Here in Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont we so much natural beauty that it is almost taken for granted. Mountains to hike, rolling farm fields to soak in, rivers and ponds to paddle, amazing fall foliage. We even have a couple of National Parks. Over in Woodstock, Vermont there is the Marsh Billing Rockefeller National Historic Site and on this side of the Connecticut River we have The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.
Some have said that The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is one of New England’s least visited national parks, attracting fewer than 34,000 visitors annually which is a shame because the site makes for a wonderful visit. Any lover of art, history and simply beautiful gardens and homes would enjoy a visit to the park. Plus its a bargain at something like $5 a visit or even free in the off season.
Tucked away in Cornish, New Hampshire, right across the Connecticut River via the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge, this sprawling estate should be on every art lover’s New England itinerary, particularly when autumn accents the landscape with rusty hues. On your visit you can watch a film about the Cornish arts colony and Augusta Saint-Gauden’s life and work, tour the home, his studio and many of his sculptures.
The sculptures visitors encounter as they roam the property provide a unique look at the legacy of this talented and well-connected artist, who was followed to New Hampshire not only by his team of assistants but by artists who sought his guidance and camaraderie and who were likewise inspired by the surrounding landscape. Among the artists who formed the Cornish Art Colony were painters Maxfield Parrish, Kenyon Cox and George de Forest Brush; sculptors Paul Manship and Herbert Adams and architect Charles Platt. At its height, the colony counted 90 artists among its ranks.
Besides the park, the Cornish and Windsor area have ample attractions for visitors. In Cornish just outside the park you can visit the Blow Me Down Mill and four covered bridges in the area. On the Vermont side in Windsor there is the American Precision Museum housed in an old gun factory as well as visit the artisan park which features cheese making, a distillery, a Harpoon Brewery and the glass blowers and pottery makers of Simon Simon Pearce. The region has historically been known for hand crafted quality work from manufacturing to fine art and this tradition continues.
The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site’s grounds, Aspet house and exhibit buildings are open daily from Memorial Day weekend through October. Hours are 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and the grounds remain open until dusk. In the off-season, exhibit buildings are closed, but the Visitor Center is generally open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.