On the Spot
As another autumn approaches, I
eagerly anticipate the simple joys the
season brings—cooler days, glorious
foliage (the source of my endless fondness
for the sky blues and leafy corals
that keep showing up on my walls),
and hiking along forest trails as fallen
leaves crackle underfoot.
It’s the perfect season to drive around the countryside in
search of the picturesque covered bridge. Hundreds of these
19th-Century wooden marvels still stand—usually along lesstraveled
roads—from Vermont to Oregon. (You’ll have to
travel farther if you live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains,
the Northern Plains, the Southern Plains, or Louisiana and
Florida, where early communities apparently either had little
for need such bridges or lacked the lumber to build them.)
Although covered bridges inspire our longing for a
simpler past, in the 1800s they represented the height of
American ingenuity as builders and architects developed
load-bearing truss systems to support heavy wagonloads
across wide rivers. The success of these bridges opened the
frontier to Americans looking for more land or new markets.
If pawpaw is not in your vocabulary, read on to learn
about America’s largest native fruit tree, which has grown
in the East and Midwest (south of New England’s cold)
since before the Ice Age. Its taste is generally described
as banana-like, and its creamy flesh is touted for its nutritional
value as an appropriate ingredient for everything
from beer to pizza. Places in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
Maryland celebrate the fruit each autumn with festivals.
Throughout the country, living history sites also host fall
festivals that bring the past to life through demonstrations of
period skills and trades. We take a brief look at the early iron
industry in Pennsylvania at Joanna Furnace, where the Hay
Creek Festival draws thousands of visitors each year.
Two wonderful early homes in this issue span the decorating
spectrum from high style to folk art to primitive.
While Jim and Pam Penny spent most of their working
lives in Texas, they forged a strong attachment to Colonial
Williamsburg, to the point of adopting 18th-Century
style for their Houston home.
They visited Virginia’s colonial capital so often they
decided to buy a 1770 plantation house in Williamsburg as
a second home, then had it restored to incorporate modern
conveniences while preserving much of the original fabric.
Furnished with formal antiques and fine reproductions—along
with a colorful assortment of folk art—the finished
house proved so comfortable they moved in permanently.
The Connecticut home that antiques dealer Susan
MacKay shared for a decade with her late business and life
partner, Peter Field, reflects their evolving taste and discernment
in collecting the earliest and best New England
antiques they could find.
Their 1787 Cape, carefully restored in the 1970s by
restoration carpenter Bob Garafolo, needed only some
freshening of the wall colors to create a fitting backdrop
for furnishings with original painted surfaces and a mix of
American and European decorative smalls.
American women often added warmth and color to their
interiors with rugs—on beds and tabletops as well as floors.
An exhibition on hooked rugs at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Folk Art Museum explores the 19th-Century American
craft through its roots in earlier sewn and shirred rugs.
Some of those women likely attended schools meant
to teach them the “female accomplishments,” which often
included theorem painting. Distinguished Directory artisan
Nancy Rosier shares her methods for creating vibrant
still lifes using stencils and subtle shading.
However you enjoy autumn—outdoors in Nature or
by brightening your indoor living spaces—we hope you find
inspiration in these pages.