Nine years ago, 3-9 September 2012, I attended a Digital Photography Road Scholar program on Star Island, back in in the 19th century. As tradition says “You Will Be Back,” and I finally got back. The nonprofit Star Island Corporation has owned and operated Star Island since 1916, providing individual and family retreats. Founded by Unitarian-Universalism and the United Church of Christ, people can attend religious conferences during the season. Other conferences (e.g. painting, writing, rug hooking, etc.) are available for a quite focused getaway. Dating from 1874, the Oceanic House is the largest structure on Star Island. Its main lobby, writing room, Pink Parlor, and dining hall provide an unchanged glimpse into the late 1800’s at a Grand Hotel. I choose a “Mid Week” conference. Four nights, Monday through Friday, with no schedule. Rocking chairs were reserved for me, and I had writing and reading to accomplish. True to form, not all accomplished. Remember, you can click any of my images for larger views.

The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company sails from Portsmouth to the island. Besides providing transportation for conferences, you can cruise to the island for a 3.75 hours walking tour. And, if you do that, you will probably plan a stay. You park at the dock, tightly packed in, and board with fellow conferees for the hour plus sail to Star. Leaving the dock we were delayed just a tad as this tanker passed going under the new bridge to Maine (the I-95 bridge is in the distance).

I have decided to make this simply a photo post to give you a flavor of what you will experience, so here we go out the Piscataqua River, passing the Portsmouth Naval Prison, closed since the early 1970s. Going to Navy Supply Corps School, the incentive to not doing something wrong was free room and board here.

Portsmouth Naval Prison

I have (on land) visited Fort Constitution ages ago, and would like to visit again.- it was closed this year. What you see remains from the 1808 construction.

and, ten miles from the mainland, this awaits you — how can you not want to go?

walking along the pier, and then looking back from the porch.

Following the “water and fire” safety talk, I headed to my second floor room.

ambience has not changed much in 150 years, and the dresser, chair and wash stand may be the originals in the room — but the view from my window, even with overcast that snuck in. And, then the sound of the waves and wind all night long —

topped only by the sunset over Portsmouth

There is a tradition in the evenings of a candle light walk to the chapel, built in 1800, for a short welcoming service. One of the few times for an open flame (but in this case protected), participants receive their lantern on the porch, and walk up to the chapel, where the lanterns are hung on the original wall hooks.

and, so ended day one, Monday

TUESDAY — with a busy schedule – NOT – I took a walk around various spots, read on the porch, and attended a geology walk and talk at 4PM

A few of this weeks Rocking Chair images will be added to my special page, entitled ROCKING CHAIR STUDIES. But here are some new ones.

from behind the “hotel” I took this shot of the Williams light house

and then I walked up to the Tucke Monument, a 46.5 foot tall obelisk gravestone erected in 1914 to honor Reverend John Tucke (1702 – 1773). On the island Rev. Tucke was a minister, judge, educator, and physician. The Tucke Monument is the tallest gravestone in the state of New Hampshire. Just another “fast fact” to win you more drinks at the bar.


new since my last visit is this well hidden Solar Array. Readers of my newspaper, THE WALPOLE CLARION, know that I am not against solar, just the inappropriate location on a visible six acres in town. This array is close, but you have to know where it is and go out of your way to see it. Nice going STAR.

and, I found a secret spot with a bench and two chairs on the other side of this “turnstile” under an interesting tree with dark berries (what do I know?). I came back here a couple times to sit, relax, reflect, and read.

and, so ended day two, Tuesday

WEDNESDAY — with a busy schedule – NOT – Surprise – I took another walk around various spots, read on the porch, and attended a “social hour.”

but first the sun came up and reflected on the white wood of the Summer House, again from my window.

what would you expect to see next?

today’s walk I went east on the island. And, being smart with my balance uncertainty I used my traveling collapsable cane. And, I was smart and did not hike all over the rocks as I would have done, lets say a few years ago. This view is looking out over the break wall (that I was on nine years ago) to Cedar Island in Maine.

there is an art shed open for people to create in. I noticed (you know I do not miss much) that someone enlisted the help of these little guys to help hold the building up and in place.

the path to the eastern most point and the monument to Captain John Smith who set foot here in 1614. The monument was put in place 300 years later.

and on another route back – the “back side.”

I always say there is more than one way to do something – and now you know there is also another way to get over a stone wall. Don’t worry, I did not attempt this. You see, the stone wall ends, and I choose to walk around. In the background of the second images is the sitting area I showed you above. WORTH THE TRIP. Do click and enlarge.

and, WORTH THE TRIP – the chapel from any angle is worth the trip.

and, so ended day three Wednesday

THURSDAY — with a busy schedule – NOT – Surprise – I read on the porch 

Actually, I do not remember moving from the porch on Thursday. Well I did eat, but brought breakfast out here. A porch mate took this shot of me. Looks like me, but I do not remember dozing off at all. Probably just turning my head a tad.

With COVID, picnic benches have been placed on the porch to help people spread out even more. The vaccination rate on Star runs 98 percent plus, but still masking and distancing is practiced inside, and fans were constantly moving pulling air to the outside.

and, so ended day four Thursday

FRIDAY — with a busy schedule – NOT – Surprise –but breakfast on the porch, bags out for baggage boat — reading — and with tears leaving at 11:45

seen along the path – a perfect picture

amazing seaweed moving along with the water back and forth

and some views not often seen as we sailed away

and, back in the river passing the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – which you should know is in Maine.

RAY RECOMMENDS — Learn about Star Island – Learn about the programs available – and, experience life on the island in a Victorian way of the old grand resorts. Any questions, just ask me so I can help you enjoy this amazing place.

and, here are some old (not so great) images from my last trip of the hotel in all its 19th century glory


and, this is my favorite image that I took September 7, 2012

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2 Responses to STAR ISLAND – ISLES OF SHOALS – 6-10 SEPTEMBER 2021

  1. Martha Burnham says:

    One of the best places on earth! Beautiful photos!

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