HAHS and Chesterwood to host authors of “Historic New England: A Tour of the Region's Top 100 National Landmarks"

Chesterwood, in collaboration with the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program, will present a free public lecture, discussion and book signing at Chesterwood on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. The lecture and visual presentation, “Genius loci: How New England Shaped its Artists and Writers”, will feature guest speakers Patricia Harris and David Lyon, authors of the recently released Historic New England: A Tour of the Region's Top 100 National Landmarks, published by Globe Pequot Press earlier this year. Books will be available for purchase at the event and light refreshments will be served. Due to limited seating, preregistration is recommended by contacting Valerie Balint at vbalint@savingplaces.org or 413-298-3579, x. 2033.

Harris and Lyon, who have authored more than 30 books on travel, food, and art, will read excerpts from their new guidebook and will use sites included within the book to discuss how the romanticism of New England’s natural landscape pervades American art and letters: from the publication of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay “Nature” in 1836 through the construction of Philip Johnson's Glass House in 1949.  Some of the sites they will discuss include Daniel Chester French’s Chesterwood (Mass.), Herman Melville’s Arrowhead (Mass.), the Winslow Homer Studio (Maine), Robert Frost Farm (N.H.), Walden Pond (Mass.), and the Philip Johnson Glass House (Conn.). The presentation will place these sites within the context of the other National Historic Landmarks throughout New England. The six New England states have nearly 400 such places.

“As writers, we find it gratifying that so many homes and studios of artists, sculptors, architects, and writers are among our treasured landmarks,” said Lyon. “Chesterwood, a National Historic Landmark, is a touchstone of such creativity, and it is our pleasure to speak about the intersection of national values and creative spaces in such a magical place.”

Historic New England grew out of our fascination with the incredible diversity of places that have been designated as National Historic Landmarks—the most elite category of historic designation,” said Harris. “The list was never conceived as a barometer of what we value as a people, but it turns out to deeply reflect our common values.”

For their publication, Harris and Lyon focused on tours of the 100 sites offering the most intriguing and rewarding history. In addition to historic houses and tall ships, Historic New England examines such quirky spots as the country's oldest weather stations, carousels, and sandy beaches. From Fairfield, Connecticut’s Birdcraft Sanctuary to the Windjammers of Rockland, Maine, the book holds appeal for the historical enthusiast, the armchair traveler, and both local visitors and tourists alike.

“We are thrilled to host David and Patricia at Chesterwood to discuss their new book. As the preserved home and studio of one of America’s most important monumental sculptors, Daniel Chester French – who was himself a native New Englander – we are excited to highlight the importance that arts and literature have historically played in this region and its links to national identity,” said Valerie Balint, program manager for Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios. “We are also looking forward to hearing about the numerous adventures the authors had while traveling to research this book.”  

About the Authors

Patricia Harris and David Lyon are authors of more than 30 books on travel, food, and art including the Art of the State volumes on New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut for Harry N. Abrams. Harris previously directed funding programs in several disciplines for the Massachusetts Council on the Arts & Humanities, the predecessor to the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Lyon was one of the founders of Lynx House Press. They live in Cambridge, not far from the Longfellow House. For more information, see HungryTravelers.com.