•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Friday, June 19, 2009

Entering Lunenburg


PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: The only road out of Blue Rocks eventually leads along Pelham Street through the middle of Lunenburg. The intersection of Pelham and King Street seems to be the commercial center of the city and a vital counterpoise to the shipyards and harbor. Once a center of ship building and home to a large fishing fleet, the activity is much diminished though not gone. At one point while I was there, three large tall ships were anchored in the harbor.

Time has settled on these two communities so as to open a particularly wide window on the past. While encouraging tourism and promoting its history on many public signboards, Lunenburg has kept honky-tonk to a minimum and the architecture is largely preserved. It's an architecture enriched by the community's ship building history. Has anyone studied this phenomenon along the coast of Maine and Nova Scotia, the degree to which the cross-fertilaztion of shipbuilding and home building enriched the inventiveness and fantasy of domestic architecture? Blue rocks is arguably even more fanciful though cobbled together with little craft.

One could spend weeks photographing details in either place, but my bent is a more direct kind of time travel, trying to find a path along the streetscape between the here and now and the there and then. I had a special sense I was on that path as I came over the first hill into Lunenburg, that some hint of ancient commerce floated above Pelham Street that evening. I stopped at the next street for this photo. Perhaps I caught some hint of the ancient salt air.