Historic New England Winter-Spring 2011

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Wi N Nt tEr E r/ s p r iiNG NG 2011

White on White

From thE ChAir

Historic N E W E NG L A N D Winter/Spring 2011 Vol. 11, No. 3

steve rosenthal

Every time I look at a copy of Historic New England magazine I am struck by the extraordinary diversity of our holdings and by the sound research that places it all in context. This issue contains articles on topics ranging from a young painter during the War of 1812, to an early preservationist and contemporary of William Sumner Appleton, to a collection of stunning architectural photographs. There are also stories on the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of a Henry Moore statuette and on a diary kept by a thirteen-year-old girl in 1924. Everything in the magazine is based on Historic New England’s holdings, the core of which is our thirty-six historic properties. Preserving them, and ensuring that they and their contents will survive for posterity, is central to our mission. We are now in the midst of a multi-year effort to raise matching funds for a $3 million challenge grant for the Preservation Maintenance Fund to support crucial work on roofs, drainage, systems, and landscapes. To secure this critical funding, we are required to raise $1.2 million in matching funds in 2011. I hope you will help us continue this vital task by contributing to the fund, knowing that every dollar you give will be matched one-to-one.

White on White 16

Joseph Everett Chandler 24 1

100 y EA rs, 100 C ommuNitiEs

Days at Sea


pE rsp EC tivE

Lost, Found, and Home Again 4

LookiNG bAC k

The World According to Charlotte mA kiNG FuN oF history

Indoor Heating

—Bill Hicks

pr EsE rvA tioN


Co LLECtioNs


musE um shop



Keeping the Water Out The Launching of a Ship—and a Career Getting Fresh with Color Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 617-227-3956



Doorknobs and Letter Slots LAND sCA p E


From Work Yard to Lawn historic NEW ENGLAND magazine is a benefit of membership. To become a member, visit our website, HistoricNewEngland.org, or call 617-994-5910. Comments? Please call Nancy Curtis, editor. Historic New England is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor: Diane Viera Editor: Nancy Curtis Editorial review team: Nancy Carlisle, Curator; Lorna Condon, Curator of Library and Archives; Jennifer Pustz, Museum Historian; Sally Zimmerman, Manager of Historic Preservation Services Design: DeFrancis Carbone

steve rosenthal: oxford congregational church, oxford, Maine, 1843. Photographed 2001.


Co NsErvA tioN


Yankee Technology Revealed ACkNoWLEDG m ENts

Centennial Donors

AC quisitioN s



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

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y E A r s ,

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C o m m u N i t i E s


at sea

A AbovE portraits of portsmouth fishermen by Jeremy heflin, from left to right: ray Levesque, Jay Driscoll, and michael pawluk.

100 Years, 100 Communities is a multi-year collaborative heritage preservation initiative. To hear the fishermen’s stories and for additional information, visit the 100 Years, 100 Communities section of our website, HistoricNewEngland.org.

s part of its 100 Years, 100 Communities initiative, Historic New England has collected oral histories from independent fishermen based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and commissioned photographs of the men and their work. In vivid words and images, the project captures the men’s love of the sea, their pride in self-sufficiency, and their anxieties about the future. Ray Levesque was twelve years old when he began lobster fishing. Describing how he started out to help his mother support his brothers and sisters and ended up spending nearly a lifetime on the water, he says, “I grew up on the water. I was always on the water and I never wanted to leave.” Now though, he stays on land and spends his days painting scenes from the ocean and boatyard. Since retiring from fishing, he has painted dozens of canvases, many in the wooden kitchenette he salvaged from his last boat. Michael Pawluk began fishing to put himself through college at the University of New Hampshire. A bachelor of arts degree and fifteen years later, he still fishes, working on an off-shore boat and running a small lobster business. “I love what I do, and I’ll do it for as long as I can. We’ll see what happens, but I definitely plan to stay on the water,” says Pawluk. Jay Driscoll represents the third generation of a family of boat builders and fishermen, but he does not want to see his kids enter the industry. “It’s too bad, because they see that I love my work, how satisfying it is. But no way do I want it for them,” he states. He believes that federal regulations intended to give the declining fishing stocks time to rebuild will make it impossible for independent fishermen to earn a living. “There will be no one left in this fishery. There are no young owners anymore, I think I’m the youngest one and I’m turning forty.” The oral histories and photographs, which document an industry under stress, are archived in Historic New England’s Library and Archives and the Portsmouth Athenaeum in Portsmouth. —Elizabeth Farish Former Regional Site Manager, Maine and New Hampshire Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


Andrew Davis

p E r s p E C t i v E

Lost, Found, and Home Again henry moore (1898–1986): Reclining Figure, 1945. FACiNG pAGE ise Gropius, her niece, Eviline, and Walter Gropius in the Gropiuses’ living room in Lincoln, massachusetts, 1958. the moore statue is visible on the shelf behind them. this pAGE


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011


etween 1934 and 1937, when my father and mother were living in England as exiles from Nazi Germany, they got to know the English sculptor Henry Moore. They visited him in Hampstead, London, where there was a small colony of avant-garde artists, and they admired his work. Some years later, in 1946, after my parents had settled in the U.S., and my father had become chairman of the Department of Architecture at Harvard, Moore visited them in their home in Lincoln, Massachusetts. It was a happy reunion in our little white house. Moore had brought a present—a special casting in bronze of a small reclining figure. Moore was a charming soft-spoken little man, whose spirit was already appreciated in the house. A large drawing from his wartime London Underground series hung in my parents’ bedroom. The new little statue took its place on a living room shelf above my father’s couch, where, together with a few other objets d’art, it continued to delight the eye for the next thirty-seven years.

In 1983, after my parents died, I took the little Moore, which my mother had given to my daughter and me, to live with us in our country house in rural New York. Its place of honor was again on a shelf above the living room couch. It was very dear to us, but over the next decades, its appearance had so blended in with the accompanying little art pieces that it no longer startled the eye. Indeed, it seemed to us an odd question when one day in 1992 a friend of ours asked, “Whatever happened to your Henry Moore?” What indeed! As soon as we looked on the shelf we noticed its absence! It was a terrible and un-understandable moment! There was absolutely no reason for the little bronze to have disappeared! None of our friends, a small, intimate group, would have borrowed or taken it. No strangers came to our hidden-away, small house, located in woods and old pastures, far from any public road. No service people would have known about the value and significance of this piece amongst so much

bric-a-brac. We were totally stumped. Police, detectives, Interpol, and all our friends were consulted to no avail. No theory appeared that could adequately set our minds at rest. We grieved and grieved. And the years went by. One September day in 2008, as the orange leaves on our maple trees came tumbling down, I glanced at the stepping stones leading up to our little rock garden and said, “What’s that funny little dark thing near the top?” “Henry” had reappeared! Found the day before beneath a briar bush by our garden handyman, the little statue had been nesting out of sight for many years. The gardener had been removing the bush when he found a dirt-covered, lumpy, and heavy object among the roots. He almost threw it out with the briars but instead left it on the stepping stone nearby. How had “Henry” come to be there? Perhaps whoever took the figure had had second thoughts and tossed it into the briar patch as he left, after

which it was gradually overgrown. We will never know, but though out of sight, “Henry” was never out of our minds. We welcomed him back with greatest joy. I am happy that today he is safely back in his first American home— on the shelf at my parents’ house in Lincoln. His wanderings are over. —Ati Gropius Johansen Ms. Johansen, an artist and teacher, is the daughter of Walter and Ise Gropius.

The Gropiuses’ family home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, owned and operated by Historic New England, is open year round. Please visit HistoricNewEngland.org for details. Historic New England would like to acknowledge our generous donors, including the Henry Moore Foundation, for their support of the permanent acquisition of the sculpture.

Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


L o o k i N G

b A C k

The world according to


harlotte Condit Lyman was born in 1911. She was brought up with her two brothers and sister in the sheltered world of a traditional well-to-do family. They lived at 39 Beacon Street, Boston, and Charlotte attended the Winsor School on the Fenway. Fortunately for us, Charlotte kept a journal (now a promised gift to Historic New England) when she was thirteen, in which she wrote about her days and drew humorous pictures. Just like any young teenager, she was blunt (her music teacher’s father was “crazy”); adored her dog, Rags (whom she called Doggum); did unexpected things, such as building a small boat; fussed over school assignments; and had fun with her friends as they played mahjong and charades, watched movies, and skated. She thought enough about the joys of chewing gum to mention she had bought some, and six months later she went to see a grown-up movie, Ponjola, starring silent screen star Anna Nilsson. Charlotte described in her diary things that were commonplace to her, though they would have been extraordinary to other girls. She summered away from the city, commented about the racing pigeons her father raised, had private tutors,


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

and attended a function with Boston’s Mayor Curley. She did charity work like her mother, sewing sachets and participating in a pageant to benefit worthy causes. Her great friend was the chauffeur, Frank Rooney, who drove her everywhere. Later she went away to school at St. Timothy’s in Maryland, and then to Miss Schoff’s, a finishing school on rue Pierre Demours in Paris. At one point, she performed acrobatic dances at Boston’s Vincent Club, which supported programs at the Vincent Memorial Hospital, and attracted the attention of an impresario of the Ziegfeld Follies; her father firmly vetoed a job offer. In 1931, she was presented to the Court of St. James. One year later, she married Benjamin Clark, an investment banker from New York, and went on to raise four children. The comic sensibility revealed in the diary stayed with her throughout her long life, and family and friends relished her amused and irreverent remarks about the world around her. —E. Richard McKinstry Library Director and Andrew W. Mellon Senior Librarian Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

charlotte Lyman with her brother John and fox terrier, Doggum, c. 1923. she had two much older siblings but was especially fond of John, not only because he was close in age but because of his affectionate nature. this pAGE charlotte had a cartoonist’s gift for telling detail—the sash and ruffles on her party dress, the awkward stance of children learning to dance, and the large flakes of a heavy snowfall.


Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


on June 16, charlotte described a fete for which the Lymans opened their house to the public to raise money for charity. she noted with disapproval that their cousin Amy Lowell insisted on being paid for reading some of her poems for the event. At this phase of her life, charlotte was a tomboy. she loved being outdoors, skating, sledding, riding, and boating but had absolutely no interest in team sports. this high energy continued into adulthood—a keen gardener, she enjoyed the heavy work of clearing and digging as much as she loved planting flowers..

in the drawing above, charlotte is getting a new piano piece from her teacher, Miss ingraham, who came to the house to give lessons as early as seven a.m.


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

charlotte enjoyed building things at her workbench, like the destroyer (August 18). she particularly loved cars and fast driving, recording on May 28 her annoyance at being driven at slow speed. During World War ii, she drove in New York city for the red cross Motor corps. All her life she was passionate about animals. After she had children, the family home was populated with all sorts of cats, dogs, goats, rabbits, a cow, and a shetland pony who would occasionally come into the living room. Most important of all was Wally, an African green parrot that she had had since she was eleven years old.

Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


m A k i N G

F u N

o F

h i s t o r y Boiler, 1931

Before modern methods made it easy to heat a house, people burned wood or coal to keep warm. In cold weather, the fireplace was the focal point of the home. Over the years, people added newer forms of heating—cast-iron coal stoves, furnaces, radiators, metal pipes, and heat vents in the floor. What kind of heat does your home have?

Indoor Heating

Cookstove, nineteenth century Parlor stove, 1874



Large open fireplaces are used for heat and cooking.

Count Rumford designs a more efficient fireplace.

1820 Cast-iron stoves begin to replace fireplaces in homes.

what is it? Fires need oxygen from the air in order to burn. Bellows blow air into a fire to make it burn hotter. This particularly fancy bellows has painted flowers and leaves.

—Kathleen Simone Former Education Program Coordinator


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

decorative tiles In wealthier houses, fireplaces were often surrounded with decorative tiles. Here’s how to make a tile at home. You’ll need a plain ceramic tile from a craft store, acrylic paints, a brush and a small sponge, and clear acrylic varnish.


1. With a damp sponge or paper towel, wipe the tile clean and let it dry. 2. If you want a textured effect in the background, like the sky in this tile, paint that first, using the small sponge dipped in a little paint. Let that dry, then paint your design over it. 3. After the tile is completely dry, apply acrylic varnish with a brush to protect your design.

Radiator, 1931

Wall register




In Russia, Franz San Galli invents the radiator.

In Iowa, Dave Lennox starts producing rivetedsteel furnaces.

The Lennox Company manufactures forcedhot air home furnaces.

do you know Fireplaces provide heat and look nice, but a lot of the heat goes up the chimney instead of warming the room. Here are all sorts of additional ways to keep warm. Foot warmers are small portable stoves. This one has a metal box inside to hold hot coals from the fireplace. People used foot warmers at home and also put them in their carriages and took them to church. Bed warmers were used to warm cold beds. People put hot coals into the metal pan and then swept it back and forth between the sheets before getting into bed. Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


p r E s E r v A t i o N

Keeping the Water out


pril showers bring May flowers—but they can also bring leaks, flooding and mold. On the positive side, spring rain storms offer excellent opportunities to analyze weak points in roof, gutter, and drainage systems. Roofs and gutters tend to get the most attention because leaks are visible and can cause immediate damage to buildings and their contents. Water at ground level, however, can ultimately be more harmful to a building and the people and objects inside. Over the past two years, as property care staff performed conditions assessments at our historic properties for the Preservation Maintenance Fund program, they encountered water in a number of undesirable locations. After rainstorms, water was pooling


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

around foundations and in basements at several sites. Once the surrounding ground had become saturated, water had seeped into basements through the walls and dirt floors. Water in prolonged contact with wood leads to rot, and high humidity will cause mold and rot and will rust items made of metal. Moisture in the basement ultimately travels to the upper floors, with the potential for damage to the museum collections. There are many different techniques for moving water away from buildings. The roof and siding, paired with gutters and downspouts, will shed water off the structure, but that is only half the battle—water needs to be directed away from the foundation. Run-outs or underground drains help lead water away from the gutter

and downspout system. The grade, or slope, of the soil needs to slant downhill, away from the building. Dry wells and other drainage receptacles may be installed to provide places for water to gather and slowly be redistributed. Drainage trenches, or French drains, that line the foundation can be installed to transfer water farther below grade or to a dry-well system. All drainage systems require maintenance. Gutters and downspouts may need several cleanings a year. As silt filters into below-grade drainage lines or dry wells, it must be removed, but because maintenance cycles for buried features are less frequent, only good record-keeping can ensure that cleanings are not forgotten. In addition, drainage lines, which can be broken by large vehicles or pierced by tree roots, need ongoing monitoring.

Last winter, rain saturated the entire region and raised the water table at many sites, perfectly illustrating flaws in the drainage systems at several of our properties. Fortunately, we had already engaged a civil engineer to review the systems at twelve of our sites, and he went right to work, getting a clear look at the problems. In most cases, a simple series of steps was all that was needed to resolve the issues. We identified and located lost drainage lines, cleaned out silt and debris so old systems could function once more, regraded soil around foundations, and generally ensured that the systems we have are operating properly. In some instances, the problems were more complex and required thoughtful planning to ensure that the solution will protect the integrity of the historic landscape as well as the structure. While regular maintenance and vigilance about water penetration are necessarily an ongoing process at any property, the Preservation Maintenance Fund has allowed us not only to find

strategies for each site but also to address drainage issues across the board and develop management systems with widespread applications. —Ben Haavik Team Leader, Property Care

the flooded italian Garden at the Codman Estate, Lincoln, massachusetts, in 2005. recent drainage projects there have helped mitigate damage from flooding, although they will never completely resolve the problem because of the garden’s low situation in the landscape. bELoW LEFt FACiNG


tips from the property Care team As part of our efforts to document projects and learn from them, we have drafted a series of white papers on site drainage, available at HistoricNewEngland.org. Many of the steps are commonsense activities that any homeowner or steward of historic properties can follow: • Familiarize yourself with the different components of drainage at your property— the gutters, the soil around your foundation, and any underground drainage pipes or dry wells. • Watch what happens during a rainstorm, note where you have problems, and perform maintenance and minor repairs. • If problems persist, call a certified engineer to analyze all the components at your site and create a site drainage plan.

in 2010, the basement of the Lyman Estate in Waltham, massachusetts, experienced unprecedented flooding in the march rainstorms. riGht staff explore the foundation drainage system at the barrett house, New ipswich, New hampshire.

Support the Preservation Maintenance Fund and property care projects such as these by making a donation at HistoricNewEngland.org and clicking on the blue Donate Now button.

Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


C o L L E C t i o N s

The Launching of a Ship–and a Career


n October 1, 1814, during the War of 1812, sixteen-year-old John Samuel Blunt witnessed an inspiring event in the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire—the launching of a ship of the line. The seventy-four-gun warship USS Washington, only the second ship of the line built by the United States Navy, was the first to be constructed in Portsmouth. At precisely 12:30 p.m., the ship started from the stocks and glided into the Piscataqua River. Despite a blockade by British warships outside the harbor, the launching caused widespread jubilation. As the ship slid down the ways, she was greeted with a thirteen-gun federal salute from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard—one gun for every original state in the Union— answered by cannon fire from Fort Constitution and two privateers, Harpy and America, lying at anchor. In the midst of the celebration there must also have been an undercurrent of fear. Were the British already making their way up the river to burn the American ships? Or,


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

were they waiting to attack when the vessels tried to leave the harbor? John Samuel Blunt, known as Sam, knew firsthand what it meant to be at war—the economic hardships, the food shortages, as well as the personal risk. Born in Portsmouth in 1798, this teenager would have been only too cognizant of the danger. His father, Mark Samuel Blunt, like many other local mariners, provided critical support to the United States Navy by serving on a privateer—an armed private ship commissioned to cruise against enemy warships. If captured, he could be arrested by the Royal Navy and imprisoned. More than just a bystander at the launching, young Sam was also an active participant in the war effort, thanks to his skill with a pen and brush. He had been commissioned to create a signal sheet showing the signals to be used from the hill in Kittery, Maine, across the river, and from the shipyard, by day or by night, in case of enemy approach. The sheet, titled “Signals to be made from hill in Kittery,”

attributed to John Samuel Blunt (1798–1835): Launching of the Ship of the Line Washington, c. 1815. thiS page John Samuel Blunt: Signals to be made from hill in Kittery, signed

facing page

lower right “John Blunt 1814.” courtesy of the Mariners’ Museum, newport news, Virginia.

Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


is signed and dated in the artist’s distinctive script, “John Blunt 1814.” It demonstrates the young artist’s mastery of watercolor and confirms his direct involvement in matters of security at the shipyard. He knew the threat of a British attack was real. Sam’s involvement with the war may have launched his career as an artist. In January 1815, shortly after the launching of USS Washington, his father perished at sea off the coast of Portugal, obliging Sam to earn a living to support his mother and two younger brothers, one of whom was just an infant. Like most of the population of Portsmouth, he had certainly been following the wartime activity in the harbor 14

Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

and may also have been recording what he saw in a sketchbook. It would have been natural for him to use his talent to embark on an artistic career and proclaim his skill with a large painting of such a momentous event. The Launching of the Ship of the Line Washington was probably painted in 1815. Ambitious in size as well as subject, it shows the young artist keenly observant of maritime detail, even though still learning to master perspective. In a recently discovered sketchbook by Blunt, dated 1821, there appears another drawing of the same ship house, now extended by twelve feet to accommodate the construction of a second ship, USS Alabama, launched in 1819. The depic-

tion of the building is so similar to the one in the oil painting that it had to have been done by the same hand. The signal sheet explains why Blunt would have been present at the launch and why he chose to depict it from across the Piscataqua River. That standpoint offered an ideal position to watch for signals warning of enemy advance as well as to sketch the actual launching. When Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little acquired the painting for their summer home, it was cited as a work by an unknown artist. Mrs. Little, widely respected as an assiduous researcher and discriminating connoisseur, was the first to assign the work to Blunt, in a 1964 article on New Hampshire painters in The Magazine Antiques. The ship house drawing in the artist’s 1821 sketchbook now confirms her attribution beyond doubt. By 1816, Blunt had relocated to Boston and was serving as an apprentice in the workshop of the decorative painter, illustrator, and portraitist John Ritto Penniman, which provided ornamental work for clockmakers, furniture makers, carriage makers, and local printers. For those with limited finances, apprenticeship was the best way to acquire instruction in the arts and acquire marketable skills. Upon completing his apprenticeship in 1819 at the age of twenty-one, Blunt and a colleague, William P. Codman, traveled by boat up the Merrimack River. Blunt’s diary of the trip records their artistic efforts, with Blunt producing landscapes and house portraits, while Codman mainly did portraiture. During the trip, Blunt painted a Seal of New Hampshire for display in the new State House in Concord. By 1821, Blunt was back in Portsmouth, advertising his services in “portrait, ornamental, sign and glass painting, enamelling on glass, gilding, & c. & c.” That fall, he married Esther Peake Colby, daughter of Joseph Colby, a Boston carpenter and housewright. Shortly thereafter, the first of their five children was born, and Blunt was earning sufficient income to purchase property in his hometown. Although it is clear from his two known sketchbooks that Blunt preferred to focus on nature as subject matter, his account books indicate that the bulk of his practice was in decorative painting—signs, fire buckets, Masonic aprons, military standards, and decorative finishes on furniture—the mainstay for most artists at the time. Even Alvan Fisher, another Penniman apprentice and one of the leading proponents of landscape painting in New England, struggled to make a living in that genre. Of the few commissioned canvases Blunt was known to have executed, most were ship portraits—not surprising considering that the local economy centered on marine trade. Ship portraits documented the features of a ship and assisted owners and insurance companies with claims and possible recovery. Despite the mundane nature of his practice, Blunt never abandoned marine and landscape subjects. During the 1820s,

he began to paint imaginary landscapes and seascapes clearly designed to appeal to a broader public. Perhaps inspired by prints of paintings by such masters as Claude-Joseph Vernet, his work from this time acquired an almost theatrical quality—scenes of stormy seas, sublime rock formations, luminous skies, abandoned forts and lighthouses populated with humans in varying degrees of distress. More than thirty of these fanciful canvases are known. Some were undoubtedly shown at his studio, where he charged a dollar for admission. It was perhaps on one of these occasions that James Rundlet, a Portsmouth–based textile manufacturer and importer, purchased Blunt’s painting of an imaginary scene. Signed and dated 1824, the painting still hangs in the Rundlet family home in Portsmouth, now a Historic New England property. It features a ship anchored in a safe harbor under a wondrously luminescent sky. On gloomy nights, this charming work undoubtedly brought great comfort to Rundlet as he waited for his own shipments to arrive from overseas. The artist who showed such early promise had clearly learned his lessons well.

—Deborah M. Child Ms. Child, an independent art historian and museum consultant, is the author of The Sketchbooks of John Samuel Blunt and project curator of the Portsmouth Athenaeum’s Catalogue Raisonné for John Samuel Blunt (1798–1835).


John samuel blunt, imaginary scene, 1824. Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England



Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

p o r t f o l i o


first met Steve Rosenthal in 1965, when we were classmates in architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Both of us were fascinated by photography, just a hobby for me but something much more serious for him. Steve did very well in school and was hired as an architect by a prominent Cambridge firm. But over the next few years, his interest in photography kept nagging at him. He began freelancing as an architectural photographer and eventually went into that field full time. Over the years, he established himself as the unrivaled dean of commercial architectural photographers in New England and one of the leaders in the nation. I think this deep background in architecture is a key to understanding Steve’s work in his book, White on White. What makes photography interesting is that every good photographer sees and presents a different world. Steve’s DNA as a photographer was an understanding of architectural space. Where another photographer might be more interested in effects of light, let’s say, or in abstract patterns, Steve always seemed best at capturing the three-dimensional quality of a space. You always felt you could inhabit his photographs. During all those years as a professional photographer, we now know, Steve was pursuing an almost secret hobby. He was quietly photographing historic white Protestant churches in New England. Steve doesn’t know, or at least can’t say, what drove him to this pursuit. Perhaps he needed to connect with the old because his daily work immersed him in the new. Perhaps he needed to return from the world of color to the purer art form that is black-and-white photography. In these photos, Steve is certainly a master of what I just called effects of light and abstract patterns. But he rarely fails to place his image in a suggestion of architectural space. And because there are no human figures, the windows, the headstones, and the facades of these churches become, like mimes in white, silent actors in Steve’s unique artistic achievement. —Robert Campbell Mr. Campbell is a Cambridge architect and the Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic for the Boston Globe.

White on White Portraits of New England churches by Steve Rosenthal

York Street Baptist Church, York Village, Maine, 1891. Photographed 1971.


Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England



Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

Washington Congregational Church, 1840, schoolhouse, 1843, and town hall, 1787, Washington, New hampshire. Photographed 2002.


old First Church, old bennington, vermont, 1805. Photographed 2005.

this pAGE, AbovE

First Congregational Church of hamilton, hamilton, massachusetts, 1843. Photographed 2008.


Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England



union Church, south Effingham, New hampshire, 1891. Photographed 2003.

Mr. Rosenthal has made a promised gift of his entire photographic archive to Historic New England. The images in this article are drawn from his recent book, White on White: Churches of Rural New England, published by the Monacelli Press. An exhibition by the same name, containing forty framed original photographs, will be on view from April 4 to June 5, 2011, at the Dillon Art Center, Groton


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

School, Groton, Massachusetts; from June 30, through September 23, 2012, at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut; and from October 6, 2012, through January 27, 2013, at the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut. Please visit HistoricNewEngland. org for information on additional venues or to book the exhibition. To order the book, visit the website or call 617-994-5925.






m s

Getting Fresh with Color


righten your life with historic color! One example of a fresh spring palette is this array of paints and decorative items in marine hues. Historic New England licensees examine our collections and work with our curators to create reproductions of wallpapers, textiles, and paint colors based on originals in our collection.

visit the licensees’ websites: southwoodfurn.com (chair); brunschwig.com (fabric); christophernormancollection.com (wallpaper); n1studios.com (plate); californiapaints.com (paints).




Take inspiration from historic paint charts, available from our museum shop at 617-994-5925, find objects and information on our licensees’ websites, and create historic character in a palette of your choice.

—Carol Bruce Retail Operations Manager

Green Glass



Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


o D D s


E N D s

Doorknobs and Letter Slots


hen the architectural story of a historic house is told, it nearly always focuses on those features that command our attention—the pedimented portico, the graceful staircase, the carved overmantel. It’s easy to disregard the small details in a house and the simple stories that can be gleaned from things as seemingly insignificant as a piece of hardware. Recently, a Historic Homeowner member asked if the mercury glass doorknobs and brass letter slot on the double doors of her 1870 Brookline, Massachusetts, mansard house were both original. While it was immediately clear that the mercury, more properly called


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

silvered, glass knobs were part of the original door hardware and that the letter slot was not, both items provided a window into past lifestyles. Tellingly, no letter slots or anything having to do with mail delivery appeared in an 1855 advertisement for “House Trimmings” that listed four types of doorknobs, including “Glass Silvered, Octagon and Plain” and plenty of other architectural hardware such as bell pulls, shutter knobs, sash fasteners, and sliding door “sheaves and ways.” The Brookline doorknobs might have been locally produced, as patents for silvered glass items were held by two Boston manufacturers. In 1855, William Leighton, superintendent of the New England Glass Company in

Cambridge, Massachusetts, now noted for its highly-collectible pressed and etched glass, received a patent (#12265) for “a cheap [hollow-glass] doorknob…having the color and brilliancy of polished silver rendered durable and free from…tarnishing.” Alternatively, the doorknob may have been made by the Boston Silver-Glass Company, also in Cambridge, operated by Alonzo E. Young. An 1868 history of American manufactures noted that “the manufacture of silvered glass is extensively carried on by [Mr.] Young and from its showy and effective appearance is in great demand.” Young operated the Boston Silver-Glass Company as early as 1857 and held a patent (#90040,

1865) on silvered-glass “bottle holders” (wine coasters). Unlike the now rare silvered-glass doorknobs, which today are collector’s items, the mundane letter slot provided insight into something that still carries over into modern life, mail delivery. Home mail delivery was an important new service in 1870, when the Brookline house was built. Free city delivery was established by Congressional act in 1863 to forty-nine large cities whose post office revenues were sufficient to pay mail carriers to deliver mail to individual homes. Before 1863, postage covered only the cost of delivery between post offices, and the recipient either collected the mail personally or paid a private carrier to deliver it. In a time when city households typically were occupied during the day, delivering the mail meant the letter carrier waited for the door to be answered before handing over the mail directly, person-to-person. Undelivered mail went back with him until someone became available to receive it. Estimates on the time letter carriers wasted waiting for doors to be answered ranged to upwards of an hour and a half a day. The letter slot allowed mail to be delivered into the home without delaying the carrier. Household mail boxes served the same purpose but with less assurance that mail would not be stolen or damaged by weather. By 1912, all new customers were required to supply a letter slot or mail box for home delivery, and in 1923, the Postmaster General mandated that every customer provide a letter slot or box in order to receive mail. Implementation of the free city delivery system had required a series of unanticipated adaptations in community life, including the provision of street names, numbered addresses, sidewalks, crosswalks, and street lighting. The humble letter slot was one of these far-reaching adaptations. Gradually finding its way

into hardware catalogues over a sixtyyear period, the letter slot is a little piece of history on your doorstep. —Sally Zimmerman Manager of Historic Preservation Services FACiNG pAGE A sturdy brass letter slot, in the back door of a mansion in Jamaica plain, boston, was added after the construction of the c. 1875 house. its placement suggests the letter carrier was intended to avoid the grand front entrance. this pAGE the silveredglass doorknob on an 1870 mansard house in brookline, massachusetts, is original to the paneled mahogany double entrance doors. other silveredglass knobs have been preserved throughout the interior.

the contemporary name for silvered glass, mercury glass, incorrectly suggests that these shiny decorative objects, which included doorknobs, vases, candlesticks, curtain pins, and other ornamental accoutrements, were made using mercury. in fact, the shininess of these ornaments derived from a technique innovated by Bohemian (czech) glass blowers in the 1840s of creating double-walled blown and molded glass objects that were coated on the interior with silver nitrate in a liquid solution and then sealed. William Leighton’s patent of 1855 noted that it was the sealing off of the interior silvered surfaces that rendered “the color and brilliancy of polished silver” durable “from the action of chemical or mechanical agents.”

the historic homeowner staff takes all your old house questions seriously, from paint color to pilasters, hardware to hearthstones. if you are looking for help deciphering the nuts and bolts of your old house, you may want to consider upgrading to historic homeowner membership. have a smaller question? For a nominal fee, historic New England general members can access technical assistance on old houses through the old house maintenance Advisor. For information, call 617-994-6645.

Architect and Preservationist


shoe box full of diaries purchased by Historic New England has resurrected the nearly forgotten

career of an important leader of the Colonial Revival. Previously known only for his restorations of such landmarks as the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts, Joseph Everett Chandler (1863–1945) is now credited with more than five hundred commissions. Chandler helped build the historic preservation movement in New England and was a mentor and friend to William Sumner Appleton, the founder of Historic New England. In addition, his wideranging career included four other chapters, as pioneering architectural historian, accomplished architect of new buildings, restorer of hundreds of colonial houses, and innovative museum designer. Surveying preservation in New England in 1913, the Boston Evening Transcript singled out Chandler for praise. Declaring him “an Architectural Sherlock Holmes,” it described Chandler’s investigation of the Paul Revere House

in Boston: “[Chandler] went sleuthing among rafters, walls, plastering and floor sills. [He]… knew the type characteristics of the seventeenth century house in New England. The job became one of inference. From a lower sill, shaped by the opening and shutting of a frame-work, it was clear that the original windows had been casements, swinging outward… The detection of these details was due to the painstaking inspection of every foot of wall in the old building as it was opened by Mr. Joseph Everett Chandler, the architect in charge.”

FACiNG pAGE Chandler’s 1886 diary (upper right), as well as blueprints and correspondence for the Edward osgood house (1925–1931) in Wenham, massachusetts, are now in the historic New England Archives. other massachusetts commissions shown: quincy homestead restoration in quincy, Adams Library in kingston, Aptucxet trading post recreation in bourne, and brick business blocks in plymouth. AbovE LEFt Joseph Everett Chandler,

photograph by Alfred W. Cutting. AbovE riGht Chandler restored the isaac royall house in medford, massachusetts, in 1913. Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


LEFt William sumner Appleton sent these Chandler sketches to the newspapers to build interest in the restoration of the paul revere house in 1907–08.

Chandler used his investigative skills to reveal the secrets of many other landmarks, including, in Massachusetts, the Old State House in Boston, the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House in Cambridge, the Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers, the Isaac Royall House in Medford, the Antiquarian and Harlow houses in Plymouth, the Quincy Homestead in Quincy, the Hooper-Hathaway and Retire Becket houses in Salem, and in Connecticut, the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry. He restored at least three dozen colonial buildings that are today museums—across New England and as far away as Virginia. Regrettably, after his death, his drawings and papers were destroyed, and his reputation slipped into obscurity. Rediscovering the outlines of Chandler’s career became possible only recently, through his diaries. The diaries, each slightly larger than a deck of cards, record much of his life from schoolboy to celebrated architect. The son of a butcher in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Chandler traced his lineage back to several Mayflower passengers, including Governor William Bradford. He grew up in a c. 1719 house set in an even older garden, which led—in a series of terraces called “dykes”— from Plymouth’s main street up to the Burial Hill of the Pilgrims. In his 1881 diary, he wrote of driving carriages of


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riGht Wallace Nutting posed this photograph at the hearth of the Cooper-Frost-Austin house in Cambridge, restored by Chandler for historic New England in 1912.

wealthy tourists on sightseeing rides past Plymouth Rock and old Plymouth houses. Chandler enrolled in architecture classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then located near Copley Square in Boston; his 1886 diary captures the energy of a city transformed by the new Back Bay neighborhood and the genius of architect H. H. Richardson. He hiked through Hingham, Massachusetts, sketching colonial houses, and won an internship with McKim, Mead and White in New York. After M.I.T., Chandler journeyed west to Chicago, working for William Pretyman—an artist who designed Aesthetic interiors for Gilded Age Chicagoans—and architects Burnham and Root in their offices atop the Rookery Building. Returning to Boston in 1890, he was the lead architect at the firm of Rotch and Tilden for a high school for Plymouth (today the town offices), modeled after the courthouse at Williamsburg, Virginia. Chandler wrote essays and two important early books on American architecture. The Colonial Architecture of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, 1892, is a portfolio of photographs of iconic buildings of the mid-Atlantic states. Produced initially for architects, it found a broader audience. Chandler directed his best-known book, The Colonial House,

LEFt Working with Caroline Emmerton, Chandler restored the house of the seven Gables in salem, massachusetts, and created its Colonial revival garden. photograph by Alfred W. Cutting.

1916, to people restoring old houses or building new Colonial Revival houses. However, Chandler’s detailed examination of colonial houses inspired others to study American architectural history. Another chapter of Chandler’s career includes dozens of new buildings that he designed, primarily Colonial Revival but also Arts and Crafts in style. He served a brief stint as a partner in Cole and Chandler, a prolific firm in New London, Connecticut. His first solo commissions were seaside cottages in Plymouth for clients who wanted new houses with careful colonial detailing. Chandler designed the Plymouth boyhood home of Henry-Russell Hitchcock, the architectural historian and champion of Modernism. Hitchcock observed that while Chandler’s “Neo-Colonial” design included fireplace mantels copied from Samuel McIntire, “the plan has…as much spatial flow as [Frank Lloyd] Wright’s earliest houses of the same years; and like them it is in the continuing tradition of the Shingle Style.” Most of Chandler’s houses were small in scale, with a practical plan and fine details, and have survived with few changes. Other commissions were for large summer estates, such as those for Charles Sumner Pierce at Islesboro, Maine, or A. Piatt Andrew on Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

storrowton, in West springfield, massachusetts, is Chandler’s largest creation, an open-air architectural museum village.


Chandler, Andrew, and Andrew’s close friend Henry Davis Sleeper were part of the Boston Bohemian circle who built or redesigned creative summer houses, exemplified by Sleeper’s Beauport, now a Historic New England property. Chandler traveled widely, with commissions outside New England, including a grand house in Louisville, Kentucky. Chandler also designed brick commercial blocks in Plymouth, an art gallery in Brookline, Massachusetts, a town hall in Westminster, Vermont, and libraries in the Massachusetts towns of Duxbury, Kingston, and Sandwich. For Dartmouth College, Chandler designed fraternity houses based on the homes of John Hancock and Isaac Royall. In another chapter of his career, Chandler restored several hundred historic houses from Maine to North Carolina. On Boston’s Beacon Hill, he reworked sixteen houses on Chestnut Street alone, including the Harvard Musical Association and the oldest Swan rowhouse, the residence of Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” He converted the Swan stable on Mount Vernon Street into a honeymoon cottage for his friend Arthur Wellington. Of the countless colonial farmhouses Chandler restored, the best preserved is the Stevens-Coolidge House in North Andover, Massachusetts. Working collaboratively with Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


LEFt Chandler designed several grand country houses, such as this shingled italian renaissance revival house (1901) for Charles sumner pierce in islesboro, maine.

Chandler from 1914 to 1942, John Gardner and Helen (Stevens) Coolidge remade the farm and several neighboring houses into a Colonial Revival village. Today, The Trustees of Reservations maintains the house and its manicured gardens—the largest of Chandler’s many surviving landscapes. The chapter on museum work begins with the period rooms Chandler designed for museums and historical societies. At a time when many house museum interiors merely displayed historical relics, Chandler restored and furnished rooms as though their occupants had just gone out for a stroll. And, while other Boston architects were gutting historic buildings like Faneuil Hall to make them fireproof, Chandler took care to preserve a building’s historic fabric. Chandler promoted the emerging museum study of American furniture and decorative arts. He collected furniture and restored private houses as showplaces for furniture aficionados, such as his friends in the Walpole Society, the collectors’ association founded in 1910. For Chauncey Nash, he moved two houses to Cohasset, Massachusetts, and reconstructed them. Chandler counseled Edwin Hipkiss, curator of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and he led the planners of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on tours of New England. After the design for 28

Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

the family of New hampshire Governor robert perkins bass pose in front of their Chandler-designed house in peterborough, New hampshire.


the Met’s American Wing went to George F. Dow and other colleagues, Chandler lamented in his diary, “[Grosvenor] Atterbury was the architect and therefore Jack Tompkins was in it when curiously I had been in it at the start! Same old story when there is a big plum!” Chandler’s largest museum project was Storrowton, an innovative open-air museum in West Springfield, Massachusetts, built between 1927 and 1930, at almost the same time as Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. For Storrowton, Chandler moved and restored a dozen old buildings—including an inn and barn from towns doomed to drown under the Quabbin Reservoir—and situated them around a village green. In 1934, he guided Albert Wells through Storrowton and drew up the initial plan for Old Sturbridge Village. Storrowton was financed by Helen Osborne Storrow, who was also a patron of Walter Gropius. Chandler and Gropius met several times at parties hosted by Storrow. In October 1938, Chandler wrote, “Dr. Gropius (German architecture professor) and his wife [were] guests of honor. She is very delightful and vivacious: he is quite the reverse. Much talk about his ‘modernistic’ house near by in Lincoln.”

AbovE For his estate, manalone, 1906–1942, in sudbury, massachusetts, Chandler designed an italian villa. riGht A marble lion that Chandler bought on a European trip with horace sears watches over manalone.

The Gropius House is now a Historic New England property, and Storrow and Chandler’s discussions recounted in the diaries throw new light on the rivalry between colonial and Modern. The final chapter of Chandler’s career, his contribution to historic preservation, centers on his friendship with William Sumner Appleton. In 1900, Chandler and Appleton measured the ruins of a lost Boston landmark, the c. 1679 Province House. Though that drawing subsequently disappeared, the two men continued to work together for decades. Between 1905 and 1908, they collaborated on the Paul Revere House; Chandler oversaw its restoration and furnishing, while Appleton raised funds and managed publicity. After founding Historic New England in 1910, Appleton often gathered the region’s leading practitioners of preservation for collaboration and debate. In 1912, he hired Chandler to restore the Cooper-Frost-Austin House for Historic New England. Appleton brought together architect-educators Norman Isham and Frank Chouteau Brown, museum professional George F. Dow, and entrepreneur Wallace Nutting. Friends and rivals, these contemporaries—born during or shortly after the Civil War—all wrote about and restored colonial houses. Chandler describes a meeting in 1922: “A red letter day for Old Houses. Took train with Sumner Appleton for Beverly, Mass., met by Francis Dow and his [carpenter] brother Eugene and after conferring about restoration of old Balch House then went on to [the Claflin-Richards House in] Wenham…a fine early house [that I] had formerly noticed. Then on to Andrews House, Topsfield—Mr. Dow is restor-

ing for a Mr. Proctor—then to Saugus to Boardman House.” By 1918, Appleton was still consulting Chandler and Isham, but he personally took charge of Historic New England’s restoration of the Browne House in Watertown, Massachusetts. Appleton pursued a new museum approach of conservative restoration, while his architect friends were obligated to transform old houses into twentieth-century living spaces, and to do so under deadline, often for unreasonable clients. Appleton recommended Chandler to potential clients. In 1913, he corresponded with New Hampshire Governor Robert Perkins Bass, who sought an architect to produce a new house of the “very oldest type.” Appleton gave Bass a reading list, an itinerary of old houses to tour, and directions on summer beams, chamfering, overhangs, and casement windows. The house in Peterborough that Chandler designed for the Basses contains a dining room reminiscent of the one at the Paul Revere House with a stunning view of Mount Monadnock. Through Appleton, Chandler was hired in 1919 to restore the Sargent-Murray-Gilman House in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Appleton and Chandler’s friendship strained under disagreements, especially over Storrowton and the 19271930 recreation of the Aptucxet Trading Post in Bourne, Massachusetts. But they continued to work together; in 1934, Chandler drove Appleton to Plymouth for another investigation, complaining in his diary, “Sumner finally stirred his stumps a half hour late and we got off.” In 1937, Appleton criticized Chandler’s documentation of work on the fireplace at the Warner House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but added a conciliatory note to his old friend: “It is funny enough to laugh at, but tragic enough to cry about, the moral of which is, Joseph my friend, that you and I, at the cost of time, patience and perhaps of money, have always got to do a lot of dirty work that the local committee forgets about. Accordingly, in your next incarnation, be careful to avoid any leaning towards antiquarianism.” After Chandler’s death, an ailing Appleton wrote several letters attempting to secure Chandler’s papers. By acquiring his diaries today, Historic New England has achieved Appleton’s goal of preserving some of Chandler’s records and restoring his legacy. —Timothy T. Orwig Mr. Orwig is an architectural historian who wrote his doctoral dissertation at Boston University on Joseph Everett Chandler.

Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


L A N D s C A p E

c. 1920

c. 2010

From Work Yard to Lawn


f you look through your pictures of your house, you’ll probably find several shots that show it at its best but none that show the trash storage, compost bin, or tool shed. A hundred years ago, it was even less likely that the functional work areas around the house would be documented. Recently, Historic New England hired me to research the landscape history of the 1821 Phillips House, in Salem, Massachusetts, to better understand how the property looked between 1911 and 1938, when the Phillips family lived there. I suspected the grounds had undergone significant alterations since that time but was not optimistic I’d be able to find much evidence. So, I was delighted when I viewed a home movie made in 1929 by twenty-two-year-old Stevie Phillips of one his family’s domestic staff in the Phillips House backyard. Quite


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

by accident, Stevie’s two-minute film captured exactly the kind of information about the landscape I needed for my survey. In 1911, Anna Wheatland Phillips purchased the Federal-style house on historic Chestnut Street and commissioned architect W.G. Rantoul to renovate it in the Colonial Revival style. The restored mansion became the family home for Mr. and Mrs. Phillips and their son, Stevie. It has undergone few subsequent alterations, and Historic New England has chosen to interpret the property to its appearance between the two world wars. The landscape has not been as well preserved as the house; additions and removals created a mismatch between the interpretation of the landscape and that of the house. Most of what we know about the landscape in the Phillips era is based on a 1911 survey, a handful of pho-

tographs, and Stevie’s home movie. The survey shows the footprints of the buildings on site—residence, carriage house, a whimsical summerhouse, a shed, and what appear to be a chicken coop and a rabbit hutch. Photographs show the street side of the house and a glimpse of the side garden and summerhouse. The most revealing evidence— Stevie’s movie—shows the work yard behind the house. Shielded from the garden by a fence and the shed, this area was used for drying laundry, maintaining vehicles and equipment, deliveries of food and coal, and the comings and goings of the staff. The movie shows an asphalt pavement in front of the carriage house, complete with a puddle (which still forms there today), clotheslines, a wooden walkway, and a shed full of miscellaneous stored items.

During the Phillips era, the property had three distinct outdoor spaces. The front and most public space still looks much as it did then, with a strip of lawn, two trees, the sidewalk, and an open fence—iron in front of the house and wooden to the east. The garden on the east side of the house extended north from the front fence to the summerhouse and shed at the rear. Today, this space is still a garden, but most of the defining early twentieth-century features—shed, summerhouse, animal enclosures, and fence—no longer remain. In addition, the property lines between the Phillips House and the abutting property at Number 30 Chestnut Street to the east, as well as the northern boundary, have been moved so the garden space is now smaller. Today, the work yard is substantially different. The fence and shed are

gone. A mature beech tree, planted in the 1940s, stands where once the laundry was hung out to dry. A brick driveway and paths and a lawn, added in the 1970s, form a landscape treatment appropriate for the late twentieth century rather than the time when the Phillips family lived there. Thanks to Stevie’s film, we have a good understanding of the work yard required for the proper functioning of a large household around 1919. Following the dramatic technological and social changes of the latter half of the century—in domestic service, heating, laundry, shopping, and car maintenance—large work yards like this one were no longer needed. Spaces once set aside for labor could be redesigned and adapted for leisure and enjoyment.

—Tanya Seredin Ms. Seredin is principal of the landscape design firm of Mohr & Seredin, in Portland, Maine

FACiNG pAGE site plans show changes in landscape use that are evidence of dramatic changes in technology and lifestyles over ninety years. this pAGE, bELoW top A still from stevie phillips’s movie of a member of the domestic staff contains evidence of a utilitarian work yard behind the house. bELoW bottom An undated snapshot of the rear garden shows a corner of the shed, the garden house, and an animal house.

Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


C o N s E r v A t i o N

Yankee technology revealed bentwood chair by samuel Gragg, c. 1808, after conservation. bELoW John Childs cleaning the chair.



amuel Gragg’s “elastic” chair is perhaps the first great technological innovation made in American furniture. With its sleek lines and utter simplicity, it could be mistaken at first glance for a product of twentieth-century Modern design. In fact, Gragg designed his chair at the turn of the nineteenth century, as a variant of the klismos chair (derived from chairs depicted on Greek vases) fashionable at the time. Gragg’s chair is uniquely individualistic and immediately recognizable. Its distinctive appearance is an early instance of the principle that form follows function. Samuel Gragg of Boston received a patent for the chair in 1808. His invention used the inherent springiness of steam-bent wood to create a new form with resilience, lightness, and comfort. To satisfy the popular taste for “fancy” (painted) chairs, Gragg usually decorated the chairs with painted


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2011

leaves, peacock feathers, and trompe l’oeil reeding. Relatively few Gragg chairs have survived, and Historic New England is fortunate to have three in its collection. We recently undertook to conserve one of them for the exhibition Sit Down! Chairs from Six Centuries at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine. When this chair came into our collection, the paint had already started to flake off. The flaking paint made cleaning difficult, so no one had yet tried to conserve the chair. The challenges facing the conservation team to prepare it for display were to secure flaking paint, remove grime, and repair losses to the painted designs. We began by consolidating the flaking paint with a water-soluble synthetic adhesive. After the adhesive dried, we were able to clean the surfaces with a water-based cleaner without dislodging the paint and remove any dried adhesive that was still visible.

Next, we applied a coat of synthetic varnish to protect the paint and isolate it from the in-painting that would reintegrate the design. Using synthetic paints that are soluble in mild solvents, we in-painted only those places where the original paint was missing. The inpainting allowed the original design to re-emerge, so that the chair may once again be enjoyed as it was meant to appear, with only some signs of wear and tear to indicate that it is two hundred years old. —John Childs Former Conservator

A C k N o W L E D G m E N t s

cENtENNiAL DoNors historic New England would like to thank our generous centennial donors and those who supported at the $1,500 level and above during Fiscal Year 2010 (April 1, 2009–March 31, 2010).

Anonymous (8) Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Alfond Ms. Deborah L. Allinson Ms. Louise T. Ambler Mr. William F. Armitage and Ms. Désirée Caldwell Mr. and Mrs. George Ballantyne Mr. and Mrs. John D. Barnard The Barra Foundation, Inc. Ms. Ann M. Beha and Mr. Robert A. Radloff Mr. and Mrs. Alan Bembenek Dr. and Mrs. Ernst Berndt Mr. Ronald Bourgeault Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Bousa Mr. and Mrs. Lewis P. Cabot Cambridge Trust Company Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey S. Caraboolad The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Cheek Sen. Martha Fuller Clark and Dr. Geoffrey E. Clark Mr. Arthur D. Clarke and Ms. Susan P. Sloan Mrs. I. W. Colburn Connecticut Humanities Council Ms. Julia D. Cox Dr. Abbott Lowell Cummings Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors The Davis Family Foundation Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas B. Deane Donations at the Historic New England properties Mr. and Mrs. Philip J. Edmundson Ms. Alan Emmet The Family of John Hubbard Sturgis Eaton Felicia Fund Ferguson Perforating & Wire Company Mr. Howard Finkelstein Mr. Stan N. Finkelstein and Ms. Jill A. Benedict Mr. John H. Finley IV Dr. and Mrs. Edwin G. Fischer Dr. and Mrs. Josef E. Fischer Dr. Christopher D. M. Fletcher Mrs. Pamela W. Fox Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Ganson, Jr. Mrs. Susan Zises Green Mr. and Mrs. Martin D. Hale Ms. Martha D. Hamilton Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Hanss Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust

Mr. and Mrs. William C.S. Hicks Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Hood Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Howard Mr. and Mrs. James F. Hunnewell, Jr. Ida Ballou Littlefield Memorial Trust Institute of Museum and Library Services The Iris Foundation Mr. and Mrs. C. Bruce Johnstone Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Junkin Mr. and Mrs. John F. Keane, Sr. Mr. Leigh Keno Ms. Anne F. Kilguss Mr. and Mrs. Gordon F. Kingsley Mr. and Mrs. Stephen T. Kunian Mr. and Mrs. William R. Leitch Mr. and Mrs. Newton H. Levee Mr. and Mrs. George Lewis Mr. and Mrs. Robin Lincoln Dr. Janina A. Longtine The Lowell Institute Mr. and Mrs. Peter S. Lynch Mr. Michael Maglaras and Ms. Terri Templeton Maine State Archives Massachusetts Cultural Council Massachusetts Historical Commission Mr. Paul F. McDonough and Ms. Carla A. Blakley Mr. and Mrs. John B. McDowell Mr. and Mrs. F. Warren McFarlan Mr. and Mrs. Michael M. Moody New Hampshire Charitable Foundation The Reverend Doctor Barbara H. Nielsen Mr. Carl R. Nold and Ms. Vicky L. Kruckeberg The Ogden Codman Trust Dr. and Mrs. Robert Osteen Ms. Sandra Ourusoff and Mr. M. Holt Massey Mr. and Mrs. Robert I. Owens Mrs. Stephen D. Paine Mr. and Mrs. Randy Parker Mrs. James Pearson Mr. and Mrs. Anthony D. Pell Mr. Robert A. Pemberton and Ms. Barbara R. Jordan Mr. Samuel D. Perry Mr. Samuel Plimpton and Ms. Wendy Shattuck Ms. Julie A. Porter Prince Charitable Trusts

palais-royal scenic wallpaper. France, 1805–1810. Gift of mary Ann morse and brooks banker.


Procter & Gamble Mr. and Mrs. George Putnam Ms. Sally W. Rand Mr. Robert B. Rettig Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy P. Richardson Mr. and Mrs. Mark V. Rickabaugh Mrs. Louise C. Riemer Mr. Robert Rosenberg The Roy A. Hunt Foundation Dr. Margaret Ruttenberg and Mr. John Ruttenberg The Saquish Foundation Dr. F. H. Sears and Dr. Sharon S. Bushnell Mr. and Mrs. Roger Servison Mr. and Mrs. Henry D. Sharpe III Skinner, Inc. Mr. and Mrs. Colin L. M. Smith Mr. Joseph Peter Spang III Mr. Andrew Spindler-Roesle and Mr. Hiram Butler Mr. and Mrs. Frederick A. Stahl Mr. Thomas G. Stemberg and Ms. Katherine Chapman Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Stone Mr. Charles M. Sullivan and Ms. Susan E. Maycock Mr. E. Clothier Tepper Mr. and Mrs. Michael K. Tooke Miss Kimberlea Tracey Trustees of the John R. and Emma D. Quint Memorial Fund USDA Mr. and Mrs. William Vareika Mr. and Mrs. Richard R. Wheeler Mr. and Mrs. Stephen H. White Ms. Elaine Wilde Mr. Robert W. Wilkins, Jr. and Ms. Suzanne Courcier Mr. Richard H. Willis Winfield Foundation Mr. Stephen G. Woodsum and Ms. Anne R. Lovett Mr. and Mrs. John A. Yozell Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. Ziering, Jr.

Winter/Spring 2011 Historic New England


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

Affordable high Fashion


1962 snapshot shows Virginia Vasiliou wearing an Oleg Cassini dress in her future mother-inlaw’s Arlington, Massachusetts, kitchen shortly before her marriage. It was the height of the Kennedy era, when elegance and fashion returned to the White House. Designer Oleg Cassini became a household name in the early 1960s, when Jacqueline Kennedy chose him as her personal designer. Together, they set a style for American women characterized by A-line dresses and signature pillbox hats. Cassini’s avowed aim for his collaboration with Mrs. Kennedy was to create an iconic style that was, in his words, “simple, youthful, elegant.” Women’s Wear Daily duly noted their success, “Elegance and taste surrounded every movement of the first family and America watched, learned, absorbed, and copied.” The son of impoverished European aristocrats, Cassini’s first success came as a designer for Paramount Studios. By the late 1950s, he had begun his

own line of clothing. In his designs for Jackie Kennedy, Cassini drew on his Hollywood training to create a new type of First Lady through costume design. The Vasiliou dress represents a moment in time when many American women, inspired by Mrs. Kennedy and her elegance, looked to adopt elements of her fresh style. Cassini’s ready-towear line provided an affordable way for young middle-class women like Mrs. Vasiliou to take part in that style revolution. —Nancy Carlisle Curator

oleg Cassini dress. LEFt virginia vasiliou wearing the dress in 1962.


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