This summer, in between the beach and the barbecues, perhaps you’ll find some time to do some touring around New England. You’ll want to include historic house destinations on your itinerary. Here are my top 6 Picks (in no particular order).
1) Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth, NH
Experience four centuries of history in one location in one of the quaintest places in New England. Reserve a full day to visit this 10-acre site. You will get your fill of historic houses as you tour the 42 buildings, many of which are on their original foundations. Strawberry Banke is open daily 10am – 5pm through October 31.
2) The Moffat-Ladd House & Garden, Portsmouth, NH
While you are in Portsmouth to see Strawbery Banke, make sure you save some time to see the Moffat-Ladd House. This is one of my most favorite house museums. It must be something about the combination of beautiful architecture, seafaring history and a site overlooking the water that makes it so appealing. After your visit stroll across the street to eat in some great restaurants on the harbor. Open Monday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm and Sunday, 1pm – 5pm through October 21.
3) Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA
Journey to rural New England in 1830s with more than 40 original buildings in this outdoor museum. I never tire of going to Sturbridge Village because they have done a superb job of making the experience hands-on and interesting. Your kids will have fun too with running around, trying on costumes, carriages rides and a hands-on craft shop. Don’t forget to stop for a snack in the General Store to buy some homemade chocolate chip cookies. Open daily 9:30am – 5:00pm.
4) Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA
This is another trip that will take you a full day to fully appreciate all the sights. This is perhaps the best preserved 18th century neighborhood in all of New England. The English arrived in 1669 but Deerfield is better know as the site of the 1704 massacre at the hands of the French and Indians. There are 22 houses still standing that were built in the village before 1776. In addition to guided or self-guided house tours, take advantage of the other museums and workshops available. Lodging at the Deerfield Inn and a food wagon catered by Deerfield Inn chefs provide services for both stay over and day visitors. Open daily 9:30am – 4:30pm through December 30.
5) Historic New England, Across New England
Historic New England is the oldest and largest regional heritage organization in the nation. They maintain 36 historic sites across New England. Visit the 1807 Nickels-Sorrwell House in Wicasset, Maine, the 1678 Coffin House in Newbury, Massachusetts or the 1796 Watson Farm in Jamestown, Rhode Island. The houses are spread across New England so be sure to plan your visits ahead of time. See the website for individual opening times.
6) The Fairbanks House, Dedham, Massachusetts
The Fairbanks House is the oldest timber-frame house in the United States, built circa 1637. What makes it even more significant is that it is the least altered original dwelling and was occupied by a single family for eight generations. It is perhaps one of the most significant cultural assets in the country. Open 10am – 4pm Tuesday to Saturday through October. The guided tours start every hour on the hour.