Winchester, New Hampshire is a small town of approximately 4,000 residents tucked in the southwest corner of the state, making it a close neighbor to Massachusetts and Vermont. In the center of town, stand several historical buildings. One notable structure is the Center Church, previously the Unitarian Church. Built in 1912 to replace the town's meeting house that was destroyed by fire, the modest brick church sits on the corner of Rt. 119 and Michigan Street, across from the Winchester Town Hall.
Last year, Town Selectman and all around handy man, Robert Leustek volunteered to climb up into the old clock tower of the Center Church to give it the attention and care it needed for so many years. He became the Town Clock Custodian. Not long after Robert began his work on the tower, he invited me to photograph the process of his labor of love. He especially wanted to capture the before and after photos of the clock parts he was cleaning and restoring.
Robert's excitement and earnest dedication to the old clock tower was palpable as he showed me into the very tight space and explained how the clock mechanisms worked. He started by winding up the clock. It was noon and the bright midday sun illuminated the massive plexiglass faces of the clock. As he went to work, I took in some of the most fascinating pieces of history hidden behind the walls of an aging steeple. Being in the presence of the original hardware was awe-inspiring and a great opportunity for a photographer like myself. I love taking pictures of historical buildings and all the details. I wanted to photograph every inch of that place. I even crawled up into the bell tower. It was such a memorable and unique experience. Robert then gave me clock pieces to photograph in the "before" condition. He told me that he wanted to create a slide show for the town's historical society upon completion of the project. I agreed and then got to work. He continued working on the clock, its parts, and kept up his custodial commitment to the old clock tower.
Only three months ago, Robert suddenly passed away. His untimely death shook the small town of Winchester to its core. His kindness, giving nature, enthusiasm and dedication to many things associated with the community shone so bright, that it was no surprise that a clock restoration fund was created in his passing to finish the work Robert had started.
I was to meet Robert to photograph the restored parts the week of his passing. As his wife Gloria handed me the shiny pieces, she told me that someone already stepped up to finish Robert's work. I told her that I wished to continue shooting this project and that I would present the slide show once the full restoration was completed. I wanted to do that for Robert.
As I go through the photos, I think of Robert, who was completely dedicated to something he believed in. I truly believe Robert’s spirit and passion for this clock will shine forever in those historic pieces and he will forever be a part of the historic clock tower in the center of Winchester, New Hampshire.
Below are the images from my visit last year, including some before and after shots of the restored clock parts. If you would like to donate to the Clock Restoration Fund, please contact the Winchester Town Hall at 1 Richmond Road in Winchester, New Hampshire.
As a New England photographer, I am drawn to the history and beauty of our region. Often I pack up my jeep with my camera gear, drive the backroads, and explore new places. On a frosty December morning last year, I headed north on Route 63 into Westmoreland, New Hampshire. I took in the rustic barns, fields and woodlands, and stopped here and there for quick shots. As I rounded the bend to enter the open common area of Westmoreland, I was struck by the sight of one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. The Park Hill Meetinghouse stood out like a beacon on the top of a hill. I was awestruck and immediately pulled over.
A sign on the property placed by the Registry of National Historic Places reads: “This church built on the northeast corner of Cole cemetery in 1762, was moved in sections by ox cart in1779, to this location, then known as Federal Hill. A steeple with a bell cast by the Paul Revere Foundry was added in 1826. This edifice is recognized as one of the most beautiful churches in New England.”
Several months later Jan Carpenter, a member of the Westmoreland Historical Society, gave me a tour in place of Walter Carroll, the property manager, who was unable to make it that day. As we moved from room to room, she explained the need for funding to keep such an old building going. Although it had been through 3 restoration phases where it received 3 L-Chip grants from the State of New Hampshire, the historical society is shrinking as the members are aging, so they have to hire out to have any work done. Jan also pointed out that it was once used as a church, but now is in need of a purpose. Of course the wheels in my mind started to turn, but living 40 minutes away and working two jobs, any idea seemed impossible. What I can do is share my photos to create more awareness of historical structures like this hidden gem. They are beautiful to look at, but truly need volunteers and funding to remain New England’s treasures.
On October 8th 2016, Westmoreland Town Hall will be celebrating a centennial anniversary. I will be donating a matted print to help raise money for the Park Hill Meetinghouse. I hope you have a chance to stop by that day. If you do visit, or any day, drive about a mile north from the center of Westmoreland to see this beauty in person. Keep special places like this on your mind. They are part of what makes our beautiful New England one of the most sought after destinations for travelers.
Nothing gets your attention quite like a quality made product. On a recent stop at Hannah Grimes Marketplace in Keene, I picked up a jar of maple cream from Grand Monadnock Maple Farm. It wasn’t long before I returned to pick up another jar. I was hooked. So, with sugaring season upon us, I wanted to visit the source of this sweet, smooth, sugary, goodness. And as many know, I enjoy highlighting local businesses with my photography.
Grand Monadnock Maple Farm is located on Breed Road in Harrisville, New Hampshire, just a short drive up a winding road off of Route 101. The newly built sugar shack sits nestled on a hill. On the day I visited, the afternoon sun was filtering through tall trees, also referred to as the sugarbush. Inside, co-owner Jon Miner, greeted me with a friendly smile and talked to me about sugaring. Jon started tapping trees with his family when he was just 5 years old. His wife Jillian Miner is also co-owner. I met Jillian as she prepared to give a tour to a group from the Keene Young Professionals Network.
As I snapped away, it wasn’t too long before Jon started boiling fresh maple sap and sweet smoke began to drift up and out of the roof vent. The scent of maple cooking is heavenly. There is traditional and scientific method to boiling and Jon’s got it figured out. I was also impressed how their sap lines feed right into the sugar shack and empty into a holding tank. This is a great little, local business, and the Miners are proud of their line of products, which are also available on site.
All of this month is Maple Sugar Month, and this upcoming weekend is Maple Sugar Weekend. Take a drive over and see Jon and Jillian. They are very welcoming and happy to share their passion for sugaring. And yes, I picked up more maple cream and ate some on the way home with a spoon I had stashed in my glove box. When you arrive, you will be offered a free sample taste. Try it. You'll be hooked too.
For more information, go to http://www.grandmonadnockmaple.com/
As I walked the grounds of this bicentennial working farm in the Lake Sunapee area, I was completely in awe. The day I visited, I was greeted by Jack Noon, an author and historian. It was a sunny, yet brisk February afternoon and Jack, who works here and knows this farm very well, was eager to show us around. Most of the buildings on the 250 acre, immaculately-kept farm are labeled and open to the public. As you enter each structure, you are taken back in time. Among them are barns, blacksmith shops, corn cribs, a maple-honey house, a saw mill, a child’s playhouse and a one room school house. Although I took many photos, I don’t want to give too much away. You have to visit Muster Field Farm and the adjacent Harvey Homestead yourself. Dedicated volunteers have taken such good care of this hidden historical gem. For information and ongoing events, check out their website: http://musterfieldfarm.com/
Luca's Mediterranean Café and the Market at Luca's have been serving excellent Mediterranean food in the center of downtown Keene for over 15 years. Chef Luca is well known as an excellent chef and winner of many food awards. He is also very active in the community.
In January Chef Luca and the owners of New England Sweetwater Farm in Distillery out of Winchester, NH, (Robert Patton-Spruill and Patti Moreno) set out to combine quality food and spirits for one special evening. These photos highlight the hard work and wonderful energy that took place behind the scenes. I am honored to have worked with all of these talented folks.
Bennington Vermont is the third largest town in Vermont. It is rich in history and alive with art. On a recent visit, I stopped into The Bennington Center for the Arts which houses a well thought out Covered Bridge Museum. There were so many interesting tidbits throughout the exhibits. I looked at the old tools used to build covered bridges and learned a varied history of these well-built structures. This wonderfully, intriguing museum is now high on my list of special places. I highly recommend visiting the Bennington Center for the Arts located just along route 9 in southern Vermont.
Below are a handful of photos taken at the museum as well as images I have taken over the years.
Covered Bridges in order of appearance: Bartonsville Covered Bridge in Rockingham, VT, Green River Covered Bridge in Guilford, VT, Thompson Covered Bridge in Swanzey, NH, Carlton Covered Bridge in Swanzey, NH, Ashuelot Covered Bridge in Winchester, NH, Carlton Covered Bridge in Swanzey, NH, Dummerston Covered Bridge in Dummerston VT, Slate Covered Bridge in Swanzey NH, Cilleyville Covered Bridge in Andover, NH, Winsor-Cornish Bridge connecting Windsor, VT and Cornish, NH.
Along rural route 63 in Northfield, MA, South Wind Farm's red barns and historic brick farm house stand out to welcome you to this organic, working farm along the winding path of the Connecticut River. For more information, click here.
Stop in for a tasting of quality spirits made from fresh, local ingredients right on Main Street. Bottled vodka, gin, rum and whiskey available, along with cool distillery merchandise. Great people too!