Over this past Labor Day weekend, I fell in love with the town of Marblehead. A small bit of land on the coast of Massachusetts about 30 minutes north of Boston, it is exactly what comes to one’s mind when one hears the words, “historic seaside New England town.” While the first European settlers arrived in the early to mid-1600s, I don’t think the city really came alive until the 1950s and 1960s, because that is when the most notorious native Marblehead residents made the town their stomping ground.
I am speaking, of course, of the H5; they are the group of five Irish-American siblings of which my mother-in-law is fourth in birth order. This past Labor Day weekend brought the latest matrimonial ceremony of the fifteen cousins in Marblehead, and upon saying our goodbyes at the end of the weekend, my husband and I were invited back from Thanksgiving.
Of course we accepted.
During my first visit to Marblehead, my mother-in-law graciously invited us to stay at the AirBnB she procured for the Labor Day festivities; however while I was out and about during the weekend, my attention turned to potential inns and B&Bs for future trips. A hotel on Pleasant Street turned my head for its 19th century Second Empire architectural style.
Sidebar: I have been obsessed with Second Empire architecture every since the spring of 2009 when I enrolled in my first architectural history course. While I could not be bothered with defining features of a Georgian or Richardsonian Romanesque building, every feature of the Second Empire style spoke to me, specifically the mansard roof. The dreamiest of all roof types, don’t you think? I love that a mansard roof effectively provides more room, height-wise, at the top floor. As a 6′-2″ tall gal, I can use every bit of leg room (head room?) I can get!
The Second Empire style of architecture was popular during the late 19th century to the early 20th century. It reminds me of the type of mansion that my American Girl doll, Samantha Parkington, and her grandmother, Grandmary, would have resided in during the early 1900s. Or the type of mansion in which Wednesday Addams would have spent her time terrorizing during the 1960s.
When we returned to Marblehead for the Thanksgiving holiday, my husband and I opted to go with a hotel in lieu of an Air BnB and I knew exactly where I wanted to stay: the Second Empire gem on Pleasant Street, that just happens to be a mere half mile away from the home of the aunt and uncle who would be hosting the holiday.
Reinforcing the classic lesson to not judge a book by it’s cover, I expected the interior of The Hotel Marblehead to reflect the exterior style. Upon reviewing the website, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the interior had a clean, minimal, and modern design reflecting a midcentury modern style. As aforementioned across my blog and social media channels, while I love historic exteriors, I rarely have as much enthusiasm for a historic interior. Modern amenities like updated MEP systems (read: air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter) and all around cleanliness are not typical of just any historic structure, yet they are what I count on when it comes to vacation accommodations.
What was scheduled for a forty-five day renovation, stretched out to four months. Like many a historic renovation (and I can speak to this with authority, because as an estimator for a general contractor, I know renovations and as someone with her Master’s degree in Historic Preservation, I know all about the restrictions imposed upon historic properties) the schedule was held up by red tape. The updates concluded this past May, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
I loved that, despite not having a closet or a set of drawers (neither of which I missed and until this moment, did not even realize the latter was not included in the room design), our guestroom had everything we needed to stay organized. My pet peeve when traveling is not being able to find something you know you packed and before you know it, on the last day of your trip you are forced to wear your underwear inside out when you know you packed not one, but two emergency pairs that are actually in the side pocket of your suitcase.
I kid! That has never actually happened to me. Although during my last spring break in undergrad, I was booed by my friends when I suggested that we pick up the hotel room because the explosion of three suitcases was causing me so much anxiety. Had I stayed in The Hotel Marblehead guestroom six, I would have used the hangers and the baskets to keep me from misplacing my then-favorite Lilly Pulitzer sundress and contact lens solution. I would have also hydrated with the bottles of water stocked in the guestroom refrigerator prior to hitting the bed every night.
I never turn down food and even after Thanksgiving dinner, I was down to snack on the chocolate chocolate chip cookies provided to the guests. The team member at the desk that evening insisted that I try the oatmeal cookie that she was just about to pull out of the oven. Twist my arm! Also delicious? The pastries served to the guests from the nearby local bakery, Dandee Donuts. As retrieved by my husband from the living space while I was rushing to get ready for the day, the doughnuts and the coffee were a reminder that I was on holiday and should actually slow down and enjoy the moment and the meal.
Sincerest thanks to The Hotel Marblehead for sponsoring my stay.