Maine and New Hampshire cathedrals
Fourth trip of 2022 (making up for two years of isolation) and visiting some of the cathedrals in New England. Cathedrals to the Glory of God already has most of those in Connecticut, and one of the two in Providence (albeit St John's had already closed). Now, with the recent Alaskan cruise and starting this trip in Maine, I've been to 2 of the 5 states I'd yet to visit!
The trip started in Portland, Maine. Due to a particularly tight connection at Washington National (aka Reagan), my large checked luggage didn't arrive until the following morning. My visits took me to the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St Luke and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. I started at the latter, but a funeral had just started, so I walked down the block to the closed St Paul's Anglican (TAC) Church and then went into the multi-purpose Jewish Museum, Synagogue/gallery. Besides the host of functions, they also offer space for reformed and conservative services. A bright, welcoming space, I enjoyed the art on display.
The funeral was still underway, so I drove into downtown to the Episcopal building.I found office on the opposite side of the greensward along the front entrance, and a young man, a new office admin took me into the nave and gave brief explanations.
Coming back into the office, he suggested that I meet the dean. After explaining my obsession, Dean Shambaugh insisted that we return to the nave, where he gave me a much more thorough tour. The separate chapel opposite the main altar was especially a highlight, as the wood paneling was impressive, as were the Stations of the Cross, made of lead and revealing what Christ had seen at each of the commemorated stops to Calvary. As I would discover throughout the trip, the reredos in the Episcopal cathedrals were stunningly intricate wood carvings.
Returning to Immaculate Conception, the main entrances were locked. I found the side chapel open, and took some pictures. Midday Mass was fast approaching, and I was informed I might be able to visit the nave afterwards. So a half-hour of ritual, and I was escorted into the cathedral proper. A large space, with a high vault, I was impressed by the elaborate and intricate cathedra, the bishop's throne. I was told that each of the large stained glass windows lining the side aisles were insured for a million dollars each, as they had been imported from Germany in the 20's. My guide made sure to point out a portrait photograph of the second bishop of Portland, who was the first African-American bishop!
Portland seemed to be a city of red brick - churches, homes and businesses seemed to all be constructed with bricks. Even the sidewalks downtown had bricks embedded into the concrete. Annoying to me as a photographer was the seemingly ever-present utility poles and lines, marring almost every exterior photograph. I had lunch downtown at one of the "dining for miles" pubs, which was so-so. I thought to head down to the seaport, but my meanderings took me over a bridge and onto one of the islands, which I then left and went to find my lodgings in the suburb of Westbrook.I tried for another "miles" restaurant in town, but didn't find it as it was (as I later determined at the front desk) located at the rear of the building, without any signage. So I opted instead for Frog & Turtle Gastro Pub. "Substance", an IPA from Bissell Brothers accompanied my "Tsunami" oven baked flatbread: bacon, chicken, roasted garlic, spinach, bleu and cheddar cheeses. I ate half, and passed what remained on to one of the several indigent grifters hanging out at the traffic intersection near the hotel.
The following morning I checked out and headed to Rochester, New Hampshire. Initially the Garmin and I had difficulties getting out of Westbrook, as a block on Main Street was closed for construction, and the detour signs got you away, without any eventual return.. Once Garmin stopped trying to get me to turn around, I rolled through scenic rolling hills, dense deciduous forests, across small streams or along reservoirs.
Eventually I got to Trinity Pro-Cathedral. A Traditional Anglican Church (TAC) parish, at first I was denied access to the interior. I had to stroll through a brief stretch of woods to find the parish priest, who was sitting on his deck working on his laptop. Once I explained my mission, he gladly walked me back and showed off his church. Apparently it had been granted pro-cathedral status when the previous pastor had been elected bishop, and he used Trinity as his cathedral seat. We discoursed on the activities of the Anglican Church in America, an umbrella organization of churches which split from the Episcopal church when women were first ordained.
Continuing on state roads that rolled up and down forest lined routes, I pulled up first to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Joseph.
The nave was locked up tightly, but I did find an open side chapel which I spent a few minutes photographing. I went to the office, and the sole staff there offered to give my phone number and request to the rector, who was due back in the late afternoon.
Perhaps 3 blocks away was Holy Trinity Cathedral, the seat for the Polish Catholic bishop. Construction tape and paraphernalia littered the entry steps, but after trying for someone in the office, I climbed under the tape and asked the lunching workmen if I might just take a few photos from the rear of the nave.
Heading out of downtown, over the hill that seems to delineate the start of the suburbs, I parked in front of St George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. After walking back and forth in front and alongside the building, a priest came out and invited me in. He had been replenishing the beeswax tapers, as a double funeral the day before had depleted his open stock. A 1960's building, the dome is punctuated with colored glass disks which admit sunlight into the nave. Father Wilson delighted in the massive candleabra which hangs from the center of the dome. This was perhaps the first orthodox dome I'd seen where the Alpha and Omega weren't displayed with a figure of Christ - the dome was unadorned. He gave me the coffee table book which contains photos and texts of all of the Greek Orthodox parishes in the Northeast.
With no breakfast or lunch, and approaching on 3pm, I headed back into town with the intention of getting a bite while waiting on a call from someone at St Joseph's. As I was driving up the street in front of the cathedral, a seminarian called and agreed to meet me minutes later in the parking area alongside the building. As he arrived, another vehicle pulled in and the rector joined us as we entered into the nave. St Joseph's is undergoing serious renovations to the interior - struts and beams are being painted and stenciled, the facings of the wall and ceiling are being refreshed. Scaffolding was sitting at the rear half of the nave, and clear plastic sheets covered the pews. Mass is still offered, but only on Sunday, with daily Mass in the chapel.
Deciding not to try to find the two additional Catholic churches that both recommended, I headed to Hampton and my lodgings for 2 nights. Taking a day away from the obsession, I was joined by my friend Bonnie who took me around to Portsmouth and her home town of Exeter.
During my "play day", we visited a few beaches and drove through Portsmouth. After lunch on the balcony of her flat, we strolled through Exeter, visiting a craft shop, a book store (3 used books for the cathedral library!) and a stroll through Phillips Exeter Academy grounds. Capping our day was a delightful tasting dinner at Otis, where we feasted like royalty.