Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 59: Ipswich, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 59:  Ipswich, Mass.
July 1, 2010

            When I was a child I remembered the name ‘Ipswich’ being on a wooden sign which hung above the duplex where I lived in Yarmouth.  Each of the homes on our side of the street featured the names of North Shore towns such as Swampscott and Essex; of course I did not realize that until I was older.  When I got the chance to I was so excited to get to visit the actual Ipswich and take in what this North Shore town had to offer.
John Whipple House
            Originally called ‘Agawam’ by the local Native Americans Ipswich got its name from the corresponding town in Suffolk, England in 1634.  The first European settlers became farmers, fishermen, and shipbuilders while the Ipswich River provided water power for mills.  At the turn of the 20th century however it was stockings, made by the Ipswich Hosiery Mills, which became the town’s greatest export.
            The sheer number of historic homes in Ipswich was something I should have expected from a town that traces its heritage back nearly 400 years.  The Rogers and Brown House is one such place that I stopped to see.  Originally built in 1750 this old colonial ‘manse’ is run today as a very beautiful and popular Bed & Breakfast.  The home was built by Dr. Rogers near Ipswich’s South Green, upon his death his wife agreed to sell the house to Dr. Asa Brown to make way for the building of the Old South Church.
Heard House/Ipswich Museum
            The Rogers’ house was moved to its current location.  It was subsequently attached to a slat box home first owned by Nathaniel Rust who was a glover.  Dr. Brown then made several changes to the home which included several fireplaces, a carriage barn, and three staircases.  Today the Bed & Breakfast has all of the modern amenities.
            Another historic home which is even older than the Rogers and Brown Bed & Breakfast is the John Whipple House on South Main Street.  The whole area surrounding this house is filled with other historic homes so it makes for a great walk on a sunny day.  The first thing I noticed about this home was the fact that the year it was built has been changed on the sign.  The year 1677 is in bright paint yet underneath can clearly be seen the year 1655.  I have since discovered that the reason for this change in the established year is due to a dendrochronology test in 2005.  This is the process of tree-ring dating.  This test proved the earliest part of the house was built in 1677.  John Whipple was a British soldier and entrepreneur.  It was restored and has been a museum since 1899.
The Great House at Castle Hill
            Located just across the street from the Whipple House is the Heard House which also doubles as the Ipswich Museum.  This property, along with the Whipple House, is the main cog of the Ipswich Historical Society.  Built in 1800 the house was the dwelling of John Heard who was a prominent merchant in Ipswich.  He dealt all over the world with a large concentration of his dealing being in China and the West Indies.  The descendants of John Heard lived in this large home until it was purchased by the Ipswich Historical Society in 1939.  The museum is open from May through October with it being possible to gain admission to both or only one of the Heard and Whipple houses.
            If historic homes are not your thing there is something with just as much history without all of the walls and furniture.  Appleton Farms is 658 acres of beautiful green fields, trees, and picnic areas, not to mention all of the livestock.  This is America’s oldest continuously operating farm being established in 1636 by Samuel Appleton.  Initially he grew only corn and other vegetables along with hay; later generations of Appletons expanded the crops to include timber, beef, and dairy. 
The incredible rear lawn of the Great House.
            The farm is open sunrise to sunset all year long.  The folks there recommend allowing yourself two hours to fully enjoy the farm and what it has to offer, possibly three hours if you are also partaking in the Appleton Farms Grass Rides.  These are more than five miles of lush green paths which were originally designed for horseback riding.  The five paths, called ‘rides’ after the English term for carriage path, all meet in the center of the land at a place called the ‘Roundpoint.’   Appleton Farms and the adjacent Grass Rides are a great way to spend a day in Ipswich.
            The final stop on my trip to this amazing North Shore town was also the most exquisite.  Castle Hill was a spot well known to the local Native Americans for centuries and became farmland when John Winthrop Jr., son of the first governor of Massachusetts, laid claim to the land in 1637.  It is on the way to Crane Beach, which can be accessed from this property along the walking trails.  I cannot explain the majesty of this area, not only the natural beauty but the amazing architecture of The Great House. 
The Great House sits atop Castle Hill.  It was built in 1928 and includes fifty-nine rooms.  During my trip here there was a summer concert being set up on the lawn behind the Great House.  The lawn was something unexpected entirely as well.  It was not so much anything about the grass, but more of the spaciousness of it.  I can only describe it as a hundred foot wide swath of green which starts at the back of the Great House and slopes down for as far as the eye can see.  I was in awe of the scope of this landscaping marvel.  There are trails which encircle the property and I found out beforehand that much of The Next Karate Kid movie was filmed on the grounds.  I highly recommend taking the time to fully engross yourself in the natural and architectural wonder of Castle Hill.
For me now Ipswich means much more than a wooden sign above a childhood home.  It means numerous historic homes, and rich, lush farms.  Ipswich also means the incredible sights at Castle Hill.  I believe everyone needs to see Appleton Farms and Castle Hill for themselves to truly appreciate them.  It is a worthwhile trip.  Have fun and happy traveling!
DirectionsWhipple House/Heard House:  From Rt. 1 north take a right at Ipswich Rd., continue onto Topsfield Rd.  Continue onto Market Street, turn right at S. Main Street.  The Heard House in #54 with the Whipple House being directly across the street.
            Appleton Farms:  From Rt. 128 North take Exit 20A.  Take Rt. 1A North.  Travel about 7 mi. north on Rt. 1A and turn left onto Waldingfield Rd.  There is a small parking area at the street corner.
            Castle Hill:  From Rt. 128 North take Exit 20A, take Rt. 1A North for 8 mi. to Ipswich. Turn right onto Rt. 133 East and follow for 1.5 mi. Turn left onto Northgate Rd. and follow for 0.5 mi. Turn right onto Argilla Rd. and follow for 2.3 mi. to entrance.
            The - Appleton Farms
            Rogers and Brown

Monday, July 26, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 58: Rockport, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 58: Rockport, Mass.
July 1, 2010

            I had originally featured Rockport in an article which included three other North Shore towns.  Looking back on it I realized that there was so much to see in this amazing seaside village that it definitely needed its own article.  This of course meant a second trip to Rockport which I was very happy to do.
The Thacher Island Twin Lights
Located just past Gloucester, at the tip of Cape Ann, Rockport is a well known artist colony.  It also was a ‘dry town,’ meaning no alcohol was to be sold within its borders, until 2005.  This law goes back to the story of Hannah Jumper.  She led a revolt of 200 mothers, wives, and daughters in 1856 to destroy all of the liquor in town.  The reason for this was the fact that although fishing was a tremendous industry for Rockport, the Northeast’s weather only permitted it for nine months out of the year.  The other three months were spent by the men spending much of their hard-earned money on booze.  Ms. Jumper’s rebellion against the ‘demon rum’ led to Rockport being ‘dry’ for 149 years.
The famous Motif #1
The first area I decided to see cannot be accessed except by boat.  I did not have a boat so I had to partake in the view from the shore.  The Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses are both unusual and beautiful.  The pair of smoky-grey granite lighthouses sit on the small Thacher Island about a half mile off of the mainland.  The closest view of the lights comes from taking a drive on Old Penzance Road.  There is a small dirt parking area where you can walk out to the edge of the water and gaze across at the pair of 124-foot tall towers.  The terrain is a bit tricky as the path gives way to an assortment of rock pieces, some large, some smaller.  However as long as you are aware of the surroundings there is no real danger in walking out to the shore.  The lighthouses were built in 1861.  There are summer tours of the island and private boaters are allowed to visit the grounds as well if you have access to a vessel.
The entrance to Bearskin Neck
The next place I visited was one of the most unique of all the spots I have seen thus far: The Paper House.  Originally built in 1922 by Mr. Elis F. Stenman this house is really what it claims to be.  The walls of the house and furniture inside are completely made out of paper.  From a distance it does not look the out of the ordinary; the paper now being nearly ninety years old has a brownish color.  Once you are near enough you can see what makes this place so unique.  There are actually spots on the walls where you can see old newspaper pages that have been included in the lining of the house.
This spot was built as a summer house for Mr. Stenman who built the machines that make paper clips.  His creations inside the house include a piano, desk, and chair, all made from paper that was then varnished to hold it together better.  There is a small admission fee and the house is open every day from the spring through the fall.  Despite being a house in name it is still a bit fragile and visitors are asked to be gentle with this amazing work of art.  It is a bit out of the way but worth the drive to find it.
Paper House
The final area I visited in Rockport probably deserves an article all its own.  Located along the northern coastline of the town Bearskin Neck is an amazing collection of former fishing and lobster shacks that have been gradually transformed into shops and art galleries.  It was named for the bears that were hunted by being chased out onto the narrow strip of land in the early 18th century.  The first dock was built in 1743 and Bearskin Neck was the commercial and shipbuilding center of Rockport for 150 years.
There is much more to see along the narrow streets that make up Bearskin Neck besides just the incredible shops which line it.  At the very end of the paved road, which acts as a sort of center aisle in an outdoor shopping mall, there is a building which stands on the site of the Old Stone Fort.  It was just as its name says, built for the War of 1812 it was routinely fired upon by British naval ships.  However, the most famous location of the Bearskin Neck is a dark red fishing shack on Bradley Wharf known as Motif #1.  It is said to be America’s most painted and photographed building.  The original was built in 1884 but the ravages of Mother Nature have knocked the building down a few times.  It was most recently rebuilt in 1978.  The Motif got its name from art teacher Lester Hornby.
Legend has it that the teacher would send his students out into Rockport to paint scenes of the town.  When student after student chose the venerable shack as a subject for sketches Mr. Hornby was said to have replied ‘What?  Motif #1 again!?.’  After getting a close up view of the shack it is very easy to see why so many of those students, and visitors to this day, flock to it.  The deep red color, the collection of buoys hanging ever so neatly on its fa├žade; this rather unassuming shack just oozes personality.
Rockport has many incredible places to visit.  Bearskin Neck is worthy of its own article but there is so much more.  The outstanding Paper House is a one in a million destination, literally.  Even though you more than likely will not be able to physically touch them, the Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses make for a majestic scene as they stretch toward the sky just offshore.  I highly recommend taking them in, walking along the promenade that is Bearskin Neck, and don’t forget to take a photo of Motif #1.  Have fun and happy traveling!
DirectionsBearskin Neck:  Take Rt. 128 off of I-95.  Stay on Rt. 128 through two rotaries and turn left onto Rt. 127.  Rt. 127 becomes Broadway, turn left at Mt. Pleasant Street. Bearskin Neck is on the right.
            The Paper House:  Follow Rt. 127 north toward Pigeon Cove. After the Yankee Clipper Inn take the second left, which is Curtis Street, then another left on Pigeon Hill Street.  The Paper House is #52, on your right.
            Thacher Island Twin Lights:  From Rt. 128 north turn left on Eastern Ave., then right onto Barn Lane.  Turn left at Rt. 127A north.  Turn right at South St., take 1st left onto Penzance Road.  There is a small dirt parking area with a great view of the lighthouses.   
            Paper House

Monday, July 19, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 57: Gloucester, Mass. - Trip 2

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 57: Gloucester, Mass. – Trip 2
July 1, 2010

            Even better than the first time, if it was humanly possible.  This is how I sum up my second visit to the amazing fishing port of Gloucester.  My initial visit in late winter was magnificent as I was able to see all of the sites the town is known for.  This time, a mid-summer jaunt, was even better thanks to the warm sunny weather and the fact that I was able to visit even more spots I did not have the chance to see before.
            For those who did not read my previous article Gloucester is America’s oldest seaport.  Fishing is as synonymous with this town as the famous Witch Trials are to Salem.  Located so close to Boston there is really no reason not to make the trip up here and see what in my opinion is the shining example of what a fishing village should be.
            My return began with a visit to a familiar place, Western Avenue and The Man At the Wheel statue(left).  Being so close to Independence Day I found the American flags adoring each post of the railing along the sea wall to be a perfect complement to the majesty that is the tribute to Gloucester’s fishing heritage.  The eight-foot tall bronze statue not only looks out over Gloucester Harbor, but also faces several plaque listing the names of all of the brave souls from Gloucester that have lost their lives out on the sea.  The most well known names are those of the crew of the Andrea Gail whose loss was depicted by the film The Perfect StormThe Man At the Wheel is definitely the most well known landmark in Gloucester but it is hardly the only spot to visit.
            Not far from the historic downtown area of Gloucester sits a place that a first time visitor might not expect to see.  On Hesperus Avenue there is a medieval castle, that’s not a misprint, a medieval castle.  Hammond Castle(left), built by John Hays Hammond Jr. between 1926 and 1929, sits on a classic North Shore rocky cliff.  The view is simply amazing as you gaze across the harbor toward Eastern Point Lighthouse.  There is also a short path to walk through a sweet smelling flower garden as well.  The castle is complete with several fearsome looking gargoyles and an impressive drawbridge.
            Hammond Castle was built by Mr. Hammond to serve as his home and to house his collection of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts.  Hammond was also a prolific inventor, second only to Thomas Edison as far as patents.  He is known as the ‘Father of Remote Control’ thanks to his works with remote control via radio waves.  His grave is located on the grounds and is guarded by a pair of lion statues.  The castle now doubles as a museum and is opened all through the summer it is another must see spot in Gloucester.
            Another favorite spot of mine is the amazing Stage Fort Park on Hough Street.  The site of the first settlers to the Gloucester area from Dorchester, England, Stage Fort Park has a nearly fifty-foot tall boulder containing a gigantic plaque commemorating this fact.  The view from the top of the boulder is breathtaking as you can see all across the wide open park to the east, historic downtown Gloucester to the north, and Ten Pound Island and lighthouse to the west.  This island received its name either from the amount of money paid to the local Indians, or for the number of sheep pens, known as ‘pounds,’ located on the island.  The wide open scope of the park is what I tend to take away from this place, there is nothing like it on Cape Cod.  I also enjoyed Half Moon Beach(above), one of the two beaches at Stage Fort Park; it is very small and secluded amongst the rocks, a sort of lagoon.  This beach is traditionally accepted as the spot where the first settlers made landfall.
            Much like Hammond Castle, the abandoned village of Dogtown on Cherry Street is a spot not expected to be seen in the historic fishing village of Gloucester.  The story of this place is amazing.  Originally settled in 1693 because of its direct road to neighboring Rockport, and also because being inland served as protection from pirates, Dogtown peaked at around a hundred families around the turn of the 19th century.   When new coastal roads opened after the end of the War of 1812 many of the residents left the settlement due to the new roads possibly inviting invaders to their area. 
            Dogtown’s name is something for debate.  One story is that the abandoned homes were used for years by vagrants and other unsavory characters that were said to have acted like dogs.  Another story has the name coming from the fact that as the last remaining families left in the area, dealing with these vagrants, bought dogs for protection.  When these folks died their dogs remained and became feral and howled during the nights.  The area is now dense woods with great hiking trails that used to be roads.  There are also thirty-six ‘Babson Boulders’ which are adorned with inspirational quotes.  These were commissioned during the Great Depression and make for a fun sort of treasure hunt.
            Speaking of a treasure hunt, my final destination was a spot that I was not able to find on my last trip to Gloucester: Annisquam Lighthouse(left).  It is a tough place to find even with a GPS but this time I did.  Located on Wigwam Point the current lighthouse was built in 1897 but the station was established in 1801.  The view along the coast is spectacular; the fact that the keeper’s house is private actually makes it better.  This fact means that to see the lighthouse up close you need to go along the shore, with the lighthouse up on some rocks you end up almost underneath it.  I have never seen a lighthouse from this vantage point.  It was a perfect end to another perfect trip to one of my favorite places.                  
            Gloucester, America’s oldest seaport lives up to its reputation as a beautiful getaway for those in Boston.  It is also well worth the trip from anywhere in the state or New England.  It only gets better each time I go.  At times it felt as though I had one foot in the present and one foot in the past.  Lighthouses, medieval castles, spacious parks, legendary abandoned villages, historic memorials; Gloucester has everything you could want in a vacation or a day trip.  I suggest taking more than just a day to discover it all though, or you will find you have missed so much.  Have fun and happy traveling!

Check out a short video featuring a slideshow of my photos from Gloucester on YouTube here:  In My Footsteps - Gloucester, Mass.

Directions: Hammond Castle Museum: From I-95 N take Exit 47A, turn right onto Maple St., continue on to Poplar St.  Slight right at Elliot St., merge onto Rt. 128.  Take Exit 15, follow School St. to Rt. 127.  Follow Rt. 127 5 miles, turn right at Hesperus St., castle is .7 mi on left.
Stage Fort Park: From I-95 N take Exit 47A, turn right onto Maple St., continue on to Poplar St.  Slight right at Elliot St., merge onto Rt. 128.  Take Exit 15, follow School St. to Rt. 127.  Follow Rt. 127 6.5 miles, turn left onto Hough Avenue.
Man At the Wheel Memorial: From I-95 N take Exit 47A, turn right onto Maple St., continue on to Poplar St.  Slight right at Elliot St., merge onto Rt. 128.  Take Exit 15, follow School St. to Rt. 127.  Follow Rt. 127 approx. 7 mi., statue and memorial is on the right.
Annisquam Lighthouse: From Rt. 127 turn onto Leonard Street, next to the white Annisquam Village Church. Turn right at a large ‘Norwood Heights’ sign. Follow the road across an intersection, past a ‘Dead End’ sign. Continue toward the water. Follow as the road turns to the right and then take an immediate left. Continue to the lighthouse at the end of the road The parking lot is very small.
References: ReferencesHammond Castle Museum
            Annisquam Lighthouse
            Cape Ann Historical Museum       
            The Story of Dogtown

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 56: Marshfield, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 56: Marshfield, Mass.
June 3, 2010

            My trip to Marshfield, or as it is called in the summer, ‘Marsh Vegas,’ due to the massive influx of visitors, centered around two very famous people.  These two people are famous for very different reasons but their names are synonymous with Marshfield: Daniel Webster, and Steve Carell.  Before I get to those two famous names let me give you a little history of Marshfield.
            The history of the Wampanoag tribe in Marshfield has been traced extensively back up to 10,000 B.C.  Many of the town’s main roads are the same ones created by these Native Americans long before European settlers arrived.  First established as a separate town from Plimoth Plantation in 1640, Marshfield was founded by Edward Winslow who served as the town’s governor.    
            Daniel Webster was a leading statesman during the United States’ Antebellum Period.  This is the period of time defined as the country’s westward expansion from 1789 to 1849.  He was also an attorney as well as Secretary of State during the presidencies of William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore.  His name and places he once lived and worked are dotted all over Marshfield’s landscape.
            The first such place I visited was actually by chance.  I stopped by the Hon. Isaac Winslow House, the home of the founding family of Marshfield.  On this day there was actually a meeting going on in the house so I kept my distance.  This led me to the small white house that served as the law office of Daniel Webster(above) during his time in Marshfield from 1832 up until his death in 1852.  It is a very unassuming building but the history that it represents is incredible.  I did a few laps around the grounds before heading to the next Daniel Webster site.
            The Daniel Webster Estate(left), the home where he lived on Webster Street, is a truly spectacular piece of architecture.  The driveway is a long, scenic route leading to the house.  You can’t miss it with its huge wrap around porch.  The view from the porch is inspiring, a large green field with trees sprinkled in here and there.  I can only imagine the inspiration Mr. Webster got as he sat on this porch and gazed out upon the natural beauty laid out before him. 
            The original Webster Estate was 1,800 acres of land encompassing present day Marshfield landmarks such as the Winslow House I had previously visited and the Green Harbor Golf Course.  The irony being that Webster called his estate ‘Green Harbor.’  It has since been reduced dramatically in size, much of land was sold off within the last fifty years for private use but the Webster Estate itself is a great legacy of the Webster name.
            The journey through the life and times of Daniel Webster could only end with a visit to the Winslow Cemetery and his grave(right).  Located on Winslow Cemetery Road this burying ground also houses the founder of Marshfield, Edward Winslow, as well as many of the original settlers.  The Webster family plot is surrounded by an iron fence which makes it look and feel much more important than all of the other gravesites.  His grave sits on a small hill overlooking those of his family.  During the time I was there the sun sat in such a way that the other stones were in the shadows while that of Daniel Webster was in the bright sunshine.  I felt that to be sort of fitting being that he was such a tremendously important individual in American history.    
            The Marshfield Hills General Store(below) is a piece of history just as important to locals as any of the Webster sites.  The village of Marshfield Hills had grown accustomed to visiting the quaint little store on Prospect Street since 1853, though it has not always been a general store.  When the store went up for sale in the fall of 2008 it was up to a very famous Marshfield resident to save the beloved store.
            Actor Steve Carell, well known for his role as Michael Scott on The Office, as well as countless memorable movie roles, made a bid and purchased the store in November 2008.  His sister-in-law oversees the day to day operations with Mr. Carell vowing to be hands-on in the store when time permits. 
            I found the store to be a slice of old-time America with a lot of homemade jellies and sauces for sale on the shelves.  True to his word the store has not been changed from what locals have always remembered.  In fact the only proof that the store had been purchased by Mr. Carell was the small section of The Office merchandise located at the end of one of the aisles.  Even when I mentioned that I made a point to visit the store the clerk played it coy and would not mention Steve Carell by name.  I did, however, get a receipt as proof that I was there.
            Finally for those who enjoy fishing there is a great little spot at the end of a road called Damon’s Point Road.  I first discovered this spot when driving over Rt. 3A on a bridge that separates Marshfield and Scituate.  The road is a dead end but there is a red building across the river that is likely only accessible by boat.  I cannot find out much about it and am very intrigued by this building. 
            The fishing area is small at the end of the road, there were several people making use of a small dock when I arrived.  The area is filed with amazing views and beautiful homes along the water.  It was a great way to end a great trip to Marshfield. 
            It is hard to miss all of the connections to history located in Marshfield.  Whether you like the distant history of Daniel Webster, or the saving of history such as Steve Carell’s purchase of the Marshfield Hills General Store, you are certain to find so many spots that fit the bill.  I highly recommend taking a tour of Marshfield, and don’t forget to stop into the Marshfield Hills General Store, you never know who might be working on that day.  Have fun and happy traveling!
DirectionsDaniel Webster Estate: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14.  Turn right, at rotary continue straight to stay on Rt. 14.  Take a slight left at Rt. 139, turn left at Webster St.  Estate is .6 miles up on right.
Winslow Cemetery: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14.  Turn right, at rotary continue straight to stay on Rt. 14.  Take a slight left at Rt. 139, turn left at Webster St., right at Winslow Cemetery Rd.  Follow half mile to cemetery on left.
Marshfield Hills General Store: From Rt. 3 take Exit 12 for Rt. 139.  Turn left at Church Street, take 1st left onto Old Oak St.  Continue onto Union St., turn right at Oak St., continue onto Highland Street.  Turn left at Old Main Street, continue onto Prospect Street.  General Store is on right, #165.
            Daniel Webster Estate

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 55: Pembroke, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 55: Pembroke, Mass.
June 3, 2010

            Nestled in between Brockton and Duxbury, Pembroke is a little town with a lot of great things to see.  Named for a town in Wales, the name Pembroke in Welsh actually means ‘land’s end,’ since the town in Wales is along the ocean this is the truth.  However, in Massachusetts, Pembroke is landlocked.  Despite not sharing the same approximation to water as its twin-city in Wales, Pembroke does share the charm.
            I began my trip at the Town Hall as I so often do on my excursions.  However, the building itself was only the tip of the iceberg as far as surprising sights went.  As I drove into the heart of Pembroke, where the Town Hall’s often lie, I noticed a strange sight on my left.  Being unpacked and set up on the grounds of the Pembroke Memorial Park across the street from the Town Hall was a carnival.  This carnival was the Old Home Days Family Fair and it was complete with rides and food stands and made for some unbelievable photo opportunities.
            The reason that these photos were of the ‘one in a million’ variety was the fact that sitting in and amongst the rides and food stands were some beautifully crafted war memorial statues(left).  It made for quite the dichotomy seeing the dedications to those who fought and died in our bloodiest conflicts standing side by side with the Fun Slide and fried dough stands.  It was something unexpected that made my time in Pembroke even more fun.
            After I was finished photographing the spectacle of the carnival on the park grounds I headed back across the street toward the Town Hall.  It was here that I noticed something out of the ordinary again.  It appeared to be a simple rock wall made into a square, the vines covered it almost completely but the shape was still obvious.  I thought it was unusual until I read the plaque on one of the faces of the square.
            The stone square covered with vines was actually a pound where an ox was kept(right).  This pound was the second, the first, built in 1712, was made of wood and cost a mere forty cents.  The twenty by twenty foot stone pound was erected in 1824 and cost fifty-five dollars.  It was a nice little story and a piece of unusual history that most visitors to Pembroke pass by without a second thought.  These are the places I seek out.
            I made sure to stop at one of the several great ponds to swim at inside the Pembroke limits.  Oldham Pond has a town landing for boats, a nice sandy playground for children, and of course beach areas for swimming.  It is one of a cluster of ponds in and around Mattakeesett Street.  The others feature names like Furnace Pond, Great Sandy Bottom Pond, and my favorite, No Bottom Pond.  I did not get a chance to see if it lives up to the name, but either way it was still an interesting site.
            Two historic buildings made up the remainder of my time in Pembroke.  The first one is now a piece of the Pembroke Historical Society.  The Adah F. Hall House(right), located on Barker Street is one of the oldest homes in the town.  It sits on a piece of land given to Pembroke’s first settler, Robert Barker, by Myles Standish.  The house itself was erected in 1685 and, as I have noticed with many homes from the 17th and 18th century, has color patterns not seen very much today.  The Adah F. Hall House has a yellow face with a red door which makes it very easy to spot from the road.
            The second building has even more history to it, but just getting to it was an adventure in and of itself.  The Friends’ Meeting House, built in 1706, is one of the oldest Quaker sites in the country.  The interior is split in half with men sitting on one side and women on the other.  Directly behind the large white structure is a small cemetery complete with many tiny white stones(left).  They were hard to make out due to tremendous age but one can only assume they belong to former members of the Quaker church.  Built by the afore mentioned first settler, Robert Barker, the Friends’ Meeting House stayed in operation until 1874 when the building was closed and the meetings were shifted to another spot.
            Now, the reason why I say it was an adventure just getting onto the grounds is the fact that the Friends’ Meeting House lies at the intersection of the busy Washington Street (Rt. 53) and Schoosett Street (Rt. 139).  There is a very small asphalt area, not even big enough for my small car, on the corner but it took me three passes before I decided to give in and park at the neighboring Itzaparty store.  I do recommend taking a walk on the grounds of this sacred Quaker spot, but please do be careful when finding a place to park.
            Pembroke may not have the seaside views of its twin-city in Wales but that does not take away anything from its charm.  Aside from catching the carnival as it arrived I found Pembroke to be a very quiet little town with many historical sites to visit and lots of beautiful ponds to swim in or simply relax by.  It is a great spot for a day trip, or to stay over if you are coming from further away.  I highly recommend taking the time to pay a visit to Pembroke.  There is a lot to see.  Have fun and happy traveling!
DirectionsTown Hall: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14, turn right at Congress St.  At rotary take 4th exit for Congress Street, turn right at intersection of Rt. 14 and Rt. 53 for Washington St.  Turn left at Barker St., turn left after 1.4 miles for Town Hall.
            Adah F. Hall House: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14, turn right at Congress St.  At rotary take 4th exit for Congress Street, turn right at intersection of Rt. 14 and Rt. 53 for Washington St.  Turn left at Barker St., the house is .3 miles down on left.
            Friends’ Meetinghouse:  From Rt. 3 take Exit 12 for Rt. 139.  Turn right at Church Street, take a slight left at Water Street.  Continue onto Schoosett Street, at intersection with Washington Street you will see meetinghouse.  There are places to park nearby, be careful crossing street.
            Oldham Pond: From Rt. 3 take Exit 9, turn right at Rt. 3A, continue onto Rt. 27 north for 7 miles.  Turn right at Mattakeesett St., turn left at Wampatuck Street.  The beach I visited is on left after .1 miles.  
            Pembroke, Ma. - Official Site