I recently took an afternoon off from work and visited the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, NH. Have you ever been?
Located just off of 12A on Saint Gaudens Road, the National Historic Site features the home, gardens, and studios of prominent American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Saint-Gaudens lived in the home on the property, which he called “Aspet”, during the summers in the late 1800s, and later, year-round until his death in 1907. Aspet stood at the center of what was the Cornish Art Colony, a summer artists’ colony that gathered in Cornish and the surrounding areas from 1895 through World War I.
The estate became a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and was later acquired by the National Park Service and declared a National Historic Site. Currently, the property houses over 100 pieces of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s artwork in galleries and throughout the grounds. Saint-Gaudens sculpted a number of famous public monuments, including the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston, for example. Many of these works can be seen as reproductions at the property in Cornish.
To save myself from going too much into a history lesson here, I will say that if you pay a visit to Saint-Gaudens, I encourage you to take a free guided tour, or download their app for a self-guided tour, and watch the introductory video when you arrive to the visitor center. There is a really rich and interesting history behind the Saint-Gaudens Historic Site and its namesake sculptor, and it is worth learning during your visit.
When it comes to visiting Saint-Gaudens, there are a number of activities you could do while there. When you arrive, there is a $7.00 per person entrance fee (for those 16 or older). After that, you are free to explore the grounds at your leisure, or tag along on a guided tour of the art and the Aspet house (times listed here). The Picture Gallery building features changing exhibitions of contemporary art and is open for browsing too. There are several nature trails at the park as well (a map is available at the visitor center). During July and August, the park offers a summer concert series on Sundays from 2-4pm that is free with your paid entrance fee. Furthermore, a Sculptor in Residence teaches sculpture workshops on most Saturdays during the summer, which require a reservation and additional fee, and vary in sculpting-related topics. The park also features plenty of beautiful garden areas and wonderfully maintained lawns; perfect for a picnic lunch!
The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is open daily from Memorial Day weekend through October 31st, 9am-4:30pm. Although the buildings are closed in the wintertime, the park is usually open to visitors during the day. I’ve heard the grounds are great for cross-country skiing! If you’re planning a trip to Saint-Gaudens and want to save some cash, you’re in luck, because there are two upcoming Fee Free Days this year: Tuesday, August 25th and Saturday, September 26th. Now you have no excuses!