Historic New England Fall 2011

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FALL 2011

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From thE ChAIr

Historic N E W E NG L A N D Fall 2011 Vol. 12, No. 2

Andrew Davis

Historic New England moves into its second century of preservation with an ambitious effort to renovate the 1793 Lyman Estate and demonstrate that it is possible to make a historic building energy efficient without impacting its historic character. Furthermore, as leaders in the preservation field, we are committed to sharing what we learn with our peers and the general public through white papers published online. We recently organized a symposium for the next generation of preservationists to discuss preservation priorities for the future. Our Stewardship Program is expanding and now protects eighty-one privately held historic properties across the region. This issue of the magazine describes other facets of Historic New England’s activities as well, including partnering with local community groups and preserving evidence of our heritage as diverse as the visual records of a mid-twentieth-century architect, a collection of 1,200 nineteenth-century children’s mugs, and watercolors depicting Boston-area scenes in 1882. Our efforts are furthered by grants and donations and the dedicated involvement of you, our members. As I take over as chair of the board, I thank you for your support and encourage you to introduce your friends to the many wonderful things and programs this organization has to offer.

For a Good Child 8

Three Builds and Four Centuries 24


1 0 0 yEAr s, 1 0 0 CommuNItIEs

Preservation in New Hampshire 2

stEWAr D shIp

A Day in the Life 4

hIstor IC pr EsErvAtIoN

Preservation Lessons from Havana

—Roger T. Servison Chair



A Visit to Boston LIbr Ary AND Ar ChIvEs


Portrait of an Architect 21

pLANNED G IvING Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 617-227-3956 historic NEW ENGLAND magazine is a benefit of membership. To become a member, visit our website, HistoricNewEngland.org, or call 617-994-5910. Comments? Please call Nancy Curtis, editor. Historic New England is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor: Diane Viera Editor: Nancy Curtis Editorial review team: Nancy Carlisle, Senior Curator; Lorna Condon, Senior Curator of Library and Archives; Jennifer Pustz, Museum Historian; Sally Zimmerman, Manager of Historic Preservation Services Design: DeFrancis Carbone

the Palladian window above the landing of the main staircase at the Lyman Estate is carefully re-installed after being conserved. Photograph by Justin Goodstein-Aue.


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A Lasting Gift mAkING FuN oF hIstory


Books for Children pr EsErvAtIoN


Weatherization at Historic New England pr ImEr


A Brief History of Toleware ACquIsItIoNs


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

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1 0 0

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C o m m u N I t I E s

Preservation in

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New hampshire

AbovE Cheshire mill No. 1, completed in 1848, harrisville, New hampshire. bELoW preservation

mason John Wastrom worked on the restoration of the 1716 Warner house, a brick mansion in portsmouth.

The documentary film will be available in spring 2012; please watch our newsletter for details. The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources and the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance are also partners on the project.

“in 1970, fifty-three mills in New England closed, so we were not alone. And here in harrisville, we have this little tiny village in which there’s this great big 85,000-square-foot white elephant. it became obvious to us quickly that what was at stake here was not just old buildings but really a whole way of life where you can live in a small place and work here and be self-sufficient. so putting that mill back into work was a major goal for us. that’s when we switched from preservation to economic redevelopment; they have been a partnership ever since.” —John J. colony, iii, vice chairman of historic harrisville, inc., founded in 1971 to preserve the integrity of the historic village of harrisville as a working community.


he concept of historic preservation is redefined every time a city, town, or group of individuals realizes it needs to modernize and struggles to figure out what of the past is worth saving. The nuts and bolts of countless decisions about preservation issues in the state of New Hampshire are the focus of one of Historic New England’s latest partnerships in its 100 Years, 100 Communities initiative to preserve recent history. Historic New England and three New Hampshire-based organizations are partnering on a documentary film on historic preservation projects in the state since 1950. A film crew from Blind Squirrel Productions, based at the Timberlane Regional School District in Plaistow, and Historic New England’s Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions Ken Turino have interviewed people involved in preservation across the state, including politicians, restoration carpenters, and planners. They have collected preservation stories about projects like Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke Museum, which rescued an urban neighborhood from demolition; Historic Harrisville, which revitalized a dying mill village; and Berlin’s Northern Forest Heritage Park, which preserves the history of the once-mighty pulp paper industry. Using archival film footage and on-camera interviews of people at all levels of these preservation efforts, the documentary shows how historic preservation evolved to include conservation, restoration, multiple-use facilities, and economics. Historic New England’s previous collaboration with Blind Squirrel Productions resulted in the award-winning film on Berlin, At the River’s Edge, which has received national recognition. We expect that the film about historic preservation will capture the essence of the statement, “We cannot know who we are unless we know where we have been.” —Scott Strainge, Director of Secondary Education, Timberlane Regional School District Fall 2011 Historic New England

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sandy Agrafiotis Photography

s t E W A r D s h I p

A Day in the Life

In which we follow a staff member on a typical day at work—


consider myself a lucky man—my avocation is also my profession. Love of architectural history drove me to get a master’s degree in preservation studies at Boston University, and in 1998 I joined the staff of Historic New England, where my job is to preserve the region’s historic buildings and landscapes. As senior stewardship manager, I manage a program that uses preservation easements to protect privately owned historic properties from insensitive alteration, neglect, or demolition. Preservation easements are legal agreements between the property owner and Historic New England; they are perpetual and binding upon all


future owners of the property. My role is to serve as a resource for owners of properties protected in Historic New England’s Stewardship Program. I also work with prospective preservation easement donors by assessing their property’s architectural features and then providing guidance through the process of donating a preservation easement to Historic New England. A typical day begins with me in my office reviewing files to prepare for making an annual visit to a Stewardship property to confirm that the owners are in compliance with the terms of the preservation easement. I review the document specifiying the

site’s protected features and look over correspondence about previous approved projects and any unresolved maintenance problems or other issues. I make sure to bring binoculars, a digital camera to document conditions, pen and paper for notes, a flashlight for inspecting the cellar and attic, and a copy of the easement document in case the owners have questions about their responsibilities or the scope of the restrictions. Upon arriving, I first meet with the owners to review recently completed projects and discuss repairs or alterations planned for the coming year. Together, we then tour the property.

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Just as every homeowner should do on a regular basis, I examine the building exterior for any evidence of deterioration that might permit water to get in. Using binoculars, I inspect chimneys for open mortar joints, deteriorated or missing masonry, and lifting or rusting flashing. On the roof, I check for missing shingles or other flaws and pay careful attention to gutter and downspout systems to be sure they are functioning properly and directing water away from the building. I scrutinize each elevation—siding, trim, doors, and windows—for areas of peeling paint or rot and look for cracks in the foundation or any sign of movement, like shifting or bulging masonry. If I find deteriorated conditions, I photograph them and make recommendations for repairs and preventive maintenance. Lastly, if stone walls, fences, outbuildings, trees, shrubs, planting beds, or walkways are included in the easement, as is often the case, I inspect them as well.

Next, the owners and I tour interior spaces, including cellars and attics. I watch out for signs of active insect infestations like fresh sawdust at framing members. If I notice water stains on the ceilings, walls, window and door openings, or fireboxes, I work to find the source. Cracking plaster and sloping of floors are signs of movement; I monitor them for change from year to year to make sure no active structural problems exist. Other interior elements, like door and window hardware, fireplace tiles, historic wallpaper, and decorative painting, are inspected to confirm they remain unaltered and in good condition. Returning to the office, I write a report to send to the owners, which documents the condition of the protected elements and includes recommendations based on my observations. Throughout the year, I stay in contact with owners and serve as their partner in preserving their properties. Thanks to these close relationships, there’s

steven st. peter and Francois bardonnet, owners of the 1760 Lady pepperrell house, greet Joseph Cornish on his annual visit. bELoW LEFt AND rIGht Cornish inspects the interior shutters and discusses the condition of the fireplace hearth with st. peter.


ample time to discuss repairs and possible alterations in advance to ensure they are done correctly. Happily, violations are rare. Now numbering eighty-one properties, Historic New England’s Stewardship Program is one of the oldest and most respected easement programs in the country. All over the region, these preserved properties remain active participants in their communities, contribute to the tax rolls, and remind all who pass of the inestimable value of historic preservation. —Joseph Cornish Senior Stewardship Manager

You can find out more about the Stewardship Program at our website, HistoricNewEngland. org. If you would like to discuss ways of protecting your historic property, please email me at jcornish@ HistoricNewEngland. org or call 617-9946643.

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h I s t o r I C

Preservation Lessons from A quiet moment in havana’s restored plaza de san Francisco, formerly a gritty waterfront work area filled with billboards. today it is a welcoming point for tourists from around the world, especially from Canada, Germany, Japan, and Latin America.



p r E s E r v At I o N



s Historic New England strives to be the national model for heritage organizations, we look to historic preservation organizations and museums around the globe for comparisons and ideas. The philosophy of our founder, William Sumner Appleton, opposed the involvement of government agencies in preservation, reflecting a traditional New England bias toward private initiatives rather than publicly-financed solutions to societal issues. What would Appleton have thought of a historic preservation model that is entirely directed by the government and yet adheres to high standards of preservation philosophy and practice?

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This is the case in Havana, Cuba, where over a period of forty years the Office of the City Historian has placed historic preservation and cultural activities at the heart of urban preservation and revitalization. In 1982, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, designated la Habana Vieja, the old city and its fortifications, as a World Heritage Site. World Heritage status provides access to preservation and emergency funds but largely stands as a recognition of international cultural value. Cuba’s own recognition of its five centuries of cultural heritage began in 1938 with the establishment of the Office of the City Historian and was further strengthened by cultural protection laws starting in 1977.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of much Russian financial support, the office was given responsibility for most aspects of urban redevelopment in the old city. Preservation became the centerpiece of economic activity and one of the most important government functions in Havana. Havana provides a model for the role historic preservation can play in economic redevelopment, in cultural tourism, and in the lives of citizens. Historic preservation in Havana is notable because it is a government priority with considerable economic impact as well as social benefits. Deciding what to preserve is a challenge. There are 3,370 buildings in

plaza vieja. street.



A partially restored

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moorish-style building on the prado.

Old Havana, with 31 percent from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and 56 percent from the first half of the twentieth century. For the foremost city and most important economy in the nation, the zone is remarkably frozen in time. The buildings date from the Spanish colonial period to the Modernism of the mid-twentieth century, many of them extraordinarily beautiful but suffering painfully from the neglect that followed the nationalization of all property after the 1958 revolution. Under the leadership of City Historian Eusebio Leal, a plan was developed to rescue the historic plazas first as visible centerpieces where economic activities such as hotels, res6


Gran teatro.

taurants, and shops could be clustered. Next, preservation efforts focused on the axis streets connecting the plazas, so that residents and visitors moving between the restored centers would have attractive paths. Finally, the larger neighborhoods are to be tackled, supplying housing, filling in missing structures, and adding services. The plan provides a framework for allocating funds, labor, and materials, and for gradually increasing the city’s appeal and vitality. Although the government supported the initial preservation work, in the 1990s, the effort was required to become

self-sustaining. The Office of the City Historian was given authority to operate a revolving fund, investing in preservation projects that would produce revenue and retaining a portion of that revenue to invest in subsequent activities. Preservation training schools that teach high standards of preservation philosophy and practice were established. The office has restored nineteen hotels, several of them four-star rated, and created forty-five restaurants and eighty-four cafés. It also operates the San Cristóbal tour company to serve cultural travelers and run buses, historic sites, museums, and museum shops. All these enterprises generate income for reinvestment. Along the way, jobs are created for archaeological work, restoration craftsmanship, conservation, and tourism support. The Colegio San Gerónimo offers degrees in preservation and conservation to prepare students for work in cultural heritage—characterized by one recent traveler as “the growth industry in Cuba.” The restored plazas are now the site of joint venture activities that attract foreign investment, such as a Benetton store, with 49 percent ownership by the foreign partner and 51 percent ownership by the Cuban government. Some partner trading nations make direct contributions to encourage economic and cultural progress in Cuba: Japan contributed all

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the equipment for a new planetarium in the newly restored Plaza Vieja. In addition to making restoration a priority, the Office of the City Historian views preservation as a means of addressing social issues like

the needs for better housing, education, and jobs. Each of the city’s thirty-three museums and historic sites is required to have an annual social project in addition to its traditional role in preserving and interpreting art and historical artifacts. Social projects include serving school groups, the disabled, and the elderly. While the causes of deterioration in the beautiful and culturally rich city of Havana and the politics and economic issues that continue to surround the Castro regime are fiercely debated, the city remains a world cultural treasure. Historic preservation has attained a prominence and economic and social value rarely seen in New England or

elsewhere in the United States, and so provides a fascinating model of how history and culture can truly add value to communities. —Carl R. Nold Historic New England President and CEO Carl R. Nold visited Havana in 2011 as part of a historic preservation and museum delegation organized by the American Association of Museums and licensed by the United States government.

Art Deco-style Cine-teatro Fausto. hotel saratoga. A portion of its earnings is directed toward historic preservation projects.



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C o L L E C t I o N s

For a Good Child


istoric New England’s collection of more than 1,200 pieces of nineteenth-century children’s tablewares, amassed in the mid-twentieth century by Margaret H. Jewell, is one of the largest in the country. It includes hundreds of small earthenware mugs and several plates. The majority of the wares were produced in England to be given to children as rewards and tokens of affection. The earliest pieces date from the 1790s. By the end of the eighteenth century, perceptions of childhood and theories of child rearing had undergone dramatic change under the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other romantic philosophers. Proponents of a humanistic approach urged that children needed freedom and time to develop in order to slowly assimilate into adult society. Some believed that education should develop a child’s character and morals. Breaking with past practices that forced children to look and act like small adults, new theories encouraged children to play, dress, and develop naturally. These reforms resulted in new clothes, toys, and furniture made especially for children. The importance of literacy as part of a child’s education, together with improvements in printing technology, fueled an increase in books intended for children. Engravings for children’s books found a second use as designs transferred onto English pottery, an industry that had long relied on pub8

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Andrew Davis Photography

The examples pictured in this article represent varying types of children’s tablewares produced in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, from a large collection donated to Historic New England by Margaret H. Jewell.

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lished sources to decorate its wares. Illustrations from books of nursery rhymes showed up on children’s tablewares, as did scenes from Aesop’s Fables, Robinson Crusoe, The Arabian Nights, The Pilgrim’s Progress, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Other popular decorations included children’s names, letters of the alphabet, favorite pastimes, animals, scenes of family life, the months and the seasons, maxims, and pious verses. Ceramics often provided moral instruction for young owners. Maxims like “Make hay while the sun shines” and “Keep thy shop and thy shop will keep thee” taught that happiness and success could be achieved through industry and thrift. Sentimental verses and images encouraged generosity, contemplation, loyalty, meekness, and cheerfulness: CHEERFULNESS A cheerful voice, & smiling eyes By everyone are loved While sulky looks, & sullen tones By all are disapproved Some moralizing themes dealt with subject matter that would never be considered appropriate for children today. “The Bottle,” a series of cautionary illustrations that George Cruikshank created for a temperance society, features scenes of debauchery and violence brought about by alcohol abuse. The final image in the series is captioned “the husband kills the wife with the instrument of their misery.” Other topics, like political caricatures and limericks, probably perplexed children but entertained their parents. As with

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other nineteenth-century toys, racial and cultural stereotypes abound—blacks are minstrels, Jews are misers, and the poor are beggars. In the 1790s and early decades of the nineteenth century, few people could afford to buy decorated wares made just for children. But by the mid-nineteenth century, a rising middle class dramatically increased demand for these wares. Children had to learn the intricate social ritual of dining that reinforced their status. Owning the right soup tureens and salad plates and knowing which fork to use marked one as a member of the middle class. Archaeological research in the United States suggests that by 1850, middle-class households had distinct sets of tablewares, quite different from those owned by the richest and poorest Americans. Giving special ceramics to children reinforced the values of morality and genteel behavior that were required to achieve a proper social position in adulthood. Identifying makers and specific dates for many children’s wares can be difficult, as few makers marked their pieces, and certain designs remained popular for years. One clue is that early mugs tend to have just one printed illustration; after about 1830, they usually feature multiple designs on a single piece. As demand rose, production quality sometimes suffered as potteries rushed goods to market. Often, the deterioration in quality after the 1830s resulted from the use of worn ceramic molds and copper-engraved plates that had lost their crispness from high-volume printing. Almost all the major nineteenth-century English factories, as well as some of the smaller ones, produced children’s wares that sold well in the United

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States. The Jewell collection contains several pieces by the Davenport and Wedgwood factories, but the remainder are unidentified. Identifying pottery factories by the transferprinted designs alone is complicated by the fact that different potteries used the same copper-engraved plates supplied by a local engraving firm. Potteries also bought out or exchanged designs with one another. Ironically, the manufacture of children’s wares often involved child labor. Like other industries, potteries employed children, who worked for at least nine and sometimes as many as sixteen hours a day. One task assigned to the young was to add dashes of color to black-and-white transferprinted ware to make it more marketable. Other jobs included lighting early morning fires, wedging clay to force out air bubbles, carrying molds between craftsmen’s benches and the stoves, and working the plate-making machines. Children also assisted the dippers, painters, and potters. Potteries sometimes employed whole families, with the children working alongside their parents. All employees experienced life-threatening conditions that included working near

“Hunting for mugs is a great game and seemingly a never ending one, so one can only take the sentiment on one mug to heart. It says, ‘Do thy best/And leave the rest.’” So wrote Margaret H. Jewell in an article in Old-Time New England, in October 1934. A consummate collector, antiquarian, and scholar, she assembled her collection of chil-

dangerous machinery, risking lead poisoning from the glaze, and breathing soot from the kilns. It is difficult to contemplate the fact that children worked in factories to make these lovely ceramics for other children to use; the images on the wares portray an idealized childhood quite different from the child workers’ own experiences. The fact remains that during the first period of the Industrial Revolution, child labor was commonplace in nearly every industry. The history of their manufacture notwithstanding, the ceramics themselves never fail to gladden the heart and are much sought after by collectors. Brightly colored, decorated with quaint mottoes or scenes of happy children, these mugs and plates have an appeal that stirs nostalgia and sentiment in all of us. —Melinda Linderer Huff Ms. Huff, executive director of the Milton Historical Society, Milton, Delaware, was formerly collections manager and associate curator at Historic New England.

dren’s ceramics over a period of almost forty years, scrupulously documenting on index cards where and when each purchase was made, as well as the price paid. She recollected fondly the first mug she acquired as a gift sometime before 1895, which illustrated a song called Cupid and the Bee that her grandmother used to sing to her.

Jewell’s gift reflects a belief she shared with Historic New England’s founder, William Sumner Appleton, that commonplace and everyday objects deserve to be collected and documented. For more on this collection, visit HistoricNewEngland.org/ChildrensMugs.

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p o r t F o L I o

A Visit to


n May 1881, English artist Arthur Elliot and his wife arrived in New York City to begin a year-long tour that took them to Niagara, Toronto, Georgian Bay, Montreal, and Quebec, among other places in Canada, and eventually to Boston. Throughout the trip, Elliot made more than three hundred drawings of the places they visited and of people going about their daily lives. The Elliots seemed to have spent most of the year in Canada; while there, he was able to publish several of his drawings in the Canadian Illustrated News. In April 1882, Mr. and Mrs. Elliot arrived in Boston. The couple stayed at first at the American House Hotel and then moved to accommodations at a comfortable boarding house on Columbus Avenue. They busied themselves with sightseeing visits to the Public Garden, City Point, Jamaica Pond, Nantasket and Revere beaches, Point Shirley in Winthrop, and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, all of which Arthur Elliot recorded in his sketches. Elliot compiled a record of his and his wife’s journey in two albums, containing drawings and souvenirs of their travels including photographs, tickets, menus, maps, programs, and other ephemeral items. Nearly eighty years after their


visit, the two albums were consigned to Sotheby and Company in London, where they were auctioned on June 13, 1961. Sometime following the sale, at least one of the albums was disassembled. Much of the Canadian material ended up in the Library and Archives Canada through two separate acquisitions. But the watercolors of Boston and vicinity and the ephemera related to the Elliots’ time in Massachusetts found their way to a shop or gallery in Boston. It was there that they caught the eye of Bill Osgood, a longtime Historic New England supporter who had served as the treasurer of the organization from 1967 to 1975. Osgood acquired the collection and enjoyed it for many years. In 2009, he and his wife, Nancy, wishing to continue their practice of placing Boston-related collections where they can be preserved, appreciated, and made accessible to the public, donated the documents to Historic New England. We reproduce a number of them in the following pages for you to enjoy. —Lorna Condon Senior Curator of Library and Archives

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top Assorted mementos of the Elliots’ visit. bELoW the Elliots’ comfortable boarding house room has a kettle over a warming stand on the table, a pet bird on its perch above a glass enclosure for its droppings, and pictures and fashionable Japanese fans over the fireplace.

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RIGHT This view of Jamaica Pond, one of Boston’s many spaces set aside for public recreation, shows people enjoying the park, just as they do today. bELOW On this spring day at Nantasket Beach in Hull, only two ladies have ventured out to walk along the shore. In the distance, the Atlantic House, one of New England’s celebrated summer hotels, stands on a bluff overlooking the water.

Elliot took the time to record details of the city’s daily life, like this fire alarm box and mail box. Boston’s fire alarm system was one of the earliest and most efficient in the country.



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top this appropriately somber view of Mount Auburn cemetery in cambridge accurately renders details of the topography of Auburn Lake, with a swan and swan house. bottom Elliot captured Bostonians enjoying the Public Garden on a spring day, strolling along the neat paths or boating on the Lagoon. A couple takes a leisurely ride in one of the swan boats, which made their first appearance there a few years previously. the dome of the state house is just visible over the tops of the trees.

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L i b r a r y

a n d

a r c h i v e s

Portrait of an Architect

frank barrett, 1939. above barrett’s interest in architecture began in boyhood; he made this careful drawing of the Paul revere house in boston at the age of ten. Left


y father, Frank J. Barrett (1912–1999), was a practicing architect whose life and career spanned much of the twentieth century and who had the good fortune to be able to leave his mark upon the era. Growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was encouraged in the arts by his family. He studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating in 1937 and earning a master’s degree in architecture in 1941. Much of the cost of his education, including studying with the New England artist Samuel Chamberlain, was quietly seen to by MIT’s Dean William Emerson. Like many young architectural students of the era, Dad was greatly influenced by the early Modernist movement then gaining wide acceptance on both sides of the Atlantic. And MIT, while adhering to a classical Beaux Arts curriculum, invited to the school guest lecturers like Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, and others associated with the New Architecture. One of my favorite of Dad’s stories described the day in 1938 when he and several other “rising star” graduate students from MIT were invited to visit the Gropius House, then under construction. The young men rounded up an old car and, dressed in their best white linen suits, went out to Lincoln, where they were greeted by the great man himself. Gropius was very gracious and spent considerable time with them, personally showing them around the almost completed house and discussing it with them. Needless to say, it made a considerable impression! Fall 2011 Historic New England

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a design for a Modern house from barrett’s wartime sketchbook, 1945. beLow Left and right two designs made for the diamond Match company in 1941: a watercolor of a colonialstyle home in swampscott, Massachusetts, and a pencil drawing of an unidentified new england cape. right

After MIT, Dad worked for the Diamond Match Company, laying out Boston-area suburban subdivisions and designing low-cost Diamond Homes, and then was briefly employed as an architect for the Federal Housing Administration in Boston. In 1941, he married our mother, Dorothy Hill Barrett, and with the world convulsed by war, joined the Army as an engineer. Stationed in the Pacific, he designed airstrips, hospital buildings, and the like and oversaw their construction. At night, if the area was free of combat, he often returned to the drafting tent and sketched designs for Modern houses. These designs, clearly influenced by the International Style of houses like the Gropius House but tempered by Yankee practicality and adaptability, he sent home to Dorothy in Melrose, Massachusetts. Other designs on heavy drafting paper or in small sketch books he stored flat in the bottom of 18

the wooden cases used to hold drafting equipment that traveled with the Army as it moved up the coast of New Guinea and invaded Leyte in the Philippines in October 1944. In February 1945, while stationed in Manila, my father designed a nice little New England Cape house for General Douglas MacArthur and his family. At the time, it seemed likely that American forces would be bogged down in the Pacific, so the good general would need a home. Dad always chuckled as he recalled how MacArthur thought eighteenthcentury New England architecture would be perfectly appropriate for the South Pacific. In late August, Dad arrived in Tokyo and set to work getting the somewhat damaged Imperial Hotel, Frank Lloyd Wright’s early masterpiece, repaired and ready for MacArthur’s use in September, after the formal surrender. In December 1945, our parents were reunited in Cambridge. Dad was all set to move to New York and take a high position with Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, all fellow MIT architects. However, a week or so before they were scheduled to make the move, he changed his plans and instead joined an established architect, Alfred T. Granger,

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in Hanover, New Hampshire. And so it was in Hanover, a beautiful college town, that our father for the next forty years practiced architecture, raised a family, and painted his watercolor landscapes. Within several years of moving to Hanover, Dad quite by chance discovered a large farm on the outskirts of town, which, though not on the market, could be purchased. By 1949, he had laid out a small subdivision on a parcel of open south-facing land, which had a brook, waterfalls, and high hillside ledges, all within walking distance of the Dartmouth College campus. There, in 1951, at age thirty-nine, he at last built his own version of a Modern home for his family. Dad acted as his own general contractor. Through the summer of 1951, the house gradually rose up in the former pasture looking out over Mink Brook. By rural New England standards of the day, even in a college town, the Barrett house was startling and unorthodox. Its passive solar design, with large sheets of glass and sloping shed roof, soon earned it the nickname Frank Barrett’s chicken coop. An addition connecting the garage with the main house was constructed five years later. I joined the family in 1953, as the youngest of three sons. Because my father had positioned the house

Proposal for a residence, 1956. above MiddLe elevation of the buskey building, hanover, new hampshire, 1978. bottoM Left Perspective of the Puffer United Methodist church, Morrisville, vermont, 1970. above toP

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a 1977 view of the barrett home in hanover, new hampshire. above right dorothy and frank barrett on the deck, 1957.

so carefully, it heated well in winter and remained cool even during the hottest summer days, making a wonderful domestic environment. My father always explained to me when I was a boy the timeless virtue of adapting architecture to the seasonal patterns of the sun and the wind. After our mother’s passing, Dad continued to stay in the house where forty-five years earlier he had begun creating his own environment, laying out the neighborhood, designing the house, creating the paintings on the walls, and giving land along Mink Brook as a bird sanctuary to the Town of Hanover. Often, on late afternoons, I, by then a practicing architect myself, would stop by for a visit and sit with him in the warm and sunny living room. We would discuss the changing face of architecture (he never came to understand how an architect could create with a computer—he preferred the delicacy of a pencil sketching lightly on a sheet of drafting paper) and his long life and career. He told me he sometimes got up in the middle of the night to sit with the cat in the living room with the moonlight pouring in. We were two architects sitting there conversing—enjoying the timelessness of architectural space and the environment. I understood that he had few regrets and was thankful for the life that he had lived. —Frank J. Barrett, Jr. Mr. Barrett practices architecture in White River Junction, Vermont.


Lilly Stunzi


the Modern-style living room in 1957, with a couch designed by barrett and other furnishings sold by the Paine furniture company, boston. above

As a member of Historic New England, I have long applauded the organization’s efforts toward recognizing, recording, and preserving the region’s mid-twentieth century domestic architecture. Therefore, several years ago I decided that Historic New England was the perfect repository for a collection of architectural drawings and papers documenting the career of my father, an architect whose career and home are so illustrative of that period. F. J. B., Jr.

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P L a n n e d

g i v i n g

A Lasting


Lilly Stunzi


arbara Morss Marshall was a cherished friend and supporter of Historic New England, fondly remembered for her commitment and generosity to the organization for many decades. An enthusiast of history, decorative arts, and fine jewelry, she was a dedicated participant and supporter of our lectures, exhibitions, and The Vale Program (the predecessor to the current Program in New England Studies). Marshall was a devoted member of the Appleton Circle since its establishment in 1990 and participated in many of its trips. Her good humor and dry wit made her a welcome companion as the group traveled to Scotland; England; Savannah, Georgia; Natchez, Mississippi; and Richmond,Virginia. Daughter of Philip and Alice Morss, Marshall grew up in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and attended Middlebury College and Katherine Gibbs School in the 1940s. She was passionate about photography, working as a freelance photographer, developing her film in the darkroom at her Chestnut Hill home, and exhibiting her work in shows, including at the Boston Athenaeum. Combining her love of photography and travel, she journeyed to Africa for photographic


view of a building in London by barbara Marshall

safaris and attended a workshop taught by Ansel Adams. Barbara Marshall was a regular patron of museums, cultural organizations, and her church. Never one to seek attention for her generosity, she made her charitable donations quietly. Upon her death in 2008, she left a bequest of $1.43 million to Historic New England to establish an endowment fund in her name to support general operations. Her gift provides an enduring legacy that will support Historic New England’s mission to preserve the region’s rich heritage of build-

ings, landscapes, documents, and collections for future generations to enjoy. —Kimberlea Tracey Vice President for Advancement Planned gifts are a wonderful way to contribute to Historic New England and leave a lasting legacy. Gifts may take many forms, including charitable gift annuities, charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, life insurance, retirement accounts, and monetary bequests or bequests of real estate or personal property. For more information, please contact the Development Team at 617-994-5929 or PlannedGiving@HistoricNewEngland.org.

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M a k i n g

f U n

o f

h i s t o r y

Books for children Nowadays, there are colorful children’s books of every kind—board books, picture books, story books, and books on any topic you can think of. Centuries ago, there were very few books for children. Only some of them had pictures, and if they did, the illustrations were usually not in color. Early children’s books tried to teach good behavior as well as reading and arithmetic. Often, the children in the pictures look like little grown ups. About a hundred and fifty years ago, writers began to write books just to entertain children, such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865, Little Women, 1868, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876. Children still love to read these classics today.

K A typical early nineteenthcentury illustration. About 1870, children’s books began to have pictures printed in color, thanks to new technology. K Primers were textbooks used to teach reading and arithmetic. 22

K This book, used to teach French, shows a welldressed boy at his studies. The illustration is handcolored.

K Pocket-sized chapbooks like this one were popular throughout the nineteenth century. They ran eight to thirty-two pages and cost only a few cents each.

K This picture book, based on a famous novel, tells the story of a shipwrecked sailor.

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make your own

alphabet book abc books match letters and pictures to teach the alphabet. sometimes, alphabet books use rhymes to make the letters easier to remember. here’s how to make an alphabet book of your own.

we made a rhyming abc book about historic new england’s historic houses. Left

Materials 2 sheets of letter paper, 8 ½" x 11" 1 rubber band wooden stick or coffee stirrer, cut to 4 ½" scissors

hole punch pen or pencil, crayons, colored pencils, markers wrapping paper or colored paper (optional)

instructions 1. Fold each sheet of paper in half the long way. 2. With the fold at the top, fold each sheet in half again to form a 4 ½" x 5 ½" rectangle. 3. Tuck one folded sheet into the other. The 4 ½" folded edge will be the spine of your book. 4. Punch two holes through all the layers about ¼" from the spine and ½" from the long edges. 5. Loop one end of the rubber band around the top of the stick and push the other end through the top hole. 6. Turn the book over. Pull the loose end of the rubber band down and push it through the bottom hole. Turn the book back over and loop the loose end around the bottom of the stick. 7. Cut the folds to separate the pages. You are now ready to create your book.

8. Open the book. Leave the inside of the front cover blank for now, and start with the letters A and B on the first righthand page. Using two letters to each page, you will have enough room for the entire alphabet, all the way to Y and Z on the inside of the back cover. 9. For each letter, draw a picture of something that starts with that letter, like an apple or an armadillo for A. 10. To finish, decorate the cover with pictures. Or glue on a piece of wrapping paper for a book jacket. Be sure to add a title and your name. If you are making the book as a gift, use the inside of the front cover to write a message. —Carolin Collins Education Program Manager

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Three Builds and

Four Centuries

“Here is no sterile turning back of the clock to a single moment in time but rather an architectural continuum whose changing outlines are the vital story of change and growth in America.” —Abbott Lowell Cummings, 1964, Ellis Antiques Show Catalogue

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Courtesy Harvard University Archives

The Evolution of the

Lyman Estate, The Vale


ummings’s description of the mansion



Theodore Lyman built in 1793

at his country estate, The Vale, in Waltham, Massachusetts, is as apt today as it was when he wrote it. The result of three separate “builds,” or eras of construction and renovation, the house reflects the Lyman family’s shifting uses of their revered and historic home over the 159-year history of their ownership. Theodore Lyman’s vision of the estate brilliantly merged eighteenth-century architectural and landscape design into a single ideal of refinement and taste. The mansion, designed by Salem architect and carver Samuel McIntire, followed a Palladian model, with a two-story main block flanked by lower blocks that were connected to the main block by hyphens. The center block contained gracious family living spaces, including a 26-foot long oval room, the “bow parlor,”

which was the special domain of private family celebrations. While generous by eighteenth-century standards, the family quarters of the first build were modest by comparison to the size of the house today. The one-and-a-half story end blocks held kitchen, laundry, and servants’ quarters at one end, and on the other, a grand entertainment space—a full-height, cove-ceilinged ballroom for large parties and public events. One of Theodore Lyman’s contemporaries wrote that The Vale was “the most beautiful place around Boston.” Surrounding the house, a naturalistic landscape, laid out by English gardener William Bell, provided a lively contrast to facing Page this c. 1860 view of the vale shows its second owner, george williams Lyman, standing with a cane at the front entrance. above this 1818 watercolor view by harvard student Joshua h. hayward, the earliest known depiction of the vale, shows an elliptical curved porch and other ornament that has not survived, including chinese chippendale balustrades and paired urns at the roofline.

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above a c. 1860 view documents the vale in its original dimensions. smoke rises from the kitchen chimney at the left. facing Page Left Proposed designs for remodeling the mansion by boston architects hartwell and richardson, 1882 and 1883, commissioned

the architecture’s formal symmetry. The south-facing entrance overlooked a grassy plain and a small stream, dammed to form a series of attractive pools. In the more private space behind the house lay a lawn, greenhouses, and pleasure garden, bounded by a tall brick wall running along the base of a low wooded hill. The design took advantage of existing topography and vegetation, further enhanced by specimen trees and shrubs. In 1839, George Williams Lyman inherited the estate after his father’s death. His interests focused on expanding the farm and improving its crops and livestock. He likely made some changes to the house to fit his needs, perhaps early in his ownership or after about 1860, when he came to live at The Vale year-round, probably adding gas lighting and a furnace and upgrading the plumbing. He may also have redesigned the front porch and added a garden porch off the bow parlor. The first complete plans of the house, c. 1881, show several minor modifications to the interior, including the addition of four privies or water closets in the service wing, but the house remained largely unchanged. It was The Vale’s third owner, Arthur Theodore Lyman, George’s third son, who undertook the second major build at the property. In 1881, he and his wife, Ella, purchased the 26

by the estate’s third owner, arthur t. Lyman. the 1883 design, which was actually carried out, retained the basic massing and form of Mcintire’s original federal architecture but with up-todate Queen anne embellishments.

estate from the remaining heirs and embarked on a comprehensive remodeling and enlargement of their summer retreat. The eighty-eight-year-old mansion designed by McIntire was simply too small to accommodate their family of six children, along with their possessions and the staff required to ensure proper functioning. To carry out this project, the Lymans turned to Boston architects Hartwell and Richardson. They may have known Henry Walker Hartwell, a long-time Waltham resident who lived less than a half-mile from The Vale. In the 1880s, Hartwell and his partner, William Cummings Richardson, enjoyed a well-established reputation and practiced among a notable class of nationally respected Boston designers. Their work, particularly in the plans and finishes of their residential commissions, demonstrates a high level of ingenuity and craftsmanship. As did all skilled architects of that period, Hartwell and Richardson designed in a range of styles, and indeed, their versatility was revealed in the two variants they prepared for the Lymans’ remodeling, published a year apart in the leading architectural journal of the day, American Architect and Building News. The first version dramatically reworked McIntire’s Palladian mansion, creating an assertively picturesque Stick

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Style design. Not surprisingly, a year later, they proposed a less radical design that maintained the basic rectilinear form and low roofline of the 1793 house, but enlarged it by adding a story and a half to the central block and raising the lower side wings to a full two stories. The interior plans of the two designs remained basically the same, but the 1883 exterior offered a wholly different approach stylistically—thoroughly Queen Anne in appearance, yet with a nod to the original structure’s neoclassical character. Theodore Lyman’s fourteen-room mansion of 1793 now grew to twenty-six rooms, with box bays flanking a semicircular porch and a stone entrance stair on the façade. The original McIntire pilasters migrated to the front of the bays, while the balustrade moved up to the new roofline and proliferated to crown the porch, box bays, and side wings. Paneled frames were added to the windows, as well as new five-overtwo sash, patterned at the top with small panes. The chimneys were extended and rebuilt with patterned and paneled brickwork, and the whole house was elevated on a new sandstone foundation. The old veranda off the ballroom was replaced with a lavishly columned piazza and an open terrace. A shallow, gable-roofed bay with a huge round-arched window added at the northwest corner of the main house provided a new garden entrance and hinted at the scale of changes to the old mansion’s interior. On the inside, the length and breadth of the original floor plan was given over to family use. Service areas were shifted into an addition and to new attic spaces. The circulation pattern was completely reworked: the old stair was removed and replaced by a spacious stair hall with views out over the garden. The old kitchen, its center chimney rebuilt on the end wall, became a billiard room. A new chimney in the relocated kitchen and laundry at the back of the service wing housed a cast-iron range and

laundry cistern and also heated the servants’ dining hall and a second floor chamber. A new service stair installed behind the main staircase led to eight servants’ bedchambers and a bath on the third floor. The remodeling also added three up-to-date family bathrooms. In the family’s spaces, a reverence for the past and an embrace of the present came together in an eclectic interior that reflected the Queen Anne sensibility one historian has termed “sweetness and light.” Whether Arthur and Ella Lyman, or Hartwell and Richardson, would have seen their effort in that way, an 1884 album of interior photographs taken after the renovations reflects that ideal. White-painted woodwork, straw matting, light cotton curtains, and floral wallpapers give the rooms an airy informality that contrasts with the accumulated elegance of furniture, paintings, and objects the family’s century of wealth afforded. The blend of old and new was most evident in two rooms the Lymans expressly preserved unaltered for their importance in family history, the bow parlor and the ballroom, which they used as the library. As Ella Lyman’s August 2, 1882, diary entry records, “A good deal of house talk in the evening. We decided against altering the bow parlor. We cannot bear to touch it, even to improve the entry, for it is the only room except the library exactly as it was.” In the bow parlor, the original furniture, including a pair of lacquer tables and a set of McIntire banquettes in the recesses of the garden windows, was kept in place. In 1915, Arthur Theodore Lyman, Jr., inherited The Vale from his father, and in 1917, he and his wife, Susan Cabot Lyman, undertook the third major build in the house’s architectural continuum. By the time of this last comprehensive effort, patriotic pride in our nation’s colonial heritage had shifted taste away from a heterogeneous mix of styles and toward an orthodoxy that saw in Georgian and Federal

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Left a sunny nursery adjoined ella and arthur Lyman’s bedroom. the fireplace tiles illustrate biblical stories, including one of Jonah and the whale. center ella and arthur’s bedroom typified the Queen anne style, with light floral wallpaper, eclectic furnishings,

architecture a reflection of time-honored values. Restoring the architecture of the past paid homage to the spirit of an earlier age. Arthur and Susan Lyman looked to recapture elements of their McIntire-designed home by undoing some of the previous generation’s remodeling. They hired a Boston interior decorator and antiquarian, Nonie Davis Tupper, to reestablish the mansion’s Federal character. Miss Tupper’s role reflects a new chapter in design history, not just another layer of change at The Vale. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, she seems to have had no formal training in design and most likely started her career as a well-informed and passionate amateur. She was a professional decorator rather than an architect, who shaped the appearance of the house but not its function or structure. Hunting for authentic Federal details, she tracked down the original McIntire 28

and an abundance of white-painted woodwork, much of it carved with floral motifs that reflect the family’s love of gardens. beLow in 1917, the bow parlor remained a family sanctuary, keeping

dining room doors, which had been given to a Lyman relative, had them copied, and installed the copies at The Vale. She may also have salvaged antique leaded fanlights to replace the Queen Anne fans in the arched openings over the ballroom and library doors. That her work was considered solely cosmetic, however, is borne out in the 1917 city building permit that makes no mention of the sweeping changes, inside and out, and records only the installation of modern bathrooms in what had been a dressing room between the south bedchambers. Yet Miss Tupper’s work at The Vale reached far beyond two new bathrooms: almost all of the 1882 exterior decoration and many Queen Anne interior features were removed, including most of the window sash, the semicircular porch and entrance steps, the paneled brick chimneys, and the piazza columns and railings. All were simplified in an effort to eliminate

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faith with theodore Lyman’s mansion, complete with window banquettes, lacquer tables, and seating placed there originally in 1793. right colonial revival renovations in 1917 lightened the

Victorian excess. On the interior, Queen Anne mantels and tile surrounds in the dining room, southeast parlor, and the alcove off the ballroom, as well as in the south bedchambers above, were replaced with simpler, Federal mantels and slate surrounds or, in the dining room, antique Delft tiles. The Queen Anne woodwork and cabinetry was stripped from the box bays in the front rooms, and the tall paneled wainscoting in the entrance hall, dining room, and south parlor was replaced with a lower wainscot and dado molding. The project was hardly a restoration, as it could not eliminate the 1882 structural modifications to the massing and volume of the 1793 original. Despite the thoroughness with which Miss Tupper altered the exterior, on the interior she focused on redressing 1882 alterations only to the original McIntire core. The bow parlor and library/ballroom remained sacrosanct: like Hartwell and Richardson before her, she made no changes to those rooms. But in the stairhall, billiard room, china pantry, new bedrooms and bathrooms, she let the Queen Anne work stand for later generations, who have now come to appreciate and admire them as fine examples of that period. Through its three builds, The Vale most assuredly continues to “preserve a complex impression” with precious

look, inside and out, by removing the trim added in the 1880s. the ballroom’s coved ceiling, columns, and pilasters, all Mcintire originals, remained untouched.

fragments of Theodore Lyman’s McIntire mansion, compelling reminders of Arthur and Ella Lyman’s light-filled Queen Anne summer retreat, and an overlay of Arthur, Jr., and Susan Lyman’s respectful revival in the Colonial style. As stewards of the Lyman Estate for over half a century, Historic New England now adds to that legacy with a distinctly twenty-first century effort to significantly reduce energy consumption in the grand old mansion. By managing this change without damaging the house’s architectural fabric, this effort demonstrates again the vital story of change and growth embodied at The Vale. —Sally Zimmerman Manager of Historic Preservation Services

In the 1970s, the Lyman Estate, The Vale, became one of the first historic houses in the region available for function rental. In April 2012, following extensive refurbishing, the mansion with its pleasure garden and expansive grounds will once again become available for private celebrations. We invite you to plan your next event here. Please visit HistoricNewEngland.org for details or call 617-994-6195.

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P r e s e r v at i o n

Weatherization at

Historic New England


roprietors of historic buildings and homeowners everywhere are concerned about reducing energy costs. At Historic New England, we are addressing energy issues at all our properties, most particularly at the 1793 Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, where we are in the final phase of a year-long demonstration effort to weatherize the 14,000-square-foot mansion house. Our ambitious goal is to decrease energy consumption by 50 percent without compromising the building’s historic character. The effort is supported by the Preservation Maintenance


Fund and by a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Our first step in weatherizing a building is to evaluate its current energy usage and find weak points. We use a blower door—a temporary exterior door with a powerful fan—to draw air out of the building and show where air is leaking. Another diagnostic technique is thermal imaging, in which an infrared camera tracks the movement of heat through the building. These audits pinpoint problem areas and provide a baseline by which to measure the effectiveness of any repairs.

Energy conservation often begins with insulation. Typically, the best location for insulation is the attic floor, which, in an unfinished space, is usually relatively accessible. The return on investment in insulating attic floors is far greater than that for insulating walls, a method that is more invasive and risks damaging historic fabric. We prefer blown-in dense pack cellulose insulation; not only is it more effective than pink fiberglass batts, it is also easier to install, because the batts often don’t fit the randomly sized floor bays typical in older construction.

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Cellulose insulation also helps seal air leaks more effectively. Sealing air gaps is another critical part of weatherization in its own right and is essential to ensuring that insulation performs properly. Warm air leaking into a well-insulated attic is likely to result in condensation and may cause an ice dam. Excessive moisture can damage the structure, its contents, and its inhabitants. While it may not be possible to seal all the gaps in an older building, simple repairs to plaster or woodwork can significantly reduce the flow of warm air into cold spaces. Adding weather stripping to windows and doors and installing storm windows and doors will further tighten the building. Replacement windows, though widely advertised as a solution to energy issues, often turn out to be unsatisfactory. (“Maintenance free” often means thay are difficult to repair.) Original wooden sash that are more than seventy-five years old are typically better quality. Basic treatments like tuning the mechanical operation,

adding weather stripping, and replacing failed glazing putty can easily add another seventy-five years or more to the life-span of these important architectural elements. Beyond that, installing storm windows can convert a historic sash into the equivalent of a modern thermal sash, preserving the historic window and conserving building energy. One place where twenty-first century technology does offer significant efficiency gains is in the heating and cooling plant. The Lyman Estate’s current oil-fueled heating plant operates at approximately 85 percent efficiency; its new natural-gas-fueled heating plant is expected to operate at an efficiency of approximately 95 percent. Installing programmable thermostats will further balance energy consumption with building use. The weatherization techniques outlined here can provide significant gains in energy efficiency with little or no impact on a building’s historic features and fabric. At the conclusion of the work at the Lyman Estate, the most comprehensive of the weatherization projects we are undertaking at our properties, we will measure energy consumption again and compare the results against the baseline information. After analyzing the results, we will share our findings with other proprietors of historic buildings and with the public. Helping preserve the authentic character of the region’s historic buildings is a central part of our mission, and contributing to energy conservation is a public benefit for all. Our hope is that Historic New England’s leadership in this area will help to prove that environmental sustainability and historic preservation are not in conflict and even landmark structures like

the Lyman Estate can set a new standard for energy performance. —Colleen Chapin Preservation Manager

the window openings in the Lyman estate ballroom, waltham, Massachusetts, are secured temporarily while the sash are being conserved. above a blower door at the Pierce house in dorchester, Massachusetts, is used to establish a baseline for air leakage. beLow Left at the Langdon house in Portsmouth, new hampshire, select attic floorboards are removed so that cellulose insulation can be blown in. facing Page

Breaking news! As this issue was going to press, the City of Waltham awarded Historic New England a $207,000 grant through the Community Preservation Act to support preservation work also underway at Lyman Estate. We urge you to support the critical work to make all our properties selfsustaining. To contribute, please visit HistoricNewEngland.org/PMF or use the enclosed envelope to mail in a donation.

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P r i M e r

A Brief History of Toleware early nineteenth-century french tole at beauport, sleeper-Mccann house, gloucester, Massachusetts. beLow tool box. facing Page, toP Plate warmer. Probably england, 1820–50. facing Page, beLow watering can, document box, and pitcher. Probably connecticut, 1820–40.

David Bohl



ecoratively painted objects made of tin-plated iron known as toleware (also called tole peinte, Pontypool, Bilk, and japanning) became popular in America in the late eighteenth century. Domestic implements made of tin-coated metals have been produced ever since Roman times. In Great Britain, the manufacture of tinned iron, using trade secrets brought from Saxony, began around 1670 with the establishment of manufactories in and near Pontypool, Wales. In the American colonies by the latter half of the eighteenth century, demand rose for both unpainted and decorated tin objects, driving up the price of English imports and setting the stage for the wares to be produced on


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this side of the Atlantic. The first American tinware manufactory, which shaped and decorated sheets of tin plate imported from England, was established in Berlin, Connecticut, in 1770. Iron was already being extracted in America by that time, but it was available only in small amounts, whereas English sheet iron was plentiful and inexpensive. Toleware reached the height of popularity around the mid- to late nineteenth century, and manufactories could be found around the world, notably in France, England, Holland, Germany, and China. In America, the main production centers were located in Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut. D av id

The manufacture of tole begins with rolling and hammering iron into thin sheets, which are then coated on all sides with a protective layer of tin. The thickness and evenness of the tin layer can indicate the region and period of manufacture. After the sheet was cut, shaped, and soldered into the desired form, the item could be sold as is or painted and decorated. Some manufactories also applied a layer of asphaltum or bitumen, a thick tar-like material derived from crude oil, on top of the tin to provide a smooth and glossy surface on which to apply paint. Asphaltum was also used in the decoraC ar m ac


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Davi d Carm ack

pierced or scalloped edges, inlaid mother-of-pearl, or painted flourishes, flowers, fountains, fruits, and birds of paradise. A particularly popular decorative scheme imitated lacquer, with Oriental-style scenes painted on a varnished black ground. When Henry Davis Sleeper, the creator of Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, was in France during the First World War, he purchased numerous examples of red toleware decorated in gold, a favorite treatment of the French Empire style. After his return, Sleeper used the tole collection as the centerpiece of his decorative scheme for the dramatic Octagon Room, displaying vermilion toleware and red moroccobound volumes on golden maple furniture against aubergine-colored walls. Once you have discovered the historical allure and aesthetics of toleware, you will begin to spot pieces tucked away in antique stores or displayed in

museums throughout the country. You can find examples at several Historic New England properties in addition to Beauport, including Codman House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, RundletMay House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine, and discover the charm, even elegance, of these modest utilitarian objects. David Carmack

tion of coaches and patent leather. Painting transformed items manufactured for utility into objects that were decorative as well as functional. The distinctive painting technique commonly used to decorate tole was a onestroke method developed in England in the early eighteenth century. The artist would load the brush with two or more colors of paint so that one quick sweep of the hand would create body, shadow, and highlights. This efficient method saved time and money for the manufacturer. The style is immediately recognizable in the patterns of scrolls, flowers, and birds found on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century tinned iron objects. Tole exists in a variety of shapes, with some of the most common being tea caddies, canisters, sewing boxes, document and money boxes, and all types of trays. In America, serving trays were possibly the most popular and numerous of painted tinware objects. They were available in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with its own name. Decorative treatments might include

Proper care for toleware Toleware is susceptible to surface deterioration from use, dust (which attracts moisture to the surface), and changes in temperature and humidity. Flaws in the manufacturing process can cause the paint or the tin coating itself to flake, exposing the iron and allowing it to rust. Rust can also form as a result of pinhole-sized disruptions that push through the layers of tin and paint. A less obvious form of deterioration

occurs as a result of the drying, shrinking, and cracking of the asphaltum and its poor adhesion to both the tin surface and the paint layer. The key to stabilizing deteriorating toleware is to prevent further loss of paint, asphaltum, and metal and to consolidate the materials. Keeping your objects dust free is the first step in preservation. Methods of conservation focus on mitigating corrosion, re-adhering

—Michaela Neiro Associate Conservator, with Jill Hari, past Mellon Conservation Fellow

loose paint, and improving the appearance with in-painting and coating. Although it is sometimes possible to improve the appearance of deteriorated toleware through conservation, often the aesthetics of a well-used object are what draws us to collecting it to begin with. Because of the fragile nature of deteriorated toleware and the complexity of its treatment, be sure to consult a trained conservator for proper care.

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

141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702

a C q u I s I T I O N s


iconic material of the twentieth century and easily alloyed with other metals to enhance and change its properties. In the 1930s, exhibitions like Machine Art and Design for the Machine in New York and Philadelphia promoted the use of new materials in industrial design. Decorative and functional, tablewares like these brought the art of the Machine Age to New England homes. —Nancy Carlisle Senior Curator Andrew Davis Photography


hese two aluminum serving pieces, trademarked Buenilum, were designed and marketed by the German-born Frederic Buehner, who in 1929 emigrated to the United States and settled in Connecticut. Within four years, he developed a line of decorative aluminum tablewares, which he successfully manufactured until 1969, when he sold his company to The Pfaltzgraff Company. Buehner trained at the Deutscher Werkbund in Munich, a state-sponsored collaborative of artists and industrialists that was a forerunner of Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus, with the same goal of uniting design and industry. When he arrived in this country, aluminum was taking its place alongside plastic as the material of the twentieth century. Its uses in everthing from domestic goods, architecture, industry, transportation, and aviation seemed almost infinite. Aluminum is lightweight, malleable, corrosion resistant,

Frederic buehner (1908– 1971), glass-lined serving dishes, c. 1955. Gift of Ralph C. bloom.


The award-winning Historic New England magazine is a benefit of membership. To join, please visit HistoricNewEngland.org

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