Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Murals in Nashua, NH

Not all of our adventures are ones that take us out-of-town. There's a lot to see here in Nashua, NH, where the city is working to beautify the downtown areas with murals.

By definition, a mural is a piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other permanent surfaces so that it's made part of the area. There's nearly 30 wall murals in and around the city, most are painted on outside walls, a few are inside buildings.
Nostalgia was done a few years ago in Main St to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chase Building on which it was painted. Years ago, it contained were three theaters — the Tremont, State and Star Theaters, all of which were gone before we relocated here. Like in many areas, there's no longer a single movie theater within the city.
The mural shows scenes from several classic movies: The Blog (The Three Stooges), Gone with the Wind and It’s A Wonderful Life. We had just relocated to Nashua and watched as this mural was being created over the course of a few weeks. The level of detail is amazing.
This unnamed mural shows the former Nashua Manufacturing Company, once the city's largest mill complex, which is now Clocktower Apartments, where we reside along with over 900 other residents. The building is located just east of this mural on the side of a downtown music store. The mural was done in 2011 by Barbara Andrews, who I read was a city resident
Vivian's Dream is a massive, 40 x 35 foot tall historic mural that depicts West Pearl Street in 1909 with the Tremont House Hotel in the foreground and is painted on a wall on West Pearl St. 

At the turn of the century, this street was the city's economic hub with shops, restaurants, coffee houses, grocery stores, and the city's first high school. The Tremont House Hotel was the "place to stay" in Nashua. It had numerous shops on the ground floor as well as a livery stable in back. The 2014 mural was done by Barbara Andrews and named for a friend, Vivian, who ran a dress shop in another building owned by her family just up the street.
Courtyard Garden is on West Pearl Street and Garden Street on the side of the Fortin-Gage building. It extends the small Garden Street courtyard into a European town plaza and was done in 1996 by artist Frances Nutter (couldn't locate information on the artist).
This unnamed and uncompleted mural (above) is along a wall below Water Street which is near Clocktower Apts. It shows a few current and former downtown businesses and some of the art looks unfinished. (I couldn't find information on the artist or group that created these.)
Two of my favorite murals are painted on the rear and side walls of adjacent and popular Main Street eateries, both of which we have dining in. 

Martha's Muse (left) is on the back wall of Martha's Exchange and shows a woman holding a mug of beer surrounded by treats and a burst of colors. The piece was done in four weeks in over 100 hours, entirely in aerosols, or spray paint. The mural captures some of the restaurant's history, which started as Martha’s Sweet Shoppe in 1932. A restaurant with seats and tables was added and eventually a brewery.

Poseidon's Grasp (right) is on the side wall os a seafood eatery named Surf. Its location is adjacent to what will be the city's performing arts center, which is currently under construction. 

Both murals were done by Manny Ramirez, artist-in-residence for Positive Street Art. This local nonprofit organization was founded in 2012 by Ramirez and his wife, fellow artist Cecilia Ulibarri. Its mission is to bring art to urban areas in a positive way. The group has been responsible for completing many of Nashua's most colorful downtown murals in the past several years. 
Dance of the Herons is the newest city mural and features several images of great blue herons. This large mural is painted on a building that was formerly part of the Nashua Manufacturing Company, which is located adjacent to the Nashua River where herons have been seen. 
The 120 feet long by 12 feet high mural was completed at the end of August by Columbian artist Felipe Ortiz, who is associated with Beyond Walls in Lynn, MA. The City of Nashua partnered with this nonprofit organization to enhance the downtown riverfront. This is the first of future river art to be done under the city's $15 million Riverfront Master Plan which will also add walkways and lighting, clear invasive vegetation, and install a kayak dock. 

(To see some amazing wall murals, check out what Beyond Walls did in the city of Lynn, MA. A few years ago, the nonprofit group held a Mural Festival in which 20 graphic artists painted 15 walls over the course of 10 days. You'll find many of the resulting artwork online.)
This mural (don't know its name) was also done by Positive Street Art muralists a few years ago and pays tribute to service personnel. It's located on the wall of a city parking lot, appropriately nearby to a veterans housing facility.

Thanks for taking this short look of some public art in Nashua, NH. There's many more murals around the city as well as sculptures and future explorations will be taken.

Just wondering — have you also gone on local explorations where you live?

Monday, September 27, 2021

Final Anniversary Adventures

This is the last post (promise) on our August anniversary road trip in NH and VT. We've been to other places since then, including a roadside attraction in MA and a balloon festival in PA, details in future posts. 

There's a region in Northern CA widely known as Silicon Valley. Perhaps less well known is that in the mid-19th century in New England, Windsor, VT, and surrounding regions became known as Precision Valley.

Precision Valley ran along the Connecticut River, from Springfield, VT, to Hartford, CT. In the 1850s, electricity didn't exist and water power was what enabled precision machinery to operate
The village of Windsor, VT, became an anchor in the Precision Valley due to a gun factory on the banks of the Mill Brook that became a forerunner in the field of interchangeable precision manufacturing. 
Today, the former Robbins & Lawrence Company gun factory is home to the American Precision Museum, and its unique collection of machine tools spanning the first 100 years of precision manufacturing. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 2001, the building is significant for its architectural integrity reflecting the size, scale, and operation of a 19th century New England factory.

Richard Lawrence had moved to VT in 1838 at age 21 and later formed a gun-making shop with Nicanor Kendall. In 1846, local businessman Samuel Robbins urged them to bid on a United States army order for 10,000 rifles for the Mexican-American War. They got the bid because their bid of $11.90 was ten cents per gun lower than competing bids. And, convinced the government parts interchangeability could be used in building the rifle.
Lawrence and Robbins bought Kendall out and formed a partnership, buying land and building a factory and machine shop, hiring workers and mechanics, inventing new machines, adapting old ones, and creating the new technology of producing precise interchangeable parts to fill the order. The system of mass production introduced at the factory was so efficient that the order was done 18 months early; the company was awarded a second contract for 15,000 more rifles. 
The four-story factory had high ceilings and wood construction. Its wood floors accommodated heavy equipment for a large workforce. The narrow width and expansive windows provided plenty of natural light. An 18-foot iron and wooden water wheel in the basement powered a network of belts and shafting to operate the factory's machine tools. These could cut rifle wood and metal parts with accuracy and consistency speeding up the production process.
F. Howe & R. Lawrence

Robbins & Lawrence was one of the first companies to use custom metal lathing machines to create parts so precise they could be interchanged. This was a major advance in weapon making and manufacturing in general. Shop superintendent Frederick W. Howe was responsible for many of the company’s innovations in machine-tool design and along with Lawrence developed a milling machine that was later commercialized for use by other firms.

When the war ended in 1848, R&L found that machine tools could be used to produce other items. These tools created precise custom parts for machinery that became standard throughout the U.S. The concept of interchangeable parts was applied to mass production of consumer goods like shoes, watches, sewing machines, typewriters and later bicycles and automobiles producing them faster and in greater quantities.

Revolving hammer pistol
R&L produced in mid-1850s 
In 1851, American contractors and manufacturing firms including Robbins & Lawrence exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exposition in London, a worldwide celebration of arts and technology. The Windsor-made rifles won a metal and the British Parliament sent a group to the VT factory to study the American System of interchangeable machine-made parts.

Afterwards, Britain placed an order for 25,000 Enfield rifles to be made in Windsor, also ordering 141 machine tools to equip an armory being built near Enfield. Robbins & Lawrence became one of the first American companies to export new technology from America to Europe reversing the previous direction.

Ironically, the awarding of this major contract also led to the company’s downfall. In 1857, the Robbins & Lawrence Company went bankrupt and closed. The company, which had bought machinery to produce the rifles, was left with 12,000 undeliverable muskets when the Crimean War ended suddenly in 1856.

The Robbins & Lawrence Company employed over 150 men at its peak. These machinists and engineers were able to apply their skills to tool companies in the area and beyond. Even in its decline, the company’s technical innovations guaranteed Windsor, VT, a chapter in the history of the American Industrial Revolution. It also played a role in fostering the careers of those who implemented Vermont’s machine tool industry in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
After it closed, the plant and equipment were bought in 1858 by Ebenezer Lamson operating as Lamson, Goodnow & Yale which made sewing machines. When the Civil War erupted in 1861, he secured a government contract for 50,000 long-arm rifles and re-tooled to produce rifles and machinery for gun makers like Colt, Remington, Sharps Rifle, and the Springfield Armory.
The most common firearm for Union soldiers was the Special Model 1861 rifle-musket based on the British Enfield rifle made by Robbins & Lawrence in the 1850s. 
During the fall and winter of 1861-62, production soared. Lamson recruited skilled machinists and gun makers from around New England. Gas lighting was installed; more than 300 men worked in shifts around the clock. By spring 1862, orders for gun-making machines slowed. Machinists in the Windsor factory began receiving orders for lathes, drill presses, barrel turning machines, and various types of milling machines. 
By 1870, Lamson sold the arms making tools and machinery to Winchester and Smith & 
Wesson and continued as a manufacturer of machine tools for a number of years changing the firm’s name to the Windsor Manufacturing Company. 

The heritage of the former Robbins & Lawrence Company continued with several companies using the old buildings and tools. The property was sold to the Windsor Electric Light Company and, in 1926, was sold again to the Central Vermont Public Service Company which proposed razing it in 1964 and prompting Windsor resident, Edwin Battison to form plans for a museum. 
Battison ↑, curator of Mechanical Engineering at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, secured the building in 1966 to house not only the American Precision Museum in 1966, but his collection of historic machine tools, related books, and archival materials. He served as its director until 1991.
The American System of Manufacturing had its roots in firearms production. Notable features included the extensive use of interchangeable parts and production mechanization. The system was first fully developed in armories and known as armory practice. 
The Robbins & Lawrence Company and its successors played a crucial role in this process.
Folks, this was yet a(nother) long-ish post about a subject that may not appeal to all. Many of our recent road trips have included visits to new-to-us museums. I enjoy reading about them and sharing this information. Hopefully, some of you, will enjoy reading about them here. If you did, there's more recent museum visit posts to come, but later (promise).

Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday Funnies

 Can you hear me now?
Grenville had some fun with this vintage piece at a recent ham radio flea market. (It didn't have anything to do with ham radio, but was a unique find for a photo opp.)

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
We're in PA to see family, friends & a hot air balloon festival.
Hope you have some fun in your plans too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More Anniversary Adventures

Despite its relatively small size, Cornish, NH, is notable for having the most covered bridges in the state(4), including what was once the longest in the U.S. Also, it was home to a famous American sculptor who lived there and founded a noted artists colony. Today, his estate is the site of the state's only national park. One more thing, reclusive author J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye) also lived in Cornish for about 30 years from the 1930s-1950s and had two homes  there.)

All of this made Cornish a place to stop on our recent anniversary road trip. This post continues a previous road adventure post.
We drove across the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge, the longest of those covered bridges, which spans the Connecticut River connecting Cornish NH, and Windsor, VT. At 449 feet, it is the longest two-span covered bridge in the world and the longest continually open bridge in NH

It was the longest U.S. covered bridge until 2008 when the Smolen-Gulf Bridge, which crosses the Ashtabula River in OH, beat it at 613 feet. 
The lattice truss Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge, built in 1866 at a $9,000 cost, operated as a toll bridge from 1866 to 1943 when it was bought by the state of NH and became toll-free. After a 1954 renovation, the bridge was damaged by flood water and ice in 1977 and repaired at a cost of $25,000. Closed to traffic in 1987 due to deterioration, it was reconstructed for over $4 million and reopened to traffic in late 1989. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

FYI, the other covered bridges in Cornish, NH, are the Blow-Me-Down Covered Bridge, Singleton Hill Covered Bridge, Blacksmith Shop Bridge (also known as the Kenyon Hill Bridge, foot traffic only). Maybe we will see these on a return trip. 
Cornish, NH, is home to the only National Park in NH, Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, which is also the only park dedicated to an American sculptor in the entire park system. 

The 190-acre park was Saint-Gaudens summer residence and later permanent home until his death and the center of the Cornish Art Colony in the late 19th century. The sculptor’s home, Aspet, and studios are open to the public seasonally, late May to the end of Oct. Due to current restrictions, the home is closed so we could only tour the exterior and grounds; there is an online virtual tour.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), a European-educated sculptor, is widely recognized as the foremost American sculptor of the late 19th century, noted for his oversize size memorial sculptures. The park contains full-size bronze casts of some of his most famous works.

Saint-Gaudens was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of French and Irish parents who immigrated to NYC when he was an infant and where his father set up a shoe repair business. At age 13, he was apprenticed to a cameo cutter and took evening art classes at Cooper Union in NYC. When his apprenticeship ended at age 19, Saint-Gaudens went to Paris to study in the studio of a French sculptor becoming the first American accepted to the ร‰cole des Beaux-Arts, the foremost training ground for artists and architects at the time. He left Paris in late 1870 and went to Rome to work on his first full-length statue, a marble sculpture of the fictional Ojibwe chief, Hiawatha, which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
Hiawatha by Augustus Saint-Gaudens Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Living in NY in 1873, Saint-Gaudens met architect Stanford White before securing his first major commission for a monument to Civil War Admiral David Glasgow Farragut planned for Madison Square Park. 
Admiral David Farragut Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
The 10-foot tall Farragut monument was unveiled in NY in 1881 to popular acclaim. The work depicts Farragut standing in uniform with binoculars and sword on the deck of his ship. The statue rests on a granite pedestal designed by White featuring a bas-relief figure of a seated female on either side. Its success led to commissions for some 20 public monuments around the country. 
Aspet, home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Cornish, NH
Saint-Gaudens and his wife, Augusta Homer, an American art student he met in Rome and married in 1877, arrived in Cornish, NH, in 1885. They rented a vacant inn, Huggins Folly, from his lawyer, who offered the site away from the heat of NYC. Sanford White helped renovate the former tavern to include porches, pergolas and dormers, and a hay barn was converted into a studio. In 1891, Saint-Gaudens purchased the house and 22 acres for $2,500 and renamed the house, Aspet, after his father’s birthplace in France. 
Lincoln the Man by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Lincoln The Man or The Standing Lincoln is one of Saint-Gauden’s most famous works and has been called the most important sculpture of Lincoln from the 19th century. The 12-foot high statue in Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, is atop a 6-foot base designed by Stanford White.

Saint-Gaudens found a model in Windsor, VT. A resident there, Langdon Morse, was tall like Lincoln, with similar features. Morse was a justice of the peace, a town council member, and Vermont legislator. Lincoln had been assassinated 5 years earlier and the face was done using a life mask made before his inauguration. Saint-Gaudens had Lincoln’s tailor make a duplicate of the president's suit, instructing Morse to walk everywhere in it, so it would look "lived in."
The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial is considered to be the greatest public U.S. monument according to the National Park Service website. The Shaw Memorial, a 14-foot by 11-foot, three-dimensional panel took 14 years (1884-1897) to complete and depicts Colonel Shaw and some of the African-American soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. 
Detail of the Shaw Memorial
Saint-Gaudens hired African American men to pose and modeled 40 different heads with a range of features, physiques, and ages. His attention to detail and accuracy extended to clothing and equipment. The regiment is shown marching with an angel overhead holding poppies, a symbol of deaths to come. It was unveiled in 1897 on Boston Common, MA, near where Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry marched to war in 1863. Shaw was just 25 years old when he took command of the 54th. He died a year later leading his unit in the assault on Confederate held Fort Wagner in Charleston, SC. The 1989 American historical war drama, Glory, tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts.
The Adams Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
While working on the Shaw memorial, Saint-Gaudens created his most celebrated funerary monument, which he called The Mystery of the Hereafter and The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding also known as the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
The bronze sculpture was designed by Stanford White and commissioned by historian Henry Adams to honor his wife, Marion, who had committed suicide in 1885. Suffering from depression, she had killed herself by ingesting potassium cyanide, a chemical used to develop photographs. The heavily veiled and seated figure with a shadowed face summons emotions of grief. And the public commonly called it Grief, a title that Henry Adams reportedly hated. In 1972, the Adams Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Diana on the Tower, NYC
Diana on the Tower, Saint-Gaudens created his only female nude sculpture in 1891. The statue in gilt sheet copper was to top the tower of NYC's Madison Square Garden II designed by architect Sanford White. The 18-foot tall, 1,800 lb. rotating weathervane featured a nude woman with bow and arrow balanced atop a ball. It was a landmark icon in its time as it sat atop what was then the tallest tower, over 300 feet, in Manhattan. It was the first statue lit at night with electricity, a new invention. There were two versions. The first didn't rotate because of its weight and was replaced by a lighter one

The statue remained until 1925 and was removed before the building was demolished. The second version has been in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 1932.

In 1900, after being diagnosed with colon cancer, Saint-Gaudens settled year round in Cornish. He continued to work in his studio and produced many reliefs and public sculpture with the help of assistants. 

Attracted by the area's natural beauty, his friends, including artists, sculptors, writers, and designers had built houses in the surrounding area and lived there either full-time or during the summer months. They formed a popular artists group, known as the Cornish Arts Colony, which flourished from about 1895 to 1918 and spread out into small towns around Cornish, NH, and Windsor, VT. Members included American novelist Winston Churchill (not the British statesman), editor Maxwell Perkins, sculptor Paul Man­ship, actress Ethel Barrymore, painters Maxfield and Stephen Parrish, landscape architect Ellen Shipman, conservationist Charles Benton, dancer Isadora Duncan, architect Charles A. Platt, painter and sculptor Frederic Remington.

In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt asked Saint-Gaudens to design three new coins to be produced by the US Treasury: the one-cent coin and the 10 and 20 dollar gold pieces. This commission made him the first sculptor to design an American coin, which before had been done by employees working at the mint. The one-cent coin was eventually scrapped, but the $10 and $20 gold coins were produced and put into circulation for over 25 years.
$20 gold coin in 1903 without In God We Trust 
The Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle coin is considered to be the most beautiful U.S. coin ever minted. Released to the public, it wasn't in circulation long and provoked controversy for the omission of the In God We Trust motto. Early in the design process, the president and the sculptor had opted not to include this phrase for different reasons. Saint-Gaudens appreciated one less element in his design. Roosevelt, a deeply religious man, believed that inscribing the deity's name on coins which might be used for criminal purposes was akin to blasphemy.
$10 gold Indian head eagle, circa 1903
Ironically, Saint-Gaudens lost his battle against colon cancer at his home in Cornish in August 1907, before the $10 and $20 gold coins were released. 
$20 gold coin in 1911 with In God We Trust motto
In 1908, In God We Trust was added following public complaints about the omission. No further design changes took place up through 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended circulating gold coinage. Most double eagles were re-collected by the mint. Now, a Saint-Gaudens $20 gold coin is worth $4,000 or more. 

After the sculptor's death, his wife and son summered at Aspet and, in 1919, established the Saint-Gaudens Memorial dedicated to preserving it as a historic site to protect and preserve the sculptor's works. 

Saint-Gaudens was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1896. In 1920, he was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. In 1940, the U.S. Post Office issued a series of 35 postage stamps. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was among those selected and his image appeared on a 3-cent stamp first issued in NY in September 1940.

During WW II, the Liberty ship SS Augustus Saint-Gaudens was built in Panama City, FL, and named in his honor. The ship was scrapped in Italy in 1967.

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park, NH's only national park, also bears the distinction of being the least-visited U.S. National Park which is unfortunate as so many examples of America’s finest sculptor are on display in this one location. 

On the other hand, that's hardly a deterrent, as it also makes this park less crowded. Since we missed seeing everything on this first visit, late on a hot afternoon, we will return before the park closes in late October. There's an admission fee for those over 15 years old, but the park is a federal fee area and America the Beautiful Annual, Senior, and Access passes are honored for no cost entry. (Thankfully, we both have lifetime senior parks passes.)

(By the way, our travel adventures haven't ended, yet. There's still more to come later.)

Saturday, September 11, 2021


20 years ago on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 the world changed
NYC skyline as it once was, before . . .
Just like this morning, it was a beautiful September day when a Boeing 767, American Airlines Flight 11, struck the North tower of the World Trade Center at the 80th floor. Scarcely 18 minutes later, a second Boeing 676, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South tower near the 60th floor. 

American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington, D.C., before crashing into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. United Flight 93 was hijacked 40 minutes after leaving Newark Liberty International Airport, NJ crashing in a rural field near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m.

We should never forget the attacks and the 2,996 brave people who died in the aftermath.
(The photos are from my personal collection.)                                    (comments are off)

Friday, September 10, 2021

Friday Funnies

If there's not enough room for more passengers in the truck cab — here's a solution, extra seating in the truck bed.
Now, there's room for up to four more passengers and with open air seating too !

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
๐Ÿ‚ Cooler temps are here in Nashua, NH ๐Ÿ

Post Labor Day holiday meant it was time for the scarecrows and pumpkins once again to take up residence outside our apt entry. There's no separate ones for Halloween, just a black spider (gifted by an ex-neighbor)These decos will remain until December as there's no holiday rush at our home.
Are there fall decos on display at your home now ?

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Anniversary Adventures

We’ve been doing staycations (traveling in the U.S. and mainly New England) for day trips and overnight lodgings. Our recent anniversary getaway was less than a 2-hour drive from Nashua, NH, to White River Junction, VT, and Cornish, NH. (This post is a long one and highlights several stops as separate posts weren't needed for each one.)
Downtown White River Junction, VT (year unknown)
Ironically, we were in VT, 9 years ago when Hurricane Sandy battered the East coast in 2012. In 2021, Hurricane Henri threatened the Northeast and New England. Both times, the area we stayed was spared any repercussions. 
S. Main St, White River Junction, VT (circa 1940s)
The village of White River Junction derives its name from where the White River joins the Connecticut River on the borders of VT and NH. It was once a bustling railroad hub that contained over 14 railroad tracks in its boundaries. Today, the White River Junction Historic District consists of galleries and studios reflecting architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Rail lines in White River Junction, VT, circa mid-1850s
In 1847, the Vermont Central Railway and Connecticut River Railroad began building rail lines through White River Junction. This led to a thriving village revolved around the depot where the rail lines met. Five different railroad lines were laid through the village from 1847 to 1875 to create an eight-track crossing served by 50 passenger trains a day. 
In 1849, the first passenger station opened, a union station meaning that was used by every railroad. It was the first of three stations to be destroyed by fire in 1861, 1881, and 1911. Rail service declined in the 1960s due to the Interstate Highway System. The current railroad station is still in use, but passenger service is down to two daily trains on Amtrak’s Vermonter route.
Hotel Coolidge, S. Main St, White River Junction, VT
This trip, we stayed in the Hotel Coolidge on South Main Street. The 1926 Italianate-style hotel is one of the larger structures in the historic district as well as being the only lodging within the village of White River Junction today. Just like the train stations, it has a history of endurance after fires destroyed two earlier buildings in that location in 1878 and 1925.
Junction House, White River Junction, VT (year unknown)
In 1849, Samuel Nutt, a farmer, who owned land near the first railroad depot, sought to capitalize on the success of the Vermont Central Railroad. He purchased the Grafton House in Enfield, NH, and moved the clapboard structure to land he owned on the other side of the tracks from the depot. Renamed the Junction House, it provided meals and shelter for rail travelers and served as a local meeting place. In 1878, it suffered the fate of many wood-frame hotels of that era and burnt down after a kitchen fire spread throughout the building. 
Junction House & other buildings, White River Junction, VT
In 1879, it was replaced with a 200-guest room facility and continued operating as an important railroad hotel. Sold in 1901 for $50,000, the new owners expanded to 340 guest rooms. In 1919 the building again caught fire when an oil heater exploded on the second floor. All guests were evacuated, but the wood-frame hotel was a total loss. Rebuilding began within weeks. 
Hotel Coolidge circa 1925, White River Junction, VT
In 1924, owner Nathaniel Wheeler renamed the Junction House to the Hotel Coolidge in honor of his friend, John C. Coolidge, father of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, and a VT resident. That structure, also destroyed by fire, was replaced by the current structure in 1925. Through the years, the building continued as a hotel with storefronts. Renovated in 1997, it remains the Hotel Coolidge nearly a century after its completion, standing for longer than its two predecessors combined, but with far fewer rooms. It's now a 30-room hotel and 26-bed youth hostel. 

When White River Junction was an active railroad center, the rebuilt Hotel Coolidge was the leading hotel. In 1927, room rates were $2.50 per night, $3 for a room with a bath. In May 1929,  two months after his second term ended, former President Coolidge spent a few nights at the hotel while on a fishing trip.
Current Hotel Coolidge exterior & lobby, White River Junction, VT
A stay at the Hotel Coolidge is quite different from staying in a modern hotel chain. It has some unusual quirks, like slanting floors, a sink in a sitting room, and rooms with a bathroom between the bedroom and sitting room. That's because, years ago, these may have been separate bedrooms with a shared bathroom.
Hallway, stairs, 2nd floor sitting area, Hotel Coolidge, White River Junction, VT
But these differences are what make it so unique with hallway tables, chairs and lamps and sitting areas at the end of the hallway directly near the stairs. Currently, hotel rooms are all on the second floor, compared to years ago. All rooms have a small fridge, no microwave or coffee maker, unlike many current hotel/motels. However, free hot coffee was available in the lobby in the early morning and throughout the day.
The smallish Hotel Coolidge elevator
The hotel's elevator is very small and definitely not anyone feeling claustrophobic. That's because it accommodates 2 people with luggage. It was also very quiet, and very slow exactly as the posted sign indicated. 
Boston & Maine Locomotive #494, circa 1892
Remnants of the village's railroad history remain. In a pavilion in front of the RR depot, Boston & Maine R.R. locomotive #494 and a caboose are on display. Both have NH connections. The coal-fired engine was built in 1892 by the Manchester Locomotive Works. The 33-feet long caboose was built in 1921 by the Laconia Car Company. The engine remained in use until 1938 and was displayed at the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens, NY. In 1957, after it was donated to the town of Hartford, VT, it was restored and placed on display in White River Junction with the caboose.
Former Post Office is the Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, VT
A prominent building directly across from the hotel is the U.S. Post Office built in 1934 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and succeeding earlier ones in 1849 and 1890This Neo-Classical Revival-style brick building retains the inscription United States Post Office on the front and was at various times, a post office, Vermont District Court and a privately owned office building. Today, it's home to the Center for Cartoon Studies, a 2-year art school focusing on sequential art, such as found in comic books and comic strips.
Gates Hotel Annex, White River Junction, VT
Sometime after 1950, the above lettering was painted on the walls of this building, which may have been a hotel earlier, but no information was located. One sign states Room with Bath with an arrow. The other sign advertises Gates Hotel Annex, Newly Furnished, Hot and Cold Water, $1.00. The building is considered a landmark in the village and houses a bar on the lower level.
Former J.J. Newberry's now  houses Tuckerbox Restaurant
By 1938, the building at the intersection of North and South Main Streets was renovated for J.J. Newberry Stores. Renamed Newberry Market, today, the site is occupied by Tuckerbox. This 
popular village eatery features Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine and is the only one of three downtown eateries open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We dined here several times as the other two restaurants were open limited hours, mainly due to being short-staffed.
1890 Gates Block, White River Junction, VT
It's not only the Hotel Coolidge, but many other buildings in the center of White River Junction that have survived over the years. One prominent structure is the large 1890 Gates Block named after George W. Gates, who not only owned most of the land now in the historic district, but was prominent in the early development and growth of the village
Vermont Salvage Company, White River Junction, VT
A visit to White River Junction always should include a stop at the Vermont Salvage Exchange on Gates Street. This was our second stop in nine years (since 2012) and the building has remained the same as then. We even suspected some of the same items were inside. 

The business is housed in an Italianate Revival structure built on land formerly leased from the Vermont Central Railroad. The building was formerly home to the Cross-Abbott Company, a wholesale grocery business founded by Charles Cross and Charles Abbott in 1894. By 1903, it was one 13 prosperous wholesale businesses. When Cross-Abbott moved out in the mid-1950s, another wholesale distribution company, White River Paper Company occupied the building until 1989 when Vermont Salvage started in business there.
All that's sold here is architectural salvage which makes Vermont Salvage is a very unique place to visit. There's no knick-knacks, yard sale or flea-market items, just lots and lots of stuff taken from old homes and buildings.
Vermont Salvage is a haven for architectural salvage of all types
Today, this location is considered by many as New England's premier architectural salvage company. Within its two floors, it features everything from antique and historic pieces, wrought iron fencing, sinks and tubs, columns, mantelpieces, doors and even stained glass windows.

While we stayed in VT, we spent time in nearby Cornish, NH, where a highlight of our visit was a first-time meetup with fellow NH blogger, Marcia, and her husband, Dan. We enjoyed a get together with wonderful food and good conversation. Marcia and Dan graciously provided a tour of their home and barn. (Whoops, no photos taken.)
Our anniversary day started with Saturday morning breakfast at the Four Aces Diner in West Lebanon, NH, which bills itself as Home of the All American Retro Brunch 50's Diner. This is a very popular eatery as witnessed by the packed parking lot, luckily we did not wait long for a booth, counter seating was also an option.  The blueberry pancakes were delicious, according to Grenville, and I agreed this choice was better that mine, a Cinnabon® roll pancake. While tasty, they didn't compare to one of those decadent cinnamon rolls. 
Transportation from parking area to Cornish, NH, fair grounds
After breakfast, we spent nearly the entire day at the Cornish Fair. Billed as 
Family-Friendly, Country, Agricultural Fair, it reminded us of the similar ones we had attended when living on the VA eastern shore, which was largely an agricultural area.
The heat took its toll on these cows, including this exhausted young'un
There was an abundance of local participants and fair goers despite the very warm and humid Saturday we attended. Last year's fair had been cancelled due to the pandemic. It was evident that this year's event was more early attended because of that fact.
Vintage tractors displayed at Cornish, NH, Fair
Anyone who has ever been to an agricultural fair knows that it's not be complete without displays of tractors. There's always plenty of all makes, models and ages and always a lot of green John Deere models.
Cornish, NH, Fair indoor exhibits
Indoor exhibits included home grown veggies and canned goods, along with crafts, photography, quilts, and baked goods (no sampling here).
Rides and stage performances at Cornish Fair
One thing we do not enjoy at fairs are the rides, so we were content to watch others enjoying these high flying ones. But, we did enjoy these performers at an outdoors pavilion.
Our anniversary ended with cheesecake and white wine enjoyed in our VT hotel room. The wine was brought along on the trip and the dessert was purchased at a supermarket. It had been a long and very warm hot day outdoors and after dinner on the way back from the fair, we opted for an intimate dessert celebration.

WAIT, this isn't the end of our anniversary adventures as there's more to come, but not in this post (thankfully). A future post will detail our visit to the only National Historic Park in NH.