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Located in a former Bethlehem Steel mill, the National Museum of Industrial History opened in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, this month.

Bethlehem, Pa.: A New Capital for Industrial Heritage

The Aug. 2 opening of the National Museum of Industrial History makes Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles north of Philadelphia ...

The Laurel Highlands: Close Encounters of the Wright Kind

The semi-rural area, roughly 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is a convenient and relatively undiscovered destination for getaways from D.C.
Kentuck Knob.

Fallingwater, Duncan House and Kentuck Knob

Three Frank Lloyd Wright houses are open to the public in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands.
Fort Ligonier.

The Laurel Highlands: Close Encounters of the Wright Kind

The semi-rural area, roughly 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is a convenient and relatively undiscovered destination for getaways from D.C.

Mementos from a Sentimental Journey: Shell Work

Here in the mid-Atlantic states the ubiquitous seashell symbolizes the arrival of summer. Wherever there was watery life there is ...

Summer Day-cation Ideas

When the stress of life reaches its brink, it’s nice to have a day away to clear your mind ...
A 60s-era use of pocket-watch fobs, several worn together as a bracelet.

The Charms of Antique Watch Fobs

In the mid-1700s, men’s waistcoats had several pockets and it was fashionable to carry a watch in each pocket ...

’50 Great American Places’: Motivating Moments, Neatly Packaged

“Historical literacy,” according to public historian and R Street resident Brent D. Glass, “is more than simply knowing the names of leaders or when famous battles were fought. It involves understanding the context of historical events and how events are connected.” Having devoted his career to the cause of historical literacy, the director emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History decided to take action in a direct and personal way: He wrote a book. Published this spring, Glass’s “50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites Across the U.S.” doesn’t read like a lecture from your American history teacher, unless you had an unusually inspiring one. In an inviting, conversational style, Glass captures some of the atmosphere of the places his entries describe. Better yet, many of his Great American Places are well-chosen surprises. Yes, Great American Place No. 1 is the National Mall, here in D.C. But No. 50 is “Malls of America.” Glass uses the plural because that entry covers the history of the enclosed shopping mall, from the 1956 debut of modernist architect Victor Gruen’s Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, to the gargantuan Mall of America, which opened in 1992 in nearby Bloomington. Along the way, the reader gets a capsule history of suburbanization, with a cross-reference to the phenomenon’s 19th-century roots, nurtured in books like “The American Woman’s Home,” written in 1869 by Catharine Beecher and her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe (Stowe’s Hartford, Connecticut, home, along with that of her neighbor, Mark Twain, is Great American Place No. 25). By grouping sites both geographically and thematically, Glass has written an enjoyable volume for the hammock (or the bathroom) as well as a guidebook. You may want to get one copy for the car and one to keep handy at home. The entries between the Mall and the Malls are roughly chronological. Glass checks in at the Liberty Bell (No. 9), the Alamo (No. 18) and Pearl Harbor (No. 41, get it?), but also touches down at key spots in the history of American art, science and social change. Famed biographer David McCullough, who met Glass — then head of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission — in 1989 at the centennial of the Johnstown Flood, calls attention in the book’s forward to the choice of a farmhouse in Red Cloud, Nebraska, as Great American Place No. 26 (“Willa Cather’s Great Prairie”): “[Pioneer woman] Annie Pavelka and her story were the inspiration for Willa Cather’s famous masterpiece ?My Ántonia,’ and to stand there beside the storm cellar into which she rushed her children when tornadoes struck is to feel the ?power of place’ in no uncertain terms.” As much as anyone, McCullough has shown that history doesn’t have to go down like medicine. Well-written narratives can motivate us both to want to learn more and to experience in person the places that shaped our nation. Glass’s book contains many such motivating moments, neatly packaged for 21st-century lives.

World Away Weekend: Rappahannock County

As so aptly described by one local denizen, “Life in Little Washington reminds one of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon or Jan Karon’s mythical Mitford.” Rappahannock County, Virginia, with its quirky villages, unspoiled scenery, outdoor activities and stellar cultural and culinary offerings, is close enough for a daytrip or a world-away weekend. Rappahannock Central, a beautifully restored 1930s apple-packing facility in Sperryville, in the far western part of the county, is a bustling crossroads of art galleries — including the studios of River District Arts — and local shops. There is even a brewery and a distillery. On the culinary side, Heritage Hollow Farms’ new storefront offers 100-percent ecologically farmed grass-fed and grass-finished beef, lamb and pork. Mike Peterson, a former executive sous chef in Aspen, and his wife Molly, a professional photographer who fell in love with the county’s scenery, discovered that they could work together to produce succulent food, raised with integrity. They do not use antibiotics or hormones, and their livestock live comfortable lives on healthy pasturage and non-GMO feed. Also relatively new is Wild Roots Apothecary, which offers slow brewed, handcrafted herbal and floral syrups at its creatively earthy store. Their artisanal syrups combine Lemon-Cardamom, Elderberry-Lavender and Rosehip-Hibiscus flavors. They also offer botanical teas and locally sourced body nectars. Known for the five-star Inn at Little Washington, the county offers other overnight accommodations — less pricey, but cozy and charming in their own ways. Gary Aichele, that very same quoted “local denizen,” happens to run the Gay Street Inn with his wife Wendy. The 1850s farmhouse, on the edge of Little Washington, offers Shenandoah Mountain views, a relaxing stay in beautifully appointed rooms and a hearty country breakfast. The front porch and serene gardens are the perfect spots for morning coffee or afternoon wine. Also in Little Washington, the Foster Harris House, an early-20th-century farmstead, offers high-end amenities and delicious private dining. One evening in 2004, Diane and John MacPherson decided the time was right to flee their corporate lives and open a business that combines their passions for food, wine, cycling and entertaining. The rooms are elegant and comfortable and dinner unites the elements that inspire chef John’s culinary muse: fruits and vegetables from the rich soil of Rappahannock County, surprising flavors, bold splashes of color and family traditions. With just one seating a night in the intimate dining room, the five-course, prix-fixe menu is available by reservation for $89 per person or $129 with wine pairings (tax and gratuity not included) every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Foster Harris House also offers two- or five-day Tours de Epicure, as much about good food and wine as they are about pedaling through the beautiful countryside. Just outside of town, surrounded by lush pastures with views to the Blue Ridge Mountains, sits the Middleton Inn. Built in 1840 by Middleton Miller, who designed and manufactured the Confederate uniform during the Civil War, the property is a classic country estate where your pet can be as comfortable as you are. Even though Rappahannock County has fewer than 7,000 inhabitants, it is home to two theaters. The arts are intricately woven into the texture of the community, thanks in part to RAAC (the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community). RAAC promotes a series of cultural programs throughout the year and supports the RAAC Community Theatre. May will feature playwright John Logan’s Tony Award-winning play “Red,” about egotistical genius Mark Rothko, the Abstract Impressionist painter. Just across the street is the intimate 213-seat Theatre at Washington, Virginia, presenting an eclectic mix of musical and dramatic performances, usually on weekends. This spring’s line-up includes Grammy Award-winning acoustic guitarist Laurence Juber (June 11) and flutist Emlyn Johnson in a celebration of the centennial of Shenandoah National Park (June 17). Listed by Trip Advisor as the number-one thing to do in Little Washington, R.H. Ballard Shop and Gallery is always stocked with unique and wonderful things to buy. The shop combines quality French textiles, great design, vintage finds and fine art. Robert Ballard, who runs the shop with his wife Joanie, is a painter who originally hails from San Francisco. He shows some of his own works in the gallery, as well as art by local, regional and nationally recognized artists. There is always plenty do see and do in Rappahannock County, and springtime is a most beautiful time of the year for exploring the county. Michelle Galler owns homes in Georgetown and in Washington, Virginia, and is a realtor and antiques dealer in both locales. [gallery ids="102222,130537,130532,130524,130517,130510,130562,130502,130550,130545,130556" nav="thumbs"]

World Away Weekend: Beyond the Inn

INNS AND B&BS The Middleton Inn 176 Main Street, Washington 540-675-2020 The Gay Street Inn 160 Gay Street Washington 540-316-9220 The White Moose Inn 291 Main Street, Washington 540-675-3207 The Loft at the Little Washington Spa 261 Main Street, Washington 540-675-1031 Hopkins Ordinary 47 Main Street, Sperryville 540-987-3383 The Foster Harris House 189 Main Street, Washington 540-674-3757 Glen Gordon Manor 1482 Zachary Taylor Highway, Huntly 540-636-6010 Inn at Mount Vernon 206 Mount Vernon Lane, Sperryville 540-987-3165 FOR THE HUNGRY AND THIRSTY Tula’s Off Main 311 Gay Street, Washington 540-675-2223 Thornton River Grille 3710 Sperryville Pike, Sperryville 540-987-8790 Foster Harris House 189 Main Street, Washington 540-675-3757 Flint Hill Public House 675 Zachary Taylor Highway, Flint Hill 540-675-1700 Griffin Tavern 659 Zachary Taylor Hwy, Flint Hill 540-675-3227 The Headmaster’s Pub 12018 Lee Highway, Sperryville 540-987-5008 Pen-Druid Brewery 7 River Lane, Sperryville 540-987-5064 Triple Oak Bakery 11692 Lee Highway, Sperryville 540-987-9122 24 Crows 650 Zachary Taylor Highway, Flint Hill 540-675-1111 [gallery ids="102223,130496" nav="thumbs"]