company. Below is the Ashland No. 1 (the 369th of 853 steam fire engines built between 1859-1913). This particular engine from Ashland, Massachusetts helped quell the Boston fire in 1872.
and, I felt it important to share how this engine works (you can click to enlarge to read more easily):
And, hailing from Derryville was General John Stark. The museum had a nice presentation on this American Hero who at the Battle of Bennington said, “…They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!”
General Stark, at age 81, could not in 1809 join a group of Bennington veterans gathered to commemorate the battle. He sent, instead, a letter to his comrades, which closed “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” Live Free or Die became the New Hampshire state motto in 1945. And, now you know.
Fascinating too was this display, including a swatch of Molly Stark’s wedding dress.
Well, I was watching the clock since the time on my “park and display” slip was approaching, but I was pretty well done. Getting back to the car I started looking at the Manchester Guide I got at the museum.
Question for you. If in a guide you saw, America’s Credit Union Museum, would you want to see it? If the booklet said “closed Thursday” would you still call? I did call, and the young lady answering the phone said, “come on over, I will be here until 3PM.” About a mile away I went — and was amazed at what I learned.
Below (in a panorama experiment – thus you can click to full screen) is the home office of Joseph Boivin, where he took in the funds of thousands of mill investors, who worked down the hill and across the river from his home. This first “credit union” in the US was organized November 24, 1908, with the help of Canadian, Alphonse Desjardins of Levis, Quebec.
A credit union is a cooperative financial institution owned and run by its members. They pool their funds to make affordable loans to each other. Run to provide a service, and not a profit, members could get small loans that banks would not make. Getting a small loan to pay a bill, such as a doctor’s bill, they often would get a discount for the full payment.
I thought these two panels say it better than I can.
And, children would go to the new credit union and deposit their nickels. This panel really gives you perspective.
My step-mother’s family came from Quebec to work in the mills in Manchester. I bet they deposited their nickels right here in this first credit union.
It was then off to the Currier Museum of Art. RAY RECOMMENDS — NO HIGHLY RECOMMENDS – HURRY TO VISIT THE CURRIER – Particularly the current special exhibit – MOUNT WASHINGTON: THE CROWN OF NEW ENGLAND.
I always need to know why something is, and why it is where it is.
Hannah Slade Currier, who died in 1915, married Hon. Moody Currier, a distinguished banker in Manchester, New Hampshire. 1885-6 he was governor of New Hampshire. When she died, she was one of the wealthiest women in the State of New Hampshire. She left her estate to establish the Currier Gallery of Art. I first had lunch in the cafe, passing through the older section and this entranceway.
I was so fortunate (not planned) to be here for the special exhibit – MOUNT WASHINGTON: THE CROWN OF NEW ENGLAND. As you may know, I love the history of the development of the summer vacation in the US, and travelers to Mount Washington were the beginning of that phenomena. Here is Thomas Cole’s VIEW IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS. I visited Cole’s home in Catskill, NY, ages ago, but still have to report on that.
The title for the exhibit comes from this painting. George Loring Brown created a monumental painting, THE CROWN OF MOUNT WASHINGTON, which was sent to London for exhibition. The Prince of Wales (Edward VII) purchased it, and it remains in the Royal Collection. This is a smaller version painted in 1858.
Did I say that I loved the Mount Washington exhibit? On the second level are American art exhibits – again great. I have always been fascinated with John Rodgers statues since first being introduced to them in 1963 by Vrest Orton, founder of The Vermont Country Store. Finally (now that the prices have plummeted) I now own two of these late 19th century popular parlor statues. Cast in plaster, I never knew there were bronze versions. Here is his photographer piece.
and, a few last views in the Currier:
But, I completed all, and it was time to get out of the busy world before the 5PM rush, and I headed home.
1 – Visit the Millyard Museum in Manchester
2 – HURRY to the CURRIER MUSEUM OF ART, and make sure you see the Mount Washington exhibit before it closes on January 12, 2017. The day I got back I learned that our library has free passes for patrons. HINT – HINT.
3 – Don’t hesitate to explore — if I had not made a phone call, I would not have had the great experience at AMERICA’S CREDIT UNION MUSEUM
ENJOY — As always, yours, RAY