Friday, November 12, 2010

Machester-by-the-Sea: Where the Beaches Sing

Everything you want to know about a town is in it's name, and Manchester-by-the-Sea is just that.  The town was founded as "Jeffrey's Creek" but was changed later on to Manchester.  It was around the mid-1800s when residents took a cue from railroad conductors and began referring to the town as "Manchester-by-the-Sea", since there seemed to be enough towns named Manchester.  The town name was officially changed in 1990 and all town documents and the town seal have the full official name.

The town's uniqueness doesn't stop with it's name.  There are three sites on The List and each one is as different and interesting as the next.

Our first stop was the famous Singing Beach, a place I've heard a lot about but never visited.  I have heard about singing beaches before but have never been to one so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Singing sand is sand that produces sound either by wind or by walking on it.  There are certain conditions that have to come together for sand to "sing": 1) the sand grains have to be round and between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in diameter, 2) the sand has to contain silica, and 3) the sand needs to be at a certain humidity.  The noise my be generated by friction between the grains or by the compression of air between them.  Alright, now with all that scientific aside, let me say that Singing Beach was a beautiful beach and having grown up and lived in Virginia Beach for 20 some odd years, I think I am qualified enough to know a good beach.  I heard it gets crowded in the summer and dogs are not allowed on the beach but since our visit was during the off season, the dogs were out in full force.  And yes, I was like a little kid walking on that sand since it was my first time on singing sand.  :)

Singing Beach at sunset

The Historic District of Manchester was a pretty relaxing walk through the center of town.  The historic district included the Trask House, the 1661 cemetery, the Tappan Cemetery, the First Parish Church and the library.  The Trask House is also the home of the town's historical society.  The two cemeteries were odd because they were directly next to each other, separated by a stone wall.  The Tappan Cemetery is the resting place of the Tappan Family, which I know nothing about.  The 1661 Cemetery is just an old cemetery from 1661.  Walking around and seeing these historic buildings is a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and the highways in the area.  This was a scenic seaside town and as soon as you park your car and take a look around, the relief and serenity seeps in.

Trask House--home to the Historical Society

1661 Cemetery

Tappan Family Cemetery

The two cemeteries right beside each other

First Parish Church

Public Library

Manchester-by-the-Sea Common

World War I Statue on the Common

For nature lovers who enjoy taking a nice walk around a lake and onto field next to the ocean there is Coolidge Reservation.  The reservation is located on Coolidge Point, a peninsula once owned by the Coolidge Family.  It was where the family's "Marble Palace" designed in 1902.  The mansion no longer exists but its foundation is traced by a marble line on the ocean lawn.  Walking the trails around the lake was peaceful and informative.  There are little black boxes with instructions where visitors can log in water level measurements using measuring poles that are placed in the lake.  You place the log sheet back into the block box to allow other visitors to do the same.  This was a great final stop in visiting Manchester-by-the-Sea.  Nice and relaxing.

The Ocean Lawn at Coolidge Point

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