Historic New England Winter-Spring 2008

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Historic NEW ENGLAND Winter/Spring 2008 Vol. 8, No.3

Looking into the Kitchen 2

Aaron Usher

Perhaps the most important thing that I have learned in thirty-two years of working in history museums is to appreciate that understanding the past requires putting many detailed pieces together. We tend to simplify history by thinking in big segments like “the Victorian era” or “the age of immigration,” when the reality is that every age is vastly complex and consists of millions of unique, often contradictory human stories. In Historic New England’s holdings of historic houses, landscapes, collections, and archives, we find myriad details about things large and small. Understanding their significance comes from thorough research, assembling bits of information, and making connections to the larger context. Only then can we be confident about how we present our material to the public. Those of you who support our work do so because you value the authenticity of the properties, the depth and breadth of the collections, and the ability of staff, members, volunteers, and friends to use them to increase understanding of New England’s heritage. In this issue we show how old wallpaper, stone walls, pet stories, and kitchens ancient and modern all comprise parts of our region’s history, and how understanding these varied narratives helps us better understand and appreciate the world around us today.

Stone Walls: Links to History 19



Passionate about the Past 8


Advice on Call M A K I N G F U N O F H I S TO RY


History of Pets

—Carl R. Nold



The Historic New England Book Store P O RT F O L I O


History on Your Wall Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 (617) 227-3956 HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND magazine is a benefit of membership. To join Historic New England, please visit our website, HistoricNew England.org or call (617) 227-3957, ext.273. Comments? Please call Nancy Curtis, editor, at (617) 227-3957, ext.235. Historic New England is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor Diane Viera

Editor Nancy Curtis




The Man Who Loved Dogs N E W S : N E W E N G L A N D & B E YO N D AC Q U I S I T I O N S



Proud Symbol

Design DeFrancis Carbone

From a pamphlet for the Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet Company, c.1925. Collection of Richard Cheek.



Caring for Wallpaper

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


w w w. H i s t o r i c N ew E n g l a n d . o r g


Passionate about the Past hat does a collector from Ohio have in common with a curator from Scotland? They were both curious about New England material culture, wanted to learn more about it, and registered for a week of total immersion in Historic New England’s Program in New England Studies. Each June, participants assemble at Historic New England’s headquarters in Boston for lectures, behind-the-scenes museum tours, workshops, and trips to house museums and private homes in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Historic New England has the most important collection of New England material culture anywhere and almost one hundred years’ experience in preserving, researching, and interpreting it. Those who attend the Program in New England Studies spend time with curators and scholars and observe how they approach the study of objects and buildings. Participants include owners of historic houses, collectors, students, teachers, museum professionals, and history buffs; what they share is a passion for New England’s past as seen through its material culture. The program makes extensive use of staff expertise. Senior Curator Richard Nylander and Curator Nancy Carlisle guide the group on in-depth tours of Historic New England’s house museums and the extensive study collection, which includes furnishings, art works, costumes, wallpaper, and other household artifacts. Highlights of the program include tours of First Period houses with distinguished architectural historian Abbott Lowell Cummings; a furniture workshop led by Brock Jobe, professor at the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture; and a lecture by Historic New England President Emeritus Jane Nylander, which provides a social and historical context for the houses and artifacts on view. Lectures, bus trips to historic sites and private homes, receptions, and plenty of opportunities to talk with speakers, curators, and other participants make the program a rich and unique experience. The 2008 Program in New England Studies will include a visit to an exceptional property that has not previously been included, the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts, noted for its superb collections and the layered effect created by the accumulated possessions of several generations of one family.


Curator Nancy Carlisle points out the original applied moldings on a seventeenthcentury joined chest at Cogswell’s Grant, Essex, Massachusetts. BELOW Senior Curator Richard Nylander shows participants some of the many examples of textiles in Historic New England’s study collection. ABOVE

This year, the Program in New England Studies runs from June 16 through 21. For information and to register, call (617) 227-3957, ext. 246, or email kturino@HistoricNewEngland.org.

— Joanne Flaherty, Exhibitions Specialist Ken Turino, Exhibitions Manager

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England


Looking into

Peter Harholdt

the kitchen

Not just

the heart of the home


ore than any room in the house, the kitchen, for many of us, symbolizes the best of family

life, engendering memories of warmth, comforting smells, family traditions, and mother’s love. But the room has been much more than simply “the heart of the home.” The kitchen has long been the place where new technologies, foods, gadgets and appliances, and designs enter the home, signaling changes in the world at large. In some households, this room has been a contested space at the center of complex mistress-servant relationships, where personal, racial, and ethnic tensions converge. Above all, the kitchen has been a work site – and as such a place of drudgery as well as one of accomplishment. A study of the history of the kitchen reveals not only how people have used this room over time, but also how

and when it came to be viewed through a nostalgic lens as a room signifying comfort and love. In most colonial and early nineteenth-century households in New England, people cooked on a large open hearth in a room that served multiple purposes. Family members of various ages, hired help, and, in some households, slaves, cleaned, laundered, made soap and candles, and prepared, processed, and preserved food. People gathered in the kitchen to eat, work, read, rest, and even, on occasion, to sleep. Of course the primary function of the space was the preparation of food. Cooking was often a group activity, FACING PAGE The newer of two kitchens at Coffin House, Newbury, Massachusetts, added c. 1712 and updated in the 1760s. ABOVE LEFT A woman uses a bake kettle placed over a pile of coals and shovels more coals on top of the lid. ABOVE RIGHT A woman kneads bread, while behind her the fire heats the bake oven. LEFT Late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century cast-iron cooking ware.

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England


David Bohl

This Empire Crawford stove at Castle Tucker,Wiscasset, Maine, purchased in 1905, was the third cookstove owned by the Tucker family. Their first stove was purchased in the middle of ABOVE LEFT

and the kitchen, the site of a communal workforce. Men cut and split wood, banked fires, carried water, and helped with seasonal projects like paring apples for apple butter or making sausage after butchering, but most kitchen work fell to women. There was never a shortage of work: daily chores like cooking and dishwashing, weekly rounds of laundry and baking, seasonal activities such as gardening and preserving, and the seemingly never-ending tasks of sewing, spinning, and caring for the young, ill, and infirm. These activities brought housewives to the well, cellar, garret, dairy yard, kitchen garden, smokehouse, and beyond, but the demands of housekeeping generally kept women, and therefore children, close to the kitchen hearth. Young girls learned the skills of housewifery at their mother’s side. In the nineteenth century, industrialization brought new technologies to the households of the growing middle class. In an era that brought more affordable goods and increased wages to the middle class, many women accumulated a greater variety of cooking tools—specialized pots, utensils, and accessories. But the most important development was the introduction of the cookstove. Cast-iron stoves had been produced in Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century; by the 1840s, they had become commonplace. The cookstove trans4

Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

the nineteenth century.

Most nineteenth-century kitchens, like this one at the Fowler House in Danvers, Massachusetts, were furnished with open shelves and work tables. Built-in ABOVE RIGHT

formed kitchen work and served notice that the technological advances of the industrial revolution were now entering the home. Recalling the change that had taken place in her kitchen, Vermonter Abby Hemenway wrote, “The pleasant old fireplace with the swinging crane of well filled pots and kettles, hearth spiders with legs and bake-kettles and tin-bakers to stand before the blazing logs and bake custard pies in—all went down at once and disappeared before that first stove without so much as a passing struggle.” Not everyone adjusted easily. Many feared that poorly made stoves might blow up, while others complained of a “burnt, disagreeable odor.” And, stoves required new chores as well—weekly cleaning and blacking and periodic cleaning of the stovepipe, a miserable, filthy task that usually fell to the man of the house. By the middle of the nineteenth century, middle-class families preferred to gather in the parlor. Houses built during this period had the kitchen at the back of the house. Ideally, the room was large and open with a stove, a sink, a table or two, possibly a pie safe, one or two chairs and perhaps a comfortable rocker, all arranged around the walls. With the men working outside the home, the kitchen became a worksite filled by female family members and, in wealthier house-

Courtesy, Norfolk Historical Society

cabinets with countertops were a later development in kitchen design. ABOVE LEFT To advertise their stoves to women, countless manufacturers used trade cards showing tranquil domestic scenes.

holds, female servants. These servants were likely to be of different racial or ethnic backgrounds than their employers— African-American, Irish, German. Cultural and language barriers divided employer and employee, and immigrant cooks had to learn how to prepare unfamiliar foods. Many young women chose factory or shop work rather than work in private homes while those who labored as servants complained, not only about the way they were treated, but about “the awful lonesomeness.” By the early twentieth century, as more and more laboring women sought work in factories or shops, homeowners found it increasingly difficult to hire dependable help. Magazines of the period are filled with articles on “the servant problem.” In an effort to mitigate the dependence on servants, domestic reformers began adapting for the kitchen many of the industrial scientific management principles then in vogue. Domestic engineers like Christine Frederick conducted time-motion studies aimed at reducing the number of steps required for preparing meals and redesigned kitchens to be hygienic, highly efficient work places.

This photograph of a farm kitchen in Norfolk, Connecticut, suggests it wasn’t only family members who were drawn to the comforting heat of a cookstove. BELOW Advertisements like this one indicate the efficiency of a well-planned kitchen. ABOVE RIGHT

Furnishings like the popular Hoosier cabinet were explicitly designed to save time and labor by storing all the ingredients and tools needed for baking together in one location and providing a work surface as well. For a time, the ideal kitchen was no longer a social space, but rather a carefully conceived laboratory for the preparation of food. As one reform-minded author pointed out in 1900, these new, highly efficient kitchens may have simplified kitchen tasks, but they no longer accommodated the family: A small kitchen is much more convenient than a large one, although even that has its drawbacks, as the whole family are inclined to congregate “where mother is.” While this may be sociable and pleasant…there is such a thing as the room being too crowded for rapid work, and it is anything but agreeable to have every inch of available space around the cookstove occupied by irresponsible, hungry people, while the cook, tired and perhaps cross, must reach in between or over their heads to attend to things on Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England


Peter Harholdt

When the Tucker family installed this Hoosier at Castle Tucker in 1921, Jane Tucker wrote to her brother, “Ma wonders now how we ever got on without it—cuts all her work in half.” ABOVE LEFT

the stove; or between their feet to see if the food in the oven is baking. Kitchens were now becoming mechanized, with running water, electric and gas appliances, and labor-saving devices, often billed as “electric servants.” Housework was no longer portrayed in popular culture as a chore but as exacting work best done by a loving mother alone at home. Advertisements for appliances and brandname products wooed consumers with various strategies, from flattery to guilt, using romanticized depictions of orderly kitchens with happy homemakers and well-behaved children. The one assumption that was rarely challenged was that housework was women’s work, and no number of laborsaving devices relieved the emotional weight of this work. In the 1950s, designers began to advocate open floor plans so mothers would no longer be isolated in their kitchens and could interact with their husbands and children while they prepared meals. While this meant women were no longer alone while they cooked, it also meant, according to 6

Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

Girls have always learned their way around a kitchen by mimicking their mother at work. BELOW This Kitchen Maid ad shows the 1950s ideal of a mother and child happily sharing time in ABOVE RIGHT

feminist author Betty Friedan, that they no longer had any space to themselves. The 1950s housewife had to cope with the demands of her family while she worked to prepare their dinner. Of course some of the workload was alleviated by the burgeoning frozen food industry. This was the age of the TV dinner, invented by Swanson in 1953. Apart from the near universal use of the microwave, the basic elements of today’s kitchen are little changed from the kitchen of the 1950s, As in the 1950s, the ideal kitchen today is part of an open plan, the center of household activity. Here, people eat, pay bills, do homework, visit with friends and neighbors, and even entertain while cooking. The most dramatic change in the kitchen over the past half century may be the trend toward the kitchen as a less gendered space. In the complex family dynamic of today in which both parents commonly work outside the home, and many children live in single-parent households, men are increasingly involved in preparing family meals. Given the changes that have occurred in the kitchen over the last three centuries, one has to wonder when the room

David Bohl

a bright and spotless kitchen. ABOVE The Gropius family’s midtwentieth-century kitchen survives intact at the Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts.Walter and Ise Gropius’s daughter remem-

first came to be seen nostalgically as the center of family life. Perhaps not surprisingly, this view of the kitchen appeared around the middle of the nineteenth century, generated, at least in part, by the same fear of onrushing change brought by industrialization that led to the Colonial Revival. Once the cookstove began to supplant the kitchen hearth many people started to write longingly of the days before its arrival. One author was convinced that Patriot soldiers would not have “gone barefooted and bleeding over snows to defend air-tight stoves and cooking ranges.” Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote of his fear that with the demise of the kitchen hearth there would be nothing to draw the family together to one spot. Sarah Orne Jewett described a man in one of her stories who waited until his wife was away and, after a drink or two with a friend, took the stove apart piece by piece and disposed of it. (Jewett noted that women knew better than their husbands did how useful this device was.) No matter how much the kitchen has been romanticized, there have always been countless women who felt differently. These included people like Hetty Morrison, who wrote in 1878, “Not of my own free will did I enter upon a career of broiling, roasting and baking.” Hetty blamed men, believing that left to themselves women would be perfectly happy

bers an atmosphere of “dogged desperation” once her mother took over the family’s cooking during the Second World War.

“with a few chocolate caramels and an occasional cup of tea.” She also wrote, “I wish to say that I think two-thirds of cook book authors should be hanged without benefit of clergy.” Harriet Beecher Stowe was notorious amongst her family for her lax housekeeping, despite having written with her sister one of the most popular domestic advice books of the nineteenth century. Stowe complained in a letter to her absent husband, “I am sick of the smell of sour milk, and sour meat, and sour everything.” The history of the kitchen reveals that it is a complex space that can tell many stories. Its centrality in everyday life means that it is also associated with powerful emotions. Historic New England is engaged in a multi-year project to study the kitchen and enrich the visitor experience at its house museums, which represent four centuries of kitchen technology and social history. This year will see the publication of a handsome, profusely illustrated book, America’s Kitchens, by the authors of this article, and beginning next year, look for kitchen- and food-related programs at Historic New England’s properties. —Nancy Carlisle and Melinda Nasardinov Co-curators, America’s Kitchens project Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England




wners of old houses know how challenging and time-consuming it is to find reliable advice, whether it’s on how to repair historic plumbing, finish a softwood floor, or choose an appropriate paint color. Plenty of general information is available in magazines and on television or the Internet, but it can be very difficult to find the right solution to a specific problem in your particular house. Eighteen months ago Historic New England launched the Historic Homeowner membership program to connect homeowners with answers, support, and advice on caring for their historic houses through direct access to a preservation specialist. The Historic Homeowner membership is an outgrowth of Historic New England’s Stewardship Program, which partners with owners of more


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

Daniel Nystedt

Advice On Call than seventy-five privately owned properties across the region on which Historic New England holds preservation restrictions. Both programs serve the organization’s mission to protect the region’s built environment and preserve its unique character. Historic New England’s technical expertise and authentic approach to maintaining historic architecture, gained over nearly a century of maintaining its museum houses, underpin the programs. Historic Homeowner members receive “best practices” technical assistance and consultation on call, either by telephone or email. Historic Homeowner membership fills a genuine need and is especially valuable for those who have recently purchased an old house and need help in getting oriented to its historic character and fabric. Historic Homeowner members Jacqui Dulak and Mark Klee,

first-time old-house owners of a c. 1835 brick farmhouse in central Massachusetts, wanted to understand the particular historic features of their home. Through Historic Homeowner membership, they learned that the walls of their early Greek Revival double parlor had very likely originally been wallpapered; accordingly, the couple have decided to paper the room, using reproduction wallpaper. They are also looking into reproducing painted black marbling on the mantelpieces in the parlor, which show evidence of black paint and which also retain handsome Greek Revival cast-iron fire frames, decorative iron inserts set into the fireplaces. Madelyn Mitton became a Historic Homeowner member after searching in vain for the right resources to help her protect the windows on her unique property, an Italianate-style 1848 train

setts, and was researching it remotely from her home on the West Coast, with help from Historic Homeowner staff. Records revealed that Historic New England owned an original leaded casement window from the house, which had been removed in the 1920s during an early restoration. In another case, staff authenticated the early wallpaper in the home of a Historic Homeowner member in Hebron, New Hampshire, which matched a bandbox covered in the same hand-printed French c. 1820 pineapple motif paper in Historic New England’s collections. Homeowner member Cheryl Bonin, who lives in a c. 1775 tavern in Sutton, Massachusetts, had heard rumors that folk art collector Nina Fletcher Little had purchased items from her house. Through the help of Historic New England staff, she found that a pair of portraits of the original owners of her house, Samuel and Prudence Waters, are now part of the collection at the Littles’ former summer house, Historic New England’s Cogswell’s Grant, in Essex, Massachusetts. Mrs. Bonin recently visited Cogswell’s Grant and ordered photographs of the portraits,

Courtesy of Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society Archive

station that was relocated and converted into a residence in 1882. The Historic Homeowner staff located a supplier who could custom-manufacture wooden storm windows. Historic Homeowner benefits may include a major consultation for paint color selection, evaluation of proposed alterations or additions, or help deciphering architectural evidence in a home. Consultations result in a detailed written report with recommendations from Historic Homeowner staff. Members may also be sent packets of technical information, articles, and photos providing background data, specialized treatment recommendations, and additional references for further study. Historic Homeowner members are encouraged to call or email their questions, large or small. Solutions to a particular problem or question often involve several phone calls or emails while staff and the homeowner work together on a problem. On several occasions, membership in the program has resulted in unanticipated discoveries. Take for example, Karla Pearlstein, who purchased a First Period house in Harvard, Massachu-

which now hang in her home. Historic Homeowner members can connect with Historic New England staff and with each other at exclusive programs in which members visit a museum property while conservation work is underway or tour the collections storage area. There are also specialized opportunities for lectures, workshops, and old house clinics. Members also have exclusive access to a password-protected website containing extensive technical information. The Historic Homeowner membership services more than 150 members and is growing steadily. The kinds of houses involved range from First Period dwellings through mid-twentieth-century Modernist homes. These homeowners act as stewards of shared assets in their communities—buildings that contribute to the historic character of the towns and countryside that make New England wonderful. —Sally Zimmerman Preservation Specialist

Historic Homeowner members get a closer look at the inside of the massive 1687 chimney at the Boardman House, Saugus, Massachusetts. FAR LEFT The 1848 Ballardvale Station, Andover, Massachusetts, c.1920. NEAR LEFT The companion station building, moved in 1882, under restoration today. FACING PAGE

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England






Children have enjoyed pets for centuries. Even on farms, where most animals provided work and food, families often kept favorite animals for fun and affection. Cats and dogs have always been popular, but we might be surprised by some of the pets people have kept in the past, including squirrels, wild birds, and even woodchucks.

Let’s learn about the history of pets.

Pets 4000 BC Cats domesticated in ancient Egypt.

Eighteenth century Children keep squirrels as pets.

1801–1809 President Thomas Jefferson keeps a mockingbird named“Dick” in the White House Oval Office.

Mid-nineteenth century Songbirds are popular pets.

do you know Can you guess what this is?

1850s First home aquariums for fish become available, with plants to filter water and provide oxygen.

This strange-looking contraption, made during the late nineteenth century, is a combination birdcage/fish bowl. The bird is sitting on its perch in the hollow of the glass bowl and is watching the fish swimming in the water. Do you think the fish liked having a feathered friend come to visit?


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

puzzle Pets have long appeared in children’s stories and nursery rhymes. Identify these well-known characters, then transfer the letters in the squares to the numbered blanks below to spell the name of a pet that once lived at the RundletMay House. Read more about pets on pages 22–23.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

1. Famous collie, heroine of books, movies, and television. 2. In The Call of the Wild, this pampered pet becomes a wild dog. 3. Alice misses this cat while having adventures in Wonderland. 4. Harry Potter’s owl. 5. Watches over the Darling children in Peter Pan. 6. Named for the color of his coat, this dog befriends two poor brothers in Texas. 7. In this lullaby, Mama promises to buy Baby this same type of songbird (same kind as the one kept by Thomas Jefferson).

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ 1 2 3 5 6

8. Charlotte the spider was this pig’s best friend.

_ _ _ 8 9 10

9. Dorothy’s companion on the way to Oz. Answers can be found on page 25.

10. Went to London to see the queen.







James Spratt develops commercial dog food.

Guinea pigs are first imported from South America.

American Kennel Club is founded.

Edward Lowe invents Kitty Litter.

Snakes and lizards gain popularity as pets.

Pet Rocks are a popular fad.

riddle me this This is an old riddle. Can you figure out t he answer? Two legs are sitting on three legs with one leg in its lap. Four legs comes, takes one leg and runs off with it. Two legs throws three legs at four legs, and four legs brings one leg back. What’s happening? Answers can be found on page 25.

Write to Casey For many years, artists and photographers have included favorite pets in their portraits of kids. Send me a picture of yourself with your pet, and I will send you a funny photo of a dog that once belonged to the Codman family. Write to me at CaseytheClock@HistoricNewEngland.org, or Casey the Clock, Historic New England, 141 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114. Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England






make a cat toy For centuries, people have kept cats around their homes to catch mice. Here’s a toy mouse you can sew for your cat to play with. You can stuff the toy with catnip. European settlers introduced this herb to North America and grew it in their herb gardens because of its medicinal qualities as a sedative. Catnip has quite the opposite effect on cats—the scent causes a state of euphoria.

stitch staight edge to body stitch 1/8" from cut edge cut here

Supplies felt sewing thread needle pins black yarn or embroidery floss scissors three-inch piece of yarn cotton batting or dried catnip 3– 4 bristles Directions 1. Trace and cut out the pattern, pin the pattern onto the felt and cut around it. Repeat to cut out a second piece. Cut two pieces of felt for the ears. 2. Pin the two pieces together so that the edges are even. 3. Sew small even stitches all the way around the mouse, about 1/8" away from the edge. Leave a one-inch hole in the wide end. 4. Turn the mouse inside out and stuff it with batting or catnip. 5. For the tail, knot the end of the piece of yarn, and put the knot inside the mouse. Sew the opening closed, stitching through the yarn to secure it. 12

Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008


Mouse Pattern

6. Thread the black yarn or embroidery floss on a needle and knot the end. Stick the needle into the mouse where you want the first eye to be, pushing it out where you want the second eye to be. Pull the thread all the way through, knot it, and trim both knots close to the felt. 7. Sew on the ears. 8. For the whiskers, cut three or four bristles from a soft paint brush, tie them together in the middle, and sew onto the mouse’s nose. —Kathleen Simone Lead Museum Teacher, Otis House Museum



The Historic New England Book Store Historic New England Book Prize and Honor Books

ok Bo ize Pr ner n Wi

Every year a panel of Historic New England staff and outside experts evaluates recent monographs on aspects of New England culture for the Historic New England Book Prize. The 2007 prize winner is J. Ritchie Garrison, Two Carpenters: Architecture and Building in Early New England, 1799–1859, a study of Calvin and George Stearns, who worked mostly in the newly settled towns of central Massachusetts and southern Vermont. Based on the account books and daybooks of the two men, the book looks closely at the role house builders played in influencing the styles of homes people lived in. Fascinating and informative, it discusses architecture of a period that has been largely overlooked. Hardcover. Price, $48.95, Member Price, $44 The panel also named two Honor Books:

Special Purchase The World of Ornament Batterham, David / Haslam & Whiteway Ltd. Includes DVD-ROM containing high-resolution scans of all individual ornaments for unrestricted use. This large and gorgeously printed volume combines two wellknown French decorative arts books: Auguste Racinet’s L’Ornement polychrome Volumes I and II (1875/1888) and M. Dupont-Auberville’s L’Ornement des tissus (1877). The pages faithfully reproduce the colors of the original chromolithographs in the original volumes, with patterns drawn from historical material dating back to antiquity—jewelry, tiles, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, textiles, and ceramics. The designs encompass a wide range of cultural

David F. Wood’s An Observant Eye: The Thoreau Collection at the Concord Museum, an illustrated catalogue of objects that belonged to Henry D. Thoreau and are now owned by the Concord Museum, is an illuminating study of what can be learned from material culture about the man and his times. Hardcover. Price, $39.95, Member Price, $35


r no Ho ook B

ar m ac D av id C

r no Ho ook B

Richard S. Jackson, Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder’s Houses of the Berkshires, 1870–1930 chronicles thirtyfive resort estates designed by leading firms such as McKim, Mead & White, Carrere and Hastings, and Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as the distinctive social and literary colony around Lenox and Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Includes more than three hundred historic photographs and floor plans. Hardcover. Price, $75, Member Price, $67

aesthetics including Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Etruscan motifs, Asian and Middle Eastern patterns, as well as European designs from medieval times through the nineteenth century. Hardcover. Price, $200 Member Price, $180

To order, please call (617) 227-3957, ext 237. Shipping charges and applicable taxes apply. Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England



History on Your Wall hotographs from the Library and Archives have long been one of Historic New England’s most important resources for sharing the lives and stories of New Englanders. Now, for the first time, many of these important and historic images are available for purchase through our online Museum Shop.



Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

Streetscapes, the countryside, people at work, people at play, and the sea and shoreline are among the diverse subjects depicted by such well known photographers as Emma Lewis Coleman (1853–1942), Baldwin Coolidge (1845–1928), Mary H. Northend (1850–1926), and Nathaniel L. Stebbins (1847–1922). Prints of these photographers’ works and many others, produced from high-resolution scans of the originals in black and white, on matte, highquality paper, are now available for purchase through the online Museum Shop gallery. To preserve historical accuracy, the prints are not edited but have been sized to fit standard frames. Conservation-quality mat-

ting is also available. The photographs shown here are only a few of the seventy-seven selections and represent just a fraction of the 350,000 photographs in the Library and Archives. To view the selection, visit HistoricNewEngland.org/museum/Hist _Photo.htm. The prints make perfect gifts, suitable for home or office. Prices vary according to size, from $40 to $95. As always, Historic New England members receive a 10% discount on all purchases. If you don’t find what you want in the selection online, contact us at PhotoOrders@HistoricNewEngland.org or call (617) 227-3957, ext 271, and if an image is available, we will be happy to make a print for you.

The schooner Gitana, 1883. FACING PAGE, BOTTOM Family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, 1887. THIS PAGE, RIGHT Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts, c. 1919 FACING PAGE TOP

THIS PAGE, MIDDLE LEFT General store, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, c. 1890. MIDDLE RIGHT The Red Sox in their first year at Fenway Park, 1912. LEFT Rainy day on Tremont Street, Boston, late nineteenth century. ABOVE The lagoon in the Public Garden, Boston, c. 1890.

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England


David Bohl


Caring for Wallpaper allpaper sets the stage and defines the character of a room. Far more than mere background, it should be considered a large work of art on paper. Handpainted Chinese export paper, English flock wallpaper, and French panoramas have long been placed in this category and written about extensively, but more recent machine-made papers also deserve respect. Research has greatly expanded understanding of the history and proper care of both types of wallpapers. Today, however, rapid shifts in taste and the fact that houses change hands more frequently have led to increasing scarcity of older wallpapers of all kinds.



Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

Some homeowners appreciate old wallpaper that survives in their home, especially if it contributes to the house’s period character. If your house contains historic or older paper that you would like to keep in good condition, this article offers guidance on the “best practices” of caring for it. Like all works on paper, wallpaper is fragile. It can last for centuries if properly made and cared for but is highly susceptible to damage from environmental conditions, pests, and poor handling. In addition, some wallpapers can suffer from intrinsic flaws—acidic paper, corrosive inks, and the failure of the adhesive or the support.

Environmental conditions The first steps you can take to protect wallpaper should be to monitor and control environmental conditions. Historic wallpaper is susceptible to damage from overexposure to light. To prevent fading and degradation of materials, keep shades or shutters closed when the room is not in use, protect the walls from direct sunlight, avoid fluorescent lights, and try to limit overall exposure to bright light of any kind. Paper has a natural tendency to absorb water and will expand or shrink with changes in relative humidity. Try to keep the room climate stable with an ideal temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humid-

not reversible and may discolor in the future. Inpainting is a specialized skill requiring careful selection of materials tailored to the individual wallpaper and should be done by a conservator.

soft brush towards vacuum nozzle covered with gauze. CENTER A dry cleaning sponge may be used if the surface is not fragile. RIGHT For a temporary repair

of a tear or loose section, use stainless steel or aluminum pushpins to support wallpaper.

What a homeowner can do Most damage to wallpaper requires treatment by a professional conservator, but there are some basic preservation measures that you can safely undertake. Photograph the wallpaper overall and in detail to document its condition. Keep track of the dates of unusual activities or special equipment being used in the wallpapered room in case damage shows up later. If small wallpaper fragments fall off, place them in a ziplock bag with a note and a copy of the record photograph indicating

David Carmack





A few standard rules A little extra care and common sense when handling wallpaper will prevent

most damage caused by people. • Use gloves or clean and dry hands when handling wallpaper to prevent staining. • Do not attempt to clean with water or liquid cleaning products, and be careful when cleaning the windows or mopping the floor. • Never use tape or glue to reattach wallpaper. • To prevent abrasion, avoid placing furniture and objects directly against wallpaper. • When possible, avoid making holes in wallpaper for fixtures; use picture rails rather than picture hooks, and place spacers behind pictures to allow air circulation. • Be careful using heat-generating devices near wallpaper. Candles, stoves, and fireplaces can be harmful not only because of the heat but because of the smoke they generate. Do not allow smoking in a wallpapered room. • Do not attempt to conceal stains, losses, or discolored varnish by touching them up yourself, because paint is


ity of 50 to 55%. Relative humidity above 70% may result in mold growth, insect activity, and corrosion of any metals used in decoration. Very low relative humidity can cause flaking paint, tears, and detachment from the wall. Other factors that play a significant role in damaging wallpaper are heating and air pollution. Direct heat and high temperatures accelerate deterioration. Ambient particulate air pollution can be harmful as well. A heating and ventilation system with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration greatly reduces pollutants and airborne particulates. Micro-organisms, insects, and rodents are common threats to wallpaper because the cellulose and adhesives used in its manufacture are a food source for fungi, silverfish, and rodents. Clean and inspect dark spaces in the room regularly; if you suspect infestation, use insect traps and mouse traps to identify the type of pest and then treat accordingly.


A c. 1780 flocked wallpa-

per in the Sarah Orne Jewett House, South Berwick, Maine. ABOVE LEFT To clean surface dust, brush gently with a

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England


Dry cleaning To remove dust, spider webs and loose dirt, use a soft brush and a vacuum cleaner on low suction. First, cover the vacuum cleaner nozzle with gauze or muslin to prevent fragments from being sucked into the vacuum. Then, with a soft brush, gently wipe the surface of the paper in the direction of the vacuum nozzle, taking care not to remove any flaking paint or lifting fragments. After overall surface cleanBlock-printed wallpaper in the Jewett dining room, hung about 1855. BELOW

ing, use a dry cleaning sponge to remove more intrusive dirt and soil. Test this method first by lightly rubbing the sponge in an inconspicuous area. If the soil is reduced, continue to clean the whole surface with gentle, short, even strokes. Reattachment Sections of wallpaper that are becoming detached may be held in place temporarily with pushpins or thumbtacks. Use only stainless steel or aluminum pushpins; regular tacks will quickly rust and leave stains. Push the pin into the underlying wall support along the tear or seam so that the edge of the pin, not the point, holds the paper in place. This is a short-term measure that should be followed by treatment by a professional. Aaron Usher

where they came from. They will need to be reattached by a conservator. Keep larger fragments in an acid-free cardboard folder, interleaved with acid-free glassine paper.

In case of an emergency Fire, flooding, and other disasters can all cause significant damage. Immediate response within the first forty-eight hours is crucial to salvaging the paper and preventing mold growth. A little advance planning can help lessen the impact of a disaster, so keep some emergency supplies on hand and know how to contact a conservator in your area. A basic kit would contain polyethylene drop cloths, blue tape, pushpins, blotting paper, flashlights, fans, mold masks, and rubber gloves. To find a conservator, contact the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), Washington, tel. (202) 452-9545, email: info@aicfaic.org, or website: www.aic.stanford.edu. These simple guidelines—monitoring the environment, care in handling, taking preventive measures, and knowing when to call in a professional—will go a long way in helping you maintain your historic wallpapers in good condition. —Judith Bohan Mellon Fellow in Conservation

David Bohl

Visit www.wallpaperhistory.org where you will find a searchable online catalogue of Historic New England’s internationally known wallpaper collection, notes on the history and care of wallpaper, historic photographs of interiors, and a list of resources, including how to find a conservator. Sharpen your eye by visiting Historic New England properties, many of which feature notable wallpaper. Of particular interest are the Sarah Orne Jewett House, in South Berwick, Maine, and Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House, in Gloucester, Massachusetts.


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

Dry cleaning sponges can be ordered at Talas, cat. no TCD083001/TCD083002 (www.talasonline.com) or at University Products, cat. no. 961-1000 (www.universityproducts.com). Alternatively, try the Gonzo Wonder Sponge (www.gonzocorp.com, or www.organize-everything.com).


Stone Walls: Links to History

Aaron Usher

There is no part of the New England landscape more quintessentially characteristic of the region than its stone walls.They are so much a part of the countryside that they are often taken for granted, abused, and neglected.Wherever they survive—whether on farms where they remain functional and are maintained, or in woodlands where they lie fallen—they are an exemplary source for learning about the many changes in land use in New England. As both landscape features and historical evidence, stone walls deserve preservation as much as the historic buildings and landscapes they surround.

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England


European settlers brought over the concept of fencing as a means of separating livestock and crops and keeping manure confined and available. Wood was their first choice in material, but its short life span and the amount of labor to maintain it became a nuisance. The colonists began to use the abundant rocks that were being cleared from their fields to create sturdy and longer lasting walls. Walls were made by sledding larger rocks to the edges of the field and tossing smaller rocks on them. Tossed walls were naturally limited in height due to human strength and ability—only reaching about waist high. Taller walls exist, built at chest height, and are classified as fences. Rhode Island has some of the earliest stone walls in New England, owing in part to the availability of plentiful labor. Rhode Island had been active in the slave trade since the 1650s and had more slaves than the other New England colonies. The Native American population was sometimes pressed into service as well. Because of this large labor force, Rhode Island had more stone walls than elsewhere in the region until the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and by 1871, an estimated 14,000 miles of walls existed in the state. Between 1775 and 1825, New England experienced a prolific surge in stone wall building due to rapid deforesta20

Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

projecting stones at Casey Farm form a stile, which allows people, but not cattle or sheep, to climb over the wall.

tion and an increase in the popularity of sheep farming. During the sheep boom, more walls were needed because sheep had to be kept away from fertile topsoil reserved for raising crops. Sheep could easily climb a typical tossed wall, so farmers built lace walls—walls constructed with open spaces between the stones. Sheep perceived these walls as unstable and would not climb them. The extent of stone wall proliferation was well documented. In 1871, the Department of Agriculture’s publication “Statistics of Fences in the United States” listed the types of fences according to building material, length, and cost in each state. In all six New England states, stone walls made up the highest percentage of total fencing. Based on this report, experts estimate that more than 250,000 miles of stone walls may have been built in the Northeast—requiring the effort that could have built the pyramids of Egypt one hundred times over. But after 1860, as industrialization expanded and the rural economy declined, farmers found employment in factories or left New England for richer lands on the western frontier, and the heyday of stone walls came to an end. In the twenty-first century, as before, land use patterns and cultural trends continue to shift. While the utilitarian

Aaron Usher

Aaron Usher

PREVIOUS PAGE AND ABOVE LEFT The handsome dry-laid walls at Casey Farm, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, are evidence of the intensive labor involved in building walls of great length. ABOVE RIGHT Three

David Bohl

ABOVE This relic wall bounding a field in Lincoln, Massachusetts, is a typical example of a thrown wall.

function of stone walls has diminished, people are becoming aware of the value of old stone walls as landscape features. Local advocacy groups have begun to focus attention on protecting walls, which are vulnerable not only to development but also to random theft by passers by, through which entire sections of wall can vanish in a short period of time. A stone wall can be placed into one of three categories: abandoned, heritage, or recent and rebuilt. Abandoned walls are those that have fallen out of use and into a state of disrepair, sometimes called wild walls. They are usually surrounded by trees and lie tumbled and covered with growth. It is best to leave these walls as they lie, as they have likely become a habitat for a variety of species and have also taken on the task of stabilizing the soil. Be respectful of them as historic artifacts, and do not disturb them. Heritage, or historic, walls play a significant role in local culture and history. These are the walls that are still prominent; they may surround a historic home or run parallel to a road. These structures should be monitored and documented, and, as local landmarks, they should be maintained. Recent or rebuilt walls are exactly that. They can be old walls that have been rebuilt or new ones built in the traditional manner. They may not need preservation care but should still be managed and maintained carefully.

Property owners and community members concerned about the well-being of walls in their vicinity should be mindful that the most important aspect of repair is prevention. It is best to monitor stone walls and detect problems as they develop, before major repairs are required. This includes keeping the wall free and clear of growth, other than lichen, because the root systems of vines and saplings can prove devastating to a wall’s support and structure. If a rock falls, place it back with care. When repairs are necessary, it is extremely important to use traditional techniques. This means dry laying and chinking to build the strongest wall possible. A dry-laid wall can move and settle and has superior drainage, whereas a mortared wall, while appearing stable, may harbor serious structural flaws. When hiring a mason to build or repair a stone wall, take care that he does not use “stripmined” stones, acquired by means of stone-bystone theft. Author and stone wall advocate Robert Thorson said it best, “The stone wall is the key that links the natural history to the human history of New England.” It is our responsibility to preserve these monuments, which balance order and chaos, as a tribute to the agrarian history that shaped New England. —Dana C. Titcomb Preservation Manager

Wild walls in a Lincoln, Massachusetts, woodland enclose a former pasture. BELOW

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England




“I am quite sure he thinks that I am God–”

The Man Who Loved Dogs epin, a black poodle sits up, paws in the air, haunches on a wide rock. In the next frame, she sits face forward, revealing perfectly clipped forelegs, curly-haired ears, and composed gaze. In each photo a gentleman in a derby hat, and suit, holding a walking stick, fixes his gaze upon her. The gentleman is James Rundlet May of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His grandfather was James Rundlet, who made his fortune in the early 1800s and built the imposing house on Middle Street that became home to four generations of Rundlets and Mays. Around the middle of the nineteenth century, as prosperity and leisure time in the United States increased, attitudes towards domestic animals began to shift from largely utilitarian to affectionate, even sentimental. James Rundlet May and his son, Ralph, who treated their dogs Sandra Agrafiotis



Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

as valued companions, exemplify this transition. Pet keeping, as recognized today, had begun in earnest. James, who served in the Civil War as a young medical officer, clearly had great affection for dogs. When the gun boat on which he was traveling on the James River in Virginia stopped at an abandoned plantation, he went ashore and found a black pointer dog that had been left behind. He adopted her, named her Flora, and brought her home to Portsmouth, where she was something of a curiosity. People called her the “Confederate Dog.” In his medical notebook, among remedies for diphtheria and the common cold, James copied lines from a poem by George Washington Doane (1799–1859), Episcopal bishop of New Jersey, “On His Dog”: I am quite sure he thinks that I am GodSince he is God on whom each one depends For life, and all things that his bounty sends— My dear, old dog most constant of all friends;… So, faithful, mindful, thankful, trustful, he Tells me what I unto my God should be.

Sandra Agrafiotis

FACING PAGE, ABOVE James Rundlet May with Pepin, and the 1871 dog license for Hylax. FACING PAGE, BELOW The 1807 Rundlet-May House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. ABOVE LEFT The pet cemetery is in a quiet corner shaded by a cherry tree.

The grounds at the Rundlet-May House preserve the geometric pattern first laid out by James Rundlet, with an orchard and formal flower beds, in the early nineteenth century. They include a later addition dating from James’s time—a pet cemetery. T.H. Cochran, who conducted a landscape survey of the property in 1984, describes it, “…there was a plot in which were laid to rest the succession of family pets. Surely this, more than any other single feature of the garden, speaks of the sacred regard in which this place was held by family members.” The plot contains nine stones, including those of Flora, Pepin, Ajax, and Argus, as well as a canary named Sunny Boy. It lies near the peony garden and is overlooked by the office and gentleman’s retreat on the third floor, which was used by both James Rundlet May and his son, Ralph. Among the travel guides, histories, and literary works on the office bookshelves, Argus’s studded collar, bearing a metal tag inscribed “Argus May,” holds pride of place. Both outside and inside the house, objects and family photographs signify the May family’s devotion to their animals. With such evidence of James May’s esteem for his companions, it is no wonder that he played an integral part in

ABOVE RIGHT, TOP Argus’s collar, displayed on a bookcase in the third-floor study. ABOVE RIGHT, BELOW Argus’s tombstone. BELOW The 1878 Constitution and Bylaws of the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

founding the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He remained on the board of directors of the organization for forty-five years, until the time of his death in 1918. During his years on the board, the society expanded, growing from being a Portsmouth-based group to a statewide organization in 1875. In succession, May performed the duties of president, treasurer, and secretary. His 1881 Secretary’s Report states that the organization was able to investigate and put a stop to 998 cruelty cases for domestic animals in twenty-one New Hampshire towns. After his death, his son Ralph acted as treasurer for the society. Affection for pets and a civic desire to seek protection for all animals was a strong commitment for these two generations of May men. After the Rundlet-May House became a museum in 1971, animals no longer had free run of the house, yet the sounds of galloping legs, jingling collars, and playful barks still reverberate in the imagination. —Elizabeth Farish Regional Site Manager, Maine and New Hampshire

Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England



New England & Beyond

Having a ball Last summer, more than 150 friends attended a costume ball on Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts, to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House, the summer and weekend retreat of noted interior designer Henry Davis Sleeper. Local residents Caroline Stride and Chip and Margaret Ziering co-chaired the event with the support of committee members Lois and Philip Budrose, Ty Dowell, George Handran, Philip Hayden, John Rando, Elisa Sawall, Andrew Spindler, Linda and Oliver Wolcott, and Ted Vasiliou. Many of the guests wore costumes inspired by decorative themes at Beauport, while others wore early twentieth-century fashions or costumes like the ones shown in photographs of Sleeper’s own parties. The evening was beautiful, everyone had a wonderful time, and the ball raised more than $20,000 to support ongoing preservation of the museum.

Top one hundred A silhouette of the family of Samuel Appleton by Auguste Edouart (1789– 1861), recently acquired by Historic New England, is featured by Art and Antiques Magazine in its annual list of the top one hundred museum acquisitions of 2007. Edouart, a French artist who combined cut silhouettes with pencil drawings, spent two years in Boston in the 1840s, during which he portrayed several prominent families. The image is replete with detailed information about fashionable taste in Boston at the time. Senior Curator Richard Nylander will contribute an article on the work in a future issue of Historic New England magazine.


Historic New England Winter/Spring 2008

Senior Curator Richard C. Nylander to retire After more than forty years at Historic New England, Richard Nylander will retire at the end of March. A veritable walking memory of Historic New England, Nylander has personally examined most of the nearly 110,000 objects in the organization’s collections, not only those on view in the house museums but also items in collections storage. A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Nylander received a master’s degree from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and joined Historic New England in 1967. In the early 1970s, he oversaw the refurbishing of the Harrison Gray Otis House in Boston. The scheme’s bright colors and authentic furniture arrangements, based on both documentary evidence and scientific analysis, dazzled visitors and set a new standard for accuracy in historic house interpretation. Nylander later applied the same principles to the refurbishing of other Historic New

White House, where he was involved in the redecoration of the Blue Room and the State Dining Room during the Clinton administration. He has written numerous articles in both popular and scholarly journals, lectured widely, and consults nationally on historic house restorations.

Solution to puzzle on page 11.

1 L_ A _ _ 2 B_ U _ _I 3 D H _ 4 _ E

England properties, including Hamilton House, in South Berwick, Maine, and Codman Estate, in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Nylander is internationally recognized as an expert on historic wallpaper. Author of two books on the subject, he was curator for the exhibition Off the Walls: Historic Wallpapers in New England, and is a member of the Committee for the Preservation of the

_ A _ 5 N _ L_ 6 O _ O _ 7 M W 8 _ _I

_S _S _I E _ C _ K _ N _ A _ H _ D _ W _ _I G _ N _ A _ D _

Y _ E_ L_ L_ E_ R _

C _ K _ _I N _ G _ B _ _I R _ D _ L _ B _ U _ R _

_ O _ T _ O _ 9 T P U S _ _ _ _S Y _ C _ A _ T _ 10 S_ U _ N _ N _ Y _

B _ O _ Y _

(Answer to riddle: A man is sitting on a stool with a bone in his lap, a dog comes and takes the bone.The man throws the stool at the dog and the dog brings back the bone.)

Visit this winter Bring your friends and out-of-town guests this winter to one of Historic New England’s house museums. The Otis House in Boston is open year round Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 am to 4 pm. Winter hours at the Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, are Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am to 4 pm. The Phillips House in Salem, Massachusetts, is open Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am to 4 pm, through February 24, in conjunction with the exhibition “Samuel McIntire, Carving an American Style” at the Peabody Essex Museum.

The Phillips House, in Salem, Massachusetts, contains carvings by both Samuel McIntire and his son, Samuel Field McIntire. This mantelpiece in the library, decorated with overflowing baskets and horns of plenty, was carved by the son in 1813.


Winter/Spring 2008 Historic New England



Proud Symbol


recently purchased this handsome watercolor of the Creese & Cook Tannery in Danvers, Massachusetts, with the explicit objective of donating it to Historic New England. I knew nothing about the company, but I recognized the quality of the rendering and looked forward to the fun of researching the piece. My research led me to a 1946 history of the company published by the Danvers Historical Society. In 1918, the basic factory complex with the tall chimney in the center was enlarged by a two-story brick building on the northwest corner, and in 1922, by a three-story building on the south side. As both additions appear in the image, it is likely that the drawing was commissioned by the company in 1922 to depict the latest view of their impressive manufacturing site. Images like this were often used as the basis for a promotional poster or calendar. After World War II, the business was sold. By the 1970s, the shoe industry had changed so drastically that the outdated plant could no longer compete. The factory closed in 1982, and

the buildings were taken down two years later. The land is now a Superfund site because of the residue of toxic chemicals used in the tanning process, but the drawing survives as a record of a once proud New England business.

Watercolor of Creese & Cook Tannery, Danvers, c.1922. Gift of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf.


窶認rederic A. Sharf Collector and Scholar

141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 Presented by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities

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

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