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A Special Place Called 'Liberty Street'

A Special Place Called ‘Liberty Street’
8 votes, 4.88 avg. rating (95% score)

Have you ever decided to do something that for most of your life you’d never have even dreamed of doing?

The wraparound deck off the living room is the ideal place to view the sun setting over Meredith Bay.

Photo/Art by Sr. Judson D. Hale
The wraparound deck off the living room is the ideal place to view the sun setting over Meredith Bay.

I guess it’s time for a confession. Although I’ve never signed my name to any of the hundreds of “House for Sale” articles I’ve written and photographed for Yankee since 1958, I am the “Yankee Moseyer.” There. I’m finally “out”! Have I written all of them? Well, no–I occasionally had a “Guest Moseyer” during the 1990s. I’d surmise that I’ve done about 90 percent of them.

But there was one “House for Sale” article in all that time that never appeared on the pages of the magazine. I’d visited the property, interviewed the owners, and taken the photographs, but Yankee readers never saw any of it–and therein lies the beginning of my story for you this month.

“Hey, Jud! This is Paul Sweetnam. Remember me?” I was at my Yankee office. It was March 1971. And, yes, I remembered him. He had been one of my fraternity brothers at Dartmouth, class of 1955. “I have a ‘House for Sale’ story for you,” he said, and went on to explain that he and his wife, Fannie, were thinking of selling their house on the northwest point of one of Lake Winnipesaukee’s largest islands, Sleepers Island. “You gotta come see it,” he said. It so happened that I needed to find a property to feature in our September 1971 issue, so I went right ahead and accepted his invitation. We’d meet a week or so after ice-out at Gilford Marina in Gilford, New Hampshire, where Paul kept his boat.

My wife, Sally (we’re celebrating our 56th anniversary this summer), and the oldest of our three boys, “J.D.,” then 11, were with me that spring Saturday a month and a half later as we headed for Gilford. Coming over the crest of the hill on the Laconia Bypass (Routes 3 and 11) before heading down toward the Laconia airport, we had our first view of Lake Winnipesaukee spreading out before us, filled with its myriad islands, points, and coves. In the distance we even spotted a snow-capped Mount Washington. Of course we didn’t know it at the time, but this would be a view we’d always look forward to seeing every summer Friday evening for the next 43 years.

Sun setting over Meredith Bay.

Photo/Art by Sr. Judson D. Hale
Sun setting over Meredith Bay.

The trip out to Sleepers Island in Paul’s bright-red 18-foot outboard didn’t take long–maybe 15 minutes. My only recollection of that short voyage was being instantly thrilled to be out there on that huge expanse of lake, which, after a long winter and ice-out the week before, seemed to me to be just waking up. But I had to keep in mind that for me this was a working trip. I’d need to interview Paul and Fannie and take lots of photographs (black-and-white back then). All of this I proceeded to begin doing as soon as we’d tied up at the dock (far bigger than anything allowed these days) on the northwest point of Sleepers Island and climbed the short path (later to be a wooden walkway) up to the house. It was a large triple A-frame structure with decks on all sides, built in 1965, and surrounded by the tallest, straightest pines, which, 300 years ago, could have been selected for the king’s Royal Navy.

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5 Responses to A Special Place Called ‘Liberty Street’

  1. Kathleen Conner July 13, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    What a moving story about the life of a lovely family. The life of a summer home and the love shared there. It was the sharing of a glorious life lived by a blessed few. Thank You for sharing the dream with so many who may otherwise have completely missed out. I wish I could go spend a few weeks at “Liberty Street” myself this summer.

  2. ann scourtes July 13, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    very nice story

  3. Sarah West Coast July 19, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    This is a lovely story. My family parted with our summer memory-laden lakeside house in Maine years ago, though all of us remember it so fondly. It was part of the inspiration for my husband and me to buy a small waterfront cottage in Westport Mass., so we could make wonderful memories for our kids. Now that we live on the West Coast and the children are growing and heading off to summer camps and travel, it’s too hard to maintain, so we have decided to sell. But, as the author writes, a part of us will always be there.

  4. Chuck Owen July 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    I know your property quite well as I am good friends with 2 of your neighbors, the Gowland’s and Leach’s. Mark has been a long time friend and similar to yourself, a boyz weekend on Father’s Day is always had. As with you, a little work but, more socializing. Through my work at the Boston Globe, I came to know Cindy, J.D. wife. In a few conversations with her, we revealed a common interest, Sleepers Island.
    It made me sad to hear earlier this summer that you were selling the property, it makes me sadder reading such a great story. Whenever I fish around the point ( I’ve caught a lot of smallmouth just off your property ) I will think of this story and think of the good fortune my friends have been able to share in Sleeper’s. The most beautiful sun sets around!
    Be well.

  5. Denise Gonyer July 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    What a great story! A real tear jerker…You are have been so fortunate to make these memories to cherish forever and ever. You, your family and friends have been truly blessed. It is so great to hear this story..the island life is so different than the inland life. Thanks for sharing this great story of our beautiful lake! Gilford’s Town Clerk, Denise Gonyer

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