Fly Away Home: A Pigeon Story

We lovingly present to you a project we’ve been working on all summer.  Our outstanding intern Caitlin Selby wrote the screenplay and we shot and edited this very short historical documentary for you all!


  • Carla Diaz – Hostess
  • John Bynum – Chef
  • Kevin Brown – Waitrae
  • Kyle Belmont – Guest
  • Sara Lewis – Guest
  • Nick Brezinsky – Messenger
  • Dean Baudler – Deskie

Enjoy and let us know what you think!

2013 Photo Contest Winners

Thank you so much for everyone who submitted photos!  They were all great and we had a tough time deciding.


Landscape Category:

Don Loring

Don Loring

People Category:

Eila Shea

Eila Shea

Rephotography Category (original first):


Don Loring

Don Loring

Landscape (staff (emeritus) category):

Elizabeth Oshel

Elizabeth Oshel

The Oceanic’s Front Porch

1930s and 40s P1018.92 Front Porchporch postcard 001Everyone loves the front porch.  The rocking chairs, the breeze, the view- you just can’t beat it.  Since we just underwent such a large and amazing porch project, maybe someone wants to take one or both of these photographs, recreate them and then submit them in the rephotography category of our new photo contest!?… get your submissions in to this summer, winners announced September 3rd.

2013 Photo Contest & explaining Rephotography

12 original12 sepia

This year Vaughn Cottage is sponsoring a photo contest and you should all participate!  We have two groups of contestants who will be judged separately for the same three categories- Staff/Pelicans will be judged in one pool and Conferee/Guests will be judged in another.  You can enter for any of the following three subject areas, or enter them all!:




*So what’s rephotography anyway?  It is when you take an old photo and you try to recreate it exactly.  You stand in the same place the original was taken from, which is actually harder than you think it might be to get everything in the same place.  Some people make sure it’s the same time of year and the same lighting, but the main point is to see the differences of an area over time.  On Star we see buildings disappear and appear, we see rock turn to shrubs and all kinds of cool differences.  Above you see the chapel tower turn from wood to the one Oscar Laighton built of stone and you see more plants and shrubs cropping up over time.  Some people do cool things like merging old and new photos, and lots of other things, but we’re not looking for fancy stuff here, just the straight two photos are great!  If you choose to enter the rephotography category you can use any photo, but must submit both the old photo and the new photo, you can send a link to the photo, or a file.

If you’re looking for old photographs to use as inspiration for your rephotography, look at past blog posts or here:

Portsmouth Athenaeum

Library of Congress

New York Public Library

So though we focus a lot in this post on rephotography, you can enter any picture in the people or landscape categories- they don’t have to be related to any past photos!

All submissions go to: vaughn@starisland.

Fame and fortune (okay, just fame) could be yours!:

  • The winning photographs will be posted September 3, 2013 right here on the Vaughn blog.
  • We’ll also print and archive to winning photos into our museum collection!

More Bellhop pranks

I wrote a post about Bellhop pranks and I got a lot of comments that I should write up some of the other Bellhop pranks that have happened in the recent past.  Specifically of the year following the first post.  (Also if you want to catch up on all the pranks posts, here’s your chance)

Dave Reynolds, one of our pie victims, the year of the pie-ing

Dave Reynolds, one of our pie victims, the year of the pie-ing

I was hesitating on this one, because I had such a large role, I wasn’t sure I should write it up.  I was the bellhop supervisor and my bellhops and I, Janis Zirlen, Nora Mattingly, and Isaac Fitzgerald wanted the bellhop pranks night to be epic.  They definitely were.  In an effort to not make a long post longer, I will omit some of the pranks pulled.

We’ll start with one part that we didn’t think would be a big deal that turned bigger and then we’ll move to the big deal that got huge…. John French was on night crew and lived on the 4th floor of Gosport.  We thought it would be hilarious to tie all his clothes together and hang them out the window as if he were escaping.  Well they were out all night and got wet and little did we know he takes his clothes very seriously, actually.  So the next day all of our bed frames and mattresses disappeared, along with anyone’s beds who we might have been seeing.  They ended up being found in the attic by the salt water tanks.

Part 2: we had the bakery make us three whipped cream pies.  We decided to target the heads of engineering, the Island Engineer- Ben Fowler, the Facilities Manager- Dave Reynolds, and the Engineer Supervisor- Morgan Kennedy.  Long story short, we called them all into the lobby and pied them in the face.  They were shocked and awed.  Also, an accidental prank sidebar is that our clothes and their clothes were all thoroughly covered in whipped cream, so we put them in the pel laundry bins downstairs.  I guess we should have put a note on them or soaked them or something, because we left them too long, the milk must have curdled because our clothes smelled bad forever and the laundry staff was pissed.  Whoops.

The engineers soon decided to retaliate.  One by one the bellhops soon found themselves alone cornered and surrounded by Continue reading

Postcards and Annie loves cheese

Vaughn Cottage has an awesome post card collection, among some of them we have posted include pictures of Appledore’s swimming area and Star Island’s front lawn.  Last summer someone tried to send a postcard from Star Island, but it never arrived, because there was no address.  It hung around for a while, and I scanned it in because it was so cute:

Annie I like cheese

This one isn’t really in Vaughn’s collection, but I wanted to share it with you all.  I hope to see you on island this summer and if you plan to send a postcard, please double check that you put an address.

Back on Star!

This is my first week back on Star for this summer!  I’m busily opening up Vaughn which includes a lot of cleaning and moving around, and I’m starting to put together our new seasonal exhibits, and we have some exciting things in store for you!  

Here’s an idea of what we start with in the Spring, this is the library as I was opening up, (it already looks so much better!):



I can’t wait to see you out here this summer!  Unfortunately, that probably won’t be this weekend, as the Gosport Regatta was just postponed to September.  

new Pelican Garden blog!


The Pelican Garden on Star Island is beautiful, has an impressive yield and now has its own blog!  You can check it out here, An Island Garden.

You may recognize the name of Celia Thaxter’s book about her own Isles of Shoals Garden, published the year of her death in 1894.  You can purchase the volume online on Shops on Star, in our bookstore, or read it on island in the Vaughn Library. It describes her garden on Appledore in detail, how she dealt with pests, and is a charming memoir.

Don’t miss the About page for Pelican Garden history!

The Isles of Shoals was almost part of an Oil Refinery!

I had read a little bit about this part of our Isles of Shoals history, but it was greatly illuminated last week at ISHRA – Isles of Shoals History and Research Association‘s annual meeting at the Seacoast Science Center.


Dudley Dudley was the theme speaker, and was truly riveting.  She began and ended with personal parts of her story and the middle was fascinating and nail biting, even though we obviously knew Continue reading