Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 17, 2011

The Frost Place and Other Wonders of New Hampshire

Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at Lake Winnipesaukee. It was too chilly and rainy to be on the lake; we stuck to watching loons and herons. We toured Canterbury Shaker Village.

And Castle in the Clouds, a mansion built by Thomas Plant who left home at age 14 to work and retired at 51 from what was then the world’s largest shoe factory to live in a house with a view of the mountains and 36 mile long lake. We hiked by some amazing waterfalls.

Another day we were welcomed warmly at The Frost Place: A Permanent Home and Museum for Poets and Poetry in Franocnia, NH where Robert Frost lived with his wife and four children from 1915 to 1920. It was gorgeous, if remote. The hills didn’t seem suited to farming and those walls most have seemed closer and closer each long winter day. My husband asked me if this was where Frost threatened to shoot his wife, and I think it might be. That was some rough twenty or so years of writing before his first book was published.

But it was good to be there in summer, even if it was raining. Peter and I walked around a lupine and daisy filled meadow and woods with poems posted on trees. Inside the house we were invited to touch and take pictures and revel in the quietness where wonderful words were written.

I love the way this place is not just a marker of important history, but where new poems are inspired, written, and heard aloud. Readings sometimes take place in the Henry Holt Barn. I bought The Mind-Body Problem  the most recent collection of  Katha Pollitt who’s also well known for her political essays in The Nation, and was the first poet in residence at the Frost Place in 1977, a tradition that continues along with summer workshops.

Jone at Check it Out is covering the Poetry Friday round-up, and offering words from Jane Kenyon, another great New Hampshire poet.



  1. Funny, I’ve had NH on my mind because I think we’re heading up there over the 4th. I’ve only seen the outside of Frost Place because when we were there years ago it was closed for the season. And I do remember the Canterbury Shaker Village. 🙂

  2. Oh, yes, you have to hit the right day and season for those peeks inside. We hoped to get to the Frost home in Derry, but was closed on the days we had left. The view from the Castle in the Clouds was gorgeous, and waterfalls, and what they bill as the biggest horse in the US. Perhaps more to the point, the restaurant had fabulous food and is in the old and elegant stables. You get to eat in a (very cleaned up) stall, with trough and drains and bars intact.
    Of course I know you have a long long way to go, and holiday to contend with, but if you find yourself with any time near Mass, please let me know!

  3. Thank you, Jeannine, for the virtual “tour” – next best thing to getting to go! And Happy Anniversary. Ours is next week. Robyn

  4. Thanks, Robyn, and happy anniversary to you. And how wonderful you could participate in what sounds like an amazing poetry workshop!

  5. Happy Anniversary!!
    Funny you mentioned Lake Winnipesaukee, I just spoke with my uncle and found out that is where his new house is!

  6. So I am curious about the Shaker village. I know there are very few Shakers left. Are they there? Is this a museum village?
    Saw an amazing documentary on the Shakers on PBS this past year.
    Sounds like a fabulous way to spend an anniversary.

  7. This is similar to a lovely historic museum closer to us in Hancock, Mass. You can walk around and peruse exhibits and talk to people with general knowledge as well as doing some work — we learned a lot from the printer and box maker. Or you can take guided tours to get even more of an overview. But it’s what’s beautifully left of one of the 17 or so original villages. I believe the one in Sabbathday, Maine is the only one where a very few Shakers still live. The way of life survived partly by when one village got too small, the people merged with another.

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  9. Thanks for showing us round, Jeannine. Wonderful to hear that poems are still coming to life at the Frost Place. I’d like to hear some of them read in that barn.

  10. Yes, I, too, very much liked the way poems still get written and read in that house in the mountains. They let those who were interested take a copy of a poem by William Matthews, “On the Porch at the Frost Place, Franconia, N.H.” which is in itself a reason to keep poets and visitors coming.

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