Category Archives: Historic Places

Where to Learn About the Irish in New York City

 

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ritchie S

 

Even being of full Irish heritage, as both a first- and third-generation Irish American, I’m embarrassed to say that I seem to forget to acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day. For shame! But in New York City, there are many reminders of the legacy of the Irish around me. Along with St. Patrick’s Day Parades and Irish pubs throughout its five boroughs, there are noted locations that can put you directly in touch with Irish culture and history – all the way up to the present day.

Here is my list of suggested places to learn more about the Irish in New York City. While most of these locations can be seen by the general public, it’s best to check their websites for hours of operation and ticket prices.

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Credit: NPS photo

Ellis Island
From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants came through this immigration inspection station, arriving via boats. Did you know that the first passenger to be processed through Ellis Island was said to be Irish? Annie Moore, a young woman from County Cork, was that person was initially registered through. Part of the National Parks Service, visitors can head to Ellis Island on daily cruises and walk through its great hall that once had clerks interviewing and inspecting new arrivals. Make plans to spend time in its immigration museum and sign up in advance for a guided hardhat tour, offered through Save Ellis Island, of an area that once functioned as a hospital.

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Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
This former tenement turned museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is a prime example of how immigrants such as the Irish settled in and built new lives in their new homeland. In fact, an Irish family once resided in this building, a former tenement at 97 Orchard Street that had housed nearly 7,000 working class immigrants. In 1869, the Moores came to live here. Their restored home inside this museum can be visited on guided tours. This tour, called “Irish Outsiders,” also delves into some of the hardships the Moore family faced. (Note: Ticketholders meet at the Visitors Center at 103 Orchard Street.)

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Credit: Merchant’s House Museum Facebook page

Merchant’s House Museum
As for finding work, the Irish took on various labor-intensive jobs, one of them being as household servants. Between what’s now the Bowery and Lafayette Street, the prominent Tredwell family owned this 19th well-preserved rowhouse on East 4th Street for nearly a century (the last member lived here until her death in 1933 at age 93). While the Tredwells are much discussed, their Irish servants also get attention. Most information known about these four female employees is from census records. However, it’s common knowledge that their hours were long and pay was low, but they definitely were instrumental in running a household. On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, the museum will host guided tours relating to these servants throughout the day, plus a candlelight version at night.

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ken Lund

Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
Most people know about St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, but its older cousin is set in NoLita. On the corner of Mott and Prince streets, this minor basilica once surrounded an improved Irish neighborhood but now caters to a multicultural congregation. During the mid-1800s, at a time when Irish Catholics faced much backlash and bigotry, the church got an outer brick wall for protection after an attempted ransacking and the threat of being burnt down. The church’s history also states that young Irish lads from the neighborhood also provided security as a militia that would become New York’s 69th Regiment (also known as the Fighting Irish). The cathedral has underground mortuary vaults and a cemetery, featuring a who’s who of prominent Catholic New Yorkers from the 16th through 18th centuries. You’ve also may have seen the church in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” movies.

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ana Paula Hirama

Columbus Park
The surroundings of this public park in Chinatown were once adjacent to the Five Points, a rough neighborhood slum known for its portrayal in the film version of the book, “Gangs of New York.” Conditions were so bad here, that photographer/social reformer Jacob Riis made an entire chapter about the Five Points in his book, “How the “Other Half Lives.” At one point in its history, the Five Points had an Irish population that was referred to being the largest outside of Dublin. Other ethnicities that came to live here throughout the mid-to-late 19th century included African Americans, German Jews, and Italians (who would go on establish another neighborhood, Little Italy). In the early 20th century, the area around the Five Points was consumed by a growing Chinatown. The area got some new life too, with plans to replace tenements with trees and flowers within a park setting. A developed green space called Mulberry Bend Park (what Columbus Park was once called) opened in the summer of 1897. Columbus Park got its present-day name in 1911; it’s for Christopher Columbus.

Irish neighborhoods within Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx
Irish culture in NYC goes beyond Manhattan, as past and present communities developed. So definitely put extra money on your subway card for trekking to these areas in the outer boroughs. For starters, The Bronx section of Woodlawn, nicknamed “Little Ireland,” has a hearty Irish population, with pubs like Behan’s Pub and the expansive Van Cortland Park. Queens has Rockaway Park, Woodside, and Sunnyside, and Brooklyn’s got Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace, and Gerritsen Beach, plus Vinegar Hill has a lengthy Irish history.

Visiting Kennebunk/Kennebunkport, Maine

photo 2(90)Recently, a work assignment brought me up to southern Maine, specifically to Kennebunk and its neighbor, Kennebunkport. Typically, Maine gets many visitors during the summer months, but I discovered that these two towns offer day-to-day attractions to see, do, and dine at year-round. In fact, Kennebunkport puts on a holiday celebration called Christmas Prelude every December.

Though some shops and restaurants may change their hours (or shut down completely) during the colder seasons, your chances of exploring much of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport are pretty good.

Here are my recommendations:

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Get a culinary lesson through Table Maine. Started by the Kennebunkport Resort Collection in February 2015, Table Maine is a weekend culinary program of classes led by local chefs and offering kitchen techniques on food/beverage subjects such as mixology or preparing meat or seafood dishes. Coursework extends to viewing demonstrations, hands-on lessons, and even local restaurants putting on “pop up” dinners. Depending on the subjects, pricing for classes and events usually start at $35 and go as high as $105.

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Go bike riding. By the water, through town, or even on a nature trail, Kennebunkport has places to trek to on your bike. One recommended route is on the scenic Ocean Avenue. This road leads on a route with views of the sea, beaches, restaurants, and the presidential Bush family’s compound at Walker’s Point (but don’t go too far there). Mountain bikers can try  the trails at the Edwin L. Smith Preserve of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, which has acquired and preserved various natural areas. If you don’t have — or didn’t bring — a bike, consider renting a set of wheels from Kennebunkport Bicycle.

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Find nature at protected reserves. Just over a 10-minute ride from Kennebunkport, the town of Wells has two nature reserves that can be seen on foot. I spent some time at The Wells Reserve at Laudholm, which has a network of trails that you can walk along and notice the different habitats in this protected coastal ecosystem. The trails stay open year-round, range from easy to moderate, and are mainly self-guided. An admission fee is charged from Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day. Not far from Wells Reserve, consider stopping by the Rachel Carlson Wildlife Refuge. This reserve has designated visitor use areas that enable the public to do activities such as kayaking or viewing wildlife.

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Do some antiquing along Route 1. Known as the Maine Antique Trail, this road doubles as a map for 42 miles of over 50 antique stores. Kennebunk contains a few, including Armada Antiques & Collectibles. The shelves and display cases inside this two-level building must get a lot of looks. Merchandise from dinnerware, to books and periodicals, to sports memorabilia, to even relics from another era can be browsed through.

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Stop at the Wedding Cake House. Said to be the most photographed house in Maine, this Gothic style home off of Route 35 in Kennebunk is literally eye candy. Supposedly, this bright yellow house with white trim was built by a sea captain as a wedding gift for his bride. Today this place is privately owned, but most people might stop to get a glimpse or photo.

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Learn about Kennebunk’s history at the Brick Store Museum. Although this museum was closed on the days that I was town, I think it’s worth a visit. Said to be one of the few U.S. museums to open during the Great Depression, this venue serves as part arts institution, part historic site, and part archives center. Its three buildings date back to the 1800s, but inside, rotating exhibitions highlight the town’s overall legacy through its people and objects.

Where to Eat and Drink

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Get local and seasonal flavor at Salt & Honey. In Kennebunkport’s Dock Square, this restaurant has been dishing out comfort food for breakfast, lunch and dinner since opening in May 2014. Its changing menu offer staple dishes and New England favorites, particularly with ingredients like Maine blueberries and lobster. Consider the fish and chips combo with a finely breaded North Atlantic haddock.

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Order breakfast at Boulangerie. In Kennebunk, this village bakery produces artisanal breads, croissants, baguettes, focaccia, sticky buns, meat pies, and other flour-based delights. The location is very rustic – a barn dating back to the 1900s – with indoor and outdoor seating for plopping down and savoring a breakfast treat or afternoon snack. Get  their chicken meat pie and monkey bread!

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Grab some lunch at Duffy’s Tavern & Grill. With one location in Kennebunk’s historic Lafayette Center, this family-friendly place has good pub fare. The venue serves up American food for patrons of all ages – burgers, salads, apps, and wings plus gluten-free options – and the scene is pretty casual.

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Do dinner at The Ramp Bar & Grill. Under Pier 77, in Kennebunkport’s Porpoise Harbor, the tiny yet lively waterside venue has both a local and tourist following. What you’ll first notice are the football helmets hanging above the bar, but the lunch and dinner servings run the gamut from New England seafood favorites, finger foods, to more fork-required dishes like traditional penne Bolognese and a Greek meze.

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Shop at H.B. Provisions. At this general store and deli, also in Kennebunk, pick up a souvenir or order a sandwich, specialty wrap, burger, or panini. There’s table space for sitting down and just watching the shop work, and you can also get some groceries while you’re at it. While eating, take a good look at the walls and see photos of some famous shoppers.

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Tour the Shipyard Brewing Company at Federal Jack’s. At this eatery in Kennebunkport Harbor, Shipyard first brewed its craft beer in 1992. Although its main plant is now in Portland, visitors can still see and learn more about Shipyard on tours at its location in the same building as Federal Jack’s. A seven-barrel system uses state of the art technology to produce house and seasonal ales, plus stouts and IPAs, and keeps its upstairs pub neighbor supplied with continuous suds.

Editor’s Note: My visit and itinerary was scheduled through the Chamber of Commerce for Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. However, the list is all based on my suggestions and experiences.

 

Woolworth Building Lobby Tours

photo 4(18)This past Sunday, I was invited as a media guest of WoolworthTours on a tour of The Woolworth Building’s lobby area. Built in 1913, this neo-Gothic-style skyscraper in downtown Manhattan was once the office building for Frank W. Woolworth, founder and owner of the five-and-dime retail chain.

For years, workers were able to pass through the lobby of The Woolworth Building — even my WoolworthTours guide in his previous job —  but then after 9/11 the area was off limits to the general public. It wasn’t until the building’s centennial two years ago was marked with a gala where talks began about reopening the lobby to the public. The only way you’re allowed to see this area is through the tour, and, from my experience, it’s worth doing so.

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The Woolworth Tours vary by time (from 20 to 45 minutes) and the sections you’re taken too. I went on the 45-minute tour, which includes the lobby, the lower level and the mezzanine. Whatever tour you go on, you’ll hear a history lesson about not just The Woolworth building but also its namesake, Frank Woolworth.

According to my guide, The Woolworth Building is literally a monument to Woolworth’s legacy. It’s a visual reminder of his retail empire as his five and dime store spread across the nation and even overseas. Inside the building, you find the exterior as a canvas of fine craftsmanship from ceiling to stairways.

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 Considered to be the tallest building in the world at one point, this structure once contained Irving National Exchange Bank, which financed its construction; a Parisian shopping arcade (we could call it a mall now but there was no Woolworth’s in it); a health club with swimming pool; and a medieval beer house known as a rathskeller that catered to the building’s tenants.

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Today, its occupants on the lower floors include NYU’s global affairs center, a technology firm and a travel agency. There’s also a chance that the building will hold residents in the future, as an investment group that has purchased the top 30 floors plan to convert the space into luxury apartments and covert the penthouse into a five-level living space.

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You’ll be pointed to embellishments with Ws along with other markings that show the building’s stance as a center of commerce. And, of course, Woolworth’s own character is reflected here. For example, about a dozen or so gargoyles are placed around the interior but they’re not of the usual creatures. Instead, they resemble Woolworth and other key figures involved in the building’s construction. As just as important as Woolworth, architect Cass Gilbert designed the building and he is shown holding with his creation.

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I recommend going on the 45-minute tour as you also get to see the vault of the Irving Bank, which keeps some old safety deposit boxes. There are also neat murals on different period of Colonial New York in this area as well. So definitely see this landmark!

A Guide to Carmel-by-the Sea

DSCN4612Carmel-by-the-Sea is just one square mile but there’s a lot to do here. On a recent press trip to this bay village, I dined at fine restaurants, looked around in specialty shops, followed a wine walk, and hit the beach!

Founded as an artist’s colony, Carmel-by-the-Sea has its charm and quirks. For one thing, there are no street lights or street numbers. It’s also against the law to wear high heels in public. But this village by the bay is pretty pet-friendly and has had poets and actors like Clint Eastwood as mayor, so it evens out. photo(3) photo 1(17) photo 2(19) You can spend a day or a few days in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Here is my list of what to do and see here. photo 2(18)
Head to Carmel Beach.
At the base of Ocean Avenue, Carmel Beach can be a bit of a walk depending upon where you’re coming from. You head all the down the street to get to this off-white sandy beach, but the trek is worth it. I was there on a cooler day so I just dipped my feet in the water and took a good leisurely stroll. As with around town, Carmel Beach is a pet-friendly place, so you’ll run into dog owners on the sand. photo(4)
Get a permit to wear high heels.
Why no heels? This ordinance was enacted because of uneven roads and concern over possible liability lawsuits. But you can get around this ban by applying for a permit. It makes for a fun souvenir. Head to Town Hall and fill out an application from the Clerk’s office. Pull out your ID and the staff will authorize your permit and keep a record of it on file. photo 1(18)


See the fairy-tale Comstock Homes.
Back in the 1920s, architect Hugh Comstock designed a number of English-style country homes for people, which looked like something out of a storybook. Twenty-one of them are still around, but they’re mostly private residences. You can see them only from the outside. The bulk of them are mainly on Torres Street and Sixth Avenue and then on Ocean Avenue near Santa Fe and Saint Rita streets. These homes can be tricky to get to on your own, so you might want to see the two now being used commercially on Dolores Street instead. photo 2(21)


Take a walking tour
. Learn more about this Carmel-by-the-Sea’s history through Carmel Walks. The tour company’s guides will take you around the village and might make stops at Town Hall, one of the Comstock houses or even an alleyway where a scene from Eastwood’s “Play Misty for Me” was filmed. photo 3(15)
Go on a wine tasting walk.
Carmel-by-the-Sea’s “Wine Walk” consists of 14 tasting rooms that can be visited at your own pace. They also belong to a Wine Walk Passport program, which you can pick up a pass from the Chamber of Commerce. Tasting rooms include Wrath, whose wines come from the Santa Lucia Highlands; Scheid Vineyard, with its main location in Salinas Valley; or Figge Cellars, a boutique winery based inside an art gallery. photo 4(16)
Have dinner and drinks at Cypress Inn.
This pet-friendly boutique hotel is jointly owned by actress and resident Doris Day, so you’ll see a lot of Day’s movie memorabilia near Terry’s Restaurant and Lounge. And spot some four-legged guests. While you’re here, order a cocktail from the bar. The menu reflects Hollywood’s Golden Age — and the drinks flowing during that period. Orders include Mai Tais, Moscow Mules and Pisco Sours plus a selection of fine rum, gin, brandy, and cognac. Stay for a meal as well.

Visit Carmel Mission. This Spanish style mission church from the late 1700s is a heritage site with an active parish. You can visit the Basilica church, which is a National Historic Landmark, and the museum.

For other dining or shopping options, here are my suggestions:

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Carmel Bakery. Just looking at the goodies in the display window of this quaint bakeshop makes you want to step inside this place. In business since 1906, this bakery/coffee shop offers well-sized European style pastries such as cannolis and eclairs and their best-seller chocolate macaroons. photo 1(19) Casanova Restaurant. This romantic restaurant was once a private home for Aunt Fairy Bird, who was Charlie Chaplin’s cook. Drawing from the French and Italian countryside, the menu features various croques, pasta, seafood and meat dishes plus some Belgian ones like pomme and moules frites. Take a look at the room built to house “Van Gogh’s Table.” The painter ate his daily meals at this table while living at a boarding house in Auvers Sur-Oise, France. photo 1(14)La Bicyclette Restaurant. This place uses Old World techniques to craft a daily-changing menu. Breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available. Their thin crust pizzas are made in a wood-fired Mugnaini oven and the flavors blend nicely. Order the Butternut Squash one that is also graced with arugula, sage, gruyere, and speck ham. The Local Champignon gets topped with portabellas, oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, thyme and a caramelized onion puree. photo 3(16)Little Napoli. This Italian bistro has cozy quarters for serving rustic dishes such as antipasti, pizza, pasta and risotto based on the owner’s family recipes. Even the garlic bread is made from a century-old method. For starters, find lollipop twists on arancini, meatballs and fried artichokes. Consider their baked truffle gnocchi or try the “Hobo Stew.” Lunch, dinner, and children’s menus are available. photo 1(15)Trio Carmel. This specialty shop carries premium olive oils and infused olive oils with flavors such as Persian lime, blood orange, wild mushroom and sage, and garlic. Find traditional and flavored white and dark balsamics sourced from Modena, Italy as well. The shop also holds wine tastings featuring Monterey County vintners. Olive oil tastings are also offered. photo 2(22)Lula’s Chocolates. This sweet store features handmade caramels and chocolates made at its production factory in Monterey. Find toffees, buttercreams, nut clusters, sea-salted caramels, truffles, and boxes of assorted chocolates.

Disclaimer: Though I was a guest of Visit Carmel, every suggestion in this story is based on my opinion.

Seeing Kingston, Jamaica

DSCN4195In getting back to my experience with Jamaica Tourism’s “Bucket List” trip, my first two days in Jamaica were spent in Kingston, its capital city. Kingston is surrounded by mountain ranges like the Blue Mountains and a long natural harbor.

Kingston is also the center of the country’s culture and commerce. Like many cities worldwide, Kingston has its public attractions, shops and nightlife yet there are good parts for visiting and other parts where it might be best avoided.

Mainly two sections of Kingston get a lot of attention: its Downtown area and its Uptown (or also known as New Kingston) area. Each area has its own significance. In Downtown, you’ll find historic buildings, marketplaces, shops, galleries, and the waterfront. Uptown (where I spent my time) is more cosmopolitan with public parks, nightlife, restaurants, shopping centers, and main tourist attractions.

Here are some highlights I recommend seeing:

DSCN4285– The Devon House: In Uptown, this beautiful Georgian-style mansion and national monument was the home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire George Steibel. Also on the property, former horse stables and blacksmith posts now either hold a bakery, restaurant, or shop. At the Grogge Shoppe, you can order a sit-down meal of local Jamaican fare.  Even more so, the Devon House I Scream is an awesome ice cream shop with traditional and fruity flavors.

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Photo credit: Bob Marley Museum’s Facebook page

– The Bob Marley Museum. Unfortunately, the museum also in Uptown was closed for renovations when my group was there – we missed the reopening date by a few days – but it sounds like a good tourist attraction. Especially for reggae fans, you get to see Marley’s home up until his passing that’s now been turned into musical shine. See the musician’s awards, recording studio, and other personal belongings.

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Photo credit: National Gallery of Jamaica’s Facebook page

– National Gallery of Jamaica. I keep reading good reviews about this Downtown gallery, which features artwork by Jamaicans from throughout the country’s history, from the native Taino Indians through the colonial period to works by modern artists.

DSCN4307– Port Royal. Based at the mouth of Kingston Harbor, Port Royal was once a pirate’s haven in the 17th century, and in turn made this city pretty prosperous. Maybe too much, as the British navy ended up installing Fort Charles here. But Port Royal has seen hardship too, resulting from two major earthquakes, fires and hurricanes so much that a lot of the area was swept away. Fort Charles still stands, and visitors can walk through its lower and upper levels. Also head to the back of the fort to see, and attempt to walk through, a former artillery shed called the Giddy House. An earthquake in 1907 sunk part of the abandoned shed so when you walk through it, it’s literally like performing a balancing act.

For getting around Kingston, my group was lucky to have a local driver take us to and from places. If you are to rent a car and drive around yourself, it’s best to take an offensive stance. Traffic can get interesting as it often involves a mix of cars and pedestrians – sometimes together. I would recommend hiring a driver from a reputable company. This can help with not just getting from point A to point B, but someone who knows the area well can help in making more of our schedule.

From what I’ve read there are cabs available in Kingston too. They have a Red number plate with the letters PPV inscribed as their authorization to pick up passengers. Buses are also available, newer ones with A/C and older ones at different prices. Just do your research before you go!

 

Seeing and Staying in Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Having grown up in Connecticut, I’m embarrassed to say that most of what I’ve seen of my state’s coastal region is by driving along our portion of I-95. But my latest work assignment was to change that.

Recently, I drove up the interstate but this time I headed directly to the town of Old Saybrook. For a three-day visit, I was sent to stay at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, located right where the mouth of the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound meet. The back of main inn is also next to the Saybrook Point Marina, so waterfront views are clearly all around.

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Heading back inside, I got to scope out some of the main inn’s guestrooms (more than 82) which have fine furnishings that all reflect the simple elegance of country living decor. And then there are two outside accommodations that have their distinct setups. The first place is the Lighthouse Suite; yes, an actual lighthouse.  Often in mind for couples or newlyweds, the lighthouse is set away from the main property and it’s set up as a studio apartment.

photo(153)photo(159)Or, guests can go to where I was staying instead. Across the street from the main property, Three Stories is the inn’s renovated guesthouse (originally a single family home built in 1892) that opened in summer 2014. It instantly reminded me of a bed and breakfast when I walked in. On the main floor, there’s a living room and a breakfast area for grabbing a cup of coffee and a snack. On the lower level, there is a pool table and private lounge for hanging out (a worker jokingly called this area “a man cave”).

photo(157)photo-13photo 2photo 3-2Three Stories gets its name from dedicating its guestrooms to a number of important Old Saybrook residents. Mine was for Ann Petry, an African-American author. There is also a room for Katharine Houghton Hepburn, the mother of actress Katharine Hepburn and a leading suffragette. And one for Anna Louise James, who was a history-maker on her own right: she was one of the first women and African-American pharmacists in the United States (and yes, she ran a local pharmacy). Three Stories’ original owner and railroad engineer William Vars has one, too.

photo 1-2 photo(158)As a family-owned luxury inn, amenities include indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a full-service European spa called Sanno. For my spa visit, I had a Harvest Organic Facial, which featured Eminence skincare products made with pumpkin, yam or red currant. It was a very fall-inspired facial. The scents – and the treatment – were invigorating.

With dining, the inn’s restaurant, Fresh Salt, is about showing off New England’s culinary wonders. Menus are kept to what’s seasonally available and and incorporate sustainably grown and raised ingredients. Seafood is a big deal in this region of the United States, so it definitely has its place. And being from here, I felt I had to have it for dinner, so I ordered a combination platter of Connecticut oysters and scallops with Rhode Island calamari. It was quite good.

photo-15Overall, Old Saybrook makes for a nice weekend getaway, perhaps for a couple celebrating an anniversary or getting engaged. Families, too, will enjoy  You can get to there by rail (both with Amtrak and Metro North) or car. It’s also nice to see the town on two wheels. Bring a bike with you. If you don’t have one, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa offers free bike rentals. Helmets are included and you get a map of the area.

photo 1photo 4Starting from the inn, there are two routes you can take. I started with the shorter one, about a 3-mile or so trek over the Causeway to Fenwick, an adjacent borough and a summer colony. Katharine Hepburn lived in a beachside house here until her passing in 2003 and I stopped to take a quick look from afar.

Or you could also take the 10-mile loop ride up to Main Street. You will make your way to Old Saybrook’s downtown area lined with shops and restaurants as well as historic homes and an arts center/movie theater named for Katharine. For meals, I recommend Liv’s Oyster Bar, which has a nice happy hour with an the oyster of the day special, and Paperback Cafe, for breakfast and lunch.

photo 1(3)photo 1(2)photo 3(2)Nature lovers should head over to Fort Saybrook Monument Park, a 17-acre park right across from the main inn. You can get a nice panoramic view of the Connecticut and learn more about Old Saybrook’s history through storyboard displays and a bird sanctuary.

And let’s not forget about spending time on the water. Through one package, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa provides a leisurely sunset cruise aboard the Real Escape, a 56-foot private yacht that departs directly from the Saybrook Point Marina. The marina also offers charters for fishing, day cruisers, and groups and can accommodate seasonal boaters, the marina accommodates vessels from 13 feet to 130 feet.

But then, taking in the scenery in Old Saybrook is just as great.

Editor’s Note: My lodging, meals and spa treatment at the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa were comped but the opinions expressed in this piece are entirely my own. I paid for any meals I had outside of the inn.

 

 

Tauck and Ken Burns Explore the Roosevelts in NYC

Ken Burns head shot (credit Univ. of TX - Arlington)

Credit: The University of Texas at Arlington

If you’re a fan of Ken Burns, and faithfully tuned in to The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, here is a bit of travel news to consider. The filmmaker has an ongoing partnership with Tauck, a tourism company, and together they’ve created another chapter on the presidential family: seeing New York City in the way that Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor knew it.

Set for October 1- 5, 2015, the Tauck-Burns New York City event will take attendees around the Big Apple, where all three prominent Roosevelts once lived. It will also highlight Burns’ other New York inspired films such as his documentary on the Brooklyn Bridge.

This one-time only event will feature an appearance by Burns at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. He will give a presentation featuring clips from his documentaries along with his longtime collaborator, Geoffrey C. Ward, who co-wrote the companion book to the Roosevelts film with Burns.

Attendees will also go on an in-depth tour of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelts’ home on East 65th Street. This townhouse was a wedding gift from FDR’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, who then moved into the home with the newlyweds. Many of FDR’s famous “fireside chats” happened here as well.

FDR home exterior - East 65th Street

Photo Credit: Roosevelt House on East 65th Street

New York City has been a focal point in several of Burns’ documentaries, from his very first PBS film Brooklyn Bridge to The Statue of Liberty, The Central Park Five and Prohibition.  The Tauck New York City Event will also delve into many facets of NYC’s history and culture through themed daily sightseeing “tracks.” They include:

– “New York’s First Families: The Gilded Age,” exploring uptown Manhattan and residents of that era including the Roosevelts, Carnegies, Astors and Fricks.

– “Land of Opportunity,” heading downtown to examine the experiences of newly-arrived immigrants during an exclusive tour of the Tenement Museum. This track also examines the other side of the coin by chronicling the exploits of Wall Street titans.

– “New York Innovation,”  focuses on midtown Manhattan locations and the people who shaped the city’s past and influence it today.

NYC Tenement Museum - exterior

Photo credit: The Tenement Museum

The Tauck New York City Event starts at $6,990 per person, including accommodations, gratuities and most meals. Budget conscious travelers could also do a self-guided tour of most of these NYC icons. Note: The Roosevelts’ home on East 65th Street now is owned by Hunter College, so double check on its visitor policy before going there. The public can also walk by and go inside Teddy Roosevelt’s birthplace (a replica) at East 20th Street. I also highly recommend visiting the Tenement Museum. Tickets are required and it’s best to get them in advance.