Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

Walk Boston’s Freedom Trail in Winter

January 31, 2011

Millions of visitors to Boston walk the Freedom Trail – a two-and-one-half-mile red stripe on the sidewalk that takes you to 16 historical sites pertaining to the Revolutionary War – our fight to gain our freedom from Great Britain in the 18th century. 

What most visitors don’t realize is the Freedom Trail does not shut down in winter. The Freedom Trail Foundation offers daily guided tours of the first mile of the trail, weather permitting, starting at 12 noon from the Boston Common.  The tours are given by members of the Freedom Trail Players who are actors and school teachers portraying historical persons from the time of the Revolution. 

If you can’t get a tour then purchase a map or a guide book at the visitor’s center and be your own guide. 

Each of the Freedom Trail sites is open year round.  The official start of the trail is the Visitor Information Center

Freedom Trail Foundation Players

near the Boston Common.  The trail is marked on the sidewalk by either a red stripe or red bricks that winds its way up to the gold-domed State House, then down to the Park Street Church.  Next to that is the Granary Burial Ground, across the street to Kings Chapel and burying ground, then down to the Old South Meeting House, around to the Old State House in front of which is the Boston Massacre Site. Then it crosses to Faneuil Hall, past the Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously operated restaurant in America, to Paul Revere’s House, then onto the Old North Church and Copps Hill burying ground.  The Freedom Trail continues across the bridge to the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. 

Other advantages of following the trail in winter; there are no throngs of tourists waiting to get into the historic buildings, and, the cold is a good excuse to stop into a café along the way for some hot cocoa or a historic pub such as the Green Dragon for a pint of Samuel Adams beer. 

So, layer up your clothing, dig out the mittens, hats and scarves and take a walk on a winter’s day in Boston, one of America’s most historic cities. 

For More Information go to: The Freedom Trail Foundation or the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.


African-American Patriots Tour of Boston – February is Black History Month

January 23, 2011

February is Black History Month, and a good way to observe and learn about African-American patriots in Boston is by walking the Freedom Trail

Routes of history 

During the tour he leads visitors past the Boston Massacre site in front of the Old State House, to Granary Burial Grounds (where Attucks is buried), past the Park St. Church, where William Lloyd Garrison later gave his stirring anti-slavery speeches, and to Beacon Hill. The tour ends at the Museum of African-American History on Beacon Hill.   

Tales of bravery

Woven throughout the 90-minute walks are stories of bravery and defiance by black Bostonian patriots. Other African-Americans whose deeds and lives are mentioned on the tour are the first published African-American poet Phyllis Wheatley, the prominent citizen Prince Hall, founder of the African Lodge of Freemasons in America, and Peter Salem, a former slave who was a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill and several other battles of the American Revolution. 

Tour details

Tours must be reserved 24 hours in advance. Tickets ($13.65 for adults, $11.55 for seniors and students, $7 children 4 to 12 years of age) can be purchased online, at the Visitor Information Center on the Boston Common, or at the Bostix booth inside the Quincy Market building at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. 

For further information; The Freedom Trail Foundation, 617-357-8300.

Nantucket Christmas Stroll

December 2, 2010

Carolers line the streets of Nantuckettown

From December 3rd to 5th the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts, will celebrate what has become an island tradition – Christmas Stroll weekend.

The stroll began in 1973 when local merchants, in an effort to boost the island’s economy, kept their shops open late on the first Friday in December inviting Nantucketers to do their holiday shopping on-island instead of traveling to the mainland. 

Along with their crafts, books, clothes and wares shopkeepers offered samplings of wine, hot chocolate, tea, mulled cider, fruitcake, and holiday cookies. 

That Stroll, billed by the merchants as a “Christmas Stroll on Main Street’ lasted three hours and was a huge success with islanders. 

Fast forward thirty-seven years and that one night of holiday shopping and schmoozing has exploded into a weekend full of events that draws thousands of people. Whether you stay for a day or the weekend many of the island’s restaurants, inns, and bed and breakfasts are open for the stroll. 

On Friday night get in the holiday spirit by joining throngs of people (with flashlights and maps in hand) for the Holiday House Tour visiting six of the island’s historic houses, some of them more than three hundred years old, beautifully decorated for the season with wreaths and evergreens. The tour ends at the Whaling Museum with the Festival of Trees, one hundred Christmas trees decorate in island themes ranging from lightship baskets to buoys to the Nantucket firefighters’ tree dripping with Fire Department badges from around the world. 

On Saturday at the stoke of noon the town crier in Colonial dress walks down Main Street ringing his bell heralding the official opening of the stroll.  At 12:30 Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive the island way – by sea – on a historic Coast Guard vessel surrounded by a bevy of Coast Guard men and women decked out in red life jackets and red and white stocking hats.  After a horse-drawn carriage ride down Main Street Santa sets up shop at the Pacific National Bank where children (and children at heart) can have their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Learn about the ghoulish side of Nantucket town on an evening walk to several of the island’s haunted places with Nantucket Walking Tours.

If history is more to your interest then join the Nantucket Historical Association’s guided walking tours where you will hear about Nantucket’s years as a whaling port that supplied the world with sperm oil.  And, how over a hundred years ago Centre Street was called Petticoat

Row because all the businesses lining the street were owned and operated by women. It was Nantucket women who kept everything going at home while their men were away on sea voyages lasting three years.

There is an abundance of activities to choose from that will fill your entire day or weekend; concerts, theatrical performances, ice skating, wine and beer tastings, book signings, open houses, and, not to be forgotten, the shopping.  Nantucket has beautiful and unique shops and galleries offering art, antiques, books, leather goods, jewelry, clothes, and decorative things for your home. 

Cold sea air blending with the scent of pine from the decorated live Christmas trees lining the streets, carolers and bell ringers in period dress performing in the square make for a gorgeous setting.  The Nantucket Christmas Stroll is a lovely way to start your holiday season.


Nantucket Chamber of Commerce 1-508-228-1700,

Image courtesy of Michael Galvin for the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce

Massachusetts Farmers’ Markets

July 8, 2010

At this time of year Massachusetts farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables.  We should take advantage of this and support the local farmers that bring their produce to the hundreds of farmers’ markets across the state. 

From the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to the hills of the Berkshires in big cities and small towns there’s a farmer’s market happening every day.  In the hot weather we have been having lately nothing beats the taste of fresh locally grown produce.

The list below is divided by Massachusetts counties and gives details where you can find a farmers’ market.  For more information go to

Unless otherwise noted these markets run May to November

Barnstable County (Cape Cod)

Buzzards Bay – Fridays 10am – 2pm, Main St., Bourne

Dennisport – Mondays, 2pm – 6pm, Village Green

Falmouth – Thursdays, Noon – 6pm, Peg Noonan Park Main St

Berkshire County

Adams – July to Oct., Fridays & Saturdays Noon-6pm, 60 Columbia St

Lee – Fridays 10am – 1pm, next to the post office

Lenox – Fridays 2pm – 6pm, Library Park Main St

Pittsfield – June to Oct., Thursdays 4pm – 7pm, North St. on the square

Bristol County

Fall River – two locations;

Saturdays 7am – 12:30pm Kennedy Park

Wednesdays 9am – 1pm at Ruggles Park

New Bedford – three locations;

Mondays 2pm – dusk Brooklawn Park on Ashley Blvd.

Saturdays 9am – 1pm Clasky Common on Pleasant St.

Thursdays 2pm – dusk Wings Court on Union St.

Westport – July – Sept., Saturdays 830am – 1pm, Westport Grange, 870 Main Rd.

Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard)

Vineyard Haven – Tuesday 9am – 1pm, 144 Beach Rd

West Tisbury – Saturday 9am – Noon, Grange Hall, State Rd

Essex County

Gloucester – July – Oct., Thursday 3pm – 6:30pm, Harbor Loop, Rte. 127

Newburyport – Sunday 9am – 1pm, Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water St

Franklin County

Greenfield – Saturdays 8am – 12:30pm, 20 Court Sq. on the Common

Turners Falls – Wednesdays 3pm – 6pm, Great Falls Discovery Ctr., between 2nd St and Ave. A

Hampden County

Springfield – six locations

Springfield Cooperative, Saturdays 7am – 11am, Avocado St

Forest Park at the X – Tuesdays 12:30pm – 6pm, parking lot of the Forest Park Cyr Arena

Indian Orchard – Fridays 11am – 4pm, Hampden Bank, 187 Main St

Mason Square – Saturdays 10am – 2pm, 11 Wilbraham Rd

Shriner’s Hospital – Thursdays 11:30am – 1:30pm, 516 Carew St

Tower Square – Fridays 11am – 2pm, Main & Bridge Sts

Hampshire County

Amherst – Saturdays 7:30am – 1:30pm, Amherst Ctr, Spring St. parking lot

Easthampton – Tuesdays 2:30pm – 6:30pm, Union Plaza

Florence – Wednesdays 2pm – 6pm, Florence Civic Ctr

Middlesex County

Cambridge – six locations;

Central Square – Mondays Noon – 6pm, parking lot #5 at Bishop Allen Dr. and Norfolk St. behind the Harvest Coop

Charles Square – Fridays Noon – 6pm and Sundays 10am – 3pm, Charles Hotel courtyard in Harvard Sq

Harvard University – Tuesdays 12:30pm – 6pm, Saunders Theater, Oxford and Kirkland Sts

Kendall Square – Thursdays 11am – 2pm, 500 Kendall St

Kendall Square Main Street – Wednesdays 11am – 6pm, Cambridge Ctr Plaza, 500 Main St

Cambridgeport – Saturdays 10am – 3pm, Morse School parking lot Magazine St and Memorial Dr

Nantucket County

Nantucket – two locations;

Nantucketown, Monday – Saturday 9am – 1pm, Corner of Main & Federal Sts

Nantucket Farmers’ and Artisans Market – Saturdays 9am – 1pm, North Union and upper Cambridge Sts

Norfolk County

Brookline – Thursdays 1:30pm – dusk, Center St, Coolidge Corner

Quincy – Fridays 11:30am – 5:30pm, Quincy Ctr, John Hancock Municipal Parking Lot

Plymouth County

Duxbury – Wednesdays 12:30pm – 4:30pm, Tarklin Community Ctr, Rte. 53

Marshfield – Fridays 2pm – 6pm, Marshfield Fair Grounds, Rte. 3A

Suffolk County

Boston – six locations

Boston Medical Ctr – Fridays 11:30am – 2:30pm, Menino Pavilion, 840 Harrison Ave

Boston University – Thursdays Noon – 5pm, 775 Commonwealth Ave

Prudential Center – Thursdays 11am – 6pm, 800 Boylston St

South Station – Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:30am – 6:30pm, Dewey Sq across from South Station trains

City Hall Plaza – Mondays & Wednesdays 11am – 6pm, Cambridge St

Copley Square – Tuesdays & Fridays 11am – 6pm, between Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library at St. James Ave, Dartmouth & Boylston Sts

Haley House Cafe

April 30, 2010

I love food, I love to eat it and watch while it’s being prepared notice; I said “while it’s being prepared” that means someone else, not me, doing the cooking.

 The other day I tasted some really great food at the Haley House Cafe.  This back-to-the-earth eatery was started in 2005 and is run by Didi Emmons owner of the  much beloved Veggie Planet in Harvard Sq. and author of two cookbooks. 

The cafe’s menu reflects the ethnic diversity of its Dudley Sq. Roxbury location.  Hot lunch plates choices are Jamaican jerk chicken plate and Southwestern turkey meatloaf  each is served with homemade corn bread, vegetables and homemade slaw.

Lunch sandwiches is where the kitchen really  excels, choices run the gamut from turkey swiss panini wrap with carmelized onions to a vegetarian quesadilla with roasted veggies and cheddar cheese to a wrap loaded with steak, roasted red peppers, carmelized onions and slaw. 

Not to be missed are Didi’s homemade brownies, muffins, scones and her signature coffee cakes.

The cafe is open late three nights a week offering live jazz and arts and crafts by local artists.

All of the food prepared here is made with organically grown products that are grown at the Haley House farm, Noonday Farm in Winchendon Springs Massachusetts.  The farm is run almost entirely by volunteers many of whom travel to it from the Roxbury community.

Haley House Cafe will not only nourish your body with its great food eating here will be good for your soul. Proceeds help to support Haley House, a non-profit organization that continually gives back to the community with 112 units of affordable housing for elderly and others of limited income, a culinary arts school for adults and teenagers, and a bakery training program that teaches homeless adults an income earning trade.

This destination cafe is definitely worth the trip for your body and your soul.

Birthplace of John Adams & John Quincy Adams

April 22, 2010

I have two favorite things to do as I travel around the US; one is to visit National Park Sites and the other is to visit the homes and libraries of America’s former presidents.  So far I’m up to nine on that last mention.

Fortunately for me it’s an easy commute on public transportation to the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy Massachusetts – birthplaces and homes of the first father and son presidents; John Adams, 2nd President from 1797 – 1801, John Quincy Adams, 6th President from 1825 – 1829. 

Over the years I’ve been to the site many times.  On each visit I’m always amazed at the history that is here.  Needless to say I was thrilled to learn the other day that a letter written by John Quincy Adams in 1826 to the rectors of the United First Parish Church was uncovered in the basement of Quincy City Hall. 

In the letter Adams asks that his father and mother be entombed in the church that they helped to establish and where they were members.  

United First Parish church is only a few blocks from the Adams National Historical Park Visitors Center and is very much worth a visit.  John and Abigail are entombed there alongside John Quincy and his wife, Louisa Catherine. 

On entering the Adams National Historical Park Visitors Center the first thing that catches your eye is an Adams family timeline that takes visitors through their lives from the 17th century up to the 20th

Displayed here are significant dates in history such as the Boston Massacre March 5, 1770, John Adams and Josiah Quincy (Abigail’s cousin) were the defending attorneys for the British soldiers, 1788 the ratification of the United States Constitution, 1789 the first presidential election in the United States when George Washington was elected president and John Adams vice-president, and the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 written by John Quincy Adams.

A National Park Service trolley takes you out to the three houses where rangers give guided tours.  The first stop is John’s birthplace, a slant roof natural shingled saltbox built in 1683, across from it is John Quincy’s birthplace, also a saltbox built in 1661.  One particular item of interest is a musket ball maker, a wrought iron pronged device that Abigail used during the Revolutionary War to melt iron in so she could make mini musket balls to defend her farm in case the British made it to Quincy.

John Adams was born here in 1735 and helped his father farm the land until he went to Harvard College at the age of 15 and eventually studying law.  He set up his first law office in the front room here.  The house is filled with furnishings of the era, as is John Quincy’s birthplace. 

Peace Field, the grandest of the three houses, is where you will see the Adams family’s original furnishings. 

John Adams purchased Peace Field in 1788, the house was built in 1731 in the Georgian style.  Four generations of the Adams family lived here from 1788 to 1927. Its twenty-four rooms are filled with 75,000 antiques and artifacts. 

In the dining room is Abigail’s 18th century American sideboard on top of which sit her Waterford crystal candelabras, on the walls hang paintings of George and Martha Washington by Edward Savage, a rendering of John Adams at age 87 by Gilbert Stuart (the original of which can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts), and a painting by John Singleton Copley of another Massachusetts patriot, Dr. Joseph Warren, a great friend of Adams, who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Upstairs is John and Abigail’s bedroom with their original furnishings.  Across from this is John’s personal library where he spent the last years of his life.  It was while sitting in this office in his wingback chair that John Adams died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Unbeknownst to him, his friend, Thomas Jefferson, had died earlier that day. 

Dominating the hall is a stunning black lacquer William and Mary chest dating to 1740; it was made in Roxbury and the book cases that were in John Adams’ law offices in Boston. 

On the walls are a 19th century John Singer Sargent lithograph of President Theodore Roosevelt (personalized to John Quincy’s daughter-in-law Mrs. Charles Francis Adams) and a wet press lithograph of the Declaration of Independence printed on English paper that dates to 1690. 

The stone library, dating to 1870, houses John Quincy’s 8,700 books in 14 languages.  On display is a Benjamin West painting depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and portraits of John, John Quincy and his son Charles Francis Adams.  In the center of the room is John’s desk, where he wrote the Massachusetts Constitution. Also here is John Quincy’s desk from his days in the House of Representatives.

John Adams’ library, 4000 volumes, is considered one of the best private collections in the United States.  It can be seen in the rare books department of the Boston Public Library

The gardens are filled with Abigail’s white English York rose bushes that she brought back with her from England in 1788.

Hancock Shaker Village

April 13, 2010

I love the Berkshires, the towns that make up this part of western Massachusetts are filled with arts and culture.  There’s  everything to choose from; theater, galleries, shops, and historic places.

This is where Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield comes in.  The village was started by 100 Believers, followers of Sister Ann Lee’s teachings in the late 1780’s.  By the mid-19th century there were over 300 Believers who had amassed 3,000 acres of land living, working and farming Hancock Shaker Village which they christened “City of Peace”. 

On this land the Hancock Shakers farmed and erected their communal dwelling houses, barns, workshops, store, meetinghouse, schoolhouse and other buildings. Built in 1826 the Round Stone Barn was the center of their dairy industry for over a century. The barn is the only circular stone barn built by Shakers in the United States.

Sister Lee founded the first community of Shakers in England in the 17th century.  Similar to the Quakers, the Shakers believed that everyone can find God within themselves rather than through clergy or churches.  Their credo hands to work hearts to God meant that they were a laborious group in whatever they did, praying, farming, spinning, weaving, furniture making, they worked from sun up to sun down.

The Shaker communities were mostly made up of converts and orphans, being firm believers in celibacy their numbers across the country dwindled by 1900.  At that time there were only 50 Shakers living in Hancock Village.  In 1960 the remaining few in the Shaker Hancock Village community could no longer maintain the farm and the village and sold what was left of it to a group of Shaker enthusiasts who set about preserving the Shakers way of life by turning the village into a living history museum. 

This year Hancock Shaker Village celebrates its 50th anniversary as a living history museum with a spring program full of family oriented events. 

The spring celebration, “Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm”, runs through April 25th and is the optimal time for visitors to get up close and personal with baby lambs, piglets, calves, ducklings, goats and chicks that are housed in the Round Stone Barn.  In addition there are visiting livestock from local farms and 4H Clubs.  Families can participate in farm chores such as feeding the animals and Shaker crafts; basket weaving, making and decorating seed packets and weaving on a loom.

Behind the scene tours ($25 per person) will be given daily at 2pm. On these tours visitors will be able to go into the farm nurseries where newborns are kept. 

Also on exhibit is a grouping of paintings of baby animals “More Creatures Gathered Here” by Stockbridge artist Susan Merrill. 

 For further information

Hancock Shaker Village

Stop raining on my parade

March 13, 2010

I can’t stand all this rain it’s driving me crazy.  My friend Hilary writes me that she’s skiing at Sugarloaf and the sun is shining.  Bah! 

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is tomorrow, March 14th, in South Boston.  It starts at 1pm regardless of heavy rains or high winds the parade will go on.

As it happens every year hundreds of Massachusetts politicians will  crawl out of the woodwork to walk the parade route stopping to shake hands and kiss children.  Oh brother!

All week the weather has been beautiful here in Cambridge and the weekend comes and it’s a washout.