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Archive for U.S. travel

An Old Farmstead in Bucks County

By Linda Tancs

The author of more than 300 books and other works, Pearl S. Buck won the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes in literature. She gained fame for her books on China, notably The Good Earth, which chronicled the fictional life of the farmer Wang Lung against the backdrop of 20th-century turmoil and revolution in China. Her farmstead, Green Hills Farm, is a National Historic Landmark in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Dating to 1835, the oldest part of the fieldstone dwelling is a one-story stone summer kitchen. When Ms. Buck purchased the farmstead, she made extensive alternations and additions to the 19th-century farmhouse, including a two-story fieldstone wing added to the east gable. The home is open for guided tours, featuring her Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, the desk where Buck penned her novel The Good Earth, gifts from luminaries like the Dali Lama and President Richard Nixon and paintings from renowned artists.

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Nebraska’s Foremost Citizen

By Linda Tancs

Nobel Prize-winner Sinclair Lewis called Willa Cather the foremost citizen of Nebraska because her books so vividly depicted the Cornhusker State. Indeed, her depictions of the Nebraska prairie and farming communities were important milestones in American literature, and she is one of the most important American novelists of the first half of the 20th century. Her childhood home in Red Cloud is a state historic site. Guided educational tours of the home and other historic buildings related to her life and writing are conducted throughout the year. To experience the topic of her writings, visit the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, a 612-acre haven with nearly two miles of free public walking and hiking trails.

Huguenots and Hackensacks

By Linda Tancs

In 1709 a group of French Huguenot merchants bought a tract of land in present-day New Jersey from the Hackensack Indians. Later in the 1700s a portion of that tract (Ho-Ho-Kus in Bergen County) became the site of the Hermitage, a significant example of the Gothic Revival style, with tall gable roofs, diamond-paned windows and pointed Tudor arches. The historic colonial home was a rest stop for George Washington when he passed through Ho-Ho-Kus in 1778 after the Battle of Monmouth. Among other notable figures to visit the house during the Revolutionary War were James Monroe, William Paterson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Today a National Historic Landmark and house museum, the Hermitage is a rich source of history and the site of numerous Native American artifacts found bordering the property. Tours are available year round Wednesday through Sunday.

An Exceptional Sense of Place

By Linda Tancs

Frederic Church, a major Hudson River School painter, had talents beyond the brush. A self-taught architect and landscape designer, he indulged his influences from world travels in the design and construction of a Victorian villa with Middle Eastern accents and named it Olana after a fortress-treasure house in ancient Greater Persia. Its 250-acre naturalistic landscape is one of Church’s great works of art and is one of the most intact artist-designed landscapes in the United States. Because it was created in the area of the birthplace of the Hudson River School arts movement, it possesses an exceptional sense of place—not to mention enviable views of the Hudson River valley. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Olana’s opening to the public, which includes the seasonal, popular guided house tour and year-round, self-guided landscape tours.

Paulding’s Folly

By Linda Tancs

New York City mayor William Paulding constructed a Gothic Revival mansion in the 1800s overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York. Unusual in the post-Colonial era, it sported fanciful turrets and an asymmetrical design that earned it the moniker “Paulding’s Folly.” Its second owner, merchant George Merritt, doubled down you might say by adding to the fanciful Gothic structure and naming it Lyndenhurst after the abundance of Linden trees on the property. Railroad tycoon Jay Gould was the third owner of the estate who, like other wealthy patrons of his day commissioning the construction of mansions along the bluffs of the river from New York City to Albany, used the property as a country retreat. Known today as Lyndhurst, the art, furnishings and antiques remain intact and reflect the character of its three owners, and its grounds survive as an outstanding example of 19th century landscape design.

The Niagara of Pennsylvania

By Linda Tancs

Popularly referred to as the Niagara of Pennsylvania, Bushkill Falls encompasses eight waterfalls amidst 300 acres including more than two miles of hiking trails, bridges and walkways. Privately owned by the Peters family, Charles E. Peters first opened Bushkill Falls to the public in 1904 with a single path and a swinging bridge over the head of the Main Falls, a majestic cliff with a 100-foot drop. You can view those falls from the green or yellow trails. Take the blue trail for Pennell Falls or the red trail for the popular Bridal Veil Falls. Nestled in the Poconos, Bushkill Falls is an easy drive from locales in eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

The Oldest State Capitol

By Linda Tancs

The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use and is the only state house ever to have served as the nation’s capitol. The Old Senate Chamber is where George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was ratified, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War. Of particular interest is the lightning rod on the dome of the state house—a Franklin rod, constructed and grounded to Benjamin Franklin’s specifications. Protruding 28 feet into the air, the rod is anchored at its bottom to the top of the dome, which has been the defining landmark of the Annapolis skyline for more than 225 years.

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