Friday, June 3, 2011

Museums Open Free to the Public in the Piscataqua Region

For over one hundred years, Historic New England has served as the region’s storyteller, opening its doors to share four centuries of New England home and family life. On Saturday, June 4, Historic New England celebrates the 2011 season opening of their historic house museums by welcoming visitors free of charge. Come hear about the people and stories of coastal New Hampshire and Maine as you tour through houses that range from the c.1664 Jackson House in Portsmouth, NH, which chronicles the evolution of rural life over three centuries, to the majestic Colonial Revival interiors of the Hamilton House of South Berwick, ME. Six of Historic New England’s Piscataqua Region museums will offer tours beginning at 11 a.m. and the last tour will start at 4 p.m.
In Exeter, visitors will be welcomed to Historic New England’s Gilman Garrison, 12 Water Street. John Gilman’s 1709 “Logg house by the bridge” was gentrified by his son with a finely ornamented addition c.1770. The interior was restored in the 1950s by direct descendant William Dudley, who opened the house to the public as a private museum.
In Portsmouth, visitors are invited to experience three of Historic New England’s houses. The Rundlet-May House, at 364 Middle Street, is a Federal-style mansion built by merchant James Rundlet in 1807. It is filled with most of its original locally crafted 19th century furniture and a variety of “modern” heating and cooking technologies. The formal garden at Rundlet-May blooms all spring and summer with fruit trees, trellised roses, fragrant peonies, abundant hollyhocks, and vibrant poppies, to name a few, all scattered along narrow pathways original to the 1812 garden plan that survives in the house. The c.1664 Jackson House, 76 Northwest Street, is the oldest surviving wood frame house in northern New England. Visitors at Jackson House will find themselves in the midst of an old two-acre apple orchard overlooking the North Mill Pond, the last surviving orchard in NH that still abuts tidal water. The 1784 Governor Langdon House, 143 Pleasant Street, home to John Langdon, a signer of the United States Constitution and three-term governor of New Hampshire, is considered to have the best interior carvings to be found north of Boston. The garden of the Governor Langdon House features a 180-foot rose and grape arbor as well as expansive lawns edged by a perennial border, and an intimate shade garden hidden among a stand of mature evergreens.
In South Berwick, the 1774 Sarah Orne Jewett House, 5 Portland Street is not to be missed. Set in the heart of downtown South Berwick, this special home is where the famous 19th century writer spent many years of her life. Visitors can pause in the wide hall on the second floor hallway, by the author’s desk, to look out the center window and imagine Jewett’s artistic inspiration. Also in South Berwick is the c.1785 Hamilton House, 40 Vaughn’s Lane, which was restored at the turn of the century into a romantic summer retreat that draws from the house’s Georgian design and colonial past. Surrounded by beautiful formal gardens, the Hamilton House sits on a high bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River. The interior of the house displays the height of fashion for summer residences at the turn of the 20th century.
In all, thirty-one of Historic New England’s historic house museums will be open free of charge that day. For a full list of site, please visit and click on Open House under the Events tab. While visiting Historic New England’s six Piscataqua region historic house museums, plan to check out several other nearby events. Taste the best area restaurants have to offer at the all-you-can-eat 27th annual Chowder Festival in Prescott Park ( Immerse yourself in maritime fun at the free Piscataqua Waterfront Festival, presented by Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden ( Discover the Kids’ Day Festival in downtown South Berwick ( where free and low cost activities make for a great family-friendly day of games, crafts, a parade, touch-a-truck, free cotton candy, giveaways, and entertainment.
Photo caption: The 1785 Hamilton House in South Berwick is one of the six Historic New England house museums in the Seacoast region that will be open and offering free admission on June 4. (Photo courtesy Historic New England)

Rin Tin Tin Returns to the Big Screen

He was Hollywood’s original canine hero, a photogenic German shepherd who rose to big screen fame in the 1920s. He not only rescued his human co-actors, but his pictures proved so successful, they rescued the nearly bankrupt Warner Brothers studios, as well.
He was Rin Tin Tin, and two of his best starring silent pictures will be shown in a double feature on Sunday, June 5 at 2 p.m. at the historic Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St./Route 1, Ogunquit, Maine. Admission is $5 per person. The screenings will be accompanied by live music.
The two Rin Tin Tin films, “Clash of the Wolves” (1925) and “Lighthouse by the Sea” (1924), will be accompanied live by New Hampshire-based silent film musician Jeff Rapsis. Rapsis provided music for a series of silent films last summer at the Leavitt Theatre; the shows proved so popular that the theater’s owners, Peter and Maureen Clayton, scheduled more screenings this season.
The Leavitt, a 600-seat single-screen summer-only movie theater, opened as a silent film house in 1923 and retains much of its original decor even today. The Leavitt, now in its 88th year, screens first-run movies from Memorial Day through the end of September.
Rin Tin Tin was in the vanguard of canine motion picture megastars whose exploits thrilled early movie-goers. The original Rin Tin Tin was a puppy who was rescued in 1918 from a bombed-out kennel in Germany near the end of World War I. He was named for a puppet called “Rin Tin Tin” that French children gave to American soldiers for good luck.
U.S. Army Corporal Lee Duncan brought Rin Tin Tin to America and trained him, then got the talented dog into the then-new field of motion pictures. Rin Tin Tin, with his dashing looks, athletic prowess, and acting chops, starred in a total of 26 adventure films for Warner Brothers.
The original Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, but his offspring continued to star in films and television shows even today.
The two films programmed at the Leavitt Theatre’s double feature show the original Rin Tin Tin at the height of his popularity. They also show the dog’s versatility, as they take place in two very different settings—one of which is coastal Maine—and each makes unique demands on the canine star.
“If you love animals, you’ll love watching Rin Tin Tin,” said Rapsis, accompanist for the screenings. “There’s nothing like rooting for a canine star to save the day in pictures that are full of action and great stunts, all performed for real, without the aid of computer-generated special effects. And to show a film set on the Maine coast right here in the area is a real thrill.”
“Clash of the Wolves” (1925), set in the old West, has Rin Tin Tin portraying Lobo, a half-wolf and untamed leader of a wild pack menacing a small town. When Rin Tin Tin is injured and then rescued by a stranger, the stage is set for a dramatic showdown with the townspeople and a run-in with a claim jumper. “Lighthouse by the Sea” (1924) sees Rin Tin Tin playing a castaway dog from a shipwreck off the coast of Maine who gets washed ashore, where he plays a key role in an aging lighthouse keeper’s battle to keep his job, and in foiling efforts of rumrunners offshore.
Both films are packed with action and adventure and were made at a time when the movies were first learning to tell stories in cinematic terms. They hold up well today, especially if the right conditions are present for silent film to be seen at its best: good restored prints shown at the correct speed, a big screen, live music, and an audience.
The Rin Tin Tin double feature is first in a summer series of silent film screenings at the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit. The series aims to recreate the lost magic of early cinema by reviving the elements needed for silent film to be seen at its best: superior films in best available prints; projection on the big screen; live musical accompaniment; and a live audience.
For each film, Rapsis improvises a music score using original themes created beforehand. None of the music is written down; instead, the score evolves in real time based on audience reaction and the overall mood as the movie is screened. For more information on silent film music, visit
For more information, call (207) 646-3123 or visit
Photo caption: Silent film musician Jeff Rapsis will accompany two Rin Tin Tin adventure classics, “Clash of the Wolves” (1925) and “Lighthouse by the Sea” (1924) on Sunday, June 5 at the Leavitt Theatre. (Courtesy image)

Gateway Farmers’ Market Opens on Saturday, June 4

Opening day of the Gateway (York) Farmers’ Market is this Saturday, June 4. Saturday will kick off the ninth year of the market, which is presented by the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce.
Stonewall Kitchen, whose owners Jim Stott and Jonathan King first shared their specialty foods at farmers’ markets in Portsmouth and Exeter, proudly sponsors the Gateway Farmers’ Market. During the last eighteen years, they have grown their business to become a multi-million dollar manufacturer of specialty foods, with headquarters and production facility located next to the Chamber on Route 1.
The 2011 Gateway (York) Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from June 4 through October 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and every Thursday from July 7 through September 1 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The market takes place in the lot behind the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce off Route 1 in York, Maine. Our food vendors offer fresh veggies and fruit, dairy products, seafood, herbs, meat, desserts, breads, tea, oils & spices, prepared foods and more. Craft products include lotions, soaps, wood goods, jewelry, candles, birdhouses and pottery.
Expect to see these vendors every week at the Saturday market: Archer Angus, Bumble Beads, Chef’s Cove Café & More, Chop-Chop Crafts & Seafood, Connolly’s Organics, The Dirty Moose, Ellie May’s Sweet Toffee Crunch, Cultivating Community / Fresh Start Farms, Green Parrot Woodworks, Hubba Hubba Foods, Kate’s Designer Delights, Lakonia Greek Products, LLC, Lucia’s Kitchen, Port City Coffee Roasters, River Lily Farm, Riverside Farm, The Seacoast Soap Company, Something Different, Stonewall Kitchen, Twig Naturals, When Pigs Fly, Inc., Wright’s Haven Farm, York Art Association & Zach’s Farm. Alternate vendors who will attend on various Saturdays throughout the season include: Audrey Gottlieb, Band All Together, Brownie’s Barkery, Carter Hill Orchard, Catrina Marshall Art Pottery, Copper Moon Studio, Creekview Baking Company, Hand Spun Knits by Laurie, Maine Herb Farm, Riverside Pottery, Rock Garden Pottery, Sit Pretty & Un-Corked Birdhouse. The Thursday markets, which start in July will feature: Catrina Marshall Art Pottery, Chef’s Cove Café & More, Chop-Chop Crafts & Seafood, Connolly’s Organics, Creekview Baking Company, Figtree Kitchens, Joelle Guerard Silversmith, Moondance Gardens, Riverside Farm & Something Different. Please visit for details about vendors and their products.
For more information about the Gateway Farmers’ Market, contact Stephanie Oeser at the Greater York Region Chamber of Commerce at 207.363.4422 or
Photo caption: Tomatoes from Connolly’s Organics, one of the many farms and vendors who will be present at the kick-off Gateway Farmers’ Market in York on Saturday, June 4. (Courtesy photo)