Historic New England Winter 2020

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historic NEw england WINTER 2020


WINTER 2020 • Vol. 20 • No. 3

historic NEw england From the Chair

After seventeen years as president and chief executive officer, Carl R. Nold is retiring this spring. Carl’s leadership has been truly transformative as, with great skill and energy, he has led Historic New England into the twenty-first century. Carl’s accomplishments span every area of our work. The endowment has grown from $64 million to $128 million. We’ve collected Copley portraits, the architectural archives of Boston City Hall, and much more. The Preservation Easement Program has expanded to protect 113 privately owned properties. More people than ever are visiting our historic sites and becoming members. We’ve acquired five properties, and opened an office in Vermont. And we launched online access to our collections with close to one million views in 2019. We are celebrating Carl’s successes in multiple ways this spring—and this issue is one of them. It provides tangible examples of what Carl has achieved. To set the stage, Carl shares his insights on the cycles of change during Historic New England’s 110-year history and how each leader helped shape the organization we know today. A look back on the roles women preservationists have played in building our organization complements Carl’s retrospective. In 2010, Carl supported the establishment of the Prize for Collecting Works on Paper to honor individuals who are preserving local and regional heritage. Our cover story celebrates the three most recent collector’s prize recipients and how they are saving and sharing their communities’ diverse stories in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The issue continues with examples of Carl’s commitment to building and sharing Historic New England’s collections. The articles on preparing paintings for the upcoming Artful Stories exhibition at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, and digitizing the unusual Red Roof guest books for online access are cases in point. The photo essay featuring the commissioned work of photographer Steve Rosenthal introduces one of the newest additions to our world-class archival collection. Finally, there is an article that provides a glimpse of how we engage our youngest audiences through preschool programs at Casey Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. Carl came to museum work from a background in both history and education. Engaging young people through museum education has been central to Carl’s work throughout his career. During his tenure, the number of children served through our school and youth programs has grown from 15,000 in 2003 to 45,000 in 2019. It is fitting that my comments end on that note. To honor Carl and help ensure that his commitment to school and youth programming continues at Historic New England, we are creating the Carl R. Nold Fund for Museum Education, a permanent endowment fund. Please consider making a contribution to this permanent endowment fund to honor Carl and to help Historic New England continue this all-important portion of our mission. For more information, please visit HistoricNewEngland.org/Education.

David A. Martland Chair, Board of Trustees


Exhibition Framework


Hotbed of Growth


Preservation’s Matrons


Collectors of Community


Icons as Art


Hidden Necessities


Shaping the Vision


History in the Making


Wedding Bliss


Be My Guests


Wonders of Winter


Art of a Spring Day

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 Design: Three Bean Press COVER A bookshelf in the New Hampshire home of Sam Allen, a recipient of Historic New England’s 2019 Prize for Collecting Works on Paper.

Historic New England 141 Cambridge Street Boston MA 02114-2702 617-227-3956

© 2020 Historic New England. Except where noted, all historic photographs and ephemera are from Historic New England’s Library and Archives.


Conservator Michaela Neiro cleaning surface dirt from a water gilded frame.


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Conservators prepare for Artful Stories

he frame is an important part of a painting’s story. Its main purpose is to protect a painting from dust, abrasion, and climate. Frames also enhance and direct viewers’ attention to artwork, make it more opulent, and inform a time period or style. Frames can be inconspicuous unless they are in poor condition; missing elements, exposed wood, or

discolored overpaint can bring unwanted attention. It is often easier to get a new frame than to conserve the original, but this rarely is for the best. The artist or owner most likely chose the particular frame to enhance the work of art and relate to the room décor. In preparation for Historic New England’s upcoming paintings exhibition, Artful Stories: Paintings from Historic New England, the conservation staff is HistoricNewEngland.org


Liah Cox, a former Mellon fellow with Historic New England, smooths gesso fills on a water gilded girandole mirror.

stabilizing, cleaning, and restoring the frames for the paintings in the show. This allows for a close study of the materials and construction of more than forty frames in Historic New England’s collection. Most of the frames we are treating for the exhibition are gilded—an ancient decorative technique in which a very thin coat of gold leaf is applied to a surface. The gold leaf can be applied using oil or water, and the methods of gilding are often an indicator of period, quality, or artisanship. Water gilded frames generally start with carved wood moldings and ornaments that are coated with gesso, a white primer that dries hard and thin. The gesso-primed surface is covered with bole, a colored clay mixed with rabbit skin glue. Bole is available in many colors although red, yellow, and dark gray are most common. After the bole hardens it is sanded smooth, then the gold leaf is applied to the smoothed surface using water to reactivate the glue. The gold can then be burnished to produce very shiny, reflective areas. In the early days of candle- or gas-lit homes, the flickering of the light on the burnished and unburnished areas of the frames produced a dramatic and highly desirable effect. Damage to water gilded frames often is visible along the bottom edge of the structure where wellintentioned cleaners either dusted aggressively or used a damp rag to clear away dust. The thin layer of gold can be easily wiped off using water or other solvents. However, abrasion of the gold also can be intentional to allow the color of the bole to be seen and offer a more 2

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rustic or distressed look. In Europe and America after 1810, molded decoration cast in plaster— or a material called composition or compo—began to replace carved decoration in frame production. Production of such frames was quicker and less costly, eliminating the need for a skilled carver. From 1850 on, large frames, heavily embellished with cast ornamentation, became the preferred style for American landscape paintings. Compo is a mixture of animal glue, linseed oil, a filler like chalk or gypsum, and often a pine resin. It is warm and clay-like when pressed into rigid molds. Compo decoration can be highly detailed and complex, therefore it is generally oil gilded, an application technique that is much simpler and requires far less preparation of the surface. Because the oil does not harden the way bole does in water gilding, the gold cannot be burnished to a high shine. Complex, matt oil gilded areas were often arranged adjacent to flat water gilded areas to achieve contrasts in shine. The ease and variation of compo decoration allowed for great creativity and vibrancy in frames. Composition shrinks over time because of the slow drying of the linseed oil. A telltale sign that a frame is compo is the presence of evenly spaced, consistent cracking along the ornament of a frame. Another indicator is the tan or putty color of the ornament below the gold. This can be seen through the cracks or in areas of lost decoration. Neither colored bole nor gesso is necessary for oil gilding. The next time you look at a painting, take a moment to focus on the frame and think about how it might contribute to your appreciation of the painting. Be a detective—do you think the frame is original to the artwork? Is it oil or water gilded (maybe both)? Is the decoration carved or composition? Does the date of the painting match the date of the frame? Artful Stories will be on view at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, May 2, 2020, through March 21, 2021. In addition to enjoying the paintings, use your visit to test your knowledge about frames.



President and CEO Carl R. Nold retires this spring after seventeen years of service to Historic New England. A constant throughout Carl’s forty-year career has been his passion for sharing history and museums with children. Under Carl’s leadership, the number of schoolchildren served by Historic New England’s innovative school and youth programming increased 290 percent to 45,000 students annually. These programs serve our most diverse audience, but they are underfunded. Many students can participate only because Historic New England subsidizes transportation and program fees. To ensure that Carl’s commitment to school and youth programming continues in perpetuity, Historic New England created the Carl R. Nold Fund for Museum Education, a permanent endowment fund. You can help make Carl’s vision a reality by supporting the Carl R. Nold Fund for Museum Education. Please visit HistoricNewEngland.org/Education for more information.

I came to museum work from a background in both history and education. I’ve long believed that unless they are shared, even the finest collections have little value to the public. Engaging young people through educational activities ensures that museums, collections, and our shared stories have a future. —Carl R. Nold, president and CEO

of Last fall Historic New England celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Prize for Collecting Works on Paper. The prize recognizes collectors and dealers whose passion, dedication, and commitment to preserving and making accessible a record of human thought and activity has resulted in the creation of extraordinary collections. During the past ten years, Historic New England has honored twenty-one individuals for assembling and sharing paper-based collections that inform and enlighten us about the world around us. The collections range from World War II-related items to images of the American roadside diner, from minor American verse to the industries of the Shakers, from the history of pets in the United States to the Cape Cod Canal, among other topics. Our tenth anniversary observance of the award acknowledged the importance and uniqueness of community collecting. “Community collectors tightly focus on a particular topic, often with personal knowledge of significant people, places, and events in local history,” said Carl R. Nold, president and CEO. “They deal with stories and materials that may be overlooked by institutional collecting. Their collections bring personal and local character to history, which may not be available from any other sources.” The three collectors honored have enthusiastically gathered and shared material that greatly expands knowledge about their communities: Sam Allen of Dover, New Hampshire; Lance Llewellyn of Burlington, Vermont; and Earl Taylor of the Dorchester section of Boston. We asked each award winner to write about his collection. — Lorna Condon Senior Curator of Library and Achives below Earl Taylor of Boston and Sam Allen of Dover, New Hampshire (both seated), two of the three recipients of the Prize for Collecting Works on Paper, with President and CEO Carl R. Nold (left) and David A. Martland, chair of the board of trustees. page 5 Promotional materials for the Dublin, New Hampshire, bicentennial commemoration and a circus in Newport, New Hampshire, are among the 4,000 items in the Granite State Collection.


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The Granite State Collection The Granite State Collection comprises souvenirs and ephemera relating to anniversary and Old Home celebrations held in New Hampshire’s towns and cities. These items document the economic impact of such celebrations, reflect the character of the local people, and promote the uniqueness of the rural and urban communities of the state. Beginning in the early 1800s, many anniversary celebrations were held as religious observances, with clergy

detailing local history in the sermons they delivered. The economy of New Hampshire at this time was primarily agricultural. As industrialization expanded during the early eighteenth century, New Hampshire’s growth occurred in the southern and eastern parts of the state. Realizing that many rural communities were having a difficult time generating industry, Governor Frank Rollins proposed in 1899 that communities hold Old Home celebrations with the intent of drawing former residents back to their hometowns and spurring economic vitality. As a remembrance of these celebrations, many communities issued annotated histories, booklets, and programs drawing upon historical events, local folklore, and landmarks. These documents have given me—a native of New Hampshire who is drawn to history—insights into the social norms of the times and continue to lead me on a journey to discover the truly remarkable events that have shaped the state. Currently, the Granite State Collection has approximately 4,000 items with every incorporated town in the state represented. — Sam Allen

The Llewellyn Collection of Vermont History Accumulating “stuff ” requires having a number of idiosyncrasies. Concentrating these idiosyncrasies on a theme (such as Vermont, in my case) can distance you from being a hoarder. And when others appreciate what you’ve accumulated you are officially a collector. I met Vermont in 1962 and the attraction was immediate. The educational opportunities and the

people and places were pathways to my emerging world. The state made a significant impression on me. Leaving Vermont, however, was professionally inevitable so acquiring Vermont material meant that I could take a part of this place with me. I became a collector.

Lance A. Llewellyn

I began acquiring antiquarian state histories, town histories, early Vermont imprints, University of Vermont material, and then more contemporary and miscellaneous titles. This led to collecting things in other categories: maps, geology, guidebooks, Lake Champlain, involvement in wars, pamphlets, Burlington material including an extensive collection of postcards, sheet music, pennants, coins, medals, crocks, and considerable ephemera. These items represent more than 200 years of material. While my interests changed from time to time, the emphasis was always on collecting Vermontiana. Much of the collection predates the ability to shop online. Most acquisitions meant a visit to a bookstore or antiques store ranging in location from California to England. Fellow collectors became competitors and usually friends. Collecting HistoricNewEngland.org


Ephemera from the Lewellyn Collection of Vermont History, housed in Special Collections at Champlain College in Burlington. Clockwise from top left, a postcard with an October 9, 1913 postmark; a portfolio wrapper (c. 1900) with twenty souvenir cards depicting Vermont landscapes; and a view of downtown Burlington looking northeast at the intersection of Main and Church streets. The picture used for this postcard shows rear and side elevations of several buildings on the southwest corner of Church and Main streets, views that are not often captured. Also visible are City Hall and the Post Office.

provided a variety of benefits. The collection brought entertainment, satisfaction, and friendships. Later, my concern turned to the fate of the collection and the hope that others could enjoy it as I did. Fortunately, visionaries at Champlain College expressed similar thoughts and in 2010 we transferred 6

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my collection to Special Collections at Champlain College in Burlington, where it is on permanent display in the Roger H. Perry Welcome and Admissions Center. Champlain is an excellent steward for the Llewellyn Collection and a forum for its continued enjoyment and growth. The college

provides access for research and study and frequently hosts events with topics chosen from materials in the collection. The public as well as Champlain personnel will forever have access to the Llewellyn Collection. — Lance A. Llewellyn

The Dorchester Collection There are unhealthy and healthy obsessions; collecting is among the latter, and the fixes it demands are rewarding. I have often said that if I own two of something, then I have the start of a collection. Anyone who has seen my house would confirm that that is the case. Only in looking back have I realized that I would have had no clutter if I had limited myself to digital books and images instead of acquiring the real thing. In 2001 I started collecting items

related to the Dorchester section of Boston in earnest, after joining the board of the Dorchester Historical Society. The Society had a substantial collection of objects from the seventeenth century through the end of the twentieth century. However, I noticed that while the Society had books and manuscripts relating to the seventeenth through mid-nineteenth centuries, there was a need for more collecting for the period spanning the mid-nineteenth century to the present. I have long been a visitor to secondhand bookstores around New England. In 2001 I discovered

the Internet, in particular, eBay. All of a sudden, the world was at my fingertips. I started with postcards showing Dorchester scenes; the collection of postcards grew to more than a thousand. At the same time, I discovered matchbook covers, maps, books, pamphlets, paper money, advertising, and other ephemera. In some weeks, five or six packages would arrive each day. When storage space became an issue, all the Dorchester items were transferred to the Society. I have always had an interest in history and in my early professional life, after earning a degree in library science, I worked at some of the premier rare book libraries in New England. Then the real estate industry lured me away from the library profession with the promise of a higher income. Acquiring Dorchester items is my way of managing my collecting obsession. — Earl Taylor Items from the Dorchester Collection: a billhead receipt issued by The Putnam Nail Co., located in the Neponset section of Dorchester; a skating club decal; and a 1907 view of the Stoughton School, the work of Gridley J. F. Bryant, an influential New England architect. HistoricNewEngland.org


by CARL R. NOLD President and CEO

SHAPING the VISION Leadership changes have been a catalyst for growth at Historic New England


s we look back at the 110-year-history of Historic New England, we see cycles at work. It falls to volunteer and staff leadership to identify a path to the future by which boards of trustees and other governance groups and senior staff can lead institutions into the future. Shaping a vision is their role, and effectively sharing that vision with the public and building support for it is their job. Historic New England founder William Sumner Appleton premiered a new vision for a preservation organization in


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1910—not a single-focus group that would save just one threatened landmark, but a region-wide body capable of stepping up whenever and wherever needed to undertake the still-novel task of “preserving” a historic place. Appleton drove the organization to develop philosophical and practical approaches to historic preservation where none existed in this country. He experimented with how to make it all work, putting some properties into use as museums, renting out others for commercial activities such as tearooms and antiques shops, and

designating some to be occupied by resident overseers. The founder gradually moved the organization to its understanding that maintaining authenticity and original building fabric was far more important to the future than whatever restoration or reconstruction might be accomplished today. He wrote in 1930: “The more I work on these old houses the more I feel that the less of W. S. Appleton I put into them, the better it is.” William Sumner Appleton died in 1947, still working, having acquired forty-five properties for the organization, as well as

page 8 William Sumner Appleton in the doorway of a house on Nantucket in 1937. top Nina Fletcher Little and Bertram K. Little working on her book American Decorative Wall Painting 1700-1850 at their Cogswell’s Grant home in Essex, Massachusetts, now a Historic New England museum. above Nancy Coolidge (standing, left), Abbott Lowell Cummings (seated, right), and other staff members and trustees.



Jane and Richard Nylander

outstanding archival and artifact collections that prioritized documentation and explanation over aesthetics and financial value. Bertram K. Little followed Appleton. He continued the focus on property acquisition as a primary means of preservation and began building an organization to fulfill the many duties that his predecessor largely handled alone. Scholarship expanded, and collections and architectural expertise were acquired through new hires and building networks with like-minded organizations. Prestige and national leadership accrued. When preservation took to the national stage in the 1960s, practices modeled at Historic New England were integrated into national preservation policy. During Little’s tenure, collections growth continued in accordance with Appleton’s vision, increasing the number of properties stewarded along with the filling of barns and attics with objects. 10

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As Historic New England entered the 1970s, the burden of caring for its real estate and artifacts tempered the organization’s capacity for the risks that come with preservation advocacy and hands-on interventions. Abbott Lowell Cummings, who was a scholar and a preservationist, acted in both those realms. Author of the classic book on colonial architecture, The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725, his work included collaborating on the first analysis of Boston’s Quincy Market for possible rehabilitation and fighting the destruction of the city’s West End—and indeed, Otis House—by urban renewal efforts. Spinoff projects of most of those tasks, however, were adopted by newly forming state and local preservation organizations in the region. Historic New England’s vision in the 1980s was of necessity one of stabilization. The organization, a sprawling champion of American

preservation, was faltering under the demands of too many properties, too few dollars and staff, and too many needs for itself and New England. Nancy Coolidge was charged with implementing a vision for success, one that included the creation of alternative methods for protecting New England’s treasures. The Preservation Easement Program was created to permanently protect, with ongoing oversight, historic properties that were returned to private ownership and local tax rolls. Educational programs were expanded. Collections were more sharply focused, with objects that were outside the consistent theme of New England home life transferred to other organizations by sale or gift, as with Shaker holdings and a collection of fire engines. Also, collections storage was centralized in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Special efforts were made to grow endowments to support

programs and to increase earned revenue. It was a controversial time of change, but essential to a reenvisioning that had to address financial and physical sustainability for the organization. The success of the Coolidge years opened the door to fully professional museum practices, bringing a higher standard of care to buildings and objects. Under the leadership of Jane Nylander, the museum role of the organization was more fully defined and implemented. A marketing function was added to the staff to build visibility. Nylander emphasized the importance of sharing research and restarted the longtime scholarly journal Old-Time New England. Realizing that the organization could reach a broader audience through publication, she replaced the journal with Historic New England magazine, targeted to public members as well as scholars. To make the collections more accessible, the staff began developing traveling exhibitions and explored options for creating museum space in Boston. This included a test of modern offices and public gallery space at One Bowdoin Square, near Otis House. The economic crash that followed 9/11 turned the country and the nonprofit world on end. Endowments dropped dramatically, budgets were slashed, plans and programs were shelved. Facing these new realities, the Board of Trustees took hold of ideas that were percolating as part of the new museum vision and began thinking differently about the future. Nylander retired in 2002, and I joined the organization in spring 2003. The concept of a new single-building museum was

shelved in favor of strengthening the historic site network and being a more public-focused institution. This required a much-broadened definition of who the organization intends to serve, opening the door fully to the general public and “everyone’s history.” The most visible change was the rebranding as Historic New England in 2004, intended to be more welcoming and more readily identifiable to all than the often-used acronym SPNEA. Program changes were also essential to establishing wider public appeal. A series of national traveling exhibitions was tested, then regional exhibitions, and ultimately a focus confirmed on exhibitions inside and outside the historic houses. Educational programs were doubled in size thanks to generous grant funding and opening new locations. Family-friendly programs were established at sites. Partnerships connected the organization to people who valued the land, or saw the connections between historic preservation and community good, as with a program to shelter abused animals in conjunction with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The organization’s centennial in 2010 was a catalyst for building more public visibility and access. The celebration focused on the future, with the centerpiece exhibition at the 2010 Winter Antiques Show in New York City creating national attention. The initiative 100 Years, 100 Communities presented programs around New England, including fifty locales that were new to the organization. The centennial provided the impetus for fulfilling a vision of greater use

of collections by supporting the online Collections Access program that makes hundreds of thousands of records and images available worldwide. The vision of being a more public institution continues, with records set steadily over the last decade for attendance, membership, and school programs. Now, in its 110th year, Historic New England is ready to welcome a new president and reevaluate its vision. Some of the elements driving this new assessment are increasingly diverse audiences, changing interests in and perceptions of American history, and a growing emphasis on protection of land and water resources. Other factors include the challenges of increasing costs and care of centuries-old buildings, as well as sea level rise and other environmental threats. Are there too many properties to be sustainable, or are there not enough to tell diverse stories of New England life? What role should the organization play in defining new methods, such as use of contemporary materials in historic buildings? How do we improve physical and intellectual access to historic places without altering their character? Can earned income be increased without damaging the sense of place that is so valued at the properties? Some may think of preservation organizations as unchanging. However, history shows that this organization, founded by antiquarians in 1910, has evolved constantly. Today it can continue to build on a century of accomplishment to find new ways to respond to such questions as it works to save and share New England heritage. HistoricNewEngland.org


guests BE MY

Friends and celebrity revelers frequently came to call on A. Piatt Andrew at Red Roof, his home in Gloucester, Massachusetts by R. TRIPP EVANS Professor of the history of art and co-chair of the Department of Visual Art and History of Art at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.


n the first guest book for his Gloucester, Massachusetts, home, Red Roof, noted economist and Bay State congressman A. Piatt


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Andrew (1873-1936) recorded his intention “to seize and hold, though it be ever so fragmentarily, suggestions of dear hours that pass.” Beginning this year,

visitors to HistoricNewEngland. org may digitally “seize and hold” Andrew’s newly restored guest books themselves, thanks to the generosity of his great-great-niece

page 12 A. Piatt Andrew (far left) with four Harvard University students at Red Roof in May 1909: Joseph Husband (class of 1909), Crawford Burton (class of 1908), Candler Cobb (class of 1907), and Richard Eggleston Jr., class of 1909). right Easter Sunday at Red Roof, April 19, 1908. The notoriously camera-shy Isabella Stewart Gardner—a frequent presence at Red Roof—is at the center of an admiring circle that included Andrew and guests Henry Davis Sleeper, Ernst Hanfstaengl, Samuel Welldon, and brothers Harry and Jack Mabbett. below Signatures of guests at a farewell costume party for Andrew on July 30, 1908, before his departure for Europe with the National Monetary Commission. Painter Cecilia Beaux hosted the party at her Gloucester studio. Andrew, who attended dressed as a Roman emperor, styled himself “Piatt R. I.,” for “Romanorum Imperatorem”); Gardner signed as “Ysabella”; her nickname on Eastern Point was “Y.” She added an “R” (for “Regina,” or “Queen”) along with a small crown to her signature.

and -nephew, Corinna T. Fisk and her brother, Piatt A. Gray. The Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts, conserved and digitized the Red Roof guest books. Compiled in two volumes spanning 1902-1930, the guest books not only constitute an extraordinary record of the period—poring over the inscriptions and the nearly 700 photographs is like entering the world of an Edward Gorey cartoon—but they also invite us into the inner circle of a man whose charisma still fairly leaps off the page. When the twenty-nine-year-old Andrew built Red Roof in 1902, he had recently joined Harvard University’s economics faculty. A sanctuary from his Cambridge, Massachusetts, faculty apartment, Red Roof anchored a growing colony on Gloucester’s Eastern Point that soon included Beauport, the home of Andrew’s great friend, Henry Davis Sleeper. More than a summer home, Red Roof became a year-round retreat for an


impressive rotation of guests—a collection of personalities who clearly were as drawn to the man as they were to his extraordinary house. The attraction is not difficult to understand. Beyond Andrew’s considerable intellectual gifts, he was an impressive athlete, a connoisseur of the arts, an indefatigable host, and a man blessed with movie-star good looks. It’s reasonable to assume that invitations to Red Roof were rarely declined. Andrew’s guest books sparkle with the names of HistoricNewEngland.org


left From right, Edgar Rust (Harvard class of 1904), a fixture at Red Roof from 1906 until his marriage in 1909; Andrew; Louis Victor Allard, a Harvard French professor; and Andrew’s friend and next-door neighbor, Sleeper on July 30, 1908. below A swimming party at Red Roof on July 3, 1911. Andrew is at the far right and longtime companion Jack Mabbett is at the upper left. Also pictured are Adolphus Andrews, Willing Spencer, sisters Julia and Alys Meyer (center), and an unidentified woman. An avid swimmer and tennis player, Andrew hosted an energetic schedule of outdoor activities for his summer guests. page 15 Andrew and Mabbett posing in “pyjamas” at Red Roof in June 1911. Their eight-year relationship would end with Andrew’s departure for France at the start of World War 1.

artists, collectors, politicians, socialites, academics, and Boston Brahmins. Scores of pages document visits by Andrew’s friends, among them Sleeper, the painter Cecilia Beaux, and Isabella Stewart Gardner, whose flamboyant signatures occupy more real estate than any other (under one, Gardner writes, “Oh, how they spoiled me!”). In addition to Red Roof’s regulars, the guest books feature cameo appearances by artist John Singer Sargent; financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., a scion of the notable family; first lady Helen Herron Taft; theater and film actor H. B. Warner; and art historian Bernard Berenson. Other noteworthy signatures include those of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, writer, socialite, and Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest child; U.S. Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island; and Maria Longworth Nichols, founder of Rookwood Pottery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although Red Roof attracted a wide circle of Andrew’s peers, Harvard undergraduates and recent alumni dominate its early guest lists. Over nine days in April 1904, to cite a particularly hectic—if emblematic—example of these parties, Andrew hosted a rotating group of thirteen Harvard men at his five-bedroom home. Handsome, athletic, boisterous, and openly affectionate with their host, these young men (including a twenty-one-yearold Franklin Delano Roosevelt) clearly 14

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claimed “Doc” Andrew as one of their own. Mugging for the camera and posing for self-proclaimed Red Roof sports teams, they penned locker-room nicknames for one another like “Stink Foot” and “Wooly Bottom” (Andrew’s moniker was “Smut”). The worlds these guest books summon, from the elegance of al fresco luncheons to the high spirits of a costume party (Andrew appears dressed as Pope Leo XIII and a Roman emperor), all hold an undercurrent of mystery. We are left to wonder, for example, at the complicated bonds between Andrew and his inner circle. The otherwise formidable Gardner and Beaux, who were Andrew’s senior by decades, appear playful and even flirtatious in his company. For his part, Sleeper—four years younger than Andrew, and possibly his most ardent acolyte—often looks strangely ill at ease in the photographs. As a lifelong, eminently eligible bachelor, Andrew seems to have both attracted and confounded those who knew him. At best, the guest books offer an incomplete view of Andrew’s own romantic interests. His demonstrative attitude toward male guests might suggest same-sex desire to modern viewers, yet we must place these images within their period context: a time when affectionate friendships between men were far more easily expressed. In at least two cases, however, Andrew appears to have developed intense, likely romantic relationships with younger men. Edgar Carter Rust (Harvard class of 1904) first visited Red Roof at a house party in June 1904, and by the following month he was accompanying Andrew on an extended European tour. Rust is rarely missing from the guest book’s pages in 1904-1905; from July to September 1905 he spent twenty-two nights at Red Roof as Andrew’s sole guest. His nickname, recorded in September 1904, was “Stallion.” Rust’s successor, James (“Jack”) Fiske Mabbett (Harvard class of 1908), first came to Red Roof during the fall of his senior year. As with Rust, his appearance within larger parties led to sustained periods as a single guest; indeed, during the spring and summer of 1908, Mabbett spent so many nights with Andrew that his father ordered him home to Plymouth, Massachusetts— an event that coincided with Andrew’s resignation from Harvard to join the National Monetary Commission in Europe. In the winter of 1908-1909 Mabbett reunited with Andrew, continuing as his regular guest for the next six years. The First World War would forever alter the

worlds of Red Roof. In 1915 Andrew sailed to France to establish the American Field Service, a wartime commitment that resulted in a four-year gap in the guest book entries. Within two years of his return, he would enter Congress to represent Massachusetts’ Sixth District and serve in that position for the next fifteen years. The distractions of Andrew’s new life in Washington are reflected in the changed character of the guest books: photographs appear more rarely, and soon disappear entirely, and house parties occur less regularly and feature larger gatherings of onetime-only guests. The intimacy of Red Roof’s early years appears to have been yet another war casualty. The guest book entries ceased altogether six years before Andrew’s unexpected death from influenza in 1936, at the age of sixty-three. Inside the back cover of the final volume he tipped in a poem by Anne Hathaway titled “Red Roof”; in these lines Andrew appears as “the geni of the place” and his home is a “shrine… undimmed through all the wasting woeful years.” The poem’s refrain presciently evokes both Andrew’s premature death and the short-lived “golden age” of prewar Red Roof: The greater the charm, the sooner it passes. The sooner it passes, the greater the charm. HistoricNewEngland.org


by LYNN ACKERMAN Lyman Estate Greenhouse Manager

Madeline Rose Photography Co.

HOW THE LYMAN ESTATE Became a Hotbed of Growth tepping inside the greenhouses at the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts, is like being transported back in time. Indeed, they are among the oldest surviving structures 16

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of their kind in the United States. Historic New England is fortunate to have this horticultural gem in its collection of historic properties. Since acquiring The Vale (as the estate was christened), Historic New England has continued the cultivation tradition that the Lyman family began

in the late eighteenth century. Today, the Lyman Estate Greenhouses complex includes a grape house that was built in 1804 and the camellia house, erected in 1820. There is also a greenhouse dating to the 1840s that was used for growing cut flowers and now serves as a shop where visitors

page 16 The Lyman Greenhouses today. right Interior view of the 1798 bark pit, also referred to as a bark stove, the first growing structure built on the Lyman Estate.

can buy plants year-round. In 1793, Theodore Lyman, a merchant in the East India and China trades, started acquiring land in Waltham for his summer residence and farm. Guided by William Bell, the English gardener he hired, Lyman laid out his country estate. He had his first growing structure, called a bark pit or bark stove, erected in 1798 into the side of a south-facing knoll in his kitchen garden area. It contained a firebox flue system and bark beds (placed in the plant beds, tanning bark supplied heat to the plants as it composted). This growing structure had sliding sashes that could be opened along with the wooden vents to let in fresh air and control the temperature. The bark pit was used for starting vegetables to be planted in the property’s kitchen gardens. The next structure Lyman had built was the two-part citrus and exotic fruit house in 1804. It was located off the approximately 400-yard-long brick peach wall, so named because he had espaliered peaches and apricots growing along it. In the fruit house, Lyman grew lemons, oranges, pineapples, and figs. This south-facing greenhouse had the brick wall as its backbone along with a large stove in the basement connected to a flue system, with chimneys on either end to draw warm air through and to heat the brick. Along with the flue system, thirteen arches in the base of the wall allowed hot air from the stove to circulate into the greenhouse. During the daytime, the sun would keep the

greenhouse warm and some of the heat would be stored in the almost thirteen-inch-thick wall. The original sash was wood, as it is today, but then it was sliding to allow for ventilation. In 1820, Lyman had a second greenhouse built, primarily for growing peaches. It, too, faced south and had sliding glass sash. In 1908 his grandson, Arthur Theodore Lyman, rebuilt this structure, widening it and raising the roof to accommodate camellia growing, which continues today. The third greenhouse built along the wall was the flower-growing structure. Erected in 1840 by Theodore’s son George Williams Lyman, it connected the first two greenhouses and was used to grow

cut flowers. Later, George changed the two-part fruit house into a vinery. In 1870, he sent for cuttings from the great ancient grapevine at Hampton Court, site of the royal palace outside London. The black Hamburg Mediterranean grapevine still grows and bears fruit every June, along with another Mediterranean table variety, Green Muscat of Alexandria. These grapes usually ripen in July. Theodore’s great-grandson Arthur Lyman put up the last greenhouse in the 1930s, a flower-growing structure. The only even-span greenhouse (the pitch of the roof is equal on both sides) on the estate, it extends into the kitchen garden area. Today, the Lyman Estate Greenhouses specialize in orchids HistoricNewEngland.org


right The greenhouse shop sells a wide variety of potted plants to the public. below An undated exterior shot of a section of the historic greenhouse.

(there are hundreds of varieties), exotic houseplants, citrus fruits, camellias, succulents, begonias, and herbs. Six large specialty plant sales are held annually. The expert staff assists buyers with their choices, as well as with cultural care and repotting. Besides plants, the sales greenhouse—which is also a gift shop—offers orchidgrowing supplies, pottery, gardening books, fertilizers, notecards, and garden gifts. On the third Saturday of each month, the mansion is open for tours. Visit HistoricNewEngland. org for information on events at the greenhouses and tours of the mansion.


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ICONS as Art Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University (1963), Cambridge, Massachusetts. Architect: Le Corbusier. Photographed in 1987.

FOR MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS, ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER STEVE ROSENTHAL CREATED extraordinarily beautiful images of buildings with his camera. Because of his ability to produce photographs that are both artistic achievements and documentary records, countless clients—including architects, building owners, and developers—sought out Steve to capture their buildings on film and as digital images. His work illustrates hundreds of books, periodicals, and newspapers. As this sample of his portfolio shows, Steve is responsible for some of the most notable photographs of iconic New England buildings made during the last half century. The following pages celebrate the gift that Steve and his wife, Kit, gave to Historic New England: the Steve Rosenthal Collection of Commissioned Work. We are honored that they selected us to be the stewards of their archive. Exceptionally well organized, it includes negatives, transparencies, digital files, prints, and publications highlighting Steve’s work, and oral histories, among other items. It is an immensely valuable resource for photo historians, architects, architectural historians, and the public. —Lorna Condon Senior Curator, Library and Archives



top left 75 State Street (1988), Boston. Architect: Graham Gund Architects in association with Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Photographed in 1989. top right John Hancock Tower (1976), Boston. Architect: I. M. Pei and Partners, Henry N. Cobb, design partner. Photographed in 1981. bottom Faneuil Hall Marketplace (1976), Boston. Architect: Benjamin Thompson and Associates. Photographed in 1978.


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Rowes Wharf (1987), Boston. Architect: Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Photographed in 1987.

City Hall (1968), Boston. Architect: Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles. Photographed in 1974.



Class of 1945 Library (1971), Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire. Architect: Louis I. Kahn. Photographed in 1996.


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Portland Museum of Art (1983), Portland, Maine. Architect: I. M. Pei and Partners, Henry N. Cobb, design partner. Photographed in 1983.

West Wing addition (1981), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Architect: I. M. Pei and Partners. Photographed in 1981.



in the

MAKING Don, Heather, Kristin, and Melissa Minto, 1980

A Chapter in the Story of Watson Farm Don and Heather Minto have lived and worked at the 265acre seaside Watson Farm in Jamestown, Rhode Island, for forty years, almost from the time that it was donated as a working farm to Historic New England in 1979. With Don as farm manager and Heather as site manager (retired in 2016) they made many changes to improve the land and share it with the public. Don will retire in 24

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News and notes from Historic New England

April after a year of training the successor farm manager, Max Sherman. The Mintos will move to a farm in northern Rhode Island. The Mintos have been worthy caretakers of the land and historic buildings, bringing new life and purpose to the property. In 2009 they were inducted into the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Agriculture Hall of Fame. They understand the importance of building community through their

work, and the whole Historic New England community is grateful. Recently, Don talked with Jane Hennedy, Historic New England’s regional site manager for Southern Rhode Island, about their experiences on Watson Farm. Jane: What are some of the best results from your work? Don: In 1980, we saw a diamond in the rough. Our vision was to bring this historic agricultural landscape into the future as a wellrun, working family farm. We are eternally grateful for having had that opportunity. Setting up fencing, developing water systems, planning intensive rotational grazing, and improving fertility of the soil took years to bring to fruition. Heather improved our heritage breed sheep for better textile production. We changed the genetics of the cattle herd to purebred Red Devons for grass-fed beef production through artificial breeding, probably my most noteworthy accomplishment. Jane: Tell me more about your part in making changes for farmers and consumers. Don: When we started, grass-fed and pastured production was not considered possible in this country. Here, we created a model for other small farmers to follow that showcased sustainable, healthy food production at the local level. I was honored to speak to the state legislature about the importance of preserving and promoting agriculture. We’re proud we moved the local food movement forward

in our community and throughout the region. Jane: What are you looking forward to doing at your new farm? Don: Farming, as a lifestyle choice, was a conscious decision for us, and realized a dream I had since my youth. My passion for farming will continue on a scaledback operation. Heather and I look forward to putting some rough land back into production for some quality food for ourselves, our family, and some select customers that have supported us for so many years. Jane: What will you miss most about the 1796 farmhouse? Don: We have very fond memories of our daughters Kristin, Melissa, and Cassie being born there and growing up to be fine young women. I remember fondly working the land as a family to produce the food on the table, but particularly we loved the conversations and good gatherings we had around our table as a family in that fine old home. Jane: We all look forward to the times that you come here just to enjoy the beauty of the place. What are your favorite things to see from Watson Farm? Don: Some of the incredible and lovely views of the pastoral, seaside landscape with a beautiful herd of Red Devons contentedly munching on the expansive grasslands of Conanicut Island! That and the big sky and watching the changing weather systems come and go, along with the sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, and moonsets. Jane: You and your family are very involved with the Jamestown community. What local connections will you keep? Don: Certainly I hope to

continue to do some volunteer work assisting Max, like on Sheep Shearing Day playing some tunes for the festivities of this great event. I also hope to play at Coastal Growers Farmers Market at Casey Farm with the bluegrass band, Saddle Up the Chicken, and focus a lot more time on my music. Jane: You’ve told me (and many others) some great stories over the years. What do you think are the most memorable? Don: There are so many stories that come to mind. You will have to wait until I publish my memoirs and you can read them all! Jane: Your work and your vision will always be a part of Watson Farm. What are your hopes for Watson Farm going forward into the next forty years? Don: The vision of Tom Carr Watson Jr., when he stipulated that the farm continue as a working farm, was an amazing gift to Rhode Island. His preservation ethic gave me the energy, passion, determination, commitment, and focus to work really hard to have the farm reflect Rhode Island’s rich pastoral agrarian history. I would hope and have great confidence that under the capable stewardship of Max Sherman and Historic New England that the farm will continue to be an important agricultural entity in the region, connecting visitors to the land.

THE 2019 COMMUNITY PRESERVATION GRANT RECIPIENTS Each year, Historic New England awards a $1,000 grant to a small or midsize heritage organization in each of the region’s six states. These grants help fund a wide range of preservation projects.

The awards are made possible by the Herbert and Louise Whitney Fund Community Preservation Grant Program, named in honor of Herbert and Louise Whitney to recognize their appreciation and love of all things New England, in particular the Bishop family farm in North Woodstock, Connecticut. The 2019 grant recipients are: w The Manchester Historical Society, Manchester, Connecticut, for digitizing and making searchable by the public 387 rolls of microfilm from the South Manchester News and Manchester Evening Herald, 18821991. w The Center for Painted Wall Preservation in Hallowell, Maine, to support Conserving the Painted Past, a symposium to be held April 3-5 on care and conservation of historic painted walls in New England. w The Danvers Historical Society, Danvers, Massachusetts, for window restoration at Derby Summer House, Glen Magna Farms. w The Historical Society of Cheshire County, Keene, New Hampshire, for the installation of fifteen transparent ultraviolet light filtering window shades to protect collections at Wyman Tavern Museum. w Borders Farm Preservation Inc. in Foster, Rhode Island, for a fireproof file cabinet for storage of historical materials maintained for public access at the historic working farm. w Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, to support consultant work to complete a furniture research report and to organize collection information for access and use. HistoricNewEngland.org


by ADAM LOWE Education Coordinator, Rhode Island


of Winter


istoric New England offers wintertime preschool programs at Casey Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, conducted in partnership with the parks and recreation departments of South Kingstown and East Greenwich. Each hour-long session is limited to ten preschool-age children and their caregivers, ensuring an intimate setting for learning about history and nature as they track seasonal changes on the farm. Now that it is midwinter, the focus is on outdoor fun. Dressed for the colder temperatures, attendees meet in the big field at Casey Farm to learn interesting facts about ice and snow. If there is snow, they build snowmen and forts. If there is none, the preschoolers play games outdoors. When the outdoor work and play are done, everyone heads inside the farmhouse. While drinking hot cocoa they listen to a reading of Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner, a story about the secret lives of snowmen and what they do while the humans who made them are sleeping (they play and have snowball fights). The children get to play with soft, stuffed spheres and have an indoor snowball fight of their own. Then it is time to make a craft that the youngsters can bring home


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as a special reminder of the day. They mix glue and shaving cream to make “snow,� which they shape into snowmen. The children can reshape their creations many times after they go home. Many children are regular attendees of the programs and although the topic changes with each session, the structure remains the same: hands-on investigation, creative play, a picture book reading, and craftmaking. For more information about preschool programs at Casey Farm, call 401-237-7472 or email CaseyEd@HistoricNewEngland. org.



by SALLY ZIMMERMAN Retired Senior Preservation Services Manager

Women claimed leadership roles in Historic New England’s earliest days Editor’s Note: This year is the centennial of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which extended full voting rights to American women. The decades-long campaign for the vote has sparked retrospective appreciations for the many ways in which those years of activism and reform transformed women’s lives and place in society. With that in mind, a look at the origins of Historic New England offers insights into the breadth and scope of women’s involvement in the early days of the organization and its place in the historic preservation movement in the United States.


Edith Greenough Wendell speaking at the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Hancock at First Church in Quincy, Massachusetts. Courtesy of the Portsmouth (N.H.) Athenaeum.

n Saturday, December 18, 1909, William Sumner Appleton traveled to the Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord to assess “property of revolutionary value,” probably in connection with his interest in the Sons of the American Revolution. The following Monday he returned, hoping to persuade the owner not to modernize the Jonathan Harrington House, which faced Lexington Green. Harrington, one of eight men killed in the first military engagement of the Revolution on April 19, 1775, died on the doorstep of his Georgian residence. Appleton met with the owner on December 22 for further talks and to conduct a study of the house. This time, accompanying him were restoration

architect Joseph Everett Chandler and a second person, in whose “auto” they had ridden. By December 28, Appleton, having failed to persuade the owner not to alter Harrington’s house, determined to fight such losses and began conversations to establish the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA), now Historic New England. The person who drove Appleton and Chandler to Lexington was Edith Greenough Wendell (18591938), president of the Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America, wife of a Harvard English professor, and the mother of four. Wendell lived a life of deep civic engagement, including long service to the Girl Scouts’ national council. During World War I she chaired the Massachusetts Women’s Liberty Loan HistoricNewEngland.org


left Caroline Osgood􀀃Emmerton, a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, checks on students in a needlework class held at the Seaman’s Bethel in Salem, Massachusetts (courtesy of the House of the Seven Gables). page 29 From left, Abba Goold Woolson served as Maine’s vice president in SPNEA’s first decade (courtesy of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection. The New York Public Library). Adeline Fitz was among the organization’s first board members. Mary Lee Ware hosted SPNEA’s initial annual meeting at her home on Beacon Hill in Boston.

Committee, part of a national effort that recruited 60,000 women to sell bonds financing the war effort. The obituary for Wendell in The New York Times called her “a national leader of movements to preserve historical sites,” and indeed, her crowning achievement was the rescue of the c. 1716 Warner House in her husband’s ancestral home of Portsmouth, New Hampshire: the landmark brick mansion was to be demolished for a gas station. In 1931, during the Great Depression, Wendell raised the funds to purchase the property, founding the Warner House Association and opening the site as a museum just a year later, in what her friend Appleton called “one of the most remarkable instances of preservation in America.” Perhaps Wendell’s early involvement with Harrington House influenced Appleton to enlist Elizabeth Welles Perkins (18481928), also active in the Colonial Dames, to sign his 1910 petition to the Massachusetts General Court for the incorporation of SPNEA. Perkins, sole heir to her mother’s fortune and the only woman on Appleton’s legislative petition, joined Wendell on the 28

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young Society’s first board of trustees. The early leadership of the organization was remarkable for the number of women who were involved, and for the range of interests and achievements they represented. While Appleton’s society followed a common model of the day with the installation of regional vice presidents in each New England state, not so typically, the early trustees and vice presidents included equal numbers of men and women. Among the women, many had acquired organizational leadership skills in the patriotic women’s groups of the day, such as the Colonial Dames and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), but their life experiences reflected a range of origins. Two of the first board members, Adeline Fitz (1861-1938) and Ida Louise Miller (1863-1954), both of Wakefield, Massachusetts, were active in the DAR (Fitz as its national president general) and came from old New England families but neither had been born into great privilege or wealth. Other early women trustees, vice presidents, and officers, such as Alice Mary Longfellow (1850-

1928, Appleton’s cousin), Caroline Osgood Emmerton (1866-1942), and Mary Lee Ware (1858-1937), shared Appleton’s elite upbringing, but as single women, they had more freedom to use their considerable wealth and influence in lives of service. Their legacies resonate today. It was at Ware’s 41 Brimmer Street home on Beacon Hill in Boston that the first annual meeting of Appleton’s organization was held. Emmerton was another founding member of SPNEA’s Board of Trustees, whose legacy of service to her native Salem, Massachusetts, prompted the Salem Evening News to dub her the city’s “Person of the Century” in 1999, nearly sixty years after her death. Emmerton was passionate about preservation as well as the assimilation of new immigrants into American society. She combined both passions in the complex of early buildings she purchased and restored not just for their antiquity, but also as a settlement house that offered English, sewing, carpentry, and other classes for eastern and southern European immigrants in her rapidly industrializing city. Beginning with the 1908 purchase

and restoration of the TurnerIngersoll House (now the House of Seven Gables), Emmerton went on to acquire and repurpose five more seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses for her settlement work. Through its early decades, SPNEA’s regional leadership brought together other notable women, among them Theodate Pope Riddle (1867-1946), an architect, patron of Hill-Stead Museum (the 1901 Farmington, Connecticut, home of her parents, which she designed), and founder of the nearby Avon Old Farms School. The latter she designed in a retrospective English cottage style and constructed from masonry quarried and timber felled at the site. Riddle served as SPNEA’s Connecticut vice president in the early decades of the 1900s. Among the most exceptional of the early leaders of the organization was Abba Goold Woolson (1838-1921), who was Maine’s vice president in the first decade of the organization. An educator, women’s rights activist, and author, Woolson taught Latin and higher mathematics, traveled widely (including to the

Yosemite Valley, where she met and befriended the naturalist John Muir), and advocated for dress reform among other topics that supported women’s health, physical and intellectual education, and equal roles in productive life. In 1873 Woolson edited a lecture series given in Boston by female physicians titled “Dress-Reform,” supplying the closing lecture herself and arguing, “The girls of today should be saved before they have learned to wear the woman’s dress, with its countless abominations, that they may be enabled to grow up untrammeled, vigorous, and happy, to show the world a nobler womanhood and a noble race of children than our country offers now.” The positions these women held on the question of suffrage is known only for Riddle and Woolson. In 1892, Woolson spoke at Pembroke College (now part of Brown University) in Providence, Rhode Island, on behalf of the Women’s Suffrage Association. As Connecticut considered ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, Riddle wrote an open letter to Governor Marcus Holcomb, published in the Hartford Courant

on April 20, 1920, in which she asked, “Are you and the antisuffragists entirely satisfied that this man-controlled world is the last word in efficiency and wisdom? Have not the men made rather a mess of it?” How the other female vice presidents and officers of SPNEA might have responded to that question is unknown. Several of them, such as Wendell (whose husband was engaged in antisuffrage efforts), very likely did not support full voting rights for women, given that many prominent “club women” of wealth and privilege were content to use the influence of their positions in elite society without the franchise. But the organization’s early leadership brought them together on behalf of the region’s history and heritage. In the summer of 1920, when twothirds of the state legislatures had voted to ratify the amendment, thirteen of SPNEA’s thirty officers, vice presidents, and trustees were female and they, along with their male counterparts, had brought the organization through its initial decade and well into the twentieth century.



by BENJAMIN HAAVIK Team Leader for Property Care



Codman Estate undergoes major septic system upgrade nfrastructure. It may not be an exciting topic, but its importance cannot be overstated. Infrastructure is the foundation that allows for the necessities and amenities that visitors have come to expect at Historic New England’s properties. Electricity, water, toilets, and wireless service are among the vital systems and utilities that we may often take for granted in our own lives, but fitting them in at a historic property without disturbing the aesthetics of the site or damaging a historic structure can be tricky, as our recent project at the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts, showed. Adapting a once-private, older property to accommodate public use is not undertaken lightly but that is a key part of Historic New England’s mission. Adaptive reuse requires making extremely


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tough choices about how to modernize the property with code-compliant infrastructure upgrades. Any modification to a historic property, however small, permanently changes it. Major projects such as infrastructure upgrades must be installed without jeopardizing the property’s value and historical character. At the Codman Estate, in order to provide for large-scale public use, we needed to install a very large septic system. While that may sound straightforward— dig a hole, bury the pipes, cover the hole—the reality is much more complicated. First, we needed to know what is happening below the grass. For a civil engineer designing a septic system, knowing the soil layers and how they allow water to percolate is critical to the project. Establishing multiple test pits around a

page 30 Preparations for the septic system upgrade at the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts, included seven years of planning, archaeological study, testing, and review. Here, the property’s front terraces are cleared so that excavation can begin. right Workers install a section of the commercial-size septic system.

property is common in order to analyze the layers and test the “perc” of the water. The simple thing to do if your water doesn’t perc is to build up—make an artificial mound to create room for percolation. Soil layers also tell us information about the development of the site. A wide variety of items can exist underground, such as artifacts, long abandoned and forgotten structures, and even early twentiethcentury water and sewer lines supplying the property. Additionally, above ground there are plantings, trees, terraces, lawns, drives, steps, fences, and buildings that need to be treated carefully because each carries significance as a contributing feature to the cultural landscape. It took seven years of planning, testing, archaeology, and review to find a location where we could install a new leaching field with proper perc. Because of how wet the ground generally is around the estate, every location tested had insufficient drainage. The initial proposed solution was a mound five feet high at the corners, forty feet wide, and a hundred feet long. On a historic landscape, there is no way that a mound of that size can be disguised without forever altering the experience of the property. Ultimately, we identified the front terraces leading up to the mansion as the best location. Why? As archaeology confirmed, the family built the terraces almost 280 years ago using high-quality loam, which is perfect for the percolation of water. The terraces could serve as the mound we needed. The historic nature of the terraces was exactly why they were the last consideration for this project— once touched, they would be forever altered. After an extensive archaeological assessment, we began the project. With the design aspects figured out, the next set of issues involved construction details. Most significant was the question of how to restore the terraces to their original grade after construction was complete. We had the same issue in 2016 at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, when installing

a commercial-size septic system as we transformed the site from a private residence to a museum. Our solution was to take a high-level survey of elevations across the area of disturbance so we could give specific guidance on the elevation points to hit when restoring the grade. We doubled this effort by using drones to fly the field before and after to develop accurate conditions plans that we could compare. The construction company at the Eustis Estate did a great job matching contours at that site. The terraces at the Codman Estate required a very high level of precision because their importance as a feature is based on the topography. We made sure we had the same high-level survey data we had at the Eustis Estate. The process was much simpler than it was in Milton once construction was underway because we were able to excavate each panel of the terrace separately, leaving the stone steps and edges in place. Because the edge remained intact, we could carefully match the final grade of the leaching field to the terrace edge surrounding it. Holes were dug and filled; roads were edged and graveled; lawns were sodded and seeded. Power, water, toilets, and WiFi are now upgraded and available for a multitude of purposes. The landscape has been restored to its original beauty. Which is just the way we like it. HistoricNewEngland.org


Wedding Bliss by PATRICK MCNAMARA Functions Manager

Codman Estate offers the ultimate in nuptial experiences


t was “the handsomest place in America,� proclaimed Rebecca Gore in 1799, scion of a wealthy Boston family whose husband, Christopher, was a prominent lawyer and politician who would serve as governor of Massachusetts. She was referring to the Codman Estate, also known as The Grange, a sensational rural haven set in lush surroundings in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The Codman Estate hosts many unique events but it is


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most often the place for fabulous one-of-a-kind weddings. Couples love the openness of the space, its verdant lawns, historic gardens, and water features. Photo opportunities are everywhere, from the terraces of the 1740 mansion to ancient stone walls, garden nooks, and majestic trees. Ceremonies are most often held in the luminous Italian Garden. Sarah Bradlee Codman conceived this walled, hidden oasis as an outdoor living room when she created it in 1899. The Codmans were noted for entertaining as

well as for their love of nature and beauty. Incorporated into the garden are ancient columns, urns, arbors, and pergolas. Its most noted feature is the serene reflecting pool. A perennial perimeter garden and shade trees add to the tranquil ambiance. Anchoring each end of the reflecting pool are statues of Roman deities: Flora, the goddess of flowers and springtime; and Bacchus, god of agriculture, wine, and entertainment. Sarah’s son Ogden Jr., architect and interior designer to the rich and famous, embraced The Grange and all it represented. He spent a lot of time in Europe and his drawings for a formal garden on the property may have been the inspiration for the Italian Garden. Ogden traveled in high-society circles. With popular novelist Edith Wharton, he coauthored the 1897 book The Decoration of Houses. It was a major success and is still considered an important manual for professional decorators. A tour of the Codman mansion shows why Ogden was so inspired by the inside of the estate as well as the outside. The expansive meadow is the perfect post-wedding-ceremony gathering place; guests segue there for cocktail hour and lawn games and revel in its splendor, from the centuries-old stone walls to a rural pond with spectacular foliage and wildflowers. The Carriage House is an 1862 wonder. Its rustic charm, original beadboard paneling, and overhead bistro lights and lanterns win plaudits from our couples. They especially love the enormous dance floor and built-in bar. The Carriage House can accommodate intimate weddings for dinner and dancing. Weddings of up to 150 people require a tent, which is placed over the gravel drive to create a 360-degree panorama of the Carriage House, meadow, woods, farmland, and lawns. This is pastoral beauty at its best. page 32 An autumn ceremony in the Italian Garden beneath a chuppah. Courtesy of Leise Jones Photography. top A romantic moment captured in the Italian Garden. bottom Olivia and Jordan described their wedding at the Codman Estate as magical. Courtesy of Rebecca Caponetti, Fifty One Hale Photography.



Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Boston, Massachusetts Permit No. 58621 141 Cambridge Street Boston, Mass. 02114-2702

Appreciating the art

of a Spring Day by NANCY CARLISLE Senior Curator of Collections


he artist Frank Duveneck (1848-1919) was born in Kentucky and lived much of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio, but he established significant ties to New England. Among them was his marriage to Boston-born fellow painter Elizabeth Boott (her great-grandparents included Sally and Harrison Gray Otis and Lydia and Theodore Lyman). Later in life, Duveneck frequently returned to this region in the summertime to paint. Duveneck began his career as a church muralist. By age twenty-one he had scraped together enough money to travel to Munich for further study, where he soon won an unprecedented number of awards. When he went back to Cincinnati a few years later he had little success interesting potential clients in his work. An 1875 exhibition held in Boston was a turning point. In a review of the exhibition, author Henry James described in Duveneck’s work “the discovery of an unsuspected man of genius.” His reputation established, Duveneck returned to Munich and before long began holding his own classes, attracting a group of young aspiring Americans, including William Merritt Chase and John Twachtman among others, who came to be known as “the Duveneck boys.” Another talented student, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Otis Lyman Boott, would eventually supplant the boys. Boott had been raised in Florence by her widowed father. She trained as an artist in Paris with Thomas

Couture and in Boston with William Morris Hunt. Later, she traveled to Munich to study with Duveneck. Against her father’s wishes, the two were engaged and eventually married. Her early death resulted in one of the most poignant monuments of the nineteenth century, Duveneck’s tomb effigy in bronze in the Allori Cemetery in Florence and the marble copy he made at his father-inlaw’s request for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Within a few years of his wife’s death, Duveneck returned to Cincinnati, living in comparative obscurity despite his earlier international success. Around 1900 he began spending his summers in Gloucester, Massachusetts, painting and teaching, and it may have been there that he painted Spring Landscape. He continued painting impressionistic landscapes and seascapes until his death in 1919. Spring Day is on view at the Eustis Estate in Milton, Massachusetts, along with nearly a dozen works by Duveneck’s contemporaries. These will complement the paintings that will be on view in the Eustis galleries from May 2, 2020 to March 7, 2021, in the exhibition Artful Stories: Paintings from Historic New England.

The award-winning Historic New England magazine is a benefit of membership. To join, please visit HistoricNewEngland.org.

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