historic NEw england WINTER 2018
ROYAL BARRY WILLS and the Ideal Home ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
A BOLD AFFAIR WITH MARIMEKKO AT HOME IN THE GRANGE
WINTER 2018 • Vol. 18 • No. 3
historic NEw england
From the Chair
1 Future Retro Exhibition 4 Preserving Garages for New Uses 6 “The Kinds of Houses Most Americans Want” 11 Exploring Sartorial Displays 12 A Bold Affair with Marimekko 16 At Home in the Grange 20 What Freedom Means To Me 22 Giving and Receiving 23 All-seasons Terrain 26 Designs on City Dwelling 29 A Privateer’s Private Side
32 History in the Making 34 Fashionable Additions
One of the most exciting aspects of Historic New England is that the constant cycle of the present becoming the past requires us to continually expand and change our programs and collections. New, unexpected aspects of the past await us up ahead: there are new stories to be discovered and told, or old ones that may call for reinterpretation. Historic New England’s mission of keeping up with the past makes it a vibrant and forward-looking organization. We are always expanding our interests to include all facets of history, such as the midtwentieth-century domestic architecture that Royal Barry Wills designed; the affordable apartments built in the Modern aesthetic in Boston during the urban renewal period; the wonderful, fanciful, and fashionable dresses created by the Finnish design company Marimekko, which is still in business; and the sleek looks manufacturers crafted that in part drove the demand for automobile ownership following World War II. Yet it isn’t enough to simply acquire items for our collections or relay dates of events and names of notable historical figures. Real meaning must be imparted in order to engage current and future audiences, and that requires Historic New England to explore the past with depth and completeness to yield insights that a cursory approach would overlook. Interpretation of the actual diary (a gift) and the recently found Bible that belonged to Revolutionary War figure Offin Boardman is a prime example of just this type of comprehensive exploration. Here’s to looking forward to history.
HISTORIC NEW ENGLAND magazine is a benefit of membership. To become a member, visit HistoricNewEngland.org or call 617-994-5910. Comments? Email Info@HistoricNewEngland.org. Historic New England is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Executive Editor: Diane Viera Editor: Dorothy Clark Editorial Review Team: Nancy Carlisle, Senior Curator of Collections; Lorna Condon, Senior Curator of Library and Archives; Sally Zimmerman, Senior Preservation Services Manager Design: Three Bean Press The volume number for the Fall 2017 issue of Historic New England was incorrectly listed. The Fall issue is Vol. 18, No. 2. COVER Royal Barry Wills’s winning design for the Better Homes in America Small House Competition, 1932, and a built version of it; photograph by Arthur Haskell. ABOVE Academy Homes I apartment complex in Roxbury, Massachusetts; photograph by Helina Dawit Yohannes, courtesy of Urban Edge. One of the dresses in Historic New England’s Nancy Krueger Marimekko Collection.
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.
Drawings from the Great Age of American Automobiles
Selected from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection Photography by Mark Wallison, courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston The exhibition Future Retro: Drawings From the Great Age of American Automobiles, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is on display through May 13, 2018, at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts. The design and manufacture of automobiles in the United States, already a significant industrial force prior to 1940, reached new heights in the years immediately following World War II. Americans, both the soldiers abroad and those who had endured the war’s hardships on the home front, had fought for an ideal that came to be known as the “American Dream,” one characterized by prosperity, a family, and a home of one’s own. Part and parcel of this ideal was ownership of a new car, and Detroit rushed to meet the demand. The great age of American automobile design emerged as a response to this new vision of the American way of life. —Frederic A. Sharf (1934-2017), Curator From the exhibition catalogue Future Retro: Drawings from the Great Age of American Automobiles (2005, MFA Publications, a division of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).
Peter Wozena made this concept drawing of a Cadillac Coupe de Sabre in 1950. HistoricNewEngland.org 1
The Chevrolet Corvette convertible, model year 1968, drawn by Don Daily in 1967-1968.
Thomas H. Ferriss rendered this Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville, model year 1950.
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This drawing of a 1951 Ford convertible by an unknown artist was used for poster artwork.
Front-end design proposal for Studebaker, model year 1951, by Tucker P. Madawick.
Peter Wozenaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proposal drawing of Oldsmobileâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s four-door hardtop sedan has a southwestern setting, possibly inspired by the General Motors test track in the Arizona desert. Photograph copyright Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Preserving Garages for New Uses
by Sally Zimmerman, Senior Preservation Services Manager
n and around many of Historic New England’s properties, the close observer is sure to spot a garage or two. Indeed, automobile garages feature in at least seven properties, and in some, they perform an important new role in the daily operation of the site, welcoming visitors, housing staff, and providing retail space for ticket and museum shop sales. In others, they serve their traditional purposes, storing materials that support the upkeep of the site or housing vehicles. But whether in new uses or old, these garages are historic and part of the story of each site.
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Garages may lack the architectural distinction and nostalgic appeal of outbuildings like carriage houses and stables, but their presence still contributes to the history of a property, especially as a reflection of the twentieth century’s major innovation, the automobile. Long before today’s attached garages, these sheltered parking spaces occupied a distant corner of the property, in part because of fears that the gasoline “stored” in the automobile presented a fire risk; in this they were treated like stables, which were banished far from houses to avoid the odors associated with keeping horses. And while
multivehicle garages were common on large estates, one- and two-car garages were the norm for the typical home and generally housed just an automobile and yard tools, not the packed-up boxes and clutter—or the amateur rock band’s instruments— that relegate many of today’s vehicles to the driveway. Among the best of Historic New England’s small garages is the 1920s-era two-car structure at Quincy House (1770) in Quincy, Massachusetts. Restoration of the structure, funded through the City of Quincy’s Community Preservation Act program, was completed in 2016.
The garage is a low, square, clapboard building with a pyramidal hip roof. The wooden outward-opening doors that close off the garage bays fill the building’s facade and are among its most historic features. Hinged at the sides, with glass panes above and panels below, these classic garage doors required the driver to get out of the car and open them before pulling in. Also, they tended to sag under their own weight over time. Overhead doors, loaded on large spring hinges attached to the roof frame, traded that problem for a heavy door that had to be yanked up and then pulled back down. The 1925 two-story garage at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, has such doors, probably a mid-twentiethcentury modification of earlier swinging doors, but the Gothic Revival sash in the gable end of the building and a gabled dormer on the side, along
with a shingled upper story, fit well with the architectural eccentricities of the main house. Staff offices on the upper level of the garage are entered by way of a balcony on the back of the structure, facing the gardens. While the Beauport garage easily converted from chauffeur’s quarters to seasonal office use, with seasonal storage in the auto bay, adaptations to the garages at two other Historic New England properties entailed more complex considerations. At Gropius House (1938) in Lincoln, Massachusetts, we preserved the white, two-car, shed-roofed structure intact, should the time come when presentation of the site might shift to include an interpretation of its automobile history. To create new space for a reception area with visitor ticketing and retail sales, Historic New England built a structure within the garage. This “box within a box” can be removed without damaging the Walter
Gropius-designed garage. When the site is closed, the original overhead garage doors are pulled down, leaving no trace of the museum operational space within. Similarly, at the nineteenth-century Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts, the 1971, three-car, brick garage behind the mansion provides space for visitor facilities adjacent to the parking area, including ticketing, accessible restrooms, sales, and waiting areas. Again, the box-within-a-box concept was employed, allowing for insertion of all the needed functions while retaining the garage structure. Historic New England pursues these preservation solutions, even for modest structures such as twentiethcentury garages, recognizing that the histories of our properties reside in the subordinate buildings as well as the prominent ones.
page 4 This two-car garage at Quincy House in Quincy, Massachusetts, was added approximately 160 years after the 1770 residence was built. It was restored in 2016 and is used as storage space. below, left The two-story garage at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, looks like a cottage. Today it houses staff offices. right The visitor center at Gropius House in Lincoln, Massachusetts, was a two-car garage when the house was built in 1938.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Kinds of Ho
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Architect Royal Barry Wills Designed a Living Style by Lorna Condon, Senior Curator of Library and Archives, and Lynne Paschetag, Project Archivist, Royal Barry Wills Associates Archive In 2013 Historic New England acquired the archive of the Boston firm Royal Barry Wills Associates, which has made a major impact on domestic architecture in the United States. Life magazine published an article in 1946 titled “Royal Barry Wills: Boston Architect Designs the Kinds of Houses Most Americans Want.” It described Wills as “the nation’s most popular architectural author” and “the leading U.S. designer of small traditional houses.” Wills was again the focus of a long article in a major magazine in 1958 when The Saturday Evening Post published “Big Man in Small Houses.” It noted that “Royal Barry Wills, one of the highest-paid architects in America, is also the designer of a home you can build for $5,000.” When Wills died in 1962, his
colleague, architect Leon Keach, wrote, “Many of us think that no other American architect has equaled Wills in influencing the average person toward an awareness of good house design. Indeed, his was the only architect’s name most of them would ever know.” As Historic New England unpacks and catalogues nearly 100 years of documents from the Wills architectural practice, we are finding evidence that not only confirms the enormous influence of Royal Barry Wills and his firm on American domestic architecture but also enlightens us about little-known aspects of the firm’s history. Royal Barry Wills was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, on August 21, 1895. Upon graduation from Melrose High School in 1914, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
Royal Barry Wills regularly presented his clients with colorful, signed perspectives of their projects, such as the one shown at left. He designed this Cape Cod-style house for a client in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1938.
where he studied architectural engineering. Graduating in 1918 in the midst of World War I, Wills enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and took a training course in naval architecture, which led to a position in the design department of a shipbuilding company in Philadelphia. Returning to Boston in 1919, Wills became a designing engineer with the Turner Construction Company. Writing later, Wills would expand upon this somewhat staid biography: “In my formative years, I worked as a bellhop, surveyor, carpenter’s helper, chipper and caulker, ship designer, mason’s helper, cartoonist and necktie salesman.” At Turner Construction, Wills worked on, in his words, “large concrete structures.” But his real interest lay in residential architecture. He wanted to provide well-designed, well-constructed, affordable suburban houses for middle- and upper-middle-income Americans. Wills developed a plan to promote himself 8
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and his designs by contracting with Boston newspapers to provide building plans for a variety of house styles— including half-timbered English cottages, French manor houses, and garrisons—that would be offered for sale in the newspapers. Readers were encouraged to contact Wills through the papers with questions they might have about home building. The exposure brought clients to Wills and he was able to leave Turner Construction in 1925 and open his own firm at 8 Beacon Street in Boston. For these clients, Wills began to design houses in a variety of styles, but gradually his focus turned to the Cape Codstyle house. This cemented his reputation. The public responded enthusiastically to Wills’s ability to meld traditional design with modern technology, and to his attention to detail—carefully studied proportions, narrow clapboards, slender muntins, massive corbeled chimneys, bow windows, and more. For Wills, it was important that “the house should be bent to fit the family—not the family to the house.” During the 1930s Wills began to attract national attention. He received a gold medal from President Herbert Hoover for his winning entry in the 1932 Better Homes in America Small House Competition. He would go on to win medals and honorable mentions in House Beautiful and Better Homes and Gardens competitions, among others. In 1938 Life and Architectural Forum invited eight well-known American architects to participate in a competition to design homes for specific families in four
page 8, far left Royal Barry Wills’s winning submission in the 1929 National Better Homes Architectural Competition had “many unusual and interesting features” that gave it “the effect of the cottages of old England,” The Boston Herald of Sunday, August 11, said in a review. left Wills studying a drawing in his office; photo by Robert J. Keller. above The architect designed this house, with its nod to Medieval architecture, for a Worcester, Massachusetts, client.
income categories. In the category for people with incomes of $5,000 to $6,000, Wills was pitted against Frank Lloyd Wright. The Blackbourn family of Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, selected Wills’s traditional house over Wright’s innovative design. As Wills became more successful, he hired other architects and draftsmen to assist him, including Hugh A. Stubbins Jr., Nathaniel Perry Tufts, and Amelia Brooks Valtz. Stubbins, who would go on to become an architect of significant note (his designs include Citigroup Center in New York City, the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, and Congress Hall in Berlin) concentrated on the design of houses in the Modern style. Wills’s success was as much the result of his business acumen as it was his aptitude for design. Writing in This Business of Architecture (first published in 1941), he noted that the
architect must be both a profes– sional and a businessman. “There is no other way to succeed amidst competition from within and without the profession.” In the book, Wills and collaborator Leon Keach offered advice about setting up a business and how to promote oneself: enter architectural competitions, give illustrated lectures, speak on the radio, write regular newspaper and architectural columns. All of these things and more Wills did with consummate skill to promote himself and his work. He wrote eight books offering advice about architecture, of which hundreds of thousands of copies were sold; hosted a radio program; lectured widely; received numerous awards; and was the subject or author of hundreds of magazine articles. The Wills firm, which by the mid-1930s included MIT-trained architects Merton S. Barrows and Robert E. Minot and later, Warren
J. Rhoter and Wills’s son Richard, both educated at the Boston Architectural Center (now Boston Architectural College), would go on to design more than 2,500 houses across the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. After Wills’s death in 1962, the firm continued to design houses and other structures throughout the United States that were based on the traditional principles he expounded. In 2013 Richard Wills donated the majority of the firm’s substantial archive to Historic New England; in 2017 Richard’s daughter Jessica Wills-Lipscomb, also an architect, gave the remainder of the collection. The archive includes the drawings for approximately 2,500 projects (about 32,000 individual drawings), dating from the 1920s to the 2000s; 6,000 photographs that illustrate the work of the firm; seventeen scrapbooks that detail the history of HistoricNewEngland.org
the firm; some of Royal Barry Willsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original speeches; manuscripts and illustrations for his books (Wills loved to draw and if he had not become an architect, he would have become a cartoonist); and even a recording of one of his radio programs. The work of cleaning, cataloguing, digitizing, and providing online access to the Royal Barry Wills Associates Archive is funded in part by a $150,000 matching grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with additional support from the Felicia Fund. This broad access to the collection will be of tremendous value to those who own Royal Barry Wills homes, to cities and towns with Royal Barry Wills developments they are striving to preserve, and to architectural historians who study the history of American architecture. left Royal Barry Wills frequently drew cartoons. In this sketch he depicted himself at work. below The firm also designed Modern houses. This architectural rendering by Charles H. Crombie was included in Willsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1954 book Living on the Level: One-story Houses.
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SARTORIAL DISPLAYS Elise Millinery, which operated in Boston from the 1880s through the 1920s, produced this c. 1890 hat using a stuffed parrot for ornamentation.
by Diane Viera, Chief Operating Officer FASHION SURROUNDS US. Formal or informal, trendy or classic, bold or understated, what we wear makes a statement. Beginning this spring, eight Massachusetts cultural institutions are partnering to celebrate the varied and surprising roles fashion plays in our lives through a collaboration called MassFashion. The many facets of fashion will be explored in a series of exhibitions and programs presented by the Concord Museum; Fuller Craft Museum; Historic New England; the Massachusetts Historical Society; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Old Sturbridge Village; the Peabody Essex Museum; and The Trustees of Reservations. MassFashion exhibition topics span from the historic to the contemporary and are as wide-ranging as fashion itself: Shopping for clothes, costume that pushes the boundaries of comfort and ease, reknitting family stories through textiles, Boston Arts & Crafts jewelry and metalwork artisans, the personal style of artist Georgia O’Keeffe, the history of gender-bending fashion in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, imperial costume and jewelry from the centuries-old palace known as the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, and fashions for fun and recreation. At Historic New England, visitors will experience MassFashion with our newest exhibition, Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England. Designed to tell two stories, Head to Toe will highlight hats and shoes from the 1750s to the present. The first story is about style. Whether attending a wedding, going to worship, or celebrating with friends, New Englanders dressed for the occasion.
The second story told by Head to Toe is layered with the first. Through the same objects, viewers investigate the creation of these goods and their effects on New England’s economy, workforce, and even the environment. Examining the social and political aspects of fashion accessories leads to fascinating and sometimes difficult stories. Pictured above is a green wool hat from the late nineteenth century decorated with a stuffed parrot that was dyed black to match the ribbons, a popular millinery trend for decades. Outrage over the practice of killing birds for fashion accessories led Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and her friend Minna Hall to found the first active chapter of the Audubon Society in Boston’s Back Bay. These stories and many more will be told through Head to Toe, opening at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts, on June 1. The exhibition will be on view through early February 2019. Historic New England and each MassFashion partner will offer a slate of programs, workshops, and special events that complement their exhibitions. In addition, the eight MassFashion partners are coming together in the fall to present a two-day public conference that will be part of Boston Fashion Week 2018. The conference will feature emerging and established designers and experts addressing topics ranging from the history of fashion to the implications of 3-D printing on the fashion industry. Watch MassFashion.org for more information on the MassFashion conference, exhibitions, and other special programming and events.
A Bold Affair with
MARIMEKKO by Dolores L. Mitchell Friend and neighbor of the Kruegers
ashion mavens of New England during the middle of the twentieth century no doubt would have rated Newbury Street in Boston as the style capital of the region, not Brattle Street in neighboring Cambridge. Many women who shopped on that very attractive street in Harvard Square were, after all, once called “bluestockings,” a moniker that reflected their interests in scholarly rather than sartorial pursuits. All that changed in the post-World War II era, when international trade resumed in earnest. Boston and many of its suburbs fell under the spell of things Scandinavian: architecture, furniture, glassware, and pottery; movie stars and film directors; and in particular, Finnish-designed and manufactured clothes. A collection of sixty-one boldly colored dresses, culled from more than 100 worn by Nancy Krueger (1931-2015), was donated to Historic New England by her husband, Paul, after her death, in accordance with her wishes. The collection includes a set of dinner napkins that longtime friend Holly Nixholm created from Nancy’s worn-out dresses. The dresses were designed and sold by the woman-owned Finnish company Marimekko (which means “little dress for Mary”), founded in 1951 and still going strong sixty-seven years later. It has kept to the philosophy expressed by cofounder Armi Ratia: “I don't really sell clothes, I sell a way of living.” Nancy and Paul, an architect, began acquiring what turned into this collection of Marimekko dresses in 1964 with the purchase of a dress for their daughter, Karen, toward the end of a grand tour of Europe. The Kruegers’ year abroad was sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Wheelwright Prize, a travel fellowship awarded to early-career architects. The family traveled to Europe by freighter, with Karen, age eight, and son, Tommy, age six. They lived on a $20-per-day budget that covered hotels, meals, and transportation. They
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page 12 Marimekko manufactured this cotton dress with belt in 1974. left The Kruegers’ daughter, Karen, wearing a Marimekko dress. It was the first article of the company’s clothing that Nancy Krueger bought, in 1964.
made their way through much of Western Europe, including a pilgrimage to the Paris studio of Le Corbusier, the Swiss French architect who is credited with being one of the pioneers of Modern architecture. Paul revered Le Corbusier; he was, at age 28 in 1960, the project architect in charge of the Le Corbusier-designed Carpenter Center at Harvard University. In Zurich, in a building that Le Corbusier designed, the Kruegers used the then strong U.S. dollar to buy a Marimekko dress for
Karen. Nancy and Paul knew about Marimekko dresses, which had arrived in America in 1959 and were sold exclusively at the Brattle Street store Design Research, or D/R, founded by architect Benjamin C. Thompson. Thompson was one of the eight architects, along with Walter Gropius, who in 1946 formed The Architects Collaborative, which was known for its Modern designs. Besides clothing, D/R carried furniture and household items, most of which came from Scandinavia. The store became a mecca for the Cambridge-area academic and design community. These were the men and women who bought Scandinavian furniture, painted the walls of their houses dead white, covered their floors with Finnish woven Rya (also known as ryijy) rugs, learned to drink the spirit aquavit, bought Dansk ice buckets, wanted to look like, or at, actress Liv Ullmann and went to see her movies, which were directed by Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish film director/ writer. These lifestyle choices contributed to what became known as Midcentury Modern. Commercial
and academic buildings were part of the canon, but in the homes of New Englanders, Scandinavian design also flourished. Nancy and Paul were born in Bad Axe, Michigan, a small city 108 miles from Detroit. High school sweethearts, they attended the University of Michigan, where in 1952, after their third year, they married. Nancy was a good-natured, nurturing mother and grandmother (of four), an ardent gardener (she particularly loved dahlias), and a potter. She had a great interest in art, the theater, and jazz and was an avid reader of police procedural crime dramas. For forty years Nancy was manager/bookkeeper of her husband’s firm, Krueger Associates Architects. The Kruegers maintained the historic character of the exterior of their 1890 Victorian house in Watertown, Massachusetts, but renovated the interior to live in an entirely Modern, minimalistic way. Every object they chose for their home reflected a unified Modern vision, including custom furniture
“I have never seen fit to throw away a single dress, and somehow the dresses stay beautiful for a very long time. I have worn them to work, to garden in, to baptisms, weddings, and all sorts of parties and occasions. In a way the Marimekkos have become my identity. They suit my personality just fine.”
–Nancy Krueger HistoricNewEngland.org
left to right Nancy and Paul Krueger. Nancy’s Marimekko has a black and tan crosshatch pattern. This dark gray dress with gray circles and multicolored patterned pockets is from 1960. The yellow dress is from 1963. It has blue polka dots and metal buttons at the neck.
and a profusion of artwork—lithographs by Le Corbusier, Miró, Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, and Leger. Nancy liked Marimekko’s sturdy cotton fabrics and the simple, comfortable, long loose sleeves, big pockets, triangular silhouettes, and bold colors. Increasingly able to afford the U.S. costs of Marimekko clothing, and living in Watertown with D/R nearby in Cambridge, Nancy began buying one or two items annually. “Year by year, each year I bought not only beautiful Marimekko dresses, but beautiful Marimekko shirts, coats, socks, strips of fabric used for table cloths, sheets, towels and ceramics,” she wrote shortly before her death. “There is a certain timelessness and courage that the talented designers at Marimekko have incorporated into the brand. I have never seen fit to throw away a single dress, and somehow the dresses stay beautiful for a very long time. I have worn them to work, to garden in, to baptisms, weddings, and all sorts of parties and occasions. In a way the Marimekkos have become my identity. They suit my personality just fine.” For those who knew her, Nancy was not—to use a current popular-culture term—a fashionista; she had very 14
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strong likes and dislikes and didn’t care what anyone else thought, even after one untactful neighbor said to her, “I can't understand why you girls like Marimekko— to me they look like maternity dresses.” Nancy wasn’t fazed. Fortunately for Marimekko, Jackie Kennedy bought seven of them in the summer of 1960 and was photographed wearing one while sailing with her husband, who was campaigning for the U.S. presidency. Her picture, wearing a pink sleeveless dress, made the December 26, 1960, cover of Sports Illustrated. Not everyone loved Marimekko dresses. An early critic noted that the dresses were expensive and only elite customers could afford them. While the complaint about the high price was not unwarranted, the company’s commitment to combining comfort with beautiful colors and fine fabrics gained a growing audience. The June 14, 1959, edition of The Boston Sunday Globe applauded the colorful vibrancy of the clothing, remarking on the “mad, wonderful shades alone and in superb, off-beat combinations.” Negative comments about Marimekko clothing were few and the business thrived and expanded.
In 1963 Marimekko cofounder Ratia wrote, “My approach is something like the architect’s. He makes a house for people to live in. I make a dress for women to live in. . . . For the woman who wants to forget her dress.” Six decades later, in a June 23, 2017, New Yorker article titled “Jane Jacobs, Georgia O’Keeffe, and the Power of the Marimekko Dress,” architecture and design critic Alexandra Lange pointed out that those two icons of independent-minded, forceful women bought and wore Marimekko. “Who could be more desirous of forgetting what they have on than women such as Jacobs and O’Keeffe who had so much to do?” Lange wrote. Ratia came to dress design by way of textile design. She had turned to fabric printing as an alternative to weaving, and to silkscreen printing as more flexible than engraved roller printing. She started working for Printex, a small manufacturer of oilcloth, when her husband, Viljo
Ratia, purchased the company. She began designing cotton fabrics as part of a new Printex marketing strategy, hired designer Ritta Immonen to help, and in 1951 the two women decided to start a separate company with their husbands as minority partners. Their design mission to bring joy to everyday life succeeded—even as, over the years, different designers joined the company. Designers were given prominent credit for their work, with their names printed on the margins of the fabric along with the design dates. Like many corporations, Marimekko has had its ups and downs, but its vigor remains. Today, with stores in Cambridge and on Newbury Street, Marimekko products are still carried locally and around the world. Marimekko continues to offer beautiful, comfortable, iconic dresses—the kind that Nancy Krueger loved and wore with such pleasure.
left Large purple ovals stand out on this 1966 dress, further distinguished by a zippered front and standup collar. right This dress, with its abstract geometric pattern, boasts two belts, one solid gray and the other designed with blocks of color.
home • • at
Everyone’s History film explores rural life in Vermont by Charlotte Barrett Community Preservation Manager, Western New England It’s a chilly October night in East Bethel, Vermont, but in the basement of the Middle Branch Grange Hall, the air is warm and thick with the savory smell of chicken pie. Children’s squeals punctuate the steady hum of conversation among Grange members and local residents gathered around long tables to enjoy the main course, followed by six varieties of pies. At one table, two dairy farmers discuss how to get rid of wild chervil, an invasive herb encroaching on their grazing land. At the other end of the table, two young couples are in heated debate about upcoming local elections. Promptly at 8 p.m. there’s a riot of scraping chair legs on the worn, linoleum floor as everyone heads upstairs to watch the Grange’s annual play. After a month of rehearsals, Grange members take the stage in full costume to perform The Butler Did It.
n the late 1800s and the early decades of the twentieth century, the Grange—officially known as the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry—was the heart of rural community life. Its meetings and social events offered relief from the monotony and isolation of farm work. On the national level, the Grange represented the farmer in Washington, D.C., advocating fair prices for farm products, rural electrification, and rural free mail delivery, among other things. As other organizations rose to represent agricultural interests exclusively, the Grange saw an opportunity to devote more of its efforts to local community life through service work and social events. Today, the number of Granges across the Northeast has dropped acutely—in Vermont by more than fifty percent between 1992 and 2017. As younger generations leave rural areas to pursue better job opportunities, and with entertainment now as easy as turning on a television,
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connecting through social media, or driving to a movie theater, Grange participation is steadily declining and membership is aging. If this trend continues, the Grange and its buildings may disappear from the region’s cultural and physical landscapes. The National Grange marked its 150th anniversary in 2017, making it an ideal time to call attention to its importance as a national organization that has offered political, economic, and social support to rural communities since 1867. With that in mind, Historic New England undertook an Everyone’s History project in 2016 and 2017 in partnership with two Vermont granges— Middle Branch in East Bethel and Riverside in West Topsham—to preserve and celebrate the story of this vital rural institution. Working with Ned Castle, a filmmaker at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, and with guidance from the Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Vermont State Grange, Historic New England
produced a film that explores the history of the Grange, are there—some of them are family, some of them feel its continuing relevance in rural America, and hopes for like family.” the future as voiced by members of our partner granges. Middle Branch Grange hosts suppers for other Rooted: Cultivating Community in the Vermont Grange agricultural organizations like the Vermont Jersey combines oral histories, archival images, and footage of Breeders Association and the Farm Bureau, as well present-day Grange events. as public suppers and other community service Middle Branch and Riverside demonstrate how two events during the year. Its annual calendar features very different granges continue not merely to survive, the traditional activities that have always marked the but to thrive. About seventy-five page 16 Middle Branch Grange member Janet Angell often takes her granddaughter percent of the Middle Branch with her during chore time at White Rock Farm in Randolph. The dairy farm has been in membership is made up of dairy the family for eight generations. Courtesy of Vermont Folklife Center. below An 1873 farmers, many of them descended promotional poster for the National Grange depicts scenes of farming and rural life. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. from a handful of founding families. Meetings in the 1912 Grange Hall start at 8:30 p.m. EBT (East Bethel Time, as the state Grange community likes to joke) in order to give members time to finish chores, wash up, and have dinner. “I think it’s good, especially for something like dairy farming. It’s getting to where the number of farmers is getting less and less. And so it’s good to have somewhere for local farmers to get together. You know, they talk about what they’re doing on their farms—even just get together and talk about something completely different to get their minds off it,” said Joe Angell, an eighth-generation dairy farmer in Randolph. Conversation at social gatherings frequently touches on farming, but not to the exclusion of family, politics, health, neighbors, and the usual topics that make a community tick. “It kind of feels like Thanksgiving every other week,” said Emily Waterman, whose two daughters are in the Middle Branch Junior Grange, one of only two youth-level programs remaining in the state. “It’s family getting together . . . checking in, updating on things going on in your life, telling jokes, telling funny stories from your week at work, whatever it might be, making plans for something that’s coming in the future. It’s laid back, it’s relaxed, it’s comfortable, but it’s family. All of the people who HistoricNewEngland.org
above Riverside Grange Master Jim Bulger joined a grange in Harvard, Massachusetts, as a teenager. He owns Southwold Farm in West Topsham, Vermont, where he raises sheep and chickens and operates a small vegetable farm. left The Middle Branch Grange has always been at the center of family and community life for Joe Williams, a dairy farmer in Randolph Center. Photographs courtesy of Vermont Folklife Center.
seasonal life of granges: card parties on quiet winter nights, a variety show to combat cabin fever in late winter, a strawberry supper in early summer to usher in the growing season, summertime picnics and corn roasts, and a chicken pie supper and play in autumn to celebrate the harvest. “Growing up . . . the Grange was always a part of our life in our community because my parents and grandparents belonged and the Grange Hall was where we went for anniversary parties or wedding receptions, bridal showers or baby showers. The Grange Hall was kind 18
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of the center of our community. . . . It seems that there was always something going for young and old alike,” reminisced dairy farmer Joe Williams, a member of Middle Branch Grange for fifty years. “We always have a big bonfire in the fall and have a corn roast, the Grange picnic. Tons of food. Chicken barbecue. And not only that, but afterwards, ’most always you set and visited for a while and let your meal settle. But then you always get the softball out and you had a ball game and it didn't matter if you were seven or seventy, you could go out there and you played ball. And
it's something that the whole family joined into.” With only a handful of farmer members, Riverside has focused on creative ways to respond to current community needs while still practicing Grange traditions. At its home in a former one-room schoolhouse, Riverside offers community garden space, winter gardening workshops, a farmers’ market, and speaker programs on topics of particular concern to rural residents such as land conservation, the state’s clean water regulations, and energy efficiency. The local food shelf occupies the basement, and several community groups use the building for meetings. “The Grange certainly has promoted agriculture; its roots are in agriculture but it's also interested in the needs of rural people. It has a rich history in rural free delivery, rural electrification. . . . And to this day, this Grange reaches out to look into the community for what the needs of this community are,” said Jim Bulger, current Grange master and owner of Southwold Farm in West Topsham. Historic New England’s partnership with these two granges puts a spotlight on how they continue to provide a sense of belonging for rural residents: Grange welcomes families, and Grange is family. “Today, things are changing so rapidly and people don't get together to socialize as they have in the past. And it's these ties that the Grange still . . . holds dearly, where we get together and we actually communicate and talk about the needs of our communities, the needs of our family,” Bulger said. Katie and Brad Whalen, who operate Milk Thistle Farm in Topsham, joined Riverside Grange
in 2016. “At the Riverside Grange meetings, they always ask, ‘Is there anyone in distress or that needs help?’ ” said Katie, “And sometimes people have had a health crisis or they know of someone that needs something and it just gives you a chance to step outside your life for a second and see what else is going on. Because we all get caught up in doing what we have to do and need to do. But they also have a community service aspect where they ask, ‘What did you do for community service?’ and people can say, ‘Oh I mowed this lawn or did this,’ so it’s not just giving of resources but sometimes it’s just your time and putting that in for someone locally.” Rooted: Cultivating Community in the Vermont Grange premieres in April, which is National Grange Month. Historic New England and its Vermont Grange partners hope that film screenings and related discussions in Grange communities around the state and airings on local access television stations will create opportunities for new connections and potential partnerships among the Grange, local community, and statewide agricultural organizations. Vermont has a robust agricultural economy; in contrast to national trends, the number of small farms and the amount of acreage in farming have increased over the past two decades. Many of the Grange’s historical efforts— cooperative purchasing to help farmers get the best prices on equipment and supplies, joint marketing of local products, and educational programs on best practices in farming—have relevance today. Agriculture aside, the Grange’s deep roots in rural America grant it a wisdom that it can share with younger members. Middle Branch member Tim Angell recalled, “An old [agricultural] extension guy told me once,
‘Nothing survives, whether it’s a family farm or a grange or a church, unless at some point the older generation steps aside.’ They won't step aside, the organization will die.” Speaking in 2016 about the first year of the Riverside Grange farmers’ market, Heather Bulger said, “We ended up with twelve vendors by the end of the summer. . . .But from the twelve vendors, three new members came in and I'm willing to bet right now that next summer we'll get three to five more from the farmers’ market that join the Grange.” Bulger added that on the last day of the market in the fall, there were several youngsters at play inside the Riverside Grange Hall. They were the children of the new members. “They were all ten and under,” she said. “And that’s our future.” Rooted: Cultivating Community in the Vermont Grange is the sixth documentary in Historic New England’s Everyone’s History film series. The documentary was supported in part by grants to Historic New England from the National Grange American Arts and Culture Fund, the Alma Gibbs Donchian Foundation, the Small and Inspiring Grants Program at the Vermont Community Foundation, the Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement program, and the Williston branch of Yankee Farm Credit with additional support from Lyman Orton and Janice Izzi through the Vermont Folklife Center. The Preservation Trust of Vermont and the Vermont State Grange served in an advisory capacity on the project. Everyone’s History films, listed below, can be viewed at www.historicnewengland.org/explore/everyones-history/ At the River’s Edge: An Oral History of Berlin, New Hampshire Connecting the Threads: Overalls to Art at the H.W. Carter and Sons Factory (Lebanon, New Hampshire) Back to School: Lessons from Norwich’s One-Room Schoolhouses (Norwich, Vermont) The Haymarket Project (Boston) Woolworth’s: Remembering Haverhill's Shopping District (Haverhill, Massachusetts) A Middle Branch Junior Grange member waits to be served at the Sugar on Snow party. Refreshments follow meetings year round, but in March members donate syrup from their sugaring operations for this New England tradition. Poured over snow, the syrup acquires the consistency of taffy that can be eaten with a fork. Pickles and homemade doughnuts are also served. Courtesy of Vermont Folklife Center.
Freedom Means To Me
By Kate Hooper Education Program Coordinator THROUGHOUT THE 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR, fifth-grade scholars from Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, explored the theme of freedom and its meaning through a collaboration with educators at Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pierce House, also in Dorchester, and in their classroom during social studies, English language arts, and visual arts lessons. As part of this collaboration, the scholars created an exhibition for the community gallery space at Pierce House. What Freedom Means To Me included self-portrait collages depicting their beliefs about freedom today as well as their engravings of scenes of the Boston Massacre. Scholars engraved their scenes of the Boston Massacre on Styrofoam and then made prints using colored ink. The purpose was to reflect Paul Revereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s process when he engraved his Bloody Massacre scene in 1770. The student-created scenes show the event from multiple perspectives, including Loyalists, patriots, and neutral spectators. By creating their own scenes, the scholars begin to learn how images have power and need to be analyzed critically to uncover the truth. Young people are constantly inundated with images, whether through social media, television, or print sources. Not all images are as blatantly propagandistic as the Bloody Massacre, but the close reading of this and other historic images allows the students to develop visual literacy skills that transfer to their daily lives.
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Neighborhood House Charter School Artwork What Freedom Means To Me 5th grade scholars were asked to ponder the question “What does freedom mean to you?” Each student then created a self-portrait collage reflecting on their personal experiences, and how they, or family members, have endured their freedom being compromised or disrespected. Displayed are their amazing collages depicting their beliefs about freedom. Brandi Hood, Visual Art Teacher
page 20, top left, right These four pieces of art were just a few of the self-portrait collages that pupils attending Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, made for What Freedom Means To Me. right center The exhibition included an explanatory panel written by the teacher. above Paul Revere’s Bloody Massacre (1770) engraving depicts the Boston Massacre. right This is one student’s reinterpretation of Revere’s Revolutionary propaganda. HistoricNewEngland.org
Giving and Receiving by Kim Brengle Lead Individual and Planned Giving Officer
icholas Edsall has the distinction of being a second-generation member of Historic New England who has been visiting our properties for nearly seventy years. And ever since he established his first charitable gift annuity in 1997, Nick has also been a member of the Otis Society, Historic New England’s planned giving group. Born and raised in the Boston area, Nick is a professor emeritus in the history department at the University of Virginia. Even after spending most of his adult life in Charlottesville, Virginia, he still rushes “home” to New England to spend his summers in northern Vermont. “The beginning of my interest in the history of architecture in New England was where I grew up,” Nick said. “I grew up in Dedham [Massachusetts], where I had an encyclopedia of New England architecture right outside my front door. My family lived in an 1810 Federal-style house. On the green were houses from the Federal and Greek Revival eras, a Gothic church, the granite Norfolk County Jail, and the Richardsonian Romanesque public library.” Nick describes having absorbed an appreciation of the rich variety of buildings and styles without even realizing it. “New England is home in a spiritual sense. When it came time to think about what I want to do with my holdings, I knew I wanted to support New England-
based cultural and conservation organizations. I feel very strongly about preserving both cultural and natural heritage,” he said. Toward that end, Nick chose to establish a series of charitable gift annuities with Historic New England over a period of years. A charitable gift annuity is an agreement between Historic New England and the donor in which the donor transfers cash, securities, or other assets to the organization. In return, Historic New England agrees to pay the donor a fixed amount per year for life. Upon the donor’s death, the remaining balance is distributed to Historic New England. “Charitable gift annuities—what a wonderful idea,” Nick said. “It’s a win-win situation. It’s a wonderful way to support Historic New England and makes such good sense in terms of financial planning. The benefits are enormous. I have stocks that don’t pay all that well and the cost basis is extremely low. I had the pleasure of giving it to a charity I care about and taking a tax deduction and receiving income for life.” Historic New England is grateful for the generosity and the enthusiasm of friends like Nicholas Edsall. To learn more about gift annuities and other estate planning options, please e-mail us at Development@ HistoricNewEngland.org or call 617-994-5951.
How Charitable Gift Annuities Work Upon the donor’s death, the remaining balance is distributed to Historic New England
The donor transfers cash, securities, other assets to Historic New England
Historic New England pays the donor a fixed amount quarterly for life. Donor may qualify for an income tax deduction
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The ski jump at St. Moritz in the Blue Hills Reservation was a popular attraction in the 1930s. Another recreational activity that drew many participants in the 1930s was swimming at Houghtonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pond, which the public can still do today. Photographs courtesy of DCR Archives.
Blue Hills Reservation offers year-round recreational activities Historic New Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts, is located at the base of the Blue Hills on eighty acres of picturesque landscape. A portion of the land that makes up the Blue Hills Reservation was once privately owned by the Eustis family and some of their neighbors.
by Sean M. Fisher Archivist and Historian Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation From winter wonderland scenes and spring greening to open-space escapes from summer in the city and revels amid autumn leaves, the Blue Hills Reservation, just south of Boston, is an all-weather recreational mecca where anyone can partake in a variety of outdoor activities, or enjoy the natural setting. Skiing, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, and picnicking are just a fraction of what this state park has to offer visitors.
It was nearly 125 years ago that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acted to protect thousands of acres of open space for public use. Legislation passed in 1893 established the Metropolitan Park Commission with a mandate to create a district of protected land in Boston and about three dozen other cities and towns in the vicinity. Without delay, the commission began development of the Metropolitan Park System (MPS), which would grow HistoricNewEngland.org
The St. Moritz area, named after the Swiss Alps resort town where the 1928 Winter Olympic Games were held, offered ice skating on the pond. Courtesy of DCR Archives.
to become the nearly 20,000-acre public amenity that it is today. The Park Commission was renamed the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) in 1919; in 2003, it became the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The MPS includes the Blue Hills Reservation, an expanse of over 7,000 acres in the communities of Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Milton, Quincy, and Randolph. The idea of a metropolitan parks system was introduced by landscape architect Charles Eliot (1859-1897) and Malden journalist Sylvester Baxter (1850-1927). Eliot, writing in the January 1893 Report of the Preliminary Board of Metropolitan Park Commissioners to the Legislature, stated, “Thus we find that the rock-hills, the stream banks, and the bay and the seashores are the available and the valuable sites for public open spaces; available because they are still generally unoccupied and cheap, valuable because they present both the grandest and the fairest scenery to be found within the [metropolitan] district.” The public has used the Blue Hills Reservation for hiking, biking, and swimming since the mid-1890s. To accommodate these recreational activities, hiking and bicycle trails were the first to be laid out, and a trail map published by 1895. At Houghton’s Pond (also known as Hoosic-Whisick, the name given to the pond by the early Native tribe that lived in the area), a bathhouse was constructed in 1895. To honor Charles Eliot, a memorial footbridge was built in 1903-1904 24
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along a trail near the summit of Great Blue Hill. During the early 1910s, sanitaries (restrooms), and shelters were constructed. The next boom in recreational facilities came in the 1930s, with a concession stand at Houghton’s Pond and two observation towers. Fireplaces, and then grills, have been provided for picnickers since the 1930s. Skiing came to the reservation in the 1930s with ski runs at Great Blue Hill, the highest point in the range. Since 1949 skiing has been significantly expanded. The Blue Hills Reservation also hosted wintertime recreation in the St. Moritz Pond area, in the Quincy section. St. Moritz, which attracted elite athletes in addition to the general public, was named after the resort town in the Swiss Alps that hosted the 1928 Winter Olympic Games. From 1929 through the 1930s, the frozen pond was used for ice skating, and a toboggan slide and ski jump were constructed. Winter carnivals were held in the St. Moritz recreation area until the early 1940s. Competitive winter sports events were featured as well. Golfing came to the Blue Hills Reservation in the early 1930s with the creation of an eighteen-hole golf course. It now has thirty-six holes. Noted golf course architect Donald Ross (1872-1948) designed twenty-seven of the holes. A popular attraction at the reservation is the Trailside Museum, which opened in 1959 in a converted house. DCR
operates the museum in partnership with Mass Audubon as a nature and wildlife education center. It also features a natural history museum and outdoor wildlife exhibits with rescued animals that would not survive in the wild. After World War II, as the suburban Boston population burgeoned, two skating rinks were constructed along the edges of the reservation; Ulin Rink in 1954, originally a completely
open-air rink; and Shea Rink in 1962, adjacent to the former St. Moritz winter recreation area. Both Ulin, in Milton, and Shea, in Quincy, are still in operation. The Appalachian Mountain Club has provided camping opportunities in the Blue Hills Reservation, along Ponkapoag Pond, since 1921. Since the late twentieth century, the public has enjoyed the use of the Blue Hills Reservation for other
recreational endeavors such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and walking. In addition to the recreational attractions, the public may also visit the Blue Hill Observatory atop the Great Blue Hill, a meteorological center established in 1885 by Abbott Lawrence Rotch (1861-1912). For information, visit www.Mass.gov/ locations/blue-hills-reservation.
Massachusetts exercises right of eminent domain to take private land The Metropolitan Park Commission (MPC) envisioned the Blue Hills range, “with adjacent wild lands and lake country to the southward, as a mountain-like public forest,” wrote MPC Secretary Sylvester Baxter in the board’s 1893 report. The locale was ideal for situating a reservation, the aim of which was to benefit the public welfare. Not only would it help to satisfy the “need to relieve the evils of close settlement,” a growing condition that many saw as detrimental to urban areas, stated a pamphlet about the Boston Metropolitan Parks prepared for the Paris Exposition of 1900; it would also provide open space for recreation and exercise. By the end of 1893, the park commission had filed its plan with the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds for proposed land takings in Milton and Canton. The towns' boards of selectmen had approved the state’s expropriation of the private properties that were to become part of the western section of the Blue Hills Reservation. The plan called for an initial taking of 930 acres of private land from about two dozen property owners. The largest parcels taken were owned by those who had the most land—Milton residents Lieutenant Governor Roger Wolcott, Mrs. Mary Hemenway, and W.E.C. and Edith Eustis. The Eustis and Hemenway properties abutted; the Eustises had acquired the land shortly after their marriage in 1876 from Mary Hemenway, Edith’s mother. The couple were raising their family in the 18,600-square-foot stone mansion they had built on a portion of the property. The state took 118 acres of the Eustis property, for which it paid the family $15,291. Calculating for inflation, that sum is equivalent in 2017 dollars to $396,300. Massachusetts took a total of 812 acres from the Hemenway property and the other nearby landowners. Had the state not exercised its right of eminent domain, however, the Blue Hills Reservation could well have been substantially smaller than it is, or perhaps not exist at all. Today, the Eustis Estate consists of an impressive eighty acres, which Historic New England owns and stewards. On display at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center is Exploring the Blue Hills, an exhibition about the history of the reservation. Visit the museum to discover more about the conservation of this cherished open space and to learn about the Eustis Estate and the family that lived there. — Dorothy Clark, Editor HistoricNewEngland.org
Designs on City Dwelling
Last summer, Historic New England launched two internships that focus on researching the history and sharing the stories of under-documented populations in the region.
Urban Renewal Housing Brought Modern Design to Roxbury Suffolk University senior Helina Dawit Yohannes worked as an intern with Historic New England and Urban Edge, a nonprofit housing developer, to compile an archive of the stories of residents of the Roxbury section of Boston. Her project focused on conducting oral history interviews with residents of Academy Homes I, a 202-unit development in the Jackson Square neighborhood. Urban Edge acquired the development in 1998 and co-owns it with the Academy Homes I Tenants Council. The complex, built 1963-1965, was designed by Boston-area Modern architect Carl Koch. Academy Homes I was the first private housing development for low- and moderate-income residents built under the city’s urban renewal program. Yohannes also interviewed residents of nearby Westminster Court, a seventy-unit, Koch-designed apartment development built in 1967. Urban Edge co-owns this property with the Westminster Court Apartment Tenants Association. Yohannes’s work is now part of Historic New England’s archival collection and was also shared with Urban Edge. The following are some of Yohannes’s views of her experience.
Academy Homes 1, Boston’s first private housing development for low- and moderate-income residents built under the city’s urban renewal program, was constructed on the sixteen-acre campus of a onetime Catholic boarding school, Notre Dame Academy. Photographs by Helina Dawit Yohannes, courtesy of Urban Edge. 26
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“We want to get a sense of what it was like to live in this community, especially as it relates to twentieth-century forces that shaped Roxbury,” Yohannes said in describing her work project. “We are looking to learn about the personal and interpersonal relationships that were fostered in the community and how residents’ lives were shaped by living in Roxbury, as well as how they shaped Roxbury.”
Yohannes conducted nine oral histories, most connected to the designs of German American architect of them with people of color of various ages and Jacob Luippold (1845-1917), through a group of his threebackgrounds: the oldest was born in 1931, some were decker houses. native Bostonians, others had migrated from the South, Chapman selected four of Luippold’s three-decker or from Puerto Rico via New York City. She said the designs for which Historic New England had a full set experience was personally rewarding and instructive. “It of plans and identified who lived in or owned them since gave me the opportunity to understand history through their construction, documenting a century’s worth of the lives of ordinary people shaping or experiencing it. . . occupancy in some of these multifamily residences. Her . It taught me that hard work, focus, and patience can take research culminated with contacting current owners to you a long way—whether that’s raising eleven children or meet and interview them about their experiences in the organizing a successful protest against highway extension life of a Luippold three-decker. Chapman’s work adds a plans that would have hurt the JP [Jamaica Plain]/ critical human component to the remarkable collection Roxbury community.” of drawings Luippold prepared for his clients, provides Yohannes’s project broke new ground for both ample scope for further research into the lives of those Historic New England and Urban Edge. “I feel as though who occupied his buildings, and brings a legacy of Historic New England’s collection disproportionately vernacular design up to the present day. Below, she represents the white elite class in New England—through shares her work experiences. no fault of its own but because of the circumstances throughout history that gave some groups of people Before starting research for my project I was not better chances than others at acquiring valuables that aware that the big wooden houses on almost every could be collected by the organization.” The Roxbury block around the city had a name—three-deckers. With oral history project “provided a different perspective of eyes wide open I walked through the city, noticing how history lived by the residents of Academy Homes and ubiquitous these houses are in areas like Jamaica Plain, Westminster.” For Urban Edge, Yohannes’s work proMission Hill, and Dorchester—they were so common it vided feedback, giving the development corporation was easy to overlook them. a better understanding of some of the tenants who Examining articles and books about three-deckers, I have lived in the building it According to the notation on this architectural drawing, Jacob Luippold designed this has managed the longest. multifamily house in 1907 for construction on Spring Street in the West Roxbury section of Through the project, Urban Boston for Mrs. H. Peters. The characteristic three-decker porches are in back. Pictured on the Edge was able to see how right is the property as it currently appears. members of its community have “benefited from the work they do to provide affordable housing and other services to strengthen Roxbury and Jamaica Plain,” she said. To read about some of the oral histories visit HistoricNewEngl and .org / roxburymodern. Biography of a Three-decker Gabrielle Chapman, a master’s degree candidate in public history at Northeastern University, had the opportunity to research and document three-deckers in Boston. She researched the social history HistoricNewEngland.org
The research that Helina Dawit Yohannes (left) and Gabrielle Chapman conducted as Historic New England interns makes significant contributions to the study of New England culture.
learned that early twentieth-century urban planners and city officials deemed the wood-frame houses “fire traps” and instituted strict building codes that eventually prohibited their construction. In spite of the negative perceptions about them, many three-deckers had valuable attributes: fine craftsmanship, quality materials, and (for their time) modern amenities, a trifecta that has protected so many of them from the wrecking ball. In their day, three-deckers were respectable homes made for respectable middle-class owners and tenants. Jacob Luippold, a builder turned architect, made a career serving the German community in Boston in the late nineteenth and at the turn of the twentieth centuries. Beginning in the 1880s, Luippold served more than 100 clients, working from his home and office at 89 Mozart Street in Jamaica Plain, designing houses as well as community and other public buildings. It was clear from Luippold’s notes in Historic New England’s collection of his architectural drawings that he intended his houses to fit Boston’s growing middle class. His specifications always required that materials of “the finest quality” and workmanship were to be used in his designs. Luippold’s three-deckers included entry vestibules, built-in china cabinets, linen closets, dining rooms, and well-equipped kitchens and bathrooms—the modern domestic necessities. I started my investigations with Luippold’s impeccably drafted architectural plans and drawings looking for three-deckers with a full set of drawings that were still standing, since the purpose of the project was to see who had lived in these houses over time and, if possible, to interview the current residents. Four structures qualified: two in Jamaica Plain, one in West Roxbury, and one in Mission Hill. With the examples selected, I began comprehensively identifying all the owners and occupants of each house, starting with Luippold’s client list in the Historic New England archives. I checked Jacob Luippold designed this three-decker with Italianate features on Paul Gore Street in Jamaica Plain. 28
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city directories, tax records, historic atlases online, and deeds. As I made my way through time, records gave way to phone numbers that in turn led me to current owners. From my research and interviews, colorful characters emerged. On Paul Gore Street in Jamaica Plain there were Regina and Florian Fink, who immigrated from Prussia to the United States where they had four children. She worked as a housekeeper and he as a stonemason. After her husband passed away, Regina remained in the house alone, renting the other apartments to a tailor, a watchmaker, and a journalist. Other Luippold threedeckers housed stenographers, grocers, railroad workers, clerks, and customs officers. I made contact with three current owners and was able to share copies of the Luippold drawings for their buildings, speaking directly with two of them and taking photographs of the houses. As I continue to analyze the information I collected, intriguing patterns have become clear. Meeting current residents provided a chance to uncover a modern-day three-decker experience. The variety of tenants and house locations has helped me to understand Boston’s neighborhoods, and to know more about the people who lived there. Those three-deckers I pass by are invisible no longer. Historic New England offers internships to students pursuing degrees in American studies, American history, museum studies, arts administration, preservation studies, art and architectural history, library and information science, and related fields. Students from a racial or ethnic minority group are strongly encouraged to apply. For more information and to download an application visit www.historicnewengland.org/about-us/volunteersinterns or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Privateer’s Private Side Offin Boardman's lost diary resurfaces by Bethany Dorau North Shore Regional Site Manager
Captain Offin Boardman is best known for his derring-do, as his diary attests. But his newly discovered Bible reveals a solemn side of his personality. Image courtesy of Museum of Old Newbury Collections.
’LL LET YOU IN ON A SECRET SHARED BY many who spend most of their time in historic houses: as we get to know the people who inhabited these places, we find ourselves picking favorites. We don’t mean to, and sometimes it’s not fair, but there are some who have left such compelling evidence of lives of daring, or tragedy, or deep feeling, that we find ourselves developing an abiding affection. I have worked at the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts, in one capacity or another for eighteen years, and I will confess, Captain Offin Boardman, who lived on the farm from 1797 until his death in 1811, is my favorite. His appeal lies in great measure with the wealth of information he left about his extraordinary life, found in diaries, letters, newspaper articles, and archaeological discoveries. Two of these sources have recently surfaced, one in Pennsylvania, passed down for generations through the family of Boardman’s daughter, and another in the library of a distinguished theological seminary. Offin Boardman’s Revolutionary War diary, dated 1779 to 1780, had existed in transcript form, but without access to the original, the veracity of the transcript was always in doubt. With the donation of this diary to Historic New England, and the verification of the transcript— which proved to be a faithful copy—a priceless record of a Newburyport, Massachusetts, privateer during the War of Independence came to light. A privateer was, in essence, a government-sanctioned pirate. Using privately owned vessels, privateers were authorized to
attack ships owned by a country’s declared enemies. Boardman’s diary—a small, wax paper-covered book bound with string—begins with a list of the thirteen colonies, written in his signature vertical script, the ends of his words whipping enthusiastically around on themselves. Under this list is the statement that marked the transition from provincial subdivisions to a sovereign nation: “United States of North America.” Boardman then provides a summary of the adventure to come: • November 15, 1776—Sail I from Newbury • December 24—Was taken by 64 guns • June 12, 1777—Came to prison • January 29, 1778—Made my escape • February 17—Taken up London • April 18—Return I back to prison • January 4, 1779—Made my escape. [Later added] I got clear to America Offin Boardman was born in 1747, the second of eight children. He went to sea as a young boy and rose quickly through the ranks, becoming captain of his first vessel in his early twenties. Boardman was active in local revolutionary endeavors from the beginning, taking part in blocking Newburyport Harbor with wooden piers and voting to limit, then end, trade with England. He was also an early and enthusiastic privateer. The forty-ton schooner Washington was among the first vessels to receive a privateering commission from the Massachusetts Council of Safety. The vessel was commissioned on December 11, 1775, with Boardman as commander. HistoricNewEngland.org
below A page from Offin Boardman’s 1779-1780 diary includes a list of the colonies that became the ”United States of North America.” bottom Boardman’s name is faintly visible on the outside of the diary, which is covered with wax paper. page 31 His name is also penned on the bottom edge of a devotional made up of a copy of the Book of Common Prayer bound with the Old and New Testaments.
Boardman spent the spring and summer of 1776 privateering quite successfully, and in November he signed on to a voyage on the brig Dalton as the Captain of the Marines. The Dalton was commissioned as a privateer on October 7, 1776, under Commander Eleazer Johnson Jr. The Dalton sailed from Newburyport on November 15, 1776, and cruised in search of British merchant ships to pillage for nearly a month. On Christmas Eve, while sailing in a light breeze about sixty to ninety miles west of Cape Finisterre on the Spanish coast, a ship was sighted in the distance at two o’clock that afternoon. The men were ordered to “beat to quarters” (man battle stations), but no battle followed. As the vessel drew closer, Johnson identified it as the HMS Raisonable, a sixty-four-gun British battleship, under Captain Thomas Fitzherbert. The Raisonable was an Ardent-class ship of the line, a formidable, 1,400-ton vessel with more than 500 men aboard. By nine o’clock that night, the Raisonable caught up with the Dalton and fired two shots. The Dalton had one third of the guns and a quarter of the men. Johnson made the decision to strike the colors—lower its flag in surrender—and Offin Boardman’s most trying journey began. Boardman and the rest of the Dalton crew were taken to Mill Prison in Plymouth, England, which he describes as “a horrible inquisition and slaughter-house of American victims.” Where Boardman secured a diary is not known, though his first full entry offers a clue. On January 4, 1779, Boardman was still on half rations for “Etemptive Escape,” or attempted escape. He had been recaptured in London, and so may have secured the diary there. Boardman’s diary documents his final, successful escape, when, “by the Blessings of God” he scaled an eighteen-foot wall and lowered himself thirty feet into the prison yard reserved for French detainees. Despite his intrepid clambering, what finally won Boardman his freedom was a guard who was willing to be bribed. At “half past five” Boardman walked out the front gate of Mill Prison, past five sentinels, “with the help of a gold key.” Offin Boardman’s diary relates his exploits as he escapes from England to France and then spends several months waiting for a fleet to sail back to America, meeting with notables Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Paul Jones. The diary ends on March 18, 1780, with Boardman back in France. Learn more about Offin Boardman’s subsequent adventures by visiting the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm when it opens for tours in the spring. 30
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Boardman’s Bible by James Darlack Director, Goddard Library Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary James Darlack made this discovery last year in the rare book room of Goddard Library. Through Facebook, he contacted Bethany Dorau at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm and invited her to Goddard Library at the seminary’s campus in Hamilton, Massachusetts, to examine several of his favorite holdings. During an afternoon of exploration, I stumbled across a thick old tome. The pages were beaten and worn. The leather cover had been roughly repaired with course linen sailcloth, stitched through the book’s spine. On the top edge in faded brown was lettered “OFF__ Boardman” (some of the letters were obscured by running ink, and I could not quite make out the name). The homespun look was intriguing, so I took it to my office for further inspection. It was actually several books bound in one, and although I had no idea at the time, it provided a connection with local Revolutionary War hero Offin Boardman. The first few pages of text are missing; the volume reveals a hastily repaired copy of the Book of Common Prayer (undated) bound with a copy of the Old and New Testaments printed in 1782. The back side of the Old Testament title page bears the inscription “Offin Boardman Jr., his Bible. Bought in the Island of Barbados, Bridge Town, June 12th 1783, when in the Sloop Rebecca, bound for Ocean.” The back of the New Testament title page bears a similar inscription in a slightly cleaner script. A former library’s marking indicates that this book had been presented to the Essex Institute in 1921 by George S. Melville of the Hyde Park section of Boston. Other works were bound with the Bible and prayer book. A beautiful copperplate print serves as the title page to A Companion to the Altar. Shewing the Nature and Necessity of a Sacramental Preparation (printed 1781). At the top of the plate is engraved a paraphrase of Psalm 26:6, “I will wash my Hands in Innocency O LORD and so will I go to thine Altar.” Finally, a 1781 copy of A New Version of the Psalms of David, Fitted to the Tunes used in Churches (by N. Brady and N. Tate) was added. The thickness of this collection certainly made the book unwieldy and somewhat awkward. It is no wonder that it eventually fell apart and needed some improvised
repair. Before it was repaired with sailcloth (at sea?), it had been held closed with two leather straps attached to brass clasps, as was common on Bibles and other thick books of the time. One clasp survives, showing a quaint floral design. The moisture of the sea no doubt swelled the pages and braided linen loops were added to the canvas cover to lengthen the reach of the brass clasps. This miniature devotional library provides a rare insight into the spiritual life of a Revolutionary War privateer. One wonders what pages were thumbed while sailing through rough seas. What prayers were prayed? What passages were read during the tedium of the voyage? A close inspection of the biblical text shows that it was studied and read. Small hash marks scratched with lead mark each chapter of the Bible’s first books— Genesis, Exodus, and even through Leviticus, chapter ten, where Boardman’s last marking appears (perhaps even an eighteenth-century privateer didn’t have the stomach or the attention span for laws concerning skin disease and other strange topics that come up in the latter chapters of Leviticus). A fingerprint smudge occurs just under a passage in the Epistle of James that compares the power of speech to the rudder of a ship: “Behold, also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm whithersoever the governor listeth” (3:4). Did he thumb that passage thinking of the “colorful” language common on the boat? As a seminary librarian, I’m familiar with the contents of many of our books. The pages bear an intellectual witness to the lives of women and men throughout history as they argued the intricacies of theology or wrestled the challenges of faith. In discovering Boardman’s Bible, I have been struck by this very physical reminder of an eighteenth-century privateer’s faith. He held this Bible. He read it. He prayed its prayers and sang its psalms. HistoricNewEngland.org
MAKING News and notes from Historic New England by Dorothy Clark, Editor
. . . And the winners are: Special projects garner grants and sing ular topics capt ure book, collector awards Historic New England helps fund preservation projects by annually awarding grants of $1,000 to a small to mid-size heritage organization in each of the six New England states. Community Preservation Grants support one of Historic New England’s core beliefs—that collaboration strengthens and raises the visibility and importance of preservation. The 2017 grant recipients are: James Merrill House, Stonington, Connecticut. This National Historic Landmark was the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Connecticut’s first poet laureate James Merrill and now serves as a museum and home to a writers’ residence program. The grant will be used to digitize the archival materials and expand the collections database in preparation for a documentary oral history of Merrill's life and work in Stonington. Museum L-A, Lewiston, Maine. Located in the original Bates Mills Complex, Museum L-A showcases the history of work and industry in Lewiston and Auburn, particularly the world renowned Bates Bedspreads. The museum will use the grant to purchase flat-file storage for its 32
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collection of original artwork for bedspread designs and make it more accessible for income-producing art projects. Longmeadow Historical Society, Longmeadow, Massachusetts. In keeping with its mission to preserve town history and inspire awareness of Longmeadow’s past, the historical society will use its grant to renovate and reinterpret an exhibition room at Storrs House Museum to feature the story of the town from 1890 to 1920. The exhibition will include images selected from 1,500 glass-plate negatives taken by local photographer Paesiello Emerson. Sandy Island Archives, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. One of three overnight summer camps of the YMCA of Greater Boston and the organization’s oldest residential camp in the United States, Sandy Island opened in 1899 as Camp Buena Vista on an island in Lake Winnipesaukee. The camp began organizing its historical documents just a few years ago and discovered two large-scale landscape design plans drawn in 1938 by the noted Olmsted Brothers firm of Brookline, Massachusetts. The Community Preservation Grant
will allow the camp to engage the Northeast Document Conservation Center of Andover, Massachusetts, to conserve and digitize the plans for transfer to the Northeastern University Archives where they will be accessible for public viewing and research. South County History Center, Kingston, Rhode Island. Founded in 1958 as the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, this organization envisioned a new role for itself as a leading research and archival center and began operating under its new name in 2016. The center will use its grant to upgrade and expand archival storage for existing documents, improve accessibility, and accommodate new materials, in particular 35,000 photographs taken locally by Kenneth T. Mars of the Narragansett Indian Tribe from the 1960s until his death in 2011. Essex Community Historical Society, Essex, Vermont. The historical society launched a campaign last year to raise funds to restore the water tower at National Register-listed Fort Ethan Allen. Built in 1893, the water tower was one of the first structures erected at the fort. In recent decades,
the historical society conducted tours of the tower twice a year, during which members would recount the fort’s history, including the period from 1909 to 1913 when the Tenth U.S. Cavalry was based there. Also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tenth Cavalry was one of the first peacetime African American regiments established in the regular Army after the Civil War. The historical society plans to add its Community Preservation Grant to its tower restoration funds, enabling it to bring renewed attention to the landmark and resume public visits and history interpretation. To be notified when applications for the 2018 Community Preservation Grants are available join our mailing list at historicnewengland. org/communitypreservationgrants. Historic New England honored the recipients of its 2017 Book Prize and Prize for Collecting Works on Paper at an Evening of Prizes, held last fall at the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts. A New Look At Old Furniture Some of the great masterpieces of American furniture were made by Rhode Island-based makers. Art & Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650-1830, the 2017 Book Prize winner, elevates the status of the Ocean State’s role in the annals of American furniture making from the colonial through the late Federal period. The book, by Patricia E. Kane with Dennis Carr, Nancy Goyne Evans, Jennifer N. Johnson, and Gary R. Sullivan, is the first major survey on the topic since 1965, as well as the most comprehensive work about furniture making in America. Illustrated with nearly 400 images, Art & Industry in Early America illuminates the industry—both the artistic engagement as well as the commercial
enterprise that characterized Rhode Island furniture making. Boston Under Ground Lofty edifices such as the Old State House aren’t the only places where Boston’s history reposes. There are many stories to be mined about how the inhabitants of the area lived through the eons, often by literally digging deeper into the past. That’s what Joseph M. Bagley, who holds the post of city archaeologist in Boston, documents in A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts, an Honor Book award winner. Bagley looks at material culture through the ages in this area of New England that the MassachusettPonkapoag people called Shawmut and European settlers would name Boston. The book examines the diverse stuff our predecessors used in the course of everyday living that was eventually lost, discarded, or abandoned. The Maine Picture Maine is more than just another pretty state. Though it has undeniably drawn countless camera wielders to capture images of its various places, seasons, and people, Maine has also served as a laboratory in which the practice of photography has not only recorded the past, but made history, too. With Maine Photography: A History, 1840-2015, also an Honor Book, authors Libby Bischof, Susan Danly, and Earle G. Shettleworth Jr. have written the first comprehensive account of the development of photography in Maine and discuss the state’s place in the larger history of picture-making in America. From the first daguerreotypes produced in Portland in 1840
to contemporary photographic practice, Maine Photography looks at the many roles photography has served in the state’s social, cultural, and economic evolution. Birds Abound Birds are Eddie Woodin’s world. Owning more than 700 original paintings and drawings of birds, he is probably the world’s foremost private collector of ornithological art and ephemera. That distinction won him the Prize for Collecting Works on Paper. Among the artists Woodin has collected are John James Audubon, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and Roger Tory Peterson. The art is complemented by thousands of pieces of paraphernalia, such as decoys, and birding ephemera including field guides and books, photographs of notable ornithologists and conservationists, periodicals, educational leaflets, and other artistic works, making the scope of Woodin’s collection extraordinary.
From left, Carl R. Nold, president and CEO of Historic New England, with Evening of Prizes honorees Joseph M. Bagley, Patricia E. Kane, Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., Susan Danly, Libby Bischof (rear), and Eddie Woodin. Photograph by Beth Oram Photography.
Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Boston, Massachusetts Permit No. 58621 141 Cambridge Street Boston, Mass. 02114-2702
Fashionable Additions by Laura Johnson, Curator Exhibitions offer Historic New England a way to meet new people, invite fresh stories, and add objects to the collection that help us better reflect the rich diversity of life in New England. In June, Head to Toe: Hat and Shoe Fashions from Historic New England opens at the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center in Milton, Massachusetts. Planning for this exciting exhibition with other regional institutions as part of the MassFashion collaborative is allowing us to seek out pieces that tell engaging stories. Accessories, especially shoes and hats, are sometimes called “fashionable punctuation” for their ability to complete or accentuate an outfit. Important moments, from weddings to worship, often require new hats and shoes. Connection with these special times lends objects power as keepsakes—hats and shoes, like jewelry, are often kept far longer than the dresses or suits worn with them. The hats featured here introduce new stories while showing two of the many ways New England women dressed for worship. Pauline Kotsopoulos Toulopoulos and her family came to Lowell, Massachusetts, from Greece to
work in the textile mills. Pauline was deeply involved in the Somerville Greek Mission Church, attending services and volunteering. She fa– vored pillbox hats, like this example by Christian Dior, and stiletto heels. Pauline took the bus and subway with her daughter, the donor, to Boston’s Downtown Crossing to pick out hats and shoes at Filene’s and Jordan Marsh department stores. Sisters Mabel, Ruby, Mildred, and Ruth and their cousin Eleanor Mapp often bought hats and shoes jointly and, in the donor’s words, “treated them like stocks and bonds— they were investments.” Eleanor wore this hat (right) to services and to sing in the gospel choir at Southern Baptist Church, in the Roxbury section of Boston. Eleanor and Pauline each chose fashionable accessories that fit their
above left Pauline Kotsopoulos Toulopoulos adored pillbox hats like this one, made with feathers, sequins, net, and buckram by Christian Dior. above Eleanor Mapp wearing her wool and felt hat with sequins designed by Mr. John.
unique styles. Their hats, shoes, and stories are part of Head to Toe, on view from June 1, 2018, through early February 2019.
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