Archive for June, 2019

Rhode Trip: Kennebunkport for ArtisansList.com

For a decently well-traveled person, it came as a shock to friends when they learned I hadn’t set foot in the State of Maine until I was a full-fledged adult. “Like, ever?” they’d ask, deeply puzzled. “Ever,” I’d say, with a nonchalant shoulder shrug (look, I grew up living between NYC and DC and missed the boat on “summering” in Maine). It wasn’t until I was on a press trip many years ago that I experienced my first Maine getaway, a trip that set the bar rather high. With a stay at Kennebunkport’s White Barn Inn, a luxury boutique hotel, I visited when when longtime chef Jonathan Cartwright was at the helm (who steered the restaurant to a coveted Forbes 5-Star rating). Newporters might remember his name as he oversaw the menu at the former Muse restaurant at The Vanderbilt (then  Vanderbilt Grace). He left after 20 years of service, and today, the White Barn Inn thrives under the tenets of its Auberge Resorts Collection ownership. 

More recently, I included the hotel in a round up of lodging options in this travel piece for Artisans List, a new site launched under the director of longtime Better Homes & Gardens editor (and Aquidneck Island resident), Cindy Bogart. Here’s a teaser (for full story, click here.)

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With its captivating coastline and quintessential New England charm, Kennebunkport in southern Maine has long been a summertime playground for travelers far and wide. Quaint buildings dating back to the late 18th and early 19th century add to the town’s Rockwellian charm, most especially in the Kennebunkport Historic District nestled in the village center. Visitors with an appreciation for rich history combined with an eye for authentic early American architecture will especially be drawn to this unique coastal community. 

Though Kennebunkport was first incorporated as Cape Porpoise (or Cape Porpus) in 1653, the land was first home to Native Americans. Due to hostility between the native population and the settlers over the next 25 years, the area was considered “depopulated,” then repopulated, by Europeans in early 1700s with fishing, farming and shipbuilding rising as dominating trades. The town was renamed “Kennebunkport” in 1821 (to the Abenaki Indians, “Kennebunk” meant “the long cut bank,” which historians conclude refers to the bank behind Kennebunk Beach.) The town emerged into a popular summer colony as early as the 1870s, with hotels and recreational accoutrements luring city dwellers to bask in the refreshing Maine seawater. 

Today, Kennebunkport maintains its late 19th century charm as the authentic coastal village continues to invite visitors year-round, though most especially in the warm summer months. 

See full story in Travel for History Buffs here

June 23, 2019 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

The Case For Judging a Book by Its Cover

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I was checking out at the bookstore last month when I nearly let out an audible gasp. As soon as I laid eyes on The Guest List by Sarah Blake, I knew I had to read it, as the cover was a very familiar scene — it’s a gray-scale image of a girl wearing a knee-length sleeveless white shift running down Newport’s own Reject’s Beach, with Seaweed, the mansion with the iconic enclosed porch, prominently featured. Seaweed was originally built in 1860-61, then sold to and modified by famed architect George Champlain Mason, who designed many homes in Newport in addition to being the editor of the Newport Mercury for some time and a founder of the Newport Historical Society. It’s had The Guest Book_Sarah Blake_3a number of owners through its time including the Dolan family of Philadelphia, who  summered there for generations. They had architect Horace Trumbaur modify the home (he also designed The Elms). Seaweed has been featured multiple times on Martha Stewart’s blog as she has stayed there when visiting Newport.

The Guest Book revolves around the past and present of the Milton family, a prominent American family of great wealth who summered on their privately owned Crockett’s Island in Maine for nearly a century (the fictional place the Newport cover image is to evoke).  But when the present-day Miltons must consider selling the island (as the trusts funds are running dry), they discover family secrets that force them to ask: at whose expense have they been living their dream and life of privilege?

I’m more than half-way through the book and haven’t been able to put it down at night (much to the demise of The Guest Book_Sarah Blake_1my laundry which sits nearby, with echoes of Marie Kondo begging me to fold and put away). I actually tried reading it through a dental appointment this week which didn’t go well, so I opted to listen to season two of Serial…a great distraction when someone is going to town on your gums. In sum,  The Guest Book beautifully portrays a sweeping family story among what Jessica Shattack (author of the NYT bestseller The Women in the Castle) says highlights the “subterranean currents of race, class and power that have shaped America.” Disclaimer: I read a lot of books, both non-fiction and historical dramas, that take place during the WWII era, so for me it hits the sweet spot. Also, much of it takes place in New York City where my parents were born and raised during the same period, but “after the war,” as they’d always distinguish.)

I’ll refrain from any spoilers but I will highly recommend adding this to your summer reading list, especially if you’ve read Sarah Blake’s other bestseller, The Postmistress. Also, The Guest Book is a current Barnes & Noble Book Club selection and the Middletown store will be hosting a discussion on June 11 at 7 p.m. (click here to listen to the B&N podcast featuring Sarah Blake). Happy reading!

 

June 8, 2019 at 5:33 am Leave a comment


Embracing the lifestyle–the look, the flavor, the style–of Newport, Rhode Island!

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