historic NEw england SUMMER 2017
Experience the Eustis Estate
The Case of the Lost Desk #Knappquest: An Instagram Travelogue
SUMMER 2017 • Vol. 18 • No. 1
historic NEw england
Roughing It, Recalled
Collected memories highlight summer camp history and culture
The Case of the Lost Desk
The Art of Setting the Stage
Protecting a Historic New England River
Various & Sundry Items
Green and Growing
History in the Making
Detective work turns up piece of furniture Bringing back historic theater curtains
Housatonic Valley Association partnership unites conservation and preservation Henry Sheldon Museum’s eclectic archival holdings
Take in the Eustis Estate
Assuring the Future of the Past
Preservation professional boosts his skills as a first-time property owner The experience is what you make it
Estate planning with Historic New England
Homeschool program expands offerings News and notes
#Knappquest 28 A Historic New England travelogue
Hats Top Fashion
FROM THE CHAIR
Historic New England strives to preserve wonderful New England places and things, share them as broadly as possible, and engage people in our efforts. The organization has worked hard over the past century to build its collection of historic properties, landscapes, objects, and archival materials in order to share them. But we hope to do more. We hope we help “prime the pump” by engaging people to find other wonderful—but unrecognized—places and things, and work to share and preserve them. My most exciting experiences as a trustee have been seeing instances of our mission working. This magazine gives some great examples. It describes the restoration of the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, and how we hope to make visits to the property entertaining and interesting; recounts efforts to preserve and share a wonderful home, a glorious desk, magical theater scenery curtains, and an unmatched Vermont archive; and it shares the story of New England summer camps and a travelogue of our properties. Historic New England seeks to benefit the present and the future by engaging people with the past. Thank you for helping.
David A. Martland, Chair
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. Executive Editor: Diane Viera Editor: Dorothy Clark Editorial Review Team: Nancy Carlisle, Senior Curator of Collections; Lorna Condon, Senior Curator of Library and Archives; Sally Zimmerman, Senior Preservation Services Manager Design: Three Bean Press “‘No Shard is Too Small to Save’: Conserving the McPherson Stained Glass Panels” in the Winter 2017 issue of Historic New England was improperly credited to Alex Carlisle. COVER A view of the dining room in the mansion at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts. Photo by Eric Roth 2017. ABOVE A war canoe parade at Sebago Wohelo Camp in Raymond, Maine. Photo from the collection of Richard J. S. and Kellie O. Gutman. Recipe card at Castle Tucker, Wiscasset, Maine. Photo by Kate H. Knapp 2016. Samuel Appleton’s secrétaire à abattant.
Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 617-227-3956
© 2017 Historic New England. Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives.
As a first-time homebuyer, a preservation specialist gets valuable work experience restoring his residence by Dylan Peacock Preservation Services Manager, Southern New England In addition to managing preservation easements, Dylan works with historic property owners to provide technical guidance, as well as moral support.
When my partner and I decided to purchase our first home, a 1911 property in the Elmwood Historic District of Providence, Rhode Island, we saw it as an opportunity to save an old house without sacrificing its character. We were taking a chance on the property; the house had suffered from several decades of deferred maintenance. But we had
Deteriorated cedar shingle siding was merely one of the many conditions that afflicted this duplex in a historic district in Providence, Rhode Island.
fallen in love with this unique Colonial Revival-Shingle Style duplex and were determined to save it. The seller was delighted to hear that I had a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in historic preservation and would take care of the home she had loved for many years but could no longer afford. We closed on August 19, 2015. It began as a stressful undertaking for
me, then a twenty-four-year-old. After an exhausting six-month roller coaster ride of navigating the short sale process, securing a home renovation loan, and negotiating with the city over the numerous liens and violations on the house, my partner and I were now homeowners, and ready to tackle the complex renovation project on a very tight budget. HistoricNewEngland.org
There was no question about retiring the asbestos-covered Kaiser boiler, which had been installed when the house was built in 1911. Restoring the living room and stair hall called for plastering, painting, sanding and finishing the hardwood floor, and replacing balusters.
The litany of issues that the bank and city were requiring us to remedy included fire damage, structurally unsound porches, a barely functioning 1911 asbestos-covered boiler, deteriorated cedar shingle siding, peeling exterior paint, cracked and falling plaster, flaking calcimine ceilings and woodwork, and a severely leaking roof to top it all off. The kiddie pools to collect the extensive rainwater infiltration came with the house. Despite its condition, we saw this as a prime preservation opportunity. The house was essentially untouched through passive neglect and we intended to maintain its historic character. A duplex, with five bedrooms and three bathrooms in each residence, the structure still had the original moldings, hardwood floors, and stained glass windows. It also had the original push-button light switches, cast iron radiators, claw-foot bathtubs, antique bathroom fixtures, and even a few hybrid electric/gas light fixtures that had survived despite 2
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decades of the property’s intensive use as a boarding house. After two full days of ferrying boxes and furniture from our apartment, panic that we had made a grave error set in as I tried to fall asleep with a bucket for collecting rainwater next to my head. However, as nearby residents observed our activity at the property, they proved to be incredibly welcoming. One neighbor showed us photographs of the rehabilitation she undertook after purchasing her house about a decade ago (also constructed in 1911 by Damase Bouchard, the builder of our house). An older gentleman from one end of our block told us how he restored his Gothic Revival home decades earlier and encouraged us not to give up hope. Many other neighbors came to our doorstep to welcome us, always seeming to knock on our door at times when we were covered in sweat and plaster dust. Bolstered by the kind words of our neighbors, we spent many months
(and shed a few tears) scraping, sanding, priming, painting, plastering, and managing a team of contractors while living in the construction zone. Along the way we uncovered interesting parts of our house’s story. One find was a section of the August 4, 1934, edition of The Evening Bulletin of Providence. Called “News of the Woman’s World,” the section’s top headline reads “Follows Her Sailorman, Overcome by Starvation.” It was discovered behind some builtin drawers in a second-floor closet. Now that the most pressing projects are completed we can take a breath before tackling the less-urgent tasks. We did take notice when the house across the street finally sold, having been on the market for a long time because of its neglected state. We immediately recognized the look on the new owners’ faces as they embarked on their road to rehabilitation. Now it is our turn to welcome them to the neighborhood and encourage them on their journey.
At the Eustis Estate,
the Experience Is What You Make It
by Peter Gittleman Team Leader for Visitor Experience
Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unlike any other Historic New England property. On May 17, we opened the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, to the public. We invite you to visit the restored 1878 mansion and expansive grounds. The experience begins the moment you turn onto the carriage road at the gatehouse and ascend toward the stone and brick mansion that sits on a sweep of rolling lawns. After stopping at the visitor center in the converted garage, enter the mansion and be transported to a time and place of lavish living.
Visitors experience most historic sites through guided tours. We offer guided tours at the Eustis Estate but most visitors choose to explore the property at their own pace, and are encouraged to do so. Although much of the furniture looks original, only a few rooms contain furniture dating to when the house was constructed. The dining room for example, has been meticulously restored to showcase the original furniture, wall treatments, and carved woodwork. But since most rooms had no furnishings when we acquired the house, we purchased HistoricNewEngland.org
page 3 The mansion’s formal hall. above This bedchamber, which has its original furnishings, was restored to an early twentieth-century style. below A former bedroom, this gallery features the exhibition Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England. (Photos by Eric Roth)
period furniture specifically for visitors to use. You can enter the parlor, have a seat on a nineteenth-century sofa, and experience the room as the Eustis family did, relaxing and enjoying views of the landscape through the large windows. While the restored and refurbished rooms are similar in appearance to when the Eustises lived in the house,
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visitors will find the addition of electronic tablets on several side tables and an interactive kiosk in each principal space. This Web-based technology enables us to share stories, photographs, videos, and the history of the property, focusing on the remarkable architecture and design, the restoration of the dramatic interiors, and the many people who lived and worked at the estate during its early years. The story begins with the young couple, W. E. C. and Edith Eustis, who had recently married, produced twin boys, and built their new home designed by renowned architect William Ralph Emerson. You can follow the story by room, by topic, or just wander about the first and second floors of the mansion. With Wi-Fi available throughout the house, you can also use your smartphone or personal tablet to learn about the estate. And you can take your experience outdoors if you’d like to learn about the landscape and outbuildings, which include a 1902 stone powerhouse and the remnants of a large glass greenhouse. Of the five bedrooms on the second floor,
top left Visitors may sit on the furniture in the parlor and use the electronic tablets such as the one on this side table. (Photo by Eric Roth) top right, center Visitors can also access information about the property with smartphones and personal tablets. Above, right Interactive kiosks are located in the principal spaces of the mansion, such as this one in the kitchen and in the one by the stairs in the hall.
one retains original furnishings and is restored to its earlytwentieth-century appearance. The other bedrooms are modern galleries that accommodate changing exhibitions. Our inaugural exhibition highlights Historic New England’s extraordinary jewelry collection. Mementos: Jewelry of Life and Love from Historic New England presents jewelry's unique role as a public display of personal history. In another gallery we present an exhibition on the Blue Hills Reservation, a preserve of more than 7,000 acres created in 1893 that borders the Eustis Estate. Another unexpected space on the second floor is the library, located in W. E. C. Eustis’s private library perched above the porte cochère. Equipped with touch screen technology and sit-down workstations, you can explore tens of thousands of Historic New England resources in electronic format. If, however, you would like to explore in a more tactile fashion, take a book from the wall of shelves, find a comfortable chair with a view, put your feet up, and read. You make your Eustis Estate experience what you want it to be. Come for a tour, a self-guided exploration, a program, or a hike on the grounds. With this flexible, new approach to presenting a historic site, we are offering a dynamic way to engage with the past.
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bottom Visitors get a glimpse of the small parlor as they enter the main parlor. One of the unique features of the small parlor is the whimsical fireplace design. (Photos by Eric Roth)
assuring the future of the Past With an estate plan, one couple keeps giving by Maureen George Individual and Planned Giving Officer
hen George Triantaris and Steve Nigzus created their wills, they named Historic New England as a beneficiary. They are ardent preservationists who believe that planned gifts are a wonderful way to make an enduring impact on an institution they care about. They knew that by naming Historic New England in their estate plan they would continue to play a part in the organization’s preservation work beyond their lifetimes. George’s interest in preservation emerged early in life, during summer visits to his mother’s family home in Wiscasset, Maine. He recalls Castle Tucker and the tours given in the l980s by Jane Tucker, a descendant of this remarkable Maine family. As a teenager, George joined the local historical society, undaunted by the advanced age of the other members. By the time he finished law school and was working in wills and trusts at a Boston law firm, George had created his first will and named Historic New England in it. With their passion for the past, Steve and George serve on their town’s historical commission. They praise Historic New England’s preservation easement program for the encouragement it provides owners who want to ensure that their historic properties are protected against insensitive alterations or neglect. Steve and George enjoy visiting Historic New England properties, gathering new insights and a deeper understanding of the houses and the people who lived in them. Rundlet-May House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire,
George Triantaris and Steve Nigzus in their dining room with “Vues d’Amerique du Nord” (“View of North America”) providing the backdrop. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy selected the same wallpaper for the Diplomatic Reception Room in the White House, where Steve first saw it. Created in 1834 by Jean Zuber, it is still manufactured in the Zuber factory in Rixhein, France. Historic New England has panels of this wallpaper in its collection.
with its cutting-edge Federal-era kitchen, is among Steve’s favorites. And both like Hamilton House in South Berwick, Maine, for its stunning and unique setting on a bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River. Steve and George often think about the need to engage young people in preservation. Having traveled overseas, especially in England, they've observed that young people there have a better appreciation for preservation and value it as part of their culture. “As a nation, we are relatively new to the art and discipline of preservation,” George said. “But young people begin to understand the value of safeguarding historic structures and artifacts when they encounter a welltold story presented with current technology.” People connect with history through stories. When architecture or an artifact of no seeming importance is presented without its story, an individual might have less of a yearning to preserve it. George suggests that we look at what the object represented to those who used it. “That’s what we want to connect with, and that connection can create a sense of continuity and stability for us.”
LEAVE YOUR OWN LEGACY
With a planned gift, you can make a larger contribution than you thought to help save New England’s history, or one that will give you an income for life. The Otis Society recognizes donors who include Historic New England in their wills or other estate plans. To learn more about planned giving options, or if you’ve already provided for Historic New England in your estate plans, please contact us at email@example.com or call our Development Office at 617-994-5951. HistoricNewEngland.org
Roughing It, Recalled
Collected memories highlight summer camp history, culture, and New England’s formative role in the tradition
by Richard J. S. and Kellie O. Gutman, coauthors of The Summer Camp Memory Book The Gutmans recently donated their collection of camp memorabilia to Historic New England. Richard attended Camp Wigwam in Harrison, Maine, from 1958 to 1963. “Where did you go to camp?” is the first question asked when the subject of summer camp comes up in conversation. Campers have an affinity for each other—based on a shared experience—even if they didn’t go to the same camp, even if they’ve never heard of the other’s camp. “Your packs and hatchets, bats and rackets, now lie idle. Look them over! Inspect your camp kits! For days are fleeting and soon again Winona will assemble friends of old and campers new to hike and swim, and ride and row, to fish, explore and build encampments.” In that rousing
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manner, Camp Winona in Bridgton, Maine, fired up campers during the off-season in the early days of the twentieth century. At Camp Wigwam in Harrison, Maine, one of the perennial camp song favorites had the refrain, “We shall remember, in cold December, Wigwam’s summer campfire days.” Memories like these stayed with campers year-round, had them yearning to go back and, indeed, remain for a lifetime. The first camp in the nation was on the shore of Long Island Sound in Milford, Connecticut, operated during
and after the Civil War by Frederick William Gunn. Gunn was founder and director of the Gunnery School in Washington Depot, a community in Connecticut’s Litchfield County. For more than a dozen years, until the 1880s, as many as 100 boys camped there for two weeks each August. Other educators replicated the concept. Camp Chocorua, on Burnt Island in Asquam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire, (Burnt Island is now called Chocorua or Church Island; Asquam Lake has been shortened to Squam) is regarded as the first organized camp conceived as a place
for boys to learn swimming, rowing, fishing, and practical group living. “The Boys’ Paradise” was an article that captured Camp Chocorua’s fifth summer experience in St. Nicholas Magazine for June 1886: “Last season, twenty-five manly little fellows tumbled in and out of the lake, like water brownies, perfectly fearless, paddling canoes which had been made by themselves, swimming equally well in clothes or without, and growing active and healthy in the strong, pure mountain air.” Sinkers, minnow, bass, pickerel, and salmon: Campers were known by species of sea life according to their level of fearlessness and skill in the water. A camper at Kennebec (located in North Belgrade, Maine) in 1952 wrote home: “Dear Mom and Dad, I caught a bass and a white perch. I am a 4 and a ½ part bass in swimming. Love and xx.” Summer camps were promoted as an opportunity for children to leave the city; live close to nature; explore, learn, and grow; and have a summer of freedom, a change of routine, and endless adventure. Camps proliferated and by 1924 there were 262 private boys’ camps, 321 for girls, 137 coed choices, and more than 700 organization-sponsored and social service camps in the United States. At that time, 90 percent of all camps were in New England, where certain lakes, such as Newfound, Winnipesaukee, and Squam, all in New Hampshire, were most desirable. Maine was another center of the camping industry, with its beautiful woodlands, lakes, mountains, and wilderness areas. In 1934 there were more than eighty camps established around Sebago Lake and Long Lake in Maine. Cape Cod became well known for its saltwater camps. Intercamp competitions doubled up with social events, giving kids the chance to get out and see friends at other camps. It wasn’t always a big hit. “Dear Mom & Dad, On Wednesday night I went to Indian Acres for a baseball game (16 & under) and a dance. I didn’t play and the dance was lousy. There were no girls my size.” Traditional activities at camp have always existed alongside more atypical pastimes for children. While swimming, baseball, or tennis could be found in the city, a day at camp offered those activities and much more. Kids could test their skills at riflery, archery, fencing, or horseback riding. The less athletic could shine at drama, nature studies, arts and crafts, or photography for one of the camp publications. Evening programs were as simple as a campfire, some songs, ghost stories, and marshmallows, or a musical program or snipe hunt. From The Totem newsletter of Camp Mah-Kee-Nac in Lenox, Massachusetts: “The whole Junior Camp went up to Campcraft to have a campfire on the night of August 7,
page 8 Camp goers at Sebago Wohelo Camp in Raymond, Maine, carry out a war canoe in 1934. These immense watercraft, which exemplify teamwork, were used at camps for regattas, water carnivals, and special occasions. below Girls at Camp Kehonka, on Lake Winnipesaukee in Alton, New Hampshire, use the “buddy up” system while swimming in the 1950s. Also in the 1950s, boys at Camp Kennebec in North Belgrade, Maine, commune at a “wiener roast.” (Photos from the collection of Richard J. S. and Kellie O. Gutman)
1980. Once we came in we sat on logs and watched as Paul set the fire. At first it wouldn’t spread, then he got a Kleenex box and boy did it spread! Well, we sang the Mohican song and other funny songs. Soon it came to the last song. Three kids helped put out the fire with their canteens.” A camper’s day—from reveille to taps—was jam-packed with activities, the only break coming at rest hour: an hour after lunch during which inactivity was the rule. Decades later, what attendees often remember best about their camp experiences are the everlasting friendships cemented by carefree days with their pals and counselors, jumping in the lake, playing sports, opening letters and packages from home, singing, joking, and living with other kids…and growing up. HistoricNewEngland.org
From the Desk of
Samuel Appleton The Case of the Lost Piece of Furniture by Richard C. Nylander Curator Emeritus
It was the winged nymph ormolu mounts and the revelation of a family connection that clinched the case, making possible the recent gift of an early nineteenthcentury secrétaire à abattant to Historic New England. These two key pieces of evidence turned up during the course of the deep detective work that characterizes the historian’s search for the past, which is sometimes assisted by pure coincidence. Also known as a fall-front desk or a secretary, this Boston-made c. 1819 piece of furniture holds special import for Historic New England—it was the property of Boston textile manufacturing merchant Samuel Appleton (17661853), the great-uncle of the organization’s founder, William Sumner Appleton (1874-1947). Until recently, Historic New England had only a few objects in the collection related to Samuel Appleton, most notably a copy of a Gilbert Stuart Newton portrait painted in 1849 by an unknown artist and a plaster copy of an 1851 bust by Benjamin Paul Akers. Historic New England recently purchased two additional images of Samuel Appleton: in 2008, a daguerreotype of him with his wife’s favorite niece,
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Maria Goodwin; and in 2013, a silhouette that British artist John Miers created during one of Appleton’s business trips to London. The impetus for those purchases was the acquisition a few years earlier of an 1842 silhouette by Auguste Edouart of Appleton and his wife, Mary, with Maria Goodwin and another young woman in the Appletons’ elegantly furnished parlor on Beacon Street in Boston. I first encountered this work in 1994 at an auction preview in Hampton, New Hampshire, and as a student of period interiors I dutifully made notes on the furnishings and how they were arranged in the room. But at that time Historic New England had no funds for its acquisition. Several years later I saw the silhouette again, hanging in a private home during a visit by the Appleton Circle membership group of Historic New England. In 2006 it appeared for a third time, brought to my attention by a generous friend of Historic New England, who made its acquisition possible. The intrigue heightened when, two years later, a daguerreotype
of Samuel Appleton taken shortly before his death appeared at a Sotheby’s auction. It shows him seated in a room in front of a secretary; the mirror panels set in a false window behind the desk reflect an arched, paneled door and a pilaster that correspond to features visible in the mirror over the fireplace in the Edouart silhouette. Although Historic New England pursued the daguerreotype, it went well beyond the organization’s reach. After my article on the silhouette was published in the Summer 2008
page 10 This c. 1819 mahogany secrétaire à abattant, attributed to Boston cabinetmakers Vose & Coates, is part of Historic New England’s collection, the gift of David Hinckley Bangs Jr. in 2015. left Even with the front closed, the desk is recognizable as the same one in this detail of the Southworth and Hawes daguerreotype of Samuel Appleton, made c. 1850 in Boston. (Image courtesy of Sotheby’s) below Similar architectural features are seen in both the daguerreotype and the earlier Auguste Edouart silhouette of the Appleton parlor.
issue of this magazine, researching Samuel Appleton further was not a high priority. But after I retired, I was determined to see if I could learn what happened to his house and its furnishings. Both Samuel and his brother Nathan had built elegant houses on Beacon Street, which they furnished in equally elegant style. Nathan’s house at 39 Beacon Street survives but Samuel’s, located at 37 Beacon, was torn down in 1857. Mary Appleton sold the house a year after her husband's death and moved to a house she had inherited farther down Beacon Street. Several pieces of furniture that belonged to Nathan Appleton are displayed in Otis House in Boston, but I had not come across anything that had belonged to Samuel in my years of studying Boston interiors. Many of the paths I followed led to dead ends, but a breakthrough in my search came a few years
ago when a series of coincidences led to an exciting discovery. And as so often happens, I was looking for something else. One of the most remarkable interiors in early nineteenth-century Boston was recorded in the probate inventory of David Hinckley, a Boston merchant who had lived near the Appletons
on Beacon Street. The inventory, which my wife, Jane, transcribed in the 1970s, lists the furnishings in Hinckley’s opulently appointed residence, which featured marble statues, matching silk draperies and upholstery, and expensive chandeliers. As was the case with Appleton, we never located any of these furnishings, nor Hinckley’s portrait by Gilbert Stuart that is illustrated in Lawrence Park’s 1926 four-volume work, Gilbert Stuart: An Illustrated Descriptive List of His Works. One day I decided to do a little Internet investigating and searched for “David Hinckley Bangs,” Bangs being the surname of the Hinckley portrait owner listed in Park’s book. Quite to my surprise, an individual with that exact name appeared on the computer
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MANY OF THE PATHS I FOLLOWED LED TO DEAD ENDS, BUT A breakthrough in my search came a few years ago when a series of coincidences led to an exciting discovery. page 12 The Appleton secretary is on display at Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts, a Historic New England property. The piece, with its carved paw feet at the front and ball feet at the back, is distinguished by ormolu mounts fashioned as winged nymphs and positioned above columns topped by ornamental brass. The hardware also includes putti, acanthus leaves, and wreaths. right Close-up of one of the ormolu mounts.
screen. Even more surprising was that he lived in my town. A quick check of the phone book revealed that his address was just two streets away from mine. I wrote a letter to David Hinckley Bangs asking if he knew what had become of the Hinckley portrait or any of the merchant’s furnishings. By chance, the day before I sent the letter, I had gone to Boston and looked up Mary Appleton’s probate records to check my assumption that she left her estate to her niece Maria Goodwin. The Appletons had no children, so when Mary died in 1870, I surmised that she most likely left her estate to her favorite niece, whom Samuel mentioned in his will had lived with the couple “as one of my family.” I was disappointed to find that my assumption was not correct. Mary Appleton had designated her nephew Edward Bangs, a lawyer, as executor and left him all her real estate and possessions. I knew from Park’s book that David Hinckley’s granddaughter had married a man named Edward Bangs and, wondering if they might be one and the same, I mentioned this in my letter. David Hinckley Bangs responded that he had miniatures of
David Hinckley and his wife but did not own the portrait, and as far as he knew, nothing belonging to his ancestor remained in the family. He explained that the Edward Bangs who married Hinckley’s granddaughter was his great-grandfather. I later learned that in fact, Edward Bangs met his future wife while she was staying with the Appletons. Mr. Bangs invited my wife and me to come look at the miniatures. He also showed us two pieces of furniture he had inherited but knew nothing about and asked if we thought they might relate to David Hinckley. One was later than Hinckley’s era. When I got closer to the other, I was stunned—it had to be the secretary in the daguerreotype of Samuel Appleton! The ormolu mounts of a winged nymph provided the visual clue. The proof was David Hinckley Bangs’s relation to Mary Appleton’s nephew and heir. Mr. Bangs has generously donated the newly discovered piece to Historic New England and it is on view in the west parlor of Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts. As for other things that once belonged to Samuel Appleton, my search continues. HistoricNewEngland.org
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OF SETTING THE STAGE by Christine Hadsel Director, Curtains Without Borders Christine is director of Curtains Without Borders, a nonprofit conservation organization that has documented and restored historic stage scenery for the past twenty years. She is author of Suspended Worlds: Historic Theater Scenery In Northern New England. The first book to celebrate this art form in our region, it won Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2016 Book Prize. Historic painted curtains such as these are primarily found on stages in New England's Grange halls, town halls, and opera houses. They provide real and imagined backgrounds, from local bridges, mountains, or lakes to European-style country vistas, urban street scenes, and lofty castles. Many also feature local advertisements that add to our appreciation of the past in these New England villages and towns. The curtains were painted between the 1890s and the early 1940s, a time when most community events were held in a hall with a stage.
W Christine Hadsel (right) and conservator MJ Davis enjoy the "Garden Scene," a grand drape painted c. 1900 by Charles A. Henry of Boston, in the town hall of Moretown, Vermont. (Photo courtesy of David R. Godine, Publisher)
hen writing a book, there comes a moment of wonderful relief when the darn thing is finally sent to the printer, but then, right on the heels of the euphoria comes regret that a new discovery, even a day later, has to be left out. So it is with my endless search for historic stage scenery. HistoricNewEngland.org
After two decades of documenting and restoring historic painted curtains, I'm sure that there are no more to be found in Vermont: I or a member of the Curtains Without Borders conservation team have been in every attic and every basement of every building with a stage in the state. But the rest of New England is another matter. For instance, even though we've documented more than 150 curtains in New Hampshire, a pair of new ones turned up last year at Boscawan Town Hall, and in the time since Suspended Worlds was published we have restored three curtains to public view at Hopkinton Town Hall, two more at Newton Town Hall, and a sweet little country scene at Lyndeborough Town Hall. Earlier this season, the focus was on restoring 16
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the grand drape at the Claremont Opera House, making it the only opera house in New Hampshire with a functioning, original grand drape. A grand drape is the most important curtain on stage. It hangs just behind the proscenium arch and usually features a romanticized local or European scene. Maine is another state where more curtains keep turning up. A whole group of scenes (including a dungeon) has been located in Cherryfield, while a very nice 1903 grand drape by L. L. Graham Scenic Studio of Brooklyn, New York, has been conserved and installed in a community hall in the town of Denmark. Connecticut and Rhode Island became new territory for us during the past couple of years. Compared
with the north, southern New England states have experienced tremendous pressures from population growth. The accompanying changes in southern tier towns have led to the abandonment of many original town hall stages and the disappearance of a number of Grange halls. However, we are finding curtains and providing conservation wherever we can. For instance, at the Finnish Heritage Society in Canterbury, Connecticut, there is a remarkable pair of curtains by an unidentified artist, while at the Old Lyme Historical Society we recently restored a 1929 advertising curtain by Hubert Scenic Company of Buffalo, New York. Massachusetts is another state where a common refrain is â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oh, we used to have a curtain, but it's gone. We don't know what happened to
page 16 Created in 1903 by L. L. Graham Scenic Studio of Brooklyn, New York, this grand drape hangs in a community hall in Denmark, Maine. right The book Suspended Worlds: Historic Theater Scenery in Northern New England celebrates curtains in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The front cover features a grand drape depicting Vermont’s Lake Memphremagog, painted by an unknown artist. It hangs in the town hall in Irasburg. below This curtain pays homage to sculptor Daniel Chester French’s Minute Man, the landmark monument in Concord, Massachusetts. The curtain will hang in the town hall of Orange, Massachusetts. (Book cover courtesy of David R. Godine, Publisher; photos by Christine Hadsel)
it.” But with perseverance—and putting a lot of miles on the car—we now have twenty-seven documented scenes with hopes of more to come. The biggest conservation job we have ever undertaken was at the Northampton Academy of Music in the spring of 2016, where the enormous, original 1913 grand drape by Maurice Tuttle is now a functioning backdrop. This year we hope to restore a handsome scene of the Concord Minute Man statue in Orange and a softly romantic grand drape
at the Narragansett Historical Society in Templeton. The Orange Town Hall curtain is by Twin Cities Scenic Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of the largest and finest scenic companies in the country at the turn of the twentieth century. It is the only example from that company we have ever found in New England. The Templeton grand drape as well as a colorful street scene advertising curtain are by W. A. Tandy, a local artist who also worked in New York City.
The Curtains Without Borders website is organized to show images of curtains by state. We also have a Facebook page where I post new discoveries and information about the sites where we are working. Our best source for finding more curtains is word-of-mouth; if you know of one that might be new to us, or even know of a possibility of one, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-863-4938. Suspended Worlds: Historic Theater Scenery in Northern New England captures the exquisite artistry of these vintage stage curtains. It includes research on scenic artists and a chapter about our conservation techniques. The book can be purchased for $40 at curtainswithoutborders.org and HistoricNewEngland.org.
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above This former Grange curtain features advertisements for businesses in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Created by the Hubert Scenic Company of Buffalo, New York, in 1929, it is owned by the Old Lyme Historical Society. left Volunteers in a workspace set up at the town hall in Newton, New Hampshire, use dry sponges to gently remove dirt from a curtain. This grand drape depicts the chain bridge over the Merrimack River in Newburyport, Massachusetts and is signed by H. F. Grant. (Photos by Christine Hadsel)
Protecting the Housatonic An important—and fun—part of the Housatonic Valley Association’s mission is to get people to experience the Housatonic River and its history close up with activities such as canoe trips. (Photo courtesy of the Housatonic Valley Association)
For the Housatonic Valley Association, history and the environment are preservation allies
A HISTORIC New England River
by Rob Wallace Communications Director, Housatonic Valley Association
ince the last glaciers receded, the Housatonic River has been here. For six millennia, the Mohicans built their culture around the banks of “the river of the mountain place” where they hunted, fished, and developed early farming communities. HistoricNewEngland.org
European settlers arrived in the 1600s and moved north throughout the 1700s, drawn by the fertile soils of the watershed and the strong, steady current that turned millwheels—and necessitated what would become the iconic covered wooden bridges. Larger factories replaced these rural mills in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, turning out everything from copper and brass goods to textiles and electrical transformers. The factories brought workers and their families, swelling the populations of towns and cities along the river’s 149-mile length from the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts south to Long Island Sound in western Connecticut. Despite industrialization, the river today remains largely wild. Dozens of bird species as well as the monarch butterfly follow it on their annual migrations along the East Coast. Turtles, frogs, snakes, and salamanders hatch by the millions in springtime. The occasional moose is spotted wading; bobcats, bear, and fox sneak about; and of course there are all the New England natives—raccoon, chipmunk, opossum. And trout are plentiful. New Englanders have come to cherish the river and want 20
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to protect it. The Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) has worked to safeguard the river and the lands that surround it for more than seventy-five years. Founded by Charles Downing Lay, one of America’s first landscape architects, the HVA advocates for a cleaner, more pristine river through changing times, changing attitudes, and—increasingly—a changing climate. HVA takes a regional approach, embracing the watershed of the Housatonic River across eighty-four towns in three states—Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. Looking at issues regionally, HVA creates a unified voice for the many organizations working to protect land, wildlife, drinking water, quality of life, and the historic landscapes of New England. Speaking about the legacy of industrial pollution, Lynn Werner, HVA’s executive director, said, “Industry used to be the largest concern when it came to water quality.” That was before the state and federal Clean Water Acts of the 1970s. Until legislation and litigation stopped the practices, industry routinely dumped raw waste including petrochemicals, PCBs, and mercury directly into the river,
The 172-foot West Cornwall Covered Bridge spans the Housatonic River in the township of Cornwall in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Also called Hart’s Bridge, it has been in service since 1864. At its new location in Historic New England’s Merwin House in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the Housatonic Valley Association is right on the banks of the river, which flows behind the house. (Photos courtesy of the Housatonic Valley)
daily, for decades. “Over time, much of that historical contamination has flushed downstream to the Atlantic, and there are ongoing efforts to contain and clean up what’s left at the source sites,” Werner said. “What we’re finding today is that the largest contaminant in the river—and the largest threat in years to come—is polluted storm water runoff.” Early on, HVA realized that protecting land and water were intricately intertwined. By conserving land from development, the effects of storm water pollution are contained and controlled. Large upland forests and the native plants lining the banks of rivers and streams act as a natural filter that cleanses runoff before it reaches the water. For that reason, the association works independently
as well as with other organizations such as land trusts to protect sensitive, undeveloped parcels with conservation easements that prevent them from being developed. Public education is also part of the equation. The organization is spearheading “RiverSmart,” a multipartner effort that encourages residents and businesses to minimize fertilizer and pesticide use, create permeable surfaces, plant buffers and rain gardens, clean up pet waste, and promotes other measures that cut off polluted storm water at its source. HVA also leads kayak and canoe trips to help inspire people to fall in love with the river and its surroundings and to better understand the issues. Recently, the association celebrated
moving its Berkshire office from Lee to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where it operates out of Historic New England’s Merwin House (the family that owned this c. 1825 property named it “Tranquility”). HVA looks forward to working with Historic New England to create joint events and visitor experiences connecting the natural history of the Housatonic River with the built history of the community. The Housatonic flows just a few hundred feet from the house museum’s back patio, offering tantalizing opportunities. “Preserving history and preserving the environment are really one and the same,” said Dennis Regan, HVA’s Berkshire program director. “Our history here is because of the river.” HistoricNewEngland.org
Various and Sundry Items The Henry Sheldon Museum's eclectic archives
by Eva Garcelon-Hart Archivist, Henry Sheldon Museum
iss Page’s School probably offered an education that was as comprehensive and rigorous as a girl could get in Middlebury, Vermont, in the early part of the nineteenth century. One pupil, Susan H. Chipman, exhibited how well she learned her lessons with her 1823 A Book of Penmanship, a miniature atlas of hand-drawn and hand-colored maps presented with elaborate calligraphy. This striking cartographic volume is among the thousands of holdings that beckon researchers to the StewartSwift Research Center at the Henry
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Sheldon Museum of Vermont History. The Middlebury facility ranks as one of the top research repositories in the state. Among its collections are manuscripts, rare books, pamphlets, newspapers, maps, photographs, and ephemera dating from the eighteenth century to the 1940s, offering a treasure trove of historical information to local residents, genealogists, students, and scholars from across the country. There are documents pertaining not only to local people, businesses, art and architecture, agriculture, the environment, religious practices, temperance, antislavery, labor,
top The World,” one of several maps Susan H. Chipman drew in her 1823 penmanship book. above Museum founder Henry Luther Sheldon in 1888. page 23 Title page of Chipman’s A Book of Penmanship. (Images from the Collection of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History)
women’s history, and beekeeping, but also to same-sex relationships, questionable medical prescription practices, and unsolved murder mysteries. The broad scope of the archives is largely due to the quirky collecting passion of the museum’s founder, Henry Luther Sheldon (1821-1907), a local personality of many interests and talents. Sheldon suffered from progressive deafness in the last decades of his life and he turned his isolating affliction into a quest to gather and document the history of Middlebury, Addison County, central Vermont, and, in some cases, the world beyond. Toward the end of his life, he scribbled a poetic behest on a piece of paper: “When I’m gone/ Lay no deft and lawless hands/ On the treasures gathered here/ Precious trusts from many lands/ Keep and add from year to year.” Sheldon’s desire has been honored. His collection has grown steadily, and since 1972, has been stored, preserved, and made available in its own dedicated space. Among the more significant records are resources that document the development of local businesses and industries that thrived during the nineteenth century. Account ledgers, daybooks, and business papers illuminate stories of cotton and woolen mills that grew around the Middlebury Falls from the early 1800s on. A set of fascinating drawings complements the written and printed sources: early textile machines and power looms drafted by a young, artistically inclined mechanical virtuoso, Isaac Markham. The designs are considered the earliest known drawings of U.S. textile industry machinery. Personal insights into work performed in textile mills are in the letters of the Ford sisters, “mill girls,” who like many young New England women, found employment in Middlebury and Lowell, Massachusetts. Addison County farms acquired international reputations for raising highly prized merino sheep during the nineteenth century. Written and visual sources reveal the merino sheep craze. Coincidently, one of the best-known livestock artists, Luther A. Webster, and his brother Frank, also an artist, were natives of the nearby town of Shoreham. Webster’s drawings and prints portraying these locally raised, curiouslooking sheep are preserved in the archives.
The 20,000 photographs at the Stewart-Swift Research Center, dating from the early days of the medium in the 1840s, depict the region’s past, showing landscape changes, rural schools, farms, and people. Recently, the collection captured the attention of retired National Geographic photographer James P. Blair, who offered his expertise in selecting the most distinctive images for an exhibition in 2018. Some of these photographs, such as the bird’s-eye views of central Vermont that local photographer and pilot George Lathrop took from a plane between the 1940s and 1960s, convey the region’s rolling hills and lakes with an artistic beauty and offer a wealth of historical information. More than 500 maps document the history of the area. These include rare works by early Vermont cartographers and engravers who operated small shops in the southern part of the state. Another unique subset is a collection of manuscript maps drawn by students enrolled in local female academies in the early nineteenth century. These HistoricNewEngland.org
top right Noted livestock artist L. A. Webster created this image of five prize-winning merino ewes in Bridport, Vermont, c. 1900. above A broadside advertising an 1893 variety show by the Guy Brothers’ Minstrels, who were known nationwide for their performances of this popular form of entertainment aimed at deriding African Americans. (Images from the Collection of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History)
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manuscript maps attest to the influence of Emma Willard, an ardent advocate of the improvement of female education. Willard taught for several years in Middlebury before establishing the Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York. Recognizing geography and history as natural study companions—each informs and enhances the understanding of the other by relating place and events—Willard crafted a curriculum that combined and delivered instruction in the two subjects using penmanship. Susan H. Chipman was about fourteen years old when she executed her A Book of Penmanship while attending Miss Page’s School. Marked by elegance and scholarship, the book contains thirty maps that are accompanied by descriptive passages on geography, the solar system, climates, and America. She was the fourth of seven children born into a prominent Middlebury family, the daughter of lawyer Daniel Chipman, a longtime state representative who served just over one year as a congressman. His brother, Nathaniel, was a Revolutionary War veteran who also was a Vermont state representative, held several judgeships, and served as a U.S. senator. Little else is known about Susan, who died in 1848 shortly after turning forty.
Henry Sheldon gathered with particular diligence the ephemera that accounts for thousands of trade and advertising cards, handbills, posters, broadsides, invitations, announcements, catalogues, tickets, and other items in the archives. These items, produced for everyday consumption and not meant to last, often reveal unfiltered glimpses into the quotidian aspects of political, cultural, religious, and social life that written sources may not readily show. Among the research center’s ephemera collections are posters advertising vaudeville, magic, and circus performances. Many of them promoted the minstrel shows that frequently passed through Middlebury; they are now prime study material on social attitudes about race and entertainment. The archival collections of the Stewart-Swift Research Center serve as a good example of how small, regional repositories contain hidden gems of historical significance that contribute to broader interpretations of our past. Hours for the Stewart-Swift Research Center are Thursday and Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. Appointments are encouraged. Contact Eva Garcelon-Hart by email, email@example.com or by phone, 802-388-2117.
Children and their caregivers visit the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, and its greenhouses for a program called Green House and Green Thumbs. (ÂŠ Beth Oram Photography 2017)
Green and Growing
Now in its second year, Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s homeschool program is expanding the series with offerings at more sites by Carolin Collins Education Program Manager In 2015, Historic New England began offering programs specifically for homeschool families. Before then, although homeschool families could sign up for any of our school programs, putting together a group of at least ten children, working out payment, and making sure everyone arrived at the site was challenging. We knew we could do more, and wanted to attract this growing population that emphasizes the hands-on, experiential learning that is our specialty. We decided to offer a full week of homeschool programs: morning and afternoon programs at eleven sites in five states in five days. The programs drew 221 people from seventy-one families;
most had never engaged with Historic New England. We are now into our second year of offering programs at one site each month. We are expanding beyond the thirteen locations where we regularly offer school programs. We have also created new programs. Our first 2017 program, Green House and Green Thumbs, combined science and history as students explored the Lyman Estate mansion and greenhouses in Waltham, Massachusetts, learning how warm-climate plants thrived for hundreds of years in a cold environment with the help of solar energy. For more information on our homeschool program slate, visit www.HistoricNewEngland.org/Homeschool. HistoricNewEngland.org
News and notes from Historic New England
COMMUNITY PRESERVATION GRANT STARTS A DIALOGUE Kenneth Smith is a man of many words and those words have long carried special significance. As an elder of the Narragansett tribe, Smith—Chief Strong Horse, his tribal title and name—is both a keeper and a conduit of Native heritage and cultural traditions for future generations, making the ninety-six-year-old an ideal subject for the Tomaquag Museum’s first oral history video project. “He’s a perfect candidate for oral history,” said Loren Spears, executive director of the Exeter, Rhode Island, museum. “He is just absolutely vibrant. He remembers everything.” Historic New England helped support the museum’s oral Chief Strong Horse in a recent photograph taken outside the Narragansett Indian Church in history project with a Community Charlestown, Rhode Island. In the photograph on the right, which is part of the collection the Preservation Grant awarded in chief donated to Tomaquag Museum, Strong Horse (right) is practicing archery with Red Bird 2016. Six grants of $1,000 are in 1937. (From the Strong Horse Collection courtesy of Tomaquag Museum) awarded annually to a small to midsize heritage organization in each the nation’s highest honor given Strong Horse remains one of the New England state that reflects our to libraries and museums for tribe’s most highly respected elders. mission of preserving and sharing the community service. Spears said the oral history region’s diverse heritage. Chief Strong Horse, a veteran of will complement the diverse items Tomaquag Museum, founded World War II, was elected subchief Chief Strong Horse donated to the in 1958, is an Indigenous cultural of the Narragansett in 1946. In that museum from 2005 through 2013, education organization that promotes capacity he was responsible for leading some of which he inherited. The understanding of current-day Native tribal meetings and ceremonies, as Strong Horse Collection includes issues as well as history and heritage. well as performing Indigenous music documents pertaining to the Tomaquag Museum was a recipient and dance; those longtime practices Narragansett and more than 300 last year of the National Medal for help ensure the transmission of the photographs and 200 objects, as well Museum and Library Service. The tribe’s cultural traditions to future as traditional clothing that he beaded. medal, awarded by the Institute of generations. Although he now lives The stories that Chief Strong Museum and Library Services, is in a Connecticut nursing home, Chief Horse has recounted will enhance 26
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These aerial views helped us assess the scope of the work needed on the cupola of the big barn at Cogswell’s Grant in Essex, Massachusetts. (Images by QuadCopterDigital LLC)
the cultural relevance of the collection. He discusses some of the items he donated, so the recordings can be used to annotate the Strong Horse Collection. As staff members transcribe the recordings, the museum will make Chief Strong Horse’s oral history available to audiences. Some of his stories may be used to create podcasts for the museum’s website, Spears said. Applications for the 2017 Community Preservation Grants program are available now, with a deadline of late summer. Visit www.historicnewengland.org/communitypreservation-grants/ for more information. Dorothy Clark, Editor
NEW TECHNOLOGY TAKES FLIGHT AT HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND The cupola of the big barn at Cogswell’s Grant, Historic New England’s 1728 farm property in Essex, Massachusetts, is nearly 47 feet from the ground, a distance that can make inspection and documentation daunting undertakings. But, by using a drone to capture aerial photographs of the top of the structure, staff obtained a comprehensive look at what needed to be done to restore the cupola in addition to finding other damage that needed attention. Drone technology—using small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAVs)—has a number of applications in historic preservation, from the initial documentation of a structure or landscape to ongoing conditions assessment and maintenance to architectural research. “It’s a powerful documentation tool,” said Ben Haavik, Historic New England’s team leader for property care. “It provides viewpoints you can’t acquire, even with ladders.” Working with QuadCopterDigital, a commercial drone operator based in Haverhill, Massachusetts, we’ve been better able to understand the conditions and restoration needs of the cupola. Because the drone photographs revealed that sections of the big barn’s gutters had seriously deteriorated, the staff could more accurately budget for those repairs. While drones can make the work of historic preservation documentation and maintenance easier, employing the
technology isn’t simply a matter of starting up the necessary equipment and launching a survey flight. There are strict Federal Aviation Administration regulations, as well as requirements and procedures Historic New England instituted to ensure the responsible and safe use of drones. Not just anyone can fly a drone. Operators using these aircraft for commercial purposes must have an FAA-issued remote pilot certificate, according to rules enacted in August 2016. Drones are among the latest in a new wave of high-tech equipment used in cultural resource management, such as laser scanning, which is used to create two- and threedimensional renderings as well as other data about sites. With the level of observation and documentation that drones afford, the technology is sure to become a musthave tool for historic preservation operations. The use of drones is no flight of fancy for Historic New England. Dorothy Clark, Editor HistoricNewEngland.org
From the curved door to the spiral staircase to the intricate swirling detail on the stairs, the entryway at Nickels-Sortwell House (1807) in Wiscasset, Maine, may feel topsy-turvy but it all somehow works together to create a harmonious scene.
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One couple’s journey to visit Historic New England’s museum properties in one season by Kate H. Knapp, freelance writer, editor, and recipe tester See more of the #knappquest journey on Instagram at @katehknapp
It began on a whim, as many great adventures do. My husband, Christopher, a preservation carpenter by trade, and I didn’t intend to spend our entire summer and fall traipsing around New England in search of history. However, when our original plans fell through and we instead went on a tour of Historic New England’s Phillips House in Salem, Massachusetts, that May morning in 2016, there really was no other choice. After taking just a few steps into the home, Christopher was in awe of the master craftsmanship and intricate details of the 1821 structure. I was smitten with the well-kept kitchen; as a recipe tester and editor, I am humbled and fascinated by how these spaces and tools have evolved. This exploration of how those who came before us actually lived was better than reading about it in a book. We were “living history,” as Christopher likes to put it. We signed up for our membership that day and got our very first Historic New England Passport stamp. Excited about the wide variety of properties (some of them more than 300 years old) and the range of locations (five different states), we pledged to devote almost every weekend to seeing them all. Things got a little trickier when I realized that each property has different hours—some have limited openings. To combat this, I created a detailed calendar to make sure our passport was filled by November. Over five months, we made three trips to Maine, two to Rhode Island, two to New Hampshire, one to Connecticut, and several in Massachusetts. We even recruited our friends and family to join us when they came to town. We learned so much about New England history and how it was connected across the states. It was more rewarding than we ever could have expected. The Instagram photos I posted of the sites became a treasure hunt of sorts. My hope was to capture a small moment from each property, as its history was becoming a part of my own. Searching for details that spoke to the people who built or inhabited the properties, I wanted to honor those lives, as well as Historic New England for helping to preserve them. Here are just a few of our favorite moments from our journey. HistoricNewEngland.org
President Grant is said to have lit a cigar to celebrate a strike, to the chagrin of Roseland Cottage owner Henry Bowen.
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Rocky Hill Meeting House (Amesbury, Massachusetts, 1785) door number 1 With the original paint on the pulpit, pillars, and boxed seats impeccably preserved, the Rocky Hill Meeting House has so many stories to tell. For instance, the number 1 boxed seat would be the very best in the house but it is located in the back by the door (not the front, as we might expect). Also, children weren’t allowed on the first floor, relegated instead to the second-floor seats where bored, young artists shared their talents through a variety of carvings—mostly ships and initials, and way too neat to miss. Coffin House (Newbury, Massachusetts, 1678) mortar and pestle Stepping through the Coffin House is a little like walking through the pages of time—the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries in particular. The house has a fascinating tale, one that reveals how generations of one family came to live under one roof as that roof and the space it covered were expanded, altered, and eventually divided into two separate residences. The two kitchens still exist, one even has a buttery, and each tells its own story. Mortars and pestles like the set displayed here may be used in a limited fashion today, but at one time they served as the food processor, blender, and spice grinder of the kitchen. Gropius House (Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1938) modern table setting This unique building was designed by Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus in Germany, as his home. The house exemplifies cool, with details that are stylish and yet still so functional. Take the circular dining
table that is perfectly illuminated, just to its very edge, by a “chandelier” (which is a flush-mounted disc fixture, actually). My guess is this was to give guests the spotlight when sharing bright ideas. Roseland Cottage (Woodstock, Connecticut, 1846) bowling alley This Gothic Revival–style home boasts the oldest surviving indoor bowling alley in the United States. Four U.S. presidents visited here— Ulysses S. Grant is said to have lit a cigar to celebrate a strike, much to the chagrin of owner Henry Bowen, who didn’t allow smoking or drinking on the premises. The house itself is a wonder of textured wallcoverings (Lincrusta, to be exact), stained glass windows, and double parlors. Castle Tucker (Wiscasset, Maine, 1807) recipe card If Castle Tucker were a treasure map, its kitchen would be marked with a giant X. There are so many treasures in this room, including an original Hoosier kitchen cabinet in pristine condition, complete with flour sifter and sugar dispenser, meal planners, 1920 calendar, spice racks, and more; a 1905 Empire Crawford stove; and Mollie Tucker’s beauti– fully handwritten recipes. Mollie’s daughter and granddaughter, both of whom were named Jane Tucker, are the reason the house is as it is today, and their story is an inspiring tale of two strong women who maintained the home through severe financial hardships. Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House (Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1907) amber glass display There is design, and then there is the dazzling design of America’s first interior designer, Henry Davis Sleeper. His summer home, which
he also used as a professional showcase for his ideas, is filled with different treasures, hidden images of George Washington (just look, you’ll see), and glass displays that are odes to Sleeper’s love affair with color and light. The latter are particularly intriguing, with artistic tableaux created using nothing more than colored glass vessels and light filtered in various ways. It’s a colorful and enlightening visit, to be sure. Casey Farm (Saunderstown, Rhode Island, c. 1750) rooster weather vane Not only is Casey Farm still a working farm—it even hosts a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program featuring its organically grown produce—but it is also the site of a lively weekly farmers’ market during the summer. However, little about the farm and its outbuildings, including this barn, changed in the three centuries that the Casey family owned the property. There is plenty of farm life to see, and the tour tells of the highs and hardships of owning a coastal farm. Be sure to step inside the house to see the bullet hole in the parlor door from the Revolutionary War. Governor John Langdon House (Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1784) refrigerator Governor John Langdon House is impressive in so many ways (it was home to a governor, after all), but it was this refrigerator built into the pantry’s lower counter that wowed me. Its functional design is understated and elegant, and I would like several in my kitchen, please. Other neat features of the home are the ornate wood mantels, hand carved and painted to look like marble in the rococo style, and the dramatic Palladian window overlooking the rose and grape arbor. HistoricNewEngland.org
Browne House (Watertown, Massachusetts, c. 1698) colonial table setting What once was a dilapidated and neglected home in near ruin is now an impressive example of a seventeenth-century “one-over-one” building, and is acknowledged as the first fully documented restoration in America. The first-floor room served as a kitchen, dining room, and bedroom (at the same time) in the seventeenth century and as a tearoom and gift shop in the 1920s. Today, besides a house museum, the property is used as a study site for learning about its history and painstaking restoration, as well as to view its rare three-part casement window frame. Cogswell’s Grant (Essex, Massachusetts, 1728) writing desk Overflowing with treasured and quirky knickknacks of early American folk art, Cogswell’s Grant boasts an impressive collection assembled over the span of sixty years by owners Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, noted American folk art collectors and historians. Though there is plenty to see in the house, I was drawn to this quiet moment at Mrs. Little’s desk. With her purse hanging casually from the chair, it felt as though she had just stepped into the other room and would return at any moment to finish her writing. Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum and Visitor Center (South Berwick, Maine, 1774) mantel and wallpaper If these beautifully papered walls could talk, they would tell the tale of a gifted writer who made a name for herself among Boston’s literary elite in the late nineteenth century. Sarah captured the nuances of everyday life in Maine through her poetry and prose, and this home is the inspiration for her novel Deephaven. The house contains many artifacts from Sarah’s life. Her bedroom has been preserved as it was when she was alive. Hamilton House (South Berwick, Maine, c. 1785) mural and bench The picturesque mansion, with its perennial garden and location overlooking the Salmon Falls River, is a painting in itself. Yet it is the interior walls that offer captivating, handpainted murals by George Porter Fernald, filled with intricate vignettes of life in a different time and featuring many of the region’s most iconic buildings. Thanks to Sarah Orne Jewett, who recommended that her friends—Emily Tyson and her stepdaughter Elise—purchase the property to prevent its demolition, we have a very pretty picture indeed of the history of Hamilton House. Sayward-Wheeler House (York Harbor, Maine, c. 1718) beehive oven Shipping merchant Jonathan Sayward bought this house in 1735, which now boasts an incredibly impressive colonial interior (some argue the best in the nation), with an equally impressive, in my humble opinion, kitchen fireplace and oven. The latter is unusual in comparison to some of the other historic homes, as we didn’t encounter another beehive oven of its kind in our travels. The fire may be long extinguished, but you can almost smell the loaves of warm bread being pulled from the brick chamber. Codman Estate (Lincoln, Massachusetts, c. 1740) demon This country estate has a glorious array of Victorian furnishings, exquisite portraits, and family heirlooms and memorabilia. Yet outdoors, you will find a somewhat hidden turnof-the-twentieth-century Italian garden and reflecting pool filled with water lilies. This little devil resides there, having kept a watchful eye over the home and grounds for more than 100 years. The spot is popular for weddings, as it is deviously romantic.
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Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Boston, Massachusetts Permit No. 58621 141 Cambridge Street Boston, Mass. 02114-2702
by Lorna Condon Senior Curator of Library and Archives
ROM THE 1850S THROUGH THE 1880S women in Providence, Rhode Island, and Bath, Maine, turned to Mrs. B. Keith and Mrs. E. A. W. Rouse for their millinery needs. The two businesswomen offered their customers a wide range of headware—plain and fancy Nepolitans [sic] (braided horsehair) and straw hats, hair switches, curls, and wigs. Mrs. Keith even provided a service to repair, bleach, and press old bonnets to give “perfect satisfaction.” In addition to selling millinery, Mrs. Rouse acted as an agent for the Universal Fashion Company’s Perfect-Fitting Patterns and thus was able to supply her clients with dress patterns to match their hats. We recently purchased the advertisements for Mrs. Keith and Mrs. Rouse along with a trade card with a stylish Greco Roman design advertising the sale of “Paris Millinery” by Henry M. Burr & Company of Boston, and an ink blotter showcasing “Stetson Hats for Young Men,” which were sold by Van, The Hatter, in Springfield, Massachusetts. The acquisition complements Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England, an exhibition that will open at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, in June 2018 as part of the Mass Fashion collaborative.
The items are now a part of our extensive collection of ephemera—more than 20,000 pieces of printed and handwritten paper items—that informs and enlightens us about the everyday lives of New Englanders from the eighteenth century to the present. Much of the ephemera collection is catalogued and photographed and available on our website.
The award-winning Historic New England magazine is a benefit of membership. To join, please visit HistoricNewEngland.org. 32
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