2018 Canada Trip travel blog

Pierce Homestead

Pierce Manse sign

Pierce Manse

Currier Museum of Art

Zimmerman house

Today was a rainy all day long. We ate breakfast at the hot breakfast buffet. We left about 9:30 to go to Hillsborough, N.H., to visit the Franklin Pierce Homestead State Historic Site. This was the home of the 14th president of the United States from his infancy until his marriage in 1834. It is a two-story frame built by Pierce's father in 1804. We had to wait a while until the next tour. While waiting we looked at exhibits about Pierce and put some pieces in a presidential theme puzzle.

Our docent, Sara was very passionate about Pierce. During our private tour, she explained about his father, Benjamin Pierce, who had served during the American Revolution and would later become governor of New Hampshire, had bought 200 acres in Hillsborough after the new state turnpike opened nearby. While Franklin was at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, he met Daniel Webster and they became friends for life. Franklin became a lawyer and later entered politics. Sara also talked about his military career as we saw Franklin in various portraits around the house.

Our guide also discussed Franklin's marriage and children. They had three sons, all of whom died in childhood. Franklin Jr. died a few days after birth, while Frank Robert died at the age of four.

And, shortly after his election, they were traveling from Boston and were involved in a train accident. Franklin and his wife were ok, but their son, Benjamin died at 11 years of age. In mourning, they did not have any inaugural parties, and a the White House interior was covered in black cloths. On a bright note, Franklin was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House.

Our next stop was in Concord at the Pierce Manse. The Pierce Manse is the only home ever owned and lived in by President Franklin Pierce. The Manse is owned and operated by the volunteer Pierce Brigade, who preserve the home and legacy of New Hampshire’s only president. They moved the house to its present location in 1971 when it was going to be torn down for an urban renewal project.

The docent didn't have to talk about much about Franklin's history since we had just heard it all earlier today during hour private tour. However, he too was enthusiastic about Franklin and added to some of the stories we had heard earlier.

We headed down to Manchester to the Currier Museum of Art. We had tickets for the 3:15 tour of the Zimmerman house. We arrived about 1:30 and had an hour and forty minutes until the tour, so we walked through the museum looking at the art exhibits of modern art, European art, Contemporary Art, etc.

The special exhibit was entitled "Beyond Words" about three New Hampshire illustrators. One of the illustrators on display was Tomie dePaola ("Strega Nona"), who just happened to be in the cafeteria when we went down to the restrooms. He had been in their Creative Studio earlier in the day signing books until 1:00.

At 3:10, eight of us met our docent for the house tour at the model of the house in the Museum foyer. The Isadore J. and Lucille Zimmerman house was built by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is located at 223 Heather Street in Manchester. Built in 1951, it is one of a modest number of Usonian Prairie School style I designs in the northeastern US. We hopped on the shuttle out to the house to tour and discuss the architecture and the feel of the house.

It was a very inventive house, but not one in which I could live. The lighting in the house was done in an interesting way, and the measurements used within and outside the house (10", 3" for the boards in the ceiling and walls and 4' for the flooring and furniture) were uniform throughout the house. There were practically no walls, and glass was one of the main components, making you feel like you were outside while still inside. Wright not only designed the house, but also the furniture. Our docent was the third enthusiastic person we had today. We had a good time.

The tour returned us to the museum a little before 5:00. We decided to eat at a restaurant nearby. Jean chose XO Bistro. We enjoyed a tapas meal we cobbled together utilizing their appetizer menu - lamb lollipops, short ribs, stuffed dates, cachapas and hummus. We didn't like the dessert selections, so on the way back to the hotel, we stopped for some ice cream.

We relaxed and read for the rest of the evening.

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