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Archive for October, 2016

Aloha from Michigan

By Linda Tancs

The tropics beckon at Honolulu House in Marshall, Michigan. Yes, that’s right. In America’s Midwest, a sandstone mansion incorporates Polynesian (plus some Italianate and Gothic Revival) architecture. Its tropical influences include a raised veranda and observation platform. An inviting nine-bay porch spans the front, with its wide center bay serving as the base of its pagoda-topped tower. Built in 1860 for the first U.S. consul to the Sandwich Islands, it stands in the heart of Marshall’s National Historic Landmark District (at the corner of Mansion and Kalamazoo) and is listed on the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Home of Little Women

By Linda Tancs

Louisa May Alcott wrote her beloved classic Little Women at Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. The grounds contained an orchard of 40 apple trees, giving the home its name. Largely unchanged since the Alcott occupancy in the mid-1800s, the premises even retain 80 percent of the family furnishings, making a visit to the property akin to walking through the pages of the novel. The house is shown by guided tour only.

The Essence of Creole

By Linda Tancs

Creole, a blend of western European, African and Native American influences, flourished in Louisiana before it joined the Union in 1803. You’ll find its essence alive and well at Laura, a Creole plantation in the heart of New Orleans Plantation Country. Originally called l’habitation Duparc (after Duparc, a French naval veteran of the American Revolution who acquired the property in 1804), it was renamed Laura Plantation after Laura Locoul, a descendant of the Duparc-Locoul families. At its largest size, it was approximately 12,000 acres, which included properties amassed over time. More than a house and garden tour, visitors are enriched in Creole culture through a 70-minute tour (in English and French) sharing the compelling, real-life accounts of multiple generations of the plantation’s Creole inhabitants—plantation owners, women, slaves and children who once called this centuries-old, sugar cane farm their home. The property is located on Highway 18 midway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, only 35 miles from New Orleans International Airport.

Plantation Life in Maryland

By Linda Tancs

A National Historic Landmark, Sotterley Plantation is the only tidewater plantation in Maryland that is open to the public. Located in Hollywood in Southern Maryland, the Colonial-era site boasts a 1703 plantation house, a rare and restored slave cabin and an abundance of outbuildings set amidst nearly 95 acres overlooking the scenic Patuxent River. Older than George Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon, visitors can also enjoy nature trails, bird watching and an array of archeological exhibits from excavations on the grounds.

The Little Church Around the Corner

By Linda Tancs

Known officially as the Church of the Transfiguration, the picturesque Episcopal church at 1 East 29th Street in New York City is better known by locals and tourists as “The Little Church Around the Corner.” The nickname dates back to 1870, when Joseph Jefferson (famous for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle on stage) had requested a funeral at another church for his fellow actor and friend, George Holland. The priest refused, subscribing to a common belief of the time that actors lived loose lives and were unworthy of Christian burial, and suggested that “the little church around the corner” might be more hospitable. And so it was. To this day the church maintains close ties to the theater community. Made of brick and timber, this architectural gem is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the city’s landmarked properties.

Florida’s Oldest House

By Linda Tancs

In St. Augustine, Florida, the Oldest House Museum Complex features Florida’s oldest house (over three centuries old), the Gonzalez-Alvarez House. The dwelling is a National Historic Landmark and an example of the oldest Spanish Colonial structure in existence in Florida. Docents lead guests through a 25-minute guided tour. The house is one of many stops along the Red Sightseeing Trains route.


From Ore to Orchards

By Linda Tancs

The area in and around Hacklebarney State Park in Chester, New Jersey, is rich in history—from ore to orchards. The park itself was a mined iron ore site in the 19th century. Nowadays, it’s a favorite place for avid anglers, hikers and picnickers. The Black River that cascades amidst the boulder remnants of this moraine provides excellent stream fishing year round. For hikers and naturalists, the park offers three rare and endangered plant species: American ginseng, leatherwood and Virginia pennywort. Over 100 bird species and wildlife such as black bears, woodchucks, deer and foxes also live in the park. Less than a mile away is a cider mill now in its seventh generation, where apple and pumpkin picking among the orchards is a popular activity this time of year.

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