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Historic NEW ENGLAND

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A FAMILY COLLECTION


FROM THE PRESIDENT

Historic NEW ENGLAND Fall 2008 Vol. 9, No.2

A Family Collection 2

David Carmack

Strengthening historical organizations is much on the minds of trustees and staff responsible for New England’s heritage resources at this time, when there are frequent news reports of organizations facing financial difficulty. At Historic New England, we take a long view. We recognize that expanding volunteer support, membership, financial support, and earned income are all essential to sustaining our programs for the future. Our finances are sound, our strategic direction is showing strong results, and we are committed to continuing to strengthen our organization in order to best serve the public. In this issue you will read about several initiatives that are positioning Historic New England for the future. We welcome the addition of the Hoover House to our Stewardship Program—a national model for the protection of privately-owned historic houses. We are embarked on a multiyear effort to make our collections fully available on the Internet. Caring for our buildings, landscapes, and collections remains a priority, as is sharing our collections with wide audiences. Our newest publication, America’s Kitchens, heralds the planned Year of the Kitchen in 2009, when programs will focus on topics dear to us all—kitchens and food.

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S P OT L I G H T

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History on your Screen LANDSCAPE

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Dappled Majesty M A K I N G F U N O F H I S TO RY

—Carl R. Nold President and CEO

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Portraits MUSEUM SHOP

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America’s Kitchens Y E S T E R DAY 1 4 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 presented by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. It is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor Diane Viera

Editor Nancy Curtis

Design DeFrancis Carbone

Dear Mr. Santa Claus P R E S E RVAT I O N 2 0

Preserving a Modern House AT H O M E 2 4

Stables and Carriage Houses AC Q U I S I T I O N S

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Preserved on Film Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives.

Piazza San Marco (detail) by a follower of Antonio Canaletto. 1730–50.

COVER

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


S P O T L I G H T

History on your Screen anufactured by John Rogers and Son in Staffordshire, England, during the 1820s, the soup tureen pictured here features a transferprinted view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. It may seem odd that an English-made ceramic would feature an American scene, but in fact such pieces were regularly turned out by British potteries eager for a share of the American market. This particular tureen entered Historic New England’s collection in the early twentieth century, but has rarely been on view. In 2009, along with thousands of other items, it will be featured online as part of a multi-year Collections Access Project. Supported by a $1 million grant, the project will make possible unprecedented online access to museum objects, manuscripts, books, photographs, and other materials. Members, researchers, and even casual Web searchers will be able to see on-screen images and descriptive catalogue information for many of the objects in the house museums and in storage. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a comprehensive catalog. By conservative estimates, Historic New England has more than one million items in its collections. While many of the objects have previously been catalogued in a variety of ways, the sheer volume of the material makes bringing it all together into a single online database a Herculean task. As you read this, the new computer systems needed to manage this massive effort are being installed and customized. New cataloguers are joining the staff, and existing information is being reformatted. The new system will be up and running internally by the end of the year, and portions of the collection will be accessible on the Web by mid-2009. Initial efforts will focus on converting existing databases, including the unparalleled collections of jewelry, wallpaper, and photographs of domestic interiors. Additional materials, such as daguerreotypes, architectural drawings, and the contents of the house museums, will be added on an ongoing basis. The Collections Access Project embodies Historic New England’s commitment to providing access to its vast holdings of research materials and historical artifacts in new and exciting ways. As this project proceeds, we look forward to telling you more about how you can use your computer to explore Historic New England’s hidden treasures.

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This soup tureen was part of an extensive collection of blue Staffordshire earthenware given to Historic New England by the Harrington family. After years in storage, it will be viewable online in 2009 as part of Historic New England’s Collections Access Project. ABOVE

— David Dwiggins Systems Librarian/Archivist

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“I have bought in Paris 80 odd pictures which I have ordered packed and shipped to Havre. Some of them are very pretty and done by the finest Masters, they cost me about £270 sterling.”

A Family Collection

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he paintings mentioned by Richard Codman (1762–1806) in his 1794 letter to his brother John (1755–1803) in Boston were the beginning of a rich legacy for the Codman family. Those that remain at Historic New England’s Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts, are considered by many to comprise the earliest collection of European paintings in the country to survive relatively intact. Members of the next three generations connected with the house continually added to the collection, revealing an interesting story of changing tastes, collecting trends, and family pride. Richard Codman had gone to France in 1793 to act as an agent for the family business. By all accounts he lived extravagantly there, entertaining lavishly in an elegantly fur-

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nished Paris townhouse and several chateaux in the country. The tumultuous years after the French Revolution were an advantageous time to buy art and other luxury goods, and Codman traveled in the right circles. Among his acquaintances were the American-born artist John Trumbull and Jean-Baptiste Pierre LeBrun, the husband of the well-known painter Louise Elizabeth VigĂŠe-LeBrun. LeBrun was considered the most knowledgeable art dealer of his day and had access to the collections of many prominent but recently impoverished families.

The Colosseum, possibly by Gaspare Vanvitelli. Early eighteenth century. FACING PAGE, BOTTOM Richard Codman, by John Singleton Copley. 1793. RIGHT Silenus, possibly by Willem van Mieris. c. 1700. BELOW The Cattle Fair, by Jean Louis de Marne. c. 1780. FACING PAGE, TOP


Between 1794 and 1797, Richard purchased over one hundred and fourteen paintings, which he sent to his brother John in Boston. The twenty-four that he bought from Le Brun in 1796 came with an invoice, called by later generations “the LeBrun Certificate,” that described them in detail and attested to their authenticity. The next year, Codman bought ten additional works from another Paris dealer, Jacques-Nicolas Brunot. The paintings—landscapes, genre scenes, and religious subjects, many of them attributed to the most illustrious Old Masters—were the same types of art sought by the English gentry on the Grand Tour as marks of wealth, status, and education. John Trumbull himself, with the financial backing of a friend, had bought many similar paintings from LeBrun and shipped them to London for resale, hoping for a huge profit. Richard may have sent his paintings to Boston with the same idea in mind. His brother, however, decided to keep many of them. He hung some in his Boston townhouse and others in his country seat in Lincoln, where he had just completed remodeling the house and landscaping the grounds in the manner of an English country estate. John knew the value of his collection, and at one point, when he was abroad trying to rein in his brother’s excesses, wrote to his wife from England, “The pictures and statuary we have would bring a deal of money in this country. I have thought of sending for some of them over here but believe shall see Richard first.” In 1803, when John died, his estate included sixty-four paint-

ABOVE Adam and Eve, Flemish school. Seventeenth century. Charles Russell Codman bought this work for $50 at a Boston auction in 1820.

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Charles Russell Codman by Gilbert Stuart. c. 1815. (Courtesy of the granddaughter and great-grandchildren of Cora Codman Wolcott).

ABOVE

ings, some of them family portraits, which were divided among his five sons. Eleven paintings from Richard’s initial purchases hang at the Codman Estate today. Of John’s sons, Charles Russell Codman (1784–1852) took the keenest interest in the paintings he had inherited. Indeed, of the four generations who owned the collection, he acquired some of the best pictures and stands out as the true connoisseur. Soon after his father’s death, Charles sold the family house in Lincoln and at age twenty-four left for an extended trip to Europe. The journal he kept during his travels lists the places he went to look at paintings, presumably for comparison and to further educate his eye; he comments specifically on the collections that he viewed at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, Blenheim, and several places in Scotland. In London he saw works by American-born artists John Singleton Copley and Benjamin West and visited Thomas Hope’s collection of paintings and furniture at his house on Duchess Street. Between 1820 and 1825, Charles Russell Codman was actively building his collection, purchasing many works at auctions in Boston, a prime source of art and furnishings for the elite in the city, who were decorating their new houses built in the fashionable Federal style. He displayed his paint-


Still Life by Willem Claesz. Heda. 1632.The artist signed and dated the work on the knife blade.

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ings in several rooms of his house at 29 Chestnut Street, including all three levels of the stair hall “because it had a fine light for pictures.” Codman’s house became a mecca for other American collectors. Philip Hone of New York visited Boston in 1828 and noted in his diary, “I have seen nearly all the fine Pictures in the private collections.” Codman’s collection, he noted, was a “splendid Gallery of ancient paintings, many of which are originals of great artists.” Today we view Charles Russell Codman’s collection as typical of many of those formed in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, consisting of works by minor artists, paintings with undocumented attributions, good copies, and some original works, like the magnificent Still Life by Willem Claez. Heda. During the course of his study, Codman became aware that some of his paintings, like the Venetian scene on the cover, were not by the artists to whom they were ascribed when he bought them, and he himself reattributed them to others in a catalogue he compiled of the collection. While Codman’s taste was for “ancient” Dutch and Italian pictures, in 1820 he did add one notable contemporary work—“Last but not least,”as he noted in his catalogue. This was a landscape with a sunset by Washington Allston (now at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.), for which he paid the artist $150.

In 1827, Charles Russell Codman was one of five members of a committee charged to gather paintings to display in an exhibition “for the encouragement of the Fine Arts” in the Boston Athenaeum’s newly constructed gallery, the precursor of the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition opened in May and in the first four days, 1,300 people had purchased tickets and viewed the 317 paintings that had been lent. For the next twenty years, Codman lent dozens of his paintings to the Athenaeum’s yearly exhibitions. Charles Russell Codman nearly doubled the size of the painting collection he had inherited. When he died in 1852, his house contained over sixty paintings, as well as numerous family portraits and framed prints. These were divided among his five children. Because his two youngest sons, Ogden and Richard, were minors, Henry Greenough, a family friend and brother of the sculptor Horatio Greenough, selected their shares, which were kept for them by relatives until the boys reached the age of twenty-one. Ogden Codman (1839–1904), orphaned at thirteen, may well have viewed the old family home in Lincoln, which his father had sold, as a place where he could reestablish roots. He bought the house in 1862, renamed it The Grange, and with his young wife, Sarah Bradlee Codman, immediately Fall 2008 Historic New England

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began remodeling it in the Victorian style. The sixteen paintings he had inherited became important features of the newly redecorated rooms on the first floor. Many of the Old Master paintings were hung in the drawing room, and some, like the Heda, were reframed to be more compatible with the new decor. Landscapes by contemporary artists were acquired specifically to hang in the billiard room. Like his father, Codman bought art and furnishings at auctions in Boston. The Great Boston Fire of 1872 destroyed many rental properties owned by Ogden Codman, and his income suffered greatly. Thinking to live more cheaply in Europe, he moved his wife and young family to Dinard, on the Brittany coast, and rented the Lincoln house completely furnished, with the pictures still hanging on the walls. During the family’s stay in France, Codman added only a few paintings to the collection. When the family returned to Lincoln in 1884, these were integrated into the rooms of The Grange along with the other furnishings they had purchased in France. Ogden Codman does not appear to have been the connoisseur that his father was, although he obviously did like pictures, for by the time of his death in 1904 he again had doubled the number of paintings he had inherited. He willed the contents of The Grange first to his wife Sarah and then 6

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jointly to their five children. For the first time in one hundred years, the paintings were not dispersed but remained together in Lincoln. Of the children, Ogden, Jr. (1863–1951), Tom (1868–1963), and Dorothy (1883-1968) were the ones most interested in the art they had inherited. Between the 1920s and the 1950s, they again doubled the number of paintings in the collection to over eighty works. Their acquisitions, which appear to have been motivated primarily by sentiment and a desire to preserve the family legacy, form a diverse group of portraits, landscapes, and Old Masters. Many of the nineteenth-century landscapes, including Niagara Falls, had hung during their childhood in the Boston home of their maternal grandparents, the Bradlees, also apparently collectors. In the process of purchasing paintings from the estates of various aunts and cousins, they brought together an eclectic group of works by such New England artists as Samuel Lancaster Gerry, Thomas Hewes Hinckley, and Ernest Longfellow (reproduced on contents page), the son of the poet. Ogden Codman, Jr., was especially pleased by an uncle’s gift of John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Richard Codman, the founder of the collection.


As the members of the last generation grew older, their main interest was in documenting how and when each painting had come into the collection, relying heavily on the information in A History of the Codman Collection of Pictures compiled by their cousin Cora Codman Wolcott, who had access to many of the original documents. The “LeBrun Certificate,” the 1796 invoice to Richard Codman, became the cornerstone for provenance and attribution. In 1954, Dorothy Codman added the last painting to the house in Lincoln and brought the family collection full circle, when she purchased from Wolcott’s estate a small landscape that Richard Codman had bought from LeBrun in Paris and sent to his brother John in Boston nearly one hundred and sixty years earlier.

Harbor Scene, St. Servan, 1882, was a gift to Ogden Codman, Sr., from the artist Edward Darley Boit. ABOVE View of Niagara Falls. Some scholars believe this to be a work completed by John Vanderlyn in 1801 and subsequently lost after being taken to London to be engraved. BELOW Landscape by Nicholas Duval. Sold by LeBrun to Richard Codman in 1796, the painting was brought back into the collection in 1954, when Dorothy Codman purchased it from the estate of a family member. FACING PAGE

—Richard C. Nylander Curator Emeritus

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L A N D S C A P E

Dappled Majesty ichael A. Dirr, in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, describes the iconic elm habit as a “vase-shaped form in which the trunk divides into several erect limbs strongly arched above and terminating in numerous slender often pendulous branchlets, the whole tree a picture of great beauty and symmetry.” In the late 1890s, when Emily and Elise Tyson first visited Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine, and saw the property’s elms soaring gracefully above the grounds, the classical forms of Ulmus americana must immediately have infused their garden vision. These noble trees, providing structure, shade, and shelter, were central to the elaborate landscape plan the two women created. Elms had already become a wellloved shape in communities region

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wide. Thomas J. Campanella, in The Republic of Shade, traces their popularity to New England village improvement societies, which by the mid-1800s had transplanted thousands of trees from woods to towns. A native species from Newfoundland to Florida, with attractive yellow fall color and rapid growth to heights of eighty feet or more, elms by the million soon provided protective tunnels of dappled shade in streets throughout eastern North America. Cruelly, this vast monoculture began to fail, probably in 1931, when Dutch Elm Disease (DED) arrived via a log shipment from France to Cleveland. Within years, trees as far away as New Jersey were succumbing. Phil McCombs of the Washington Post wrote that the disease had “killed 77 million trees by 1970,” lamenting that “once upon a time in America, great

leafy high-arching cathedrals of elms lined the streets of villages and cities from the Atlantic to the Rockies, casting a deep cool shade upon life’s turmoil.” DED is a fungus, first encountered in 1921 in the Netherlands, that infects the water conducting system of the tree. The leaves wilt, yellow, and then brown as the fungus clogs the vascular tissue and prevents water movement to the crown. The fungus can move from infected trees via root grafts to adjacent trees, and its spores are also carried by elm bark beetles, which create tunnel galleries beneath the bark. Another fatal disease, similar in appearance, is Elm Yellows, a bacterialike infection of the inner bark.


Sandra Agrafiotis

“New Harmony,” and “Jefferson,” cloned in 1993 from a survivor of six hundred elms planted in the 1930s on the National Mall. A National Elm Trial, begun in 2005, is being coordinated by Colorado State University. There are currently over fifty named cultivars in the nursery trade, available in sizes from 1-gallon pots to 4-inch caliper. Interest is such that twelve thousand “Princetons” were made available by Home Depot in spring 2008. In 1996, Historic New England embarked on an ambitious effort to bring the stately elm back to Hamilton House, planting several varieties in locations where elms appeared in historic photographs. The “Homestead,” which has complex European, Asian, and American elm genetics, has thrived but doesn’t display classic form. The “Liberty” has grown quickly and exhibits good form, while other varieties have died from fungus or severe winter conditions. Last spring, we planted two 14-foot “Accolade” elms,

a classically vase-shaped variety originating from seed collected in 1924 at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, and will continue adding trees as the landscape restoration expands towards historic, elm-filled view sheds important to the Tysons’ garden design. Meanwhile, native volunteer elms appear regularly around the verges of the property. To date all have contracted the fungus and been removed, yet we monitor them in the hopes that one will turn out to be disease-resistant. If so, perhaps its offspring—named “Hamilton,” of course—can help repopulate the American landscape. —Gary Wetzel Landscape Manager

Photographs taken by Paul Weber in 1928 capture the Hamilton elms in their glory, as they arch over the house and vine-covered pergola and dapple the lawns with shade. LEFT Eleven-year-old “Homestead” elms have been planted on the bank overlooking the Salmon Falls River in the same locations as the original American elms. ABOVE A protective collar prevents porcupines from climbing the tree to gnaw bark and eat branchlets. FACING PAGE

Sandra Agrafiotis

For the property owner or community hoping to preserve existing elms, the best means of managing disease is sanitation— removing infected trees or branches. In dormant season, wood should be destroyed before overwintering beetles emerge in April. During growing season, removal should be completed within two to three weeks of detection. Insecticides and fungicides can provide effective control but are expensive and have various drawbacks. A proactive measure involves severing root grafts so as to interrupt transmission between large trees within twenty-five to fifty feet of each other. For the long term, genetic diversity holds the key to restoring these magnificent trees to the American landscape. A strategy that is gaining interest nationwide is to identify diseasereistant or -tolerant specimens, clone them, and plant the progeny. The U.S. National Arboretum has evaluated nineteen American elm varieties, including “Valley Forge,” “Princeton,”

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M A K I N G

F U N

O F

H I S T O R Y

People have made portraits since the days of Ancient Egypt. Portraits can honor kings and queens, depict a hero, capture the likeness of a family member, or remind us of a loved one far away. Portraits can be made in stone, clay, paint, or paper, but before the invention of the camera, most people could not afford them. Let’s learn about portrait traditions in New England and around the world.

Portraits 2500 BC Sculptures of Egyptian pharaohs are among the earliest portraits.

1503–1505 AD Leonardo da Vinci paints the famous Mona Lisa.

Seventeenth century

1774

1790s

Portrait painters, or “limners,” begin working in the American colonies.

Boston portraitist John Singleton Copley travels to England to study European painting techniques.

Gilbert Stuart paints portraits of George Washington, including the one reproduced on the dollar bill.

what is it? guess what this was us ed for? Can you





This tiny portrait, called a “miniature,” measures about three inches across. One side holds a carefully detailed portrait of Robert Harcourt Twycross, painted on a piece of ivory, while the other contains tendrils of his hair, preserved under glass. Before the invention of photography, people gave portrait miniatures like this one as keepsakes. Portrait miniatures were often used as jewelry and worn close to the heart. Having a lock of hair would make people feel more connected to a distant loved one, even if it seems a little strange to us today.

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puzzle

can match these things and people from Historic New England’s u o y f … See i collection of portraits. For answers, see page 13 Artists often include an object in a portrait that tells us the sitter’s occupation or favorite activity. Look at the two rows of pictures below and draw a line connecting each face to the most appropriate object.

Performer

Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Silhouette portraits become popular.

Mariner

1840s

1870s

Daguerreotypes, the first commercially successful photographs, are widely used for portraiture.

American Impressionist Mary Cassatt paints portraits of mothers and children.

write to Casey! Portraits serve an important purpose in families. They help us to remember our ancestors, record what young family members look like as children, and commemorate important family gatherings. In this daguerreotype, members of four generations of the same family pose together. That in itself is an unusual occurrence, but these family members all have the same name! From left to right, they are Josiah Quincy III, Josiah Quincy IV, Josiah Quincy V, and Josiah Phillips Quincy.

Hiker

Upholsterer

Mid-twentieth century

1962 The National Portrait Gallery opens in Washington, D.C.

Portrait photographs of American children are taken annually in school.

Do you have a photograph that shows multiple generations of your family? If so, send it to Casey at the address below, and we will send you a Historic New England coloring book.

Casey the Clock Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston, MA 02114 CaseytheClock@historicnewengland.org

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M A K I N G

F U N

O F

H I S T O R Y

Self portrait Making a self portrait, with a shoebox cover and some odds and ends of colored paper and materials, is a fun project.You can depict yourself in your room, doing a favorite activity, or playing a sport. Include a favorite pet, book, or toy in the picture.What will be in the background? Do you want to be wearing your best clothes, a sports uniform, a costume? The details you put in your picture express what makes you unique. They are clues that tell other people about your interests and the kind of person you are.

D av id

Carm

ack

Supplies shoebox cover aluminum foil plain paper and construction paper pencil, crayons, or colored pencils glue assorted scraps of fabric, wallpaper, wrapping paper, buttons, ribbon, or yarn

Directions 1. For a “gilded” frame, cut a piece of aluminum foil several inches larger than the shoebox cover. Wrap it around the outside of the cover and over the edges, and glue it in place. 2. Cut a piece of plain paper that will fit into your “frame,” and sketch your self portrait. Include some of your favorite things so your picture will be personal. 3. When you are satisfied with the sketch, make a template for each section—face and hands, background elements, clothing, and other details—then trace these shapes onto the pieces of paper and fabric you have chosen for the collage. Assemble the buttons and ribbons you plan to use for the finishing touches. 12

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4. Place the collage pieces in the frame to make sure they fit. Lay the background pieces down first, followed by the clothing, face, and hands, with the finishing details of buttons, ribbon, or yarn on top. Once you are pleased with the way everything looks, glue each piece in place, starting with the bottom layer and working your way up. Allow the glue to dry, and display your self portrait in a special place. —Amy Peters Clark Education Program Manager


M U S E U M

S H O P

America’s Kitchens istoric New England is proud to announce publication of the forthcoming America’s Kitchens, the second volume in its popular new series. The book considers the social history of this important room, using examples from Historic New England’s house museums as well as detached kitchens on southern plantations, Spanish colonial kitchens of the Southwest, elaborate nineteenth-century kitchens in the Midwest, and middleclass open-plan homes of 1950s suburbia. The kitchen today is commonly viewed as a warm place—indeed, the heart of the home. Nonetheless, for centuries, many women felt trapped in

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their kitchens by endless drudgery. Gradually, technological developments like the cast-iron cookstove, the efficient Hoosier cabinet, and the refrigerator altered kitchen work and brought changes to the lives of the people who worked and gathered there. Lavishly illustrated with drawings, photographs, and ephemera from Historic New England’s collections, among others, America’s Kitchens describes what it was like to live and work in kitchens that had none of the conveniences we now take for granted. At the same time, the book analyzes the profound place of the kitchen in our own lives today.

America’s Kitchens Nancy Carlisle and Melinda Talbot Nasardinov, with Jennifer Pustz Member price, $31.45. Price, $34.95 (plus applicable tax, shipping, and handling) Deluxe paperback with 208 pages, 190 illustrations, many in full color. To order, call (617) 227-3956 or order online at www.HistoricNewEngland.org.

Answers to puzzle on page 11. performer/violin; mariner/ship; hiker/dog; upholsterer/hammer

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Y E S T E R D A Y

Dear Mr. Santa Claus

I Relics of a privileged boyhood: Steven Phillips’s letter, a snapshot of him standing on the front porch in his Indian outfit, favorite books and pastimes, and the pony cart. ABOVE

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n December 1915, eight-year-old Stephen Phillips of Salem, Massachusetts, laboriously penned this letter to Santa Claus: Dear Mr. Santa Claus if you want to know what I want for Christmas? I want a pony and cart and a harness and a Meccano set number two And a bigger Indian hat Three more magic paint books. And the Adventures of Unc’ Billy Possum and Jerry Muskrat, and the Traveling Bears in Outdoor Sports, and a baseball bat. Ten beautiful things for children to make and a jack plane, and the Mother goose picture building book The two bad mice Mrs. Little mouse. The rainy day scrap book, and the teddy bears, book + the Irish twins stories of the Pilgrims. The enchanted peacock, the Princess and Curdie The Kingdom of the Winding road the Enchanted House.

From Stephen Phillips 34 Chestnut street Salem the pony and the cart and the harness all go over to 34 Warren St Most children could easily compose a wish list this long, and many might long for a pony. Stephen was one of the privileged few who actually got his pony, and judging by the things that remain in his childhood home, many of the other items on his list as well. He was the only child of attorney Stephen Willard Phillips and Anna Pingree Wheatland, a prominent couple who lived in a handsome Federal house on Salem’s finest street. Young Stephen and his friend Alfred (Bunny) Putnam loved to drive around town and even ventured as far as Swampscott, attended by the family coachman, Connie Flynn. (Stephen’s instructions to deliver the pony and equipage to 34 Warren Street were practical; the address was a livery stable owned by his mother.)


duced the young American reader to life in foreign cultures, while Seymour Eaton’s Roosevelt Bears books were rhymed comic verses that helped establish the popularity of the teddy bear during this period. Stephen’s childhood library evidently established a habit, for he remained an avid reader throughout his life. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when the tradition of writing letters to Santa Claus began. The political cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902) is credited with creating Santa’s physical appearance and may be responsible for encouraging children to write to him as well. A cartoon he contributed to Harper’s Weekly of January 4, 1879, depicts a young woman posting a letter to Santa Claus outside a toy shop as her shaggy dog looks on. Nast also gave the jolly old elf a North Pole address and a workshop with elves to help him make toys. At the time he wrote this letter, Stephen was enrolled in the Tower School, a private school that stressed creativity and was deemed rather progressive. Despite his family’s wealth and social position, however, his up-

Gregory Wostrel

Meccano sets, the precursor of Erector sets and Lego, were educational construction toys that were invented in England in 1901 and became popular worldwide by 1915. Consisting of perforated metal strips, wheels, and gears, the sets needed only screwdrivers and wrenches to assemble a variety of models, including bridges, automobiles, steam shovels, and so on. Stephen had a workbench in his playroom and was also given weekly carpentry lessons. Stephen’s book list was long, but in an era before television and electronic amusements, not unusually so. It included a masterpiece of the Victorian fantasist George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie, as well as recent volumes by well-known authors whose works are still in print today, such as Thornton W. Burgess (Unc’ Billy Possum and The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat) and Beatrix Potter (Two Bad Mice and Mrs. Tittlemouse). Lucy Fitch Perkins’s Irish Twins was one of a series that intro-

bringing was not entirely sheltered. In the eighth grade, his parents sent him to the local public school. Bunny Putnam later commented that he thought Stephen’s parents wanted him “to meet the rest of the world and be exposed to the ordinary person.” He remarked that Stephen earned the respect of the boys from the Gallows Hill neighborhood for “his ability to fight and stand up for himself.” Stephen went on to Milton Academy and thence to Harvard, after which he managed the family firm and continued his father’s tradition of volunteerism and philanthropy. His letter, photographs, pony cart, and many of his books and toys can still be seen at the Phillips House, where they offer a vivid glimpse into his boyhood during the twentieth century’s early years. —Nancy Curtis, Editor, and Ken Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions

Phillips House is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 am to 4 pm through October 31, and Saturday and Sunday, same hours, from November 1 to May 31.

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C O L L E C T I O N S

Style

inTile or centuries, New Englanders have used tiles to decorate the walls, fireplaces, and floors of their homes, adding color, design, luster, and durability. The tiles may be simple and utilitarian or so elaborate and colorful that they enrich a room with their patterns and stories. In both its historic houses and its study collection, Historic New England has wonderful examples of decorative tiles dating from the past three hundred years. The oldest decorative tiles in the collection are Dutch, which were for several centuries the most sought-after tiles in Europe. The region’s foremost families used imported Dutch

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tiles to decorate their homes and display their wealth. Typical late seventeenth-century examples depict birds or flowers as the central motif, with scrolls or ox-head designs at the corners. In the eighteenth century, tiles with religious subjects, in blue or purple on a white ground, became popular. Often, entire fireplace surrounds were decorated with tiles depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments; usually, the subject is framed in a circle with small decorative motifs at the corners and sometimes chapter and verse at the bottom. Other Dutch tiles feature decorative patterns, seascapes, landscapes, ships, soldiers, or animals. At the Spencer-PeirceLittle Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts, a set of purple-andwhite tiles depicting seascapes and landscapes was formerly installed in the fireplace surround in the second floor parlor

Dutch delftware tiles: a seventeenth-century polychrome tile; an early eighteenth-century tile depicting Pharaoh’s daughter and the infant Moses; and a mid-eighteenth-century landscape tile from the SpencerPeirce-Little Farm, Newbury, Massachusetts. FACING PAGE De Morgan tiles, c. 1880, in the library at the Lyman Estate,Waltham, Massachusetts. THIS PAGE

Photographs by David Carmack

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Transfer-printed tiles: Mercury instructing Cupid before Venus, Liverpool, c. 1765; The Mischievous Dog, from Aesop’s Fables, Liverpool, c. 1765–75; and portraits of actors, popular late-eighteenth-century subjects, at the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

ABOVE

chamber. The family subsequently removed the set, but as often happened when decorative schemes were changed, the tiles were saved rather than discarded. English-made delftware tiles, which imitated Dutch designs and motifs, were also very desirable in New England. In the mid-eighteenth century, a new method of decorating ceramics—transfer printing—changed the industry dramatically. Typically, the process involved printing a copperplate image on a thin cast of glue, called a bat, or a piece of tissue, 18

Historic New England Fall 2008

and placing it face down on the tile and rubbing or “transferring” it onto the ceramic surface before firing. The method was perfected and made popular by Sadler and Greene of Liverpool in the second half of the eighteenth century. Overglaze transfer-printed tiles from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were usually monochromatic—black, blue, red, or brown—and depicted genteel and country life or scenes from literature, art, and the theatre. The Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts, features several fireplace surrounds with English transfer-printed tiles. In the early nineteenth century, the use of decorative tiles waned, as did the delftware industry in England in general. The second half of the nineteenth century, however, saw a resurgence in the popularity of decorative tiles, inspired by the Gothic Revival movement. The trend began in England with reproduction brownand-white medieval floor tiles, which were soon superseded by richly colored encaustic tiles, such as those produced by Thomas Minton & Sons and popularized by architects like Augustus Pugin. Encaustic tiles of this time were inlaid tiles made of two or more colored clays compacted or pressed together to produce an extremely durable, hard tile. Because the design resulted from the colored clay body itself rather than a surface glaze, encaustic tiles retained their decorative pattern despite heavy wear, making them ideally suitable for use on floors. The elaborate patterned floors of the extensions of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (begun in 1851) are decorated with encaustic tiles, as are the entry hall floor and the library fireplace surround at the Codman Estate, which were installed in the early 1860s. In the late nineteenth century, the influence of the English PreRaphaelites and designs of William Morris created a fashion for


Detail of De Morgan tiles in the K.L. Rose design illustrated on page 17; note the dynamic pattern that results when the tiles are grouped together. TOP RIGHT Encaustic tiles, c. 1860, at the

TOP LEFT

interiors rich in aesthetic appeal. Morris’s early tiles were often simple—sprigs of flowers and fruit laid out in a repetitive square or tile motif. It was William De Morgan, a colleague and friend of Morris, who became one of the most famous and prolific tile designers and fabricators of the period, creating tiles with vibrant colors, luster glazes, Islamic-inspired patterns, and repetitive floral motifs. The De Morgan tiles in the fireplace surround in the library at the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, demonstrate the dynamism of his tile designs as well as the powerful impact that tiles can have on a decorative scheme. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the establishment in New England of numerous art potteries influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, including the Chelsea Keramic Art Works, Grueby Pottery Company, J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works, and the Saturday Evening Girls/Paul Revere Pottery. The influx of skilled craftsmen from England, combined with the economy of mass production, made decorative tiles popular and affordable. The J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works of Chelsea, Massachusetts, was best known for its relief tiles with foliate motifs or portraits. The tiles’ raised surfaces were made by pressing the wet clay slab into a recessed plaster mold. Rich, monochromatic high-

Codman Estate, Lincoln, Massachusetts. BOTTOM ROW Aesthetic tile, 1870–1900, maker unknown, and two relief tiles, c. 1880, by the J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works, Chelsea, Massachusetts.

gloss glazes accentuate the tiles’ raised and recessed areas, creating highlights on the tops, where the glaze is thin, and rich colors in the recesses, where the glaze has pooled. These relief tiles were used to decorate fireplace surrounds and hearths as well as on ceilings, walls, and even furniture. As styles and tastes continued to change, and interior decorative schemes were updated, fireplace tiles that had been removed were sometimes reused. The parlor of Barrett House in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, boasts a fireplace surround decorated with a hodgepodge that mixes eighteenth-century purple-and-white Dutch landscape tiles and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English transfer-printed tiles, in both blue and white and black and white, depicting county life, pastimes, and fables. The arrangement appears random, but no matter—even when grouped haphazardly, tiles continue to fascinate and delight. —Julie A. Solz Team Leader, Collection Services

For a list of Historic New England properties that have tiles as part of their decorative schemes, please visit www.HistoricNewEngland.org.

Fall 2008 Historic New England

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H O U S E

C A L L

David Bohl

LEFT At the Hoover House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, sliding glass doors provide easy access to the flagstone patio and serve to integrate the house with its site.

Preserving a Modern House n 1937, architect Henry B. Hoover (1903–89) paid $1,000 for two acres of land in Lincoln, Massachusetts—a wooded, rocky upland with a dramatic view over the Cambridge Reservoir. At the time, Hoover was working in a landscape architecture firm and wished to establish his own practice as a residential architect. The house he built on the site was intended both as a home for himself and his family and as his professional calling card. Hoover had studied architecture at Harvard and was familiar with the principles of affordable Modern architecture that had developed in Europe in the 1920s and ‘30s, featuring flat roofs, open floor plans, flexible space, and absence of ornament. Hoover’s home was the first of this type to be built in Lincoln, soon to be followed by houses designed by Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Carl

I

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Historic New England Fall 2008

Koch, Walter Bogner, and others. The house launched a successful career for Hoover, who went on to build nineteen more houses in Lincoln, not to mention those he designed elsewhere, before he retired in the 1980s. In laying out his house, Hoover paid particular attention to the contour of its hillside lot. He planned the landscaping himself and made sure the house complemented the topography and took advantage of the sweeping views. He designed the fenestration to maximize light in winter and provided a roof overhang to protect the interior from the hot sun in summer. Both siting and planting ensured complete privacy from the neighboring lots on either side. Hoover’s original 1937 design included eight rooms arranged on one story, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, living/dining room,

study, and two fireplaces. Utility and storage rooms were placed at a lower level. In 1955, as the needs for living space of his family changed, he enlarged the kitchen, increased the size of many of the window openings, and added additional bedrooms, flagstone floor with radiant heating, and a carport. In the living room, he replaced the original multi-paned door and windows with ones of plate glass, removing any visual barrier to the landscape. Yet despite these upgrades, the scale of the house remains intimate. Today, architect-designed houses of the mid-twentieth century, modest in size and sited in the landscape with sensitivity, are falling victim to demolition. The problem is especially rampant in communities surrounding big cities, where land values vastly exceed that of these older homes, and demand for large new houses with the latest


Open and flexible interior spaces serve the England. Restrictions also protect the varying requirements of modern day living. floor plan, flagstone flooring, fireThe unadorned firebox and cinder-block places, walls, built-in screens, woodwalls are typical of the elegance and simplicwork, pickled oak finish on the interior ity of Hoover’s designs. Views of the reserpaneling and the white exterior. The voir and distant hills enhance the interior Hoover family has no immediate plans by opening the living/dining area to the to sell the property; however, should outdoors. the house leave the family’s ownership in the future, the restrictions will protect this intact specimen of the Modern aesthetic and Historic New England’s Stewardship Program is a national also serve as a model for model, protecting more than seventy New England properties ranging in date from the seventeenth to the midhow to responsibly preserve twentieth century. Historic New England staff work with other Modern homes across owners to ensure that their properties will be protected New England for future from alteration or neglect. Protected elements may include generations to live in and a house or an entire complex of buildings, as well as appreciate. the landscape and interior architectural details like fram-

—Joseph Cornish Senior Stewardship Manager

ing, carved woodwork, early wallpapers, hardware, and antique window glass. For information, call (781) 891-4882, ext. 227; e-mail stewardship@historicnewengland.org; or write to Historic New England, Stewardship Program, 185 Lyman Street, Waltham, MA, 02452-5645.

David Bohl

amenities is high. Teardowns have become commonplace, while the mansions that replace older, smaller houses can overwhelm their neighborhoods. But thanks to the care and foresight of Hoover’s three children, who inherited the house after his death, Hoover’s modern gem will be protected through Historic New England’s Stewardship Program. The preservation restrictions held by Historic New England have been tailored to preserve the architect’s aesthetic vision. The landscaping so essential to his concept, including planting beds, terraces, stone walls, and paths, must be retained, as well as the existing types of plantings. The exterior siding, doors and windows must remain unaltered, and no additional structures may be constructed without the prior review and approval of Historic New

Fall 2008 Historic New England

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A AT T

H H O O M M E E

Stables and Carriage Houses William Gilpin, an eighteenth-century English clergyman and artist best known today for his essay on the principles of picturesque beauty, noted that stables and coach-houses “are picturesque appendages to a country house when designed with taste.”

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Historic New England Fall 2008

David Carmack

“Picturesque Appendages”


A

David Bohl

David Carmack

nother English architectural theorist, Richard Brown, advised in 1841 that stables and carriage barns “should be detached, and at some moderate distance from the dwelling-house, and embosomed or concealed by trees, though parts of the building should be seen peering above the tops of the branches,” to “give a picturesque effect to the home scenery.” Tucked away on the grounds of Historic New England’s country estates are several of these “picturesque appendages”— architecturally-sophisticated outbuildings “designed with taste” to shelter the horses, carriages, equipment, and staff that were a hallmark of the country gentleman’s seat. Two of Historic New England’s finest outbuildings neatly fulfill these lofty precepts: the carriage houses at the Lyman and Codman estates, both tastefully designed to complement their architecturally distinguished and bucolically named country houses, “The Vale” and “The Grange.” The carriage house at The Vale, or Lyman Estate, in Waltham, Massachusetts, was built in 1793, presumably under the supervision of the house’s architect, Samuel McIntire. It displays an almost Palladian simplicity and symmetry, with a shallow projecting central entrance bay marked by a massive keystone arch and a classical pediment. Now the home of Historic New England’s preservation carpentry shop, the building that once housed Lyman horses and carriages literally buzzes with the sounds of the property care team’s saws, planes, and routers.

FACING PAGE This well-maintained 1887 backyard barn evokes the promise offered by the residential suburb to combine the best of two worlds, rural and urban, in a healthful and pleasant semi-urban setting. ABOVE The 1793 stable and carriage house at the Lyman Estate, photographed in the early twentieth century. BELOW The 1870 carriage house at the Codman Estate.

Fall 2008 Historic New England

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The carriage house of a grand Second Empire house, c.1870, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, illustrates the preferred practice of designing outbuildings in the same style of architecture as the ABOVE

The carriage house at The Grange, or Codman Estate, in Lincoln, Massachusetts, was designed by the Boston firm of Snell and Gregerson and constructed around 1870, well after John Codman’s 1797–99 Federal-style enlargement of the 1739–41 mansion. Presenting a dignified classical complement to the main house, it features quoins and pedimented windows like those added to the mansion by Boston architect John Hubbard Sturgis in 1862. In scale and appearance, the carriage house conveys the picturesque qualities desirable for a country estate. In Cottage Residences (1842), the American tastemaker Andrew Jackson Downing popularized a new suburban lifestyle that promoted efficient, comfortable house design integrated within a healthful and attractive semi-rural landscape. His early designs for “laying out the grounds,” featured stables only in expansive settings of an acre or more. By 1850, his Architecture of Country Houses included plans for a tiny 18- by 20foot stable for a single horse and wagon, and a slightly larger 20- by 24-foot stable in which a cow as well as a horse, wagon, and small carriage could be kept. With these plans, Downing signaled that the stable or carriage barn was within the grasp of the 24

Historic New England Fall 2008

dwelling-house. Set back from the main house, the carriage house is both “convenient and ornamental,” as Downing said such buildings should be. BELOW Downing’s “Model Cottage Stable,” with

suburban homeowner, not just the country gentleman. In Downing’s idealized order, the cottage was occupied “by industrious and intelligent mechanics and working men, the bone and sinew of the land.” But even though the cottage-owning mechanic or working man probably kept a cow and some chickens, the suburban carriage barn was primarily the artifact of commuting and transportation, reflecting a new mobility and an increased separation between home and work life. Cottage stables, the down-sized version of the utilitarian farmhouse barn, accommodated the routine care and feeding of a horse and the maintenance of a carriage or wagon and had little pretence to architectural style. Once common in the


Edwin D. Mellen(?) photograph. Curtis Mellen collection, Cambridge Historical Commission

stalls for two horses, a harness room, space for three vehicles on the first floor, and a generous hay-loft, was typical of the carriage houses built in the new suburbs. ABOVE The gambrel roof of

backyards of nineteenth-century neighborhoods around New England’s cities and towns, these modest utilitarian carriage barns are increasingly rare. Almost always constructed with their sills directly on or very close to the ground, such structures deteriorate quickly from ground-level moisture if not well maintained. At the other end of the architectural spectrum from the backyard barn are the grand suburban carriage houses of the late nineteenth century, built to complement the spacious houses of the upper middle class. The Edwin Mellen house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a Colonial Revival mansion designed by the Boston architectural firm of Hartwell, Richardson and Driver in 1896, boasted an elegant and capacious gambrel-roofed carriage barn and stable. Built just as the automobile age dawned, these expansive structures were doomed by the greater efficiency, speed, independence, and convenience of the automobile. Some of these buildings, converted to garages or dwellings, survived the transition, but many, including the Mellen house and carriage barn, were lost to rising labor costs, the universality of the auto, and more intensive land uses. Preserving a carriage house can be challenging. Zoning regulations can constrain adaptive-reuse, either through use

the carriage house and stable at the 1896 Edwin Davis Mellen house, Cambridge, Massachusetts, dominates the structure (demolished, 1980).

or setback requirements. Residential rental conversions may be barred, and rehabilitating or restoring the buildings, which are typically located on lot lines, often requires obtaining a variance. Condominium conversions, as well as the rise of telecommuting and the home office, open new possibilities for preserving suburban carriage barns. While converting these outbuildings for human habitation involves interior remodeling, retaining the carriage house in its residential setting can make a significant contribution to preserving a neighborhood’s historic character. These “picturesque appendages” deserve the extra measure of creativity and perseverance that may be required to repair and reuse them. —Sally Zimmerman Preservation Specialist

Fall 2008 Historic New England

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

Preserved on Film

Justin Goodstein-Aue

May that destroyed much of the Hook Company, these photographs are poignant reminders of a beloved city landmark. Aware of the Historic New England’s important collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century documentary photographs, Goodstein-Aue recently visited the Library and Archives and showed us some of his images. I and my colleagues immediately recognized the quality of his work and its value as a record of a business that has been an important part of the city’s character. Goodstein-Aue has generously donated a portfolio of twenty photographs to the Library and Archives and will continue to document the company as it rebuilds.

J

ustin Goodstein-Aue has spent much of the past year documenting the daily life of the James Hook Lobster Company, a family business founded in 1925 and located on Boston’s waterfront in the heart of the financial district. Goodstein-Aue uses a large-format view camera that captures incredible detail. Visiting the business

two or three times a week, he observed a special dynamic between the large family of proprietors and their employees. His images are filled with atmosphere, showing people at work, details like a crowded desktop or a row of keys on hooks, steam rising from the holding tanks, and vivid portraits of the men. After the terrible fire last

141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702

—Lorna Condon Curator of Library and Archives

Ed Hook in his office, surrounded by company memorabilia.

ABOVE

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

Historic New England Fall 2008  
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