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The Garden aT roseland CoTTaGe


From thE chAir

With this issue of the magazine, we continue our year-long celebration of Historic New England’s centennial with a range of articles highlighting the wealth and diversity of our historic sites, collections, and activities. A feature on birthday cards made by Bauhaus artists for Walter Gropius underscores the issue’s celebratory theme. Writer and NPR commentator Bill Littlefield joins the party with an ironic essay on sports inspired by historic images from the Library and Archives. As a member, you will already have one of the centennial’s new benefits—the Passport to Historic New England—whose travel theme encourages active exploration of the region. You might start with a visit to Roseland Cottage to enjoy the “carpet bedding” floral display in the parterre garden. At each historic property take note of the landscape setting, architectural details, and household items, and ponder how the previous generations lived. When you see our preservation team performing conservation and repair supported by our three-year Preservation Maintenance Fund grant, take a moment to chat with the staff and learn about their work. We think you will be inspired to contribute to this $4.8 million effort, which is ensuring the longterm health of our historic buildings and landscapes. Your contributions to the Preservation Maintenance Fund will be matched two-to-one by our generous foundation donor.

Historic N E W E NG L A N D Summer 2010 Vol. 11, No. 1

From Privies to Paired Sinks 8

The Garden at Roseland Cottage 18 spot LiGht

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Centennial Debut 2

A bAckWA r D GLAN cE

Sports Memories historic pr E sErv AtioN

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mA kiNG FuN oF history

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Appleton as a Preservation Catalyst Bathroom History

stEWA r D ship

—Bill Hicks

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Preserving Private Properties LookiNG For WA rD

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Preserving for the Next 100 Years Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 (617) 227-3956

cELE br AtioNs

musE um shop 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 presented by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. It is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor: Diane Viera Editor: Nancy Curtis Editorial review team: Nancy Carlisle, Curator; Lorna Condon, Curator of Library and Archives; Jennifer Pustz, Museum Historian; Sally Zimmerman, Manager of Historic Preservation Services Design: DeFrancis Carbone

the parterre garden at roseland cottage, Woodstock, connecticut. Photography by Aaron Usher.

coVEr

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vivat pius! 29

Colors for Twentieth-Century Houses 100 yEA rs, 100 commu NitiEs

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Collecting Twentieth-Century History viEWpoi Nt

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The State of Preservation Acquisitio Ns

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Centennial Bequest

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


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programs earn national attention for the innovative ways they use historical resources to reinforce and enrich student learning. Designed in collaboration with educators, programs align with state curriculum standards. convenient, secure shopping, registrations, and renewals The new shopping cart feature makes your transactions quick, safe, and easy, whether you’re renewing your membership, purchasing from the museum shop, registering for a program, or making a donation.

Centennial Debut this spring we increased access across the region, throughout the country, and around the globe with the launch of our new web site, where you’ll discover: Unprecedented access to the collections More than 70,000 records pertaining to the object and archival collections are now at your fingertips. Peruse the wallpaper and jewelry collections. Study the folk art from Cogswell’s Grant, or family collections from Castle Tucker and Phillips House. View highlights from the Library and Archives including the transit and maritime photographs, images of domestic interiors, architectural drawings, and ephemera. This searchable database will continue growing throughout 2010 and beyond. information on the historic properties and public programs Whether you’re planning a visit or touring from your laptop, you’ll find

expanded information on our thirty-six historic properties. Learn the history, and see highlights of the objects on display and of the surrounding landscape. Take a photographic tour and find answers to frequently asked questions, including which properties you can rent for private functions. Check the events calendar and customize your search by location, date, topic, or type of program.

Partnerships, publications, and more Meet our regional partners, search back issues of Historic New England magazine and the Old-Time New England journal, take a virtual tour through our exhibitions, or read the latest news from our staff. We invite you to find your Historic New England at www. HistoricNewEngland.org.

Preservation tips, tools, and techniques You’ll want to bookmark the preservation section if you’re a homeowner, preservationist, or historic site manager. Our staff experts will continually add new information on hot topics, preservation best practices, resources, and more. creative school and youth programs and resources Educators will discover a wealth of resources and programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Our

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Golf game, c. 1905. the halliday historic photograph company.

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Sports

Memories National Public Radio host Bill Littlefield, after looking at historic photographs of sports in our collection, offers this characteristically irreverent commentary on a century of change.

bill Littlefield

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rom a distance, that which has not changed is more apparent than that which has. The golfers still stand in a meadow and lash out at a ball with a stick, attempting to guide that ball into a hole. But a closer look reveals that now the sticks are titanium alloy (or something) rather than hickory, the balls are machine-made missiles rather than leather pouches stuffed (by hand) with feathers, the courses are mowed by greens keepers on tractors rather than trimmed by hungry sheep, and the clothes, though still weird, make the players look less as if they were on their way to a cotillion. Tennis is still played on a court, though rarely on grass, which was the old way. The racquets, once wood, are constructed of something like the same metals that go into constructing golf clubs and space shuttles. The clothes are no longer necessarily white, nor are they restrictive, though some of the clubs where the matches are played are still both, albeit more clandestinely so. And except for the lads hauling crates of wine onto the grounds before the tournament began, nobody at Wimbledon used to grunt. Major League Baseball is still played in grand stadiums, though the current editions are much less likely to burn down than were their predecessors. The trade-off is that the current ball yards are ruinously expensive, and more often than not the owners of the teams pass on the expense to the public by threatening to move the business if they don’t get the new building they want. Mysteriously, said public, no matter where it resides or which team it supports, fails over and over again to see that in the long run (as well as in the middle and short runs) it would be better off with functional public schools and a viable transportation system than with a new stadium. One hundred


years ago, team owners were no less inclined toward larceny, skullduggery, and loud threats than today’s owners are, but the bill was lower. This brings us to the matter of money, and perhaps the most significant distinction between then and now in the context of professional sports. In the days of old, pro athletes and their coaches lived among us. When he was employed as the centerfielder of the New York Giants in the fifties, Willie Mays, certainly one of the greatest and most lavishly compensated ballplayers of his time, could sometimes be found on the street outside his apartment, playing stickball with the lads in the neighborhood. There is photographic evidence to prove it. In the early days of the National Basketball Association, promising masters of the two-handed set shot sometimes turned down the opportunity to play professionally because the league appeared to be a rickety proposition that was unlikely to ever pay them as much as they could earn selling insurance or cars, or even teaching school. For years the National Football League was a second-rate spectacle dependent on pugs so desperate to make a little extra money on the weekend that they didn’t mind getting their heads split open in the process. In short, pro baseball, basketball, and football players used to be pretty much like the rest of us. They were distinguished from the people who paid to watch them primarily by their various skills, rather than by their incomes and the fact that they live in magnificent splendor, at least until they learn that nobody is going to give them eleventy-seven million dollars over five years when they can no longer run, shoot, throw, or hit as well as they could when they were younger. The ancients signed on to play games for money, a relatively simple arrangement that did not obligate the athlete/entertainer to support a score of the young men with whom he’d associated as a teenager. Likewise, there was no requirement that he become a role model. Certainly, we live in better times today. Regarding baseball, for example, the reserve clause, which, over the course of the first century of the Major Leagues, prevented players from moving from team to team, was a crooked and arbitrary gimmick that closed the market, enriched the owners, and cheated the players out of the value of their work. But that doesn’t alter the fact that one of the most significant changes between then and now in terms of our games is that the players were working stiffs who labored in stores, factories, or on construction sites to make it through the off-season, whereas now they earn like corporate CEOs and spend like sheiks. This change seems as nuts as the corresponding change in the economic landscape at large. The most highly paid athletes make more money than most of us can imagine, as do the most highly compensated employees of Goldman Sachs. The gap between pro athletes and fans is enormous, as is the gap between “the masters of the universe” and those of us

who only live and work there. The distinction, I suppose, is that rather than making the day’s bad news, the athletes divert us from it. —Bill Littlefield Radio commentator Bill Littlefield is author of It’s Only a Game as well as writer in residence at Curry College, Milton, Massachusetts.

the red sox at Fenway park, boston, mass., c.1915. miDDLE mixed game of tennis at the spaulding estate, Dorchester, mass. bottom Football game. yankee publishing collection.

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“So Long as the Desired Result is Obtained”:

Appleton as a Preservation catalyst AbovE William sumner Appleton took this photograph of a family reunion at the balch house in beverly, massachusetts, August 23, 1923. FAciNG pAGE the hooper-hathaway house, known as the old bakery, in salem, massachusetts. boston post card company collection, 1905–12.

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eflecting on the first five years of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA), now Historic New England, William Sumner Appleton observed, “The Society is indirectly causing the rescue of far more than one or two houses a year, for the beneficial results of its mere existence have been widespread.” Interestingly, Appleton notes that this positive influence on regional preservation efforts was initially underestimated. Yet the role of SPNEA, and more specifically that of Appleton himself, in providing preservation advice and assistance to other groups is a thread that runs throughout his early annual reports as Corresponding Secretary. Although Appleton worked tirelessly on behalf of the organization he founded and referred to as “the Society,” he also believed there should be a spirit of cooperation and coordination among preservation organizations, “…so long as the desired result is obtained, and a house worth preserving passes to this or some other society able and willing to look after it permanently, our object is achieved.” Appleton developed a practical approach to preservation advocacy out of necessity. He knew all too well that his Society did


not have the resources, financial or staff, to save every threatened historic building that came to his attention. He also understood basic principles of motivation: people will be most inclined to act when they are personally affected. For these reasons, Appleton used his resources to engage other groups in local preservation efforts. He was a frequent speaker at historical or patriotic society meetings, at which he emphasized the viability of adapting cherished and locally significant houses into chapter headquarters or tea rooms. He also stressed the importance of ancestral ties in local fundraising efforts, convinced that reaching out to descendants of families who once owned threatened historic properties would bring in much-needed funds. As early as the second year of SPNEA’s existence, Appleton commented, “In cases where the Society is unwilling or unable to act for itself it has frequently proved helpful to others.” The campaign to save the John Balch House in Beverly, Massachusetts, provides an excellent illustration of Appleton’s importance as a preservation catalyst. With an estimated construction date of 1636–38 (actually 1679), the Balch House was believed to be one of the oldest in the country when Appleton first described efforts to save it in 1915. Representatives from five organizations, including SPNEA, initially met to explore ways to preserve the house. A year later, following Appleton’s advice, a group of individuals

pooled funds to buy the property in order to protect it until a more permanent solution was found. Initial fundraising efforts by the Balch Family Association proved unsuccessful, largely due to economic uncertainty during World War I. Eventually, Appleton stepped in, raising money over a twoyear period from appeals to John Balch descendants and North Shore residents. Once sufficient funds were secured, the Balch House Trust was formed, with Appleton and Charles Knowles Bolton, SPNEA president, serving as twoof the three trustees, to purchase the property and oversee its restoration. In 1922, Appleton commented that SPNEA had done more for the Balch House “than for any other house not its own.” Photographs taken by Appleton at a Balch family reunion in 1923 show the results of a successful preservation effort. Today, the Balch House is owned and operated by the Beverly Historical Society. In addition to helping save the John Balch House, Appleton was instrumental in the preservation of a number of other historic properties. Using his extensive connections, and sometimes his own money, Appleton frequently worked behind the scenes to facilitate preservation campaigns. In Salem, Massachusetts, he partnered with Caroline Emmerton in 1911 to save the Hooper-Hathaway House (known as the Old Bakery because of a bakery operation located in the cellar) from imminent demolition. Appleton was so concerned

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about the future of this building that he bought it himself once it became clear there wasn’t time for SPNEA to do so. Miss Emmerton, in turn, purchased the building from him and moved it to a site near the Turner-Ingersoll mansion, more commonly known as The House of the Seven Gables. Appleton and Emmerton partnered again in 1916 to save the Retire Beckett House. Seeing a chance to act when it came on the market, Appleton bought an option on the house, which he later transferred to Miss Emmerton. She moved the house in 1924, and it currently functions as the museum store for The House of the Seven Gables. Appleton also answered numerous requests to inspect historic buildings in order to assess their condition and appropriateness for preservation. Although he usually concluded that the buildings he examined were not appropriate candidates for SPNEA acquisition, he frequently urged others to save them. Two buildings that benefitted from his advocacy are the Dr. William Paine House in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the Parker Tavern in Reading, Massachusetts. In 1913, Appleton spoke to a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) about the advisability of securing the Paine House to serve as chapter headquarters, a goal the DAR chapter reached 6

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in 1914. After inspecting Parker Tavern at the request of a member of SPNEA, Appleton commented, “It will be very fortunate if the people of Reading secure so fine a specimen of early architecture for permanent safe-keeping.” He reported that the town did acquire the tavern in 1916 and later sold it to the Antiquarian Society in 1923, which still owns and operates it today. Appleton recorded many heartening and celebratory preservation struggles over the years, but his involvement alone did not guarantee success. Describing efforts to save the Bradley tavern in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1914, Appleton states, “This is the record of a failure.” Despite his valiant efforts to call attention to the threatened historic building by writing to various societies, chapters, and individuals, no benefactor stepped forward to buy it. The tavern was partially dismantled by a new owner, and in 1915, Appleton reported that it still stood empty waiting to be torn down. That same year, Appleton described his arrival in West Medway, Massachusetts, “just in time to see the ignominious end” of the Ellis-Shumway house, erected about 1720. Because it was the second oldest house in town, Appleton felt the house was well worth preserving, owing to its local significance.


Despite the frustration of witnessing preservation failures, Appleton’s motivation to save buildings never appeared to falter, and he frequently used his influence and position in SPNEA to publicize preservation campaigns. He involved other Society members and trustees, and used the Bulletin to appeal to Society members for funds. Such was the case with the lengthy effort to save the Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Between 1912 and 1939, Appleton regularly reported on the progress to research and preserve this building. He and Henry Davis Sleeper, the owner of Beauport, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, served on the board of directors of the Shirley-Eustis House Association, which purchased the property in late 1913. In 1937, he commented that SPNEA had “constantly worked in every possible way for the preservation of Shirley Place and its development as a New England antiquity of the first rank.” Not all of the buildings Appleton worked to save were located in Massachusetts. He truly believed that the Society should function as a regional organization and frequently traveled all around New England inspecting historic buildings and consulting with various groups. One of his most successful collaborations involved the Thomas Lee House in East Lyme, Connecticut. Approached by the local historical society about assisting its members in purchasing the house, Appleton, on behalf of SPNEA, joined with the Connecticut Society of Colonial Dames and the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars to arrange for each organization to donate $200 toward the purchase and start a repair fund, with Lee family descendants also contributing to the effort. The house was purchased by the East Lyme Historical Society in 1914 and is still owned by this group and run as a house museum. In 1915, Appleton concluded that the effort was a “creditable piece of work for all the societies involved,” and he hoped the same method could be used again to save another historic house. Throughout Appleton’s years with SPNEA, requests to share his preservation expertise came in from near and far. Closer to home, he would physically inspect historic buildings, sometimes visiting more than forty in a year. He also provided written advice to requests for information from places far beyond New England, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, Savannah, Charleston, and even Canada. In 1944, a few years before his death, Appleton modestly reflected that SPNEA’s example had “set many others to

work along the same lines and the good resulting from the Society’s existence extends far beyond the mere account of its own properties.” The good resulting from the work of William Sumner Appleton also extends far beyond the organization known today as Historic New England, and the year 2010 presents a wonderful opportunity to celebrate his preservation legacy. —Wendy L. Price Team Leader, Historic Preservation bradley tavern, haverhill, massachusetts. bELoW, top the 1748 shirley-Eustis house, roxbury, massachusetts, in 1915. bottom thomas Lee house, East Lyme, connecticut, in 1921. FAciNG pAGE

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David Bohl

From Privies to Paired Sinks


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mong the most intriguing spaces for visitors to a house museum are its service areas, places whose architectural finishes evoke an immediate comparison between how we live now and how “they” lived “then.” Kitchens inspire this reaction and have been fixtures in museum house interpretations since the display of a New England kitchen at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. But the intact historic privy, water closet, or bathroom, ignored in early house museums for obvious reasons of propriety, holds a similar fascination and certainly tells a related story of changing standards in sanitation, health, convenience, privacy, and comfort. Historic New England’s thirty-six house museums include notable bathrooms, water closets, and privies that illustrate the ways over time in which bodily necessities were accommodated in the domestic architecture of the region. Regardless of evolving concepts of personal hygiene, the major factor historically that limited the development of sanitation was the lack of ready access to fresh water. Architecturally, the components of the modern bathroom, with sink, tub, and flush toilet, emerged only in the early

David Bohl

Accommodating personal hygiene with convenience and privacy

twentieth century, when systems for delivering safe, clean water to the home, distributing it within the house, and removing wastewater became universal. As early as 1829, Isaiah Rogers’ innovative Tremont House in Boston hinted at the amenities to come. Credited as the first hotel in the country with indoor plumbing and running water, Tremont House boasted eight water closets, supplied with water pumped by steam to a rooftop cistern and then gravity-fed through the system. But even as the century progressed and technological and scientific advances enabled ever smaller and more remote localities to establish public water and sewer systems, indoor plumbing remained a luxury for many households.

the original single-seat indoor privy in the ell at the 1807 rundlet-may house, portsmouth, New hampshire, was soon supplemented by a four-seat privy nearby. AbovE in 1840, the marrett family of standish, maine, added this attached family privy, placing a child’s seat comfortingly beside two adult seats. FAciNG pAGE

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Aaron Usher

Left The 1846 plan for Roseland Cottage, Woodstock, Connecticut, shows privies at the end of the ell, and a ”bathing room” close to the source of hot water in the kitchen. right The 1882 plans for

The first improvements materialized in finer homes by the early nineteenth century as the freestanding outdoor privies of the eighteenth century gave way to indoor privies that provided an important measure of convenience. Of necessity situated in an out-of-the-way corner of the house at the end of an ell or tucked into a back service area, indoor privies such as the original single-hole privy in the ell at the 1807 Rundlet-May House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, offered indoor comfort but still required a cesspit or vault that had to be emptied periodically. In 1846, Joseph C. Wells’s plan for Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut, included two privies, a two-seater for servants and a three-seater for the family’s use, back-toback in the wood house at the end of the ell. More remarkable was the “bathing room” with a built-in bathtub, which Wells designed just off the first floor “chamber” (bedroom). This, and an adjacent “wash room” (laundry), backed up to the kitchen, the source of the hot water that had to be hand carried to the point of use. As late as 1882, when architects Hartwell and Richardson began renovations to the 1793 Lyman Estate mansion in Waltham, Massachusetts, floor plans of the existing structure show a two-hole privy at the very end of the side ell for ser10

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the Lyman Estate, Waltham, Massachusetts, labeled this room a “Toilet.” Many euphemisms refer to the room in which the toilet is located, and these names shift periodically.

vants’ use. Three more individual toilet facilities (presumably for the family) existed closer to the family living space but in the service wing of the house. These might have been privies but were more likely very early water closet toilets, which came into broader use after the 1850s. (Water rates in Boston in 1868 included an additional $5 annual fee “charged to each dwelling-house, in which a water closet or bathing tub is used.”) To modernize and expand the mansion in the latest Queen Anne mode, the architects provided three up-to-date bathrooms, all equipped with water closet toilets. Tellingly, all three occupied locations in the floor plan at or very near the locations of the earlier facilities. To open the space for the mansion’s graceful and dramatic two-story stairhall, the architects removed a service stair and passages and relocated an existing water closet to a one-story extension below the sweeping staircase and next to a side door to the family’s beloved gardens. The resulting “Toilet,” containing a marble-topped sink and a water closet with an overhead cistern, remains as it was in 1882, complete with pull chain, arched toilet paper niche, and a wooden board seat on the Dalton-Ingersoll “No. 1 Burmah” toilet. A fully-developed second floor “Bath,” located in space newly-created when the side ells of the house were raised to


of improving sanitary bathing in public settings, such as military installations, schools, and public bathing houses, where large numbers of users needed to bathe quickly and efficiently. Indeed, the capacity of the rain bath or spray bath (as the shower was first known) to cleanse the body, rather than simply as a therapeutic treatment, originated in these public health settings. Up to that time, the primary purpose of the overhead shower, and other specialized bath fixtures such as the sitz bath, had been therapeutic, as maladies as varied as fever, cardiac and orthopedic conditions, and insanity were often treated through hydrotherapy. One of the most iconic features of the therapeutic bath was the “needle and douche bath,” a cage-like structure of circular pipes perforated with a series of outlets (“needles”) set with separate temperature bELoW LEFt the toilet in the beck-Warren house at harvard university, cambridge, massachusetts, is a brighton model by the meyer-sniffen company, Limited. bELoW riGht the rib-cage shower bath at barrett house, New ipswich, New hampshire.

David Bohl

Photo by Boston Affiliates, inc., 2008, for the harvard University Planning office

two stories, was installed for the Lyman family’s use and comprehensively fitted with a foot bath, tub, sink, and water closet, all beautifully cased and paneled in cherry. A more utilitarian bath, with bead-board wainscot and a separate water closet, adjoined a back bedroom; its lesser finishes suggest that it was designated for use by a nursemaid or governess. The height of luxury in late nineteenth-century bathrooms is expressed in the Beck-Warren House on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a Greek Revival house refitted around 1891 with an extravagantly finished bathroom. The room is handsomely tiled from floor to ceiling, but its most elegant feature is the toilet, molded with a relief pattern of basketweaving and bulrushes, once gilded. Also included in the room was a tub with an overhead shower. Overhead showers were featured as an accoutrement of the bathtub in high-end bathrooms. but the freestanding, separate shower did not become widely used until the turn of the twentieth century. They were first used as a means

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David Bohl

LEFt White tile in the 1903 bathroom at codman Estate, Lincoln, massachusetts, provides an easily cleaned sanitary surface, but cleaning underneath the claw-foot tub was difficult. Later tubs

and pressure controls and accompanied by an overhead shower (“douche”), used not for bathing but as a form of therapy. Popular in the health spas of the day, these showers (now called rib-cage showers) were rarely installed in private homes. Many still bathed in a portable tin tub set up in the kitchen on a Saturday night, and otherwise made do with just a toilet and sink, but by the turn of the twentieth century, most new houses contained the standard modern bathroom with sink, tub, and flush toilet. Only the smallest and most basic of the mail-order or pre-cut homes offered by Sears, Roebuck failed to squeeze a full bath—even if it was only five feet square—into the floor plan. Far more refined than those modest bathrooms, but still typical in terms of the space and features it contains, is the bathroom Sarah Codman had installed at the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts, in 1903. Narrow as it is, the room gleams with white tile wainscot, and boasts a commodious marble sink with nickelplated urn baluster legs, and an array of towel bars, soap and sponge baskets, and cup holders. Thirty-five years later, bathroom innovations debuted in two strikingly different Historic New England house museums in Massachusetts. Long before bathrooms with 12

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were built in. riGht Added when the Little family purchased the house in 1937, the second-floor bathroom at cogswell’s Grant, Essex, massachusetts, was the home’s first indoor facility. the pre-

two sinks began to appear in plumbing ads in the mid1950s, Cogswell’s Grant in Essex and the Gropius House in Lincoln both had bathrooms fitted with a pair of sinks. In 1937, when Bertram and Nina Little purchased the 1728 Cogswell’s Grant for use as a summer house, they installed a bathroom, which featured a pair of simple white porcelain wall-hung sinks, each with its own country Chippendale-style mirror. With hooked rugs on the painted pine floor and walls papered with ferns and songbirds, this cozy bathroom could hardly contrast more dramatically with the master bathroom of the Gropius House, completed a year later. Walter Gropius’s design for his house incorporates four baths in all—two full baths for family use on the second floor and a very compact maid’s bath and a guest-use halfbath (a rarity at the time) on the first floor. The bathrooms epitomize the Bauhaus master’s rigorously efficient design principles: all are plumbed on one main stack for economy of construction as well as of space and all are located in the less prominent north side of the house, where solar gain and views were not an imperative. To minimize cost and make the point that American industry was capable of producing sophisticated, efficient contemporary designs, all structural items and indoor fixtures in the house were ordered from


Aaron Usher

Aaron Usher

vious owners used a four-seat outdoor privy, still standing behind the house. FAr riGht Like the bathroom at cogswell’s Grant, the master bath at the 1938 Gropius house, Lincoln, massachusetts,

features paired sinks and mirrors and glass shelving, but the two rooms exhibit entirely different approaches in taste and design.

—Sally Zimmerman Manager of Historic Preservation Services

Aaron Usher

stock catalogues; the bathroom fixtures came from hotel catalogues. In addition to its paired sinks with mirrors above, the master bath features a toilet, an extra long and deep tub, a towel bar on the hot-water radiator, and half-silvered light bulbs at either side of the mirrors, intended to create flattering back light and eliminating the need for any additional lighting shade or cover. Black rubber-tile floors, white tile wainscot, and white painted walls reinforce the clean look. All the bathrooms are lit with shoulder-height ribbon windows, affording a view of the meadows and trees outside while ensuring the occupants’ privacy. Normally private and intimate spaces such as privies and bathrooms, along with kitchens, bedrooms, and children’s rooms, evoke a familiarity and connection with past lives that more formal, public spaces, whose function and customary uses are further removed from our own time, may be unable to convey. Making these personal and practical spaces a part of the museum experience gives us a fuller picture of how everyday lives were led in these homes. AbovE Located just off the front hall, the half bath, or lavatory, at the Gropius house was a rarity in houses of that period.

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You probably don’t think about the bathroom in your house, but did you know that indoor plumbing is a fairly recent invention? What did people do before they had bathrooms in the house? And how have bathrooms changed since people first started building them in their homes? Let’s find out….

Bathroom History bath time before indoor plumbing

• Get water from the well in your backyard.

• Carry the water to the tub and fill it.

• Set up the tub in a warm place, like your bedroom or the kitchen.

• Heat the water over the fire.

• Stand or sit in the tub and wash yourself with soap.

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The Bowen family installed indoor plumbing at Roseland Cottage, their country home in Woodstock, Connecticut, in the early 1880s. Their bathroom was complete with a flush toilet, sink, and a bathtub. What did they use this for?.... It’s a toilet paper dispenser. Toilet paper at that time came in individual sheets, like tissues today.

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Necessary house outhouse Powder room Privy Water closet

Answers can be found on page 32.

• Use a bowl to rinse yourself off.

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• Drain water out of the tub. Carry the water to the back door and throw it out.

• Dry off and get dressed.

do you know The first flush toilet was invented by Albert Cummings in England in 1775, but even so, most people didn’t have toilets in their houses until about a hundred years ago. Before that people used outhouses in their backyards, and at night they used chamber pots, which they kept in their bedrooms. The chamber pots pictured here are fancy ones decorated with flowers.

A two-r oom ou thouse . Summer 2010 Historic New England

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charles street meetinghouse, boston, 1804. the 1787 Arah phelps inn, one of three connecticut houses protected by Nancy and John blum in 1982. top riGht protected interior features in the 1808 wing of the holley-Williams house, Lakeville, connecticut. bottom riGht the c. 1738 conant house, townsend, massachusetts, deaccessioned with deed restrictions in 1976. riGht

FAciNG pAGE, LEFt

Preserving Private Properties

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illiam Sumner Appleton, founder of Historic New England, had a vision for protecting New England’s historic buildings while keeping them in active use and cared for by private individuals following “wise restrictions.” Today, Historic New England accomplishes this goal through its Stewardship Program, which protects seventy-six privately-owned historic properties by means of legal tools known as preservation easements. Both interior and exterior features of a building are protected, as well as outbuildings and the surrounding landscape. A preservation easement is a private and voluntary agreement between a property owner and an easement holding organization, such as Historic New England. The easement identifies important historic

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and architectural features of a property, stipulates what improvements and repairs may be made, and protects it from insensitive alteration and neglect. In 1947, Historic New England protected its first privately-owned property when it acquired the Charles Street Meetinghouse in Boston and soon after conveyed it with deed restrictions to the Massachusetts Universalist Con-vention for use as a church. In 1979, when an architect purchased the building with the intent of converting it into residential and commercial space, Historic New England worked closely with him to ensure that the development would retain the important architectural features. Meanwhile, by the early 1970s, Historic New England was coming to the realization that its collection of historic properties, which totaled

sixty-seven, was too large. Many of the houses had no endowment to pay for their upkeep, and maintaining them was draining the organization’s resources. After carefully evaluating all its sites, Historic New England began to deaccession houses, ultimately selling more than thirty to private owners who could care for them responsibly. Deed restrictions accompanied each sale, protecting exterior elements— doors, windows, siding, and trim; interior elements—framing members, room configuration, plasterwork, woodwork, door and window hardware, flooring, and fireplaces; site features—outbuildings, fences, and stonewalls; and unique aspects like historic wallpaper and decorative painting. A niche market quickly emerged for these encumbered properties, and to this day they remain in private ownership, their


care guided by Historic New England. As word spread about Historic New England’s success in ensuring the long-term preservation of its deaccessioned properties, private property owners interested in protecting their historic properties began approaching the organization. In 1981, Nancy Phelps Blum, concerned about the future of property that had been in her family since the mid-eighteenth century, contacted Historic New England. The following year she and her husband arrived at an agreement with Historic New England that protects eight historic buildings from alteration or demolition as well as preserves thirty-three acres of land. With this agreement the Stewardship Program accepted its first voluntary donation of preservation restrictions. Historic New England works with a variety of property owners. There are non-profit organizations looking to sell surplus property responsibly or deaccession house museums; executors of estates striving to honor deceased property owners’ wishes that

their homes be preserved; and current property owners who do not want to see their historic properties destroyed after they pass out of their hands. Interested owners may contact Historic New England staff, who will make a site visit, evaluate the property’s features, and discuss the owner’s goals for preserving the property. Should Historic New England and the owner decide to proceed with negotiations to protect the property in the Stewardship Program, the owner pays a $500 application fee, and Historic New England drafts a legal document of proposed restrictions for the owner’s consideration. When the terms of the legal document are agreed upon, Historic New England undertakes documentary photography and develops floor plans that serve as a baseline for enforcing the restrictions. Once executed, the easement is recorded in the local land records, and the property owner is asked to make a one-time contribution to Historic New England’s Stewardship Fund to support the program’s administrative and enforcement costs.

Historic New England’s staff works closely with owners, visits each property annually, inspects protected features, and provides advice on maintenance and repair. When a property goes on the market, staff works closely with real estate brokers and prospective buyers to explain the significance of the protected features and provide feedback about how the house can be sensitively adapted to meet the needs of modern living. The enduring partnership between Historic New England and the owners of a protected property guarantees the survival of its historic character for the enjoyment of future generations. —Joseph Cornish Senior Stewardship Manager For more information on the Stewardship Program, visit Historic New England.org or call (617) 994-6642.

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enry Bowen had such sublime self confidence and pride in Roseland Cottage, the country home he created for himself and his family, that every year he invited the president of the United States to attend his gala Fourth of July celebration. Four presidents actually visited. In 1870 Ulysses S. Grant was the first to travel to quiet Woodstock, Connecticut, for Bowen’s elegant evening party and the whole day of public festivities he’d planned: parade, patriotic speeches, and fireworks. Rutherford B. Hayes came to Woodstock in 1883, Benjamin Harrison attended twice in the 1880s, and William McKinley was there for the 1891 celebration. The garden would have been at its best and the roses at their peak when the president and Bowen’s two or three hundred invited guests strolled about the grounds at dusk, enjoying lemonade and Bowen’s own strawberries, the sound of Strauss waltzes floating out from the conservatory. Henry Bowen liked roses. He named his new house Roseland Cottage and always had it painted in some shade of pink. The house is a vivid color, still surprising to come upon, face-to-face with the bucolic town common.

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Equally eye-catching and just as unusual is Bowen’s elaborate flower garden. Bowen left his hometown of Woodstock in 1834, when he was twenty-one, to seek his fortune in New York City. Ten years later, he’d prospered as a silk merchant, and soon made a name for himself as a founder of an influential antislavery weekly, The Independent. He decided to return to Woodstock with his bride to create an idyllic country estate in the little town where he’d grown up. For the design of his house, Bowen turned to Joseph Wells, an architect known for his Gothic Revival churches. Roseland Cottage was in the avant-garde of fashion, with its pointed gables, fancy scrollwork, lack of symmetry, and even the bit of stained glass that set it apart from all the traditional, four-square houses that everyone then was used to. the bowens’ granddaughter, constance holt, stands among the flowers in the parterre garden, c. 1920. AbovE Family and honored guests surround henry bowen (with a white beard, middle row, center) on the Fourth of July, c. 1890. Julia Ward howe, wearing a hat, is in the back row.

FAciNG pAGE


The Garden at


Aaron Usher

Before his house was even completed, Bowen began ordering trees for his property. He obtained most of the trees, shrubs, and perennials from the Raspberry Hill Nursery in the neighboring town of Brooklyn. The most significant of his purchases from Raspberry Hill appears in a receipt from November 1850, now in Historic New England’s Library and Archives, for six hundred yards of dwarf boxwood. The boxwood was used to edge the twenty-one flower beds that since 1850 have comprised the fanciful arabesque design of the parterre garden adjacent to the house. The beds, each one unique, are separated by narrow gravel paths—the very definition of “parterre.” The total extent of the boxwood edging is still six hundred yards, 160 years after the garden was laid out. Rare indeed is a garden that so perfectly survives from the mid-nineteenth century with its elaborate pattern intact. For the design of his garden and grounds, Bowen was influenced by the writings of Andrew Jackson Downing. Through his best-selling books and articles, Downing had become influential as a tastemaker, exhorting middle-class Americans to make their homes and gardens more aesthetically attractive. He advocated “an expressive, harmonious, and refined” blend of art and nature. In the garden, this meant irregular curving beds and borders rather than the strict geometry of an earlier era. Downing was the best known, but other mid-nineteenthcentury writers, too, were expounding on the uplifting moral value of a well-planned house surrounded by tastefully landscaped grounds. More than merely the place where one lived, “a perfect home,” according to one writer, was “the apotheosis of love.” Even the sight of such a dwelling, such an idyllic Currier and Ives homestead, was sure to inspire public virtue and turn people into better citizens, a belief that Bowen shared. The notion of home acquired tremendous symbolic importance around the country. Even Bowen’s own local nurseryman put out a weekly paper aimed at improving the lives of farm families. The paper’s name, The Homestead, indicated its emphasis on the noble ideals that might be realized through ornamental horticulture. For Bowen, creating a perfect exemplar of home in his natal village meant bringing together hearth, family, garden, roots—both arboreal and ancestral—beneath the umbrella of church, community, and country. A rose-covered lattice arbor spanned the entrance to the garden at Roseland Cottage, and shrub roses were features of the parterre. Rose specialists in Bowen’s day offered hundreds of different roses for sale. The search was on for roses that would 20

Historic New England Summer 2010

bottom LEft A summer house, c. 1920, like a tiny Greek temple, overlooks the garden. one flower bed is planted with bands of salmon and white impatiens.

provide “perpetual” bloom, rather than merely one precious week in June. No one knows just which roses Bowen grew. He may have had the latest climber, Queen of the Prairies, its rosy petals striped with white, or Baronne Prevost, with pink flowers of the old-fashioned flat shape. Perhaps he grew Maiden’s Blush, an ancient variety even then that had blue-green leaves and a heavenly fragrance. Both Downing and the influential English garden writer J. C. Loudon recommended planting flower beds with brilliant annuals, framed by low boxwood edging, to resemble “some rich oriental pattern of carpet or embroidery” that would last until the autumn frosts. Plants were to be packed close together; no glimpse of bare soil was tolerated. A garden is never the same from one year to the next, let alone for a century and a half. Still, the garden at Roseland Cottage has remained extraordinarily faithful to its traditional character, based on original seed orders, plant lists, and early photographs. Bowen had a crew of gardeners to tend his lawns and shrubbery, fruit trees and vegetables, as well as to care for the parterre garden. He would also have employed farmhands to look after his livestock. These days Roseland Cottage has one part-time gardener who depends on a faithful cadre of


expert volunteers, some of whom have worked there for fifteen years or more. An arborist tends to the boxwood edging, trimming back each spring to keep it in its place. The gardener takes cuttings of the boxwood to be raised at the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, and brought back to fill in any inevitable gaps. In this way Bowen’s nineteenthcentury boxwood is perpetuated. There are as always a few shrubs in the garden in addition to the roses: lilac, hydrangea, azalea, and a wisteria. There are perennials, too, including lemon lilies, peonies, baptisia, phlox, and bleeding heart. But it is still the flamboyant carpet of annual color that distinguishes Henry Bowen’s garden. The central oval packs a wallop with three shades of geranium planted in concentric bands, or the solid mass of pink snapdragon, or the adjacent bed blue with salvia. Almost no one gardens like this anymore. Urban parks and cemeteries may have held onto the carpet bedding tradition long after it fell out of favor with private gardeners, but it’s increasingly rare. One reason is the expense of raising or buying all the annual plants each year. The other obstacle is the amount of work involved. At Roseland Cottage it takes four days every spring for the gardening crew to plant 3,500 annuals, and the labor continues throughout the season.

Aaron Usher

Aaron Usher

AbovE LEft Concentric rings of geraniums in three shades fill the central boxwood-edged bed. Narrow gravel paths divide the garden beds. AbovE riGht A bed of blue heliotrope and another of

phlox are enclosed by boxwood hedges. beyond the garden lie the stable, barn, and bowen’s own bowling alley.

Bowen’s civic concern extended well beyond his own home turf. Even as he was making his own garden he ordered five hundred trees to be planted on the Woodstock Common. Prior to the nation’s centennial in 1876, Bowen purchased acreage beside a nearby lake, ornamented it with thousands of roses and shrubs, cast-iron statuary, and recreational facilities and gave it to the townspeople as Roseland Park. After he died in 1896 at eighty-three, Bowen’s family stayed on in their home and kept up the garden. Historic New England purchased Roseland Cottage from the Bowen family in 1970. —Alan Emmet Landscape historian Alan Emmet is author of So Fine a Prospect: Historic New England Gardens.

Roseland Cottage is open Wednesdays to Sundays through October 15 and hosts many special programs, including twilight concerts on the lawn, a historic gardens day, and a craft festival. The garden and carriage barn are also available for functions. For details, please visit HistoricNewEngland.org.

Summer 2010 Historic New England

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Preserving for the Next 100 Years repointing the chimney at the Nickelssortwell house, Wiscasset, maine, in preparation for roof repair. LEFt

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s we launch our second century of protecting the most comprehensive collection of historic properties in the region, Historic New England is significantly improving the condition of its buildings and landscapes thanks to the Preservation Maintenance Fund. The fund was established in 2009 with a three-year, $3 million challenge grant awarded to put our properties in a better physical position now, and to establish a program for sustaining this level of care in the future. The Preservation Maintenance Fund grant is a matching grant, which will result in $4.8 million of investment in capital improvements. We are now in the second year of the grant, during which our donor is matching Preservation Maintenance Fund dollars two for one. In other words, when 22

Historic New England Summer 2010

Historic New England is successful at raising $600,000 for the fund this year, the donor will award $1.2 million, bringing the total funds available for property care in 2010 to $1.8 million. In 2011, the match is onefor-one. When Historic New England raises $1.2 million for the Preservation Maintenance Fund, the donor will release an additional $1.2 million. The first year funding of $600,000 in 2009 did not require a match and supported our historic preservation staff in addressing long-term issues, such as making the houses watertight, updating active mechanical systems— electrical, plumbing, and heating—and focusing on energy efficiency and sustainability to decrease overall operating costs. We also undertook extensive planning in order to set priorities for preservation efforts in the subsequent

two years. We assessed conditions at the properties, from buildings to landscapes, from fences to trees, from roofs to basements, and from wells to toilets. These assessments formed the backbone of our planning efforts and identified where consultants would be needed to supplement staff expertise. At eight sites, we brought in an arborist to inventory and assess the trees, and at several others, we noted potential structural issues that will need further assessment by our carpentry crew or a structural engineer. We encourage you to visit the historic properties this season and observe a number of exciting projects currently underway and expected to be completed this year. Roofing projects, in Maine at the Sarah Orne Jewett House, South Berwick; in Massachusetts at the Pierce House in Dorchester and the


Winslow Crocker House in Yarmouth Port; and in New Hampshire at the Barrett House, New Ipswich, will resolve issues that could threaten the structures and the collections inside. Infrastructure upgrades of plumbing and electrical systems will continue, as will improvements to our communications systems. Energy efficiency will continue to be an important aspect of our work as we analyze energy usage and make improvements across the system. We are eager to see how attic insulation over the office space at the Langdon House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, stabilizes the office temperature and lowers the heating bills.

As a leader in both the philosophy and practice of historic preservation, Historic New England has always been committed to sharing what we learn as we work on the buildings in our collection. Consequently, we are documenting our thinking and methods in a series of white papers to disseminate this knowledge to the public and other stewards of historic properties. The papers, posted on our web site, lay out our philosophical approach to issues as basic as gutter maintenance and as complex as temperature and humidity controls for the collections. Fundraising for Historic New England’s match to this grant is a continuing process. Historic New England

has already secured grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Harold Whitfield Pierce Foundation, and the Davis Family Foundation. However, a great deal still needs to be raised for the required match and to allow us to continue at the same pace past this three-year period. As every homeowner knows, the need for maintenance is constant. With thirty-six historic properties, including over 145 structures and 1,212 acres of land, our work is never done. —Ben Haavik Team Leader, Property Care

prior to repairing the metal roof at roseland cottage, Woodstock, connecticut, the battens must be carefully pried off. bELoW sill repair at the garden cottage at hamilton house, south berwick, maine. LEFt

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vivat pius! AbovE At home in Lincoln, massachusetts, Walter and ise Gropius, at left, relax with long-time friend herbert bayer and his fiancée, Joella Lloyd.

Architect Walter Gropius founded the influential school of design known as the Bauhaus in Germany in 1919. in 1937, he and his family emigrated to the United states, where he taught at harvard University and established an architectural practice. the Gropius family home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, is one of historic New England’s most popular historic sites. For more information, visit historicNewEngland.org.

on may 18, 1943, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Walter Gropius opened an extraordinary gift; a handmade box filled with greetings from his closest friends and colleagues. Each card was identical in size but entirely original in decoration and spirit. The products of artists, architects, designers, and neighbors, they had arrived from around the corner and across the country. Herbert Bayer, Gropius’s close friend and former colleague at the Bauhaus school in Germany, had organized the project and engaged Gropius’s wife in the planning. Together, they contacted scores of Gropius’s friends. Although the war in Europe made it difficult to reach some people, fifty of those who received the invitation created personal messages to the man they all admired. Bayer wrote the cover card to “pius,” as Gropius’s Bauhaus friends called him. Using all lower-case letters in the style pioneered by the school, he writes, “here are some of your friends in a box with their sincerest greetings to your birthday: may your star shine in the future as in the past and bring you love and friendship. may you build and have birds around the house!” The cards remained in the Gropiuses’ house throughout their lives. They offer a remarkable window into Gropius’s personal side as he turned sixty—a man who inspired his students and forged enduring friendships with an international cadre of creative people. Here is a small sample of the cards Gropius received that day. —Peter Gittleman Team Leader, Visitor Experience

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Alexander schawinsky “vivat pius!” (long live pius!) reads the heading of “Xanti” Schawinsky’s card. A teacher in the stage workshop at the Bauhaus and a graphic artist, Schawinsky became one of Gropius’s closest friends during the Bauhaus years. Always animated, he was the life of any party. The words running between the fingers of the handprint spell out the names of Schawinsky’s family: “xanti,” “ren” (his wife, Irena) and “jamin” (his son, Benjamin, whose handprint is the central feature of the card). At the bottom he signs as one composite name.

herbert bayer Bayer’s card, typical of his graphic style, combines several media in a single image. A huge fingerprint hovers beside an image of Bayer as a little boy holding a walking stick, with painted clouds drifting across a red sky. Austrian-born Bayer was an active Alpine hiker throughout his life, and his love for the mountainous landscape of his homeland led him to settle in Aspen in 1946. The fingerprint is Bayer’s personal stamp on the card for his dear friend. Summer 2010 Historic New England

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ise Gropius Shown relaxing in a lawn chair at home, Gropius’s wife, Ise, frames her portrait with bluebird feathers, their favorite American bird. The Gropiuses loved their new home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, in part because the wildlife was so prevalent and visible. They placed bluebird boxes throughout the property and would delight when a nesting pair took up residence.

konrad Wachsmann Konrad Wachsmann was one of many European refugees who passed through the Gropius House during the years before and after the war. He stayed in the house for more than a year and was living there at the time of Gropius’s sixtieth birthday. Gropius spent evenings with Wachsmann in the basement developing a system using prefabricated panels to reduce the cost of constructing housing, a goal to which both men were passionately dedicated. The panel connector they were working on together is what seems to be strangling Wachsmann in this image.

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Lyonel Feininger Lyonel Feininger made this woodcut of the Gelmeroda church years earlier, when he ran the printing workshop at the Bauhaus. The church was one of his favorite subjects during the time he was in Weimar, the school’s first home. The card harks back to the beginning of his friendship with Gropius, around 1919, when Gropius, the school’s founder and director, invited the American-born Feininger to join the faculty.

helen storrow It was due to Mrs. Storrow’s generosity that the Gropiuses were able to build their house in Lincoln. A prominent philanthropist, she not only offered them the land on which to build but also subsidized the construction of the house when no bank was willing to lend them money to build such an unusual-looking design. For her contribution to the birthday cards, Mrs. Storrow worked a scene in needlepoint depicting some of the local flora and fauna, a subject dear to all of them. She clearly knew, and likely shared, the Gropiuses’ affection for the red-breasted bluebird.

Summer 2010 Historic New England

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Josep Lluis sert Sert was one of the many architects from around the world with whom Gropius was friends. The two had become acquainted through their work with the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM), an organization founded in 1928 to formalize and promote the architectural principles of the Modern movement. The Spanish-born Sert glued photographs of himself and his wife, Moncha, onto a picture of figures in traditional Spanish costumes. Like the Gropiuses, they had recently relocated to the United States. Ten years later, Sert was named dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, whose architecture department Gropius had chaired.

marcel breuer While a student at the Bauhaus, Breuer became one of Gropius’s most talented and prolific protégés. In 1925, he was invited to run the school’s furniture workshop, where he piloted the use of tubular steel in furniture. He followed Gropius to London in 1935, and then, two years later, to Harvard. On his card, Breuer depicts himself in anguish, thinking about his new wife, Connie. The image doubtless was a joke between Breuer, formerly a confirmed bachelor, and Gropius. The allusions made by some of these cards would have been clear to Gropius, but to us, nearly seventy years later, the deeper meanings can be obscure.

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colors for twentiethcentury houses

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or over a decade, “Historic Colors of America,” Historic New England’s popular and highly successful historical paint color palette, has been inspiring homeowners to use period colors in and on their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century homes. Now, a new palette, “20th Century Colors of America,” completes the historic color circle with 118 documented paint colors and twelve new off-whites representing the major color trends of the twentieth century. Developed with the vital support of licensing partner, California Products Company, which will distribute the colors through its network of independent dealers from Maine to Florida, “20th Century Colors of America” sets a new standard for authenticity in historicallyappropriate paint color and reinforces Historic New England’s color expertise across a broad consumer base. Working from sources in the Historic New England architectural collection, including Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House (1907–1934), Cogswell’s Grant, (restored in 1937), and the 1938 Gropius House, and with twentieth-century paint ephemera and wallpaper, Historic New England staff and California Products colorists identified over five hundred colors reflecting interior and exterior color use across the century. Gathered into four distinctive chronological color periods, these colors were then distilled to the

130 colors that make up the palette. Each color has its own dated documentary source and a specific story of use, tied solely to decorative applications on walls either inside or outside the home. Many are drawn directly from Historic New England’s twentieth-century museum houses. “20th Century Colors of America” offers owners of houses in styles from Arts and Crafts to mid-century Modern and late twentieth-century traditional the confidence to select historically appropriate colors to suit interiors and exteriors from the den to the sun porch. With color names that reflect the cultural themes that influenced our collective color history, the “20th Century Colors of America” palette offers choices from Art Deco (the perfect lavender for your 1930s bathroom) to Hot Tin Roof (a brilliant red

for the Modern living room). The new color palette features a full-color paint card complementing the best-selling “Historic Colors of America” card, as well as fan decks and color chips at selected California Paint retailers, and a comprehensive web site revealing the origins, dates, and historical uses that authenticate the color choices in the palette. We invite you to get to know the “20th Century Colors of America.” —Sally Zimmerman Manager of Historic Preservation Services

Painting your house? You can buy these paint cards at our Museum Shop at HistoricNewEngland.org or by calling (617) 994-5925.

Summer 2010 Historic New England

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courtesy Berlin and coos county historical society

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Collecting Twentieth-Century History

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n the century of its existence, Historic New England has had a significant impact on many communities—not only through the many historic properties it owns and protects but also through partnerships and the countless programs and services it offers throughout the region. During our centennial year, we are extending

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our reach still further by launching a multiyear project to collect twentiethcentury history in a new initiative called 100 Years, 100 Communities. As founder William Sumner Appleton stated, it is important to collect contemporaneously, while the evidence is still present. Our largest project to date documents recent history in Berlin, New Hampshire, a small city of approximately 10,000 people, best known for having once been the largest producer of newsprint in the world. Over the past fifty years, the paper industry gradually disappeared. Many of the younger people have moved away, and the older generation is dying out. To capture the community’s stories, we entered into a dynamic partnership with the Berlin and Coos County Historical Society in Berlin and the

Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow. Historic New England staff and volunteers from the historical society and the high school collected oral histories, interviewing thirty-four people ranging in age from twentyfour to ninety-one. The interviewees told stories about the neighborhoods where they grew up—Norwegian Village, Russian Hill, and the predominantly French Canadian West and East sides. They recalled the central role of sports—particularly hockey and skiing—and reminisced about a vibrant downtown filled with stores and theaters. Our volunteer crew videotaped street scenes of the city today, researched and copied photographs, and located historic film footage. The resulting ninety-minute documentary, At the River’s Edge: An Oral History of Berlin, New Hampshire premiered


in April at both Timberlane Regional High School and at the TBA Princess Theatre in Berlin. Transcriptions of the oral histories have been deposited at both the historical society and Historic New England’s Library and Archives. We invite you to visit our web site to see clips of the film, listen to oral histories, and read selected transcriptions. Future plans call for the film to be used in the schools and at nursing homes and senior centers in the Berlin area. Believing, as we do, that understanding the past can inform decisions about future directions, we hope that the project will provide a catalyst for Berliners as they look to re-define their community in the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, staff and volunteers at Roseland Cottage in Woodstock are working with The Farmer’s Cow, a cooperative of six

dairy farms in eastern Connecticut, to record the recent history of dairy farming in the region. The cooperative’s six member farms milk approximately 2,300 cows and manage over 10,000 acres of farmland. The Farmer’s Cow is part of the local food movement; the milk produced at the farms is pooled, then bottled in distinctive packaging, resulting in a premium product that competes with anonymous supermarket brands. Importantly, the cooperative shares Historic New England’s preservation ethic, as it demonstrates with its mission statement: “We believe in what we do—being good stewards of our precious agricultural heritage for future generations.” Much of the acreage is protected in perpetuity as agricultural land because the farmers have sold their development rights to the state’s farmland preserva-

tion program. As one of the farmers explains, “Farmland is a non-renewable resource. Once it’s paved over, it can never be recovered.” Dairying has long been an important part of the New England economy and has helped shape the region’s landscape. Today, however, the industry is increasingly under threat from development and economic pressure. Connecticut has lost forty dairy farms in the past five years and over 290 farms since 1990. As farms disappear, the history of the people and of their work,

Father and son at batting practice in berlin, New hampshire, 1975. FAciNG pAGE, bottom more than five hundred people attended the premiere of the documentary in berlin last April. bELoW hytone Farm, coventry, connecticut. FAciNG pAGE, top


holstein cows at Graywall Farms in Lebanon, connecticut. Farmer’s cow fresh local milk and cream is sold in nearly three hundred stores in southern New England. riGht the farmers of the Farmer’s cow.

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livestock, and land may be lost as well. The centerpiece of this project is a series of interviews with approximately twenty dairy farmers and others in the industry. Topics covered include trends in farm management, technological advances, the impact of federal food policies, relationships with suppliers and processors, and the personal histories of the people who bring us one of our most important food staples. An exhibition about dairy farming in the state, with pictures of the farms and text based on the interviews, will be on display in the carriage barn at Roseland Cottage this summer and fall and will trav32

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el to other locations in the future. The interview transcriptions are now preserved in Historic New England’s Library and Archives, as well as with the member farms and historical societies in their communities. The project is made possible in part by grants from the Connecticut Humanities Council and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. These are just two of the growing number of 100 Years, 100 Communities partnerships. Look for more stories about lives in present-day communities in upcoming issues of the magazine and on our web site. —Ken Turino, Manager of Community Engagement, and Lisa Centola, Site Manager, Roseland Cottage

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v i E W p o i N t

As part of Historic New England’s centennial celebration, we are offering an overview of preservation in the region by showcasing the statewide nonprofit preservation organization of each state. These organizations function as advocates for monitoring, promoting, and coordinating historic preservation efforts at the state level and work closely with their respective state historic preservation government offices.

Rhode Island

The State of Preservation

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reserve Rhode Island has two primary program areas: Stewardship, taking care of historic properties today so they will be around for everyone, forever, and Preservation Services, sharing our expertise statewide, helping others be good preservation stewards. Collaboration is a key strategy for success, extending our limited resources to: • Raise public awareness of threats to Rhode Island’s heritage places. The Rhode Island Preservation Watch identifies trouble spots and opportunities where citizen action can make a difference. • Empower non-profit organizations through our Business Planning Initiative with the Historic Sites Coalition, a network of fifty-six organizations that manage historic sites for public use.

Celebrate the people who achieve and inspire excellence in historic preservation through the Rhody Awards, presented in partnership with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. • Teach owners how to care for historic homes and make them more energy efficient at hands-on Economical Homeowner Workshops, presented in collaboration with Historic New England, the Newport Restoration Foundation, and the Providence Revolving Fund. • Organize a network of preservationists from around the state, the Preservation Roundtable, a preservation policy coalition. • Lead by example, as the steward of five historic properties, modeling new uses for old buildings, including residential, museum, and community uses. •

Historic preservation is key to Rhode Island’s economic recovery. Preserve Rhode Island is betting that a strategy based on cooperation will help our organization thrive, so that we in turn can help others engaged in preserving Rhode Island. —Valerie Talmage Executive Director, Preserve Rhode Island

participants in an Economical homeowner Workshop visit the c. 1724 philip Walker house in East providence, rhode island.

AbovE

Summer 2010 Historic New England

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141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702

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

A c q u i s i t i o N s

centennial Bequest

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his striking portrait by John Singleton Copley is part of an extraordinary collection of family portraits bequeathed to Historic New England by a Langdon family descendant, Frances Stone Warrick. The sit-

ter, Benjamin Gerrish, a prominent merchant in Boston and Nova Scotia, was the youngest son of a Boston merchant. He began in business with his father but later moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to expand the opportunities for coastal trade. Gerrish went on to become a member of Halifax’s political elite, holding the important positions of captain of militia, justice of the peace, and commissioner for Indian Affairs. Copley’s portrayal of him, with his face set off by a sober costume and dark background, suggests a man of intelligence and strong character. The bequest includes works by Thomas Sully, Robert Matthew Sully, Cecilia Beaux, and Thomas Casilear Cole. The seven paintings,

which date from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, reflect the development of portraiture in America. One of Historic New England’s highest collecting priorities is to acquire objects and archival items related to its historic properties. We are delighted to receive this exceptional collection depicting six generations of a prominent New England family. Many of the portraits are installed in their original locations at the Governor John Langdon House, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where they make handsome additions to the elegant interiors. —Megan MacNeil, Registrar

portrait of benjamin Gerrish (1717–1772) by John singleton copley (American, 1738–1815), 1770–1772. bequest of Frances s. Warrick.

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the award-winning Historic New England magazine is a benefit of membership. to join, please visit historicNewEngland.org

Historic New England Summer 2010  

The garden at Roseland Cottage, looking at the history of New England sports with Bill Littlefield, and a look at how bathrooms have evolved...

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