2000 Annual General Meeting, Oct. 13-15, Boston, MA, USA

Theme: “Pride and Prejudice: Past, Present, Future”

Touring Boston

The Massachusetts Chapter of JASNA is planning a variety of optional tours to introduce you to today’s Boston, as well as to the Boston of Jane Austen’s contemporaries.  Boston and its environs contain a wealth of history, with the Federal period (America’s version of England’s Regency era) well represented in architecture and museums.

The tours will be run by Hawthorne tours and you should make reservations directly with them for the tours you would like:

Hawthorne Tours 
57 Wharf Street
Salem, MA 01970 
Phone: 800 287 5744

They offer a selection of tours from Thursday, October 12 through Tuesday, October 17, 2000.  Not every tour will be offered every day.  As usual, information on tours will be included in your JASNA AGM registration packet, and advance registration will be required.  All tours will be subject to cancellation due to insufficient advance reservations.

Dubbed “America’s walking city”™ by its Convention and Visitors Bureau, Boston’s compact downtown area juxtaposes modern centers of commerce with well-known historic sites.  Even if you are not “a great walker” like Elizabeth Bennet, you will want to explore all or some of the three-mile Freedom Trail (http://www.cityofboston.gov/freedomtrail/), either on your own or with a National Park Service guide.  The Freedom Trail connects buildings and locations (such as Faneuil Hall and the Boston Massacre site) related to the American struggle for independence.  Sites along the Freedom Trail will also be seen in a bus tour of “Nautical Boston” that will include the visit to the U.S.S. Constitution (http://www.USSconstitution.navy.mil) and its Museum (http://www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org).

Tired of walking?  Then climb aboard a military-surplus amphibious vehicle for the Boston Duck Tour (http://www.bostonducktours.com/)! This ninety-minute ride provides an entertaining overview of contemporary Boston – then splashes into the Charles River for a unique view of the city’s skyline.  (Be prepared to “quack” on command!)

For a more sedate experience, visit the &lquo;house in town” of wealthy Bostonians: the richly furnished Harrison Gray Otis House (http://www.spnea.org/visit/homes/otis.htm).  Mrs. Otis, we are happy to report, was a devoted reader of Austen’s novels.  Follow this with a walking tour of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood.  Your guide, from the renowned Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA), will explain how surprisingly little the area has changed since 1810.  Later, take tea amid the splendors of Gore Place (http://www.goreplace.org), the Boston area’s answer to Pemberley.  This elegant 1806 country estate was designed for Massachusetts politician Christopher Gore in imitation of the great houses he and his wife had seen during their diplomatic service in Europe.

Think of Captain Wentworth, Admiral Croft, and their contemporaries when you visit the U.S.S. Constitution, the oldest (1797) commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy.  Berthed in the historic Charlestown neighborhood, “Old Ironsides” will interest even those who don’t share Anne Elliot’s detailed knowledge of the Navy List.

Continue the nautical theme with a day in nearby Salem, Massachusetts, home of the Salem Maritime National Historic District (http://www.nps.gov/sama/).  This 9.5-acre waterfront includes wharves, warehouses, and homes of late 18th and early 19th century merchants. Tour the 1819 Custom House and shop for souvenirs at the West India Goods Store (its merchandise includes Jane Austen’s favorite cup-and-ball game!).  Visit Friendship, a full-scale reproduction of a 1797 East Indiaman merchant vessel. Don't miss the Peabody-Essex Museum, founded by Salem sea captains in 1799 to preserve the art treasures of their foreign voyages (the New York Times calls it “a cross-cultural marvel”).  Your day will include a tour of Hamilton Hall, site of the Salem Assembly Balls from 1807 until (believe it or not!) 1980.  Finally, enjoy a stroll through the Samuel McIntire Historic District, named for the Federal-era architect and woodcarver (1757-1811) who left his elegant mark on Salem.  British mystery writer P.D. James described his Chestnut Street as “one of the most beautiful streets in America, one in which every house is a delight.”

Fans of American literature will not want to miss the House of Seven Gables (http://www.7gables.org/) and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace in Salem.  The Boston area is also home to the Literary Trail (http://www.lit-trail.org) of historic sites – from the oldest municipal free library in the nation, the Boston Public Library  – to Cambridge, home of Harvard University and of Longfellow – to Concord, home of Thoreau, Emerson, and the Alcotts.

Ready to venture farther afield?  Old Sturbridge Village (http://www.osv.org)., an hour and fifteen minutes from Boston, is New England’s own version of Meryton.  With 40 restored buildings on more than 200 acres, Old Sturbridge recreates the rural technologies and peaceful village life of the early 19th century.  Demonstrations of the varied activities of daily existence – everything from “Rumford oven” cooking to needlework, from weaving to blacksmithing  – evoke a world familiar to Jane Austen.  Perhaps you will imagine yourself an American cousin of the Bennet girls as you stroll rural footpaths on your way to evaluate gloves and bonnets at the village shops.

Those who are nostalgic for a more recent era of history will enjoy the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum (http://www.jfklibrary.org/).  A dramatic waterfront structure designed by I.M. Pei, the Kennedy Library contains multimedia exhibits celebrating the second of Boston’s famous political dynasties.  The first political dynasty of Massachusetts is commemorated in nearby Quincy, at the Adams National Historic Site.  Quincy, the birthplace and home of two presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, can be visited by AGM attendees on their own.

Attendees at the JASNA 2000 Annual General Meeting will have the good fortune to be in Boston during the height of the autumn foliage season.  If you have never seen New England’s justly famous fall color, you owe it to yourself to add a Fall Foliage Tour of New England to your itinerary.  In fact, with so much to see and to do in the Boston area, the 2000 Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America may be just the perfect centerpiece for a memorable family vacation.

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