On Wicked Wednesday, we all weigh in on a topic. This week, we’re continuing our celebration of the release of The Longest Yard Sale by Sherry Harris. Since Sherry’s books are set in historic Bedford, Massachusetts, we’ve been reflecting on our favorite pieces of history. So Wickeds, what’s your favorite historical place?
Liz: I have a particular fondness for Salem, Massachusetts. I went to college there and have always been fascinated with the town’s rich history and the way they turned the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials into a lifelong celebration of all things witchy. Plus the entire town just oozes history, from The House of Seven Gables to the Peabody Essex Museum. If you haven’t visited Salem, you should go!
Edith: Since I write about a Quaker midwife in historical Amesbury, Massachusetts, I have to claim the Friends Meetinghouse as my favorite – but I’ve already written about that here. So I guess I’ll vote for Ipswich. The town has the highest number of First Period houses (built before 1720) in the country, and I lived in one of them. It’s fascinating to walk the streets of the town and see historic marker after marker with dates stretching back to 1625 and the name of the home’s original owner. Many have been carefully preserved, and I now know all about summer beams, chamfering, and gunstock posts!
Jessie: My favorite town with historical significance is Old Orchard Beach, Maine. From the Gilded Age to the Big Band Era there is so much rich history. Because Old Orchard is such a popular vacation spot there are loads of early photographs of merrymakers. It is so easy to be inspired here. And the beach doesn’t hurt to get the creative juices flowing either.
Julie: Staying in New England? I have a great fondness for Concord. Tons of Revolutionary War history, and a huge layer of literary history. Plus it’s a great place to visit. Quaint town, great bookstore. I’ve been to many events at the Concord Inn, from wedding showers to post funeral receptions to Sisters in Crime meetings, and it has been perfect every time.
Sherry: Minute Man National Historical Park which runs through Lincoln and Concord, Massachusetts. Is one of my favorite places. Walking the Battle Trail Road takes you on the path of the first battle of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. You can stop at the Paul Revere capture site, the Hartwell Tavern, Bloody Angle and the Old North Bridge. So much history in just a few miles. Be sure and stop at the visitors center and watch the brief presentation of the first day to set the scene.
Barb: Since I’m in Maine now, I have to go with Pemaquid Lighthouse on the Bristol peninsula. It’s a place we always take visitors. Lighthouse and keepers cottage, waves crashing on the rocks. There’s a great little museum. If you’re ambitious, nearby there’s Fort William Henry and the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site and a terrific beach. What more could you ask for?
Readers: What’s your favorite historic place?
Gettysburg Battlefield and town. I have visited when it’s crowded in summer, when it’s deserted in winter, when it’s beautiful in fall. Sad and moving every time.
Agree, Ramona. We were there on Memorial Day one year.
My daughter’s fifth grade class went on a field trip to Gettsyburg. I hung on the tour guides every word. An amazing place.
Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore, Maine. Life in the mid-1800s, New England style. You can visit but you can also do a live-in. As it happens, I’m wearing my Norlands t-shirt as I write this. It has a team of oxen on the front.
That sounds fascinating but I think I’d be good with a visit instead of an overnight!
Bu the overnight is fabulous!
Shoot, only one place? And you’ve already staked out Concord, which I first visited with my mother and grandmother when I was a teenager. I think I’ll vote for Old Sturbridge Village (which I saw on that same family trip and have visited many times since). While it was assembled from buildings from a range of New England sites, it captures the spirit of its era well, and it feels very real when you’re in the midst of it. (And they have oxen, Kathy!)
I never made it to Sturbridge and would love too.
I have to go with Gettysburg, too. The last time I was there, it was right around the anniversary of the battle and it was so hot I was melting. “They did this in wool uniforms?” It was staggering. I hope to take my kids soon.
Thinking of the battles wearing wool and carrying so much heavy equipment boggles the mind.
(Only slightly off-topic) Just recently I read in a novel the comment made by one of the characters, who said “you could smell the enemy coming.”
Great line — Sheila!
Concord, Salem, Old Sturbridge Village, and Minute Man Historical Park are some of my favorites, too, having visited New England several times to see my son. I’m afraid our historical landmarks here in California are not as “vintage” as those out your way. ;o) The California Missions are fascinating.
When I lived in Monterey I loved touring the adobe houses. I never made it to any of the missions but visited quite a few lighthouses.
Williamsburg, Virginia. The whole town is a wonderful place to visit. Every time my brother-in-law comes to visit from England, that is where he wants to visit. Closer to home, it would have to be Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.
I loved Williamsburg, but the only time I saw it I was a chaperone for my daughter’s fifth grade class. I’d love to go back and enjoy it in a more leisurely way. Still haven’t seen Mount Vernon, but I thought Monticello was wonderful.
I love Williamsburg and Mount Vernon. I visited both on a road trip with my family when I was in 5th grade and then again as an adult.
I love the historic sites of Salem and Marblehead especially of events that happened when Marblehead was part of Salem. The harbor is one of my favorite places where I spent many hours as a kid climbing rocks, swimming, sailing, and clam digging.
Like Edith, however, I have a special fondness for Ipswich. One of the houses that Edith refers to was built by one of my ancestors, Robert Paine. I love that it is still standing surrounded by the beautiful preserve. There is some conflict in the records that I can find, because some say that this Robert Paine died in 1693 and the house was built in 1694. There were a few Robert Paines in the family, but it would be interesting to know who built the house. The Robert Paine who settled the land was my eighth great-grandfather. Anyway… the next time you’re prowling around First Period houses in Ipswich maybe you will discover the answer to that question. It’s a great way to spend the day at the beautiful 213-acre Greenwood Farm Reservation with salt marsh, upland meadows, First Period historic house, and the historic farm.
I love your many connections to New England, Reine!
Thank you. I miss home a lot!
Wow, there’s not a single Paine in my family tree. However, in Ipswich I can find a whole lot of ancestors. We must connect somewhere!
Sheila, I’m sure we must. Actually I thought so before from something you posted, but can’t remember where or when. It might have been a family name you mentioned. If you go back to the 17th century, I’m sure that the chances are greater for a connection given the smaller number of families. It would be fun to find out.
Thomas Jefferson’s home Montecello is my favorite historical site in the U.S.
My favorite site outside the U.S. Is St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy.
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