After a year of pulling back and minimizing social excursions, activities and commitments, my husband and I have been venturing out again! We’ve stayed in two hotels for five nights total over the past two months and had great experiences. We found the hotels to be exceptionally clean and the staffs were super attentive. Extra frills are minimal to reduce touch points.
The first hotel was the AC Portland in Portland, ME. I mentioned this in my May newsletter. We had a great experience there. The second hotel was The Centennial Hotel in Concord, NH. We had our eye on The Centennial for a while because it’s located in a very cool building. While there, we also learned about its history. It turns out that the Centennial Home was one of Concord’s oldest charities and one of the first homes for the aged in NH. In the nation’s centennial year of 1876, $110.00 was donated to the Concord Female Charitable Society to initiate a proposed home for “those who no fault of their own have not the means to provide for themselves the comforts or even the necessities of a home.”
The Centennial Home for the Aged opened three years later in 1879. The initial white framed Federal-style house was replaced by a larger brick building, with one turret, in 1882. Within 25 years the fund had grown to over $97,000 and the building was expanded. A dining room, reading room, library and social room were added. The accommodations grew from five initial residents to accommodations for 64 with the building’s expansion. Delightful grounds and gardens also enhanced the resident’s lives. Perhaps it’s no surprise that The Centennial is also located on Pleasant Street. It’s nice synchronicity.
The Centennial Home closed in 1994 due to the complexity of modern life. The rising cost of healthcare, business regulations, trends towards homecare no longer made the home financially viable. The remaining endowment is now used to assist deserving elderly people in the Concord, NH area.
A key aspect of feng shui is about how the history of each location is embedded in buildings and land. It becomes part of the chi or energy of a place. Have you ever heard of the saying: “If the walls could talk, they’d have stories to tell!” This is so true! The lives of the people who reside in a house and the events that take place there contribute to the events that follow. The Centennial House had good chi, which now flows into the Centennial hotel.
The hotel is located within walking distance to downtown Concord. You can park your car at the hotel for free and walk to restaurants, shops, and entertainment. We also enjoyed walking and driving around the area to study the beautiful 19th architecture of nearby homes. Downtown Concord and the surrounding area are quite charming. Many of the buildings date back well over 100 years.
While in Concord for the weekend, we also ventured out to The Fells, an historic estate and gardens in Newbury, NH, on Lake Sunapee. The Fells, established in 1891, was the summer estate of John Milton Hay, a private secretary to Abraham Lincoln. He later served as Secretary of State for Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Three generations of Hays developed the property and the extensive gardens. We were there before it opened for the season. If you visit during early June, you might catch the Rhododendrons in full bloom. They line the walking path leading to the estate. During the height of summer, the gardens will be bursting with blooms. There are also a few hiking trials that take you lakeside.
After our visit, NH Magazine featured the Best Gardens to Explore in NH. In addition to The Fells, they highlight:
- Bedrock Gardens, Lee
- Fuller Gardens, North Hampton
- Kirkwood Gardens at the Squam Lake Science Center, Holderness (Free.)
- Rhododendron State Park, Fitzwilliam (Free.)
- Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish
- Maple Hill Gardens at Beaver Brook Association, Hollis (Free.)
- Botanical Gardens at Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury
- Tarbin Gardens, Franklin
- Prescott Park, Portsmouth
- Castle in the Clouds Garden Tours, Moultonborough
Taking an excursion and exploring gardens is a wonderful way to be outside and to spend time, safely, in social settings. If you’re outside the NH area, check your location. Chances are there are beautiful gardens and historic estates near you too. Exploring properties is also a wonderful way to understand the history of a place and events that occurred there. It’s also a good way to study and understand chi, the energy and spirit of the land and buildings. Places with positive chi are vibrant and the plants and gardens are healthy. They’re great places to spend time. It can be healing for your heart and your soul.