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Sep 21, 2014 4:53 PM

New Hampshire's National Historic Site

On Saturday I went to the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site. I've always wanted to see it, but never managed to get there.

I love that we have a National Historic Site in our back yard. We went on two tours while we were there, a tour of Aspet - the house:

The upstairs is closed to visitors, so for me, the best part of the house is the long porch. It's fabulous. A built in bench runs along the length of the porch, and the architectural elements are lovely - the columns and the lattice in the roof for grapevines. The view out over the fields with Mt. Ascutney in the distance is also pretty great.

The tours are conducted by park rangers. After the house tour, we went on the art tour. The art tour began with a stop at the Farragut statue:

The base is made of bluestone, which is a fairly soft and porous material - hence the glass covering. It shelters the statue from the worst of the weather, including acid rain, which is hell on NH statues and gravestones.

Next stop was the New Gallery and Atrium, with the reflecting pool. Those are gilded turtles spewing water into the pool.

Lincoln's head is also there.

And so is the rest of him:

Winged Victory was near Lincoln. It's a lovely statue - but that feather is truly remarkable.

St. Gaudens had a gift for detail. His sculptures seem almost alive - as though they could move at any moment.

We headed out on to the grounds, and walked down a path lined by enormous birches. We stopped to visit the Shaw Memorial - a Civil War monument commemorating the Massachusetts 54th regiment of African American volunteers. I grew up in Massachusetts, so I've seen the original sculpture on display at the Boston Garden many times. St. Gaudens' attention to detail is on full display in this piece. The facial expressions of the men, the horse, the objects they carry - and the angel overhead are all incredibly detailed.

We moved on to the Adams Memorial. This statue was commissioned by historian Henry Adams, after his wife Clover took her own life. The original is in the Rock Creek Cemetery, in Washington, DC. St. Gaudens called it "The Mystery of the Hereafter...beyond pain and beyond joy."

Next was the Little Studio, with a smaller scale version of Diana. The original Diana was a weathervane that sat atop the original Madison Square Garden. She is completely fabulous.

Also in the Little Studio was a work area, where there were a couple of horse heads. This was my favorite.

The grounds and the gardens are magnificent. Everywhere you go there is something interesting and beautiful to see.

This park is right here in NH. There's a $5 entry fee - and it is worth every dime.

I'm so happy that my tax dollars go to funding national parks. I'd much rather fund parks than the Pentagon.


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