Monday, July 20, 2009

Cool Stuff and Right Around the Corner No Less

I’m not really much of a historical connoisseur where anything outside of sports or pop culture is related. In fact even with sports I am a fast learner but an even quicker forgetter. Go ahead, ask me who won the Super Bowl last season. It would take me ten minutes to pull it out even though that night I was more into it than I expected since the teams held absolutely no meaning for me. (Although really, who didn’t want to see Arizona take down the Steelers?)

Aside from this kind of stuff, there is very little I pay attention to from the annals of time. One might ask what I am doing in the northeast then, especially since it is so ‘rich in history’ and I would repeat their question back to them and finish with something about the importance of family and friends being geographically close by. A couple years ago Matt, my mom and I all did a Boston walking tour and it was the first time since grammar school I went anywhere near the Freedom Trail.

OK to be fair I probably walked some of it while bar hopping in the Faneuil Hall area years ago. It is lucky they don’t use that thing for sobriety testing. If any of you have ever walked the Trail you know this would be an exercise in futility since most of it is two rows of bumpy red bricks ambling down the middle of hilly concrete sidewalks. And it’s just so long to boot.

So last night during our nightly evening walk, we decided to traverse the brick free, hilly sidewalks in our own neighborhood and we headed up towards Main Street in lieu of our usual flat, lifeless, and extremely easy, route. As we rounded the corner to Main, Matt mentioned there was a house a ways up that was of historical significance which he had wanted to check out for a while.

Now mind you, in Matt speak ‘a while’ could actually mean anytime within the past twenty four hours. Here is how that can work -- he sees something about this house in an article in the Metro on his way home from work. He gets home and boots up Wikipedia to read all about it. He discovers it is within walking distance of our house and must see it immediately.

So we headed in that direction.

There is a little park on the corner of George and Main and inside we came across this:

It was intriguing to read that the bell was such an integral part of the history of my current city yet I found some irony in the fact that it was shoved into a hidden corner of a park that, from the outside, appears to be someone’s side yard. When I looked over to the house next door to see whose yard it might be we discovered this, the house Matt had wanted to see:

One of the few pieces of history that has long fascinated me is the Underground Railroad. I think the abolitionists who assisted in freeing thousands of slaves from the southern part of our United States were amazingly brave souls, so to see a house where slaves were housed for almost seventy five years is still standing here in the northeast, shocked me. Over 200 years before my personal hero Rosa Parks made her quiet stand (or sit, as the case may be) this small residence, called the Isaac Royall House, was reconstructed to house twenty seven people while the main house held only one, Royall, Jr.

There are small gardens and a short walking path with a few benches surrounding the house but I felt slightly awkward being there as there were people hanging out having a barbeque on their deck next door. A woman at that home and I caught sight of each other for a brief moment and exchanged polite smiles but the entire scene felt extremely surreal so we left quietly with a good number of photos and knowledge we could always go back for a tour anytime before early November.

Matt will surely drag me back some weekend afternoon so we can check out what is inside. All I can say is he had better do it before football season starts.


Suldog said...

Cool, huh? I love coming upon bits of history I didn't know about before. By coming here, I did. I had no knowledge of those things before. Now I'll have to check them out in person :-)

Theresa said...

I love history sightseeing a lot more than I like reading about it. I can't wait for you to go inside. Make sure you take lots of pics. Have fun.

pastrywitch said...

It's crazy how much amazing stuff is right in our own neighborhoods, and we rarely see it unless we have out-of-town guests. I've lived here since 1994, and I have yet to get to Pike's Peak. It's about 1 1/2 hours away. Lame. Just lame.

Almost Precious said...

In school I never liked history classes, all those dates, names, places to remember. Felt happy if I could recall the event. But as I am now at an age where I could be considered 'historical', I find it intriguing. How people lived, the tools they had to use, the circumstances that involved them. Somehow when one can see and touch these historical things then history comes alive. Great photos btw.
As for the lady on her deck, I'm sure she is very used to seeing people browsing around the grounds of the historic Royall home and knows that lack of privacy goes with the turf...if it really bothered the neighbors they'd move ! ;)

Bridgete said...

That's cool. I'll have to go look sometime.

For a long time I didn't care about history. I'm learning how fascinating it can be when it's not presented in the dry classroom format, like when I can actually go look at something historical, or when I can watch a dramatization of the events in a movie or something. If the movie is accurate, you're still learning, and it's way more entertaining than just learning the facts.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Wow, this is awesome. I never knew it was there. Will have to check it out next time I'm over for a visit.
Peace, Hugs, and Love, Mum

ginger said...

kate! we have to go up pike's peak! i've wanted to do it for over a year now!

that is some cool shiz jenn...the coolest thing in my neighborhood is the ocassional, giant crane flying over kipling from park to park. we don't see a lot of water birds around here so it's kind of bizarre to see giant, white birds while driving down the road.