HOLIDAY EXPLORATIONS – GETTING YOU IN THE MOOD – 6 and 9 DECEMBER 2017

 

I may have shared I considered mid-December Road Scholar Christmas programs at the Biltmore, and another in Williamsburg. For various reasons I decided not to go, holding those areas for adventures in late spring instead. But, I wanted to experience holiday celebrations, and found several local events in my research. Have you heard of Storrowton Village in Springfield, Massachusetts?  I never had either, and you know I love learning. In the process I learned that THE BIG E  (which started in 1916) and SIX FLAGS NEW ENGLAND  (which dates to 1870) are two different places – I thought one in the same.

Entering Storrowton Village looking at the Meeting House 6 December

 lacking snow at the moment, I captured this image from their website

The village is comprised of nine relocated and restored buildings from c1767 to the 1850 stone blacksmith shop from just down the road in Chesterfield. The Big E began as an agricultural fair in 1916. Helen Osborne Storrow was asked to develop a “home department” to attract women to the fair (men wanted to see the cattle). Yes – Boston’s Storrow Drive -was  named for her husband, an investment banker, who led a campaign to create the Charles River Basin, preserving and improving the riverbanks creating a public park.

At first she had small temporary buildings erected each year, but when offered a colonial house, she moved it and restored it in 1927. It was so popular that the idea of creating a typical colonial village came to fruition by 1930 with the addition of more permanent historic structures. Helen Osbourne Storrow created this new village concept before Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, the Rockefellers saved Williamsburg, and the Wells family established Sturbridge. AMAZING, and well done.

We started at the Meeting House (c1834 from Salisbury, NH)

inside there were fiddlers – trying – but it is the thought that counts (remember in all my posts you can click the galleries for larger size images)

I liked the decorations in the windows

we then entered the brick schoolhouse — the tower entryway was a later addition. Unique inside, which I do not recall seeing before, the four walls were nothing but blackboards.

and, a couple “artsy” shots – school desk and shadows on student’s bench

I usually skip blacksmith shops, but we found these two smithys wonderful historians and raconteurs

The Potter Mansion (c1776) Potter was an officer in the Revolutionary War, and a craftsmen in about seven trades including clockmaking.

enjoy these interior views — AND — something else I have never seen before, please take note of the large cranes on either side of the fireplace in the keeping room — for hanging blankets to keep the heat focused. (remember to click for larger views)

and the law office — the small single room building is the “norm.” We have an original one in situ across the river, and one is extant at Sturbridge.

and, the Gilbert Farmstead c1794.

a Christmas card

and, a table set

Leaving the Gilbert Farmstead we crossed the common, and here is looking back at the Gazebo and farmstead.

and, then it was dinner at the Old Storrowton Tavern which is two buildings combined: The Atkinson Tavern (c1789) and a c1822 Baptish Meeting House.

A great evening, and I look forward now to experiencing The Big E this coming September.

In the mood yet? And then it was Saturday, 9 December and the Manchester (Vermont) Holiday Inn Tour.  You may recall the Inn-Dulgence Tour friends and I experienced last year — well, instead of frolicking on that path again, we chose the Manchester tour for new experiences this year. There were thirteen Inns open, but we eliminated three because they are “newer” and can be visited at anytime, and two others friend “T” said – “I looked at their websites, and UGH!” One I had stayed at several times 20 years ago, and another I still wanted to see – hey, I was driving and somewhat in control.

Following a hearty breakfast at the Country Girl Diner in Chester, VT (tour ran from Noon to 4, so we did not want to stop for lunch), we started at The Arlington Inn on historic Route 7A. Cathy and I stayed there maybe 21 years ago. This is a quick image as driving by, sorry.

how is this for a start to a holiday tour?

and some more interior views

There was much discussion as to whether to make the next stop. I wanted to see The Inn at Covered Bridge Green because I enjoy driving across the covered bridge in West Arlington. But “T” said it was the worst decorating ever – mismatched wallpaper everywhere (we tease “C” about her “aversion to wallpaper”, and tacky furnishings. “But how can you resist the bucolic setting,” I said, “and it was Norman Rockwell’s home.”

Inside was HORRIBLE — I did not waste any SD Card space taking interior shots. I am so relieved that when I tried to book a stay a few months ago that they never returned my phone call (hint to B&B owners, that is another way I evaluate you – responsiveness).

We then headed back east on a beautiful dirt road on the south bank of the Battenkill River (cannot wait to traverse in BB1 and BB2), and turned on West Mountain Inn Road and up the hill to the West Mountain Inn.

lots of rooms and nice common areas, they host about 30 weddings a year on the expansive grounds.

headed back to 7A – out of the corner of my “eye”

not too bad a faux replica of a Cretors Popcorn Wagon on a 1928-1929 Model AA Ford (not stuttering – AA is the heavier truck frame version of a Model A). Yes, something I have always wanted, but so tall, and hard to store. Thus I have dear CORNELIA (left) instead. But, I at least know why the above machine is here — you see just across the line in Cambridge, NY, for decades sat the Model T Popcorn Truck (below) that I found 2 years ago preserved in the Saratoga Auto Museum. I stopped in Cambridge many times over the years to enjoy this truck. A local probably needed a replica (under a shed roof he/she had a 1966 Mustang convertible just like I had – need to stop next time BB2 and I drive by)

Driving north on 7A we passed the Ira Allen House we were “passing on,” and turned right on Hill Farm Road to (of course) Hill Farm Inn. What a beautiful setting

they had a total of three buildings impeccably restored – almost “too new” looking, but well done. Furnishings were nice, fresh, sleek, and I loved the unique lamps that had been repurposed, often from farm items. We did note, however, that many walls really did need something hanging.

of course, another “Rocking Chair Study

Heading back north on 7A, for years I have been impressed with The Inn at Ormsby Hill, and now was going to see it.

An amazing history, to the home, that you should take a quick look at. Briefly, owner Edward Isham was a prominent Chicago lawyer, and law partner with Robert Todd Lincoln. Lincoln, a frequent visitor, wanted to purchase land from Isham, but Isham refused saying “You’re my best friend and law partner; you’re NOT going to be my next-door neighbor.” Following Isham’s death, the family sold Lincoln 400 acres, and his estate, Hildene, was completed in 1905. Magnificent inside, here are but a few images.

Continuing north up 7A, just past Hildene, a right turn on River Road to the Wilburton Inn. Now was this a surprise.

Another Chicago industrialist built this 500 acre gentleman’s farm (the largest private property in Manchester) in 1902. A fascinating history leading up to its purchase 30 years ago by the Levis family. We met the two daughters, and their Dad (a retired psychiatrist) who could easily have passed for Sigmund Freud, and was as fascinating. We were taken aback when getting to the front door.

and met by three “pretty” Nutcrackers, and two dogs in Christmas costumes. We later learned it was the night for the “dog sleep-over party.”  They have many properties for rent, many activities, and a number of very reasonable rooms. Probably no charge for the entertainment provided by the hosts. Neighbors have raved of stays there, and I think I will have to stay also in this unique mansion with views (click to enlarge).

Next stop on West Road across the street from the library was The Reluctant Panther. Nice, luxurious, but very new – because it burned in the early 2000s, and has been rebuilt with more of a modern “high end sterile” look inside.

but with an award winning Israeli chef, dining here should be added “to the list.”

We headed to Dorset and West Road. The parking area at The Marble West Inn was packed so we headed up to The Squire House with just enough time before the “witching hour.” And, it was starting to snow.

What an amazing building, impeccable decoration, and gracious hosts. Of interest, the entrance appears to be on the side (and is) and you enter into a very wide and grand hallway running the length of the home. Where you would expect to be the front entrance in the center of the front (see above) is an interior porch type room that can be opened up. Here is a taste of the inside.

My kind of place, with three “common area” rooms for relaxing, but looking at the guest rooms you want to stay there too. At the end of the hallway was the final sitting room, and to beautiful surprise this Rufus Porter mural above the fireplace done by owner Gay.  Absolutely stunning and perfect.

We started chatting, and today I sent Gay and Roger a PDF of the 2005 article done on my Rufus Porter dining room, and images of other items I have. RAY RECOMMENDS – Book a stay at The Squire House in Dorset, Vermont.

Upon leaving, it was 4PM, and beginning to snow heavily. So, back down the road, left turn on Church Street into the village of Dorset for wine and cheese at The Dorset Inn (had to get back). “Sorry, we are closed for a wedding, but why don’t you go to our sister Inn – The Barrows House.” And we did. Also, a must return to for dinner or drinks. When we left, the heavy snow was becoming fiercer, but slow and sure and safely we arrived back home. As we left The Barrows House I rolled down the window (well now you push a button) for this shot.

On reflection, not as much holiday decorations as I expected, but all tastefully done. And, enough discoveries of new places to return to for dinners and stays.

I promise, even more is coming before the holidays. Thank you for getting this far down the page. As always, yours, RAY

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4 Responses to HOLIDAY EXPLORATIONS – GETTING YOU IN THE MOOD – 6 and 9 DECEMBER 2017

  1. Carolyn says:

    Awesome addition to Christmas travels, so satisfying to again enjoy the trips!

  2. William V. Rauscher says:

    Ray…wonderful, photos classic, creates a marvelous mood, all very informative. BILL RAUSCHER

  3. Betty says:

    Ah, if I had half the flair for creativity as these inn keepers…. Thanks for the holiday spirit!

  4. Marian says:

    What lovely homes and buildings. Wonderfully enjoyable. Love the pots and cooking over the open flames. Good Old Days??? Porch full of white rocking chairs for Ray. Neat trip.
    Thanks…

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