Tour: Meet Me in Charlestown, NH
By: Emily Goulet, GSA Director of Communications
Our final tour for the Sunapee/Dartmouth Region month started in Charlestown, and what a beautiful drive over it was! We started our tour with The Fort at No 4, which I had always heard of but never had the chance to visit. I may or may not have missed the turn into the fort, and when I traveled further down the road to turn around, I ended up in VT!
We lucked out on the weather again – it was another cool summer day. We were greeted by several tour guides dressed in 18th century attire. We learned that Charlestown was Township Number 4, and it was the northernmost and westernmost town in the British Colonies in North America from 1735 to 1760. After a brief introduction and general history of the fort, we set off to explore! Our tour guide led us around to the back entrance, which is the historically correct entrance of the fort.
He provided a great ambience of the time period, explaining to us bits and pieces of the way of life in the 18th century. He also demonstrated many different tools and weapons of the time period. We had a chance to explore on our own as well, so we each stepped in and out of the many buildings in the open air museum. Many buildings represented a different person or family, and it was interesting to see the layouts and displays of their way of life. When I walked into one building, it represented the kitchen area. One of the docents was lighting and building a fire in the hearth as I watched.
I think my overall favorite aspect of the fort was the tower with a gorgeous view. You can climb the tower for an expansive view of the fort, the beautiful green fields on the side, and the Connecticut River. You do have to climb a few flights of steep stairs, but the view was a wonderful reward.
Our next stop was the Claremont Opera House, where we were greeted by Andrew Pinard, Executive Artistic Director of the Opera House. Andrew shared with us some of its history. It was built in 1892 with an entrance hall that originally led to an assembly hall. The hall was turned into offices in 1960, and the Opera House is above the offices. Andrew took us upstairs, first to show us the Ladies Parlor, a traditional sitting parlor. Then we climbed the stairs to the balcony area so we could see the auditorium from above. We were able to see the intricate painting on the walls, with a great vantage point of the stage and the beautiful proscenium arch, which includes the NH State Seal above it. We even learned how the lightbulbs are replaced in the top of the ceiling!
Andrew told us about the design of the theater, the types of shows that have performed there, and his many plans for future shows. We descended the stairs to enter the main part of the theater, where we climbed onto the stage to see the theater from the performers’ perspective! Our tour ended with the atrium area, which includes glass windows that boast a view of Mt Ascutney. The atrium encompasses a part of the exterior of the building, and it also showcases one of the original backdrops of the Opera House.
After our tour, our GSAs were able to find lunch on their own in downtown Claremont. We were given an extensive list of restaurants from Elyse Crossman, the Director of the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce. Both Elyse and Ashlee Rowley, Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce, were instrumental in coordinating and facilitating this tour. Both locations were fun and informative, showcasing two locations that are great to promote to guests of NH!