The Golden Clasp

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.” – H.W. Longfellow

And, so it was that on this Sunday, my week’s volume was bound by worship at old St. Paul’s Parish church in Portland, Maine and a trip to the Wadsworth-Longfellow house, a few blocks from my hotel in the downtown area.

My decision as to whether to visit the larger, more grand Cathedral Church of St. Luke or the smaller, more intimate St. Paul’s Parish was made for me. I awoke too late for St. Luke’s, so St. Paul’s it was. This was a small conservative church which still uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The church, which was the first non-Puritan church in Portland, was established in 1762. Two previous buildings burned down, the first by the British in the Revolutionary War, and the second in the Great Portland Fire of 1866. The current building, which is built in the 12th-century simple Gothic style, dates to 1867. It has long served the seagoing community of Portland. One of its most notable members was Commodore Edward Preble, Commander of the famed USS Constitution.

Facade of St. Paul's, Rose window in the apse

Facade of St. Paul’s, Rose window in the apse

12th Century Simple Gothic Style

12th Century Simple Gothic Style

Interior of St. Paul's

Interior of St. Paul’s

Stained glass window in the apse.  The top rose window  honors the four evangelists.

Stained glass window in the apse. The top rose window honors the four evangelists.

The Trinity Window at the rear of the church.

The Trinity Window at the rear of the church.

Just around the corner from St. Paul's is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception,  which dates to... ( you guessed it) 1868, just after the second fire.

Just around the corner from St. Paul’s is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which dates to… ( you guessed it) 1868, just after the second fire.

I peaked in through the open doors at a mass  underway inside

I peaked in through the open doors at a mass underway inside

During the afternoon, I walked less than one-half mile down Congress street to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and the Maine Historical Museum. It is the oldest standing structure on the Portland peninsula and the childhood home of famous American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Longfellow’s grandfather and Revolutionary War General, Peleg Wadsworth, built the home in 1785. After Peleg moved away, his daughter Zilpah and her husband Steven Longfellow occupied the home. Their son, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, lived here for almost 35 years. Anne, Henry’s sister, was the last family member to live in the house. At her death in 1901, the house was given to the Maine Historical Society. It has been maintained as it would have looked in the mid-19th century.

Longfellow Monument, downtown Portland, birthplace of Longfellow

Longfellow Monument, downtown Portland, birthplace of Longfellow

One of the 25 known original copies of the Declaration of Independence, in the Maine Historical Society Museum

One of the 25 known original copies of the Declaration of Independence, in the Maine Historical Society Museum

Wadsworth-Longfellow House

Wadsworth-Longfellow House

Rear of the House

Rear of the House

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Wadsworth-Longfellow House Kitchen (all original)

Wadsworth-Longfellow House Kitchen (all original)

Peleg installed his own water heater in the kitchen corner - a ten gallon pot with fire underneath

Peleg installed his own water heater in the kitchen corner – a ten gallon pot with fire underneath

An early portrait of H.W. Longfellow

An early portrait of H.W. Longfellow

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Bedroom of Zilpah and Peleg

Bedroom of Zilpah and Peleg

The bed in which Anne passed away

The bed in which Anne passed away

On the evening before the clasping of the volume of my week, I was thrilled to experience a double set of jazz at a wonderful little club called Blue, located less than two blocks from my hotel. The first was a quartet called Mes Amis, which performed Gypsy Jazz. Before the concert, I couldn’t have told you much about Gypsy Jazz, but now I know I absolutely love it. The jazz violinist in the group is a young man who attends New England Conservatory. He was incredibly virtuosic, and the lead guitarist wasn’t bad either. The second set featured another jazz quartet whose music couldn’t have been more different, the John Funkhouser Quartet. The group is described on their website as “an energetic, accessible blend of modern jazz, funk, blues, 20th century classical, Indian classical, and European and American folk music which create a funky, groove oriented, fresh and original sound.” So, my first question is: “Is Funkhouser his real name?” John is a faculty member of Berklee College of Music where he teaches piano. These guys were really good, although my preference tends toward the genre of the earlier group.

Blue - Portland, Maine

Blue – Portland, Maine

Inside Blue

Inside Blue

Gypsy Jazz by Mes Amis

Gypsy Jazz by Mes Amis

Jazz violin virtuoso

Jazz violin virtuoso

John Funkhouser Quartet

John Funkhouser Quartet

It was nice to have the weekend to recover from my night shift, but tomorrow I start a string of shifts on six straight days, after which I will return to Beatitude and my incredibly-missed best friend who also is known as my wife.

Longfellow wrote "The Rainy Day" sitting at this desk (which then sat in front of the window through which he stared out at the dreary, rainy day)

Longfellow wrote “The Rainy Day” sitting at this desk (which then sat in front of the window through which he stared out at the dreary, rainy day)

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

– H. W. Longfellow

4 thoughts on “The Golden Clasp

  1. I love historic houses, antique furniture & textiles , architectural details, looked very interesting!
    The inside of Blue is red…

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