Category Archives: Weddings

But do they have moats? Part 2

We recently delved into the history behind one of the North of Boston’s 4 castlesHerreshoff Castle in Marblehead – an imposing structure inspired by Erik the Red’s Greenland castle and built in the 1920s.  Did you know, though, that nearly 40 years earlier another castle was built on the opposite side of the region in Haverhill? 

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Winnekenni Park sits atop a hill off of Kenoza Ave in Haverhill which looks over the scenic Kenoza Lake  and Basin.  The winding road leading to the park will bring you to a strange sight indeed – a medieval castle.  In 1861, chemist, agriculturist, and future-castle enthusiast Dr. James Nichols purchased the Darling Farm (now known as Winnekenni Park).  After an 1870s visit to England, Nichols (much like Waldo Ballard a few decades later) became enamored of the country’s large stone castles and was determined to build on of his own. He wanted to use the many boulders and rocks native to Haverhill and, in 1873, construction of his castle began.

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Winnekenni Castle in the winter

Upon completion in 1875, Nichols christened his summer home “Winnekenni Castle” (after the Algonquin word meaning “beautiful”).  The castle was, and still is, beautiful and is complemented by its lush surroundings.  On a clear day, one is even able to see 17 towns, 3 counties, 3 states, 2 mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean from the rooftop.  Not bad for a simple English-inspired summer home.

Nichols lived in the castle for 10 years before selling the castle and its 27 acres of land to a cousin.  Nichols was in poor health and, we assume, unable to look after such a large property.  The castle and land were then sold to its current owner, the city of Haverhill, in 1895 when it became Haverhill’s first public park  Today, Winnekenni Castle is a popular destination for photographers and castle buffs.  Throughout the year, many concerts, fairs, parties, fundraisers, and other such events are held at the castle.  The castle is also available for private events such as meetings, family gatherings, and weddings. The trails throughout the property are fantastic for snowshoeing, hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing around Kenoza Lake.

Sources:
http://www.winnekenni.com/index.html
http://www.ci.haverhill.ma.us/residents/transportation/winnekenni_park.php
http://www.essexheritage.org/attractions/winnekenni-castle-park

 

Taking in the views at the Emerson Inn by the Sea

innNestled on a quiet street in Rockport is the Emerson Inn by the Sea.  As the name suggests, this historic inn is an oasis of relaxation and tranquility with unparalleled clear views of the ocean.

The Inn is named after transcendentalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson who visited Rockport in the the mid-1800s with friend Henry David Thoreau (on an apparent vacation from Walden Pond) when it was known as the Pigeon Cove House.  The House itself was a tavern before Hannah Jumper and her teetotalling Hatchet Gang raided Rockport, crusading against the “demon rum” and leaving the small town “dry” until 2005.  In the wake of Ms. Jumper, owner William Norwood turned the popular Pigeon Cove tavern into a boarding house.  After Norwood’s death, the Inn was sold to a Mrs. Robinson (no, not that Mrs. Robinson) who had the building moved from Pigeon Cove to its current location where it was extensively renovated and reopened as the Hotel Edward a name that stuck until 1964 when the new owners, the Wemyss family, renamed it after Emerson’s visit nearly 100 years prior.  We were lucky to get a first-hand tour of the Inn from current owner Bruce Coates.

pic_rms_kc_2Open year-round, the Emerson Inn by the Sea features 36 rooms and suites, each carefully and brightly decorated with antiques and clever reproductions which recall the simple elegance of the turn-of-the-century.  Each room is appointed a private bathroom, air conditioning, telephone, data port, wireless high-speed internet, cable television, and more – all modern luxuries that, along with the relaxing environment, help make your stay comfortable and serene.

Part of what sets the Emerson Inn apart from similar accommodations is the environment.  From the moment you walk through the front doors, you are greeted by the friendly staff (all eager to help make your stay memorable and serene).  Nothing at the Emerson Inn is rushed or hectic – the atmosphere is very laid back and casual.

Feeling stressed and unable to lay back and relax on your trip? Be sure to make an appointment at Le Petite Spa (located at the Inn) and enjoy a soothing massage from one of their wonderful massage therapists.

DSC_0366Perhaps the cherry on the Emerson Inn’s cake is their Grand Cafe.  The Boston Globe surmised it the best when they wrote that “Looking out over a garden and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, there are few more charming and picturesque settings than the one from this coveted seat at Emerson Inn By the Sea… The Grand Café has raised the standard for restaurants in Rockport.” Even if you are just in Rockport for a day trip, be sure to stop by the Cafe.  Breakfast is available year-round (chef Gail’s fried egg sandwiches cannot be beat!) and the new lunch menu is available from 12-3pm.  Looking to spend a romantic evening with that special someone?  Stop by the Grand Cafe for dinner (available Tuesday-Sunday).  Their Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning wine menu has the perfect libation to complement your romantic meal.  

Whether you’re planning a cozy romantic getaway or a wedding, conference, or special event, the Emerson Inn, with its comfortable rooms and unparalleled views, is the perfect place to stay and take in the beauty and culture of Rockport and Cape Ann.

For more information on the Emerson Inn by the Sea, please visit www.emersoninnbythesea.com.

For a list of their wonderful vacation packages, click here.

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View from the Emerson Inn rooftop

 

Fun Fact!  Remember the Hatchet Gang?  While Rockport remained a dry town for over a century, this prohibition was repealed in 2005.  The Emerson Inn was actually the first Rockport business to receive a liquor license – a funny turn of events, seeing as the property started out as a tavern! 

Wind in the Willowdale

Nestled near Topsfield’s Bradley Palmer State Park along the Ipswich River is the Willowdale Estate, a stone mansion whose understated, unpretentious elegance is evident even as you proceed up the driveway.  This week, were very lucky to go on an incredible tour of Willowdale.  Despite the cloudy weather, the property still emanated its classic charm and grace.

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Constructed in 1901, Willowdale was the summer home of Bradley Palmer.  Seeking to create a personal oasis, Palmer bought up as much land around Willowdale as possible (even walking up to random farmers and offering to buy their properties on the spot, as we learned on our tour of the estate.  We admire his gumption).  Today, Bradley Palmer State Park encompasses 720 acres.  Willowdale itself sits on 4 acres.  We assume there were many happy farmers in Topsfield at the turn of the century.

gardenUpon his death in 1944, Palmer left the house and land to the state so that they may be turned into a park.  The mansion, unfortunately, fell into disrepair over the years.  An eight-year renovation began in 1999 under the mansion’s new curator, Boston architect Gerald Fandetti and his wife Charlotte Forsythe who were awarded the lease from the Massachusetts Historic Curatorship Program to ensure that Willowdale’s historic charm be preserved and maintained. Their daughter Briar Forsythe opened Willowdale Estate for business in 2007 as a venue for weddings and events in all seasons.

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Today, Willowdale is a gem in the crown of the North of Boston.  It serves as a beautiful backdrop for weddings and other special occasions.  Inside, the mansion reflects the Arts and Crafts style with its odes to medieval and Gothic Revival and recalls the English countryside.  The house features stained glass and beautiful decorative tiles (not to mention, in our opinion, some of the prettiest bathrooms on the North Shore).  Outside is an ethereal wonderland with glorious butterfly-attracting gardens (maintained by the amazingly talented Kim, who we met on our tour) , a spacious tented patio, and the nearby Ipswich River (which serves as a beautiful backdrop for wedding photos).

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We weren’t kidding about the bathrooms…

Planning your event at Willowdale could not be easier.  Their warm and helpful staff will assist you in planning your event or celebration, ensuring that everything runs smoothly.  They hold themselves to the highest standard of hospitality and will help to make your dream event into reality   Willowdale also offers on-site catering – their expert Executive Chef and catering team, dedicated to creating the best meals, will create a delicious spread to perfectly complement your special event.

The team at Willowdale manages the estate under three core principles: dedication, passion, and spirit.  These principles are evident as you wander through the house, enjoying the unspoiled beauty and details of your surroundings and meeting the friendly and helpful staff.

flowersLooking to visit Willowdale?  Check out one of their fantastic upcoming events:

June 17 – 6-7pm – Historic House Tour
Enjoy a free tour of Willowdale, including notes on architecture, history, and use of the estate in the past and today

July 8 – 7-9m – Entertaining 101: Becoming the Perfect Host
Try new cocktails, get tips on decorating, and start to think about what your guests need to have a good time at your party.  Free event.

August 12 – 6-8pm – Wedding Open House
The perfect event for recently-engaged couples!  RSVP and receive a gift bag to help you get started with your planning.  Free event

September 18 – 7:30-10pm – Tuscany Under the Stars (Italian Farm to Table Dinner)
Have an unforgettable 3-course dinner in the Garden Courtyard at Willowdale Estate. Sixty-Five Dollars – Tickets Required.

For more information on Willowdale, please visit www.willowdaleestate.com