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Historic NEW ENGLAND

PRESENTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR T H E P R E S E RVAT I O N O F NEW ENGLAND ANTIQUITIES FA L L 2 0 0 6

SARAH ORNE JEWETT AT HOME


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FROM THE PRESIDENT

Historic NEW ENGLAND Fall 2006 Vol. 7, No.2

Sarah Orne Jewett at Home 2

Rem Huygens

In this issue, we feature our historic sites and collections, beginning with an eloquent essay on Sarah Orne Jewett by her biographer, Paula Blanchard. Recent major donations to the Library and Archives of the archives of three contemporary architects demonstrate our continuing effort to preserve New England’s rich heritage. Historic New England also continues to grow its membership as we inaugurate a wonderful new preservation service and welcome a new museum to our roster of historic houses. Our new Historic Homeowner membership category, described in detail on page 25, serves those who cherish their own old houses and want to make informed and sensitive choices in maintaining them. Members have access to the expertise of Historic New England’s preservation staff through online consultations and special events. The program guides owners through conservation and renovation issues to help them preserve the distinctive features of their old houses, whether built in 1750 or 1950. In closing, I would like to welcome Harold J. Carroll as our new Chair of the Board of Trustees and to thank Janina Longtine for her admirable service. Hal, a partner in the Corporate Group, Gadsby Hannah LLP and an active Board member for many years, brings experience and commitment to the position.

Preserving the Present 13

S P OT L I G H T

1

Our Newest Old House 8

P R E S E RVAT I O N

Caring for Your Basket Collection M A K I N G F U N O F H I S TO RY

10

From Fiber to Cloth MUSEUM SHOP

—Carl R. Nold

24

Savings for Members LANDSCAPE

20

The Life Cycle of a Country Estate Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 (617) 227-3956 HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND magazine is a benefit of membership. To join Historic New England, please visit our website, HistoricNew England.org or call (617) 227-3957, ext.273. Comments? Please call Nancy Curtis, editor at (617) 227-3957, ext.235. Historic New England is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor Diane Viera

Editor Nancy Curtis

N E W S : N E W E N G L A N D & B E YO N D AC Q U I S I T I O N S

25

26

A Maine Island Inn

Design DeFrancis Carbone Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives.

COVER Sarah Orne Jewett at her desk in South Berwick.

By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University. bMS AM 1743.26(16) V I S I T U S O N L I N E AT

w w w. H i s t o r i c N ew E n g l a n d . o r g


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S P O T L I G H T

Our Newest

Old House

reat yourself to a stroll down Chestnut Street in Salem, Massachusetts, and you’ll quickly discover why noted English author P.D. James called it “one of the most beautiful streets in America.” Designated a National Historic Landmark within the city’s McIntire Historic District, Chestnut Street is also home to the Stephen Phillips House which, on May 1, became the thirty-sixth museum in Historic New England’s five-state network of historic sites. Rich with collections as diverse as Fiji throwing clubs, African woodcarvings, Native American pottery, early American furniture, and the family carriages and automobiles, the Phillips House provides fascinating insights into the lives of five generations of this prominent and well-traveled Salem family. Elegantly proportioned, the house fits perfectly with its neighboring Federal mansions. Step inside, however, and you’ll discover Federal details combined with the early twentieth-century decorative scheme of Anna and Stephen Willard Phillips, who purchased the property in 1911 and hired architect William Rantoul to remodel their new home in the fashionable Colonial Revival style. Following the death in 1971 of Anna and Stephen’s only child, also named Stephen, the home became a house museum in 1973, and has been welcoming visitors from around the world ever since. The Phillips family collection comprises more than 11,000 objects, including an impressive art collection—an etching of Venice by James McNeil Whistler, three watercolors by Frank Benson (who lived on Chestnut Street), and a watercolor painted in Rome by Maurice Prendergast. The archival collection encompasses photographs, books, and family and business papers, some dating as early as the 1700s. Behind the home, the nineteenth-century carriage house showcases the family’s array of personal vehicles, including three carriages, a sleigh, a 1929 Model A Ford phaeton, a 1924 seven-passenger Pierce-Arrow touring car, and a 1936 Pierce-Arrow limousine in original condition.

T

A Hawaiian flag flies above the entrance of the Phillips House, in honor of the birthplace of Stephen W. Phillips. BELOW Family portraits in the Phillips House library. ABOVE

Historic New England invites you to travel to Salem this fall and visit this fascinating home. The Phillips House is open through October 31, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are offered on the hour and half hour; last tour at 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.phillipsmuseum.org.

— Diane Viera Chief Operating Officer

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Sarah Orne Jewett

at Home

THIS PAGE Charles H.Woodbury (1864–1940) painted this watercolor of the front hall of the Jewett House to illustrate an 1893 special edition of Jewett’s first novel, Deephaven. FACING PAGE, ABOVE The prominent Jewett House overlooked the bustling town square. Just visible in the center stands the smaller house where Jewett grew up. BELOW A formal photograph of Jewett, c. 1880.


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Sarah Orne Jewett liked to say she was

made of “Berwick dust.”

S

he was born in South Berwick, Maine, in 1849 in Historic New England’s Sarah Orne Jewett House.

Her grandfather, Theodore Fuber Jewett, bought the house in 1819, moved in with his young wife, and lived there until his death in 1860, having outlived that wife and married three others after her. A sea captain, shipbuilder, and merchant, he became one of the leading citizens of the town, a trustee of Berwick Academy, and a member of the welcoming committee when the Marquis de Lafayette visited in 1825. Sarah’s father was one of Grandfather Jewett’s five sons by two wives. A talented physician, he had early hopes of a city practice. But by the time he finished his medical studies, three of his brothers had died, and he himself was

thought to be weak in the lungs. His father begged him (or perhaps ordered him—one has the feeling that begging was not in Captain Jewett’s nature) to remain in South Berwick and establish a practice there. And so he did, bringing to his father’s house his own young wife. In due course, babies arrived, and Captain Jewett decided that his son’s growing family needed a house of their own, so he built them one next door, with communicating yards—the house that is now the South Berwick Library. Sarah Orne Jewett believed that a house, if it is lived in by the same family for a long time, shapes its inhabitants as they in turn shape it: “One often hears of the influence of climate upon character; there is a strong influence of place; and the inanimate things which surround us indoors and out make us follow out in our lives their own silent characteristics. We unconsciously catch the tone of every house in which we live, and of every view of the outward, material world which grows familiar

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Around 1900, Elise Tyson photographed Sarah Orne Jewett peeking into the garden behind the Jewett House. ABOVE RIGHT Tyson’s photograph of Jewett’s bedroom shows photographs ABOVE LEFT

to us, and we are influenced by surroundings nearer and closer than the climate of the country which we inhabit.” Houses are important in Jewett’s stories; often a story would begin with a house she saw or visited, which she would then people with characters. She would grieve over a fine old house or a snug farm she saw abandoned—and in the Post-Civil War period there were many of them. She would try to find someone to adopt it, if only for the summer. Historic New England’s Hamilton House, also in South Berwick, was badly in need of repair when it went on the market in the late 1890s. It was a great pleasure to Sarah to be able to “find it a good home” with Emily Tyson. Sarah Orne Jewett’s character was influenced by two quite different houses, related so closely that the line between them was blurred under common grass and trees. One boldly commanded attention at the main intersection, as nearly aristocratic as New England democracy allowed; the other was a purely functional house of no pretensions whatever. One was generously proportioned and ornamented, with big square rooms full of light, its large front hall opening onto the public square in front and the private garden behind; the other was much more modest, a trifle pinched and dim in comparison, but a practical house for a working doctor and his family, its 4

Historic New England Fall 2006

of Jewett’s mother, her friend Annie Fields (center), her riding crops, and a painting by Sarah Wyman Whitman arranged over the fireplace. FACING PAGE, ABOVE A daguerreotype of ten-year-old

side porch a constant thoroughfare for townspeople looking for his care. One was a “residence,” the other a house for children to clatter around in, and for artisans and farmers to be comfortable with, as they were comfortable with the doctor who lived there. Dr. Jewett was a man whose unassuming personality belied his ability and status. A professor of obstetrics and diseases of women at Maine Medical School, consulting surgeon at Maine General Hospital in Portland, lecturer at Bowdoin Medical School, and president of the Maine Medical Society, he was known in his own town chiefly as a reliable family doctor who made his rounds with horse and buggy. His mild, attentive manner invited reticent New Englanders to trust him with their private griefs. He was, as one medical colleague observed, “above all an understander of men.” His gifts of intelligence, sympathetic understanding, and a modesty amounting almost to diffidence were passed on to his daughter, Sarah; they were as valuable to a writer as to a physician. Sarah, then, grew up in a family compound whose two houses expressed, to a remarkable degree, two prominent strains of her personality. In her father’s house, she was one of “the doctor’s girls,” a child who—on account of ill


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Sarah, taken at about the time when she used to accompany her doctor father on his rounds. BELOW Household staff member Katy holds Togo the cat, 1910.

health—was often allowed to skip school and accompany her father on his rounds. Like him, she was known to virtually everyone in town, as well as to the families of farmers in the countryside and fishermen and sailors along the coast. With her father, she was invited into the homes of judges and shipowners, widows and shopkeepers, schoolmasters and paupers. In farm kitchens, she was only a little girl like any other, petted or ignored as the case might be, free to observe the remarkable variety of lives that made up the social fabric of her community. Few occupations were more democratic or less class-ridden than a medical practice in a small Maine town. She and her sisters, Mary and Caroline, were also in regular attendance at the West Indian store, founded by her grandfather and carried on by their uncle William. Sited obliquely across the street from her grandfather’s house, the store was patronized by the townspeople as well as by country people, some of whom would drive many miles from isolated farms in the fall to stock up on supplies for the winter. A place for socializing and for catching up on town news, it was a prime source of miscellaneous information for eavesdropping children.

Presiding over her grandfather’s house in Sarah’s early childhood was Captain Jewett’s third wife, Mary Rice Jewett, a forbidding old lady of whom Sarah was very much in awe. When she was on her deathbed and the family went next door to pay their respects, Sarah (aged four) refused to go and remained huddled on the doorstep in the December cold, watching the lighted windows next door until her parents returned. Scared of her grandmother in life, she apparently wanted to be nowhere near her when she left this world. The indefatigable captain soon took a fourth wife; and this new grandmother, Elizabeth Sleeper Jewett, made the children welcome. As Sarah grew into her teens her grandmother became a friend and confidante; her second published story, “Mr. Bruce,” is based on an anecdote told by her grandmother. Both Jewett families were fond of entertaining and feasting. Guests included a multiplicity of cousins; a spectacularly eccentric New Hampshire Supreme Court justice; a politician and mill owner; and of course, retired sea captains and their wives, world travelers all. The feasting and airing of sheets were managed by Sarah’s mother and grandmother, though the real work was done by hired help. A succession of young Irish women worked in the household for a year or two until they made enough money to move to the city or return to Ireland. There was a good deal of play and shared work between the Jewett women and the women in the kitchen, and the girls grew up listening to folktales and idealized memories of the Irish countryside, until it was almost more familiar to their imaginations than their own country. Grandfather Jewett’s household depended on Hannah Driscoll, who lived with the family for at least twenty years. She was one of a vanishing species, a career housekeeper—an unmarried woman who more or less adopted a family and stayed with them most of her adult life. In Sarah Orne Jewett’s novels and stories, village housekeepers occupy a special niche and exercise considerable power in the family: Marilla in A Country Doctor is something of a domestic tyrant; Serena in Betty Leicester is a woman of emotional strength and good sense and helps Betty through a difficult time; and Hetty Downs, in the story “The Dulham Ladies,” protects the aging Dulham sisters from the harsh realities of modern life. The Jewett women joined whoever was in the kitchen in the seasonal tasks of jelly-making in summer and sausage-making in the winter. In midwinter, the family pig would be Fall 2006 Historic New England

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slaughtered and the meat consumed immediately or packed in barrels of snow. Extra roasts were given to families who had not yet killed their pigs, who were expected to return the favor. The Jewett sisters continued some form of the competitive sport of sausage-making as late as 1899, when Sarah teased her sister Mary about going “pigging” (that is, to buy a pig) on a raw-boned horse so as to “ensure a much more ‘near bargain’.” The Jewett houses, of course, had more space around them than they do today, with pastureland behind the barn and nearby hayfields and orchards where a young girl could roam by herself. Sarah was a solitary child by preference. She disliked school and book learning, and was always glad when illness (she suffered all her life from rheumatoid arthritis) gave her an excuse to play truant. She was never indoors when she could be outdoors, and what she loved best, aside from going with her father on his rounds, was to explore the woods and fields on her own. She would take a book along and settle down somewhere and read, her back against a fencepost or a tree. She fed small animals from her hand, collected butterflies, and came to know old trees as if they were distinguished citizens. In an 1891 letter to Annie Fields describing her discovery of a huge old hophornbeam tree, she seems as pleased as if she had been introduced to royalty. When she was very young she had selected retreats at home. She liked to sit under the big lilacs in her grandparents’ front yard, hidden from view, and look up at the sky through their leaves. The loft in her grandfather’s barn, piled with sails and other seagoing paraphernalia, was a favorite playground. Sylvia, in her story “The White Heron” and Nan, in A Country Doctor, both are drawn in part from Sarah’s childhood self. An expert horsewoman in adulthood, she went on exploring and discovering obscure roads and trails in South Berwick until a driving accident forced her to stop. Her companion on short drives was often John Tucker, stableman, friend and general factotum. His love of horses equaled that of the sisters—which is saying a great deal—and they regularly visited the barn and consulted with him over feeding, doctoring, and pasturing. He often appeared at the door during breakfast with the hint that there was some fine surf at Wells Beach, and it was a perfect day for a drive. The morning’s writing schedule could not withstand that kind of temptation. Both Sarah and Mary also drove long distances alone or in convoys with friends. A woman driving by herself clearly had nothing to fear, and at least two of Jewett’s stories (“The Green Bowl” and “The Landscape Chamber”) involve women on driving tours. The Jewett sisters were often away on visiting junkets, though one of them always had to stay home with their semiinvalid mother. Frequent train service made it easy to travel 6

Historic New England Fall 2006

The guest room, c. 1900, by Elise Tyson. When Sarah and Mary moved into Grandfather Jewett’s house in 1888, they kept much of the furniture he had bought in Portsmouth about seventy ABOVE

to Boston for an afternoon of shopping. So reliable was the mail service to Boston that the Jewett women, proud of their garden and especially of their prolific lilacs, would send boxes of flowers by mail to Sarah’s friend and companion Annie Fields in Boston, who would fill her house with them and share the overflow. In 1887, Grandfather Jewett’s house finally passed to Mary. The sisters and their mother immediately began extensive renovations to restore it to what they believed it had looked like early in the century, moving in in June 1888. Sarah lived there about half of every year and spent the balance of her time with Annie Fields. An established and prolific author by then, and having the physical and social grace that characterized all the Jewett women, she seemed perfectly suited to the house as if she had lived in it all her life. While Mary and Mrs. Jewett each took one of the larger bedrooms, Sarah chose a small bedroom next to the back stairs, overlooking the side yard and her old home. Outside the window was a huge elm, an old friend of Sarah’s from childhood. Its foliage must have shaded out a lot of sunlight, but it added to the sense of privacy, and she loved to look out into its branches. The room itself is set apart from the rest of


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years earlier, to give the rooms an old-fashioned look. ABOVE The Jewett sisters were both accomplished horsewomen. In this c. 1901 photograph, Mary is at the reins, while Sarah, in the background, sits

the house in time as well as location. Secluded, modest, and rather dim, it seems archaic, as if from an earlier time. We are told that Sarah’s writing desk was at the end of the spacious upper hall, next to the window where she could watch the comings and goings in the square. If that is true, she did her writing in a rather public place, at a major intersection, both indoors and out. That, too, is in character, for her stories were fed by the people she could see passing below. It is surprising how sociable she became as an adult, given her childhood love of solitude. The daily writing she did at that desk included hundreds of letters to friends. The months she spent with Annie Fields each year, in Boston or Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, were largely taken up with visiting or being visited. Very little work got done then, though she could deal with the reading of galleys. It was South Berwick that provided both the solitude and the human material she needed for writing. On her fifty-third birthday, in 1902, Sarah, Mary, and a friend went for a drive. Coming down a hill, the horse stumbled, and Sarah was thrown out of the buggy. She hit her head and probably cracked a vertebra. For several years she was plagued with racking headaches, dizziness, numbness in her fingers, and inability to concentrate. Nevertheless, she

with Emily Tyson, who had recently purchased the Hamilton House at Sarah’s urging.

recovered enough to continue enjoying the house and garden and friends until she suffered a stroke in the spring of 1909. She died in the house where she was born, leaving the lilacs green and all the chairs in their places, as she had said she hoped to do. She also left us nineteen books, one of which, The Country of the Pointed Firs, is an American masterpiece. Mary and their nephew, Theodore Eastman, in their turn left the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England. In spite of years and the imprint of thousands of feet on its old floors, the old house still has power to evoke, in Sarah’s words, “the strong influence of place” on the lives that were lived there. — Paula Blanchard

Paula Blanchard is the author of Sarah Orne Jewett: Her World and Her Work as well as biographies of Margaret Fuller and Emily Carr. This essay is abridged from a talk given in South Berwick in 1999.

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P R E S E R V A T I O N

Phot

o g ra p h

a s b y D av i d C a r m

ck

Caring

for your

W

hether your prized baskets are new or old, simple precautions can help keep them in good condition. Despite their origins as utilitarian objects made for everyday use, baskets can become brittle with age and are easily damaged by poor storage or display conditions. Handle your collection with care and with clean hands. Avoid lifting a basket by its handle; use both hands and support it at its base. The examples shown here were likely household items used by their original owners rather than part of a collection. Some were doubtless locally made for service use; others are probably Native American in origin. Native tribes produced a variety of decorated baskets for sale to tourists, which can be identified by characteristic weaving 8

Historic New England Fall 2006

basket collection

techniques, materials, patterns, and shapes. Northeast Indian baskets by tribes like the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy, for example, are traditionally made out of pounded ash splints or braided sweetgrass. Where you display your collection can make a big difference in how long it stays in good condition. Baskets, like most artifacts made of organic materials, benefit from low light and heat levels and moderate, consistent relative humidity. Avoid displaying them on windowsills and in other sunny locations. Some dyes used on basketry, whether natural or synthetic (including those used on applied porcupine quillwork), are among the most light-sensitive materials found in museum collections. Direct sunlight can also be hot, which will accelerate embrittlement; a temperature below 77 degrees F is recom-

mended. Likewise, keep your collection away from the kitchen’s greasy fumes and the bathroom’s high humidity. When storing your baskets, take care to protect them from light, dust, high temperatures, moisture, insects or rodents, and most importantly, from structural harm. Baskets should never be stacked inside one another or placed on top of each other. Baskets kept in damp storage for long periods can develop mildew discoloration, which is nearly impossible to restore. When you put a basket in storage, it is best to support it both inside and out. Stuff delicate baskets with acid-free tissue and place them in boxes with tissue or packing material around the outside to give them further support and protection. Dust is an inevitable problem in homes as well as museums. The appearance of your collection will be greatly


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improved by gentle dusting. Cover your vacuum cleaner nozzle with gauze or nylon screening attached with a rubber band or tape to prevent detached fibers or decorative elements from being sucked into the machine. With a soft to medium natural bristle brush, gently dislodge dust, directing it towards the vacuum nozzle and taking care not to scrub it deeper into the fibers. Cleaning the interior of an old, historic basket is a more delicate matter. If your basket may have been previously used and that history is important to the value of the piece, do not clean the inside. Traces of food, grain, or any other

material that may have been carried in the basket can provide important evidence of the basket’s previous life. For deeper cleaning where needed, dampen a white 100% cotton cloth (cotton diapers work well) or cotton swab very slightly with clean cold water and blot gently; then let the basket air dry completely. Test all colors (dyed areas) first in a small inconspicuous place to ensure there is no color transfer. Avoid any painted areas, as the paints may be water soluble or loosely bound. Never soak a basket in water, which can cause differential shrinkage and make the stitches pop and swell. As with dirt residues, some stains may hint at the previous use of the basket; oils, pigments, tide lines, and food residues may all add to the historic and monetary value of the object. These particles can be analyzed by experts to reveal the object’s hidden past.

In many cases, baskets were made to be flexible; however, age, embrittlement, or improper care can distort the original shape. Minor distortions can be improved by temporary humidification and reshaping. First, dust the basket as described above to avoid any penetration of dirt into the plant material. Place it in an airtight plastic bag slightly larger than the basket. Depending on the size of the basket, take one or two wet (but not dripping) sponges and spray them with Lysol to inhibit mold. Place them in the bag with the basket, taking care that they do not actually come in contact with it. Close the bag and wait approximately three hours or until the basket begins to feel more flexible—this is called conditioning. Be careful not to over saturate the atmosphere in the chamber; watch for condensation on the bag or the basket. Once the basket is conditioned, you can gently manipulate it into its correct shape and let it stand until the humidity gradually dissipates. Badly misshapen objects may need to be reshaped gradually. Begin blocking by gently inserting a stuffing of polyester wadding, balloons, bean/sand bags, crumpled tulle or whatever suits the particular shape and strength of the object. Return the basket to the humidity chamber, wait an hour or so, adjust the shape, then add more blocking. Continue in this manner until the basket has been eased back into its original form (or as close as you feel comfortable with). You can reshape the rim by lining it with thin cardboard or stiff blotter paper held in place with light

hair roller clips. Avoid using undue force on the object; it is better to live with a distortion than to risk damaging the piece. At this point, remove the sponges from the bag and leave it slightly open to allow the basketry fibers to gradually adjust to the humidity in the room. After an hour, remove the bag. Leave the blocking in place for several hours more to permit the swollen fibers to adjust slowly into their new position. If possible, use internal support even when the piece is on display to help it maintain its intended shape for years to come. The greatest impact you can have on your collection is not individual treatment but providing it with an overall safe environment. For more serious problems, including major deformation, splits and tears in the fibers, or for potential replacement of lost elements, contact a professional conservator. — Michaela Neiro Assistant Conservator

Acid-free tissue, archival boxes, cardboard, and other storage materials can be found at University Products. (800) 628-1912 (www.universityproducts.com)

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M A K I N G

F U N

O F

H I S T O R Y

For thousands of years, people have made fabric out of natural materials like cotton, wool, silk, and linen. The process of turning the raw material into thread or yarn so it can be woven into cloth is complicated and can take many steps. Let’s look at how early New Englanders turned a plant called flax into clothing and other household textiles.

Plant flax seeds

Linen Processing

• Harvest

Remove

seeds to plant next year

fully grown flax stems

Flax, illustrated in James Sowerby’s English Botany, 1804. Courtesy, Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library

Put flax in water to rot the bark

Beat flax to break and loosen the bark

Dry flax in the sun

do you know ? an you gues

C

s what this is?

This is a heckle, a tool used to prepare flax fibers so they can be spun into thread. You start with a hank of tangled flax fibers and pull it through the sharp spikes of a large heckle to comb out snarls and short fibers. Repeat this process with a medium and then a fine heckle. When the fibers are thoroughly combed, they are ready to be spun into thread on a spinning wheel. Fibers that are tangled or too short for spinning into fine linen thread are called “tow.” They can be used to scrub dishes or stuff pillows. Sometimes tow was made into cloth for sacks or for clothing for slaves or servants.



When flax is combed, the long smooth fibers look like blond hair . Girls with long blond hair we th short scruffy bl re sometimes described as “f Boys wi lax ond hair were called “tow heads.” en haired.”

10

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spinning

dyeing

All young girls in Colonial America had to learn how to spin. How much do you know about what it took to be a “spinster?”

People used to think that the Puritans and early New Englanders dressed only in somber blacks and grays, but actually they wore a variety of colors. They made bright blues, greens, and reds with the time-tested dyes that their European forbearers had used. All their dyes came from nature—the fermented leaves of indigo, lichens scraped from rocks, and even cochineal, which is made from the dried bodies of a tropical insect!

1. Wool fibers can range in length from two to six inches. How long do flax fibers get? 2. How many yards could an experienced spinner spin in a day? 3. Where and when was the spinning wheel invented?

To learn how to make your own natural dyes at home, visit www.HistoricNewEngland.org/ kids/dye

4. When did Colonial women turn spinning into a political protest? Answers for the quiz can be found on page 12.

• Scrape bark off with a wooden knife

Pull flax through

heckle, separating long fibers from waste matter

• Dye thread •

Weave thread into cloth for linens and clothing

Spin long fibers into thread

weaving  There are many patterns a weaver can make by simply varying the “over one” and “under one” sequence. This one is called “basketweave.” Color the vertical threads in one color and the horizontal ones another to really make the pattern stand out.

Find these details from the pictures in this magazine.

!

Challenge

Answers can be found on page 12. Fall 2006 Historic New England

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M A K I N G

F U N

O F

H I S T O R Y

Weaving on a Straw Loom Weaving is one of the oldest crafts in the world.There is great variety in types of weaving and kinds of tools—from complicated machinery to the simplest hand looms—but the basic principles are the same. The loom is strung with threads to make a warp, and fibers like wool, cotton, or linen, called the weft, are woven under and over the warp to create the fabric. You can make a simple loom with plastic straws to create a bracelet, headband, bookmark, or belt.The best thing about the straw loom is that you can take it anywhere and use it over and over again.

Materials: Three to five plastic soda straws Yarn Tape Scissors Large needle or piece of wire Cut the straws down to five inches in length. This is your loom. Cut a piece of yarn for each straw to make the warp. (The yarn lengths should be a bit longer than you want your final project to be; fourteen inches will be enough for a bookmark.) Thread a piece of yarn through each straw with a large needle or twisted piece of wire so that a half inch of yarn sticks out at one end, with the longer strands hanging out the other end. Fold over each short end of yarn and tape it to the straw. Gather the long strands of yarn together so that they are even and tie them together with a knot at the end. Now you are ready to weave. With another length of yarn, your weft, tie a knot around the middle of the first straw. Hold all the straws upright in your hand with your thumb in front (as if you were holding playing cards) and with your other hand, wrap the yarn over and under each straw, until you have used all of the weft yarn. Cut another piece (perhaps of a different color), tie a small knot to the end you have just fin12

Historic New England Fall 2006

ished weaving, and continue. As the weaving fills the straws, gently push it down to the strings, but always leave some yarn on the straws to keep the loom straight. When you have woven to the knot at the other end of your warp, cut or unwrap the tape and gently slide the straws off the warp yarn; make another overhand knot at that end to secure the weaving. Tuck in all the loose ends. —Kathleen Corcoran School and Youth Program Coordinator

Answers to quiz on page 11. 1. Up to three feet 2. Over 3,000 yards, which is enough to cross the length of a football field 30 times! 3. The first spinning wheel was invented in India over 1,000 years ago. 4. In the late 1760s, some Colonial women protested British taxes by boycotting cloth imported from England. They organized spinning bees and spun their own yarn for cloth. Answers to challenge puzzle on page 11. Top row: 22, 5, 26. Middle row: 21, 6, 20. Bottom row: 24,9, 25.


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Preserving the Present With the selection of architectural drawings and photographs presented on the following pages, Historic New England’s Library and Archives celebrates the gifts of three important and unique John Hagan

collections of architectural records.

R

ecently, prominent Boston architects Rem Huygens (now of Georgia), James McNeely, and Frederick A. (Tad) Stahl each made the decision to entrust Historic New England with the long-term stewardship of his professional archives. From its early years, Historic New England collected architectural drawings and related materials in an effort to document New England buildings and sites. Today, its nationally significant holdings of more than 20,000 drawings preserve on paper a record of a large number of New England buildings of all types. The collection is a primary resource for anyone interested in the architectural history of the region or a specific building or the work of a particular architect. The archives of Rem Huygens, James McNeely, and Tad Stahl now join the work of more than four hundred other architects practicing from the late eighteenth century to the present, including Samuel McIntire, Asher Benjamin, Edward Shaw, Gridley J.F. Bryant, Little and Browne, A.W. Longfellow, Peabody and Stearns, McKim, Mead, and White, Ogden Codman, Jr., Frank Chouteau Brown, Eleanor Raymond, and Walter Gropius, as well as lesser-known practitioners. The collections of Huygens, McNeely, and Stahl not only provide important insights and information about the work of their creators, but they also significantly strengthen Historic New England’s ability to document the material culture of New England in the last third of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

Monika Pauli

— Lorna Condon Curator of Library and Archives Fall 2006 Historic New England

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“The artistic act is always one of great precision.”

REM HUYGENS, FAIA Born and educated in the Netherlands, Rem Huygens came to the United States to work with Marcel Breuer, opening his own practice in New England in 1958. More than five hundred of his projects have been built here and abroad. His work has received numerous awards and been published worldwide. “Architecture is the art of building well. Indigenous artisans have long been able to make buildings of beauty and integrity because they followed strict rules governing structure, form, proportion, detail, color, and ornament. We may have forgotten that rules have to be understood before they can be broken to advantage. Architecture deserving of its name will always search for the nature of the thing at hand, and so be modern. It will find expression in the most fitting, direct, and articulate manner. It is good to remember that the word ‘radical’ suggests searching for the root of a thing. The commitment to build well will tax all one’s resources. Therefore, as Joseph Conrad said, ‘work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line.’” Nick Wheeler 14

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LEFT Tregurtha house, Darien, Connecticut BELOW Hazard ski house, Franconia, New Hampshire BOTTOM RIGHT Mauran house, Providence, Rhode Island. Exterior view appears on inside front cover.

FACING PAGE Building 149, Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts BELOW, TOP Harwood house, Essex, Connecticut BELOW, CENTER Grieco house, Rockport, Massachusetts BELOW, BOTTOM Beinecke house,Williamstown, Massachusetts Renderings by Rem Huygens

Patz-Lisanti, Inc.

Steve Rosenthal Fall 2006 Historic New England

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“I have pursued my career with the greatest pleasure and good humor.”

Eric Roth

JAMES MCNEELY, AIA Jim McNeely was educated at Yale and came to Boston as project architect for a community mental health center designed by Paul Rudolph. In 1974, he founded his firm, now McNeely & Pauli Architects. Ninety percent of the firm’s work is on Beacon Hill or in the Back Bay. “Architectural design is the means to an end. My career has been focused on my neighborhood. Soon after I moved to Beacon Hill, SPNEA nominated me for the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission. The neighborhood was changing and I predicted that this urban jewel would lure families back to the city from the suburbs. I imagined that a practice could be built around these demographics. I co-developed the first purposebuilt condominiums in Boston. I transformed Temple Street into a landscaped pedestrian way. Our firm designed a basketball court under Cambridge Street, enlarged squash courts at the Union Boat Club, and redesigned the local firehouse into a community center. We have renovated two hundred houses, most for single families. I have pursued my career with the greatest pleasure and good humor.” Eric Roth 16

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McNeely house, South Freeport, Maine Temple Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, laid out in 1737, redesigned 1979

FACING PAGE BELOW

William Owens LEFT Louisburg Square and Pinckney Street, Beacon Hill, Boston TOP RIGHT Suffolk University Ridgeway Building, Boston RIGHT Beacon Hill interior, Boston BELOW View along Hancock Street showing the Ridgeway Building with an underground basketball court and Historic New England’s headquarters, Beacon Hill, Boston Renderings by Monika Pauli

Cervin Robinson

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“Architecture of integrity and fidelity to universal principles, with contemporary relevance”

FREDERICK A. (TAD) STAHL, FAIA Tad Stahl studied at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, and received his Masters in Architecture at MIT. He was Principal at Stahl Associates Inc., 1961–99 (inactive 1976–1982); President of Perry Dean Stahl & Rogers, 1976–82; and since 1999 has been Executive Architect, Burt Hill. “My work is based on respect for the principles of geometry and the laws of physics. I am a modernist and rationalist, convinced that the superficial appearances of objects are manifestations of intrinsic order. In each project, I try to develop systems of relationship in accordance with universal principles. To me, all architecture is a unified field. ‘Historic’ buildings were contemporary in their own time. Periods and styles should not distract us from dispassionate examination of their underlying order. I favor buildings that employ only the means necessary to demonstrate their intrinsic logic. Successful design conveys a strong sense of inevitability and indulges in nothing arbitrary; complexity consists in further refinement of the central thematic lines and relationships, as in music. Harmonies, counterpoints, and rhythmic figures, grounded in universal principles, are the source of energy and delight.” Phokion Karas 18

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141 Tremont Street, Boston FACING PAGE State Street Bank Building, Boston THIS PAGE, TOP LEFT Old City Hall, Boston RIGHT Oriental Tea Company, Boston BELOW Park Street Ministries Building BELOW, RIGHT Depiction of Faneuil Hall Marketplace with pair of original, no longer extant Alexander Parris buildings. Renderings by John Hagan FACING PAGE, ABOVE BELOW

Phokion Karas

Phokion Karas Fall 2006 Historic New England

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L A N D S C A P E

The Life Cycle

of a Country Estate

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he Lyman Estate, The Vale, in Waltham, Massachusetts, although much diminished from its original historic farm acreage, is surrounded by a landscape that is a rare example of late eighteenth-century American garden design, fashioned after the great park-like settings of English aristocratic country homes. For over four generations, the prominent Lyman family of Boston cultivated and maintained this property. The outbuildings, including greenhouses and a serpentine brick peach wall, all date back to the Federal era. The survival of buildings and landscape from this early period is nothing short of extraordinary, given their location near what was to become an industrial area and in what is now a densely settled suburb. The evolution of the estate—through growth, redefinition, maintenance, and ultimately, divestiture— echoes similar stories of other large family-owned estates facing suburban transformation during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Vale was built during the years after the Revolutionary War, when Waltham was still a small agricultural town. 20

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Theodore Lyman (1753–1839), the family patriarch who made the original purchase, belonged to the prosperous class of urban-based New England merchants, many of whom channeled their wealth into the construction of elaborate homes as pastoral retreats. In the longstanding tradition of the “ferme ornée,” these expansive properties typically combined a mansion and pleasure gardens with working farmland. After purchasing his first 150-acre farm in Waltham in 1793, Theodore went on to acquire several other neighboring properties, establishing a pattern of large-scale land acquisition that continued through the next generation. By the time he died in 1839, the estate constituted 379 acres. His eldest son, George W. Lyman (1786–1880), with significant resources of his own, purchased even more land, until the acreage of The Vale reached its peak size of four hundred acres in the 1870s. As a Waltham landowner during the mid-nineteenth century, George faced challenges that were fundamentally different from those of the preceding generation. Waltham’s strategic location along the great county road leading to Boston, straddling the Charles River, led to the town’s transformation


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FACING PAGE This oil sketch of The Vale, c. 1820–1830, 1820– 1830,offers offers clues clues to to its its early early environs, including the First Parish Meeting House (at left) and the farmhouse (at lower right). During its initial phase of growth, the estate expanded to include these and other neighboring properties. THIS PAGE In his handwritten notes on this early surveyor’s plan of Waltham, dated 1822, Theodore Lyman offers to build a new public road from the town to the First Parish, replacing the historic way that previously crossed in front of the mansion: “I will give the land from the meeting house common to the county road, as far as my ground extends, build a good stone bridge and make and fence a handsome [durable?] road.” Historic New England Library and Archives.


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Courtesy, Waltham Public Library

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ABOVE LEFT The sturdy granite double-span bridge, presumed to have been financed by Theodore Lyman, remains in use today. ABOVE RIGHT “Bird’s Eye View of Waltham”, drawn by O.H. Bailey, c. 1875.

from an agricultural community to a pioneering industrial center. In 1813, the Boston Manufacturing Company opened a highly innovative water-powered textile mill in Waltham, and as more manufacturing and job seekers came to this location, the town grew steadily. In view of resulting encroachments upon The Vale, the Lyman family’s involvement in the textile industry is ironic: Theodore constructed the first dam at the future mill site (known at the time as Eden Vale) in 1785; George served as a treasurer of Boston Manufacturing’s direct successor, the Lowell Textile Mills; and family involvement in the textile business continued for generations. In the mid-nineteenth century, George entered into agreements with his neighbors over co-management of water resources and provisions for control over nearby residential development, which exemplify the changing concerns of large estate ownership at that time. In response to nearby physical changes—the expanding road system and the establishment in 1843 of Waltham’s first rail service—George redefined the property’s perimeters to assure greater control over privacy, access, and natural resources. He consolidated the property, redefined its land use (selling off farm land to the east), and reoriented the estate’s physical layout around three nearby family residences, which he built for his grown children. This 22

Historic New England Fall 2006

At the upper left, The Vale’s main farm complex and the several family residences are visible, not far from the industrial smokestacks and the rapidly expanding settlement of Waltham.

led to a gradual shift from predominantly agricultural land use to seasonal residential and recreational use. In 1881, shortly after George died, occurred the first and most drastic of “takings” from the estate by various public and private entities, which would forever alter the Lyman property. The Massachusetts Central Railroad built a new stretch of track through the middle of the estate’s historic farmland, in clear view of the mansion. From this point onwards, the property management strategies of George’s two successors, Arthur T. Lyman (1832–1915) and his son, Arthur Lyman, Jr. (1861–1933), focused on maintenance, and as much as possible, protecting farming as a disappearing way of life. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, the family had begun turning over parcels of the estate’s land to adult children. George Lyman bequeathed nearly one hundred acres to his two daughters, Sarah P. Sears and Lydia W. Paine, both of whom had already established households nearby. Other family properties on former estate acreage were later deeded to Ronald Lyman, in 1917 and 1943, and to Susan Lyman Wearn, in 1951. Altogether, total property distributions to family amounted to half the acreage of The Vale at its peak size, or about two hundred out of four hundred acres.


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Courtesy, Waltham Public Library

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Haying at The Vale.The farm’s livestock inventories, from the earliest, around 1830, through the end of the nineteenth century, consistently list a pair of oxen. Even while local agricultural activities waned, the later generations of Lymans sought to continue and protect farming as a disappearing way of life.

ABOVE LEFT

In the twentieth century, as land values and taxes were driven up by population pressure and suburban development, it became increasingly difficult to maintain the estate. Probate and deed records from the 1930s and 1940s reveal that the family faced significant tax reckonings on the estate from state and local government. For legacy taxes owed on Arthur T. Lyman’s estate, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a lien against a 26-acre parcel of The Vale’s farmland until 1942. In 1935, the City of Waltham threatened to put most of the estate up for public auction due to delinquent property tax payments. Eventual payments forestalled this severe action, but ten years later, by eminent domain, the city took five acres to build a new municipal incinerator. Divestiture continued after Arthur Lyman’s death in 1933, including sales of acreage to non-family members. Fortunately, this occurred alongside efforts to protect and maintain parts of the historic property, including the pleasure gardens surrounding the mansion house and associated outbuildings. In 1951, through an intermediary, the five grown children of Arthur and Susan C. Lyman, representatives of the fifth generation after Theodore, deeded the house and remaining grounds, including twenty-nine acres, to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now

ABOVE RIGHT Fritchoff Nelson, an estate gardener, proudly displays varieties of grapes grown in The Vale’s historic greenhouses. Grapevine production on the estate dates back to the early nineteenth century, with ancient vines still tended at the site today.

Historic New England. In 1972, Susan L. Wearn donated an additional 2.7 acres of adjacent land. Since 1951, suburban and institutional neighbors have developed much of the surrounding open space, and increased traffic on nearby roads has further isolated The Vale from its historic neighborhood. Despite this fragmentation, clues to the former reaches of the property are evident if one pauses to take in the beautiful old stone walls, or the towering beech and maple trees that have endured in this area. Across the street, at the Robert Treat Paine Estate, one can traverse on trails through The Vale’s historic woodlots, now maintained as open space by the City of Waltham. Further recognition of the changing historic boundaries of the Lyman Estate deepens our appreciation for the surviving landscape within a growing community, and one family’s longstanding efforts to preserve it. —Mary Gregory

Ms. Gregory researches historic cultural landscapes and has recently completed an extensive study of The Vale’s working farm and estate property.

Fall 2006 Historic New England

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M U S E U M

S H O P

Savings for members on books related to Jewett and other writers American Writers at Home J.D. McClatchy This book provides insights into authors’ lives, presenting the homes of Alcott, Dickinson, Emerson, Irving, Jewett, Longfellow, Melville, and Welty, among others, along with biographical information. The architectural styles range from Frost’s austere New England farmhouse, to Twain’s extravagant mansion in Hartford, to Hemingway’s Spanish Colonial villa in Key West, Florida. HC $50.00, Special Member price $40.00 A Country Doctor Sarah Orne Jewett As the main character enters a medical college, she finds she must choose between marriage and a career as a doctor. America is on the verge of change, and this courageous young woman finds a new world opening to her. HC $14.00, Special Member price $11.00 The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories Sarah Orne Jewett Edited by Alison Easton This novel weaves stories, conversations, friendships, and events to create a masterful portrait of life in a Maine coastal town, capturing a way of life that seemed timeless but was on the brink of disappearance. The edition includes ten of Jewett’s best short stories. SC $8.95, Special Member price $7.00 Deephaven Sarah Orne Jewett Reprint of the 1893 edition of Jewett’s first novel, Deephaven, with fifty-one illustrations by Charles Woodbury and Martha Oakes, tells the story of two young women who leave Boston for a summer to explore the very different world of southern Maine, Jewett’s home territory. HC $25.00, Special Member price $20.00 24

Historic New England Fall 2006

Sarah Orne Jewett, An American Persephone Sarah Way Sherman Sherman portrays Jewett as a modern Persephone, who divided her life between the male-dominated world beyond the home and the female community, where friendships and mother-daughter relationships provided emotional sustenance. SC $25.95, Special Member price $20.00 Sarah Orne Jewett: Reconstructing Gender Margaret Roman Jewett wrote of breaking free from the restrictive norms of behavior traditionally assigned to men and women. Roman analyzes how Jewett’s characters strive to eliminate narrowly defined malefemale relationships. HC $34.95, Special Member price $30.00 An Island Garden Celia Thaxter A facsimile of the first edition, published in 1894, about the garden on Appledore Island created by Jewett’s friend, Celia Thaxter. With a gold-stamped cover by Sarah Wyman Whitman and a slip case. An excellent gift. HC $35.00, Special Member price $28.00

To order, please call 617-227-3957, ext. 237. Shipping charges and applicable taxes apply. Special member prices available through February 2007, while supplies last.


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News

New England & Beyond

Submit your kitchen photographs Historic New England’s exhibition team invites members to send in recent photographs of their kitchens for the upcoming America’s Kitchens exhibition. Pictures may be room views or include people to show the many different activities that take place in the room. The photographs will become part of the Library and Archives collection, and many will be included, along with images from across the country, in the “Kitchens of Today” segment of the exhibition. Please submit your pictures before October 15 to be considered for inclusion in the exhibition and in the accompanying book. For more information or to send a digital image (300 dpi), please contact Joanne Flaherty at (978) 521-4788, ext. 718, or at jflaherty@HistoricNewEngland.org.

Fund a Foot In the 1880s, when Henry Bowen refurbished his summer home in Woodstock, Connecticut, he installed ten different patterns of LincrustaWalton wallcovering in the stair hall, dining room, and double parlor. Today, Roseland Cottage has the largest selection on public display in New England of this once-fashionable embossed wallcovering. Extensive conservation of the wallcoverings in the dining room and entry hall was completed in 2005, and Historic New

England hopes soon to move forward with the project’s final phase—treatment of the Lincrusta-Walton in the large double parlor. The “Fund a Foot” campaign to raise funds for the project seeks donations at the following levels: $100 for a foot’s worth of conservation; $500 for a frieze; and $1,000 for a floor-to-ceiling segment. Please call (617) 227-3956, ext. 247, for more information or to make a donation.

Historic Homeowner membership Do you own a historic house in New England? Do you want to be sure that decisions you make about maintenance or updating are in keeping with its historic character? Historic New England offers a new membership category for you. Historic Homeowner members receive advice on how to conserve and maintain the distinctive features of their old houses as well as tips on everyday needs, concerns, and problems. Benefits include online consultation on design or construction proposals to ensure compatibility with a home’s historic character or on selecting historically appropriate paint colors; online or telephone access to Historic Homeowner staff for two additional technical assistance requests; two electronic newsletters on historic house maintenance and resource issues; invitations to two members-only historic house workshops and events; and all the benefits of household membership in Historic New England. Annual dues are $200 —sign up before the end of the year, and you can join at the inaugural rate of $100 in exchange for providing Historic New England staff with feedback. Please call (617) 227-3956, ext. 273, for information.

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A C Q U I S I T I O N S

A Maine Island Inn his drawing by a young architect working for Wheelwright & Haven depicts the Islesboro Inn, one of the finest hotels catering to the carriage trade around the turn of the twentieth century. During this period, developers were buying up tracts of land along the Maine coast, opening resort hotels with amenities like golf courses, carriage roads, and yacht moorings, and selling adjacent cottage lots to their guests. The Islesboro Inn was developed in 1889–90 by the Philadelphiabased Islesboro Land and Improvement Company, which owned approximately 1,500 acres of shore frontage on this beautiful Maine island. The design combines Tudor Revival with Shingle Style features set upon a massive stone foundation, with a piazza and pillared porch overlooking the bay. The drawing depicts guests being greeted by staff at the entrance, surveying the view through a telescope, and walking a dog—suggesting an atmosphere of relaxation and discreet luxury. The reception rooms, with their

T

carved oak furniture, framed etchings, and oriental rugs, resembled the furnishings of a private home. So successful was the inn in its inaugural year, with its rooms fully booked, that it was expanded the following year, again in the late 1890s, and once more in 1913. At the close of the 1915 season, the hotel was destroyed by fire. A new company was formed to rebuild it, resulting in the second Islesboro Inn, a Colonial Re-

141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 Presented by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities

vival structure erected on the same foundation, which opened in 1917. —Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Director, Maine Historic Preservation Commission The ocean side of the first Islesboro Inn, Islesboro, Maine, designed by the Boston firm of Wheelwright & Haven. Rendering delineated by R. Clipston Sturgis, 1888. Gift of Andrew Spindler-Roesle.

ABOVE

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Boston, Massachusetts Permit No. 58621

Historic New England Fall 2006  
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