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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Union Meetinghouse - Storrowton Village

The Big E is underway and in full swing, but taking a break from the bustle of the crowded fairgrounds, we have a look at one of the quieter spots of the Eastern States Exposition, the Union Meeting House at Storrowton Village.

For those not from New England, the Exposition is an annual regional, rather than a single state fair, representing all six New England states. (See this previous post on the Eastern States Exposition.)Storrowton Village is a re-creation of a 19th century New England village common on the fairgrounds with representative buildings placed around it to illustrate what life was like in such a place, at such a time. The “Village” may be fanciful, but the buildings are not recreations. They are actual historic buildings moved here as part of a project headed by Helen O. Storrow, and were collected from 1927 to 1931.

This church is the Union Meetinghouse, built originally in cooperation between four separate denominations in the Smith’s Corner section of Salisbury, New Hampshire in 1834. These denominations shared the building between them. It was moved here to the Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts in 1929. The pulpit, and the bell, are salvaged from other churches in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Today, wedding ceremonies may still be held in this non-denominational church. The steeple towers over the village, and vies with the nearby Ferris wheel for attention. The Ferris wheel is only temporary, though. The church weathers the centuries, and the fairgoers, with equal fortitude.

For more on Storrowton Village, have a look at this website.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Upcoming Events in New England

Here are a few upcoming events in New England readers of this blog might enjoy.

At Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum, free admission on September 26th. From their press release: “The Wadsworth is collaborating with the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts to present programming inspired by Hartford artist Sol LeWitt’s Whirls and Twirls wall drawing, on view in the museum. Enjoy live jazz and dance performances by students from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, choreographed by Deborah Goffe, Artistic Director of Scapegoat Garden, and hands on art activities. Visitors can also take part in docent-led explorations of works in the galleries and a tour of the recent installation of the Hudson River School collection. More family fun will be available with a Storybook Time and a game of Twister for young children. Family box lunches available through The Russell at the Wadsworth Atheneum.”

September is Connecticut Freedom Trail Month

More than 100 sites to celebrate with events and activities
Visit for complete listings

East Haddam
September 26
Venture Smith Day
1 – 4 p.m.
First Church of Christ Congregational
Town Street (Route 151)
East Haddam, Connecticut
Citizens from Ghana will perform traditional tribal dances, display artifacts and crafts from Ghana and provide samples of native dishes. Speakers, student performances and wreath laying ceremony. Contact: Karl Stofko, president, First Church Cemetery Association, Inc., 860-873-9084

September 26th, 2 p.m.
“Traces of the Trade: A Story of the Deep North”
Albany Branch Library
1250 Albany Avenue
Hartford, CT 06112

Watch and discuss this fascinating documentary about a New England family and the Triangle Trade: (New England-Africa-West Indies), also known as the Middle Passage.
(film runs 86 minutes)

Tales of witchcraft and tombstones

Wethersfield, Connecticut - The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum to give special tours
focusing on witchcraft and the Ancient Burying Ground during October. “Everyone knows about the witchcraft trials that took place in Salem, Mass. but we hardly ever hear about what occurred right here in Connecticut. Alse Young of Windsor, the first person executed for witchcraft in New England, was sent to the gallows in Hartford, Conn. in 1647. There were many others executed in Connecticut including three from Wethersfield.

To give visitors a taste of Connecticut’s witchcraft history, The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum will be giving Tales of Witchcraft and Tombstones tours on October 10, 17, 24, and 31 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The tours will begin in the Buttolph-Williams House, which was home to the characters that were portrayed in the book The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which Elizabeth George Spear, a Newbery-award winning author, wrote while living in Wethersfield.

Differences and similarities with the Salem Witch accusations will be discussed during the tours. Guides will also explore the lives of the women and men who were convicted of witchcraft and what life was like for them and their neighbors.

Following the tour at Buttolph-Williams, visitors will enter the Ancient Burying Ground where the headstones will tell many tales. Different types of headstones and beliefs of the times will be examined. Participants will also learn about some of the more interesting residents of the Ancient Burying Ground.

Each tour is limited to 16 people. Tours cost $8 for adults, $7 for seniors over 60, AAA members and those active in the military, $4 for students and children ages 5 to 18, and $20 per family (two adults and children). For more information or to reserve a space, contact Tari-Lynn Joyce at (860) 529-0612 ext. 12 or at Walk-up registration is also permitted if space allows. Groups will meet in the gift shop at the Webb House at 211 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT 06109.”

The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, located at 211 Main St., Wethersfield, is open daily – with the exception of Tuesday – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May through October, and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., November and April. Please call or check our website for special December hours. Three-house tours cost $8 for adults and $4 for students and children ages 5 to 18. For information about current exhibits, upcoming events or Museum School classes, call (860) 529-0612 or visit

If your group has any interesting activities having to do with New England history and culture, you can email your press release to, and I’ll try to post a few at least once a month.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Last Rose of Summer

A red maple leaf and a pink wild beach rose cross paths this season of the equinox, like one actor pushing another actor off stage. Let’s give the rose one final bow.

Here is Thomas Moore’s, “The Last Rose of Summer” (1805):

’TIS the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

Friday, September 18, 2009

You Are Here

Lenox, in western Massachusetts, and the large stone road marker points the general direction of other towns down the roads at the crossing, but will not tell you how many miles to go. That’s your worry. The marker conveniently and most expeditiously doubles as a sundial, so that if it happens to be sunny, you may happen to tell the time. GPS units and BlackBerries are for sissies, so are precise mile markers, except for the old brownstone ones that Ben Franklin had put up you can still find along the winding road to Boston we call Route 20, but back in the day (and in many sections still) was the King’s Highway.

Put away your iPods, your cell phones that do everything but make soup. All you need to know is the motto at the upper part of the monument inscribed:

I have a lesson for all who have eyes,
And a motto for all who will learn.
Then hasten in time to be wise,
And the value of hours discern.

You can find this typical sundial motto in “The Book of Sun-dials” by Mrs. Alfred [Margaret Scott] Gatty, whose 19th century catalogue of English sundials and their mottos is available here.

A lesson on the value of hours, on a road sign with no miles. Einstein fiddled a lot with equations about time in relation to space. That was his worry. It you are standing before this marker, late for an appointment, it might be yours, too.

Never mind. Consider the value of hours, and lazily pick a direction.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to School Filene's Ad

This back to school ad for “Filene’s of Boston” with its call to “why limit your vacation by rushing home to shop?” reminds us of a time when big department stores were in big cities, in this case Boston. Chain stores were a thing of the future, but Hyannis, Massachusetts this end of the summer in 1940 showed the promise of things to come. Filene’s had opened a branch store on the Cape, to service vacationers and summer residents. Not wanting to wait for the customer to come to them in Boston, Filene’s went to them. It may not seem like much now with a Wal-Mart in many suburban and rural communities, but in its day was revolutionary.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog goes dark.

This blog goes dark today in memory of the murdered victims of 9/11.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

Here is the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum of Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Currently operated by the very knowledgeable curator Elliotte Draegor, the museum is openly seasonally only. Ms. Draegor hopes to keep the building open for the remainder of September, so try to see it soon.

The museum consists of one building left from the original CCC Camp Connor which stood on this spot in the Shenipsit State Forrest in the 1930s. One of many programs initiated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to put young men to work, the CCC was perhaps the most popular, and boys and their families profited by the income and the experience. The museum contains materials and artifacts from CCC camps from all over New England.

The museum was begun by former members of the CCC, who wanted to preserve the story of their own experiences as part of the history of this Depression-era government program. Items, such as photos, scrapbooks, footlockers, clothing and tools continue to be donated by these men or their families.

Stop by this small, but worthwhile and important museum for look at the can-do spirit of another generation in the throes of economic disaster, who built many of the state and national parks we enjoy today. The Civilian Conservation Corps Museum is located on Route 190 in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. For more info, call: 860-684-3430.

Have a look at this earlier post on the 1011st CCC camp in New Hampshire.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blog 2nd Anniversary

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of New England Travels. Thank you for the pleasure of your company.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Perkins Cove - Ogunquit, Maine

Perkins Cove, a section of Ogunquit, Maine, on a sunny and very hot summer afternoon. Both a working fishing village, and tourist attraction, the genuine scenic beauty sometimes battles head to head with the crowded and the “touristy.”

Settled in the 1640s, and formerly a part of the town of Wells, the fishing community of Ogunquit developed another identity as an artists’ colony, and now is more well known as a resort town.

Some prefer the off-season, some don’t mind the high season, but whenever you go, there’s much here to appreciate and enjoy. Climb up the wooden drawbridge and have a look around.

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