Historic New England Spring 2014

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As this issue shows so well, Historic New England operates on the generosity of others. The Cape Cod Canal collection, which forms the basis of our cover story, was recently donated by Nina Heald Webber. The article on architects Little and Browne was made possible by the gift and bequest of Herbert Browne of his firm’s architectural records along with his collection of rare architectural books. The remarkable trove of Washington Monument materials, saved by the family of Brigadier General Thomas Lincoln Casey at their homestead, Casey Farm, accompanied the gift of the farm to Historic New England in 1955. Castle Tucker, featured here as a preservation challenge, was donated by Jane Tucker to fulfill her vision of preserving her ancestral home. The jewelry story includes both donated works and examples of the kinds of pieces we hope to acquire as we expand our holdings of twentiethcentury works. Every day Historic New England receives both gifts of collection items as well as financial contributions. Scholars researching our holdings share their insights with us, and volunteers donate hundreds of hours of their time. The generosity of our members and friends has been the foundation of this organization since 1910 and continues to support us today. For Historic New England, I thank you.

Historic N E W E NG L A N D Spring 2014 Vol. 14, No. 3

Settings for Plutocrats 16

Building the Cape Cod Canal 26


Food for All Seasons




“To him the nation is indebted” MAKING LEAR NING FUN

Fun Without Batteries D ESIG N



Collecting the Recent Past

—Carl R. Nold President and CEO


Castle Tucker




Preserving New England’s Building Heritage 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 ­­­ New 617-994-5910. Comments? Please call Nancy Curtis, editor. Historic England is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor: Diane Viera Editor: Nancy Curtis Editorial Review Team: Nancy Carlisle, Senior Curator of Collections; Lorna Condon, Senior Curator of Library and Archives; Jennifer Pustz, Museum Historian; Sally Zimmerman, Senior Preservation Services Manager Design: DeFrancis Carbone





Design for Living: Modern Architecture in a Colonial Town Treasure Seekers


Love Seat


COVER In 1914, the dredge Governor Warfield scoops mud in the final section of the Cape Cod Canal. Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives.

E V E R Y O N E ’ S


Hasan Tebiib, pushcart owner. CENTER Bird’s-eye view of the Haymarket in downtown Boston. RIGHT Unidentified worker. BELOW

Food for All Seasons


ven before the mid-eighteenth century, when Faneuil Hall was built, the area around Dock Square on Boston’s waterfront was the site of a market. Today’s thriving food market known as the Haymarket is believed to have been operating there since the 1830s. Open Fridays and Saturdays year round, it serves thousands of bargain-hunting customers. For much of the twentieth century, most of the shop owners and vendors were of Italian descent; more recently, men and women from diverse locations like Asia and South America have joined their ranks. The shoppers reflect the varied mixture of Greater Boston: office workers rub shoulders with immigrants from all over the world, and tourists mingle with suburban families enjoying a pizza. At the heart of downtown, crowds navigating their way around the market’s narrow corridor bring vitality and human scale to the city’s skyscrapers and highways.

Historic New England is currently partnering with the Haymarket Pushcart Association to document the Haymarket’s people and life through each season. Photographer Justin H. Goodstein-Aue has been making regular visits to the market to take pictures, and I am interviewing owners and workers, each of whom has an interesting life story. You can watch The Haymarket Project on YouTube.com/ HistoricNewEngland. Experience the vitality of a crowded market in the heart of the city, listen to the vendors’ stories, and see how the market changes with the seasons. Winter and Spring are available now; Summer and Fall will go live later this year. — Ken Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions

Spring 2014 Historic New England


Meet the people of the Haymarket LEFT

JOSEPH ONESSIMO OK, I get up at 3:30 on Friday morning. I come into Chelsea Market. I check on my produce and make sure I have everything. I call my driver, he picks it up and delivers it down the market. And at 6 o’clock I start setting my stand up. Everything start fresh—stand and produce. I work all day till 6 or 7 at night, close up, come back the following morning at 5 o’clock and work till I sell out. That’s it, that’s my weekend.


AL SCIOLA, HAYMARKET PIZZA If you come to the market with your kids, you got to come get a piece of pizza. I see it every day— people come in here and say, “Oh, my kids were raised on this stuff, and this place looks exactly like the way it looked when I came in here twenty years ago.” That’s what I try to do—keep the building rustic looking, keep the integrity of the building.


SALIM MARHAMO, INTERNATIONAL FOOD COMPANY When I was a new immigrant from Lebanon, I asked people where to shop for vegetables and products, so everyone told me come to Haymarket where you can find all what you need. I bought the place, the business and start in 1992, so I started as a meat business, especially in halal meat. I knew that a lot of Muslim immigrants are coming to the United States, and they are looking for this kind of product, so that’s how I start. You see people from all around the world right here, that’s amazing. I don’t think any other job will give that pleasure.


Historic New England Spring 2014


SCOTT LAMBERT, PURITAN BEEF COMPANY My grandfather started this company back in 1911, when he came to this country from Russia. My father took it over roughly around the 1940s, and I’ve been running it ever since he retired. I have been here forty-nine years now. I grew up as a kid working for my father on Saturdays and summertime. I started when I was twelve years old. It was a hard life, it was a very hard life because we work all year round, including the middle of the winter. To me, the Haymarket is a piece of history—the most valuable thing the city of Boston really has. You can show historic buildings, but this is actual living history.


OTTO GALLOTTO, PRESIDENT, HAYMARKET PUSHCART ASSOCIATION I want people to understand that this market has to survive, one way or another. People need this market. It’s not just for the poor, it’s for everyone.

Spring 2014 Historic New England



“To him the nation is indebted� Thomas Lincoln Casey and the Washington Monument


Historic New England Spring 2014

“An ungainly chimney” and “an eyesore to the people” that “ought to be pulled down or built up and finished.” Thus did Mark Twain characterize the Washington Monument in 1867. Many Americans agreed with him.


ecades had passed since Washington’s death in 1799, and it was less than ten years before the nation’s centennial. In the intervening years, several attempts had been made to erect a suitable monument. All failed due to a combination of Congressional inaction, sporadic fundraising, design disagreements, and the Civil War. The monument Twain described stood at 156 feet when construction was abandoned in 1854. Pressure to renew the project mounted in the early 1870s. Congress finally approved the first expenditure of public funds in July 1876. The question remained—who would take charge of the construction? A Joint Commission and a Building Committee were formed. Several unresolved issues were identified—the foundation, the final design and height, and what materials to use. In June 1878, the challenge was given to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lincoln Casey, head of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds under the Office of the Army’s Chief of Engineers. The office, established in 1867, had charge of all public works in the District of Columbia. Captain George W. Davis, an engineer in the 14th Infantry Division, was designated Casey’s assistant. Casey was descended from a long line of Rhode Islanders, whose family homestead is now Historic New England’s c. 1750 Casey Farm in Saunderstown. His father, Silas, was a major general who fought in the Mexican-American War. Casey graduated at the top of the United States Military Academy class of 1852, taught engineering at West Point, and had several years of experience working on fortifications in Maine, Washington State, and at the Corps of Engineers’ headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Work on the foundation underway in the summer of 1879. The body of water in the background is Babcock Lake, which was later drained and filled in to help stabilize the foundation. ABOVE Casey as a brigadier general after his promotion to Chief of Engineers in July1888. FACING PAGE

Upon taking over the project, Casey began by addressing long-standing questions as to whether the existing foundation could support the superstructure. Numerous analyses had been conducted. Different solutions were proposed, but Casey was determined to resolve the indecision quickly. Within a month, he presented a plan that acknowledged the inadequacy of the existing foundation: it would have to be made deeper and strengthened with buttresses. The surface would be enlarged to more evenly distribute the weight and pressure resulting from an obelisk 525 feet high—the height originally set by the Joint Commission. Casey’s plan was approved, and in October 1878, as soon as he received the go-ahead to start construction, he wasted no time getting to work. The site needed to be prepared, shops erected, machinery purchased and assembled, materials bought on contract, and a multi-skilled workforce hired. Specialized equipment included derricks and cement mixers. Great care was required to place Portland cement to undergird the existing foundation of blue gneiss and sand. Spring 2014 Historic New England


Concrete buttresses in place to strengthen the base, January 1880. MIDDLE This steam-driven engine powered the elevator used to raise construction materials, and later passengers, to the top. LEFT

Ably assisted by Davis, Casey was intimately involved in all aspects of the project. Details of the entire construction process were carefully recorded and preserved in monthly reports. Work on the foundation was completed in May 1880, well within Congressional appropriations. Casey’s July 1878 plan for the foundation had also addressed the design and height of the finished monument. The fate of Twain’s “ungainly chimney” was still being debated as work on the foundation progressed. Some favored something grander than an obelisk. Casey proposed that the stump should not be torn down but should form the basis of the completed monument. He also argued effectively for a simple obelisk form. In support, Robert C. Winthrop, former House Speaker and then president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, concluded that the monument “was not undertaken to illustrate the fine arts of any period, but to commemorate the foremost man of all ages.” An obelisk it would be. Next to be settled was the monument’s final height. Early in 1879, Casey made the acquaintance of George P. Marsh, the American ambassador to Italy, who was greatly interested in the project and had made independent studies of obelisks. His calculations led him to suggest that the height 6

Historic New England Spring 2014

Steam was generated by underground boilers and carried 800 feet to the engine. The system was electrified in 1900 to allay safety concerns and lower operating costs. RIGHT Workmen and visitors

should be ten times the width of the base. Over the following year, Casey and Marsh worked together so that Casey was able to submit a plan for completing the monument just as the foundation was about to be finished. Reflecting Marsh’s suggestions, the height was raised to 555 feet, with the roof or pyramidion, whose sides measured 34.5 feet, extending the final 55 feet. Casey’s plan called for large quantities of marble, granite, and iron-—marble and granite for the superstructure and iron for an elevator and skeletal framework. Marble construction backed by granite would carry the structure to 450 feet, above which the remainder of the shaft would be entirely marble. A new source for the marble accounts for the change in shade still visible on the exterior today. The elevator was designed to raise construction materials not exceeding six tons and was intended, upon the completion of construction, to be converted for passenger use. Obtaining building materials of sufficient quality and in a timely fashion was a continual challenge. It required Casey to work closely with numerous contractors and rely heavily on able assistants. Bernard Richardson Green, a Corps of Engineers civilian who had worked with Casey on fortifications in Maine during the Civil War and had joined

stand on the construction platform atop the monument. At right, one of four wooden cranes swings out to lower a stone in place.

the Public Buildings and Grounds staff at Casey’s behest, assumed a prominent role after Davis left in 1881 for another assignment. Together, Casey and Green were a formidable team, sharing ideas and day-to-day management of construction. Workers placed the last piece of marble at the 500-foot level in August 1884. All that remained was to complete the pyramidion. The monument had changed since 1878, when Casey first proposed a pyramidion of metal and glass. Now Casey and Green, considering the weight that would bear on the shaft and foundation below, opted for a roof of thin slabs of marble cut large enough to minimize the number of required joints. They also planned to cap the roof with an aluminum apex that would protect the monument from lightning and would not stain the marble. Casey personally selected retired Army Colonel William Frishmuth to fashion a 100-ounce piece of aluminum measuring 5.6 by 8.9 inches. When finished, it was the largest single piece of cast aluminum in existence. On December 6, 1884, following a schedule Casey had planned, he set the aluminum apex in place atop the 3,300pound capstone, as dignitaries looked on, a cannon fired a salute, and the American flag was unfurled from the top of

the monument. From below a crowd of well-wishers cheered. Formal dedication followed on February 21, 1885. It was a cold day. Snow covered the ground, but, as one observer noted, all of official and private Washington seemed to be there. President Chester Arthur concluded the ceremony by dedicating the monument from then on “to the immortal name and memory of George Washington.” That night the city celebrated with a grand fireworks display. Before the public opening, more work needed to be done: on lightning protection, interior lighting, setting memorial stones along the interior walls, creating terracing around the base, and converting the construction elevator to a public elevator. Criticism of the design persisted in some quarters, but praise abounded. Writing in December 1886, former President Rutherford B. Hayes stated that “Casey is entitled to special and honorable mention….To him the nation is indebted for the successful completion of its most admirable and illustrious structure.” For a brief time, until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889, the monument was the tallest structure in the world. Even then it was still the world’s highest stone structure. Casey oversaw the project until April 1888. That July he was promoted to brigadier general and chief of the Corps of Engineers, and subsequently, he oversaw construction of the Library of Congress. Thomas Lincoln Casey is buried in the family cemetery at Historic New England’s Casey Farm. —Paul K.Walker Dr. Walker served for twenty years as chief historian at the headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in Washington, D.C., and is currently researching the lives of General Casey and his sons, Thomas Lincoln, Jr., and Edward.

The collection of Casey Family Papers that Dr. Walker consulted during his research for this article are part of a project to create publicly available and searchable finding aids for twentysix manuscript collections related to Historic New England’s sites. Historic New England’s Family Manuscript Collections: Expanding Access to New England Heritage project is partially funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Clay P. and Catherine A. Bedford Family Foundation. If you are interested in supporting this project, please contact Development@HistoricNewEngland.org.

Spring 2014 Historic New England





Fun Without Batteries “This is cool!” Derek is impressed with himself. He has just drawn pictures of two favorite video game characters and then cut each image into vertical strips. Afterward, he pasted the strips in alternate order onto a piece of paper. To complete the project, he pleated the paper into accordion folds. Seen straight on, the folded paper makes no sense, but when viewed from the side, the strips recombine into his original drawings. In little more than half an hour, Derek has created his own version of an optical illusion that in the nineteenth century was a popular parlor trick. Derek learned how to make his two-way picture in Historic Toys and Optical Illusions, one of several multi-week educational activities that Historic New England offers to children in daycare, after-school programs, and community centers. The children


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learn about history through handson activities that spark their imaginations and bring the past alive. Children who at the first session could not imagine life without television or electronic toys are surprised to discover that they can entertain themselves with oldfashioned games. Another favorite of Derek and his friends is a simple board game called Snail, which dates from the early eighteenth century, played with a single die and dried beans as counters. Children love competing to be the first to follow the spiral pattern into the center, and, just as they can with the two-way picture, they can recreate the game at home. Derek is just one of the children benefiting from a longstanding partnership between Historic New England and the Allston Brighton Area Planning Action Center (APAC) in Massachusetts. The organization was

founded in 1968 with a mission to combat poverty by promoting self-help for low-income people and neighborhoods. Every summer, APAC runs a camp on weekdays for children aged six to twelve, providing breakfast and lunch in addition to outdoor activities and enrichment. For more than decade, Historic New England has been sending museum teachers twice a week to APAC’s facility to present lively educational activities based on our awardwinning school programs. We are proud to be able to offer this program, as well as many others, free of charge for groups with demonstrated need. —Carolin Collins Education Program Manager Derek shows off his two-way picture.



This necklace of tinted aluminum washers strung on leather cord embodies Modern design principles. Simple and beautiful, it highlights the appeal of everyday materials. The piece belonged to Ise Gropius, whose husband, Walter, founded the Bauhaus school of design in Germany. The designer may have been Anni Albers, a weaver and textile designer at the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College in North Carolina.


Collecting the Recent Past


istoric New England is actively collecting items made and used in twentieth-century New England. These pieces are often too recent for us to recognize their significance, but objects that are part of our normal routines are critically important for interpreting daily life. Few personal items can trace changes in fashion and self-presentation better than jewelry. New England has a long tradition of jewelry production, both individually crafted artisan pieces and factory-made work from the Providence, Rhode Island, and North Attleboro, Massachusetts, regions. Modernist jeweler Elsa Freund said, “There are two ways to approach jewelry making. One is to give a precious stone a proper setting. The other

is to give something of no particular value a worth by making it a thing of beauty. Of the two methods, I prefer the latter.” The centuries-old traditions of bench work and handcraft continue to the present day. At the turn of the last century, institutions like Boston’s Normal School and, later, the Society of Arts and Crafts and the School at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston recognized and trained a handful of jewelers, who then took on apprentices of their own. Jewelry made by designer-craftsmen was characterized by an individual aesthetic, the result of a single artist bringing his or her unique concept to fruition. Since the nineteenth century, southern New England’s thriving jewelry industry has produced items for a wide range of consumers nationwide.

Costume jewelry, also known as fashion jewelry, uses comparatively inexpensive materials: base metals that can be plated in gold or silver, plastics, ceramics, glass, and semi-precious stones. Because it was mass produced, costume jewelry is often perceived to be lower in quality, but it was produced using many of the same techniques and skills as those of artisan jewelers, applied on an industrial scale. Costume jewelry deserves more attention—it was what most people could afford and what they typically wore every day. Its very ubiquity makes it a vital part of New England’s material culture. —Laura Johnson Associate Curator

Spring 2014 Historic New England


Designers intended early twentieth-century costume jewelry to resemble precious gems. “The look of real” was best exemplified by the work of designers like Henri Boucher and Alfred Philippe. Philippe, who trained in Paris, worked at several fine jewelry firms before moving to Trifari. Trifari’s work, such as this bracelet, is expertly constructed to resemble its precious stone counterpart.


New England jewelers like Zoe and Delfina Parenti created striking pieces in both classic and Modern styles. This mid-century cocktail ring in silver set with cut rock crystal combined a traditional floral motif with a contemporary aesthetic. The Parenti sisters were in the vanguard of women moving into jewelry design after World War II. Their Boston studios offered artisan jewelry until the 1970s.


Jewelry manufacturers based in Providence, Rhode Island, and North Attleboro, Massachusetts, some of the largest employers in the region, produced quantities of costume jewelry that were sold nationwide. These jewelers are among the unsung heroes of the American fashion industry. Coro, Trifari, Monet, Little Nemo, and hundreds of other manufacturing jewelers made good quality, stylish adornments available to a wide range of consumers. By the 1950s and ‘60s, costume jewelry had moved beyond approximations of high-end products to sets of well-made jewelry in styles ranging from the demure to the exotic. Some companies even offered mid-century Modern lines that resembled the handcrafted pieces of Ed Wiener, Paul Lobel, and others. These businesses maintained showrooms and sales departments in New York but manufactured their products in Providence to draw on the large talented labor force. The manufacture of each piece required the skills of drafters, model makers, casters, platers, stone setters, and polishers.


Coro. Private collection.


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New England produced some of the leading jewelers of the early twentieth century. Opals, diamonds, pearls, and amethysts embellish this brooch made by Edward Everett Oakes for Henry Wriston and his daughter Barbara. Following the centuries-long tradition of apprenticeship, Oakes studied with the first generation of Arts and Crafts jewelers in Boston and continued their commitment to handcraft excellence well into the twentieth century.


Historic New England is actively seeking donations of twentieth-century jewelry made and worn in New England. There are notable gaps in the collection, primarily in the area of studio jewelry and costume jewelry. Please contact Historic New England about donating pieces you no longer wear, especially items made by the following designers and manufacturers: Arts and Crafts Josephine Hartwell Shaw Frank Gardner Hale Margaret Rogers Hazel Blake French Mid-century Modern Ed Weiner Paul Lobel Henry Steig Jules Brenner Margaret Craver Francis Holmes Boothby Ed Levin Karl Drerup

Little Nemo

Providence and North Attleboro Manufacturers Trifari Coro Monet Whiting & Davis Little Nemo

A group of Modernist jewelers including Ed Wiener, Paul Lobel, Henry Steig, and Jules Brenner, often associated with New York, also kept summer studios in Provincetown, Massachusetts, from 1949 through the 1960s. They helped set the tone of Modern jewelry for more than two decades.

Courtesy of Skinner


Spring 2014 Historic New England




The north side of Castle Tucker is the subject of current study and repair. FACING PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Our carpentry crew repairs the north entry. Cracks in the mortar and bricks on the north bow end. Water damage to historic wallpaper. LEFT

Castle Tucker

Rich in history but in urgent need


he story told at Castle Tucker in Wiscasset, Maine, is one of contrasts—of decades of prosperity based on merchant trade followed by economic decline, when generations of Tucker women struggled to preserve the family home through tourism. The house, built in 1807, presents a layering of Federal, Victorian, and early twentieth-century architecture and furnishings, while the Tucker family papers provide exceptional insights into women’s history. However, two centuries of harsh winters have taken their toll on the property, so that Castle Tucker now poses a preservation challenge. As part of our charge to preserve and maintain our historic sites,


Historic New England Spring 2014

Historic New England regularly inspects each of its thirty-six properties across the region. The most recent review of house, outbuildings, and landscape at Castle Tucker identified potential structural issues affecting the barn complex and the separate studio building, moisture issues resulting from failing roofs, and degradation in both the front façade steps and the visitor entrance. For a more in-depth analysis, we commissioned a structural engineering study of the barn and studio, which found both to be in dangerous condition due to general deterioration of structural elements, compounded by a lack of secure footing. The buildings were built directly on a slanted rock ledge with no sub-surface foundation; very little is keeping them from sliding

into the ravine behind. In addition, we found several failure points in the roof that allow moisture to penetrate throughout the building and contribute to masonry failure in the northern two-story bow end. What we first believed to be a minor delamination of the brick wall has turned out to be a serious issue— moisture penetration has so degraded the inner mortar that the exterior layer of bricks is peeling away from the wall. The necessity of balancing preservation priorities across the entire network of our historic sites forced us to make the hard decision to manage the issues at Castle Tucker rather than resolve them immediately, which requires additional funding. As a remedial measure, we installed crib-

bing to stabilize the structures and are monitoring them for any change or movement. Problem areas on the roof have been patched to stop water penetration. Last season, our carpentry crew shored up the north entrance and closed off a weakened stairway. These actions are staving off further deterioration for the time being. We have now reached the point where we must make a major investment in Castle Tucker to preserve this important Wiscasset landmark. In preparation for a major preservation effort, we thoroughly investigated the masonry issues in the bow end last fall, removing sections of brick to examine conditions in the inner wall and analyze the mortar. This research allowed us to develope a full scope of work that we hope to start implementing this year. The eventual repair work will

meet our highest preservation standards. Bricks will be labeled and numbered before being removed so that they can be placed back in their exact locations. The plan includes repairs to structural elements supporting the floors in the bow end and to damaged window lintels. The final step will be to rebuild the wall with every brick in its proper place. Funding Castle Tucker projects has always been a challenge. A large source of Historic New England’s preservation project funding comes from grants from state and local government agencies. While its commitment to preservation is strong, Maine has only limited grant funds dedicated to preservation. The cost of the work we plan to carry out this year is currently estimated at $115,000, and we need your sup-

port to make it happen. We urgently request your help via a contribution to the Preservation Maintenance Fund as we undertake the first phase of the effort to preserve Castle Tucker.

—Ben Haavik, Team Leader, Property Care —Kimberlea Tracey, Vice President for Advancement

To make a donation, visit HistoricNewEngland.org.

Spring 2014 Historic New England



Preserving New England’s Building Heritage


istoric New England’s Stewardship Easement Program currently protects more than 160 structures using preservation easements. A preservation easement is a private and voluntary agreement between a property owner and an easement holding organization, such as Historic New England, which identifies the property’s important historic and architectural features that must be protected from insensitive alterations. Historic New England staff work closely with property owners to allow changes necessary for modern living that do not harm historic features or building fabric. While the program is known for protecting a wide range of domestic buildings, it also protects many other types of structures that were common features of the New England landscape during the past four centuries. At this time, more than twelve farms are enrolled in the Stewardship Easement Program. In addition to farmhouses and barns, the program also protects the numerous outbuildings that support farm life and farm operations, including carriage sheds, garages, storage sheds, icehouses, shops, corn


Historic New England Spring 2014

cribs, hen houses, well houses, and privies. Other building types important in the early history of New England are the taverns and inns that dotted stagecoach routes, sheltered weary travelers, and served as public meeting places. Important elements unique to these structures that are protected in the program are mile markers, taprooms, cage bars, and ballrooms. While farming continued as the predominant occupation of New Englanders through the eighteenth century, mills and industrial complexes began to appear across the region at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century. This increase of industry across New England created fortunes that funded the development of estates on large tracts of land with a mansion house and outbuildings to support operations. Protected buildings related to this period of New England’s history include a cooperage, grist mill, cider mill, stable, guest cottage, and estate gate lodge. The program also extends to twentieth-century outbuildings, including garages and storage sheds.

Finally, no description of New England’s building history can be complete without the churches and meeting houses that served as places of worship and public gatherings. Whether continuing to function as sacred spaces or adapted for commercial or residential uses, these buildings, so central to the lives of the early settlers and later immigrant groups, are defining examples of the character of New England’s cities and towns. Bell towers, clock faces, stained glass, and decorative interior elements are all features protected in the easement program. Historic New England is committed to protecting the region’s building heritage through its preservation easement program to ensure New England’s diverse stories are preserved. If you are interested in learning more about our program or own a property you would like to preserve, please contact me at jcornish@historicnewengland.org or 617-994-6643. — Joseph Cornish Supervising Preservation Services Manager

An early nineteenth-century privy and icehouse protected in Lakeville, Connecticut. THIS PAGE, RIGHT Boston’s Charles Street Meeting House, designed by Asher Benjamin in 1804. FACING PAGE

LEFT The c. 1845 Spaulding Cooperage, Townsend, Massachusetts. ABOVE Garage designed by architect Earl R. Flansburgh for his home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1967.

Spring 2014 Historic New England



Settings for Plutocrats Herbert Browne’s 1909 drawing of Sunset Rock, in Prides Crossing, Beverly, Massachusetts, depicts a pair of new wings to be added to the home he had designed for W. S. and J. T. Spaulding in 1897.



Historic New England Spring 2014


he post-Civil War period in America, ushering in fifty years of peace, experienced an enormous explosion of personal wealth. While Boston had ceded financial leadership to New York, it still commanded huge reserves of capital. The historic Brahmin families, enjoying social primacy and benefiting from the entrepreneurship that had created, for example, the New England cotton mill empires, began to be challenged by newly rich people with even greater resources who showed little interest in the traditional Brahmin virtues of thrift, restraint, and self-abnegation. Like William Dean Howells’s Silas Lapham, they wanted to blend into upper-class Boston but also to transcend it, to push on to a new level of opulence. They in turn attracted like-minded magnates

from out of town, who were drawn to the scenic glories of the Massachusetts coastline. A critical mass was created, and the circumstances for a significant architectural patronage put into place. Herbert Browne and Arthur Little, partners in the architectural firm of Little and Browne, with their Boston base and valuable Boston connections, were happily placed to benefit from this largesse and to confer upon it their special brand of European Neoclassical elegance. Both were from the same social milieu. Arthur Little (1852–1925), son of the merchant J. Lovell Little, was born in his family’s Boston townhouse. He was educated locally and in 1871 entered the new architectural program of William Ware at MIT. A period of Grand Touring and an apprenticeship in the office of architects Peabody and Stearns followed. In 1877, he began his own practice, one largely devoted to residential

architecture. During the 1880s, Little embraced a shingled vernacular in a series of startlingly innovative seaside houses on the Massachusetts North Shore, at Manchester-by-theSea, and at Swampscott, on Little’s Point, on land his father had bought in the 1840s. These houses were dramatic and flamboyant. With their towering or long-stretching silhouettes and complex massing, they made his name. In 1878, Little published Early New England Interiors, a book filled with a series of romantic sketches done on a tour of historic houses in the area. The pilasters and Palladian windows he recorded also began to appear in his own designs. Little’s future partner, Herbert Wheildon Cotton Browne (1860–1946), son of T. Quincy Browne, banker and mill owner, was born in Boston and reared at Elmwood, the 1806 Crafts-Howe-Browne house in Roxbury by architect Spring 2014 Historic New England


LEFT Eagle Rock, the summer home of Henry Clay Frick in Prides Crossing, Beverly, Massachusetts, 1904. The design, principally by Arthur Little, is heavily detailed, with a curved portico, quoining,

Peter Banner. He came to architecture via the fine arts, studying at the Boston Museum School, with Fabio Fabbi in Florence, and at the Académie Julian in Paris. In Boston, he entered the firm of Andrews and Jaques in 1888 as a draftsman and apprentice. While at Andrews and Jaques, Browne met a fellow apprentice, Ogden Codman, Jr., soon to be an architect and decorator of national repute. Their shared interest in the architectural heritage of New England led them to dub themselves, together with Arthur Little, the “Colonial Trinity.” Their explorations of Boston and the byways of New England yielded photographs and drawings of much that would soon vanish, training their eyes and granting considerable scholarly erudition. In 1890, a contract established Arthur Little and Herbert W.C. Browne as principals in the firm of Little, Browne and Moore. They specialized in residential architecture—in both town and country, building, remodeling, or decorating. They tackled an astonishing variety of jobs in Massachusetts, including a Gothic church in Lynn (Central Congregational, 1891–1893), two banks and the Masonic Hall in Salem, a private residence hall at Harvard (the Dunster Building, 1895–1896), submitted a scheme for the Charles River basin 18

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and balustrades. FACING PAGE, RIGHT House for Mr. and Mrs. Larz Anderson, Washington, D.C., 1902-06, now the headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati. The design of the grand townhouse

and its landscape, and designed the interior of the Isis, the yacht of their long-time clients, the Spaulding brothers. The partners’ Boston connections guaranteed them much work in Boston and its suburbs, but they eventually went as far afield as New York City, Chicago, Long Island, Buffalo, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. No job was too large or too small. They could supply a new chimneypiece and some curtains and carpets for a room in Boston’s Back Bay, or design and develop a vast country estate with mansion, outbuildings, and landscape, and furnish and decorate the house. An album of furniture designs for clients survives, much of it executed by William Ross of East Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is hard to separate the individual hands of Browne and Little in the firm’s work. Little, even when designing in a period style, retained some of the picturesque eccentricity that informed his earlier shingle and Colonial Revival houses. His compositions were rich and heavy, loaded with ornament. His treatment of the Henry Clay Frick house at Prides Crossing, Beverly, Massachusetts, where surviving correspondence shows him to have been the principal designer, is a prime example. Browne, at the Larz Anderson house in Washington, D.C., seems more willing to let the

in the late Georgian style, attributed to Herbert Browne, features a double porte cochere and a small courtyard. The stripped-down treatment makes an interesting contrast to the Frick house on

plane and mass predominate. Both partners, however, must have had a hand in each job, especially these larger commissions. Designers and draftsmen in the office were granted a fair degree of autonomy. Lester Couch (1866–1939) is credited with the design of the 1915 Salem Masonic Hall. George Porter Fernald (1869–1920), draftsman, designer, photographer, and Italophile, did decorative painting in Little and Browne houses, notably at Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine (now owned by Historic New England), which the firm remodeled around 1900 for Mrs. George Tyson of Chicago. Fernald was perhaps chief draftsman until his death. Other draftsmen, known by name or their initials probably came and went as the workload demanded and left little record behind. The firm built six townhouses in the Back Bay, all of them in their preferred medium of late eighteenth-century English classicism, heavily influenced by Italy. The house for Henry P. King at No. 118 Beacon Street (1907–1909) was fully in this tradition. King, listed as “capitalist” in a

the previous page. BELOW Little’s influential book Early New England Interiors has just been reissued by Historic New England. To order, visit HistoricNewEngland.org/shop.

contemporary financial directory, was given an interior of consummate splendor, much bedecked with marble and gilt, perhaps the grandest ever built in the Back Bay, just the sort of house an upwardly mobile newcomer would desire. Technologically, the building was fully fireproof and contained all the latest labor-saving devices. Two other fireproof Boston townhouses, No. 422 Beacon Street (1899) and No. 411 Commonwealth Avenue (1899), had their formal rooms raised two stories rather than one, above a mezzanine, making use of an elevator. All these houses were created for entertaining and for purposes of public representation. The private quarters of the owners were shunted to the upper floors. By the 1890s, Back Bay interiors were looking dated. Little and Browne, like their friend Ogden Codman, were often hired to classicize the black walnut and golden oak parlors of people of fashion, transforming them into facsimiles of eighteenth-century English or French drawing rooms. This wave led to some astonishing commissions. In 1899, Bryce Allan, head of Allan Shipping Lines and owner of Spring 2014 Historic New England


Library at 118 Beacon Street, Boston, for Henry P. King. The carpet, bookcases, silk wallcovering, overmantel mirror, wall brackets, and much of the furniture were designed by the firm. MIDDLE Ocean front of Swiftmoor, Prides Crossing, Beverly,


No. 255 Beacon Street, bought the adjacent house at No. 253 and asked Little and Browne to join the two. They created at No. 253 a two-story, white-and-gold-paneled, mirrored ballroom with a trellised conservatory and musician’s gallery at one end. They performed a similar operation on No. 191 Beacon Street in 1901, for Frederick Prince. Thus was Boston transitioning from “cold roast” to a more ceremonial way of life, aided by the injection of much new money. In the field of country house building, starting in 1895 with a sprawling Georgian house for Robert Stow Bradley (Boston and Florida, fertilizer), Little and Browne transformed the seaside hamlet of Prides Crossing, Beverly, into a haven for plutocrats. In 1897, they began Sunset Rock in a Dutch gabled style, for William S. and John T. Spaulding (Boston, sugar refining), followed in 1899 by Swiftmoor, a pillared classical mansion for E.C. Swift (Chicago, meatpacking), in 1901 by Rock-Marge, a Georgian remodeling of the 1870s E.V.R. Thayer house for “Judge” William Moore (New York, stocks), and in 1904, Eagle Rock for Henry Clay Frick (New York and Pittsburgh, steel). Eagle Rock was the firm’s all-time largest commission: they designed the house, the numerous outbuildings, fencing, and landscape for $1,050,049, at that time an astonishing sum. The man20

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Massachusetts, 1899, owned by E. C. Swift. The multiplicity of windows is reminiscent of a New England seaside hotel. RIGHT Italianate garden pergola designed by Herbert Browne for Bayard Thayer at Hawthorne Hill, Lancaster, Massachusetts. The struc-

sion is a paragon of Georgian exuberance, with a multiplicity of wings, dormers, bays, and balustrades. Except for the Moore property, where life revolved around horses, these were not sporting estates (their owners pursued sport at private clubs in the area, like Essex County or Myopia Hunt), nor did they yield farm produce. Their purpose was to provide a suitable background for a private life revolving around family and friends. Like the owners’ city houses, however, these country places enclosed lives circumscribed by elaborate rules of conduct and a complex etiquette designed to enhance the prestige of the newly rich owners. Most of these houses have vanished, victims of the Depression and a much more casual way of life. Herbert Browne developed an especial interest in landscape design. In the early 1900s, he compiled two ItalianEnglish dictionaries of gardening terms, which he put to good use in the lavish gardens he designed for the Spaulding brothers at Beverly Farms in 1907 and the seaside gardens at Bee Rock, also in Beverly, for Mrs. Guy Norman in 1905. At Hawthorne Hill in Lancaster, Massachusetts, for Bayard Thayer, Browne created his masterwork. There, a sequence of garden rooms, each with its distinctive architecture, plantings, and water, descended the hillside from the side of the

ture probably houses dressing rooms for the adjacent swimming pool. FAR RIGHT Herbert Browne’s library in his apartment at 66 Beacon Street, Boston, is filled with an eclectic assortment of chairs and historical memorabilia, doubtless rich in personal asso-

house, culminating in a great sheet of water flanked by a substructure topped with an Italian-style, wisteria-covered pergola. After World War I, commissions declined. Arthur Little died in 1926, and Browne, determined to continue the firm, offered a partnership to his long-time designer and draftsman, Lester Couch, of Danvers, Massachusetts, whose connections there brought in a number of jobs. They continued to show photographs of their work at architectural exhibitions at MIT on Boylston Street, but they were generally of projects done ten or fifteen years earlier. The widening of Cambridge Street in Boston in 1925 gave Browne the chance to work with William Sumner Appleton, moving the first Harrison Gray Otis House, owned by Historic New England, back forty feet and restoring it. Browne was a loyal trustee of the organization, and when Lester Couch died in 1939, he closed the office for good and offered its contents to Appleton—desks, chairs, drafting tables, pictures, and the complete office files of drawings and account books—which Appleton eagerly accepted. Browne also gave and bequeathed his treasured architectural library and his personal catalogue of it, a gift of inestimable value to Historic New England. Both Little and Browne were members of Boston’s elite

ciations. Browne designed the bookcases to house his collection of rare architectural books.

Somerset Club and of the Boston Society of Architects and were active in social and cultural organizations. Browne never owned property but lived in a crowded flat at No. 66 Beacon Street. Little was actively engaged in the building and sale of property, especially in Beverly Farms, where he built and sold six houses before 1917. He bought a succession of Back Bay houses, altered and redecorated them (for example Nos. 35 and 148 Commonwealth Avenue) and sold them for a profit. The partners were fortunate to live in a time of expansion and great prosperity, and their tastes and talents were suited to their age. They were pivotal figures, moving upperclass taste away from nineteenth-century eclecticism to a purer classicism based on English and Italian models. Their message was readily received. —Stuart A. Drake Mr. Drake is an architectural historian who has been researching Little and Browne since the 1970s.

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Courtesy collection of the Litchfield Historical Society


Design for Living:

Modern Architecture in a Colonial Town


ew communities rival Litchfield for its reputation as the quintessential Connecticut town, a place so closely identified with early American tradition that its name is nearly synonymous with New England taste. A hub of patriot activity during the Revolutionary War, the community entered a subsequent period of cultural flowering that earned it a national name for its sophisticated society and Georgian architecture. By the time an enthusiastic Colonial Revival remake of the village was winding down in the early twentieth century, this genteel northwest hill town, some argued, had become even more colonial than it had ever been in the 1700s. To this day, the name Litchfield summons images of white clapboard


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houses and Congregational church spires, which make it all the more improbable that one of the most noteworthy additions to the town’s already impressive architectural timeline is a group of Modernist buildings by Edward Larrabee Barnes, Marcel Breuer, John Johansen, Eliot Noyes, and Edward Durell Stone. Between 1950 and the early 1970s, these international luminaries of the Modern movement produced seven houses, four public schools, a library addition, and a handful of other commissions for the community. This small but significant body of work—all of which survives—is largely the legacy of several young friends and couples who arrived in town in the late 1940s. Some were veterans of World War II, and most

were starting careers and families. All were eager to embrace a design philosophy that addressed contemporary interests. Rufus Stillman, Litchfield’s foremost aficionado of Modern design, put it succinctly: “We knew we had to build in our own time.” The Stillman story begins in New York City, where in 1949 and ’50, a novel exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art involved construction of two full-scale demonstration houses— the first by Marcel Breuer, the second by Los Angeles designer Gregory Ain— in MoMA’s sculpture garden. For the two installations, MoMA curators had challenged each architect to design a moderately priced suburban residence for a middle-income family.

filled the Modernist mandate of “form follows function” with a composition of functional geometry. He pared down the space to efficient living areas, melded into two compact levels of light-filled space; custom-made plate-glass windows opened the house to the site’s gorgeous views. Most of the main level was laid out in an open plan, a relatively new idea for American domestic

Marsters house, 1953, by Edward Larrabee Barnes. THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT Huvelle house, 1950, by John Johansen. Gagarin I, 1956-57, by Marcel Breuer. Stillman I, 1950, by Marcel Breuer. FACING PAGE

Photography by Ben Schnall. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

© Ezra Stoller/ESTO

Connecticut, as part of the now-famous group of architects, the “Harvard Five,” which included four of his former Harvard students, Landis Gores, John Johansen, Philip Johnson, and Eliot Noyes. Charmed by Breuer, the Stillmans commissioned him to build a 2,400square-foot house on a secluded plot at the tail end of a country lane. The Stillmans’ close collaboration with Breuer developed into a lifelong friendship that would lead to their commissioning two more houses from him, in 1965 and 1973. With his first house for the couple, Stillman I, built in 1950, Breuer ful-

Photograph by Ben Schnall. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Among the hordes of visitors to the museum show were Rufus Stillman and his wife, Leslie, who immediately sought an introduction to the Hungarian-born architect Marcel Breuer. (“If MoMA thought he was that good,” Rufus Stillman commented, “then we shouldn’t argue about it.”) A product of Germany’s pioneering Bauhaus school of arts and design, Breuer had been steadily gaining recognition in the United States since joining the faculty of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 1937 under the auspices of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. By the late 1940s, Breuer had settled in New Canaan,

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Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

design, which combined kitchen, dining, and living rooms into one informal space. Breuer introduced minimalist furnishings of his own design, including his famous Wassily chair, and added a mobile by his friend Alexander Calder, resident of nearby Roxbury. Calder also painted a jaunty mural for the concrete wall concealing the swimming pool mechanics; his wife, Louisa, designed a rug for the master bedroom. The Calders were quickly absorbed into the Stillmans’ ever-spiraling social set. Breuer’s second house for the Stillmans, featuring white stucco walls and a weighty fieldstone base, incorporated a multi-level courtyard inspired by the Calders’ retreat in France. The Stillman circle also included Dr. C. H. and Mary Huvelle, who were looking to build a house of their own. Soon after breaking ground for Stillman I, the Stillmans offered to sell the Huvelles half of their five-acre parcel with one condition: they had to “go modern.” At Breuer’s recommendation, the Huvelles engaged John Johansen to design the house, completed in 1950. Johansen, too, delivered an open plan, organizing the glass-fronted living/dining area around a hefty rectangular chimney stack and providing separate children’s quarters on the lower level. In 1952, Breuer began a twenty24

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year relationship with the Torin Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial fans in nearby Torrington, where Rufus Stillman was employed. Stillman named Breuer to the post of house architect for the firm (a thinly veiled excuse to work on more projects) and introduced him to the company president, Andrew Gagarin, who would commission two Breuer houses for his own family. Nestled into a hillside with the aid of sleek stone walls, the 12,000square-foot Gagarin I (1956−57) was Litchfield’s most monumental Modernist residence, encompassing eight bedrooms and an immense glasswalled living room (35' x 52'). A cantilevered roof deck doubled as a dance floor during the Gagarins’ rather famous parties. In 1973, the couple scaled down with Gagarin II, a diminutive structure of pristine white concrete, distinguished by Breuer’s hallmark “butterfly” roofline. Edward Larrabee Barnes also came on the scene through personal connections—Ted Marsters and Barnes (a student of Breuer) had been undergraduate classmates at Harvard, and Ted’s wife, Kathy, was Rufus Stillman’s sister. Barnes’s 1953 design for the Marsters residence evoked the architect’s recent experiments with his “platform house” format, in which an extended stone foundation supported a grassy, wall-

less outdoor space intended as a visual continuation of the indoor living areas. Featuring a sunken living room, the one-story house was elegant, yet also supremely livable—as suited to entertaining as it was to a family with young children. Edward Durell Stone’s single Litchfield commission, for Rémy and Virginia Morosani in 1953, was also arguably the town’s most fashionable: a low-slung, 6,500-square-foot residence built of warm, chunky brick and complete with a secluded playroom, two living rooms, and an indoor reflecting pool. Sumptuous by Modernist standards, the interior finishes—bluestone, mother-of-pearl, polished cypress woodwork—show the architect beginning to move away from a minimalist aesthetic toward a more decorative interplay of natural materials. The house is still owned by the family. By the 1960s, word was spreading in architectural circles about Litchfield’s burgeoning Modern movement, thanks largely to the publicity engendered by Gagarin I and Breuer’s sensational junior-senior high school, begun in 1954, just as Stone was putting the finishing details on the Morosani house. Due in part to Rufus Stillman’s influence, the town had also gained two elementary schools by Breuer; a junior high school designed by John

— Rachel Carley Ms. Carley is a preservation consultant and architectural historian. Her book for the Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield: The Making of a New England Town, was awarded Historic New England’s Book Prize in 2012 and is available at HistoricNewEngland. org/shop.

Courtesy collection of the Litchfield Historical Society

maximized light and air. Although the library addition involved a historic landmark, Noyes had resolved a potentially fraught assignment by dropping the new wing quietly, but unapologetically, down behind the old building; the brick elevation facing the street reads as a garden wall. Ultimately, the answer came down to meaningful design. Stillman and his circle simply believed they were giving Litchfield the most relevant architecture they could, and they had a grand time doing it. By turning to leaders in the field and insisting on architectural excellence, these independent thinkers were able to energize the community with new design ideas without proselytizing, and the town’s modern buildings earned acceptance on their own merits.

Gymnasium of Litchfield juniorsenior high school, 1954–56, by Marcel Breuer. ABOVE Morosani house, 1953, by Edward Durell Stone. BELOW Addition to Litchfield Library, 1966, by Eliot Noyes. FACING PAGE

Courtesy collection of the Litchfield Historical Society

Johansen; and a 1966 library addition by Eliot Noyes—a geometrically pristine glass-and-brick box attached to the back of a c. 1799 timber-framed Georgian residence. Shortly after the Noyes project was completed, a writer for Progressive Architecture pondered the question of why the town was ready for the new buildings. It was true that adverse reaction, arguably predictable in such a conservative town, had failed to materialize. For one thing, few of the new houses were fully visible from the road. For another, it was probably hard to argue with the positive press the projects were garnering. Breuer’s Gagarin I was covered by publications as far away as Japan, and the juniorsenior high school is still considered to be one of the most iconic forms of midcentury Modernism in New England. Moreover, when the school-building program was introduced in the 1950s, the community had already fully bought into the idea of modern classroom buildings, owing to the reduced costs made possible by mass-produced materials and a widely accepted postwar emphasis on one-story plans that

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Building the Cape Cod Canal The recent gift by Nina Heald Webber of historic photographs, postcards, ephemera, and memorabilia pertaining to the Cape Cod Canal provides the basis for this story.


n July 4, 1914, Cape Cod suddenly became an island, and the distance by boat between Boston and New York became shorter by seventy miles. On that day, after a ten-year-long push, the monumental task of building a canal across the cape was finally completed. As shovels cut into the top of the last dike, water from the high tide in Cape Cod Bay rushed through to join the lower tidal waters of Buzzards Bay. The Cape Cod Canal had become a reality. Cape Cod, formed during the last ice age by glaciers pushing sand and rocks out into the Atlantic Ocean, has one of the stormiest and most treacherous coastlines along the Atlantic. Native Americans traveling around the cape would bypass the ocean route, paddling up the Scusset or


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Manomet rivers and then carrying their small boats across land to the other side. Larger vessels had to navigate around the cape through shallows and narrow rocky passages. Over the centuries, fierce storms in these hazardous waters claimed hundreds of boats and the lives of countless travelers. In 1623, Miles Standish was the first to propose building a canal across Cape Cod, an idea that was to become a dreamer’s goal for almost three centuries. In 1776, General George Washington ordered the cape surveyed for a canal after he was forced to send supplies overland because British warships controlled the outer cape. Despite many subsequent surveys and charters, no real progress was made toward the goal until 1880, when the Cape Cod Ship Canal Company made the first concerted effort to dig across the

valley. But the job required more than picks and wheelbarrows, and the effort failed. The company never paid the four hundred Italian immigrant workmen it had brought in as laborers. As work ground to a halt, the men wandered the streets of Sandwich begging for food; finally, they were loaded onto trains and sent to New York. Almost thirty years later, August Perry Belmont (1853– 1924), a legendary New York entrepreneur and racehorse owner, entered the scene. He had financed the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in New York, the city’s first subway, completed in 1904. He brought the leadership, experience, connections, and public relations skills necessary to complete the job. (Belmont had sentimental ties to the region

—his maternal grandfather, the distinguished Commodore Matthew Perry, had been born on the Perry farm, which lay in the path of the canal.) After studying the challenges for several years, Belmont formed the Boston, Cape Cod, and New York Canal Company and sought contractors in 1907. Belmont hired the best engineer in the business, his friend William Barclay Parsons (1859–1932). Parsons began CLOCKWISE FROM FACING PAGE In 1910, a steam shovel fills a sand train; in 1880, during an early, unsuccessful canal effort, Italian laborers fill wheelbarrows with sand; August Perry Belmont; a dry-sand drill and workers labor in the winter muck; on tourist items, like this banner, images of the canal served as an emblem for the entire cape.

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his career in railroad design, supervising the construction of a thousand-mile railroad line through areas of China previously closed to Westerners and had worked with Belmont on the construction of the New York subway. (His engineering firm continues today as Parsons Brinckerhoff.) Parsons came to the job after leaving the planning of the Panama Canal because the Army Corps of Engineers rejected his idea of a sea-level canal. Parsons insisted that the Cape Cod Canal be constructed without locks or dams. When digging began in 1909, the main problem was not quicksand, which Parsons had feared, but thousands of huge boulders buried in the cape’s sandy soil. The only way to get rid of them was to blow them up with dynamite, a slow and dangerous process that extended construction for two years longer than Belmont had planned. Boats sank, and six workers died building the canal. In 1912, at the height of construction, more than two dozen vessels were at work— tugboats, lighters, barges, and various dredges, such as ladder, dipper, and hydraulic. As work progressed, land excavators, steam shovels, and sand trains transformed the overland parts of the canal’s path through the towns of Sandwich and Bourne. In 1913, a critic lamented that the canal would change the cape forever: 28

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“Exit Cape Cod’s seafaring and cranberry-raising folk, along with many of its historic spots and buildings. These cherished landmarks are falling before the steam-shovel and graveltrain of the canal builders.” Construction of the canal meant relocating houses, roads, railroad tracks, and a cemetery; building new depots; and erecting three high bridges across the new canal to replace the old river bridges. That final shovelful of dirt on July 4, 1914, was but one of millions. The dredges completed their work in time for the canal’s official opening on July 29 with a parade of ships. The Cape Cod Canal was thirteen miles long, counting the channel approaches, with eight miles dug through land. Not until 1916, though, would Belmont finish the channel to its original specifications of twenty-five feet deep and one hundred feet wide. Belmont finally fulfilled a pledge he made in 1909: “I promise not to desert the task until the last shovelful has been dug.” Once the canal opened, however, the tolls failed to cover Belmont’s investment. Many captains avoided the canal because of its narrow channel, swift currents, ground fog, and frequent shipwrecks. Belmont finished expanding the channel and lowered toll rates, but even so, some coal barge lines, which Belmont had counted on to recoup his costs,

stayed away. Large passenger steamships used the canal, but in 1917, the U.S. Navy bought the steamers for the war effort. A year later, after a German submarine shelled a tugboat and barges off Orleans, the federal government took over the canal because of its strategic importance. The federal government returned the canal to private control in 1920 and began negotiating for its purchase, finally assuming ownership in March 1928. Over the next decade, as the Great Depression gripped the country, the Army Corps of Engineers transformed August Belmont’s “private ditch” into the Cape Cod Canal of today. The corps opened three large new bridges in 1935, and then straightened, widened, and deepened the channel, providing badly needed employment on the cape. These improvements allowed vessels in the channel to pass each other easily, resulting in greatly expanded traffic. Meanwhile, tourists flocked to the dance halls, highway cabins, tourist camps, and motor hotels that sprang up along the canal roadways to cater to the automobile trade. As the Cape Cod Canal celebrates its centennial, it contin-

ues to provide safe passage for commercial and leisure vessels and to draw tourists to its banks. The widest sealevel canal in the world, it is an engineering marvel as well as a testament to the ingenuity and perseverance of its planners, builders, and those who maintain it today. Beloved by boaters and a summer destination for a century, the canal remains a national treasure. —Timothy T. Orwig Tim Orwig, an architectural and social historian, is author of Cape Cod Canal, a photographic history published by Arcadia Publishing and based on Historic New England’s Nina Heald Webber collection.

A postcard documents a milestone in the construction of the canal. INSET Steamship menu. THIS PAGE TOP The Rose Standish leads a parade of ships to inaugurate the canal, July 29, 1914. ABOVE The dredge Governor Warfield deepens the channel between the lifted spans of the Bourne highway bridge, 1912.


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The romance of night travel through the canal is captured in this postcard.

Collecting Canal Memories


y fascination with the Cape Cod Canal dates back to one of my earliest childhood memories: my brother and I, in bathrobe and slippers, were taken to see the wondrous sight of the New YorkBoston steamship traveling through the canal, lit up and brilliant against the dark sky. To this day, whenever I cross the canal, if there’s no fog and not too much traffic, I try to spot my favorite secret places along the shoreline. When I see them still unchanged, I feel reassured. From an early age, collecting was part of my life, and most of my family and friends also collected. (Having no TV when I was growing up was a real blessing.) However, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that I became aware of postcard collecting, when I spied an antique card showing our family’s summer home, where we lived for twenty-five years—with a horse and buggy in front. I was hooked. The real satisfaction of collecting has been to create or add to historical collections at schools, colleges, historical societies, and museums. Having these collections made available to the public for research or simply to show what a place looked like ninety years ago is a way to share my windows on the past. —Nina Heald Webber


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This book, part of Arcadia’s Images of America series, may be ordered online at HistoricNewEngland.org or by calling (617) 227-3956.

Escape to the tropics

Treat yourself to a mini-vacation at the historic Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham, Massachusetts, and soak up the lush atmosphere and colors of the tropics. Members receive discounts on all purchases.

Wednesday–Sunday, 9:30 AM–4 PM. Free.


Treasure Seekers In 2010, Historic New England established an annual Prize for Collecting Works on Paper for individuals who have assembled or helped save a significant collection of works on paper related to New England. Featured on these pages are the two winners of the 2013 prize, who built collections of books, manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera and donated them to historical organizations and educational institutions.

Collecting hometown memorabilia


etired Salem, Massachusetts, police officer Nelson Dionne credits his lifelong interest in collecting Salem history to a family story he heard in 1964, when the city commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Great Salem Fire. Starting in the leather district, the fire destroyed 1,600 buildings, wiped out Naumkeag Mill and the French Canadian neighborhood, and caused massive unemployment and homelessness. Dionne recalls his grandparents showing him newspaper articles about the fire and discussing how they had survived. His grandparents’ personal account ignited in Dionne a desire to learn more about his city and to collect information, beginning with a book on the

fire and a few postcards. After serving with the U.S. Army Intelligence during the Vietnam War, Dionne learned of the Bay State Postcard Club’s meetings in Boston. His collection grew rapidly, focusing mainly on Salem’s industrial era from the 1870s up to the present. Dionne estimates that he acquired 4,000 Salem postcards, as well as photographs, pamphlets, reports, and magazines. His collection has been used to illustrate dozens of books and newspaper stories. In addition to historical materials, Dionne has obtained a large collection of current Salem information. “When I see a bit of today’s paper,” he says, “I ask myself, if this were fifty years old, would I want it?”

During his years of collecting, Dionne found enough stereo views to fill a book. Published in 2011, his book Victorian Salem in Stereo contains seventy-five stereo views and comes with viewing glasses. He collaborated with Salem historian Jerome Curley on Salem, Then & Now, 2012, and Salem Through Time, 2013. With Curley and Salem writer Dorothy Malcolm, Dionne co-authored Legendary Locals of Salem, 2013. Dionne has donated his paper collection to Salem State University Archives to preserve the material and make it more accessible. Other materials went to Gordon College’s Salem Museum at Old Town Hall in Salem to help them tell the nineteenthcentury immigrant story. To continue what Dionne started fifty years ago, a friends group will be organized to raise funds to support the collection. —Bonnie Hurd Smith Ms. Smith is an author and president of HistorySmiths.


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On a collision course, Salem, Massachusetts, 1926. BOTTOM Grounded steamer New Brunswick, c.1921. THIS PAGE, LEFT AND BELOW World War II era packaging, mostly collected by Dr. Burden, at the Abbott Store at Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Photography courtesy of Strawbery Banke Museum


Reminiscences of a divergent collector


ike many kids, I collected stamps, minerals, and the like, but I first started collecting seriously in the 1960s, after I had moved to Bath, Maine, to start practicing as a pediatrician. Having found an antique nursing bottle in the old house I bought, I started frequenting small antiques shops, seeking other examples to augment my first find. Soon, I was collecting related trade cards, other advertising, and old medical articles pointing out the hazards of those devices with long rubber tubes between the bottle and nipple. Interested in learning about the shipbuilder-captain who had lived in my house during the nineteenth century, I got involved with what became the Maine Maritime Museum, for which I served as acting director. In that capacity, I bought maritime books, manuscripts, and ephem-

era. From there I went on to collect for myself—artifacts and ephemera related to Maine’s maritime, stoneware, silversmithing, patent medicine, and rug hooking industries, Maine Grange activities, and eventually, books and ephemera on the Temperance and Prohibition Movements, in which Maine played a leading part. In 1987, Jane Nylander, then director of Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, asked me to help assemble material for the re-creation of a World War II-era neighborhood grocery store. Jane had heard my talk at Old Sturbridge Village during their Antiques Collectors’ Weekend, in which I mentioned that many of my great finds were made at flea markets and junky antiques shops. (This must have amazed some of the sophisticated high-end collectors in the audience.) Jane knew that such venues would be

most likely to yield up grocery packaging from the 1940s, so I set about hunting through flea markets. In a couple of years, I was able to amass enough material to comprise almost half of the stock of the store. If you come to visit me today, you cannot see my collections. Over time, I have donated them to museums— including over five thousand lots of historic paper to the Maine Maritime Museum—and sold some material to various institutions where they are available for research. I’m sure collecting is an addiction, but I take satisfaction in knowing that my pursuit has helped save meaningful artifacts for study and public enjoyment. —Charles E. Burden, M.D.

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

141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702


Love Seat

Love seat, c. 1960. Gift of Thomas Michie. ABOVE Jack Esty (1901–1977) LEFT


ack Esty first came across lightweight aluminum furniture in 1946 when he went to Florida to recuperate from a heart attack. A few years later, after retiring and relocating to Amherst, Massachusetts, Esty decided to manufacture outdoor furniture himself, similar to what he had seen in Florida but better designed and with better materials.

Through a friend at Alcoa, he obtained thick-walled, aircraft-grade aluminum tubing. He designed a machine to bend the tubing without crimping. For the webbing, he secured special orders of a material Firestone had developed for military use during World War II. Esty began producing his line of Featherweight Furniture in a nearby

barn and moved into a vacated bowling alley as the business grew. Sales and promotion were a family affair. At least one son, David, was enlisted as a doorto-door salesman during school vacations. One summer around 1950, he drove to Cape Cod in the family’s Ford station wagon with sample models of a love seat, club chair (with armrests), and standard chair (no armrests). His biggest sale was to Rose Kennedy for the wraparound porch of the family’s main house in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The excellent condition in which this love seat has survived is testament to the high standards of Esty’s products. —Thomas Michie Thomas Michie, Russell B. and Andrée Beauchamp Stearns Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is a cousin of the Esty family. See more Massachusetts furniture at HistoricNewEngland.org/FourCenturies

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