Monday, July 11, 2011

Manchester, MA - 7th-10th July

Thursday, 7th July


On Thursday I left the Goodhart-Bennett household after a wonderful stay to travel downtown to meet my host for the coming few days. Bill Cross, a member of the Coolidge family who originally founded the Pathfinders scholarship, had invited me to the fantastic house he and his family built 5 years ago  on the 'Golden Coast' in Manchester-by-the-Sea. After dropping off my bags I explored the Freedom Trail which leads walkers through central Boston (along a thick red line painted on the sidewalks and across the roads) and passes past, and through, Boston's historic monuments. When passing through little Italy I stopped for some lunch - some fantastic scallop linguine and a glass of pinot grigio later, I finished off the trail and headed back to Bill's office to travel up to Manchester.

No sooner had we arrived at the house after the 45 minute train journey (turns out the idea of a high-speed train doesn't really exist in the US) and Bill had me in my trunks and down to the house's beach for a quick swim. When descending to the water I asked how warm it would be - the answer came in Fahrenheit and before I'd really worked out the Celsius conversion I'd already jumped in. Turns out that whatever the Celsius temperature was, it was cold.

A quick shower and some supper on the terrace overlooking the Atlantic and we were in the car and en route to a talk organised by Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), an association Bill's a board member of. The talk was entitled: 'The Gospel According to Contemporary Art'. Being a disbeliever in the former and a sceptic of the latter I wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily I didn't have to do too much lip-biting, but when it came to how Banksy's work is really Christian art, I just smiled politely and nodded my head.

We returned and I met Bill's wife, Ellen and youngest son, Ben - exhausted, I turned in for the night.



Friday, 8th July

On Friday morning I met up with a neighbour-friend of Bill's, and architectural photographer, Steve Rosenthal. I went over to his house for the morning and had a look around his studio and discussed my project with him, what I'd like to do, what I want to get out of it, and in what direction I want it to go. It was brilliant to get the chance to talk to someone as experienced and renowned as Steve at the beginning of my trip and the start of my project, and I left his company with a clearer vision of what I hope to achieve with my photography. 

I returned to the Cross's and spent the remainder of the afternoon lounging around in the garden and on the terrace doing a bit of reading, and processing some of my photographs.

On Friday evening (whilst Bill and Ellen were at a pre-planned dinner) the Lastavicas had arranged to take me out for some supper at their country club, not 5 minutes from Manchester. Kitty is the niece of Pathfinders founder Bill Coolidge, and the great, great, great granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson. Both her and her husband, John, have amazing stories to tell. Kitty, a great physician, was heavily involved in the discovery and treatment of Lyme disease. John, at the age of 16, was forced to flee Serbia in a boat he built for that purpose which he navigated across the Adriatic with his mother and aunt before travelling to South America. He then moved to the US where he worked for numerous companies including Ford where he worked under Robert McNamara.

Dinner was perfect - house salad, clam chowder, seared tuna steak, and then New York cheesecake, all served with some decent Shiraz - and it was great to meet and chat with Kitty and John who have been so deeply involved with the Pathfinders programme as long as they can both remember. They dropped me home and left me with an invitation to Coolidge Point the next day for a tour and some swimming.


Saturday, 9th July

Ellen's Tour
Bill and Ellen had planned a dinner for Saturday night - and that required lobster; so early Saturday morning I headed out in the car with Ellen to the local town of Gloucester where the best lobster north of Boston is (allegedly) landed and sold. This also gave a chance for Ellen to give me a tour to 'get a feel' of the local area.  Gloucester is famous for providing the setting for the film 'The Perfect Storm' and one of the buildings I visited there provided the backdrop for a scene in that very film. The Gloucester paint factory (or 'Manufactory' as the white paint on the outside wall overlooking the harbour proclaims) , built in 1863, has been disused since 1980. It was recently purchased as part of a redevelopment scheme, built little work has been carried out on its decaying structure whilst developers decide what to do with its spaces.
Gloucester paint manufactory (b/w)

The factory was accessible only by some acts of adventurous rock-climbing, as it was fenced off from all other sides but those which were bordered by the sea. Some building work appeared to be underway, perhaps part of the redevelopment project or just to patch up the subsiding structure. 

Depot out-building (b/w)

The entirety of the ground floor was well shut-up, making breaking and entering difficult - since Ellen was waiting in the car at a nearby beach I decided to stick to exterior shots.

The precarious balancing act of the east side of the building mimicked the uncertain future of the building 

Paint factory seen and explored, Ellen continued my tour through Rockport and around the coast to Lanesville where I photographed an abandoned tool factory (photographs to come soon). My brief tour concluded, Ellen dropped me off at Coolidge Point where I was to spend some more time with Kitty and John. 

Coolidge Point
Bought by the Jefferson-Coolidge family in 1871, Coolidge Point (a fantastic 66 acre peninsula) remains in the ownership of the Coolidge Trustees to this day. Bill Coolidge, Pathfinders founder, grew up there in the 'Marble Palace' built in 1902 by his father, Thomas Jefferson-Coolidge Jr. 

Entrance facade of the Marble Palace, circa 1905

Designed by McKim, one of the all-time greats of American architecture, the Marble Palace on Ocean Lawns hosted guests including William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Ocean facade, circa 1905

But, the great palace didn't last long, and after the death of Thomas Jefferson-Coolidge Jr. and his wife (who lived alone in the building in the years after her husband's death) the house was torn down by Kitty's mother in the 1950s. Even more extraordinary than the decision to demolish the Marble Palace must be the decision to simply throw the marble pillars of the entrance facade into the sea off Coolidge Point which you can still see on the sea-bed at low tide. 

After some refreshments at Kitty and John's current house I was taken to their previous house, built by Kitty after the demolition of the Marble Palace, for a tour. The house, a near-replica of a house Thomas Jefferson stayed in in Williamsburg, VA, is stuffed with family portraits and great works of art and, sitting empty at present, acts as a quasi-museum for the Coolidge family's history.

Kitty's House, Coolidge Point

Afterwards it was time for a swim in their glorious pool which lies in a secluded spot on the point overlooking the ocean. I didn't have any swimwear with me, but luckily one of the perks of owning your own peninsula is that you don't really need any. I returned to the Cross's just in time for supper.

Supper with Doug, Patty & Ben Woodlock
Knowing my subject, Bill had arranged for their good friends Doug and Patty Woodlock and their son Ben over for supper on the Saturday night. Doug is a Federal Judge in the Massachusetts Federal Courthouse, and in addition to being a great judge famous nation-wide for his sagacious and well-written   judgments, he was instrumental in the creation, designing and building of the new Massachusetts Federal Courthouse in downtown Boston.

It was great to talk some law with Doug and talk out loud to someone who really knows their stuff about career plans. I managed to wrangle some views out of him on the Obama healthcare legal challenges and his views on the Bush v. Gore debacle on which Sandra Day O'Connor gave such a disappointing answer when she spoke in Oxford last year.


Sunday, 10th July

Sunday morning, and whilst Bill and Ellen were at Church I once again returned to my favourite sun-lounger overlooking the Atlantic where I took breakfast and caught up on the UK news stories. After a mozzarella and parma ham salad for luncheon Ellen drove me to South Station in Boston where I was to catch my bus for New York. My time in Manchester was fantastic, and all of it was possible because of the brilliant hospitality of Bill, Ellen, Gavin and Ben - so, thank you to you all.

6 comments:

  1. You don't know me, but I just had to comment...Bill and Kitty are my cousins, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog post, which I found when I was googling for pictures of Coolidge Point.

    I last stayed with Bill and Ellen a couple of years ago, and it was while John (who has since passed away) and Kitty were still getting the other house ready to move into.

    I am English too, and while I have been in the US for a long time, Kitty's house was always a stop on our US tour when I was a child. I'll never forget John roasting a whole lamb on a spit when I was about 16.

    I love your pictures of the paint factory. Much better than the snapshots I took from a boat in the bay.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed my pictures. I can't believe it was over a year ago that I spent those wonderful days up in Manchester-by-the-Sea with Bill and Ellen: it seems like a lifetime ago. I was very sad to hear of John's passing, and still remember fondly having supper with him and Kitty at their country club and spending an afternoon over on Coolidge point. Thanks for reading and sharing your memories!

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    2. Oh No!!! You brought them alive with your writing, sad he is now gone. He sounds the type who could fill a book.

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    3. Oh No!!! You brought them alive with your writing, sad he is now gone. He sounds the type who could fill a book.

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  2. I stumbled here looking at old, disused theatres. So glad I did! YOU NEED TO WRITE A BOOK. If you don't keep journals.....anyway you experienced what people still do in parts of the USA that many don't any longer. Houseguests. Proper houseguests and treatment thereof. Making sure if there is a prior engagement, someone very entertaining and engaging takes care of you. Your adventures could so easily tumble into a novel. You write beautifully!

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  3. I stumbled here looking at old, disused theatres. So glad I did! YOU NEED TO WRITE A BOOK. If you don't keep journals.....anyway you experienced what people still do in parts of the USA that many don't any longer. Houseguests. Proper houseguests and treatment thereof. Making sure if there is a prior engagement, someone very entertaining and engaging takes care of you. Your adventures could so easily tumble into a novel. You write beautifully!

    ReplyDelete