Historic New England Fall 2022

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The Other Side of A Preservation Tale

An Indigenous Women’s Legacy

FALL 2022

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From the President

The Historic New England Summit 2022 is our organization’s inaugural major convening, covering an extraordinary range of topics affecting livability and resilience, bringing together leading voices from the region, nation, and around the world. It caps one of the most productive times in Historic New England’s 112-year history, following this year’s opening of all thirty-eight of our historic house museums and landscapes for the first time since 2019, with expanded visitor programming at many of our sites.

And over the summer, we honored two of our own leading voices for their leadership. We welcomed Deborah L. Allinson as the new chair of the Historic New England Board of Trustees. As a board member, Deborah has served as chair of the Development Committee, following her previous leadership of the Search and Investment committees. She was integral in bringing our first presentation of the Historic New England Medal Gala to life this past spring. As board chair, Deborah brings rich experience and a deeply informed perspective from her business and nonprofitsector leadership. We are extraordinarily honored to welcome Deborah as our new chair.

Also, we extend immense gratitude to David A. Martland for his incredible service, as he concluded his six-year tenure as chair of the board in June. Dave helped usher in many strategic accomplishments for Historic New England as he led us through a period of historic growth, including his key leadership role in the development and adoption of our strategic agenda for 2021–2025, The New England Plan. We thank Dave for his dedication and tireless wisdom and guidance, and we are grateful that he remains a trustee as Deborah takes the reins.

It’s always about the people. Historic New England is mighty fortunate to have the most devoted and talented individuals among our volunteer leadership and our amazing staff. In particular, across our growing membership, it is YOU who help make Historic New England an inspiring, forceful, national leader in the preservation field.

We look forward to seeing so many of you at the Historic New England Summit on October 13 and 14 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts!

With profound gratitude,

HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND magazine is a benefit of membership. To become a member, visit HistoricNewEngland.org or call 617-994-5910. Comments? Email Info@HistoricNewEngland.org. Historic New England is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

FALL 2022 • Vol. 23 • No. 2
© 2022 Historic New England. Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives. Cover Undated photograph of the Lang Building, with the Burgess Building at the right, on Essex Street in Haverhill, Massachusetts. (Courtesy of the Trustees of the Haverhill Public Library, Special Collections Department) above A sheep in winter at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts. Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 617-227-3956 1 Now is the Time: Historic New England Summit 4 Historic New England Center for Preservation and Collections 6 Thank You to Our Members 7 A Place for the People 9 Recovering the Past for an Exciting Future 18 Taking Action with Words 20 The Other Side of a Preservation Tale 24 True Lessons in History 27 Cultural Continuity 31 The Farms of Historic New England 34 Portrait of a House CONTENTS 31

NOW is the TIME

Editor Dorothy A. Clark spoke with President and CEO Vin Cipolla about the impetus for initiating the Historic New England Summit and its role in expanding the organization’s objective to protect historic resources and support neighborhoods.

Dorothy Clark: What makes the Historic New England Summit unique?

Vin Cipolla: Historic New England has a responsibility to convene. As the largest preservation organization in the region, operating in all six New England states, we are in a distinctive and strong position to bring the preservation community together to share and learn. To me, this is more essential than ever. Our communities are under enormous pressure everywhere you look. Poor zoning regulations. Misplaced development incentives. An extreme lack of affordability. Displacement. A “tear-down” craze in many areas. Sustainability threatened due to climate change. Historic preservation offers many solutions for these issues. Historic New England has an incredible toolbox. Protecting our history, buildings, and landscapes for

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Historic New England is poised to influence with first annual Summit
Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut. (PGN Drone Services)

future generations, we have a track record of supporting community fabric and eliminating waste.

But preservation also has often been unevenly applied and poorly used. Historically, we have not been an inclusive movement. That is changing. We all benefit from the conversation a convening like the Summit facilitates. And, by committing to an annual event, we foster accountability around our actions and ideas.

DC: What makes this moment the time for Historic New England to launch the Summit?

VC: I’ve had the privilege to run the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York, the city’s oldest preservation organization, and the National Park Foundation. In both cases, we convened— and the dividends from those conferences continue to manifest in significant—large and small—and unexpected, ways. I regularly receive emails from attendees of these past sessions about how meaningful those conversations were for them and their work. Ideas form and people forge new connections that expand with time.

Historic New England is transitioning into a more dynamic and comprehensive period in its history. Jane Nylander and Carl Nold, my two predecessors, brilliantly moved the organization to a higher level in preservation services, collections management, and visitor experience. I’m enormously proud to follow them as we launch The New England Plan, our new strategic agenda that establishes key initiatives to make the organization even more civic and inclusive, and broaden our impact and reach across the region. There couldn’t be a better time for this convening, and after 112 years, we’ve

earned the opportunity to host something of this scale. Dave Martland concluded a six-year term as chair of the Historic New England Board of Trustees this past summer; his was a remarkable tenure, leading us through a period of historic growth for the organization and setting the stage for this conference.

DC: What are you most excited about for the Summit?

VC: The people. Full-stop. First, being with folks from across New England and the nation who care about the world we live in. And the transdisciplinary conversation we’ll be in because our work—our work as preservationists—draws on and integrates so many disciplines to be rich and effective. I teach at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. My students over the last few years don’t think in silos, and this is very exciting. They easily move across architecture, preservation, planning, art, and technology. They’re willing to build a new solutions set: employ new models around reuse, sustainability, access, and experience. To me, the Summit is a provocation in real time to spark new ideas, partnerships, and action.

DC: What Historic New England initiative do you think will benefit most from the Summit?

VC: Hard to choose! Of course, we hope that the initiatives and plans of our peer organizations and advocates will benefit mightily from Summit participation. For Historic New England, I have to say our initiative to transform our facility in Haverhill, Massachusetts, into a dynamic, public-facing experience is hugely exciting. This is a big, ambitious, widely inclusive, and really important step for the organization. Already, a growing number of very talented people are considering the possibilities and potential for Haverhill. It will be thrilling to broaden and expand the conversation through the Summit.

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Historic New England embarks on several exciting public initiatives. The inaugural Summit will amplify discovery and discussion.

October 13 & 14, 2022

Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, and via livestream

Thank You to Our Summit Partners

A special magazine insert with all our Partners will be available at the Summit. This recognizes Summit Partners at the time of publication. See www.Summit.HistoricNewEngland.org for additional Partners and updates.

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Jacob D. Albert
b ra n don h a w a r c h it ectu r e p l anni n g d e sign
Dr. Edward G. Tiedemann, Jr.

Planning for the Historic New England Center for Preservation and Collections

A transformational, multiyear initiative

This issue’s cover features a historical image of the Lang Building in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Constructed in 1911-12, this eight-story building once housed manufacturers that supported the city’s thriving shoe industry. Today, it serves as Historic New England’s administrative headquarters and is home to our state-of-the-art collections storage, care, and conservation facilities.

Historic New England’s 125,000 objects collection— stored in the Lang Building and on view at our historic sites—and our 1.5 million-item archival collection represent the most extraordinary assemblage of New England cultural and architectural history in the world. We are ready to leverage this world-class collection, the potential of the Lang Building in the city of Haverhill, and our reputation as a thought leader in preservation and collections management to create the Historic New

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On the Cover

page 4 Among the vast range of objects in Historic New England’s collection are footwear and glassware from different periods. right The Lang Building at 151 Essex St. in Haverhill, Mass., serves as the Historic New England Center for Preservation and Collections. Plans are in the works to realize the building’s potential as a contributor to the revitalization of the onetime major industrial city.

England Center for Preservation and Collections.

Haverhill has been home to Historic New England’s collections for more than three decades. In 1988, the organization moved our off-site storage to leased space in the Lang Building. In 2006, Historic New England purchased the building to meet our own growing collections needs, provide support to other institutions in need of leased storage space, and in recognition of the site’s potential in an industrial Massachusetts Gateway City reinventing itself for the future.

Our Haverhill facility, located adjacent to the Amtrak and Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Commuter Rail Station, represents an unprecedented opportunity to leverage the work and mission of Historic New England along with Haverhill’s attractive downtown market, as well as to do our part as a cultural catalyst for the continued revitalization of this great historic city.

The Historic New England Center for Preservation and Collections will be a community anchor, a generator of social capital, a hub of creative innovation, a center for exhibitions and curatorial expertise, and a powerful partner in Haverhill’s economic development. The impact will reverberate through the region and beyond.

Transforming Historic New England’s Haverhill site into a centerpiece for discovery, public programming and education, and an active part of the revitalization of the city is a key goal of The New England Plan, our strategic

agenda for 2021-2025. Work has begun on this exciting multiyear initiative, and we look forward to providing updates as the effort advances.

This fall, Historic New England members are invited to discover what lies behind the Lang Building’s concrete walls at our special behind-the-scenes collections tours. We hope you’ll join us.

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Thank You to Our Members

We’re delighted and so grateful that you are part of the Historic New England community! When you support us through membership, tour our historic sites, liven up your home with our produce and plants, celebrate a life event with us, or join us for special programs throughout the year, you are a partner in fulfilling Historic New England’s mission to tell the full story of our region. We hope that you’ll continue exploring all that membership has to offer.

Historic New England member benefits connect you to the past through new experiences. Along with free tour admission to our thirty-eight historic sites, free or discounted event tickets, a 10 percent discount on shop and plant purchases, and Historic New England magazine, you can:

» View our collections at the Historic New England Center for Preservation and Collections in Haverhill, Massachusetts, during member-exclusive behind-the-scenes tours, beginning this month

» Add your voice at the Historic New England Summit October 13–14 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, or via livestream

» Enjoy reciprocal member admission to more than 1,000 museums across North America through the North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM) with your Contributor level or above membership

» Get personalized answers to your old or historic home questions from our preservation services team with your Sustainer level or above membership

Not a Historic New England member yet? Find the right membership level for you. Review member benefits and join our community online at HistoricNewEngland.org/ Membership, or call us at 617-994-5910 to chat.

• $25 – Student: Benefits for one adult with a valid college or university ID

• $50 – Individual: Benefits for one adult

• $65 – Dual Plus: Benefits for two adults in the same household plus their children and grandchildren under age eighteen

• $125 – Contributor: Benefits for two adults in the same household plus their children and grandchildren under age eighteen and two dependents over eighteen; NARM reciprocity; member preregistration opportunities for select events

• $250 – Supporter: Contributor benefits plus an invitation to an exclusive Patron Program event

• $500 – Sustainer: Supporter benefits plus personalized advice about your old or historic home; recognition in our Annual Report

• $1,000 – Ambassador: Sustainer benefits plus invitations to exclusive Patron Program events

Interested in deepening your support of Historic New England? Learn more about our Patron Program donor levels with gifts of $2,500 and above at HistoricNewEngland.org/Patron or contact a member of our development team at 617-994-5951.

With deep appreciation for your support,

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A Place for the People

Mechanics Hall, a historic icon of civic and cultural life

Walking into Mechanics Hall, an architectural treasure and an acoustical masterpiece, is like entering a time capsule. Its interior design is spectacular. A gracious stairway welcomes entrants to the second-floor landing, where today two original ticket kiosks flank the entrance to Washburn Hall. Ascending from the second floor, balustraded staircases lead to the Great Hall. This magnificent space measures 80 by 100 feet and is over 41 feet high. Balconies line three sides of the Great Hall while the east wall boasts the dramatic Hook Organ and a platform stage.

Funded by industrialist Ichabod Washburn and designed by Elbridge Boyden, Mechanics Hall was built at 321 Main St. in 1857 as the home of the Worcester County Mechanics Association, a progressive group of contractors, inventors, architects, craftsmen, carpenters, and machinists. In the mid-nineteenth century, Worcester was becoming a manufacturing powerhouse and the Mechanics Association desired a permanent home to propel change and innovation. There, members would be able to gain knowledge, learn the latest technologies, and provide mutual aid. The building also

afforded a setting for personal enrichment through the appreciation of beauty and culture. When completed, the classical building fulfilled its promise, affording members a grand space for lectures, demonstrations, displays, classroom instruction, and a library. Over time, Mechanics Hall evolved into the center of artistic, political, and intellectual life in thriving Worcester. Boyden’s ambitious plan reflected the bold declaration he made in 1857: “Show me the architecture and buildings of your city and I’ll tell you the nature of its people.”

For the Mechanics Association members, who actively participated in all aspects of the building process, excellence in design and the integration of state-ofthe-art construction techniques were priorities. The Italian Renaissance Revival facade was built on a frame of durable cast-iron supporting mastic-covered brick with a sand-finish paint simulating stone. Large-scale cast-iron piers, triple round arched windows, Roman Corinthian columns flanked by paired pilasters, a cornice, and a fanlight-modified Palladian window adorned the classical facade.

The Great Hall was built prior to the advent of steel construction, so wood timber trusses spanning the

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Photograph by Steve Rosenthal

entire width of the hall supported the roof. Amplification was not yet available and acoustical engineering was not yet a science, but somehow Boyden’s design resulted in exceptional acoustics. The Great Hall also featured large portraits of men who personified the Mechanics' foundational values of innovation, enterprise, patriotism, abolitionism, and temperance. Among the original nineteen portraits were Boyden, Washburn, abolitionist newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison, John A. Andrew (governor of Massachusetts from 1861 to 1867), and the twentieth U.S. president, James A. Garfield, who served just six months before he was assassinated.

During its first seventy years, the Mechanics Association flourished, and members and the community saw the Great Hall graced by luminaries such as Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Enrico Caruso, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jenny Lind, Susan B. Anthony, and Charles Dickens. However, by the turn of the twentieth century, many considered the building obsolete. Worcester Memorial Auditorium was constructed in 1932 and it soon became the venue of choice for Worcester’s civic and cultural life. By the 1970s, the Mechanics Association was

page 7 The Great Hall viewed from the balcony in Mechanics Hall. In the center background of the photograph are the pipes of the Hook Organ. The mechanically operated instrument has 3,504 pipes and fifty-two stops. (Photograph provided by Preservation Worcester) left Mechanics Hall as it looked during the mid- to late nineteenth century. (Courtesy of the New York Public Library)

struggling financially, the building’s fire suppression system was inadequate, and an exposed exterior wall had deteriorated to the point where a pencil could penetrate the brick. The Great Hall morphed into a sports venue for wrestling, roller skating, basketball, and boxing, with bleachers unceremoniously located on the main floor. With urban renewal rampant across the country, there was a serious threat that the building would be demolished and replaced with a modern structure.

Responding to the wrecking ball threat, in 1971 the Worcester Heritage Preservation Society (now Preservation Worcester) commissioned a study by architectural historian Denys Peter Myers to determine the significance of the building. Myers concluded that Mechanics Hall was “the finest hall, as distinct from theatre, remaining in the United States from the pre-Civil War decade.” The preservation society immediately nominated the structure for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places; the Great Hall was added to the register in 1972. The Worcester community responded resoundingly, raising $5 million toward a restoration effort. A heartwarming campaign by Worcester Public School students collected over $9,000 in pennies.

The next decade saw the restoration and rebirth of Mechanics Hall. The Boston-based architectural firm of Anderson, Notter & Finegold led the effort. A restoration and addition were executed in keeping with the Mechanics' tradition of excellent craftsmanship and use of stateof-art technologies. A new glass

wall rear entrance lobby provided accessibility throughout the building while showcasing the original brick facade. Since the restoration, a strategic preservation/maintenance plan guides the upkeep and longterm preservation of the building while unforeseen issues are immediately addressed.

Aware of the symbolism of the collection of portraits of exclusively white men, in 1999 Mechanics Hall installed portraits of four women who personified the virtues valued by the founding Mechanics. The portraits depict Lucy Stone, suffragist, abolitionist, and the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree; Abby Kelley Foster, abolitionist and feminist social reformer; Dorothea Dix, a nurse and advocate for the mentally ill; and Clara Barton, a nurse and founder of the American Red Cross. Recognizing the absence of people of color, a project is underway to commission portraits of rights activists Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and entrepreneurs and abolitionists William and Martha Brown. William was the first Black American inducted into the Worcester County Mechanics Association.

Mechanics Hall remains a non-profit organization owned and overseen by the Worcester County Mechanics Association (now the Board of Trustees). A beacon of community pride, it is a premier destination for cultural activities and social interaction. Also, it is internationally recognized as a significant entertainment and recording venue, bringing worldrenowned entertainment and culture to Central Massachusetts.

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Recovering the Past for an Exciting Future

With the close of the first year of Recovering New England’s Voices, a multiyear initiative to challenge the standard accounts of the past and promote healing, community, collaboration, and inspiration at our historic sites, we reflect back on the challenges and triumphs of this year.

When we first conceived of Recovering New England’s Voices, we had no idea what we would find: What information and resources are out there that we do not know about? What stories and voices have been hidden, erased, and suppressed due to years of systemic oppression and genocide?

In order to answer these questions, we hired four historians who specialize in this type of research. They scoured archives,

libraries, and collections to help recover the voices and stories of enslaved people, LGBTQ+ people, Indigenous people, workers and laborers, differently abled individuals, women, and many more. The scholars’ findings are astounding in breadth, depth, and number. We now have hundreds of primary sources that will help us tell accurate and authentic stories at all of our sites—stories that were previously hidden or only partially known. One of the biggest successes of the scholars’ work was recovering the identities of almost thirty people who were enslaved at the properties we now own—people we previously did not know about because of erasure and oppression.

What we set out to do was ambitious to say the least—to try to find as many hidden and erased stories of marginalized people in

New England archives, libraries, and collections as we could in one year. This work is crucial to our goal of creating space that will amplify marginalized voices and represent all perspectives of this storied region. We knew that it must be done and that putting the right people on this job would yield success; it did so beyond our expectations. What follows are their accounts of the past year, their findings, and their ruminations, each in their own voice.

Now that this foundation is set, we eagerly start the next phase of the Recovering New England’s Voices initiative. We will expand these findings, using them as catalysts for transformative conversations and environments for socially driven structural change.

Taking More Than One Route to the Past

Recovering New England’s Voices is a reminder that the past can be studied using a variety of techniques. As a historian, I usually rely upon archives and secondary sources such as scholarly books and articles to learn about the past. However, both archival records and secondary sources are limited to the information they contain. By incorporating oral history and archaeology with traditional historical research processes, I have bypassed some of the constraints. With these methods, I have learned about African American, labor, immigration, and Indigenous history at the Historic New England properties I researched.

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This 1930s photograph shows Constance Holt, Franklin Davis Bowen, and Sylvia Holt on the right side of the car. On the left are household employees Elmer, Katy, Frank, and Robert. Their names were previously unknown, but by coupling institutional knowledge with oral history, all the people in this image have been identified.

My work focused on southern New England; it encompasses Arnold House, Casey Farm, ClemenceIrons House, Merwin House, Roseland Cottage, Watson Farm, and Winslow Crocker House. In researching Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut, and Casey Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, I branched out into other disciplines. For Roseland Cottage, I conducted an oral history interview with the descendant of a former employee. With Casey Farm, I reviewed recovered cultural resources and archaeological reports. These other methods have augmented my primary research in repositories and digital databases.

Henry Chandler Bowen and Lucy Maria Bowen constructed Roseland Cottage for their young family in 1846 as a summertime retreat. Although Roseland Cottage was a vacation home for the Bowens, the granddaughters of the Bowens, Sylvia and Constance Holt, lived there full time. In the 1930s, the Holt sisters resided at Roseland Cottage with at least four employees. The picture on page 9 shows the sisters standing between a car and the house with their uncle, Franklin Davis Bowen; the Roseland staff stands on the passenger side of the vehicle. Historic New England’s website previously only named Sylvia, Constance, and Franklin in the photograph; however, the names of the employees—Robert the chauffeur, Elmer the gardener, Katy the maid, and the cook Frank—were unknown until recently. During an oral history interview I conducted with Frank’s youngest child, I learned the workers’ names.

In my conversation with Frank’s daughter—his full name was Francesco Pagano—I learned more about him as well the Holts. Frank came to America in the 1920s from Vieste, Italy, a southeastern town near the coast. He had training as a cobbler and planned to work as a

shoemaker in America. Unfortunately, he was unable to find a job crafting shoes. So, at the suggestion of an acquaintance from Italy who had immigrated earlier, he decided to become a cook. After shifting careers, Frank found employment with the Holts in Woodstock. This job enabled him to marry his fiancée, Teresa, and bring her to America. During the 1930s the Paganos lived at Roseland Cottage with their eldest daughter during her first years.

The relationship between the Holts and the Paganos was long-lasting. Even after the Paganos moved away from Roseland Cottage, Constance would visit them at their home in Newport, Rhode Island. During her visits, Frank would cook her favorite meal of breaded veal cutlets and macaroni and cheese. In the 1950s, the Paganos returned to Roseland Cottage to visit Constance. Without this oral history, the stories of Francesco Pagano, his family, and his Roseland Cottage co-workers may never have been discovered.

Casey Farm is well documented in Historic New England’s Library and Archives and other repositories in the region. Although the Casey family is easy to trace, other people associated with Casey Farm are more difficult to research. For example, Silas Casey enslaved three people: Walter, Ezekiel, and Moses. His ownership of these men in the late eighteenth century is recorded, details about their lives remain elusive. I have been attempting to discover more information about Walter, Ezekiel, and Moses as well as other lesser-known people connected to the Caseys and the farm.

Through Historic New England’s records and publications, I learned that there had been another house on the farm in the nineteenth century. That former building had been the residence of two tenant farmers, Henry Niles and Henry Carr. An article written by Jennifer Pustz, the organization’s former museum historian, in the summer 2014 issue of Historic New England, details the relationship of these men with Silas Casey. Niles occupied the tenant house from 1802 to 1803, while Carr lived at Casey Farm from 1804 to 1814. In his account books, Silas mentioned these men by name and ethnicity; he sometimes referred to Niles as Native American and at other times African American and Carr was always identified as African American. I was able to find both men listed in federal census records, so

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Constance Holt (left) with Teresa and Francesco Pagano, who visited Roseland Cottage in the 1950s. Known as Frank, he worked as the cook for the family.

unlike Walter, Moses, and Ezekiel, they are easier to trace, especially Carr.

A visit to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission informed me that there had been archaeological research into the tenant farmer dwelling at Casey Farm. In the 1990s, archaeologist Ann-Eliza Lewis excavated the former site. Lewis recovered tools and faunal remains, which offer clues about Carr’s life. She found sewing utensils, physical evidence possibly related to Carr’s wife. In the nineteenth century, labor tended to be gendered, so a woman would have been responsible for sewing.

Archival silences around women, such as Carr’s unnamed wife, are not uncommon. In the past, women lacked agency so male relatives, especially husbands, acted on their behalf. In records, many married

women’s identities were subsumed by their husbands’ names; when mentioned they were often referred to as the “wife of” or “Mrs.” followed by their husband’s name. Carr’s tenancy agreement provides an example of how a woman’s name might become lost in the historical record. Since the contract was between Silas Casey and Henry Carr, Casey had no reason to list Carr’s wife unless she affected Carr’s work. Therefore, Casey only mentioned Carr’s wife—without naming her—when Carr requested time off around the time of a pregnancy. Combining information from Historic New England, online digital research, and archaeological excavations enables us to convey more of Carr’s story. He was not solely an African American tenant farmer at Casey Farm, but he was also a husband who provided for his family by farming while his wife

The Historical is Personal

Ibegan my work on the Recovering New England’s Voices project with a passion for lingering in the layers of history and myth that make up the region in which I was born. My ancestors were along for this ride, too: my Polish immigrant greatgrandmothers who worked in fields and factories, and my Portuguese grandfathers, laborers and fisherfolk who left the Azore Islands to settle new homes in the Massachusetts communities of Salem and Peabody. My colonial English ancestors were here as well: the shipbuilders and merchants from Beverly,

Massachusetts, who benefited directly from the development of exploitative economic systems that persist today. My late dad, who grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, and passed away in Amherst, Massachusetts, presided over the gathering. Together, we initiated the difficult and also life-giving work of Recovering New England’s Voices—a process that requires coming to terms with historical harms so that we may envision more just and livable futures.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I came to this work versed in the “heroes” of dominant New

labored with her sewing.

This work as a research scholar relies upon information from government repositories, local archives, and the previous work of Historic New England staff, community members, and scholars in other fields. In my efforts, I have traveled from Cape Cod to Connecticut to learn about the history of southern New England. Through these travels, I have learned that New England’s rich history and culture results from the contributions of all of its inhabitants, including the earliest Native Americans, Euro-Americans, African Americans, and more recent immigrants. As Roseland Cottage and Casey Farm demonstrate, there are ways to uncover hidden histories and write a more inclusive story about the past.

England history and the many myths that ensured such figures remained at the center of regional historical storytelling. On school field trips, I learned about the “brave” settlers who battled Native people to the point of entitled triumph, which was reflected in the perceived “disappearance” of those communities from their homelands forever. In the local history section of the public library, I poured over stories about settlers stockading my town’s common and the heroic “Angel of Hadley” who “protected” the town’s white settler soldiers during King Philip’s War. These

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stories put those who looked like me—white New Englanders of European descent—at the center of this region’s story and acted like it was the whole of the history. It was not then, and it is not now.

It was not until graduate school that I began to unravel these claims of truth and belonging. In courses like “Underground Archives” and through books like Wendy Warren’s New England Bound and Jean M. O’Brien’s Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England, I learned that the roots of our most widely accepted “local” histories were forged from deep, collective investments in claiming lands and resources that were just barely “ours.” These experiences showed me that the desire to belong is at the heart of settler colonial placemaking and that white New Englanders desire a story of conquest, ownership, and deservability that justifies the occupation and domination of this land. I learned that by only seeing and doing history from the vantage point of those who control resources and narratives, we replicate the same values and practices that keep wealth, power, and prestige concentrated in the hands of a very small few. It is only by releasing a tightly controlled grip on “Truthwith-a-capital T” that other realities can grow and thrive.

Recovering New England’s Voices

is an ongoing lesson in deep listening and deep looking “from the bottom up.” It demands constant self-reflection about the biases and assumptions I bring to the work of seeking out marginalized histories. It invites me to cultivate and practice an ethic of care toward archives, historical spaces, and family narratives that centers accountability and justice. It asks that I rethink my own role as a researcher working both within—and against—institutions that wield the power to define the truth.

I came to this work knowing that archives are sites of power. However, this work has taught me that the power to define truth and reality is also inscribed into the built environment of New England. It is reflected in the houses and landscapes we labor to preserve and the libraries and archives we build to ensure that some accounts of historical reality are documented and preserved while others are never even written down. By looking “sideways” at historical archives and sources, we are regularly surprised by what—and who—comes to the surface.

One of my first tasks in Recovering New England’s Voices research involved culling reams of research compiled by prior historians. Among tall stacks of archival boxes, I came across a copy of the finding aid—a document that outlines the contents of an archival collection—for the Harrison Gray Otis Papers held by the Massachusetts Historical Society. One entry caught my eye: a receipt from the warden of the New

Hampshire State Prison to New England architect Asher Benjamin. The receipt notes Benjamin’s purchase of building stone from the prison for projects commissioned by Otis. Although I have spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the historical roots of contemporary systems of labor and incarceration, I was surprised to see a link to these topics surface in my first days of work.

From my preliminary reading on Otis House, I knew that Otis—a lawyer, politician, and businessman—played a significant role in the commercial development of Boston; specifically, the real estate development of Beacon Hill. I knew that Benjamin was described as a “housewright” and that he published a historically significant carpenter’s manual. I knew he was a friend and colleague of Otis. What I had not realized was that the building materials that Otis and his associates sourced for their major development projects often came down river to Boston, pulled from the infamous quarries and mines of New Hampshire—the Granite State—by pools of convict labor at the New Hampshire State Prison.

I visited the Massachusetts Historical Society and pulled the microfilm that contained some of the papers of Otis. I loaded the film into the computer interface and scrolled through scribbled receipts for evidence of labor and material related to Otis’s development projects in the 1820s. The documents revealed vast networks of labor and enterprise that contributed to the construction of some of Boston’s most prized edifices. I finally landed on the

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Receipt dated September 22, 1828, from the New Hampshire State Prison warden for payment of stone used in the construction of Beacon Street houses and the Mill Dam wharf commissioned by Harrison Gray Otis. (Microfilm edition of the Harrison Gray Otis papers, courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society)

bit of paper I was searching for: a receipt that showed Benjamin paying $1,000 to Daniel Connor, warden of New Hampshire State Prison, for stone used in “the blocks of houses you are building for Hon. H. G. Otis and others.”

This barely legible bit of paper that happened to survive for nearly 200 years due to its association with one powerful businessman and politician opened up new forms of truth related to Beacon Hill. In this receipt, we can hold physical evidence of one of the many ways that marginalized people’s bodies—and the labor such bodies performed—served as the foundation upon which some of Boston’s most iconic and historically celebrated architectural forms were built.

Today, you can visit the row of six houses that Otis constructed on Beacon Street in 1828 to see their broad exteriors made of carved stone. At a current market value of more than $13 million each, these buildings tower over the Boston Common just as they did 200 years ago, showing us what generational wealth and power look like.

What those stone-faced buildings do not tell us is what it was like to extract, cut, and finish such material in

Recovering Home

Anarrative starts up in my mind whenever I drive onto the bridge across the Presumpscot River in Maine, a waterway that could be easily missed when traveling at seventy miles per hour. Researching Indigenous history related to Historic New England’s Marrett House in Standish, I learned about Chief Polin from the writings of the scholar Lisa Brooks. Polin, the Wabanaki sagamore on the Presumpscot, protested when the river became so dammed and logged that few salmon could travel upriver. In 1739, Polin walked from Maine to Boston to petition the Massachusetts governor regarding the depravations the colonists wrought upon the land and water. After no improvements were made, Polin went to war to protect his people’s ability to sustain themselves from the river. The Presumpscot was, Polin had said, “the river which I belong to.”

Today, the Friends of the Presumpscot River have installed a marker to commemorate Polin and share the

complete silence, performing lockstep movements from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week while wardens armed with rifles and bayonets kept watch. The buildings cannot tell us the story of legislative reforms New Hampshire passed in 1812 that transformed the state prison into a completely self-supporting, revenue-generating business meant to maximize profits extracted from incarcerated humans. Nor can they tell us about people like Robert Burroughs, who in 1832 began a seven-year sentence at the prison for stealing $5.10 worth of food and stockings. It is up to us to tell those stories now.

Recovering New England’s Voices teaches me that historical research can and should be an act of love that brings us closer to our kith and kin who sleep in the dusty pages of history, waiting for recovery. Coming from a family of origin impacted by systems of incarceration, I never expected to find solidarity and connection with the inmates at New Hampshire State Prison who lived and worked in stone trenches nearly 200 years ago. But they called to me from Historic New England’s records and now they are part of the teaching we must do to make more reparative and just futures a reality.

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long history of river defenders. Though I have crossed the Presumpscot countless times, after learning about Polin’s history of belonging, I no longer take this river for granted.

I have a newfound appreciation for the history of my home in Maine because of my work as a research scholar for Historic New England. As my research becomes incorporated into tours, the remaking of sites, and even this article, I hope that it will expand New Englanders’ concept of their home, one still familiar but full of new perspectives and surprises we can all learn from. As part of a wider community of people seeking to learn about our home, I relied on collaboration to find and interpret so many engaging stories. Most of my more significant findings have been long hidden from a wider public

view, buried in old account books, or passed down as oral histories within families. This single year at Historic New England is only the beginning of a process that has already changed my understanding of New England.

Much of my work involved correcting errors from the past when initiatives like Recovering New England’s Voices were not a priority and led to not only missing voices but mistaken histories. For example, a report from the 1980s suggested that Jonathan Hamilton—the merchant who built Historic New England’s Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine—had owned several plantations in Tobago, but I realized it was in fact a different person, named John Hamilton, who owned those Caribbean properties. Still, there is much we can say about Jonathan Hamilton’s active trade

with the West Indies, and his clear understanding of the cruelty of plantation slavery that fueled the trade in rum and molasses.

Nothing has been more powerful or exciting than recovering the names and stories of individuals who had lived and labored at these properties. In my academic training, I constantly had to justify my reasons for studying a specific topic by explaining how my approach contributed to a new historical understanding. The work of recovery does contribute to learning about topics such as slavery, but its importance is far more immediate than a historical theme: recovery insists that an individual’s story matters in its own right and that no one should be erased from history.

Locating names, details, and narratives about enslaved people like Cicero and Titus requires persistence, but also luck. A key component in the study of history is contingency. Unexpected events change the course of history. Yet my work recovering stories made it clear to me that this work is itself contingent. There were no guarantees that I would ever find any information that would reveal Titus’s name after he drowned in the river next to Gilman Garrison House in Exeter, New Hampshire, or describe the clothes that Cicero wore as he ran away from Bowman House in Dresden, Maine, to join the Continental Army and fight in the Revolution.

By collaborating with individuals and organizations around New England, I managed to compensate

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Page 13 and Left The Chief Polin Memorial, dedicated to the Wabanaki sagamore and defender of the Presumpscot River. The memorial, located in Westbrook, Maine, was created by the Friends of the Presumpscot River. (Photographs by Scot McFarlane)

Laundering was a source of income for longtime Jackson House renter Isabelle Tilley and she may have hung these clothes to dry in this c. 1900 photograph of the c. 1664 Portsmouth, New Hampshire, dwelling. The watercolor painting on the back page of this issue shows a similar scene and was made around 1900 as well. (Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress) for some of the limits of recovering stories. Whenever I believed that I had exhausted a topic or site, it was through conversations with other researchers that I learned of another archive or approach to take. Prior to my arrival at Historic New England, the organization already had some evidence concerning a woman called Dinah who we thought might have been enslaved at Bowman House. Last winter I learned that the Lexington (Massachusetts) Historical Society had undertaken its own recovery project centered on Dinah. She had been enslaved in Lexington by John Hancock’s grandparents until his grandmother emancipated Dinah in her will. Shortly before the Revolution began Dinah left Lexington and ended up at Bowman House. Hancock continued to pay Bowman for half of Dinah’s board until 1787 and Dinah would have been required to work in Bowman’s household despite her emancipated status. Only with the support of my colleagues, countless archivists, and a network of researchers in New England could I have achieved so much in a single year. In the process, I became a part of a community that will endure when my work is complete.

Historic New England’s own history inevitably intertwines with many of the stories I recovered, and the Recovering New England’s Voices initiative provides an opportunity to reinterpret the definition of historic preservation beyond the wealthy families who formed the organization’s original membership. One woman’s story in particular highlights this possibility. Isabelle Tilley came to Jackson House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from Virginia as a teenager in the 1850s; she may have remained enslaved there for a brief period before being emancipated, and she recalled meeting Abraham Lincoln when he visited Dover. I spoke with her descendants living in Greater Portsmouth and they described her legacy in their family and the community. As evidence of her prominence in the Christian Shore neighborhood, an 1899 Portsmouth newspaper article noted that Mrs. Tilley might leave for Massachusetts but then retracted it a few days later.

After her husband died and her children had grown up, Mrs. Tilley continued to live in a small cottage adjacent to Jackson House and often took in boarders to pay rent to the Jacksons, supplementing the income

she earned from washing laundry. After Historic New England bought the property in 1924, she paid the organization $1 a week in rent, an amount that far exceeded the income from tour admissions in the 1920s and 1930s.

Though Historic New England attributed Mrs. Tilley’s vegetable garden in front of Jackson House as giving the property an old-time appearance, it did not credit her as a preservationist, even though she lived on this historic site and her rent funded the organization’s preservation efforts.

When I began looking, I found plenty of evidence of Mrs. Tilley’s presence. Late-nineteenth-century tourists took a picture of Jackson House that included her husband sitting in front of the house. Another image from the turn of the century shows a line of clothes hanging next to Jackson House that Mrs. Tilley would have laundered. Alongside letters describing her “very sharp” personality and memories passed down in her family, we have a vivid if still incomplete portrait of this remarkable woman.

Mrs. Tilley died in 1937 at 100 years of age, still living in the small house right next to Jackson House. Given the fact that the physical building she lived in was in very poor condition, I wondered why in her eighties or nineties she did not choose to live with her son Clarence, who resided just a block away in the same neighborhood. In part, the explanation lies in the ways she valued her independence and freedom, particularly after having been enslaved as a child. Yet the main explanation is much simpler: Mrs. Tilley had lived on the site of Jackson House for most of her life, probably as long as anyone had ever lived there. This was her home.

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They Still Have Much To Tell Us

Historic New England has seven properties in Massachusetts’ North Shore region dating from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries that have long been recognized as significant for their architecture. Their presence on the modern landscape bears witness to the past; yet, it can be difficult to connect with the people from this period who seem less accessible to us from a distance of several hundred years. The late seventeenth century was a turbulent but formative period for Massachusetts, filled with witch trials, warfare, and political instability. The Recovering New England’s Voices project has made it possible for me to share my fascination with this period while bringing new perspectives to the way we interpret these historic houses.

Through a close reading of court records, we can recover the stories of people from the Dole-Little property in Newbury and Gedney House in Salem. Court records can be a rewarding source to work with, but they have their limitations and it is important to consider the context and circumstances in which they were created. These records can show us how remote the seventeenth century is and at the same time remind us that people in the past made choices, just as we do, often in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

For example, a dozen pages of testimony from the Essex County Quarterly Court sessions is all that survives of a conspiracy that, had it been successful, would have been the largest organized slave revolt in New England.

In late May 1690, an enslaved Black man called James escaped from the household of Richard Dole in pursuit of his freedom. James brought with him all of his clothing and a gun with powder and bullets. Night watchmen captured him where he was waiting to meet two white men, Isaac Morrill and George Major, who had promised to help him.

Court records disclose evidence about the alleged plot from James, who was about thirty years old at the time. He confessed that a month before his escape, Morrill, a French-speaking immigrant from the Isle of Jersey, persuaded James to join him and to recruit as many enslaved people as possible. One night Morrill

knocked at James’s window and told him that he should not “stay there any longer to be abused and remain a slave.”

The court described Major as “a man of ill fame.” He had been an indentured servant in the Dole household and was pressed into service in two colonial wars. Major appeared in court records several times: in 1671 for fornication, for burglary in 1677 (stealing food), once for cursing, and then in 1690 for conspiracy with James. As a result of the burglary charge, Major had been branded on his forehead. He worked as a laborer, sometimes alongside enslaved people.

James admitted to an intricate plot that involved bringing a force of 800 French and Indigenous soldiers from Canada to attack the North Shore. The conspirators planned to “destroy all the English” and free the enslaved Black and Indigenous people. His confession was corroborated by other witnesses. James detailed the route they were to take and swore that the last time he saw Morrill, he told James that he had just seen the army of the French headed that way. Throughout his testimony James made this conspiracy— this desire for freedom—come from Morrill’s mouth, but we can read between the lines and hear the power that must have come from speaking these words out loud to the court.

In the late seventeenth century, the Dole household included Black and Indigenous enslaved people, white indentured servants, and the large Dole family. The head of the household was Richard Dole, who had come to Newbury as an apprentice in 1639. He gradually increased his status and wealth by purchasing land, exploiting enslaved labor, and seeking positions of authority in the community, including as a constable, selectman, and deputy to the General Court. He left an estate worth nearly £2000 at his death, making him one of the wealthiest men in the area. His will, written in 1698, mentioned five enslaved people: Grace, Betty, Mingo, Tom, and Lucy.

Over the course of his lifetime Dole enslaved several other people, including James and a man recorded only as “Richard Dole’s Indian.” Their feelings and lives were trivial to him; he once exchanged a Black woman for a parcel of salt marsh on Plum Island.

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The current house on the Dole property is not the same structure that stood in 1690, but it was built in the early 1700s with repurposed materials from and quite near the original. The 1690 case allows us to catch a glimpse of the lives of people who are not typically included in the narrative of early New England, and it reveals how enslaved people actively resisted and fought for their freedom.

As a scholar of witchcraft in early New England, one of the first things I did at the beginning of the Recovering New England’s Voices project was to check for links between Gedney House and the Salem witch trials. Mary Gedney, the second wife of Eleazar Gedney, ran a tavern after her husband’s death and the court used her tavern during the witch trials of 1692.

This was not exactly new information; about a century ago, the Salem historian Sidney Perley noted that Mary Gedney held a license to sell liquor after she became a widow. To document this and prove that it was the same Mary Gedney associated with Gedney House, I searched through collections at the Massachusetts

State Archives, the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum, and town and probate records.

Through this search, I found Mary Gedney’s March 1690 petition to the court requesting a license to sell wine and liquor out of doors, “by which,” she said, “I am in hopes to get something to support my family.” At that time, her family included three children under the age of twelve. The court approved her petition, granting her a license to sell alcohol outside of the house, and she had a prime location to do so. In the late seventeenth century, the neighborhood looked much different than it does today. Gedney’s house was located by the waterfront on the highway to Marblehead, so she would have seen many potential customers passing by her house. In the summer of 1692, Salem selectmen approved Gedney’s request to operate as an innholder, which allowed her to rent rooms to travelers and sell meals and drinks to guests in her home.

By the time Gedney’s tavern began to be used for official proceedings, several people had already been executed for witchcraft. Documents show the use

of her tavern “for entertainment of jurors and witnesses.” We can imagine Mary Gedney serving ale to her brother-in-law, the magistrate Bartholomew Gedney, as he considered the evidence against his neighbors.

After Eleazar’s death, Mary chose not to remarry but instead to run a business, which gave her more independence. Contrary to typical inheritance patterns of this time, she managed to keep Gedney House until she died in 1716, and then she passed it through her own will to her daughter Martha and her husband. Through court records and probate documents, Mary Gedney can speak to us about agency and the choices she made for herself.

One recurrent theme in my time as the research scholar for the North Shore area has been how much the people of early New England still have to tell us. New stories challenge the way we think about this period and demonstrate the broader significance of these properties in the region’s history. There is great potential for finding and telling new stories and much more work to be done.

As a part of her research, Tricia developed two public programs that highlight the thwarted slave revolt and the Gedney tavern, which she will present this fall. Visit the events calendar at HistoricNewEngland.org for more information.

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In 1690, Mary Gedney petitioned the state’s high court for a liquor license for her Salem tavern. (Courtesy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives, Massachusetts)

Taking Action With Words

Reparative Language

Project corrects insensitivities in collection records

Historic New England’s collection services team recently completed a yearand-a-half-long project to assess the descriptions of objects, books, and archival materials available via the organization’s online catalogue, the Collections Access Portal, and make record updates using inclusive descriptive practices. The purpose of our Reparative Language Project is to acknowledge problematic materials in collections, recognize that cataloguing description is not neutral, update language where appropriate, fill descriptive voids, and contextualize materials where necessary. By assessing, addressing, and expanding inclusive description practices, a more

fully representative view of Historic New England’s collections can be shared and accessible to all, online.

The project began following the catalytic events of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. In 2021, Historic New England adopted The New England Plan, our five-year strategic agenda highlighting inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility as the foundation for our work. The Reparative Language Project consists of five stages: research, assessment, a statement regarding the presence of harmful language and imagery in the online catalogue, remediation of catalogue records, and the creation of best practices to guide future descriptive tasks.

Last year, three cohorts of

graduate student interns assessed catalogued records online and flagged them for review and remediation. The 620 records needing additional contextualization and remediation fell into two basic categories: either the collection item itself was problematic or its description was outdated, incomplete, or needed additional contextualization. To provide context, a statement was added to records alerting viewers to harmful imagery and/or language in collections. This statement acknowledges the presence of difficult materials, presents materials without restrictions or redactions to preserve the historical record, and acknowledges their problematic nature so researchers can view them in the context in which they were

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The image at the top is a “before” example of a Historic New England archival catalogue entry that provided no context for the racist imagery used for this trade card. Below is the “after” record with a more substantial description that reflects the work of the Reparative Language Project.

created. We added a link at the end of all Collections Access Portal records, so if viewers identify catalogue items they think need more review, they can send a message to the appropriate staff.

There were key ideas guiding this project: cultural humility; acknowledging and remediating harmful language in the catalogue; and recognizing the relationship of identity, language, and power in updating catalogue subject headings and other terminology used to describe people. These ideas speak to the intrinsic importance of reparative language work. By acknowledging positionality, updating language describing collections materials, researching preferred terminology of identities and personhood, and committing to this work, the

collection services team is not only a more inclusive steward, but it may also improve researchers’ experiences with the online catalogue.

The creation of guidelines and best practices for inclusive description of Historic New England’s collections was the final phase of the project, and the primary focus of the work performed by Reparative Language Assistant Allison Smith. Research into community-generated style guides and preferred terminology was conducted and updated terms were selected to replace harmful, inappropriate, or outdated descriptive terms that should not be used. Recently updated categories include catalogue records related to disability, domestic work, enslavement, gender and sexuality, indigeneity, mental health, and race and ethnicity.

Save the Date

Inclusive description is an ongoing, iterative process. As Historic New England’s collections expand and time passes, inclusive descriptive work will adapt to meet evolving library, archival, and museum best practices as well. Though the Reparative Language Project is complete, the ongoing work now shifts to focus on creating sustainable, inclusive descriptive records as part of our regular cataloguing practices. Doing so makes Historic New England’s objects, books, and archives more accessible to the public and shares a more accurate, broader view of New England’s diverse history.

A Dinner in Support of the Historic New England Fund

Saturday, March 11, 2023

6:00 PM

Second Annual Presentation of The Historic New England Medal

Fairmont Copley Plaza

Boston, Massachusetts

As our major fundraising event of the year, we hope you will consider sponsoring or attending the Historic New England Medal Gala.

For more information about the benefits of being a sponsor and for additional information, please go to HistoricNewEngland.org/Gala, call 617-994-5934, or email Events @ HistoricNewEngland.org.

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The Other SIDE Preservation Tale of a

In contrast to other preservation efforts spearheaded by Black Bostonians that focused on the vestiges of the city’s antislavery movement, the members of Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church drew motivation from owning a building with a past of proslavery sympathies and segregation. Putting an ironic twist on their building's troubled history by using it to pursue civil rights activism gave the AME congregation a resonant way to mark its growth in prosperity and prestige in the final decades of the nineteenth century. By the time a proposed street widening project threatened the church building in 1919, the congregation saw its own success story imbued in the structure’s walls, and its members had added motivation to fight to save the church where they had worshipped for almost half a century. Nowadays,

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The story of how Charles Street Meeting House was saved disregards the prominence of Beacon Hill’s Black community
A doctoral candidate in Boston University’s American & New England Studies Program, Madeline Webster is working on a dissertation about Black Bostonians' historic preservation efforts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Charles Street Meeting House is counted among Beacon Hill’s key sites of antebellum antislavery activism, a fabricated past written into history in Old-Time New England, the scholarly journal predecessor to this magazine, in 1940. How did this come to be, and what were the implications?

In 1919, Boston’s street commissioners authorized the widening of Charles Street. In response, a committee of white Beacon Hill residents drafted their proposal to save “one of the most picturesque and characteristic features of the neighborhood.” The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) joined the conversation, recognizing the “architectural value” of Charles Street AME Church and announcing its readiness to “aid in the restoration and improvement of the building”; long before, the classical ornamentation around the clock tower had been removed. The group was more concerned about what might replace the church—“an ugly, tall, modern building”—and its role in the “spoil[ing of] the general effect of Beacon Hill” than about what would be lost, confessing to readers of the Boston Transcript that “there is no great historical value attached to the church.”

Black Bostonians recognized its historical value. In 1900, Pauline Hopkins recounted the church’s history in her first novel, Contending Forces. Sitting in the pews, protagonist Sappho Clark ruminates on “the romantic history of the fine old edifice. The building, so the story

ran, was the place of worship of a rich, white Baptist congregation in the years preceding the emancipation. Negroes were allowed in the galleries only.” Then, an act of resistance: “Believing this color-bar to be a stigma on the house of God, a few of the members protested, but finding their warnings unheeded, withdrew from the church.” The novel refers here to the Charles Street Baptist Church's restriction of Black members to the first two rows of the gallery above the whites-only pews. In 1836, Timothy Gilbert, a white congregant, challenged the segregated seating along with other Black congregants by asking them to join together in his pew. They were expelled from the church with other vocal antislavery, antidiscrimination Baptists and eventually established the First Free Baptist Church’s Tremont Temple in 1843.

The Baptist leadership not only insisted on segregated seating, but it was also one of the more conservative congregations in Boston on the subject of slavery. In 1841, The Liberator published editorials by Stillman Lothrop, a white congregant excommunicated from the church for denouncing it as proslavery because of pastor Daniel Sharp’s decision to “prevent free discussion upon slavery” and to invite “slaveholders to [his] pulpit and communion.” Sharp, who was pastor from 1812 until 1853, was one of the influential northern Baptist clerics who did not preach against slavery and instead blocked abolitionists’ attempts to amend Baptist societies’

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Page 20 Charles Street Meeting House as it appears today on the corner of Charles and Mount Vernon streets in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill Architectural District. The privately owned building was renovated in the 1980s and is classified as commercial property/ retail condominium. Historic New England holds a preservation restriction that protects the building’s exterior and interior. this page A view of the meeting house in 1920 before it was moved to widen Charles Street.

constitutions with bars against enslavers.

With dwindling numbers and mounting debt in 1876, Charles Street Baptist Church needed to sell the building and found a buyer in a Black congregation of 200 crowded into a wood-frame dwelling at 37 Anderson St. The First AME Society, established in 1833 as the denomination’s second church in New England, made a bid. “When it was known the colored people were making efforts to purchase that church, it is said that great opposition was made, and that several large offers were made to the trustees of Charles Street Baptist Society to induce them not to sell it to the trustees of the First A.M.E. Society,” Boston Daily Globe reporter Robert Teamoh quoted members reminiscing at a celebration in December 1889. Because of the racist backlash, “during the negotiations, when the pastor and trustees wanted to inspect the property, they were compelled to go at dawn of day, and to enter the building one by one.” Persevering, church leaders accumulated enough donations from their congregation, which included formerly enslaved people, to purchase the spacious church.

Hopkins’s Sappho reveled in the irony of how the story played out. As of December 1876, the “despised people, who were not allowed a seat outside of the galleries, now owned and occupied the scene of their former humiliation. It was solemn and wonderful dispensation of Providence, and filled the girl’s heart with strong emotion.” AME historian Richard R. Wright Jr. highlighted this same point in 1916: “the Negroes of Boston were only allowed to occupy the first two rows in the gallery on the Charles Street side during the services. Now they own the building.” The congregation subsequently prospered and the church became a nationally recognized meeting place for civil rights activism: for example, the Colored National League and the National Federation of Afro-American Women were founded and met there. This chain of events carried the message that African Americans could protest segregation alongside committed white allies, prosper, and emerge victorious in the long term, a salient tale to have on hand in this moment of hardening Jim Crowism. By 1919 when the street widening threatened their church building, almost all of the AME congregants had relocated to the South End and Lower Roxbury. Rev. Montrose W. Thornton and the majority of the trustees wanted to sell while the majority of the congregation, led by trustee Dr. William Worthy, voted to preserve it by moving the building ten feet for the Charles Street

expansion. Worthy’s faction won the day and saved their storied church. Despite having to ride buses across town to get to church, the congregation continued worshipping there until 1939. At that time, a group of white Beacon Hill neighbors who had been supporting the restoration effort and maintenance costs helped facilitate the congregation’s move to Upper Roxbury, where it remains today. In return, the Charles Street Meeting House Society, comprising many of the same neighborhood preservationists from the street widening controversy, now led by the historian John Gardner Greene, bought the church. They declared “the descendants of hard-headed Yankees . . . refused to allow one of Boston’s historic buildings [to] become a heap of junk in the wrecker’s yard,” devaluing sixty-three years of stewardship by the First AME Society and its role in saving it from demolition.

While for more than two decades the Beacon Hill preservationists insisted that the church’s value derived only from its age and visual prominence, as soon as they gained control of the structure they decided its history could be an asset as well. In 1940, Greene published a history of the church in Old-Time New England. He lauds the accomplishments of Sharp, whose ministry was “strong” and was “rewarded by almost universal respect of the people of Boston.” Greene doesn’t identify any of the exceptions to that sentiment registered by Gilbert, Lothrop, and the historically unnamed Black congregants; nor does he call attention to Sharp’s policy of racially segregated seating, the subject of a yearlong series of sermons at Tremont Temple on its history in 1939. Greene also wrote that “members of the church had long shown a sympathetic understanding of the problems of colored people. Meetings were held in the Meeting-House in the interest of the abolition of slavery . . . those who spoke there for the freedom of the slaves were William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.”

How did Greene arrive at these facts? A search of Massachusetts periodicals reveals no instances of any of these famous individuals speaking at Charles Street Baptist Church over the course of its existence. Periodicals of the time made note of every sermon given and other minutiae. Garrison would not have spoken at a church labeled “proslavery” in multiple issues of his newspaper, but if he had, surely The Liberator would have publicized it. Greene’s claims were most likely misreadings of Wright’s 1916 history of the church, which stated that such abolitionists “have been a part of this

22 Historic New England Fall 2022

congregation and contributed some of the best service in times past.” Wright’s “congregation” was in reference to the First AME Society when it was in its former building, not in reference to antebellum happenings at Charles Street Baptist Church. While it could potentially be understandable to miscomprehend this fact, it was another thing entirely to skip over the two separate occasions in Wright’s one-page history where he mentions segregated seating and forming the Tremont Temple.

Omitting the Baptists’ mistreatment of Black congregants and Sharp’s proslavery associations while fabricating new antislavery associations pasted over the history of racial discrimination and diminished the resistance Black Bostonians faced. The absence of the Tremont Temple story and the claim to antislavery activism took agency away from Black Bostonians,

reframing the series of events to make it appear as though they were handed the church by charitable white former antislavery activists instead of buying the church because they had grown more prosperous by their own doing. Greene says as much: “When it became necessary for the Baptists to sell the Meeting-House, it was natural that they should wish to sell it to a Negro congregation.” There was no mention, either, of how white neighbors had tried to prevent the church from landing in Black hands.

Greene’s version of history constituted another case of celebrating Boston’s antislavery history while neglecting to acknowledge the “broadcloth mob,” the majority of elite white Bostonians who opposed abolition for a significant duration of the antislavery movement. Between the option of confronting hard truths of racial discrimination in Boston’s past—that may have reminded them of racial discrimination in the present—and resting on Boston’s mythic laurels, Greene and his compatriots seemed more interested in the latter. Every mention of Charles Street Meeting House up to the present day, from scholarly histories to tourist guidebooks, by white and Black authors alike, notes the antislavery myth. Yet, while Greene wielded the ability to influence public memory with institutional histories, Worthy and his descendants retained their own accounts of the past. Engaged in a battle to save the Rhodes Tavern in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, Worthy’s daughters Ruth and Myrtle recalled in the Washington Afro-American weekly newspaper that the Black citizens who “rallied to the cause of saving their Church” were motivated to do so because of how the building had been “hard won earlier from some hard-core Baptist segregationists.”

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left Photograph taken c. 1890 outside Charles Street Meeting House. below Image used in the 1916 Centennial Encyclopaedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Dr. William Worthy (standing, far left) headed congregation members who voted to preserve the building by moving it to accommodate a street widening plan.

True Lessons in History

In Maine, educators look to integrate Indigenous, African American pasts in curricula

In a speech he gave in October 1963 titled “A Talk to Teachers,” writer, social critic, and activist James Baldwin said, “I would try to make him [the student] know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful, and more terrible, but principally larger—and that it belongs to him.” Baldwin’s talk, which he gave to an audience of educators and then published in the December 21 issue of Saturday Review, is as relevant today as it was then. American history is having a reckoning. Educators around the country must figure out which history gets told— the idealized, singular story or a full, complete narrative of the people and land on which we reside. This movement has seen great support as well as extreme pushback. One state that is taking the steps to move forward is Maine.

In June 2021, Maine mandated that African American history be taught in schools with the passage of Bill LD1664. “An Act to Integrate African American Studies and the History of Genocide into the Statewide System of Learning Results,” sponsored by Democratic Representative Rachel Talbot Ross, was passed as an emergency

measure, making it immediately active. It states: “Instruction in American History, African American Studies, Maine Studies, Maine Native American History, and the History of Genocide must be aligned with the parameters for essential instruction and graduation requirements established under section 6209.”

Despite the immediacy of the bill’s passage, Maine will not see full implementation of the mandate for two to three years. Maine is a local-control state, meaning that each school district determines its curriculum, not the state. What the state does control is the learning standards that each district is required to meet.

Bill LD1664 requires that standards be updated to reflect the new direction. This step is crucial if Maine is to see effective implementation. In 2001, a statute was passed to include Indigenous studies in the curriculum. That measure (Bill LD291) did not include the revision of the learning results, thus leaving the statute unenforceable. A survey completed in 2018 found what “Indigenous leaders, educators, activists and presenters already knew: that the law was not being followed and when attention was paid to the Indigenous people of this area, it all too frequently reinforced the

colonial narrative of extinction and the white supremacist narrative of inferiority.” Bill LD1664 aims to ensure that what happened with Bill LD291 doesn’t occur again. The new legislation requires the changing of the educational standards, which will be done in two years, when they are next slated for revision.

During the interim, Maine education leaders are doing the work to ensure that the standards address African American and Indigenous history as well as weaving their instruction throughout the school year rather than confining them to a specific month. In an interview on the radio show Maine Calling, Joe Schmidt, social studies content specialist for the Maine Department of Education, said, “If you’re going to teach the whole history of this country, it has to be threaded throughout” and that it shouldn’t be treated in an add-on fashion. Teachers don’t need to wait for the new standards to begin this process, either.

Tremendous work has already taken place to provide the scaffolding educators will need to help them create relevant and meaningful lesson plans. Maine’s Education Department website has a list of resources to use including links to the Wabanaki Alliance, the Abbe Museum, Portland Freedom Trail, and Atlantic Black Box.

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A past volunteer at Historic New England’s Study Center, Erica Ciallela holds a master of fine arts degree in history and a master of library information and science.

Leaders such as Schmidt and Courtney Belolan of the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association are meeting with consultants and studying their own resources to make sure that what is presented to teachers will create positive movement forward. Belolan says that for this work to be done, a deep look at where the system can improve needs to be taken. “Where is it that we are reflecting ourselves and reflecting the faces and individuals in our classrooms and in our communities,” Belolan asks, “and where is it that we need to add more opportunities to include the voices and the faces and the people that aren’t necessarily included?” As an example, she says teachers can integrate this work through a second-grade lesson plan on American symbols and monuments; educators can use such an opportunity to showcase African American or Wabanaki monuments in Maine and throughout the country.

When it comes to the conversation of integrating African American history into the traditional curriculum, opposition has been quick around the country with terms such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) erroneously used as reasons why this work should not be allowed. Many states have passed legislation that limit how educators can teach Black history, barring lessons that might cause “discomfort” or “guilt” among some students. But as Belolan’s example shows, these changes are not about causing discomfort. They are about recognizing the multitude of stories that have helped shaped this country. While some of these changes may be difficult, they also allow the opportunity for a continuation of the efforts that have been made throughout the decades to ensure that all children receive an equal education.

It is easy to connect the work that Maine is doing with the larger narrative of the fight for equal education that New England has been at the forefront of since the 1800s. Some of the earliest court cases for school equality were fought in Connecticut (Crandall v. Connecticut, 1834) and Massachusetts (Roberts v. City of Boston, 1850). While the focus of school desegregation is often on southern states, many battles were fought in the Northeast. Boston attempted to solve its hard racial lines with a busing program that ultimately led to white families leaving the city’s public schools amid numerous protests over the years that it was in effect. In New York City, students such as Deborah Gray White were

desegregating schools and honor programs. They led a boycott in 1964 for school integration, an action that heralded a message that Maine’s new bill addresses, that “the best kind of education for every American child is a racially balanced education where people of different ethnic groups are learning together.” In 2022, that balanced education is not just about integrated schools. It is about a curriculum where we learn that the founding fathers were fallible, that there was already bright and rich civilization on our shores when the Pilgrims arrived, and that human history is made up of individuals, just like our students, who fought and studied and created legacies, and that each of these stories is worth telling.

Maine is discussing integrating the use of traditional textbooks with other works that can speak to the multiple narratives in history. Districts that have found pathways forward will share resources with other districts, creating networks of scaffolding that will be supplemented with professional learning opportunities and working with Maine universities. The aspect that all leaders agree on is making sure teachers know that the state supports them fully. Belolan says that since the passage of the bill, there has been resistance but notes that it is important to have

HistoricNewEngland.org 25
This flier was one of the ways in which New York’s City Wide Committee for Integrated Schools advertised plans for an action to call attention to racial inequality in education. (Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed July 18, 2022, http://archives.qc.cuny. edu/civilrights/items/show/130)

open conversations with parents so they can feel good about their children’s education and have full trust in educators. Public support is important in ensuring that educators feel confident moving forward with this work. However, a lack of support would not mean that the program plans would change. Georges Erasmus, a leader from the Dene First Nation, says, “Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.” At its heart, this is what the mandate is about: ensuring that every student feels they are seen and has the full knowledge of the land on which they live. It is about creating a true community

that has respect, empathy, and care for each of its neighbors.

“The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not,” Baldwin said in his 1963 speech. “To ask questions of the universe, and then learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his own identity.” It is the same idea that Belolan hopes the Maine bill will achieve—“to teach learners to think critically about the stories they are told,” she said.

There is still a lot of work to be done around the country on telling African American and Indigenous histories in our schools, but Maine is helping to inch that needle forward, becoming an example to others that the work can and should be done.

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above In novels, essays, speeches, and other writings, James Baldwin offered much in his work that keenly examined society. ( Photograph by Allan Warren at Shakespeare statue, Albert Memorial, London, 1969) left Joe Schmidt of the Maine Department of Education says teaching American history must be done with the view of the whole picture of the past.

Cultural Continuity

Moose hair embroidery adorns Wendat women’s legacy

Moose hair was used to embroider a floral-inspired design on this birch bark box. (Donated by Eliza Winslow Eaton Holland, 1932)

Mariah Gruner holds a doctorate in American & New England Studies from Boston University, where she studied the political uses of American women’s decorative needlework, 1820-1920. She is working with Historic New England’s collection services team to develop a new collecting plan to more fully represent the diversity of living in the region and to conduct new research on marginalized and suppressed voices within the existing collections.

As the RecenteRing collections

Curatorial Fellow, my work involves thinking about the ways we tell stories with and about the objects in our care. In particular, I have been thinking about the importance of centering Indigenous presence and agency, not constructing Native people as remnants of the past.

A few months ago, a velvet purse caught my eye. This nineteenth-century bag was lushly decorated with flowers, both inked onto its surface and stitched into lozenge-shaped adornments. I immediately recognized these stitched floral motifs as examples of moose hair embroidery on birch bark, a craft worked by Wendat and other Indigenous makers.

I began to look for other objects in Historic New England’s collection and found two boxes and a card case (containing a dance card from 1857), each worked in this recognizable style, featuring naturalistic stitched flowers and bundles of couched moose hair trimming the edges.

I became fascinated by these objects, tracing everything I could find about their donors and trying to see if there was any documentation of their provenance. Such bark items embroidered with moose hair were a recognizable form in the nineteenth century—they were frequently purchased as souvenirs and collected by many. These particular items were donated by Jane “Jennie” Norton Grew, Eliza Winslow Eaton Holland, Elsie Whitney Allen, and Dorothy S. F. M. Codman—all white women who donated many items to Historic New England and other institutions but did not include detailed information about the source of the embroidered materials that they had acquired. Several of these women most likely obtained these specific objects through inheritance (for example, Jane Grew’s mother, Henrietta May Goddard, probably purchased the birch panels sewn onto the purse on a tourist journey to Niagara Falls and passed the purse down to her

daughter), rather than direct purchase. None named a Wendat source and many did not identify the materials correctly. These stories are important lenses on the way that objects related to Native life and community become decontextualized.

Rather than centering stories of disconnection and decontextualization, I am interested in understanding these objects in relationship to ongoing Wendat making practices and through the long legacy of Wendat makers’ work. Sherry Farrell Racette, a member of the Timiskaming First Nation in Québec and a scholar of Métis identity, writes in a chapter of Restoring the Balance: First Nations Women, Community, and Culture that material culture is a document of Indigenous women’s “remarkable intellectual, technical, and artistic legacy.” Moose hair embroidery on birch bark certainly is.

In the early nineteenth century this genre of moose hair embroidered work became a popular souvenir at both Niagara Falls and Wendake (Lorette)—a village a few miles northwest of Québec City. Wendake means “where the Wendat live” and can refer to many places, but members of the Huron-Wendat Nation have been living at Wendake (Lorette) since 1697, following years of epidemics, conflict, and settler encroachment. From there, they faced a series of colonial governments.

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Wendat scholar Linda Sioui recounts that in the early nineteenth century her people were threatened by the British colonial government’s land dispossession and assimilationist imperatives. But turning to and promoting Wendat craft production—especially moose hair embroidery—brought a measure of economic prosperity while “preserving our knowledge of traditional techniques that are a fundamental part of our identity.”

Wendat maker Marguerite Vincent Lawinonkié (1783-1865) is particularly remembered for her role in stewarding traditional craft production during this period, transforming the local economy and resisting assimilation.

This success also brought complications. White tourists and collectors consumed these objects voraciously, often with little regard for specific histories. Accounts often reference moose hair embroidery without specific identifications, rendering complex and distinct identities homogenous. The popularity and misattribution of this work also led to white collectors deriding it as inauthentic. These assessments of the value of Indigenous cultural traditions fundamentally misinterpreted the importance and vitality of these objects, seeing them as valuable only for their ability to speak to an exoticized idea of purity and otherness.

This form, however, has long been used in complex and culturally important ways, threading together

stewardship of craft practice and engagement with contemporary concerns. Throughout its history, this craft has been deployed by Indigenous women (particularly Wendat women), French Catholic nuns, and white women living in North America. Catholic nuns became known for decorative items made with birch bark and moose hair embroidery in the eighteenth century and white women living in the Northeast dabbled with these materials in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in knowing acts of appropriation. But this craft’s deeper history speaks to Indigenous resistance to assimilation and colonization and intergenerational transmission of knowledge. These objects reveal constant engagement with the realities of modern life and a fusion of traditional materials and techniques with present concerns.

The mainstream narrative goes like this: in 1639, an order of French Catholic nuns known as the Ursuline Sisters arrived in what is now Québec City and established a convent and missionary school. The nuns were known for their embroidered vestments and altar cloths; they would send these to their patrons in France. However, the materials that they used (silks and gilt threads) were difficult to come by in their new context, so they turned to more local materials. Convent records from 1714 say that another Ursuline nun taught the sisters to make bark boxes in the style of local Indigenous people. The nuns eventually became known for birch bark objects—like workbags and pocketbooks—with moose hair embroidery. By 1806, the association between the nuns and these materials was strong: Patricia Wakefield, an English traveler in 1806, wrote: “[t]he works of these sisters in birchbark, embroidered with elk hair, dyed of the most brilliant colours, are very ingenious! … Strangers are expected to purchase some of them, which I did willingly.”

The Ursuline Sisters became known for this mode of production. However, it is not at all clear that it was their innovation. Wendat women, as well as other women from Eastern Woodlands nations, had long been using moose hair and porcupine quills as decorative materials and making birch bark objects. Contemporary scholarship suggests that Wendat women participated actively in this fusion of their traditional materials with European embroidery motifs and object form, making their own adaptations outside the convent walls. Scholar Annette de Stecher writes, “Wendat and other Indigenous women had the skills and the tools… to bring European

HistoricNewEngland.org 29
Velvet purse with two birch bark lozenges, embroidered with moose hair in floral motifs and decorated with theorem (stencil) painting in ink, was crafted in the nineteenth century. (The estate of Mrs. Jane N. Grew, 1920) below This birch bark card case, also made in the nineteenth century, is embroidered with botanical motifs featuring strawberries. (Bequest of Elsie Whitney Allen, 1995)

embroidery stitches and floral motifs into their own long-established techniques of textile design, both out of aesthetic interest and as a commercial opportunity, without European assistance.”

It cannot be forgotten that the Ursuline nuns were in the region to convert Native girls, to assimilate them into white, Christian culture. The nuns were explicitly interested in working to franciser — or as scholar Mairi Cowan writes, “frenchify”—their mission was to strip young women of their traditional practices and inculcate them in French Catholic culture. They taught needlework, emphasizing skills that they associated with the norms of European femininity. But local Wendat women were already expert needleworkers with traditions organic to their own culture.

The nuns were largely unsuccessful in their mission to assimilate and convert Indigenous girls. De Stecher's research has shown that young girls maintained their linguistic practices, returned frequently to visit their families, maintained their matrilineal kinship structure, and often rejected the nuns’ lessons. Marie de l’Incarnation, the mother superior, wrote in 1668 that “it is very difficult, if not impossible, to franciser’’ the local Indigenous population. The convent began taking on more daughters of French colonists and by 1720 they wholly shifted their mission from conversion and assimilation to educating French colonists.

Needlework may have played an important part in this Indigenous resistance. While the needlework that the nuns sought to teach their Indigenous students was geared toward inculcating them with the values of European domestic womanhood, the moose hair

needlework that Wendat women performed at home was more associated with women’s role in politics, diplomacy, and the transmission of cultural knowledge.

Missionaries overlooked the deep cultural importance of these embroideries, while Wendat women adapted European stitching techniques to their own visual lexicon and materially benefited from the sale of these objects. The Wendat were known for diplomacy, often giving moose hair embroidery gifts to important dignitaries and potential political allies. By presenting objects marked with materials redolent of place and local knowledge, Wendat women constructed important ties. Commercial objects might also help solidify relationships, communicate local priorities, and simultaneously allow for the Wendat to continue to assert their sovereignty and right to self-determination.

By the nineteenth century, this craft production was a source of sufficient income that the Wendat might resist new British colonial imperatives to assimilation. It also created a space for Wendat makers to transform the floral language of European embroidery into motifs relevant to their own traditions. For example, the birch bark card case shown on page 29 features strawberries worked in dense, textural knots; strawberries feature heavily in Wendat systems of belief. These objects were not just marketed for European tastes and consumption habits; they bear within them meanings that resonated with their makers’ lives and communities.

Contemporary Wendat makers continue to practice this craft and assert its value as a connective form. The Gros-Louis sisters are known for their work with these materials and frame it in terms of intergenerational connection. Hélène, Fernande, Monique, Christiane, and Françoise work to continue to transmit this skill and form of embodied knowledge. In the spring 2015 issue of Yakwennra, the journal of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Christiane says, “We did it to perpetuate a tradition and we would like young people to take over to work on the embroidery” (author’s translation).

Moose hair embroidery is a practice, a technique, a repository of knowledge and history, and a form of connection. It bears within it information about local flora and fauna, technical understanding of complex materials and stitches, histories of commercial and political networks, and a story of continuous presence and meaning-making.

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A birch bark box embroidered with moose hair in floral and figural motifs, created in the nineteenth century. (Bequest of Dorothy S. F. M. Codman, 1969)

The Farms of Historic New England

Cultivating Agricultural Heritage and Sustainability

The farms of Historic New England are places where agriculture and community come together in a celebration of the farming traditions of the past and the sustainable, innovative practices of today.

In Southern Rhode Island

Connecting Community and Fresh Food

Casey Farm, overlooking Narragansett Bay in Saunderstown, is a 300-acre working farm that welcomes more than 50,000 people each year. The farm began offering the first USDA-certified organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares in Rhode Island in 1994. It is a local food source for CSA members and for the public through the popular

weekly Casey Farm Market that connects families with high-quality food from Casey Farm and other partner producers across Rhode Island. Casey Farm is a place where neighbors know their farmers. Pick-your-own crops draw people into the fields to see how their food is grown. Additionally, the farm produces honey from beehives on site that are supported by pollinator gardens and acres of chemical-free and wild cultivated plants. Fresh eggs are gathered from the farm’s heritage breed chickens. Workshops are offered on topics ranging from organic gardening to preserving the harvest, or people are welcome to experience the land on their own. Each year thousands of children learn where their food comes from at hands-on summer camps and school programs

HistoricNewEngland.org 31
A sheep in the winter snow at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts. This National Historic Landmark is a family-friendly site that offers activities to engage children and adults alike. Historic New England took ownership of the property in 1986.

such as Project CHICK, which invites students from across the state to follow Casey Farm eggs from the incubators in their classrooms to a return to the farm as chicks. Learn more online at Casey.Farm.

Supporting Heritage Breeds and Sustainable Agriculture

Watson Farm is located across the bay from Casey Farm, on 265 acres in Jamestown on Conanicut Island. The farm continues its long tradition of animal husbandry by raising 100 percent grass-fed lamb and beef for local markets. This includes heritage breed Red Devon cattle, known for excellent meat and milk. English colonists in the Plymouth colony prized the breed for not only meat

and milk, but also as work animals. Red Devons thrive on New England grass pastures, making Watson Farm the ideal grazing location. The farmers’ intensely managed system of rotational grazing and methods of soil fertility improve the pastures and the health of the livestock. Wind is harnessed for the water pump that provides much of the drinking water for the livestock. This year, a sustainable stormwater drainage system is being installed to further protect the farmyard.

Thomas Carr Watson’s gift of Watson Farm to Historic New England in 1979 is credited as the beginning of the farmland preservation ethic on Conanicut Island. Through the collaborative efforts of local farmers, there are more than 1,200 contiguous acres of preserved agricultural land with an additional 200 acres protected elsewhere on the island. Learn more at historicnewengland.org/ property/watson-farm/.

On the Massachusetts North Shore Fostering Farm Animals in Need

The 230-acre Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury is a thriving community gathering spot that plays a vital role in saving at-risk farm animals through an innovative partnership with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. For nearly two decades the farm has been home to rescued sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, horses, donkeys, pigs, and barn cats in need of open space and dedicated caregivers. This foster farm activity is complemented by local commercial farmers who for decades have leased fields to grow produce with a commitment to sustainable practices that fertilize and replenish the soil. A partnership with a local beekeeping company has brought twenty professionally managed honeybee hives to the farm, and a pollinator education garden attracts enthusiasts of all ages.

Summer camps and school programs engage children in topics ranging from archaeology and arts enrichment, to family farming and the environment. Nature trails on the property are open year-round. Also, Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm is home to the Plum Island Airport, a small historic airfield that has been continually operating for more than a century. Learn more at historicnewengland.org/property/spencer-peirce-littlefarm/.

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Preserving the Haying Tradition

Overlooking the Essex River, Cogswell’s Grant is a 165-acre farm with a long history of raising livestock and agricultural crops. Hayfields are still harvested today by a tenant farmer who pays his lease fee in hay, which is immediately taken to Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm to feed the foster farm animals. In addition to yielding hay, the farm is an important habitat for wildlife, including the meadowlarks and bobolinks who nest in the fields.

At Cogswell’s Grant and at Watson Farm in Rhode Island, farmers delay their spring haying to allow endangered field birds to fledge their young. Both Cogswell’s Grant and Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm also have extensive buffers of salt marshes. Salt hay has been a valuable crop on the Massachusetts North Shore for centuries and healthy salt marshes are more critical than ever to mitigate the effects of climate

change and sea level rise.

The two farms are part of the Great Marsh, the largest continuous salt marsh in New England, 20,000 acres running from Cape Ann on the Massachusetts North Shore into New Hampshire. Learn more at historicnewengland.org/property/ cogswells-grant/.

Beyond the Farm Fields

Historic New England’s farms support a rich and diverse ecosystem including fields, woods, marsh, wetlands, and hedgerows that offer ideal environments for wildlife. Depending on time of year and location, visitors may see redwing blackbirds, killdeer, woodpeckers, bobolinks, swallows, sparrows, brown-headed cowbirds, hawks, osprey, and glossy ibis as well as other migratory birds in the spring and fall. Snakes, valued because they control grain- and hay-eating rodents, are found at the farms,

along with fox, skunk, raccoon, opossum, and coyote in pastures and hayfields. Wetlands and marshy shorelines provide a habitat for frogs, turtles, and water birds and act as sponges, absorbing excess water during rainstorms and releasing it slowly back to the land, preventing flooding. They filter natural and manmade impurities including nitrogen, which, if allowed to reach clean water, causes dramatic blooms of algae that are harmful to fish. These wetlands are considered the best natural defense against the pollution of rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

Discover more about the many ways organic farms are good for the earth and people at casey.farm/ location/cultivating-the-land/.

Because of the sustainable stormwater drainage system project underway at Watson Farm, the site is closed for the remainder of the 2022 season.

HistoricNewEngland.org 33
page 32 Cogswell’s Grant in Essex, Massachusetts, is a coastal farm located just two miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It is is an extremely significant historic agricultural landscape dating back to its colonial settlement in 1636. below Breeding highly prized Red Devon cattle at Watson Farm in Jamestown, Rhode Island, a tradition begun by English settlers, continues today.

Portrait of a House

Jackson House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, has long inspired many artists. From artwork and photography to postcards and other ephemera, such creative efforts have documented the unique architectural features of Jackson House, notably the lean-to with its dramatically steep roof that slopes to within a foot or two of the ground. Historic New England recently acquired this painting of Jackson House that depicts the dwelling and its setting. The individual who made this c. 1900 watercolor on canvas is not known. Built around 1664, Jackson House is the oldest dwelling in New Hampshire and has long been a subject of interest. A photograph postcard, also c. 1900, shows a scene similar to the one in the painting as well as a telling detail about who lived in Jackson House at the time: laundry hung to dry on a clothesline in the yard toward the front of the property. That evidence helps us tell the story of one of its longest residents, Isabelle Tilley. Discover more about Mrs. Tilley in the Recovering New England’s Voices section of this issue that begins on page 9.

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