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historic preservation

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Field Trip: The Olson House

Becky

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In Cushing, Maine, on a peninsula that just out into the awe-strikingly beautiful St. George’s River sits the Olson House. This house was made most famous by Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World,” which is part of MoMA’s permanent collection. Wyeth and his wife Betsy  became close friends with the owners and Wyeth went on to use an upstairs room as a studio. The Olson House is owned by The Farnsworth Museum, a gem of a smaller art museum in Rockland Maine. Admission to the Farnsworth gets you a pass to visit The Olson House as well, which is about a 20 minute drive from the museum.

photo by Becky Harris

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth

Betsy Wyeth described the house as “looming up like a weathered ship stranded on a hilltop.

photo by Becky Harris

Today patina style and rustic are very popular, and this old home is just so beautiful you realize it could never be replicated, but it serves as wonderful vernacular inspiration. Its simplicity and wonderful proportions makes it almost modern:

photo by Becky Harris

Its charm comes from a number of things, from the variation on the boards to the old glass used in the windows:

photo by Becky Harris

To the rusty hinges on the doors:

photo by Becky Harris

To the oil lamp inside the window:

photo by Becky Harris

Of course, the bucolic fields of wildflowers, evergreen forests and saltwater river nearby don’t hurt either:

photo by Becky Harris

If you’re ever anywhere near Thomaston, Maine (about two hours north of Portland), I highly recommend a visit.

Learn more information about The Olson House’s hours, admission and directions (watch out very carefully for signs, there’s a turn or two that’s easy to miss)

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Monday, August 12th, 2013

The Island Institute and Photography of Peter Ralston

Becky

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I’m up in Maine right now and this weekend and I popped into The Island Institute’s Rockland headquarters and store, Archipelago. The Institute was celebrating its 30th anniversary and it was not only amazing to hear about all of the great work they’ve done to sustain Maine’s island and remote coastal communities, but also to look at all of the amazing photographs by co-founder Peter Ralston. There was an exhibit and the entire building is filled with them, to which we were allowed rare access.

Clearing by Peter Ralston

Ralston began the Island Institute with Phil Conkling in 1983 with a shoestring budget that has grown to $5 million dollars a year. Around 50 employees work hard to preserve the unique cultures of these special places, as well as help their economies, educational systems, marine management and more. I always enjoy their journal very much and if you are a fan of the coast of Maine, I recommend you join this wonderful organization and help their efforts. When you join, you get a 10% discount at their store, Archipelago, which has amazing made in Maine artwork, jewelry, pottery and other items, like gorgeous blankets from Swan Island.

Spectre by Peter Ralston

Cofounder Peter Ralston is one of my favorite photographers of all time. He can capture fog, boats, still lifes, animals, landscapes, seascapes, photos of houses in such a way that they look like an Andrew Wyeth egg tempura painting … his photographs have documented Maine’s islands and coastal communities for decades.

Glint by Peter Ralston

Learn more about visiting/joining The Island Institute

Noontide by Peter Ralston

Learn more about/purchase the photography of Peter Ralston

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Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Cool Firehouse Fence

Becky

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The title says it all. Check out this awesome custom iron fence in Boston’s Dudley Square neighborhood, outside the firehouse. Details on the firemen, such as their helmets, are historically accurate .While it doesn’t look too hard to breach this thing, it sure if fun to look at!

Learn more about the Dudley Square improvements.

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Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Farewell to Bannerman Castle

Becky

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I have cut the amount of newsletters I receive down to practically nothing, but there are a few that are a treat to receive. They include high style from Balustrade and Bitters, the always entertaining and infrequent letters from Blu Dot, and the interesting updates from The National Trust for Historic Preservation. Sadly, this month they reported the loss of most of the Bannerman Castle Ruins. The castle has a “scenic ruin” designation from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and now all but one wall and part of another are standing.

The silver lining of the story is that the talented photographer John Midgley shot a fantastic spread for Esquire with the castle, combined with a moody sky, providing a sublime and surreal backdrop. You can see the whole shoot here, and here’s a teaser in memory of the lost tower and walls:

SIDE NOTE: I just bought my first issue of Esquire this month, because Tina Fey was on the cover, and I loved it. Now it’s crossed my path again with this…I’m starting to think I should subscribe. I’m curious – ladies, do any of you subscribe to Esquire?

Another question: Besides Hearst Castle, where are other  castles in the U.S.? It seems so bizarre to me – all I can think of is Lex Luthor’s castle on Smallville. Yes, I’m a geek. I’m in my thirties and I watch Smallville religiously.

O.K. One last question: Do you have some favorite ruins in the U.S.? Our civilization is so young we aren’t packed with the poetic ones like they are in other countries. Ruins can be so beautiful; most of the ones I can think of are industrial ruins; old brick factories overtaken by plants, dilapidated barns, even Alcatraz has beauty. I always loved the Barboursville ruins outside of Charlottesville Virginia. At one point it was the most lavish mansion in the regioin, a Palladian design by Thomas Jefferson. Sadly, the house was destroyed, but the ruins are a landmark as-is (I love the verticality of the fireplaces and the front columns):

Castle photographs by John Midgley for Esquire

Barboursville header from The 1804 Inn at Barboursville.

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Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Access to The Glass House – Start Planning!

Becky

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Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan Connecticut is opening up for tours again starting May 1 and running through November. Tickets start at $30 and go up to $400 for a private tour that includes dinner at The Four Seasons in NYC (this is my nerdy architectural dream date – forget all those The Bachelor-esque dates that include helicopter rides or wine tasting lessons). Click here for more information on the tours. Also, if you are a member of The National Trust for Historic Preservation, you will receive 50% off the Standard Tour (90 minutes) and the Extended Tour (2 hours, take all the pictures you want).* Seriously, if you are not already a member, why not? I mean, The Governator recently proposed SELLING California’s historic sites in order to raise cash! Get on it! Click here and join today – you’ll get all sorts of discounts at historic sites and you’ll receive a subscription to Preservation – it’s a wonderful magazine.

Image swiped from The Glass House website.

*members pay full price when ordering and then receive the 50% discount when attending the tour.

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