is an interview series to highlight and celebrate Essex Heritage’s diverse community of partners and supporters. This fall we asked Matthew Phillion, a local photographer (check out 16 Degrees Studios) who has taken awesome photos for us at Trails & Sails events for the past two years, to share his view of Essex Heritage and why he loves the Essex National Heritage Area. Interviewed October 2015.
Are you an Essex National Heritage Area (Essex County) native? If not, when and why did you move here?
I'm a Massachusetts native but I'm a Middlesex County boy (born in Somerville and grew up in Melrose). I moved to Salem when I started working at the Beverly Citizen newspaper after college. I've moved away once or twice, but I always keep coming back to Essex County. I now own a home in Salem.
What do you find most inspiring about the Essex National Heritage Area?
The history. I jog, and one of my favorite parts of living in the area is passing historical sites on my route. It's surreal to see the juxtaposition of the modern and the historical every day here.
What is your favorite place in the Essex National Heritage Area?
I can't say I have a favorite, but the place I find myself going to most often is Halibut Point in Rockport. Between the quiet of the trail and the way the rocky ground mets the ocean, it's a beautiful spot.
When did you first become involved with Essex Heritage?
I've taken photos for Trails & Sails the past two years. Every event is inspiring.
What is your most memorable Essex Heritage moment, event, or program?
I never know quite what to expect when I walk into an event or program to photograph, so they're always fun, but arriving early to a tour at the Cape Pond Ice House during the 2014 Trails & Sails event and having the chance to walk around before the tour started was pretty unforgettable. I'm not exaggerating when I say I've never looked at ice the same way since then.
Essex Heritage is important to me because…
Because we need to know where we've been. Because we live in a place where history isn't just alive but it's embedded all around us and because it's there every day it's sometimes easy to take it for granted. Anything we can do to remind us just how special where we live is I find incredibly important.
Essex Heritage is important to our region, our state, or our nation because…
For some of the same reasons I find it personally important. Because the more we can preserve and maintain the resources we have in our area the better. We're unique in how many of these locations, whether historical or open space, we have access to in the region.
Help us continue to connect people and the places that make our heritage. Become an Essex Heritage Member.