You know, I’m not really the 4th-of-July-house-decorating type. But I sure love the old-fashioned way they do it in New England.
If you ever have to ask for directions in New England, beware. Folks there have a tendency to reference landmarks that no longer exist (this quirk is bred into me, too—sorry to anyone I’ve ever confused). “Turn left where the pizza place used to be.” “Go just past where the old highway ran through before they put in a rotary.” “It’s across the street from Bob’s old shop, but it’s called something else now—can’t remember what it is.” If you don’t already know a place like a local, it can be maddening.
Yoken’s is the perfect example: a regional landmark that absolutely everybody in the area knows well, but that is long defunct (ten years now). The sign is still there, though, and is even in the middle of being restored. Thank goodness—and I don’t just mean for anyone giving directions in Portsmouth. Even more so than its brother down the road in Massachusetts, this thing is an absolute masterwork of design.
Long live the Yoken’s whale, the Queen of Route One—may she be a guiding landmark for decades to come.
The Friendly Toast is a masterpiece of kitsch—sort of the Wall Drug of diners (except the food is excellent!). Come hungry, and bring a sketchbook—you’ll have plenty to keep your pencil occupied while you wait.
Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, there’s pretty much zero architecture that predates 1850; but I grew up in New England, where early American buildings are abundant. And as you can probably guess, I absolutely adore colonial houses—so I go a little nuts when I get the chance to sketch a whole neighborhood chock full of ’em.
I have a thing for covered bridges—and thankfully, many other people do, too. That means the communities that possess these relics work hard to preserve them, and I’m grateful that there are still covered bridges for me to sketch. And each one is so wonderfully sketch-able, because they’re all so different.
The Cornish-Winsor Bridge, which straddles the New Hampshire-Vermont border, is one of my all-time favorites. And not just because of the two-dolla fine notice, either (though if any Sleepy Hollow ghouls chase me I’m stayin’ on my hoss). For me, the best part is how absurdly long the span is.
Have you ever crossed a covered bridge? Which one is your favorite?