Sunday, November 22, 2015

Old Looks Good in Bath

From Bowery St. you can see the Sagadahoc Bridge
Americans have a beautiful tradition of taking time every November to give thanks for our many blessings. Last weekend, Joe and I came home to our favorite corner of the United States, Maine, to say thank you to our neighbors, local merchants, artists, chefs, historians, teachers, city planners, volunteers, firemen and policemen for helping to create a peaceful community. Even though our work in Chicago prevents us from living in Bath full time, we spend as many days here as possible. Whenever we return after weeks away, we notice how Maine’s Cool Little City keeps getting cooler. Sadly, our appreciation for Bath, and all of its positive attributes, was heightened last week because we arrived on November 13, 2015, a day – to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt – that will live in infamy because of the tragic terrorist attack that occurred in Paris. When we woke up the next day to see a magnificent sunrise over the Kennebec River, we counted our blessings and prayed that good would triumph over evil and love would conquer all, and then we decided to take a morning stroll around our neighborhood. What we saw that morning filled us with hope, and I would like to share some of those views with you because I believe they reflect the power of good, hard-working people to restore, enhance and preserve the heart of America, our home towns.

A newly painted Queen Anne shouts "Take my picture and remember me!"
On a clear, chilly morning, we had barely walked three hundred feet up Washington Street when we spied the freshly painted, Queen Anne style home that was built in 1883 for a prominent shipbuilder, Samuel Sewall, and was recently purchased by two visionary newcomers from Roxbury, Massachusetts. Shortly after moving in, the new owners cleared the backyard of overgrown shrubs and drooping trees to reveal the Kennebec River. This impressive view coupled with a restored architectural treasure took our breath away, and then it tuned us into giddy photographers. Joe snapped a dozen pictures with his camera while I snapped at least six with my smart phone.  I suspect we were driven to capture this charming image because recent world events have consumed us with worry. Wise mothers and teachers often tell us when the world seems dark and scary, go out and look for goodness and beauty. Suddenly, Joe and I were on a quest for hopeful images, and we found a bushel in Bath.

Colorful doors say "Welcome!"

A few doors down from the Queen Anne, we spotted a bright blue Thanksgiving door on a nineteenth century, historical home which also boasted a river view. When I saw the cornucopia over the door, I was reminded of my grandmother’s favorite centerpiece and felt a wave of nostalgia. In a comforting way, gratitude seemed all around us. As we approached the corner of Bowery and Washington, I couldn’t decide where to aim the camera first because there were so many delicious images waiting to be snapped.
This eye catching home has a fabulous backyard view

I found myself standing next to one of my favorite houses, a gray one that once belonged to Mark Sewall, the son of the legendary Edward Sewall. From the backyard of this stunning home, you can see the Sagadahoc Bridge in all of its glory. Joe and I stopped for a while to enjoy the view, and Joe made a French connection because he was thinking about Paris. If we were living in the 1750's, we would be looking across the Kennebec River at French territory! We paused, and I thought of Walt Disney's famous line: "It's a small world after all." When we resumed our walk, our thoughts brightened again. Joe focused his lens on York Hall, a Georgian Revival built for William D. Sewall in 1897. This timeless beauty, once featured in a Kevin Costner film, was recently purchased by a Bath couple with a talent for restoration. Moving north to the corner of Edward and Washington Streets, I could see my friend’s old, but lovingly restored home with its bold orange door. Many of the homeowners along Washington Street have received awards from Sagadahoc Preservation, Inc. They certainly deserve applause!

York Hall at the corner of Edward and Washington Streets

A view of the Sagadohoc Bridge from Bowery Street.

Despite all of the architectural wonders of Bath, the Kennebec’s natural beauty still comforts me the most, so Joe and I circled back to walk along Front Street. For some mysterious reason, the fast flowing Kennebec River tends to ease our anxiety and renews our hope that in time the world will right itself again. Many people feel that gazing at water has a healing effect. I know it works for me!

Doors open at the Mulberry House

As Joe and I made our way home, we marveled at the updated Mulberry House, which was once the home of Galen C. Moses, one of Bath’s most prominent citizens in the late 1800's. The new owners, Bill and Diane Racine, have added an extra measure of grace to this High Victorian/Italianate and its surrounding property. Last summer it was a featured stop along the Art Walk, and next spring it will be available as a Bed and Breakfast for special events. By far, my favorite addition to the Mulberry House is its new “garden shed” or “play house,” which matches the color and personality of the main house perfectly.

The Mulberry House has a new "play house!"

Whenever I return home to Bath, I am humbled by its unique, enduring beauty and its rich history, but it’s the people who live and work in Bath who have truly lassoed my heart. I miss them when I leave, and I try to hurry back because I hope to see them, and I want to praise them for their imagination, creativity and hopefulness. They fill me up, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

A stellar, local artist opens a new shop in Bath

On Monday morning, a few hours before I was due to leave Bath, Kathy Harris, a local artist and the owner of the new wood, glass and oddities shop, Kharris B, called to tell me that my custom order I had requested on Saturday was ready. I was surprised that Kathy could find an image of a green finch and incorporate it into hanging glass that fast, but when I picked it up I was even more stunned. Not only had Kathy finished the piece in record time; like a magician, she made me smile. I believe artists grow in beautiful places, and I have proof that artists grow in Bath! Kathy's artwork is hanging in our sun room as a constant reminder that good people are adding beauty to our world every day.