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

Pipes – Close, but no cigar

If you have ever seen an old clay pipe, you may (or may not have) been curious about other pipes of the sort, and how they became such a trend in our history. What did some of their decorations mean, and who smoked them? In the film National Treasure, actor Nicholas Cage discovers an old clay pipe with the carving of an intricate ship on the base of the pipe. Spoiler alert…we then discover that also on this pipe is a secret inscription which leads the treasure hunters on another journey to discover the priceless treasures of world history. Now, unfortunately, not all pipes are that exciting and hold the key to invaluable historic artifacts. Sorry to get your hopes up. Though, here on Star Island, we have unearthed many full pipes and even more bits and pieces of pipes that were used by the people who used to live on the islands.

The women and children even smoked pipes out here! A poem from the historic account Gosport Remembered, entitled “A Woman From Star Island. Isles of Shoals, 1844” tells of the pipe-smoking women of the shoals:

“Over the embers she sits,

Close at the edge of the grave,

With her hollow eyes like pits, and her mouth like a sunken cave.

Her short black pipe held tight 

Her withered lips between,

She rocks in the flickering light

Her figure bent and lean…”

To the rest of the world, these little pipe pieces might seem pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But to us lovers of the island history, they are tangible proof of the kind of life that the early Shoalers lived. Needless to say, they are pretty significant in our book. Take a look and see for yourself!


Check out these cool clay pipes by Dawnmist Studio!

Have you ever seen any cool old pipes? Tell us about it!

Celia’s Parlor

Celia's parlorDo you know what room this is??

This is Celia Thaxter’s parlor! In here, she would do a lot of her writing and painting. Can you find her writing desk? It seems almost hidden amongst all of the lavish decor. And what about the walls? Almost every inch is covered with photographs, paintings, and anything else Celia wanted to display–even works created by her elite New England friends! Can you imagine trying to focus and do work in a room with so much going on around you? I would definitely get distracted. However, it wasn’t just Celia who enjoyed a what we might call “cluttered” work space. In fact, Continue reading

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!