My husband is preoccupied with a kayak fishing tournament, my house is being painted, and my street (finally–the last time was in the early 1970s by all accounts!) is being paved: it was time to get out of town. So off I went yesterday, on a circular tour of New Hampshire, Vermont, (a bit of) New York and Western Massachusetts. That’s the thing about New England: it is small, and you can cover a lot of ground–even when you only travel on routes marked “A” and stop at every historical marker, as is my inclination. I drove leisurely towards my childhood home of Strafford, Vermont, perhaps the most picturesque village on the planet, and then poked around central Vermont for a bit.
Strafford Meeting House, built 1799 with additions of belfry and tower in 1832. As a child, I lived in the shadow of this amazing building, described in a 1959 HABS report as “a well-preserved, severe, wooden structure on an imposing site”. Severe indeed. Often mistaken as a church, it has served in a secular function for most of its life, and I remember: rummages sales, plays, and of course town meetings.
The Meeting House yesterday and in a 1959 HABS photograph, Library of Congress, along with a 1964 cover of Vermont Life (my little brother and I were actually on a cover about 10 years later, but I can’t find it!)
My childhood memory of Thetford, next to Strafford, is of a town of brick houses. It did not disappoint, although there were some non-brick houses too. These two neighboring houses were perfect, and perfectly situated on lovely grounds.
The corn is high in central Vermont::
The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge, linking the New Hampshire town of Cornish and the Vermont town of Windsor, is one of the longest covered bridges in the United States. It was built in 1866 and substantially rebuilt in the 1980s. Also in Windsor (actually I guess the bridge is actually in Cornish) is the Old Constitution House, where the constitution of the Vermont Republic was signed in 1777 , in effect until Vermont was admitted to the US as the fourteenth state in 1791.
On to Woodstock, where I spent the night. You could spend several days in Woodstock: there are shops, restaurants, the Billings Farm & Museum,the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, and countless amazing houses. It is yet another one of those achingly beautiful towns in Vermont, but also a busy and obviously wealthy one. It’s a “shire town”, or county seat, to use the term we use in the rest of New England. Vermont is always a little bit different, perhaps because of its brief republican experiment.
Woodstock: houses, another bridge, and a case of vintage tins in FH Gillingham & Sons General Store.