Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Hallowell

It was Todd's birthday this weekend, so we took a trip up to Hallowell, Maine, on the Kennebec River.  One of our favorite habits is staring at old buildings and imagining what we'd do with them if they were ours.  You know how you do, like imagining a whole other life that seems quite possible for a magic fifteen minutes or maybe even an hour.  I love those little windows of dream time, especially when shared with the coolest person I know.  Hallowell is the perfect place to indulge in this habit of ours because it is pure architectural perfection.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that it's packed with antiques shops, too!  At the Antiques Mall we bought a set of three old (I mean old) lockers from a high school in upstate New York.  They're going to hold belts and ties and scarves and whatnot back at the homestead in Massachusetts.

One of the shops downtown is guarded by ferocious beasties and graced by two Buddha heads.

I am in love with these two buildings.

We often speak of Southern Gothic literature, art, and architecture, but growing up in Maine, I always felt that there's a Northern Gothic, too, and places like Hallowell epitomize this style and feeling,

Think of the wonderful patina of Savannah, place it up north in the cold with less light and a mix of Victorian and colonial houses, and you start to get a sense of what Hallowell is like.

Someone is redoing this massive beauty high on a hill.  Think of the ghost stories you could write here!  Speaking of which, Stephen King's house just up the road a ways in Bangor is well worth a look, if you're ever in Maine.

As you head south of Hallowell on the back roads, you encounter sweet Maine villages like East Pittston, where you'll find a gorgeous compound of houses that all appear to be part of Tuttle Antiques.

Lovingly restored, the houses glow in the late-afternoon sun.

We stopped briefly in Dresden to get gas at a tiny store with pumps from the 70's that had--I'm not kidding--duct tape on them.  Not sure what it was holding together, and I probably don't want to know.  I felt like we were on an episode of the Red Green show.  But across the street was this lovely church with the sun setting behind it.

Back in Portland, we hopped on the ferry to head home.  The sky was burning pink behind us and the stars were waking up in front of us.  I asked Todd if he'd had fun.

"Yep," he said. "Best birthday ever."

"You say that every year."

"And it's always true."

P.S. If you're ever in Hallowell and you need a great meal, go to Slate's.  They make all of their own breads, croissants, and muffins; their food is tasty; and we had the sweetest waitress ever.  Their bakery is just a couple of doors down.  We had to split a pumpkin whoopie pie.  All that snooping around old buildings had made us hungry!

P.P.S.  Before I forget, the pretty leaf-skeleton lantern on my new header is by Pachadesign.  I bought two from Sammy and Glenn to have for my table during the holiday season and beyond.  They are so delicate and beautiful that I can't stop taking pictures of them, even when there's no candle inside.


  1. Oh my gosh darlin' did you take the header picture ... it's fabulous.

    I just loved our little trip with you and Todd (Happy Birthday Todd btw) The photo's of old buildings do it for me. I love the big ole one getting done up. Scary psycho. :)

    Hugs to you too,

  2. I am crazy for the little gothic windows on that adorable cottage! Looks like a good birthday to me.

  3. I haven't been up your way since I was a child and I don't remember it. I loved taking this tour with you. I've been to Savannah many times, so I can visualize what you are and interesting post. Tell Todd Happy Birthday!


  4. Todd + his sweet words = swoon!

    Gigi, you know you are a very lucky lady! And you are a very knowledgable 'architect'!

  5. Love the colour of the blue glass preserving jars in your header photo. Also loving the porches on all those houses. ;-)

  6. sounds like you had a lovely time - great buildings.

    love your header picture, we are so pleased that you like our lanterns, they look perfect with your other treasures gigi.

    sammy and glenn

  7. I am filled with wanderlust looking at your gorgeous photos. I would love to visit Maine - much more so since reading all your beautiful posts. One day .... Leigh

  8. LOVELIEST new banner, Gigi! Those skeleton leaf lanterns are whisper sweet! Happy Day, belated to your Todd. I like his approach to birthdays--each year is the best one. :o) Hubby & I do the same...we're hounds for architecture and imagine all sorts when we spy great places and make up tons of's fun! Oh, speaking of fun, stop by if get a chance--I'm having a gift giveaway this week for Thanksgiving week :o) ((HUGS))

  9. Gigi I LOVE your photos and descriptions of New England Gothic- the beasties, the golden light, the old houses and wonderful, eclectic architecture- what a wonderful post! I've been away for the past week or so, so I'm just finally catching up on your blog. Love love LOVE this post!

    Happy birthday to your darling!


  10. Gigi, could you please give Todd a big ol' Happy Birthday smooch for me? I'd do it myself but, well, you know....

  11. Hello Gigi,

    Are you having an island Thanksgiving?

    Hey, I think those lockers came from my old high school in Upstate NY.



    P.S. Happy Birthday to Todd.

  12. Say Happy Birthday to Todd from me, Gigi. He doesn't know me from adam but say it anyway !!
    I love all of your photographs of old buildings.I love old buildings. I was driving through many old English villages today looking at some really old Medieval and Tudor houses.
    I love the one that looks like the house from ' Psycho'. They are one of my favourite American houses.
    I'm so glad that you and Todd had a lovely day and I'm sure Todd says that every year because he has spent his birthday with you. XXXX

  13. GIGI~ I my-do you know that you were about 10 minutes from me? We need to meet! I love Hallowell and Slate's is fabulous isn't it? There are some great shops in Hallowell and I see from your post that you hit many of the high points. I wish I had known.
    Happy Birthday Todd- I know it must have been fun.

  14. These photos just take my breath away. along with your banner.
    Be still my heart, for the beauty I witness over here.
    And the leaf lantern is just sheer love. Oh honey...
    Such beautiful post.

  15. Belated Birthday wish to Todd!
    I'm intrigued by the lockers, should show us one day I hope... Those houses are quite spooky- I wouldn't want to go near them after dark!
    Lovely new week dear Gigi~

  16. Happiest of birthday wishes to your Todd. He is a very lucky man to have your love in his life. What a fun weekend you two had! Love architecture, and would happily spend all day on the road to see such beauties of another time. Gorgeous photos too! That beauty on the hill is really something.

  17. I would love to visit one day, it looks so interesting. Great photographs.

  18. Beautiful photos and a wonderful post. I loved taking the tour whith you.

    Happy Birthday to your Tod! You two seems like you are made for eachother.

  19. I have always wanted to see Maine...and you have taken me on such a lovely tour (which is as close as I am going to get for a while!). So many interesting things to look looks like a photographer's dream.

  20. my, oh my! what a beautiful birthday indeed! i love all those old homes...and i think i've started one of those dreaming windows right this moment...let's hope it lasts!

  21. I haven't even read the post yet. I rushed right to the comment to tell you how very much I love your new banner. Love, love, love it!

  22. Wow gorgeous photos and what a lovely birthday outing for Todd (Happy Belated, Todd!)

    I have never been to this part of the country, but someday I'd love to see it! Thanks for taking us with you!


  23. Happy, happy birthday, Todd! I'm so glad your celebration was terrific. And that it gets better every year.

    Hallowell does sound perfect. And, oh Gigi, how I loved when you described those perfect 15 minutes when you imagine another life. That is so very, very like Jeffrey and I. Not that the life we have isn't wonderful, just that it's fun to dream, and to dream side by side.

    Gigi, I think these pictures are your best yet. I do, I do.

  24. I wanted to stop by tonight and wish you a happy, happy Thanksgiving. Tomorrow is bound to be crazy and I didn't want the holiday to pass without me wishing you the happiest, most delicious Thanksgiving ever. When I count my blessings, I will gladly list my new friendship with you.

  25. oh my my my ... dear gigi ... i love all the images in this post ~ they are hauntingly beautiful ... one doesn't have to imagine too hard of the lonely woman pacing the widow's peak (in the 7th image down) ... the wind blowing her hair and dress as she desperately peers out into the dark for her love ... wow ...
    on a very bright and sweet note, i love todd's comments ... of course, he will always have the best birthday with you by his side ... sigh.
    many happy thanksgiving wishes to you and yours ~ i am so very grateful to have you as a friend ...
    prairiegirl xo
    ps. do pop by soon ... and ... i am still sending you a 'real mail' card soon ... just waiting for something ... ;) ...

  26. We go to Maine every year...usually in August...and I am writing Hollowell down to remind me that it is a MUST for visiting on the trip up next I can only hope I remember where I have written it down:)...the name of the restaurant is getting written too...We often time our trip up to coincide with a lunch at the A-One Diner in Gardiner ME but this might make a nice change...


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