Breaking Plaid, Part I featuring Hotel Marblehead

read more about The Hotel Marblehead…

In the first month of my job at my current company, I wore an acid bright printed Lilly Pulitzer x Target button up shirt with a neon large patterned floral a-line skirt. The colors of each garment were in the same color palette, but it undoubtedly was not mistaken for a coordinated set. One of my (male) coworkers made a comment about the combination. Without missing a beat, I replied that I am an expert at power clashing.

If Blair Waldorf (or costume designer, Eric Daman) taught me anything, it was to not to get intimidated by pattern mixing. Stripes and floral? Yes. Plaid and gingham? Bring it. Windowpane and herringbone? Not enough! (Name the character who owned that catch line in the comments.) Bonus points for wearing a combination with patterned tights!

I purchased the skirt in this post four years ago. Give me any excuse to break another fashion rule and pair navy and black, but especially when I procure a piece that matches them for me. The skirt is long gone, but available on the secondary market (size 2 via eBay, size 2 via Poshmark, size 6 via Poshmarksize 8 via eBay).

Rather than wear it with a solid sweater, knit, or woven, I opted to wear it with a two year old plaid J.Crew shirt (last worn here, another piece that is long gone, but available in a sleeveless version). I was obsessed with the shirt the moment I found that it was available in tall and took a close look at the color palette, which weaves both the blue and the black from the skirt into it.

I think what makes this combination work is that one of the patterns (the plaid) is significantly bolder than the other pattern (the stripe). Making sure a strong statement with the top and the bottom calls for a mellow shoe, so I picked a low heel embellished style. I have said this before: this shoe looks like a style I saw in The Preppy Handbook. The OG, not the 2010 update. Finishing the outfit is a pearl embellished bee cuff, gold scallop earrings, and pearl embellished headbands. I am calling it now: headbands are back, although in my book, they never went away.

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Historic Bridges of the MidAtlantic: Bullfrog Road Bridge

The Bullfrog Road Bridge was built in 1908 by the York Bridge Company out of York, Pennsylvania. It was eventually listed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1978. It connects Frederick and Carroll Counties over the Monocacy River.

 

As many of the historic bridges in the area are that of the wood covered variety, this one stands out as it is one out of two in Frederick County that has a steel truss design. Specifically, this design is of the Parker truss variety, which means that the top chord is a polygon arc. This bridge received updates in 1989 (new abutments) and in 1995 (span). 

dress // coat (old) // sunglasses (colorway sold out, alternate coloways) // earrings // necklace // ring // watch // ankle boots

Pack a Bag: The Hotel Marblehead

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 thiry 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.DSC02594cDSC02599cDSC02601cDSC02609c


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Mission accomplished.

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Sincerest thanks to The Hotel Marblehead for sponsoring my stay.

Green Therapy featuring Antrim 1844

The Tuesday afternoon of our trip to Antrim 1844 brought my husband and I outside and exploring the grounds of the property. There is more than just the mansion that serves as accommodations for Antrim 1844 and it is worth taking a walk around the property to admire each building.

It was such an amazing afternoon, just taking a few moments to take it all in. I wish I could say that I did it sans technology but my husband and I switched off with photography duty with the fancy-pants camera and when he had it, I was taking stories with my iPhone. An overcast afternoon amplified the chill in the air, but it added a moody, romantically gothic ambiance.

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Afterwards, we thawed out in the Drawing Room in the mansion, before retiring for the afternoon in the Pickwick Pub. Several hours in front of a blazing fire and three cocktails later, and you could say we had warmed up.

Sincerest thanks to Antrim 1844 for sponsoring my stay.

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Wallpaper with a View featuring Antrim 1844

Two weeks ago, the husband and I wandered up to the light-flooded third story of the mansion at Antrim 1844. To say that the light married with the acid turquoise wallpaper luminated the third floor would be an understatement.

Sidebar: The owner of Antrim 1844, Dort, applied all of the wallpaper on her own. How impressive is that? In our discussion, she told me that she found the process to be almost meditative. Can’t you tell that this wallpaper was applied with the utmost care and love?

On the third floor, we spied a ladder leading to a cupola, or effectively a fourth floor. Naturally, we wanted to explore. And since the ladder was not closed off, we did.

In addition to the chic wallpaper, all four walls of the cupola are lined with windows, providing a 360 degree view of historic Taneytown. As it turns out, it ended up being the last day to peep any of the remaining fall foliage, as the next day the mid-Atlantic received a blanket of snow. I saw photos of the grounds the day after and it was gorgeous. I was immediately envious that our stay did not include a fresh coat of snow on the ground.

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I digress.

Can you imagine how cold the windows of this cupola were during the snowfall? Hashtag brrrrr.

Sincerest thanks to Antrim 1844 for sponsoring my stay.

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Historic Bridges of the MidAtlantic: Loys Station Covered Bridge

The Loys Station Covered Bridge is wood covered bridge in Thurmont, Maryland. Like its nearby (and I like to imagine) sister bridge, the Roddy Road Covered Bridge, the Loys Station Covered Bridge is a king post wood covered bridge which was also a subject of an “incident” with a large truck, leading to a rehabilitation of the bridge.

It was built in 1848, an approximate two-to-twelve years prior to the Roddy Road Covered Bridge (circa 1850-1860). Originally it spanned ninety feet over Owens Creek, although a concrete support pier and steel reinforcement beams to the wood deck were later added. Like many of the nearby bridges – the Roddy Road Covered Bridge and the Bullfrog Road Bridge – it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It occurred to me that there was likely a statewide push to designate these structures around that time which lead me to wonder if they were at risk for demolition in the late 1970s. Something to research later (and likely consequently fall down a rabbit hole)…

An arsonist attempted to destroy the bridge in 1991, via lighting a large truck on fire and driving it onto the Loys Station Covered Bridge. A preservation effort was employed and raised the $300,000 necessary to fix the bridge. In addition to the monetary costs, Loys Station Bridge also required three years of work to reconstruct.

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Pack a Bag: Antrim 1844, Part II

Two weeks ago, the husband and I spent two nights at Antrim 1844. It was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone traveling through Maryland, visiting Gettysburg, or looking for a heritage tourism experience. I decided to publish an additional post about the dining experiences because they were just that phenomenal.

I would advise the Antrim 1844 visitor to take advantage of all of the food and drink options available on site. I was completely blown away by the dining experiences. Upon check in, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that breakfast part one would be dropped off just outside our room (the Clabaugh Room) at 8 am and a part two country breakfast would be served in one of the dining rooms from 8:30 to 10 am. Additionally tea and snacks are served daily in the Drawing Room at 4:30 pm. At that point, I was searching for a pen and paper to make notes of times and meals. The young lady at the check in then settled my near-overwhelmed mental notes when she shared that the meal schedule was already printed out and located in the Clabaugh Room and, not missing a beat, asked whether we preferred or coffee in the morning (coffee) and how we take it (black).

My husband and I had full days planned and though the initial room-delivered breakfast would have served as a sufficient meal on its own, he wanted more coffee. The mere insulated pitcher of coffee was just not enough for his sleepy self. (That was sarcasm. My morning nickname for him is Sleepypants and the coffee was actually plentiful.) Along with the coffee, the part one of the breakfast spread included fresh fruit and a cranberry muffins that gave me peak-holiday vibes. Forty-five minutes later and we were the first guests in the dining room for part two breakfast. Plates with eggs, toast, grits, and bacon populated the table. Mugs of coffee were consumed. Upon request for the check, we were informed that not only the part one breakfast service, but also the second one was included with the room.

We found ourselves in the Pickwick Pub after dinner on our first night at Antrim 1844 and again during the second day after taking a walk around the gardens and before our dinner reservation. If crabcakes and football are what Maryland does (name that movie reference), then ambiance and craft cocktails are what Pickwick Pub does. Tucked away in what was part of a service section of the original historic structure, the Pickwick Pub could not have been more that fifteen by twenty-five feet. With a roaring fire, decor that evokes reminders of Brooks Brothers ads of decades past with tartan wall covering, equestrian framed artwork, and a chandelier adorned with a pair of vintage ice skates, I could not have asked for a more picturesque place to spend my afternoon on such a cold day.

After a few hours relaxing over cocktails as well as some remote work, a series of hors d’oeuvres were served to those in the Pickwick Pub. Now would be a good time to mention that there were guests of the Wine Cellar dining experience that were not even staying at the hotel. That speaks to how phenomenal the dining experience at Antrim 1844 is; it attracts guests from off-site.

That evening my husband and I dined at the Smokehouse Restaurant. While I believe there is an a la carte option, we ordered from the Chef’s menu: Pork Belly (his) and Crab Cake (mine) appetizers, Grilled Little Gem Salad (his) and Mushroom Soup (mine), and Beef Short Rib (his) and Branzino (mine) as the main. Chef Erkek also sent a crab amuse busche (#wheninMaryland), seared duck, and baked brie with berry compote and candied walnuts our way. I have been dreaming about the combination of the melting cheese, rich berries, and the nuts since that night.

Executive Chef Ilhan Erkek joined the Antrim 1844 team recently, previously having worked as an Executive Chef at Ottoman Taverna and several Ritz-Carlton restaurants. He grew up in Istanbul, where he not only learned about the culinary arts, but also studied pastry. Just for reference, when my sister was in culinary school she was required to select between a culinary curriculum and a pastry curriculum. To have experience in both disciplines is an anomaly; the food version of a Lady Gaga, actress and musician, if you will.

Through my sister and brother-in-law (also a chef) I understand that it is uncommon to find a combination of talent, modesty, and affability in the food industry. Ilhan, as he introduced himself to us, embodies those qualities. The talent as exemplified by the food, the modesty and warm nature by introducing himself to guests and insisting that guests not stand upon introductions. Not only did he circulate through the dining room during dinner but he also greeted guests the following morning during country breakfast.

I am calling it now: Antrim 1844 is going to be known in Maryland as the Inn of Little Washington is known in Virginia and if not the winner, will at least be a finalist, in the Best Historic Restaurant in Conjunction with a Historic Hotel category of the Historic Hotels of America Awards of Excellence for 2019.

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Sincerest thanks to Antrim 1844 for sponsoring my stay.

Keys to the Clabaugh Room featuring Antrim 1844

My husband and I spent the beginning of last week at Antrim 1844, when we stayed in the Clabaugh Room. The room is named for a state figurehead. Per the Antrim 1844 website, “This room is named after George Washington Clabaugh who purchased the property in 1837. His son, Harvey Morris Clabaugh, was elected Attorney General of Maryland and then appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by President Roosevelt in 1903.” 

Taking this moment to shout out my cube mate from the Civil War Trust (and later, randomly running into each other a solid once every three months in Georgetown), as his last name is Claybaugh. I instantly thought of him when I learned of the namesake of the room. He grew up in the area and has been to many of the historic areas that I cover on the blog and on Instagram. I would not be shocked if he was related to the OG Clabaugh for which the Clabaugh Room was named.

While I was looking out onto the dreamy grounds from one of the prominent second story windows on the front elevation, I mentioned how amazing it would be to be here during snowfall.

Joke is on me. We dodged snowfall in the three days that we spent at this Historic Hotel of America; however the Thursday I returned to work, not only did King of Prussia (my location of my office) get absolutely pummeled with snow, but my noon evacuation attempt left me driving around KoP attempting to negotiate snowing roads for two hours. One of those hours was merely driving back to the office because I found the roads nonnegotiable and a dying phone battery. I was so lucky that I did not end up stuck on the road in a two wheel drive SUV.

I digress. During the two hours I spent navigating King of Prussia trying to find an on ramp to either 76 or 476, my mind was flashing back to my stay at Antrim 1844, specifically the Clabaugh Room. Between the subtle equestrian decor, the wood burning fireplace, and the coffee that showed up at our door in the morning, I could not think of a more cozy place to spend a snow day. Typing on my laptop in bed, with my sweet husband reading a book in front of the fire, has never felt so… Luxurious? Cozy? Relaxing? All of the above? All of the above.

I typically fall asleep with the television on. (Never Law & Order. Always Will & Grace, Seinfeld, or Frasier.) I was given the choice between a room with or without a television. In the interest of making my husband happy and preserving the historic experience, I chose without. With no television in the room, despite the wind wsssshhhhing, I slept significantly better than I have in…years? Something to consider for the future.

Sincerest thanks to Antrim 1844 for sponsoring my stay.

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Historic Bridges of the MidAtlantic: Roddy Road Covered Bridge

While my husband and I were visiting Antrim 1844, we wanted to take advantage of everything that not only Carroll County, but also nearby Frederick County had to offer. In his case, it was through the scope of the outdoorsman and in my case, through the scope of historic preservation.

Our divergent interests came together at the Roddy Road Covered Bridge, which originally was one of the shortest covered bridges in the county, and according to some accounts, the state of Maryland. While I read the interpretive signage (writing those would be a dream job!) and photographed the structural system, my husband bundled up and meandered down the stream, taking in the serenity of the area. It was something out of a dream.

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge is actually part of a slight recreational activity area. Along with a playground, there is also a parking lot. Initially when I moved to Maryland over a decade ago, I was impressed with not only the number of recreational areas, but also the quality, cleanliness, and branding. The area surrounding the Roddy Road Covered Bridge is no exception.

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When I write that it is the shortest bridge in the vicinity of the area, I mean, it is a mere forty feet long. It is the king post design which means that there is a central vertical post working in tension to support a beam below from a truss apex above.  (Nope not an engineer, just curious AF.) The 1930s brought upgrades to the structural upgrades to the bridge, via an addition of steel beams beneath the driving surface; these beams were eventually replaced. A poor rehabilitation of the project during the 1980s caused issues with moisture which led to rotting. Lesson number one from my architectural conservation class: water is the catalyst in all decay! Say it with me now!

If follow along with my Instagram Stories, and more specifically my takeover of the Antrim 1844 Instagram account, you know that this bridge was built between 1850 and 1860. Word on the street is that J.E.B. Stuart crossed this bridge along with his crew circa 1856. Not a surprise, since Gettysburg is a mere hop, skip, and a jump away.

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge that stands today is actually a replica, as the original was destroyed in what I can only ascertain as an “incident” with a “large truck” circa 2016-2017. I once read that this bridge has had a track record with “incidents” with “large trucks”. Perhaps that is why in 2017, headache bars were added to the bridge, as part of the upgrade to avoid any future incidents with oversize vehicles.

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Pack a Bag: Antrim 1844, Part I

I frequently write about my obsession for history, architectural history, and historic preservation on Lucindervention as well as across my social media channels. It is an interest I developed while living across the pond in Europe while in elementary school, and although it took me twenty-three years and a category five hurricane to understand how the built environment informs community identity, it is an interest that has never wavered.

It should come as no surprise that I would prefer accommodations at a historic hotel, rather than that of new construction. In the words of one of my favorite Bravo Real Housewives, “some people think that bigger is better and flash is fantastic,” but ten times out of ten, I would take a historic hotel especially one with a story, to a new hotel. While I was in graduate school for my Master’s degree in Historic Preservation, a classmate and still-golden friend interned at the Historic Hotels of America. I will admit, I was envious of her internship even though I loved the survey and documentation I worked on at my own internship. Ever since then, the Historic Hotels of America have stayed on my radar.

Just over two months ago, the Historic Hotels of America released their nominees for the 2018 Awards of Excellent awards. The categories were as follows:

  • Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel
  • Sustainability Champion
  • Best Small Historic Inn / Hotel (sub-75 guestrooms)
  • Best Historic Hotel with subcategories of 76 to 200 guestrooms, 201 to 400 guestrooms, and over 401 guestrooms
  • Best City Center Hotel
  • Best Historic Resort
  • Hotel Historian of the Year
  • Best Historic Restaurant in Conjunction with a Historic Hotel
  • Legendary Historic Family Hoteliers of the Year
  • Historic Hotelier of the Year
  • Steward of History and Historic Preservation
  • Best Historic Hotels Worldwide with subcategory of Europe, Asia / Pacific, and Americas
  • Historic Hotels of America New Member of the Year

Within the last category, I immediately recognized Antrim 1844 as one of the finalists. I immediately knew that I wanted to visit and write about it.

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Located in Taneytown, in Carroll County Maryland, Antrim 1844 is mere minutes away from Gettysburg Battlefield. The stay was a welcome respite from the frenetic routine of living in the city. From Philadelphia, it was a two-and-a-half hour drive. The hotel is even closer to both Baltimore and the District of Columbia, respectively a one hour and one-and-a-half hour drives. A two-night stay allowed me to reacquaint myself with fresh air and a slower pace that I had not experienced since my summers in Mississippi; my time there was like chicken noodle soup for my mental health as well.

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It was during a leisurely afternoon spent in the Pickwick Pub that I met Dort Mollett, who along with her husband, is the property owner and operator. Their story of how they came to be inn proprietors is a fascinating one, although I have reservations about using the term “proprietors”; to me the tone does not convey the warmth of not only Dort, but of the entire staff. Conversely, the term “innkeeper” does not begin to describe the business acumen of the couple. An enterprise that began as flipping houses in the 1970s, grew to a full fledged hotel when the Molletts requested to see the most challenging property that their real estate agent could source. Upon walking into Antrim 1844 and viewing the near-decrepit condition, the real estate agent profusely apologized for wasting the couple’s time, but the Molletts knew that they had unearthed an architectural gem.

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While I always fall in love with historic exteriors, one of my (formerly) biggest secrets is that I don’t have as much enthusiasm for historic interiors. This is for one of reasons: either poorly thought out and permanent modernizations are executed or there is a lack of upkeep. The latter can be remediated which is what the Mollets pursued and accomplished. The biggest challenge of transforming the nascent property came with updating the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, but Richard had a vision for how to run the systems in order to provide modern comforts to Antrim 1844 guests.

 

Dort and I got lost in conversation. Any given question would necessitate a backstory which she would share with such candor and we would come to a point where we would wonder how we reached a given topic and consequently have to retrace our conversation back to the original question. When I caught a look at my watch, I realized ninety minutes had past. Her enthusiasm and love for the hotel is contagious and I cannot wait to see how they commemorate the forthcoming 175th anniversary of Antrim 1844.

 

Sincerest thanks to Antrim 1844 for sponsoring my stay.

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