historic NEw england SUMMER 2018
PLUMED TALES Stories of a Bird Art Collector BUILDING KNOWLEDGE
Erecting Liberia College SUPPORT YOUR PASSION
Summer 2018 Vol. 19 No. 1
historic NEw england 1
They Wore Them Well
5 Plumed Tales 7
Where the Birds Are
8 Fowl Comings and Goings 9 Building Knowledge: Erecting Liberia College
14 Lyman Estate Landscape Remains True to Its Roots
23 Chinese Lanterns Restored at Beauport
16 Preserving the Future of a Historic Property
25 The Glass Doorknobs of Enoch Robinson
18 Roseland Cottage School Programs Still Going Strong
28 At the Intersection of Person and Place
19 In the Theater of Public Life
30 History in the Making
22 Support Your Passion
32 Getting the Bugs Out 34 A Coat of Many Colors
From the President
Preservation. Conservation. The environment. These terms are so commonly used that we often don’t think about their meanings. Perhaps it is fine that we merge them in our thinking; together they say that we care about the world around us, whether the natural or the man-made. Those of us who work in historic preservation and land conservation increasingly agree that the two fields must come together for common cause. At Historic New England we recognize that land is as much a part of the heritage of New England as are our buildings, archives, and object collections. We own and care for 1,292 acres of natural and designed landscapes, farms, and gardens and we protect another 906 acres through our Preservation Easement Program. Our new strategic agenda emphasizes the importance of protecting open space throughout New England as a component of our preservation work, as we are doing with Coolidge Point: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, where we acquired beautiful woodland, open fields, and a sunken garden, along with a stately residence called The Brick House. This issue looks at bird art and birding; the latter is closely connected to properties such as Watson Farm in Jamestown, Rhode Island, and the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts. These and other articles put people into the landscape with diverse stories about our region’s places and products. All these things contribute to the quality of New England life, and because of your support of our mission they are saved and widely shared. Thank you.
Carl R. Nold, President and CEO 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 A. 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 COVER From the collection of Eddie Woodin, American Redstart by Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996), published in Bird-Lore, May-June 1936, National Association of Audubon Societies. © Estate of Roger Tory Peterson. Used by permission of Scott Meredith Literary Agency. ABOVE One of a pair of Chinese lanterns before restoration from Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Fermin De la Cruz Santana of Haverhill, Massachusetts, with his grandchildren; Markham Starr Photography. Historic New England has many items relating to birds in its collection, including these ivory cuff buttons with two birds inlaid in mother-of-pearl, c. 1850-1900.
Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 617-227-3956
© 2018 Historic New England. Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives.
They Wore Them Well Exhibiting Head to Toe by LAURA JOHNSON, Curator
littery silver platform boots and silk toppers tell tales of nights out in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Shanghai, China. Irresistible floral and feathered confections from the 1950s and 1960s strike a contrast with elegant slippers from the 1830s. These are among the fortysix hats and pairs of shoes in Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England on display through February 24, 2019, at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts. The objects in the exhibition, assembled from Historic New England’s collection, were worn in the region from the 1750s to the present. Head to Toe includes the humble and hardworking footwear of master chef Julia Child and boots worn on the job at Boston’s Big Dig highway project. From dancing shoes for Saturday night to hats for church on Sunday, Head to Toe has it covered. Not all aspects of fashion are pretty, though, which Head to Toe explores. For example, the exhibition prompts reflection on the impact the millinery business had on wildlife around the turn of the twentieth century, when birds were killed in order to use their feathers or their stuffed bodies for adornment. Head to Toe is supported in part by our lead sponsors, Susan P. Sloan and Arthur D. Clarke, with additional support from the Coby Foundation Ltd. and Dr. Janina A. Longtine. It is one of the many events planned by Mass Fashion, an eight-institution consortium that explores and celebrates the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. For more information visit massfashion.org.
Protesters wore cat-eared pussyhats at women’s rights marches held worldwide on January 21, 2017. Winthrop Gray, an eighteenthcentury shoemaker, created these silk brocade masterpieces for a wealthy widow. He placed his paper label inside the shoe so that she might direct others to his Boston shop. Members of a crowd on a vessel watching the grand opening of the Cape Cod Canal on July 29, 1914, show remarkable sartorial similarity, with most men wearing light straw summer boaters.
Also On View Running concurrently with Head to Toe is On the Wing: Artworks from the Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon. This exhibition looks at Mass Audubon’s history of conservation efforts, which have expanded well beyond the organization’s initial focus on protecting birds. Showing these two exhibitions at the Eustis Estate simultaneously highlights a special connection—Harriet Lawrence Hemenway, who in 1896 cofounded the Massachusetts Audubon Society, was married to the brother of Edith Eustis. HistoricNewEngland.org 1
A gentleman never went without his topper, and cotton textile manufacturing executive Walter Bradley wore this one when he left Boston in 1916 for a consulting tour in Asia. These glitter boots were worn by the donor in many a Carnival held in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
This hat made in the late 1880s appears quite understatedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;until the stuffed parrot, dyed black to match the ribbons, comes into view. The Massachusetts Audubon Society was founded in 1896 to protect birds from hunters serving the millinery market. Pattens, the name for the footwear below, were originally designed for wear in Turkish bathhouses; this pair dates to the 1820s and would have elevated the wearerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s feet to help keep her skirts clear of New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s muddy streets.
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Early photographs and trade cards capture the fleeting nature of fashion accessories. These four Harvard dandies arrived at Boston daguerreotypist John Adams Whippleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s studio in 1853, most definitely dressed for the camera. In 1854 Mrs. Joseph Elisha Whitman wore a transparent silk bonnet for a portrait with her son, Joseph Jr. This undated trade card for J. Rothschildâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s millinery goods store captures the riotous colors of ribbons, flowers, and other decorations used to personalize bonnets.
Clothing can inspire innovations, such as the metal insoles patented to support the arches of men who wore trendy high-heeled riding boots like these, made c. 1850. Clothing can also challenge gender stereotypes, as did the straw boater, which became popular for men and women at the turn of the twentieth century.
A local designer created this 1960s version of a clocheâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a form first made popular in the 1920sâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;at her shop in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Some regional manufacturers go global and then come home again, like internationally known Converse, which began in Malden, Massachusetts, making soft-soled basketball court shoes in 1918. The classic blackand-white high-top debuted in 1949. In 2015 Converse opened its new headquarters in Boston.
Historic New England Summer 2018
by AMY T. MONTAGUE Director, Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon
PlumedTales Passenger Pigeon by Edmund Sawyer (1880-1971) appeared in a 1911 educational leaflet issued by the National Association of Audubon Societies.
Editor’s Note: The recipient of Historic New England’s 2017 Prize for Collecting Works on Paper, Eddie Woodin has been a bird enthusiast since childhood. He began collecting materials related to his passion in the 1980s. The image on the cover and those accompanying this article are part of his collection.
hen Eddie Woodin talks about his collection, his enthusiasm lights up the room. Whether you spend an hour or a day with him, you are keenly aware that if you had more time, Woodin would have many more stories—and each one just as fascinating as the last.
Woodin’s collection is unrivaled, astonishing both in size and depth. At its center are more than 600 original artworks that were used as illustrations in a wide variety of publications about American birds— their identification, natural history, and conservation. Beyond the art, he owns thousands of related books, periodicals, handwritten letters, ephemera, and artifacts. The collection fills the walls, in salon-style hanging, of both his home and his office building, with additional items tucked away in file cabinets and stacked in every spare corner. His stories range from anecdotes about artists to, not surprisingly, the way he ferreted out rare pieces from obscure locations and persuaded the owners to part with them. But each of those accounts is a part of what Woodin calls The Story: the critical role that art played in the American conservation movement from the 1890s through the 1960s. The collection includes Roger Tory Peterson’s revolutionary 1934 publication, A Field Guide to the Birds, which ignited interest in birdwatching across the country. Other publications range from the popular to the scientific: bird identification cards; educational leaflets; Bird-Lore, the journal of the National Association of Audubon Societies; The Birds of New York, published by the state; and The Auk, the journal of the American Ornithologists’ Union. One example from Woodin’s collection is Edmund Sawyer’s 1910 watercolor of a passenger pigeon used to illustrate an educational leaflet published in 1911,
just three years before the last passenger pigeon died. The extinction of the passenger pigeon, once seen in sky-darkening billions, became a clarion call for bird protection. Woodinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s passion for this subject, his vision for a comprehensive collection, and his tireless zeal to pursue the next acquisition are extraordinary. Remarkable, too, is his keen desire that this collection will inspire people of all ages to take an interest in birds and in the conservation of the natural world. For him, this is a spiritual endeavor, and it ties closely with his other philanthropic efforts. Woodin loves to connect children with nature, especially birds. He invites children's groups into his home to see the collection and he has supplied binoculars and field guides to local organizations to encourage childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nature study. Concerned about the decline of the brown bat and tree swallow populations due to the plunge in insect numbers, Woodin has been instrumental in establishing regulations to limit pesticide use, both in the town where he lives and in the nearby city of Portland, Maine, where
one of the most stringent pesticide ordinances in the country was recently passed. Collecting is deeply ingrained in Woodin. He remembers buying his first baseball card at the age of five with a nickel his parents gave him. His enthusiasm for birds and bird art stretches back nearly as far. He grew up in West Concord, Massachusetts, and credits his childhood surroundings for his appreciation of history. Woodin has fond memories of paging through illustrated bird books in the public library and of learning the names of common birds from a set of National Audubon Society bird identification cards in his home. He began birding at the age of nine and readily acknowledges that birding is a form of collecting. Woodin has logged more than 11,000 hours over the past fifteen or so years pursuing objects for his collection. Now he is refining his holdings. But he isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t done yet. His eye is always out for the next thrilling acquisition that will help him tell The Story in the most compelling way.
left Canadian artist Allan Brooks (1869-1946) painted Red-tailed Hawks, which was used in Hawks of North America by John B. May, published in 1935 by the National Association of Audubon Societies. right Whip-poor-wills, painted in 1917, is the work of American wildlife illustrator Robert Bruce Horsfall (1869-1948).
Historic New England Summer 2018
Where the Birds are Recording a Lyman Estate “life list”
by LYNN ACKERMAN Lyman Estate Greenhouse Manager
A yellow-rumped warbler perched in an albizia, also known as a mimosa, tree at the Lyman Estate. Photograph by Lynn Ackerman.
t’s thrilling to be working at the Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham, Massachusetts, and hear the songs and calls of birds I recognize. Being able to identify a bird simply from its song or call is special and takes a lot of practice. Each spring I have to brush up on my warbler songs as these birds migrate through the area on their way to their northern breeding grounds. I have been seriously interested in birding for more than ten years and have gone on explorations in Nicaragua, Belize, Costa Rica, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. I love adding the names of birds I have never seen before to my “life list,” a record that many birders keep of the species they have identified. Birding in other countries seems easy compared with the United States. In warmer climates the birds don’t migrate as much and seem to be everywhere you look. That is why it is extra special for me to find a new bird—or my favorite birds—here in
North America and especially as I go about my work at the Lyman Estate. The estate provides a good habitat for birds. Its thirty-nine acres offer shelter and a good source of food and water, particularly the wooded areas, which are a prime nesting ground for woodpeckers. We have numerous year-round species, some of which breed and raise their young on the property including house and song sparrows, white-breasted nuthatches, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, blackcapped chickadees, tufted titmice, gold and house finches, northern cardinals, mourning doves, Carolina wrens, red-tailed hawks, blue jays, Canada geese, northern flickers, and redbreasted robins. Wood ducks and mallards breed and nest on the pond, while in the marshy areas along the pond yellow warblers and common yellowthroat warblers, as well as redwinged blackbirds, nest and raise their broods.
Among the spring warblers that pass through are magnolia, yellow rumped, northern parula, blackthroated green, black-and-white, and the American redstart. Many migrating warblers are only around for four to six weeks, depending on the weather. Chipping sparrows are also known to traverse the Lyman Estate terrain and so too are white-throated sparrows and ruby-crowned kinglets. Still other species appear on the landscape occasionally: ruby-throated hummingbirds, Cooper’s hawks, brown creepers, common grackles, juncos, cedar waxwings, great blue herons, brown-headed cowbirds, hairy woodpeckers, American turkeys, redbreasted nuthatches, gray catbirds, northern mockingbirds, purple finches, and the European starling. Although it’s always busy at the Lyman Estate Greenhouses, I keep my binoculars and camera at the ready to make pictures of the new arrivals and occasional surprises in the Lyman Estate’s bird population. HistoricNewEngland.org
at Watson Farm by DON MINTO Farm Manager, Watson Farm
here are many good reasons to flock to Watson Farm, Historic New England’s 265-acre working agricultural landscape in Jamestown, Rhode Island. Located on Conanicut Island in Narragansett Bay, this historic farm is primarily a grazing operation for sheep and cattle pasturage and serves as hay land. It also consists of highly diverse habitats that support a wide array of vegetation and flora. These habitats support an equally diverse population of wildlife, including many species of birds. As a farmer who spends most of my waking hours on a year-round basis managing this property, I have had the privilege of being immersed in the natural surroundings of Watson Farm. For me, one of the joys of working the land is the opportunity for the interaction, observation, and coexistence with the wildlife and bird species that make Watson Farm home, or in some cases, are just passing through. Among these are the raptors—birds of prey— including red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, and nesting great horned owls. We sometimes see other owl species as well, like snowy, barn, barred, screech, and long-eareds. In addition to the often-seen red tails, hawks that visit are the kestrel or sparrow, Cooper’s, and northern harrier. Occasionally, we might see an osprey with a just-caught fish in its talons fly to a dead tree on the farm to feast on local seafood. Other large birds we encounter are peregrine falcons, bald and golden eagles, and the newly observed
black vultures that are now roosting with a large flock of turkey vultures. Nesting Baltimore orioles and some orchard orioles are found in the mature landscape trees in the barnyard. Here, too, chimney swifts and tree swallows can be found, along with the great population of barn swallows that returns every April to nest in the barns. Over the past two years, we’ve witnessed a rise in the population of invasive English sparrows, which have been observed destroying the barn swallows’ nests. Bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows, killdeers, red-winged blackbirds, eastern kingbirds, cowbirds, and the American goldfinch are all found in the grasslands at Watson Farm during the summer months. At times, eastern meadowlarks and occasionally bluebirds are observed. Great blue herons, egrets (common and great), little green herons, and on occasion yellow-crested night herons spend time in the small pond near the visitors’ parking lot. Sometimes glossy ibises and a rare cattle egret make appearances. Every spring, the farm’s wooded swamp hosts American woodcocks, rotund little birds with a high-flying breeding dance ritual at dusk. Ruby-throated hummingbirds regularly visit the gardens around the farmhouse and red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, house wrens, phoebes, black-capped chickadees, and tufted titmice abound. This listing accounts for just a few of the birds that frequent Watson Farm. Conanicut Island is a great place for devoted birders and novices alike to explore and perhaps add to their life lists. Make sure to include a self-guided tour of Watson Farm when visiting the property. For information about visiting the Lyman Estate and Watson Farm, go to HistoricNewEngland.org. above A parula warbler visiting the species’ favored habitat at Watson Farm. left Occasionally, bluebirds can be seen on the Jamestown, Rhode Island, agricultural landscape. Photographs by Chris Powell.
Building Knowledge Erecting Liberia College by WILLIAM B. HART Associate Professor of History, Middlebury College
t the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Colonization Society (MCS) on May 30, 1848, Simon Greenleaf, dean of the Harvard Law School and MCS president, proposed a project: “Whereas the Republic of Liberia ought to have within itself the means of educating citizens for all the duties of public and private life—among which means a College is indispensable.”
Liberia had established a system of public and church-run common schools. However, Greenleaf and the other MCS officers believed that now the republic should have an institution providing “a good education in law, medicine, and theology.” A national college would provide “a supply of better qualified teachers” that would ensure what all republics required: an educated citizenry.
Two years later, the Massachusetts General Court certified the incorporation of the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia and charged it to collect, invest, and manage funds in support of the proposed college. A year later, the new Liberian Legislature chartered Liberia College, to be built on 100 acres of land at Clay-Ashland on St. Paul’s River, a community about fifteen miles east of Monrovia, Liberia’s HistoricNewEngland.org
capital (named after US President James Monroe), and established a Board of Trustees. The two boards— one in Boston, the other in Monrovia—collaborated to establish “a University, of high order; one that shall be the best place in the world for the education of colored people.” Political infighting in Liberia delayed the project for more than a dozen years. Meanwhile, the Trustees of Donations commissioned a young Boston architect to design the college, convinced that such an educational institution would boost what the trustees viewed as their humanitarian project: the colonization and education of free African Americans in Liberia. The Massachusetts Coloniza-
tion Society was one of more than a dozen state auxiliary societies of the American Colonization Society (ACS), founded January 1, 1817, by a group of northern and southern congressmen, judges, educators, and ministers. According to its constitution, the purpose of the ACS was to “promote and execute a plan, for colonizing with their consent the free people of color residing in our country, in Africa, or such other places as Congress shall deem most expedient.” The initiator of this plan, Robert Finley, a member of the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), believed that free blacks and whites could never live in true harmony or equality in the United States. Blacks
belonged in Africa, which, Finley believed, God had ordained as their natural homeland. In 1822, the ACS, with financial assistance and political support from the US Congress, secured land just below Sierra Leone’s southern border and called the new proprietary colony Liberia. For the next twenty-five years the ACS operated primarily through state auxiliary societies to spread the word to white Americans, including enslavers, and to free black Americans that life in Liberia offered economic, political, and spiritual benefits to free black settlers that were unimaginable and unattainable in the United States. Most nonslave-owning white Americans viewed colonization as the best
page 9 Luther Briggs Jr. made this watercolor in 1856 of his concept for the facade of the college. The inset shows the rear elevation in 1893 with students on the piazzas. below Briggs made a notation on this drawing to install “Windows in this story 12 lights – 11 x 20 inch glass.” His renderings are part of Historic New England’s Luther Briggs Jr. Architectural Collection. page 11 An advertisement for the architect’s firm, c. 1874.
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means for ending the sinful institution of slavery: individual slaveholders could voluntarily emancipate the people they had enslaved to work for them and the ACS would help the freedmen and freedwomen reestablish themselves in their ancestral land, Africa. However, most slave owners were reluctant to part with their “property.” Additionally, most free blacks wanted nothing to do with the project, viewing it as an iniquitous and murderous scheme to remove them from their homeland: the United States. By the 1840s, the abolitionist movement in the United States had captured much of the attention of those white Americans who had supported colonization. With its
coffers beginning to run dry, the ACS sent fewer and fewer free blacks to Liberia. By the mid-1840s, only about 1,800 of the 4,500 free black émigrés remained alive. Also, Liberia fell deeper into debt, much of it caused by its efforts to aggressively absorb surrounding territories into its commonwealth, which led to military skirmishes with nearby indigenous communities. In 1846, the ACS, no longer able to provide for its colony, told Liberia to declare itself independent, which the commonwealth did in 1847. England and France immediately recognized Liberia as a new autonomous republic. The United States would not do so for another fifteen years. Ironically, Liberian independence coincided with the Mexican War (1846-48), a war fought to expand slavery to the United States’ Southwest. White nationalism rose with the annexation of new territories from Mexico, expressed through a series of congressional and court measures during the 1850s. These actions, among others, included a new federal fugitive slave law as part of the Compromise of 1850, and the Dred Scott decision in 1857, which decreed that free blacks had no citizenship rights. These events rendered the lives of free blacks even more precarious and seemed to signal the continuation of slavery in perpetuity. They renewed white interest in and, ironically, generated some black pursuit of, colonization.
The coffers of the ACS swelled as it renewed its push to “repatriate” free blacks to Liberia. Over the next ten years, the ACS sent another few thousand free blacks (out of the total US free black population of more than 450,000) to Liberia. Once there, those who survived the “African fever”—most commonly malaria, contracted within the first months of settlement—typically established themselves as the elite ruling and commercial classes apart from the indigenous Liberians, whom they in turn subjugated, much as they had been in white-ruled America. Many white reformers now offered ways to make black settler life in Liberia a more enticing alternative to living in the United States. Simon Greenleaf and his fellow MCS members numbered among the reinvigorated colonizationists. Between 1850 and 1855, the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia raised about $22,000 of the $100,000 the Massachusetts Legislature had authorized. The organization then approached thirtythree-year-old Boston architect Luther Briggs Jr. (no relation to the state's former governor who, by then was president of the Trustees of Donations, George Nixon Briggs) with a proposition: design a building for a college authorized in the new republic of Liberia. The trustees explained to the architect that the school building should be a simple three-story brick structure, roughly seventy feet by forty-five feet, with a small adjacent building for the kitchen, and be commodious enough to accommodate a “Dining Room, Library, Rooms for Recitation and Study in classes, apartments for two members of the Faculty with their families, and Dormitories and Studyrooms for twenty-two Students, but HistoricNewEngland.org
capable, if necessary of receiving a larger number.” Moreover, “the whole, as required by the climate, [is] to be surrounded by piazzas supported on iron frames.” The budget for the project: $20,000. Briggs accepted the commission. Between September and October 1856, Briggs executed thirteen ink and watercolor architectural drawings on heavy paper, which are in Historic New England’s collection. The drawings depict a handsome, three-story, modified Greek Revival structure with front French doors, wraparound verandas on each floor, a series of attic dormers, and a cu-
used by architects that illustrated myriad architectural features. The Trustees of Donations wanted something less ornate: a simple building of classical design large enough to accommodate all the requisite spaces that a college building at the time needed, but flexible enough to allow for expansion as the institution grew. Briggs also needed to factor into his plans that most of the materials—the timber, the bricks, the iron, and the corrugated steel for the roof—would be acquired in and shipped from Boston. The first shipment of bricks and other materials arrived in Monrovia
American supporters of this educational project viewed Liberia College as playing a pivotal role in fostering Christianity and “civilization” throughout West Africa. pola-style observatory. The initial purpose of this college was to train black teachers to instruct grammar school students, who could then matriculate at Liberia College. American supporters of this educational project viewed Liberia College as playing a pivotal role in fostering Christianity and “civilization” throughout West Africa. Briggs (1822-1905), the son of a shipbuilder, was known in Boston for designing factories and commercial and public buildings, including the Boston City Jail (1848) and the Deer Island Almshouse (1849), and for drafting elegant plans for modest “cottages” for the well-to-do of Greater Boston. When the Trustees of Donations approached Briggs, the architect had begun to incorporate into his Italianate cottage designs eclectic architectural elements lifted from pattern books, manuals 12
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in February 1857. However, disputes over where the builders should break ground stalled construction. Some surveyors said the 100-acre tract of land in Clay-Ashland was too swampy and recommended building the school in Monrovia. Critics of this recommendation argued that Monrovia’s soil was too rocky for the school to grow its own food. They also feared that students would be exposed to the bad elements of urban life in Monrovia. A constitutional crisis followed because the Liberia Legislature had designated that the school be built in Clay-Ashland. However, political leaders in Monrovia, with the weight of the college Board of Trustees and the Trustees of Donations in Boston behind them, won the day. Builders laid the school’s cornerstone in Monrovia in 1858. Because of further disputes and
delays, the roof was not installed until April 1861, just ahead of the seasonal rains. The final cost of construction: $18,000. With the buildings completed, the college’s inauguration took place on January 23, 1862. A grand procession, complete with a band, was staged in Monrovia. In attendance were the clergy; members of the Legislature and representatives of foreign governments; the mayor of Monrovia and his councilmen; the college’s trustees, president, and three faculty members; and attorneys and members of the public. J. J. Roberts, the president of Liberia and of Liberia College, gave the inaugural speech and faculty member Professor Edward Blyden offered an oration. After the doxology, the parade retraced its steps— and Liberia College remained closed for another year, due to the lack of qualified students. Liberia College opened officially on February 2, 1863, with seven certified students and eighteen in its preparatory school. Its library contained 4,000 volumes. Its humanities curriculum mimicked that of many US colleges: jurisprudence and international law, intellectual and moral philosophy, English language and literature, and Greek and Latin languages and literature. The Trustees of Donations in Boston and the Board of Trustees in Monrovia had good reason to celebrate. However, like the building, which fell into disrepair after two decades because its foundation consisted of wooden pilings—an unwise calculation given Liberia’s moist climate—the institution fell into desuetude. Enrollment remained perpetually low. According to the manuscript A Brief History of Liberia College, penned in 1878 by former ACS secretary Rev. John B. Pinney during his brief tenure as
On the second story of his design for Liberia College, Briggs included a library. The third floor was devoted to lodging rooms and the fourth level served as attic space.
president of the college, the institution granted only ten degrees during its first fifteen years of operation. That number did not change until the turn of the twentieth century. Few indigenous Liberian students attended, as most regarded the college as the institution for the children of American émigrés. By the 1880s, the few remaining faculty members, who collected salaries but did not teach, called for the college to shutter its doors. After several brief closings in the 1890s, Liberia College managed to limp into the twentieth century. Despite the nation’s brutal civil war between 1984 and 2003, the University of Liberia (as the college was incorporated in 1951) today boasts an enrollment of nearly 20,000 students and has expanded to include six colleges, a law school, a school of medicine, and a pharmacy school. In many ways, Liberia College was the crowning achievement of the MCS and by extension, a trophy for the ACS. Liberia itself never materialized as the ACS had envisioned; fewer than 15,000 free blacks relocated to
the West African nation between 1820 and 1904, the final year the ACS paid passage for the last free black émigré. The ACS served as an aid society to Liberia for its final sixty years before dissolving officially in 1964. As a university that accepts international students, the institution has expanded the mission of educating black Liberians undertaken more than 160 years ago by the Trustees of Donations for Education in Liberia—which continues its work from its Boston headquarters—aided by the architectural expertise of Luther Briggs Jr. William Hart is writing a book on Martin Freeman, an African American graduate of Middlebury College (class of 1849), who immigrated to Liberia in 1864 to teach at the college and later become its president. The book examines how and why colleges and medical schools in the Northeast were complicit in the colonization of Liberia as they educated young black men to be the leaders of that republic in the nineteenth century.
by SALLY ZIMMERMAN Senior Preservation Services Manager
Lyman Estate Landscape Remains True to Its Roots Among the many visually appealing and culturally significant landscapes that grace Historic New England’s museum properties, few can compete in age and importance with the grounds of the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts. In 1841, Andrew Jackson Downing—the founder of American landscape architecture—highlighted Theodore Lyman’s “Waltham House” in his Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, the first American text on landscape design. Downing cited Lyman’s 1793 estate as one of only four landscapes worth emulating and among the oldest and finest for its refinement and elegance in “rural improvement.” With thirty-nine acres of water-side meadow, specimen plantings, paths, gardens, greenhouses, agricultural fields, and native hardwoods, the Lyman Estate continues to invite admiration. Recent improvements at the property have made it even more welcoming and accessible to the public. During the spring, a 216-foot section of the southfacing brick wall that encloses the estate’s back garden was stabilized to allow for the reintroduction of the fruit 14
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trees that once lined the masonry border. Historically known as “the peach wall,” this feature captured heat and sunlight for ripening stone fruit on trees and was one of several landscape structures that enabled the cultivation of delicate and exotic plants. The adjacent greenhouses, where table grapes, camellias, and orchids have flourished for generations, have also been renovated. In addition to the renewal of plant benches, restoration of window sashes, repointing, and heating system upgrades, there is improved access to the Grape House (1804), Camellia House (1820), and Orchid House (1840) sections of the greenhouses along newly graded and durably surfaced paths. Support from a combination of private donations and the City of Waltham’s Community Preservation Act funds underwrote this work, supplementing major commitments by Historic New England to the care of its historic landscapes. Other aspects of landscape renewal at the Lyman Estate include restoration of a picket fence atop the stone wall at the entrance gates and the thinning of invasive plantings on the banks of Chester Brook, the stream that flows through
the site. Opening the view to Chester Brook reestablishes a critical vista, a hallmark of the property. These efforts build on work done in 2011-12 when the historic path system of the back garden was restored using the documentation provided in plans drawn in 1934 by the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). “The garden was the entire estate,” is how landscape historian Alan Emmet has described the Lyman property. The scale of the estate, which once topped 400 acres, and its integrated functions—which included a working model farm and extensive greenhouses—made it unique in its day. Though reduced in size, the Lyman site preserves the historic core of the property because of Historic New England’s ownership of the estate along with the preservation easement it holds on the adjacent property with its farmhouse, barns, and dairy. Agricultural fields along Chester Brook, leased to Waltham Fields Community Supported Agriculture, continue to be cultivated. This cultural landscape, significant for its great age and the remarkable extent to which its original features have been preserved, prompted recognition of the Lyman Estate as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Historic New England provides public access not only to the Lyman Estate landscape but to all its holdings in the region, which encompass more than 1,200 acres of natural and cultural landscapes. These landscapes bring dog walkers, runners, artists, and members closer to the heritage we share in our region’s gardens, farmlands, fields, forests, and other green spaces. Visit our website to learn more about the landscapes at Historic New England’s properties.
page 14 Artist Alvan Fisher depicted the idyllic setting of the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, in the 1820s. He titled the watercolor The Vale after the formal name Theodore Lyman gave the 1793 estate. Lyman hired an English gardener to help him design The Vale’s landscape. below Later generations of Lymans continued Theodore’s tradition of caring for the landscape, a role Historic New England assumed in 1951.
by CARISSA DEMORE Team Leader for Preservation Services
PRESERVING THE FUTURE of a Historic Property
ith a 108-year legacy of creating museums, Historic New England has a lot of experience transforming private homes into public sites. There are situations, however, that call for different preservation solutions. Bishop House in Woodstock, Connecticut, presented such a situation. Owned by descendants of Dr. Ebenezer Bishop for more than 200 years, the house reflects a long and interesting family history. However, by 2010 the ever-increasing number of relatives who owned it were spread across multiple states and struggling to care for the property. No longer in a position to effectively maintain their family home, they wanted to ensure that the property and the legacy it represented would be preserved. They decided it should become a museum and approached Historic New England to turn their idea into action. Accepting a new property into Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s collection means making a long-term commitment to the site, the donor, and the community. There are a variety of factors to consider before the organization makes that commitment, including the architectural and social significance
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of the property. A museum can only be successful with the support of the community, so it is important to consider whether the neighbors, local government, and community partners would be interested in a new institution and if there is likely to be sufficient audience to support it for decades to come. In addition, a financial endowment must accompany the property donation to ensure that Historic New England has the resources to responsibly care for and operate the museum. This traditional approach wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ideal for Bishop House but there were other options available for preserving the property. Historic New England has been using alternative preservation solutions since 1947. With more than 100 privately owned homes protected through our Preservation Easement Program and many more people accessing the homeowner services available to qualifying members and through public programs, Historic New England is an expert at helping property owners find the appropriate preservation tools for their situations. Options available today can give families peace of mind that their legacy will
be preserved while allowing a property to be adapted for new uses or updated with contemporary technology and continue to be a dynamic historic resource in its community. To find the right preservation solution for Bishop House, Historic New England staff visited the property several times and had multiple conversations with family members about their goals for its future. These sessions brought to light the changes made to the property over time that Historic New England and the family were eager to preserve. Stone walls had retreated into the trees as forest reclaimed once-farmed fields. A curious floor plan and varied window configurations at the c. 1780 house showed how Ebenezer Bishop had enlarged it around the turn of the nineteenth century. The family decided to donate the two-and-a-half-acre property to Historic New England not as a museum, but rather to be sold subject to a perpetual preservation easement. Historic New England will manage a legal agreement recorded at the sale that permanently protects the house and outbuildings from demolition, neglect, or insensitive alteration. This Preservation Easement Program pact also connects all future owners of the property to the technical advice and guidance provided by Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preservation services team. Working with the family to assure that the open space surrounding the property remains undeveloped, the New Roxbury Land Trust acquired the adjacent seventy-five acres of farmland, which was permanently protected in 2013 as the Bishop Farm Preserve. The family also donated most of the contents of the house to Historic New England. Among the significant items added to our collection are a tall case clock, family letters, and photographs. The history of the family and the property, captured in these materials and through oral history interviews, will be available at Historic New England for future research.
above Confident in the historical significance of the house but unsure of its future use, Bishop family descendants allowed the interiors to age, exposing layers of paint and acquiring a patina, underscoring the experience of the generations that lived at the property. below The familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s donation includes items that belonged to Corporal Ebenezer Bishop (1841-1919), a Civil War veteran: his rucksack, some utensils, a crossed-saber cavalry insignia pin, and a carte de visite, a small, mounted photograph.
Interim support for Bishop House is provided in part by a grant from the Mary L. McKenny Fund of the Toledo Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Toledo, Ohio.
Historic New England is honored to have been selected by Bishop family descendants to help find a preservation solution for their historic property. The donation will support many aspects of Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work, including management of the Bishop House preservation easement, educational programs throughout New England (see page 18), and the regional Community Preservation Grant program (see page 30). Net proceeds of the sale of the house, after expenses are paid and an easement endowment established, will be distributed along with proceeds from a family trust as follows: 30 percent to endow the Mary Bishop Whitney Education Fund; 30 percent to endow the Herbert and Louise Whitney Fund for Community Preservation to support Community Preservation Grants; and 40 percent to create the Charles and Mary McKenny Heritage Endowment, supporting the overall work of Historic New England. HistoricNewEngland.org
Roseland Cottage School Programs Still Going Strong by GAIL WHITE USHER Education Program Coordinator
istoric New England’s school programs at Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut, engage students in the stories of people and events of the past with active learning, personal experience, and original materials. We began twenty-five years ago with two programs; we now offer twenty-one immersive programs for grades one through ten. Topics include the Revolutionary War, slavery, abolition, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Progressive Era. Woodstock Elementary School was the earliest participant in our school programs. Every year on the first Friday in May, buses arrive at the gates of Roseland Cottage and a parade of excited third graders tumble out to visit their hometown landmark. The students explore the 1846 summer home of Henry and Lucy Bowen through the eyes of the couple’s ten children and learn to identify architectural details of the Gothic Revival cottage. When the students return to school they create unique interpretations of the “Pink House,” as Roseland Cottage is locally known, from sketches they made during their field trip. Their paintings are displayed for visitors in Roseland Cottage’s carriage barn. In the fall, Woodstock Middle School seventh-grade students spend two months studying the Revolutionary War in the Spirit of ’76 program. A Historic New England museum teacher guides teams of “history detectives” in handling eighteenth-century items, such as a wig curler. Students use critical thinking skills to try to figure out the purpose of the objects. At the end of class, the objects’ uses are revealed, often surprising the students. The seventh graders continue delving into the Revolution with the Spirit of ’76 Loyalist-Patriot Debate. This role-playing program casts students as Loyalists, Patriots, or as uncommitted colonists. They argue their respective positions to try to persuade classmates to support their views. Framing the Constitution wraps up the study with a two-day role-playing program set during the Constitutional Convention meetings of July
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Eighth-graders in the Woodstock, Connecticut, middle school build a small-scale floating bridge, also called a pontoon bridge, as part of their study of the Civil War in Historic New England’s Rally ’Round the Flag education program.
1787. Students assume the roles of state delegates and learn negotiation and compromise skills in the complex process of trying to draft a constitution. Eighth-grade social studies students take part in Historic New England’s Rally ’Round the Flag program, in which a Roseland Cottage museum educator teaches about the Civil War to five classes one day a week for five weeks. Students learn about engineering and transportation, the North’s industrial advantages, communication and ciphers, medicine, and women's contributions. During a field day at the school that completes the curriculum, students construct a one-quarter-scale pontoon bridge, practice artillery drills, use cipher wheels and signal flags, and investigate soldiers’ lives and medical treatment. Roseland Cottage’s relationship with Woodstock schools exemplifies Historic New England’s commitment to providing experiences that engage students as active learners. This is challenging when so many schools grapple with limited budgets. Sometimes we take museum education programs to the classroom, eliminating transportation costs for the school. We seek local sponsors to support this educational work. In Woodstock, our school programs are partially funded by grants from the Barnes Foundation and the local education foundation. These partnerships have an important impact, as expressed by a Woodstock Middle School seventh-grade student: “Historic New England really helped me in social studies. . . .From the third grade to seventh they have been there for me helping to improve my knowledge, not to mention how they took fun and turned it into something educational.”
In the Theater of Public Life New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s multifunctional opera houses by LORIE K. KOMLYN
I The Norfolk, Connecticut, opera house was named Village Hall when it was built in 1883. The architect had been forgotten until the author documented that it was George Palliser (1849-1903), who ran an architectural firm with his brother and was known for publishing architectural pattern books. Village Hall is now called Infinity Hall. Top photograph by Lorie K. Komlyn; bottom photograph courtesy of Norfolk Historical Society.
n the final decades of the nineteenth century residents of communities throughout New England could purchase eggs and household staples, perform civic functions, board a train or steamship, avail themselves of resources at the public library, and attend social gatherings in the same building where they congregated to see theatrical and musical performances: the opera house. This purpose-built, multifunctional structure incorporated daily activities and stage shows under one roof. These buildings not only harmonized aspects of pleasure and business, fantasy and function, but also encapsulated the New England spirit of ingenuity and practicality combined with a desire to connect with the artistic endeavors of cultured society. Multifunctional opera houses held an esteemed position in many New England municipalities. Whether designed by widely known architects or local firms; financed by entrepreneurs, individual citizens, or municipal funds; and used in a variety of ways, the opera house was a source of pride for residents and HistoricNewEngland.org
Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut, still has the dockside portals on the Connecticut River that once served as terminals for the steamship business that entrepreneur William Goodspeed operated out of his multipurpose building. Photograph by Lorie K. Komlyn.
typically a community’s most prominent structure. Such facilities could later be found in all regions of the United States, but it was in New England that they first proliferated. In 1876 The American Architect and Building News ran an article about a new opera house planned for the small borough of Danielsonville, Connecticut. It described the design of the building, as envisioned by the Walker & Gould architectural firm of Providence, Rhode Island: two stores on the first floor and an entrance vestibule with a staircase to the second floor—where “banking rooms and offices” would be located—and a corridor leading to the back of the building to the 800-seat theater with its “liberal stage and ante-rooms.” Similar structures soon followed. Goodspeed Opera House (1876) in East Haddam, Connecticut, contained a general store, a dentist’s office, an insurance office, and a steamship depot; Village Hall (1883, now called Infinity Hall) in Norfolk, Connecticut, had a green grocer, a milliner and women’s clothing shop, and a barber; and Loane’s Opera House (1895) in Ashland, Maine, also served as a fishing tackle and hardware store. Most of the uses added to an opera house were civic oriented. Besides local government offices, the functions set up in opera houses ranged from law enforcement (courts, police stations, and jails) to libraries to firehouses with space to store the horse-drawn engines, such as in the Littleton Opera House (1894) in Littleton, New Hampshire; the Sterling Opera House (1889) in Derby, Connecticut; and the Claremont Opera House (1897) in Claremont, New Hampshire. Architectural plans by George G. Adams (1850-1932) for the Dover Opera House (1891) in Dover, New Hampshire, detail the breadth of civic operations. The basement included space for the building’s heating system, the public library and reading rooms, police operations with cells for men and women, a “tramp room” for detaining vagrants, and the armory. On the ground floor were offices for the mayor, city manager and clerk, tax collector, school superintendent, and public works officers, as well as the police court. The theater reigned on the second floor, where there was also an area for a banquet hall and kitchen. There were few limits to Yankee ingenuity for uses 20
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of opera houses. Waltham Music Hall (1880) in Waltham, Massachusetts; Pythian Opera House (1894) in Boothbay Harbor, Maine; and Pettingill’s Opera House (1894) in Island Falls, Maine, had apartments, private spaces for associations and organizations such as fraternal orders, shooting ranges, drill rooms, and areas for entertainment and recreation, such as billiard halls.
A singular characteristic of opera houses was the uniform exterior appearance. Form did not necessarily imply function. By incorporating transportation services into an opera house, venues in two municipalities provided travel resources for local residents and had the means to import audiences for theatrical events. Steamboats ferried theatergoers from as far away as New York City up the Connecticut River to the depot in William Goodspeed’s opera house. Goodspeed, a local entrepreneur and banker, even integrated the travel theme inside the theater venue by advertising his steamboat business with a painting of a boat in his fleet, State of New York, on the stage curtain. By displaying this particular vessel to a captive audience, Goodspeed cannily reminded East Haddam residents of the ease with which they could travel to New York City. At least one opera house was built with a train terminal. Lawrence Opera House (1880) was constructed
by the Boston & Lowell Railroad Company in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The railroad companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s flagship station, it was the most ornamental building in Lawrence at the time, designed by architect Charles T. Emerson (18371916), a city resident. Having the opera house above the train station no doubt made it extremely efficient and convenient for theatergoers as well as members of traveling opera and theater companies. New research reveals that there were three main plan forms used for the placement of the theater and the spaces for other functions. However, because of the survival rate of buildings with theaters on the upper floors, it was thought that this was the only model. Indeed, it is true that every multipurpose opera house built in New England after 1894 was designed that way. Locating the theater on the floors above the other functions figuratively accentuated the idea of the opera house as a venue of sophistication and culture, a notion highly desirable in a small town eager to establish its significance. These structures reflect a multitude of architectural styles, from Gothic Revival and Second Empire to Queen Anne and other Victorian-era styles and the classical references of the Romanesque, Italianate, and Greek and Colonial Revival styles of the mid- through latenineteenth century. Individually, the opera houses exhibit the prevalent design trends. Collectively, the buildings represent the period of eclecticism in architecture. A singular characteristic of opera houses was the uniform exterior appearance. Form did not necessarily imply
function, and none of the individual purposes housed in the buildings was differentiated by stylistic features. With the exception of shop-front windows, no function was highlighted over the others. Whether symbolizing a townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s development and vitality, contributing to its governance and economic growth, or serving as a means to bring together various socioeconomic classes through lectures, entertainment, social events, and other activities, these multifunctional buildings fostered community interaction. Residents worked together to raise many of these structuresâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;serving on committees, contributing funds, and managing the enterprises based in them. These venues and their various functions provided employment for many townspeople, particularly the theaters, which needed scenic artists, stage carpenters, janitors, and orchestras. Renovated opera houses have a similar appeal today and provide for their communities in much the same way they did 125 years ago. Many host a community theater group while still serving as city halls. These buildings endure as viable prospects for community development, proving their continued value in the twenty-first century. Lorie K. Komlyn researched this topic for her dissertation, All the Essentials: The Purpose-Built, Multifunctional Opera Houses of Regional New England, 1875-1910, submitted in 2016 for the master of studies degree in building history at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. In 1881, a year after acquiring the estate his grandfather built in 1793 in Waltham, Massachusetts, Arthur T. Lyman invested in the Waltham Music Hall Company, buying eight shares valued at $100 each. Last December the Waltham City Council approved funds to restore the Elm Street structure. Photographs courtesy of the Waltham Historical Society (left); Gary Rosenhahn, Funnyback.com.
SUPPORT YOUR PASSION
CASEY FARM (c. 1750) SAUNDERSTOWN, RHODE ISLAND
GROPIUS HOUSE (1938) LINCOLN, MASSACHUSETTS
Historic New England needs your support to repair and preserve three well-used barns and stone walls at our mostvisited property. The farmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s agricultural and educational programs served more than 40,000 people last year. Remaining Funds Needed: $80,000
Help us prepare to celebrate the centennial of the Bauhaus in 2019. A beautification and preservation project will make our most internationally celebrated house museum look its best for this important commemoration. Total Funds Needed: $100,000
ROYAL BARRY WILLS ASSOCIATES COLLECTION
HAMILTON HOUSE (c. 1785) SOUTH BERWICK, MAINE
Historic New England acquired and is cataloguing and digitizing the archive of this influential Boston architectural firm known for its mastery of the Cape Cod house. With your help, 11,000 items will be searchable online in 2019. Remaining Funds Needed: $70,000
Your support is essential to preserve the stone-walled cottage garden that welcomes visitors to one of Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most picturesque properties, a jewel of the Seacoast Region. Total Funds Needed: $18,000
KEEPING TREES HEALTHY
INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT (IPM)
Our preventive approach to tree maintenance helps mitigate damage from wind, rain, and snowstorms. You can invest in the care and safety of our historic properties around New England. Total Funds Needed: $114,000
Historic New England is nationally recognized as a leader in innovative strategies and solutions to pest infestation. Your support will help expand our program and protect our collections and buildings, and also those of museums with whom we share research and best practices. Total Funds Needed: $41,000
We ask you, our members, to consider making a gift in any amount to help close the funding gap for one of these important projects. Please call 617-994-5951 or go to HistoricNewEngland.org to make your gift today. 22
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by MICHAELA NEIRO Objects Conservator
Chinese Lanterns Restored to Rightful Place at Beauport It all started because of a pair of bare light bulbs. Now, two beautifully crafted lanterns again adorn the China Trade Room at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House (1907), in Gloucester, Massachusetts. An important part of ensuring the accuracy of the interiors of our museum properties is studying early photographs of the sites. These visual records document what a property looked like at various points in its past, enabling us to maintain or re-create authentic interiors. Photographs of Beauport taken when the original owner and designer, Henry Davis Sleeper, occupied the house guided the effort to return the light fixtures that accent the baby grand piano beneath the elaborate balcony in the China Trade Room. Beauport Site Manager Martha Van Koevering combed Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s archive of photographs of this
distinctive forty-room mansion for the best image that depicted the Chinese lanterns as Sleeper had suspended them above each end of the piano. Then she searched the object storage shelves at Beauport. Elated to find one of the lanterns, she wondered if it could be repaired. She also wondered where the mate could be. When I went to Beauport to look at the lantern I discovered several things. First, I saw how beautiful, complex, and amazing it was, with its carved rosewood, unique reverse painted glass panels, and carved bats in the corners, all lined with red paper. Second, I saw how badly damaged it was, with smashed scrollwork, cracked glass, missing parts and copper wire wrapped around the corners to hold the pieces and parts together. The invasive copper wire repairs indicated that this lantern had probably been HistoricNewEngland.org
page 23 Objects Conservator Michaela Neiro takes a gentle approach to the repair of a Chinese lantern that Henry Davis Sleeper installed in Beauport's China Trade Room. left New Hampshire-based artist Xiaojia Peng meticulously replicated the fixture. The original lantern and its new mate are now in place.
broken many times; maybe its mate hadn’t survived. The clue that the mate was gone forever was in its Historic New England accession number: the lantern was catalogued in 1942 as a single object, not one of a pair. I felt confident I could repair the lantern; but how could we find a mate? After a thorough search, I determined that I would never find an exact match from an antique dealer or auction house. Senior Curator of Collections Nancy Carlisle suggested that I talk with a colleague who had had reproduction objects made in China. After showing photographs of the lantern to my colleague she reported that it would cost a small fortune to have a duplicate lantern hand carved in China, but that she knew a Chinese artist who lived in southwestern New Hampshire who might be able to make a replica. What luck that Xiaojia Peng was ready, willing, and most of all able to replicate Sleeper’s lantern, using a CNC machine. CNC, or computer numerical control, involves the use of computers to execute programmed sequences to 24
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automate machine tools. Xiaojia said that making the replica out of a dense and readily available wood like maple instead of Chinese rosewood would help keep the cost down. Also, he said he could hand carve the three missing pieces of the original lantern out of Chinese rosewood; I would mold and cast nonstructural decorative elements and stain his replica to match the original. We had a deal. The next step was to undertake conservation of the original lantern. After photographic documentation, I carefully removed the many lengths of fine copper wire (as well as string) that were attempting to hold the lantern together. After removing and repairing the reverse painted glass panes, I brought them to Linda Abrams in Waltham, Massachusetts, to make replicas for Xiaojia’s reproduction. Abrams specializes in creating and conserving reverse painted glass, also known as verre églomisé, or Hinterglasmalerei. As the name suggests, glass is painted on one side, then turned over so that the artwork is viewed from the opposite side. The conservation work on the lantern involved using a strong but reversible adhesive on all the joins. Once all the original pieces were reattached, I replicated all the tiny sections of missing scrollwork. This was done by molding the original sections and making casts using epoxy putty. The epoxy pieces were cut and sanded to fit exactly where the losses in the scrollwork were and adhered in place with a reversible adhesive. Making all the tiny pieces fit and look as good as the carved originals was by far the hardest part of this project for me. The fun part was casting the sixteen bats needed for the corners of the wooden frames that would secure the new painted glass panes in the replica lantern. After the maple replica was complete and the original rosewood lantern stabilized, the final steps of the puzzle could come together. On the original, I painted the fills and reattached the original painted glass panes. I then stained the reproduction, lined the interior with red tinted paper, and installed the replica painted glass panes. This project brought a beautiful object back to its original glory and recreated its mate. When visiting Beauport this season, look at the lanterns and try to determine which one is the original.
Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., through October 13 (closed on July 4). Tours are on the hour with the last tour at 4:00.
Pressed for Success
The glass doorknobs of Enoch Robinson
by RHETT BUTLER Founder, E. R. Butler & Co. The model submitted for US Patent 65, filed October 20, 1836, described as “Ferrule Knob for Doors, &c.” and signed by Enoch Robinson, Francis Draper, and Joseph H. Lord.
he listing in Historic New England’s collections database was startling: it indicated that there was a group of pressed glass doorknobs that included an actual patent model from the hands of Boston-born machinist and inventor Enoch Robinson (1801-1888), a pioneer of the glass industry in the United States. It had taken me several years to confirm Robinson’s leading role in the development of pressed glass, as the history of glass manufacturing is dominated by names like Bakewell Glass of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Deming Jarves and the Boston and Sandwich Glass Com-
pany in Massachusetts. Finding this particular doorknob in Historic New England’s collection was remarkable. Signed by the inventors—Robinson, Draper, Lord—it had never been identified as a patent model. Dated 1836, it is an artifact of the transformation of the United States from an agrarian British territory to a rapidly industrializing society. This model and others in the group are part of a small collection of glass doorknobs that the Smithsonian Institution donated to Historic New England in 1927. Pressed glass objects such as door and cabinet knobs were products of cutting-edge technology that dev-
eloped about a decade after the War of 1812 ended. The inscribed names on the knobs document when this technology eclipsed the expensive, labor-intensive production method of using mold-blown and hand-cut glass forms that had been created by premier manufacturers like New England Glass Company. The first “finished” article exported from America, pressed glass helped make the United States a major exporter of manufactured goods, and the glass press machine revolutionized glass manufacturing around the world. Clear glass knobs offered a glistening object of curiosity and wonHistoricNewEngland.org
TOP Engraved “Francis Draper, E. Cambridge, Mass.,” this doorknob may have served as a model for Draper’s US Patent 1,784, dated December 10, 1840. ABOVE: LEFT Robinson, Draper, and Lord signed this “Socket Knob for Door, Commode, &c.” model for US Patent 98, filed September 2, 1836. RIGHT Robinson crafted this glass doorknob using a Benjamin Franklin cameo modeled and signed by Christian Gobrecht (1785-1844), who served as the third chief engraver of the United States Mint 1840-44.
der at a time when most knobs were made of wood, cast iron, or imported English brass. Mold-blown and hand-cut glass knobs were laborious to make and could be afforded only by the wealthy. Robinson’s glass press, a machine that efficiently pressed molten glass into molds patterned with designs, transformed the industry. Ten years before Robinson, Draper, and Lord’s 1836 patent, Robinson and Henry Whitney of New England Glass filed for a patent on their glass press: US Patent 4,553X for “Making Glass Knobs for Doors.” Recognized as the earliest surviving patent for pressed glass, it establishes Robinson as the creator of this revolutionary process. Robinson came from a long line of machinists. He got his start as an eight-year-old in the cotton factory 26
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where his father worked building machinery, putting cotton through a bale breaker to loosen the tightly matted bales for a dollar and a half a week. Later, when his father made tools and machinery for Norton Mills, a button manufacturer in Attleboro, Massachusetts, Enoch apprenticed with him as a glass cutter, making glass buttons and small glass spangles. He fulfilled an order of spangles for New England Glass and then, hired by Henry Whitney, began working for that firm in 1825. A restless innovator, Robinson cast about for glass products to experiment with, settling on furniture knobs; these small, simple forms allowed him to try out more cost-effective manufacturing techniques. This led to the historic US Patent 4,553X of 1826 and his machine, which
could make pressed glass knobs for a quarter of the price of blownglass ones. Robinson’s pressed glass set the standard—as soon as the knobs hit the market companies seeking to emulate the success of New England Glass began copying them. An 1831 court case documented evidence of patent infringement on Robinson and Whitney’s invention, with the verdict being so important to the glass industry that Bakewell Glass had representatives in the courtroom waiting to hear the decision. Robinson and Whitney won the case and immediately began negotiating to grant Bakewell rights to use the glass press west of the Allegheny Mountains. Partnering with machinist Francis Draper of New England Glass and Joseph H. Lord, an agent for the company, Robinson filed a se-
ries of patents starting in 1836 that show his evolution of discovery and technology. In 1837 he and his brother, George Washington Robinson, filed a patent that would become the standard for making glass knobs. Robinson’s work won many commendations, including gold and silver medals at the Third Triennial Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association in 1841. Exhibition committee members stated that they were “unanimous in their opinion that those [knobs], of both high and low cost, are better adapted to the wants of their fellow countrymen, than those from any other manufactory in the world.” Building on his success, Robinson began exploring using blown glass to create medallion doorknobs that portrayed spectacular cameos of notables in American history. The Benjamin Franklin cameo incrusta-
tion glass doorknob in Historic New England’s collection was modeled and signed by Christian Gobrecht (1785-1844), the third chief engraver of the United States Mint. Robinson moved on to work with metal, inventing locks and security systems, windlasses (hoisting equipment), and even perpetual motion machines. The New York Farmer and Mechanic proclaimed in an article about America’s first National Exhibition of 1846 that Robinson and his work remain “pre-eminent, both for quality and price, in which he cannot be surpassed.” His story—and that of American manufacturing—can be found in the pressed glass doorknobs at many historic houses in New England. Octagonal or circular, intricately detailed or with a smooth mushroom shape, each knob serves as a record of Robinson’s legacy and early American ingenuity.
The significance of a 1927 donation becomes clear The day I found information about three glass doorknob patent models in Historic New England’s online collection database, it wasn't so much what I didn't find—it was what I couldn't see. There were no photographs of the doorknobs, only the description “Doorknob” for each of the three artifacts. In all three descriptions, the knobs were ascribed to “Robinson, Draper and Lord (Maker).” Knowing that there never was a firm or a maker that did business as “Robinson, Draper and Lord,” I became very interested in learning more about these artifacts. Historic New England kindly fulfilled my request for images of the doorknobs. The photographs showed that the signatures—Enoch Robinson, Francis Draper, and Joseph H. Lord—were inscribed under the knobs. This confirmed a hunch I had about the attribution in the database: signatures such as these would only be required for submission of a model to the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C. “Robinson, Draper and Lord” existed only as a patentee trio. These patent models had come to Historic New England as a donation, care of founder William Sumner Appleton.
Appleton had a hunch about the maker of the artifacts, much in the same way that I had concerning the Historic New England database attribution for the doorknobs. In penning an acknowledgment of receipt to the donor, the Smithsonian Institution, Appleton expressed his delight in the gift by mentioning that “we have come across just such door handles as these in the old Robinson house, built perfectly round, in Somerville, Mass., and I notice that Robinson, Draper and Lord were the patentees. Doubtless investigation would show that this is the same Robinson.” Indeed, Appleton was correct in making the connection that Enoch Robinson was the architect of the Round House (1856), which still stands in Somerville. Likewise, my supposition that Historic New England’s collection contained a Robinson doorknob patent model was precise. — Rhett Butler Rhett Butler is researching a book on the legacy of American architectural hardware manufacturers E. Robinson & Co., Wm Hall & Co., L.S. Hall & Co., John Tein Co., W.C. Vaughan Co., and E.R. Butler & Co., to be published in 2019.
by SARAH JAWORKSI Community Engagement Assistant
At the of Person and Place A changing city adds a new chapter to its social and cultural history “I DON’T KNOW WHEN IT CLICKED,” sixteen-year-old Eric Fila Jr. of Haverhill, Massachusetts, says about coming to the realization that ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic antipathies serve only to squander human capital. “The diversity in Haverhill…really helped me figure out that it’s not just the material things.” 28
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Fila is one of ten Haverhill residents who shared their stories as part of the exhibition We Are Haverhill: Changing Faces of Haverhill’s Neighborhoods. A project in Historic New England’s Everyone’s History series, the exhibition looks at the changing demographics of Haverhill, with emphasis on the late twentieth and early twenty-first cen-
turies. Pairing photographic portraits with oral histories, the exhibition explores the impact of neighborhoods, as well as the city as a whole, on some of the individuals who live in the city. Haverhill is one of the dozens of former industrial communities in Massachusetts known as “gateway cities”—midsize urban centers that once
relied on the manufacturing sector and served as anchors for regional economies. These communities are discovering new potential and remaking their identities. For nearly a century Haverhill was known as the Queen Slipper City for its vast shoe making industry. Since the industry’s decline the city has struggled to redefine itself. Today, Haverhill is recasting itself through efforts to emphasize culture and arts. By highlighting the city’s key asset— its citizens—We Are Haverhill: Changing Faces of Haverhill’s Neighborhoods is part of that transformation. The exhibition began as an idea shared by Historic New England, the Buttonwoods Museum, and the Transformative Development Initiative of the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, also known as MassDevelopment. This project came together around the notion that there is no time like the present to collect information for the historical record. Another factor that influenced the project was that in the past, the stories collected for use as history were
often those of a select few people and themes. In the case of Haverhill, the story told again and again is about the golden age of shoe manufacturing from the mid-nineteenth through early twentieth centuries, when European immigrants flocked to the city for work in the many footwear factories. But the city’s history did not stop with the decline of shoemaking in the 1940s, nor did the influx of residents. Haverhill’s history comprises the stories of many individuals with diverse backgrounds. For that reason two particular areas were chosen as the focal point of the exhibition, the Mt. Washington and Acre neighborhoods. These two neighborhoods, the most densely populated in the city, are home to a quarter of Haverhill’s 60,800 residents. HC Media (Haverhill Community Television) joined as a project partner, offering recording equipment and editing skills. During the summer of 2017, fourth-generation Haverhill dwellers, as well as residents who not only were new to the city but also
to the United States, related their stories and took us to the places in the city that mean the most to them. Documentary photographer Markham Starr captured their images. Starr’s portraits are arranged with contemporary and historic images of the Mt. Washington and Acre neighborhoods. Quotations in English and Spanish are featured with the portraits, making this Historic New England’s first bilingual exhibition. We Are Haverhill: Changing Faces of Haverhill’s Neighborhoods debuted in November 2017 at HC Media Studio 101 at Harbor Place, where it had a three-month run. The exhibition is now traveling throughout the city; a showing at the Buttonwoods Museum, 240 Water St., is planned for this summer. Neighborhood churches have expressed interest in hosting the installation through the remainder of 2018. Visit historicnewengland.org/explore/ everyones-history/we-are-haverhill to see images and hear stories of Haverhill’s changing faces. Other Everyone’s History projects focusing on Haverhill are Chugging Through Haverhill’s History, an audio guide to the Bradford Rail Trail; the documentary film Woolworth's: Remembering Haverhill’s Shopping District; and Rocks Village: A Haverhill Neighborhood Walking Tour. Visit historicnewengland.org/explore/ everyones-history. page 28 Eric Fila Jr. has lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts, since 2005, when his parents, Angie and Eric Fila Sr., moved there from nearby Lawrence. page 29 Fermin De la Cruz Santana, shown with his grandchildren, also told his story for the exhibition. Originally from the Dominican Republic, he has been a city resident since 2014. “I don’t know if Haverhill adopted us or we adopted Haverhill,” he says, “but truly Haverhill is our home.” Markham Starr Photography.
MAKING News and notes from Historic New England by DOROTHY A. CLARK, Editor
Our Communit y Preservat ion Grants Presidential display has long-term appeal Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, in Manchester, Vermont, intended a two-year run for its exhibition on the sixteenth president’s second inaugural address when it opened in September 2009. Now in its ninth year, The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and the Second Inaugural is one of Hildene’s permanent exhibitions, thanks in part to a Historic New England Community
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Preservation Grant awarded in 2011. “It had so much appeal that it’s still there,” said Paula Maynard, press director at Hildene. “We usually rotate exhibits, but this one has continuing relevance.” With its indefinitely extended installation, tens of thousands of visitors from the United States and abroad have seen The American Ideal, she said. Hildene was among the first Community Preservation Grant recipients. Launched during Historic New England’s centennial celebration in 2010, the six grants of $1,000 are awarded annually to one small to midsize heritage organization in each New England state. The program demonstrates Historic New England’s belief in collaboration among organizations devoted to heritage and preservation across the region. The funds support a range of projects such as conservation, preservation, restoration, education, research, public accessibility to collections, and exhibitions. The American Ideal was created using artifacts on loan from Brown University’s John Hay Library. Most of the items were paper and, in keeping with preservation standards, could only be displayed for a limited period, said Laine Dunham, creative
director at Hildene. With the Community Preservation Grant, Hildene could scan the documents—which included letters, maps, and telegrams— and use the replicas for the exhibition. Using Lincoln’s second inauguration speech (delivered March 4, 1865, just over a month before he was assassinated), in which he masterfully and radically reiterated the beliefs stated in the Declaration of Independence, the exhibition interprets how the Civil War and the president’s decisions sought to give meaning to the promise of the American tenets of freedom, equality, justice, and opportunity for all. “The display thoughtfully uses text from the speech, considered to be the president’s greatest,” Maynard said. “He was unsettled by the inherent hypocrisy of saying that all men are created equal and then enslaving many, simply because of the color of their skin. Nowhere is Lincoln’s political and moral compass more clearly articulated than his second inaugural address. The president’s words are powerful and are central to the experience of The American Ideal.” Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s four children and the only one to live to adulthood, built Hildene in 1905. He was a lawyer, politician, and businessman. Lincoln descendants lived there until 1975. The nonprofit Friends of Hildene acquired the property in 1978. Go to hildene.org for information about visiting Hildene.
page 30 Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln busts mark the entrance to The American Ideal. Artifacts on display include one of Lincoln’s stovepipe hats. Photographs courtesy of Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home. right Gerlanda Cumbo with granddaughters Delmira and Geraldine Pirini at 109 Deer St., Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in July 1945. The image was featured as a life-size cutout in The North End: A Lost Portsmouth Neighborhood. Photograph courtesy of the Cumbo/Pirini Family, Portsmouth Athenaeum. below Homeroom 104 seventh graders at Portsmouth Junior High School assembled outside for their 1941-42 class picture. Photograph courtesy of Hugo E. Riciputi, Portsmouth Athenaeum.
Photo sharing helps "repopulate" a lost neighborhood Urban renewal drastically changed the landscape of the North End neighborhood of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, demolishing homes, stores, community institutions, and uprooting residents without regard for the bonds nurtured there. The Portsmouth Athenaeum used its 2013 Historic New England Community Preservation Grant to collect and scan family photographs and record oral histories to digitally document Portsmouth’s North End, a twenty-six-acre area that was razed and redeveloped during the late 1960s as part of the federally funded Vaughan Street Urban Renewal project. This work became a part of the Athenaeum’s exhibition, The North End: A Lost Portsmouth Neighborhood, which ran from February through July 2016. The exhibition was a presentation of the area from the colonial period up to the modern day, with an emphasis on the immigrant story of the 1900s through urban renewal of the late 1960s. Family pictures as well as photographs documenting the urban renewal demolitions tell the mid-twentieth-century story of this working-class neighborhood. James Smith, the Athenaeum’s photographic collections manager and curator of the exhibition, said the grant made it possible to ask the public to provide photographs of the neighborhood and family pictures. More than 300 images were submitted, which the Athenaeum scanned and returned to donors, who considered the pictures
to be priceless keepsakes, said Smith. “The grant allowed for additional research into the families.” With this more extensive information gathering, Athenaeum staff members were able to identify the people in these pictures, whether scenes were of family gatherings, social club events, or staff picnics for factory workers. The pictures include birthday celebrations, confirmations, weddings, and every-day family
meals, just to name a few of the activities people snapped pictures of with their Polaroids and other instant (as well as not so instant) cameras. “There are so many wonderful family photos,” Smith said. The exhibition was developed in part because families saw the need to preserve the stories of their elders, some of whom had recently died. Also, images from the public library’s collection of demolition photographs taken during the urban renewal clearing process were linked with the family pictures, along with information collected from newspapers, city directories, and other sourc-
es. This enabled exhibition planners to “digitally repopulate the North End,” he said. “People who came in loved that exhibit and want us to do it again, or some version of it,” Smith said. Images featured in The North End: A Lost Portsmouth Neighborhood as well as the Athenaeum’s North End Neighborhood Collection can be accessed at portsmouthathenaeum.org/collections/photographs. Apply for a Community Preservation Grant at historicnewengland.org/communitypreservation-grants. HistoricNewEngland.org
by ADAM OSGOOD Collections Technician Adam Osgood operating the bubble fumigation treatment chamber at Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Haverhill, Massachusetts, facility.
Getting the Bugs Out
with Integrated Pest Management Strategies Irreplaceable museum collections are facing a growing peril: pest infestation. In recent years the Northeast has experienced an uptick in certain pest insect populations that may be attributed to climate change. In combating this threat, Historic New England has implemented some important new strategies in its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, developed to control pests in a holistic fashion. One of our many effective efforts is our state-of-the-art fumigation bubble, a plastic chamber 32
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in which we displace the oxygen content of the atmosphere with a high concentration of inert carbon dioxide gas. This method is safe for collections, lethal to pests, and nontoxic to humans. In 2016 I gave a presentation on the fumigation bubble at an international IPM conference at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The conference, held every three years in different host countries, is well attended and growing in size, with participants from around the globe exchanging ideas. The fumigation bubble presentation I cre-
ated received international attention, affirming our leadership role in this area. One of the new methods HisÂ toric New England is using at our sites came from colleagues in the United Kingdom. Called the IPM Champion program, this strategy implements special trap monitoring and data collection to discover and identify the type and location of pest activity. For example, if an infestation is identified in textiles, targeted and informed cleaning is done to help control the problem.
To launch this program, Historic New England designated staff members trained in IPM practice, proper collection handling, and preventive conservation measures to be Champions. Early results from this initiative in just one season were measurable and positive. These initiatives have helped to increase our understanding of the pest challenges ahead and assist us in
making progress toward solutions. Historic New England is looking forward to expanding this knowledge for use during the 2018 pest season and remaining at the front edge of IPM for museum collections. See a video about Historic New England's IPM work at historicnewengland.org/IPM.
Kaeley Ferguson, a preventive care assistant and a designated IPM Champion at Historic New England, and Adam Osgood inspecting a rug for pest activity at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Boston, Massachusetts Permit No. 58621 141 Cambridge Street Boston, Mass. 02114-2702
A Coat of
by CRISTINA PROCHILO Archives Manager
he popularity of polychrome paint combinations for Queen Anne-style houses is well documented in the late nineteenth century. This Averill Paint catalogue showcases a dazzling array of colors available to homeowners in the 1880s. The catalogue illustrates the wide spectrum of colors made possible because of industry technical advances. Mr. D. R. Averill conceived of a paint “ready for the brush” in the 1860s; Averill Paint was manufactured by Seeley Brothers, which had offices in Boston, New York, and Chicago. The paint was advertised and sold on points of convenience, durability, and ease of application, while catalogues like this one gave homeowners guidance on how to use the colors effectively on their elaborately trimmed houses.
This catalogue includes advertisements, guides on the amount of paint needed per project, lithographed plates suggesting how to apply the colors, and a leaf with mounted paint chip samples. Historic paint catalogues yield critical evidence for period paint usage, information that remains valuable today for owners of old houses and preservationists. Product information like this, including examples from the Perry Paint Company, Cabot’s, and Sherwin-Williams, is actively sought for Historic New England’s Library and Archives. The extensive collection can be viewed at HistoricNewEngland.org. The paint products collection also provided documentation for His-
This palette of paint samples is from a catalogue produced by Seeley Brothers to promote Averill Paint, a ready-to-use exterior house color. The catalogue was a gift of Stephen L. Fletcher.
toric New England’s popular paint color collections, showcased in the Historic Colors of America and 20th Century Colors of America paint cards, available at shop.Historic NewEngland.org.
The award-winning Historic New England magazine is a benefit of membership. To join, please visit HistoricNewEngland.org. 34
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