Tour the Colonial Theatre, a jewel of Northern New Hampshire

We cherish The Colonial Theatre in nearby Bethlehem, New Hampshire. Nestled north of Franconia Notch, the historic Colonial is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theatres in the country. It opened for business July 1, 1915 featuring Cecil B. DeMille’s The Girl of The Golden West.

Today, it’s also a rich cultural center that is almost exclusively volunteer run. For locals, recent transplants, and visitors to the North Country, the Colonial hosts domestic and foreign films, live performances, film festivals, and children’s theatre workshops.

When you attend a live event, the theatre’s connection to the community is evident. In the summer, concertgoers linger out on the patio and catch up with old friends.

At movie showings, the popcorn is organic and freshly popped each night (with real melted butter), and you can doctor it up as you like. On chilly nights, or when you’d just like to get cozy while watching a movie, you can wrap yourself in one of our fleece blankets. Where else can you do that?

Main Street, Looking East, Behlehem, NH

In 2001, Friends of The Colonial was formed, with the goal of bringing the theatre into modern times. Since then they have upgraded to a digital projector and amazing sound system, and completed the first stage of significant renovations that will serve the theatre well into the future.

The project is in its final phase, and the theatre is inviting the community to help support the Arts in northern New Hampshire.

The Colonial Theatre is a treasure in northern New Hampshire, a rural area where cultural activities are limited. It’s a meeting place where friends and family can enjoy listening to live music or watching a film in a casual setting.

 

The Glad Fest: celebrating Pollyanna in Littleton, New Hampshire

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Dick and Debbie Alberini receive the annual Pollyanna Signature Award.

Dick and Debbie Alberini receive the annual Pollyanna Signature Award for their service to the community and spirit of positivity. Photo by Zachary Sar

Do you remember the classic children’s novel Pollyanna? Written in 1913, it’s the story of a young orphan with an optimistic outlook who, after losing her father, is sent to live with her stern aunt in a small New England town. Pollyanna’s cheerful personality and Glad Game win over everyone including, eventually, her aunt Polly.

Every year in June, the town of Littleton, New Hampshire (just up the road from our Franconia headquarters) celebrates Pollyanna Day.

Author Eleanor Hodgman Porter was born and raised in Littleton, moved to Boston to study music, and later wrote a series of novels including her most famous — Pollyanna.

The town in the novel bears a strong resemblance to her hometown, and Littleton residents happily commemorate Pollyanna, and Porter, every year. This year, to mark the day’s 15th anniversary, it was a weekend-long Glad Fest!

Here’s a glimpse into the weekend’s festivities, captured by our friend, photographer Zachary Sar.

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. A passerby accepts the piano's invitation to "Be Glad... Make Music".

A passerby accepts the piano’s invitation to “Be Glad… Make Music”. Littleton’s Main Street boasts a number of brightly colored pianos for impromptu performances. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Photos on the library lawn.

Commemorating the weekends festivities with photos on the library lawn. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. A candid moment with Pollyanna host Rebecca Colby.

A candid moment with Pollyanna host Rebecca Colby in front of the bronze Pollyanna statue at the Littleton Library. Photos by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. "Not Your Mother" providing live music.

Local band Not Your Mother providing live music during Friday night’s events. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Garnet Hill's own Jae Kim performing with "Not Your Mother".

Garnet Hill’s own Jae Kim performing with Not Your Mother. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. The Upstage Players entertain with a selection from Pollyanna, the Musical.

The Upstage Players entertain with a selection from Pollyanna, the Musical. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Members of the Upstage Players enjoying the festivities.

Members of the Upstage Players enjoying the festivities. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Young GladFest goers wore their favorite Pollyanna-style hats.

Young GladFest goers wore their favorite Pollyanna-style hats. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Taking a break in front of the Littleton Diner.

Taking a break in front of the Littleton Diner. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Everyone is feeling glad.

Everyone’s feeling glad! Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH.


Megan Cunningham, Miss White Mountains Region 2016 (left), Jere Eames (center), and Natalie Cartwright, Miss Littleton Area’s Outstanding Teen 2016 (right). Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Playing at the Riverwalk.


All smiles, playing at the Riverwalk. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. A local artisan demonstrates his wood-burning technique.


A local artisan demonstrates his wood-burning technique. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Taking in the day in true Pollyanna style.


Taking in the day in true Pollyanna style. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH.


Natalie Cartwright, Miss Littleton Area’s Outstanding Teen 2016, posing with a friend. Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. The Positively Pancakes Breakfast.


The Positively Pancakes Breakfast at the First Congregational Church was absolutely delicious! Photo by Zachary Sar

Pollyanna Day in Littleton, NH. Illustration by local artist Kaio Scott.

We loved this photo of Glad Fest Photographer Zachary Sar, as illustrated by local artist Kaio Scott, during the weekend’s festivities!

Zach, in his own words: “A small-time local photographer living in Littleton, always walking to capture the street life and dogs of Main Street.”

Maple sugaring at The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, NH

A horse-drawn wagon,
Bright blue tubing zigzagging from tree to tree,
The drip-drip-drip of sap falling into galvanized buckets,
Steam rising up from the sugarhouse as snow gently falls…

The Rocks Estate in Winter, Bethlehem, NH

Photo by Jason Tors

Maple sugaring is a time-honored tradition here in New England. It’s a sign that spring is on its way. To celebrate, we recently visited The Rocks Estate in nearby Bethlehem, New Hampshire for a little Maple Sugaring 101.

Collecting the sap requires the right conditions: warm days and chilly nights. And it takes 30-50 gallons of sap to create one gallon of maple syrup. Once the trees start to bud, the sap tastes different and the sugaring season is over.

Maple Syrup

Photo by Megan Bogdziewicz

We learned how to identify red maples (red buds at the end of the branches) and sugar maples (sharp needle-like buds), and how to responsibly tap trees. We identified a sugar maple in the tree line and used an auger to insert the tiny tap to get the sap flowing. When done correctly and placed in the right spot, the trees naturally fill in the hole after the season and it becomes almost invisible.

The sap didn’t taste like much directly from the tree, but we visited the steamy sugarhouse to see how it is boiled down into syrup and graded based on its color. After, we went back to the main building for a chef’s tasting and cooking demo from a local inn. Sweet and savory fritters with a touch of maple cranberry chutney — the end of a glorious maple-sugaring day.

The New Hampshire Maple Experience is offered in early springtime every year and The Rocks Estate is open all year long, offering various programs.

About The Rocks Estate

The heritage of The Rocks Estate reaches from the pastoral beauty of 1800s through the property’s modern-day role as a conservation and education center for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Now home to the 1,400-acre North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Forest Society, The Rocks was once the summer home of Chicago businessman and International Harvester cofounder John Jacob Glessner and his family. In 1978, John and Frances Glessner’s grandchildren donated the estate, including 22 buildings, to the Forest Society, with the requirement that there always be a crop in the field. For more than three decades, that crop has been Christmas trees. Today, the Forest Society offers a host of other activities, from springtime maple tours and school programs to various natural history talks and customized experiential tours for small groups. The trail system at The Rocks is open daily to visitors.

A local treasure: Tarrnation Flower Farm

Flowers at Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

The first thing spring brings to mind is flowers – perhaps because of our work with botanical prints.

Vanessa and Reggie Tarr - Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

In our neck of the north woods, this means a visit to our neighbors down the road, Tarrnation Flower Farm. The six-acre farm is a local treasure, with manicured gardens and iconic New England architecture.

Vanessa and Reggie Tarr, the daughter and father behind the blossoming business, were recently featured in Design New England (a Boston Globe publication).

Vanessa Tarr - Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Vanessa Tarr - Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Flowers at Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Tarrnation Flower Farm in Sugar Hill, NH

Photo by J.Harper Photography

Reggie, who has worked in landscape design for more than 30 years, bought six acres of farmland in 1997 and began planting vegetables and perennials in his spare time. It wasn’t until three years ago, with Vanessa’s encouragement, that they created a business together, solely growing and selling flowers and arrangements.

As Vanessa was raised running through the gardens, her passion for flowers was inevitable. Today you’ll find her in the barn putting together bouquets for the farm’s CSA, in the studio creating arrangements for weddings, or out in the garden side by side with her father, harvesting or planting.

Originally a veggie grower, Reggie maintains a self-taught approach to growing flowers. His neatly cultivated gardens and beautifully grown blooms say everything about form and function on the farm. The farm is his form of art, and he finds solace in getting his hands dirty planting seeds or weeding the gardens.

For more information (and more beautiful photos of flowers), please visit the Tarrnation Flower Farm website or follow them on Instagram at @tarrnationflowers.

Tarrnation Flower Farm is located at 96 Streeter Pond Road, Sugar Hill, NH. It is open from June to mid-October and Thanksgiving to Christmas, Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and by appointment (603-348-2223).

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Garnet Hill History

A Garnet Hill Story by Betty Moody,
Vice President of Garnet Hill Customer Service

All I wanted was to live in the mountains, to have a horse, and sleep in a brass bed under a beautiful quilt at the end of a happy day. It was 1981 and I was twenty-five years old. I wandered into Garnet Hill one day with an open mind. The place looked pretty. A winding brick path led through well-tended flowerbeds to a sturdy, new gambrel barn. Once inside I climbed a circular stairway to a loft where I met Pegge and Grant, the young founders of The Original Natural Fibers Catalog. Founded in 1976, the fledgling company was powered by a small troupe of spirited people. I knew I had found something very, very special.

The office was a splendid diversity of personalities. My first desk was an ironing board with one of three telephones, each with five lines. There were two new computers “upstairs,” and only one person who knew what to do with them. There was custom cherry paneling, a handmade cradle, chevron parquet floors, and a gorgeous full bathroom with hand-laid tiles. Everything and everyone was beautiful and unique, and it all worked.

On a typical day in the early ’80s, cigarette smoke swirled from a few desktops. The ching-ching we heard was the sweet sound of quarters (it was 25 cents for a catalog) dropping into a tin bucket as the mail was opened in the foyer. We loaded the woodstove, rocked the babies, answered the phones, and waited on people in our charming retail store. The bravest of us would zoom off with Grant in his Volkswagen Scirocco to the then Harrison Publishing Company on Route 117 in Sugar Hill. Here, we guided carefully layered queen flat sheets through giant German precision blades made to cut through tons of paper. Our efforts yielded the famous 1” X 3” flannel swatches that were lovingly stapled into each catalog we mailed.

Every customer received a hand-written thank-you note with their order. Electric typewriters banged out shipping labels. Classic and not-so-classic rock from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s blared from the basement, which was our inbound/outbound operations and occasionally open for auto repairs. Returns and refunds were negotiated based on the condition of the product. “Does your mother know you are returning her gift, and in such deplorable condition?” Reimbursement for shipping was by postage stamps mailed back to the customer. Credit-card charges were handwritten and phoned in for authorization. Most of us worked at least one other job outside of Garnet Hill. Our days were long, but reward in friendship and camaraderie was always high. We worked hard and played hard together. They say, “do what you love, and the money will come.” We stayed focused on people, and selling the things we loved, and we hoped other people would love our things too.

We mailed two catalogs a year, Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Flannel was our bastion with a queen sheet set at $63.50. We sold pure silk stockings and 100% cotton garter belts and nursing bras and pure wool peds and knee warmers and diaper covers. Customers’ body measurements were kept on file in our Rolodexes. Mrs. Atherton = 34-30-39 with inseam 31.5. Cashmina Tights size M. Prefers Black and Gray. We lived for customers, and for making lasting impressions with each and every one.

By early 1983, it is said we had $100K in the bank and we celebrated this milestone with many bottles of fine champagne. Some of the corks stayed in the ceiling of the third floor for years. With success came responsibility to people for jobs and for security, and to our customers for more and varied products. We needed plans, and investment in space and technology for growth. Our first cultural hiccup was in 1984, regarding full-time vs. part-time work. Some of us wanted more. Grant called a meeting and said (paraphrasing), “Work shouldn’t be anyone’s life. It should be balanced with fun.” The party was definitely not over. Hell, it was just the beginning!

Roles were defined and consultants were called in. We added staff, an art director, and a few real models. The town was a-buzz when news of “the Playboy Bunny” broke. Yes, a bunny and professional underwear model for Fall ’85. Our former family-album-style catalog was getting attention, and rave reviews in a small mail-order industry. We set to work adding new products, and our mailing list was growing exponentially.

Beyond our famous Slack English Flannel, some of our strongest vendors at the time were friends and Franconia College colleagues of Pegge and Grant. Gale River Sewing made our Dolman Nightgowns from bolt cloth from England. Judy and Nancy Wallace in Bethlehem owned Nanook, and sewed an extraordinary line of Children’s woolen outerwear; a two-piece red snowsuit comes to mind: pure wool, fully lined, with hand-embroidered snowflakes. Our own Tracy Storella made us infant and children’s flannel clothes, and an exquisite line of German Damask shower curtains, comforter covers, and bedskirts. Wendy McIntosh was our first drop-ship vendor, knitting us personalized wool Christmas stockings in Vermont. You can find her on Etsy today at etsy.com/people/TerrapinKnits. From Europe, we stocked Hanro and Calida from Switzerland, Italian linens, precious-fiber blankets, and cashmere-filled comforters from Germany. In 1986 we featured an Australian Drover Coat for $195, making headline news in the fashion realm. Other “newness” at the time was a set of Chinese embroidered placemats and napkins, four for $20.

Unbearable tragedy stopped us cold on Feb 1, 1985. The news spread quickly that a small, chartered plane coming from Montreal had crashed into Whitefield’s Cherry Mountain in a snowstorm. Pegge and Grant, along with the pilot and co-pilot, had perished. Our tight mountain community was stunned beyond words. We cried and held each other, and made heartbreaking phone calls to friends and vendors. We opened our arms and our doors to all who came to pay their respects to Pegge and Grant. We pledged to love their baby daughter, and to carry on their vision for Garnet Hill. Devastated, but with a mission to prevail, the spirited people engaged.

By 1986, GH was in the hands of New Hampshire owners who invested in technology, bringing in CWI order-entry software, and an 800 toll-free order line. These were exciting times, when ISPs were emerging and the Internet was being commercialized. Internally there were new positions, responsibilities, opportunities, and growth beyond our walls. We added a “phone room” on the third floor and by the end of 1990 had built and moved into a state-of-the-art warehouse in Bethlehem. Major renovations were ongoing at the main office, creating a spacious kitchen/dining room and a beautiful, open workspace for the merchants. By 1996, we had phone rooms on two floors and a booming business in Japan with full-time Japanese staff servicing calls until 2 a.m. EST.

Garnet Hill joined CBI in 1997. We packed up our warehouse, and watched our inventory hit the road in 18-wheelers bound for West Chester, Ohio. Operations would take on new meaning, and new and close relationships were to be formed with teams in NH and OH in the years to come.

In early 2000 GH won a prestigious award given by the New York Home Textiles Association for excellence in Customer Service. Twelve of us flew off to New York to attend the gala at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World, where I was honored to accept the award on behalf of the company. My acceptance speech was about change, and I referenced a tiny little book published in 1998 titled Who Moved My Cheese.

After months of hard work with a platform called BroadVision, we launched the Garnet Hill website (softly) in June of 2000. Successful, fearless, and eager for more, we went full steam ahead in late July and watched our online sales soar. Multichannel was a reality. We hadn’t given up the old electric mail opener yet, but with phone orders at 50% and Web demand increasing by the day, our world was changing dramatically.

Russ Gaitskill, our current president and CEO, joined Garnet Hill in 2001. His first day on the job was my 20th anniversary celebration, with an appropriate theme of “Three-Ring Circus.” Imagine the reception when we learned that the clown (in full costume) at the front of the line of well-wishers was none other than our new president! With vast experience in direct mail and business acumen, Russ has since navigated us through tremendous growth, and with highest regard for our roots and community. With a big heart and a green thumb, he has advanced us to this extraordinary time in our history.

Customer Service has always been a major artery in the complex physiology of Garnet Hill. It’s not surprising that the phrase “Change is good” has always been our mantra. We take great pride in our jobs, and in the winning attitude, knowledge, and agility that it takes to be the front line and the unseen face of a perpetually changing business. Social media, as multifaceted as it is, will never replace a reassuring voice to affirm and inform with kindness, truth, and humor. The industry calls them “contacts,” but they are our customers, and they are the reason we are all here. We will never take this for granted.

Someone once wisely advised that we should “face reality as it is, not as it was, or how you wish it to be.” Reality being truth, we are all inimitable pieces of this beautiful and complex tapestry of business and life called Garnet Hill. Tools and metrics have changed in my time here, the numbers have more zeros after them, and time management is no longer a matter of whether we should put the phones on hold and go skiing or finish ranking and marketing plans. We have evolved into a very big business with proportionate demands and challenges; yet the essence of Garnet Hill will always be the spirited people within these walls. I have walked into this barn thousands of times, always proud and thankful for the great history, values, and business culture that endure here, and I am ever inspired by the people, ideas, and systems that keep us moving forward. “Do what you love.”