Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop

It's not every day you can go into an old-time apothecary shop and see it, exactly as a customer in the early 1900s would have experienced it.

But you can do just that, at the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop Museum in Alexandria, VA's historic district. This historic apothecary shop has been preserved as a museum. During its working life, the drug company was owned by generations of a Quaker family -- from the late 18th century to 1933, when the Great Depression and changes in Federal laws forced the shop to close. The shop was such an institution, however, that local citizens worked to preserve it, and by 1939, it had re-opened as a museum. Today, most of the artifacts inside the museum are authentic and date to its closing.

Stabler Apothecary was founded by Edward Stabler, who came to Alexandria after apprenticing in the apothecary business with his brother in Leesburg. A devout Quaker and savvy businessman, he rented space in 1792 at the corner of King and South Fairfax to start his business, and by 1796, he was renting the space at 107 South Fairfax, where the shop remained. Within a decade, he owned the property, turning it into a bustling apothecary business. Extremely successful, by 1829, he'd expanded and purchased the neighboring building, 105 South Fairfax.

Like many Quakers of the time, Stabler was a known anti-slavery proponent and abolitionist, often using his own money to purchase enslaved individuals so he could free them.

Stabler sold his goods to a variety of city and county residents -- including to some famous names, such as Martha Washington and Robert E Lee. The shop catered to local doctors and farmers, as well as individuals who would come in, describe their ailments, and leave with a tincture or tonic.

The shop carried medicine, farm and garden equipment, surgical instruments, dental equipment, soap, perfume, mineral water, cigars, window glass, pain and varnish (many of the same ingredients for the medicines also provided color for the paints), combs and brushes. The medicine he sold was created onsite, upstairs in the storehouse and workroom. The museum tour takes you up to the workroom, which I found fascinating.

Think Harry Potter on steroids, because there really are ingredients named Unicorn's Root and Dragon's Blood that were used. and if you think superstition and magic didn't figure into the equation, think again, because a turkey leg, believed to bring good luck or a ward against evil, was nailed to the lintel of the workroom's door.

Stabler eventual left the business to his eldest son, William, who eventually brought several of his brothers and his brother-in-law, John Leadbeater, into the business. Eventually, Leadbeater, a trained apothecary and dentist himself, purchased the business from William's wife, changing the name to Leadbeater's. It remained in the Leadbeater family and in the hands of decendents of Stabler until 1933.

Getting there: 105-107 S Fairfax St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Hours: November to March Wednesday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday: 1 - 4 p.m. Closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. April to October Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday and Monday: 1 - 5 p.m.

Website: https://www.alexandriava.gov/Apothecary

Follow the MidAtlantic Day Trips Blog on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

10 Great November Daytrip Destinations

November brings great weather for hiking and biking, and if you head south, there are still lovely autumn leaves and scenic drives to enjoy. November's chill also reminds us the holidays are right around the corner. Start your holiday giving now by giving great experiences, the sort of ones that they'll remember for years after.

Start your exploration of the midAtlantic region with these ten great ideas for daytrip destinations in November!

The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located 12 miles south of Cambridge, includes more than 28,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and loblolly pine forests, managed freshwater wetlands and farmland. The various habitats of Blackwater promote a diversity of wildlife that change in numbers and species with each season.

November is the beginning of the best time to view waterfowl, which lasts through February. The refuge serves as an important resting and feeding area for migrating and wintering waterfowl. Wintering species includes tundra swans, snow geese, and more than 20 duck species, including the ubiquitous mallards, blue- and green-winged teals, wigeon, wood ducks, shovelers, mergansers, and pintails.

To read more about why a visit to the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge is so amazing, click here.

Cooler weather is always a great time to explore historic places, such as Eastern State Penitentiary, especially the ones that are not air conditioned. Refining the revolutionary system of separate incarceration first pioneered at the Walnut Street Jail, Eastern State Penitentiary emphasized principles of reform rather than punishment and was operational from 1829 to 1971. Eastern State finally closed its doors in 1971, after 142 years in use. While Philadelphia debated what to do with the facility, it lay virtually abandoned to cats and weeds, which became trees as nature began to reclaim her own.

Click here to read more about Eastern State Penitentiary and what a daytrip to it would be like!

Another wonderful place to visit is Fonthill Castle (also unair conditioned). Built between 1908 and 1912, Fonthill Castle has more than 44 rooms, 18 fireplaces, 32 staircases, and more than 200 windows of various sizes and shapes.Mercer believed in recycling and reusing, so if he encountered at a sale an old window from an old house or church or other public building that he thought would fit his castle, he bought it and inserted it into his design. Thus, there didn't seem to be many windows alike, and often within a room there would be windows that didn't quite match the others. His castle seems organic, in that it seemed to have been designed from the inside out. The ceilings are sloped and rounded (all with tiles inserted), and few rooms are square or rectangular.

For more about a visit to Fonthill Castle (and learn about neighboring Mercer Museum as well, click here.

Late fall is a fine time to check out the place that was President Franklin Roosevelt's first choice for a presidential retreat: Sugarloaf Mountain, in southern Frederick County in Maryland, right on the Montgomery County/Frederick County line. The park offers hiking, picnicking, and a scenic drive around the mountain past views of the Monacacy Valley and the Potomac River. Try the short quarter-mile hike from one of the scenic overviews up to the summit of the mountain -- the green trail. Hind sight being 20/20, the red trail might offer a more gradual ascent. Hiking up the mountain, even that short distance (quarter mile), can be strenuous. There are several benches placed so hikers could rest; the green trail becomes very steep very quickly, and indeed, there are several flights of steps leading up the final ascent along an imposing rock cliff.

Plan your hike and learn what else is in the immediate vicinity here.

Cold Harbor is interesting for its earthworks, which was a fairly new innovation in the art of warfare; the earthworks preserved there are some of the best to be found anywhere in the United States, and stretched out for 7 miles.

Autumn is the pefect time to explore Civil War sites in Virginia, now that the weather is cool enough to permit on-foot exploration and hiking around the battlefields! Click out this article for more information.

Visiting Assateague Island isn't just a summer day (or weekend) trip -- the island offers a lot of interest for all seasons. When the ocean-dipping crowds depart, the island really comes alive for me. Cooler weather means pleasant walks along the island trails, and of course, no bugs! Of course, it is best known for its herds of feral horses and pristine beaches. The island also offers numerous marshes, bays, and coves.

The ponies are hungrier for attention, too, in the coolers months, making November the ideal time to visit!

Plan your daytrip to this wonderful place with information found here!

Fort Monroe, the largest stone fort in America, is a decommissioned military installation in Hampton, VA on Old Point Comfort, the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula. For at least 400 years, the point of land that now includes Fort Monroe has served as the key defensive site at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Beginning with Native Americans' use years before the settling of Jamestown to its most recent mission as the US Army’s Headquarters for Training and Doctrine Command until 2011, Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe has influenced all aspects of our nation’s history, and has been making history for 400 years, making it a great destination anytime of the year -- by why not in November?

Explore more by clicking here.

Late fall is the perfect time to go on a barn tour, such as this one in Butler, PA. The late autumn color will still provide a lovely backdrop to these amazing old buildings. While you're out and about, be sure to take some time to stop by one of the many road-side farmers markets to take advantage of the harvest goodies!


River views are lovely all year round. The Riverwalk is one of those cool things that should happen but so seldom do. And when it does, it's wonderful! There's a riverside esplanade, a series of grass terraces and lawns, and an "eco-corridor" filled with native plants. Grab your bike or go for a walk along this lovely stretch of the Riverwalk!

Plan your day along the Riverwalk by clicking here.

Anytime's a good time to learn a little U.S. history, but as the weather cools into early winter, it's still warm enough to enjoy walking the extensive trail system this historic park offers. Learn how the Continental Army entered Valley Forge a rag-tag army and left a fighting force to be reckoned with.

Explore your history more here!

Follow the MidAtlantic Day Trips Blog on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Southern Alleghenies Art Museum - Ligonier Valley

This is one of those daytrip surprises I often end up writing about! I was on my way from one daytrip destination -- Fort Ligonier -- and on my way to another destination (Nemacolin Woodlands Resort), when I passed by this log house. Then I noticed the sculpture in the garden, and happened to see the art museum's sign. That's really all it took. I turned around to go visit! This art museum is part of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA), which has five locations, one of which is in Ligonier.

The SAMA Ligonier Valley Museum is modeled on an authentic log cabin design that reflects the historic community and is surrounded by numerous flower gardens that host primarily by Josefa Filkosky. The Walter Carlyle Shaw Paperweight Collection is on permanent display in a custom installation that frames the exhibition gallery.

SAMA is a community art museum founded in 1976. SAMA consists of five museum facilities in the central and southwestern Pennsylvania cities of Altoona, Bedford, Johnstown, Ligonier and Loretto. With a permanent collection of more than 4,500 works by local, regional, national and international artists (works by prominent national artists such as Will Barnet, William Baziotes, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Walt Kuhn, Thomas Moran, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sully, and Andy Warhol are counted among its holdings), SAMA maintains a repository of western and central Pennsylvania’s contributions to American art and boasts a strong catalogue of local and regional arwtists including Franklin Dullin Briscoe, Frederick Counsel, George Hetzel, and William H. Rau.

A painting by Doreeen Currie, similar to ones on exhibit; per SAMA's request, I did not
photograph any of the paintings there; I found this image online. I loved Currie's work!

We visited during the "Doreen Currie: Plein-Air Paradigm" exhibit, which was on view August 17 through November 4 2018, and featured more than 60 oil paintings by the Latrobe artist. The museum rotates its exhibitions, so there's reason to return!

The exhibition gallery at SAMA Ligonier Valley (photo taken with permission of the gallery)

A fourth-generation Latrobe native, Currie lives on a portion of her great-grandfather’s farm. She grew up with a deep love of the local landscape, which is evident throughout her artwork. She spent much of her childhood exploring and practicing her artistic skills, and later studied art and design at Seton Hill University. In 2004, she transitioned from watercolor to oil as her primary medium, which also sparked an interest in painting en plein air or, painting outdoors.

Greensburg View, oil on canvas by Doreeen Currie, similar to ones on exhibit; per SAMA's request, I did not
photograph any of the paintings there; I found this image online. I loved Currie's work!

If the weather cooperates, Currie can likely be found, paintbrush in hand, along some country road. A pleasant day for her begins with grabbing her French easel and packing her backpack with turpentine, linseed oil, brushes, paints, and a small sketchbook. Since acquiring a second residence in Fenwick Island, Delaware, she has begun to paint life at the beach.

A path leads you through the garden and the sculptures, primarily by Josefa Filkosky.

Doreen studied graphic art and design at Seton Hill College in Greensburg Pennsylvania and early in her career created landscapes and still life paintings using oils and acrylics. She later transitioned to watercolor media and has studied with many well artists of renown. Being able to switch from one media to another, depending on the subject gives more painterly freedom to the artist. She is more interested in ascribing feeling into a painting than a painting a perfect rendition. She feels one remembers a painting because of how it makes you feel rather than what it describes.

The Homestead, oil on canvas, by Doreeen Currie, similar to ones on exhibit; per SAMA's request, I did not
photograph any of the paintings there; I found this image online. I loved Currie's work!

After you enjoy the exhibit (and by the time this was published, the artist being featured has changed), head outside. Not only are the gardens exquisite, but there the sculpture there is worth your time. With the scenic valley as a backdrop, the walk, although brief, is refreshing and lovely!
Getting there: 1 Boucher Lane & Route 711 South Ligonier, PA 15658

Hours: Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday and Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays.

Website: http://www.sama-art.org/museum/location/ligonier.htm

Follow the MidAtlantic Day Trips Blog on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pennies for Poe at the Westminster Burying Ground

You can often learn who's important in a region by going to an historic city cemetery, and no where is this more true than at the Westminster Burying Ground in Baltimore. Established in 1787, a who's who of Maryland and Baltimore are, or at least, WERE (several seem to be missing) buried there. For 60 years, the graveyard became the final resting place for many important or influential merchants, politicians, statesmen, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 officers and soldiers.

There you can find James McHenry, names for Fort McHenry and a signer of the U.S. Constitution; James Calhouns (last mayor of Baltimore Town and first mayor of the City of Baltimore), as well as several other U.S. Congressional representatives, senators, and Baltimore mayors. But no matter how notable they were in their lifetimes, they are all overshadowed by the cemetery's most famous resident: Edgar Allan Poe, who has not one, but TWO graves in the burying ground: his original grave, in the back of the burial ground, and a monument added in 1875.

The Poe family owned a plot in the cemetery; Poe's original grave is marked by a headstone with an engraved raven. Poe's grandfather, General David Poe Sr., and his brother, Henry Leonard Poe, are still buried there.

In July 1852, Westminster Presbyterian Church was erected over the graveyard, its brick piers straddling gravestones and burial vaults to create what later Baltimoreans referred to as the "catacombs."

The Burying Ground offers three distinct styles of grave stones and markers, roughly correlating to three periods. The Early Years (1788-1800) is distinguished by gravestones with scalloped or square tops, straightforward expressions of the austerity and simplicity valued by the 18th century Presbyterians originally buried there.

Elaborate vaults mark the Golden Age (1800 - 1840) of the cemetery, reflecting the worldly success of the church members and their embrace of public displays of wealth.

By the 1840s, however, monumental displays disappear as the wealthiest church members opt to bury their dead in the new, "rural" Victorian garden cemeteries such as Greenmount and Loudon Park. Many families even remove their members' remains. Those still choosing Westminster for their eternal rest tend to have plain ground slabs and raised tablets.

In 1875, a local school teacher started "Pennies for Poe," to raise money for the monument, where his wife, Virginia Clemm Poe, his aunt/mother-in-law Maria Clemm are also buried. To this day, it is traditional to leave a penny on Poe's grave.

Although no longer an active cemetery (i.e., one that's accepting new interments), the Westminster Burying Ground welcomes visitors with interpretive signs discussing the history of the graveyard, mourning ritual, architecture, and biographical information about the "residents" -- tombstone tourism at its best! The church building is now owned and maintained by the University of Maryland Law School, which occupies the rest of the city block. The church building was renovated for secular use and is now known as Westminster Hall.

Getting there: 519 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD

Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Website: https://www.law.umaryland.edu/Westminster/Tours-and-History/

Explore other interesting cemeteries in the mid-Atlantic region:

Follow the MidAtlantic Day Trips Blog on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Beach Town, Off-season Fun in Lewes, DE

My favorite time to visit a beach town is AFTER the summer hordes have departed. And what I've discovered is that off-season is the best time to visit some beach towns! There is so much to do in Lewes, DE, a quaint beach town that sits at the entrance of Delaware Bay along the Atlantic seaboard.

Lewes (pronounced Lew-is) was the site of the first European settlement in Delaware, a whaling and trading post that Dutch settlers founded on June 3, 1631. In the 1800s and early 1900s, its population lived off of the resources of the Delaware River, the Delaware Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. The treacherous waters of the Delaware Bay provided jobs as river and bay ship pilots. It's a town with a rich history and plenty to do, on and off the beach.

What To Do

During the day, off-season and cooler weather is the perfect time to check out the beauty of the beach, which you can now see, because the estimated 50 thousand summertime visitors to Lewes have largely departed until next May.

Hike up and down the almost deserted beach, play in the waves if the weather's right, look for dolphins, enjoy the beauty of the dunes and the wind, sun and sand.

But don't forget to rent a bike at the Cape Henlopen State Park (or bring your own) to explore the park by bike. There are several amazing biking paths that will reveal some incredible scenery.

Start with the Gordons Pond Trail, a scant 3-mile long trail that leads you to close to Rehoboth Beach. Bike back and check out the Bike Loop Trail through the state park, taking time to park the bikes to explore the foot-only spur trails or climb one of the WWII observation towers.

The water plays a prominent part of all there is to see and do there, of course. While good weather holds, there's kayaking options. Quest Adventures/Kayak Shack is adjacent the Beacon Hotel, along Savannah Road, an easy walk from downtown Lewes. There are a number of kayak tours to chose from, but my choice would be an excursion along the canal and then into the salt marshes.

Photo courtesy Quest Fitness and Kayak

If you have more time, consider one of Cape Water Tours longer tours, such as the Broadkill River Tour, the East End Lighthouse Tour, Dolphin Tours, or its Eco Tour.

Photo courtesy Cape Water Tours

If you visit in the fall, you'll discover that Lewes has ghosts aplenty. Get a taste of haunted Lewes by checking out the Legends of Lewes tour, which introduces you to the many strange happenings in the town of Lewes. For more about the haunts of Lewes, check out this article!

If you're lucky and ghost hunting is your thing, you may be able to catch a paranormal investigation, co-sponsored by the Lewes Historical Society, Cape Water Tours, and the Intuitive Paranormal Investigations at the East End Breakwater Lighthouse or the Cape May - Lewes Ferry Terminal, which was partly built over a cemetery of unknown sailors and drowning victims.

No quaint town is truly a quaint town if it doesn't have some boutiques to browse. The good news is, Lewes is a really neat, quaint town! We shopped, and loved, Blooming Boutique. If you go there, say hello to the friendly greeter, Maggie, and make sure you rub her belly!

There's also P.U.P.S., everything you'd need for your favorite pooch (and Maggie); the Antique Mall, with a variety of antiques, collectibles, and upcycled items for your home; Deannas, a clothing boutique with some exquisite clothing; and many others.

All this hiking, biking, and shopping has surely created an appetite. Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, or simply an afternoon coffee and snack, there's a place (or two or four) worth trying. Although I recommend the restaurants below, because I've been there and tried them, there are others to choose from as well, and it's clear that yes, I'll have to go back for another weekend to try them!

The Blue Sea Cafe offers a nifty breakfast menu that will help get your day started. The coffee is good, and the prices are reasonable. We liked it so much that in our recent visit, we went twice, enticed by offerings such as the Silver Dollar Pumpkin Pancakes and Lahmajun (ground beef, tomato sauce, herbs and spices embedded in a flat pita dough and rolled and covered with red onions, feta cheese and a squeeze of lemon). Knotting Hill Bakery and Coffee Shop also offers a a good cup of coffee, as well as baked treats to start your day or power it along in the afternoon.

Fresh-made guacamole is a perfect start to a meal at Agave.

There are multiple options for lunch, but consider, again, the Blue Sea Cafe, or try an upscale Mexican cuisine at the stylish Agave, both located along Second Avenue. Good, solid sandwiches and soups at reasonable prices can be found at Arenas Cafe (where, shockingly, my friend and I also purchased coffee!). For dinner, Agave might be a good choice, but for some interesting seafood and new American, a visit to Striper Bites is a must (located at Second Avenue and Savannah).

Seared tuna with siracha on homemade tortilla chips at Striper Bites.

Where To Stay

Generally I'm not a fan of beach hotels, but the Beacon Hotel -- a beach hotel if there ever was one -- is an excellent choice for its convenient location to downtown, plenty of parking, and proximity to the beaches and Cape Henlopen State Park (which is an easy 2-mile bike ride away). And it was both quiet and comfortable, important when you've got an active day of daytripping planned! I'd definitely go back to this hotel!

For additional information about Lewes and other southern Delaware daytrip destinations, www.VisitSouthernDelaware.com.

Follow the MidAtlantic Day Trips Blog on FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn.