Odiorne Point in Rye New Hampshire was owned by the Odiorne Family from at least 1800, when the family built a farmhouse on the land. The peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, just south of Portsmouth, and it was seen as a strategic position by the United States Government, to protect the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. With the advent of World War II, the United States Government deemed it necessary to improve the fortifications commanding the approaches to the Portsmouth Navy Yard, so the Government acquired this property and named it Fort Dearborn. Giant 16” coast defense guns and other equipment were installed to protect the coast from the impending German advance into North America. The Government acquisition on Odiorne’s Point included Mr. Odiorne’s home and 24 other properties, with many fine old homes on the coast demolished to make way for military facilities, but the Odiorne house was converted to a barracks. When The Nazi forces were beat in Europe, the fort was deactivated and all the guns were removed. In the Cold War period, the U.S. Air Force took formal possession of 45.3 acres at Odiorne’s Point in 1955, which it had been using since 1949 as the Rye Air Force Station. By 1961, the defensive use of the site was not as important, and the site was sold to the State of New Hampshire as a State Park. Today, you can explore the park and the decaying concrete batteries up close, which is a favorite excursion of mine.
The Omni Mount Washington (originally the Mount Washington Hotel), surrounded by the great White Mountains of New Hampshire, was completed in 1902, at the end of the Gilded Age and the grand hotel era of America. The grand hotel was financed by Joseph Stickney, a native of New Hampshire, who made a fortune before the age of 30 investing in the coal business in Pennsylvania. In 1881, Stickney purchased the Mount Pleasant Hotel, a nearby summer resort and enlarged it, and acquiring a taste for hospitality development in the White Mountains (it was later demolished in the 1930s). He hired architect Charles Alling Gifford to design a new, larger resort across the street which in total, cost him over $50,000,000 in today’s dollars! Ironically, Joseph Stickney, had famously told the press on the opening day: “Look at me, for I am the poor fool who built all this,” as the economy was starting to turn right as the hotel opened. He died one year later in 1903. Nevertheless, up to fifty trains a day unloaded the families of the country’s wealthiest people, mostly from New York City, who stayed here for Summers at a time, leaving behind “the yellow fever and cholera in the cities” for fresh air and open space. The hotel’s design incorporated some of the most cutting-edge innovations of its age, including a steel-frame superstructure, an electrical power plant, and a sophisticated internal heating system. Roughly 250 Italian artisans were brought in to provide artistic touches to the structure by working on its exterior granite and stucco masonry including the two massive octagonal towers, and installing Tiffany stained glass windows.
After Joseph Stickney’s death in 1903, Carolyn his widow, became extremely rich (the couple never had children). Carolyn spent her summers at the hotel for the next decade, a nearby chapel honoring her late husband. The hotel did well in the subsequent decades until the advent of income tax, Prohibition, and the Great Depression, which harmed many large resorts’ profits. In 1936, Mrs. Stickney’s nephew, Foster Reynolds, inherited the hotel, but it closed in 1942 because of World War II. A Boston syndicate bought the extensive property for about $450,000 In 1944. The Bretton Woods monetary conference took place that year, establishing the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. After subsequent owners, in 2015, the hotel and the Bretton Woods Mountain Resort were purchased by Omni Hotels & Resorts, who have been advocates to the history and preservation of the building and surrounding area, also overseeing the hotel’s inclusion to the illustrious Historic Hotels of America list.
There is so much more I could write about the Omni Mount Washington Resort, from the incredible interior spaces, to Carolyn’s marriage to a French prince, to the supposedly haunted sites… So much history to uncover, so little time!
Located at the top of Rosebrook Mountain in the Bretton Woods Ski Resort, this stunning modern lodge building provides possibly the best mountain views in New England. After a couple runs on the slopes, I took the gondola up to the top, exiting to a sweeping view of the White Mountains and the iconic Mount Washington Hotel (more on that later). At the top, is this large, well-sited lodge which is perched upon the mountainside, and an excellent example of Contemporary design done right! Appropriately named Rosebrook Lodge, the new building was just completed in 2020 by designs from architectural firm Bull Stockwell Allen from San Francisco, with help from TruexCullins on the interior design. The two-story lodge is constructed from of timber, steel, stone and glass, which complement the region’s rugged natural beauty and provide a sleek space for on-mountain dining or aprés ski. Inside, the building highlights the outside with walls of windows with warm lighting and woodwork that make relaxing effortless.
Ram Island, about a mile offshore from Portland Head near the entrance to Portland Harbor in Maine, is surrounded by dangerous ledges. For as long as ships have been navigating Portland Harbor, they have crashed into the rocky shore, losing supplies and lives. Because of this, a Congressional act on June 28, 1902, authorized the construction of a lighthouse and fog signal on Ram Island Ledge, to work together with the Portland Head Light to guide ships through the treacherous channel. The next year, the federal government purchased Ram Ledge from two Cape Elizabeth families for $500, to erect a new lighthouse. Before the lighthouse could be constructed, at least two ships, the Glenrosa and the Cora & Lillian schooner sunk in the bay. As the ledge was underwater for much of the year, a stone tower was required. Granite from Vinalhaven was shipped in and a crew of 25 men built the tower which was complete in 1905. The iconic double flash of light has guided sailors ever since. The lighthouse was manned by multiple keepers until the late 1958, when an underwater power cable was laid between Portland Head and Ram Island Ledge, allowing the ledge lighthouse to be automated. In 2008, the structure was deemed “excess to the needs of the United States Coast Guard” and auctioned off. After a bidding war, a local doctor from Maine purchased it for an estimated $190,000.
On October 25th, 1848, an estimated one hundred thousand people gathered on the Boston Common and saw a 95-foot high geyser of water from the Brookline Reservoir of the Cochituate Aqueduct gush into the air from the Frog Pond. This was the success of Boston’s first public water supply and aqueduct, and the second major municipally owned aqueduct in the U.S. At that time, beer was often more pure than most urban water, therefore with the introduction of clean drinking water into the city of Boston, it was an opportunity for celebration. This granite gatehouse structure at the Brookline Reservoir housed valve-like “gates,” screens, and meters controlling and measuring the flow of water from the reservoir into three large cast iron pipes which supplied other reservoirs in Boston, and especially one behind the statehouse on Beacon Hill (since demolished for the statehouse additions). The gatehouse was designed by Charles Edward Parker, an architect who was just 20 years old at the time! The surrounding reservoir is now a public park where you can walk on the elevated edge of the water source while learning about local history, whats not to love?!
Without question, this property is the most photographed site in the tiny town of Pomfret, Vermont, if not the state. The property dates to the late 18th century when John and Samuel Doten moved to the newly settled town of Pomfret Vermont, overlooking the growing town of Woodstock in the valley below. The two brothers acquired vast farmland on the hills of Pomfret and each built farmhouses adjacent to eachother, with Samuel getting elevated land and John developing the land sunken off what is now known as Cloudland Road into this stunning property. Sleepy Hollow Farm remained in the Doten family for centuries until the 1950s, when the owners sold the property to move to Woodstock and work for Laurance Rockefeller, the famous philanthropist and conservationist, who later donated his Summer home in Woodstock to the National Park Service. The property sold numerous times in the late 20th century, and is presently owned by Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and his wife, Billie. They are clearly great stewards to the property’s rich history and various outbuildings, and must not care too much to have swarms of photographers at the end of their driveway year-round!
Located on the west bank of Mascoma Lake in Enfield, New Hampshire, an architecturally and historically significant collection of Shaker buildings can be found, all very well maintained. Founded in 1793, this village was the ninth Shaker community to be established in this country. At its peak in the mid 19th century, the community was home to three “Families” of Shakers. Here, they practiced equality of the sexes and races, celibacy, pacifism, and communal ownership of property. There were 132 members of the village by 1803, and by 1840 there were nearly 300 people.
Within the village was the largest Shaker dwelling ever built in the country and the largest residential dwelling north of Boston, the Great Stone Dwelling. The Shakers here hired leading Greek Revival Architect Ammi Young to design the building. Ammi had experience in larger building projects having designed the current Vermont State House and several structures at nearby Dartmouth College. Young would later go on to be the Supervising Architect for the United States Department of the Treasury.
The Enfield Shaker Village in Enfield is open for tours, and you can even spend a night in the 1837 Great Stone Dwelling!
The Glen Magna Mansion in Danvers, MA exhibits the grandeur and elegance of the Gilded Age on the North Shore of Massachusetts. What is now a mansion, began as a modest Federal farmhouse built around 1790 by Jonathan Ingersoll, a sea captain who formerly resided in Salem Town. Ingersoll later sold the property and land in 1814 to Joseph Peabody, before moving to Windsor, Vermont, where he lived out the remainder of his days. Joseph Peabody apparently purchased the large farm estate to hide his cargo from the British, who blockaded trade with a young America’s allies. He later would expand the property, hiring a landscape architect to effectively transition the farmhouse into a summer estate.
By 1892, the property belonged to Ellen Peabody Endicott, Joseph Peabody’s granddaughter, who further enlarged and embellished the house and grounds, hiring the Boston firm of Little and Browne to update the estate in the Colonial Revival style. Her son, William Crowninshield Endicott, Jr., continued to improve the grounds, most notably in 1901 by moving the Derby Summer House to the property. In 1963, The Danvers Historical Society purchased the central eleven acres of the property and has worked to restore the gardens and grounds to its early 20th century appearance. Glen Magna is available for tours and events such as weddings.