Friday, March 31, 2006

"A Short History of Boston"

Last month friends and I went to hear Robert J. Allison speak about his book "A Short History of Boston". I arrived early and I said hello to him beforehand. He was warm and inviting. Right away I had a favorable impression of him.

Allison is a professor at Suffolk University on Beacon Hill in Boston. He lectured like a seasoned instructor, asking questions to gauge his audience. He was not reading a dry prepared speech, but instead was conversational and his slides were good. He also teaches a course at the Harvard University Extension School about the history of Boston.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tudor Place

I would recommend visiting Tudor Place in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The first owners were Martha Washington's granddaughter and her husband. Many objects currently on display are original to the house. The house and grounds are very attractive.

The best part of the visit was the very gracious reception that I received from the staff and the volunteer docent. These people had a lot of personal style that made it more than just one more historic house tour. Someday I hope to return and spend more time on the property.

I have not seen Mount Vernon yet, I wonder if it feels like a hurried tour, or if they can convey some of the charm that I have encountered elsewhere in the Washington, D.C. area.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Gardner Museum Concert

Sunday I plan to hear Beethoven piano trios performed in the Tapestry Room of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by the Claremont Trio. This Museum used to be the home of Isabella. She filled it with fine art and a beautiful courtyard with flowers and shrubs. The building is in the style of an Italian Palazzo.

She used to spend summers in Venice where John Singer Sargent and Henry James would visit. There is a lot of information available on-line and in print so I will not go into much detail here. The Museum is a gem and the concerts are good and in a great setting.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Plimoth Plantation

Soon the living history museum called Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA will be open for the season. The main site is a recreation of the English colony in the town of Plymouth circa 1627. There are many interesting things to see and do there. The best part is asking period actors questions about themselves, their lives in the new world, and their opinions of others. There is also the Wampanoag Home site where native peoples answer visitor's questions from a 21st Century vantage point.

Last Summer I listened in as a visitor from Tennessee asked an actor portaying Spraige(sp?) good questions. The visitor told me that this was his fifth visit and that he did a lot of homework before his visits. I saw maybe five or six actors in the Pilgrim Village that afternoon, but Spraige was definitely stealing the show. He moved a steer with horns pretty close to me that was only attached to his hand with a thin rope. It was was at that point that I made my escape to the Wampanoag Village.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Newport, R.I. Architecture

Yesterday I looked at a book that interested me. "Newport Through its Architecture: A History of Styles from Post medieval to Postmodern" by James L. Yarnall. Rather than just showing off the Vanderbilt and Astor Mansions (they called them cottages), the book included examples of architecture from a period of several hundred years. The photo of the 1950s style diner assured me that this was the kind of book that I could relate to.

Last summer I took an inexpensive day trip to Newport, R.I., and saw the Breakers and Marble House, which are very large Beaux Arts Mansions constructed by extremely wealthy people a little more that a century ago. The Mansions are now owned and operated by a non-profit called The Preservation Society of Newport County . I would certainly take the bus trip again. However, after looking at the book, I wish that I could spend more time in Newport and learn about the architecture of different periods.

I don't have a car, and when I checked into room rates during the season when the houses are on display, I regretfully decided that it would just not be possible. Maybe I will find a way. Gotta keep a positive attitude about seeing some really nice historic house museums.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Purpose of this Blog

I am starting a blog about my interests. I have a real passion for visiting historical house museums. The Gore Place in Waltham, MA is an authentic Federal style mansion on forty-five acres with a working farm. There are many interesting house museums to see here in Boston and within an easy commute from the city. The summer is a perfect time to explore these museums as well as properties owned by the National Parks Service.

My other interests include fine art, architecture, early music, dance, early American history, urban walking, and letter writing. My blog will include experiences that I think that other people might enjoy. Please post a comment if you have a question or an observation. Thanks for reading!