New Year’s Day 1900: Reporting on Hon. George E. Merchant’s inauguration began simply, as in Bay State Mayor Recommendations for the Globe, then a fracas ensued

Happy New Year’s day! While thinking about 2021, I was looking back. 1900 seemed as good as any to share a fresh new chapter “then” story.

Bumpy Ride

Let’s just say fasten your seat belts; reading about Mayor Merchant’s term is a bumpy ride for the entire year as reported in the Boston Globe. Heated exchanges dominate. Smaller items about conservation and deed issues related to Dogtown, Good Harbor Beach, and Briar Neck real estate development are detailed. I knew some details about Mayor French’s terms but did not run into Mayor Merchant before. I recognize the surname Merchant/Marchant as Gloucester history. Prior to this post I mostly associated Merchant with the street that was one of so many in Gloucester to inspire work by American artist, Edward Hopper.

On some lists of Gloucester Mayors, he’s (conspicuously) not there. (Biographical details unroll at the end. Also, photographs of all the Mayor portraits.)

No Mayor Merchant

All heads south immediately following the swearing in, and I mean immediately. The Mayor address advanced to the paper is standard, rosy and prickly, not uncommon.

New Year’s Day, 1900 – Mayor Merchant of Gloucester

Gloucester, Jan. 1- Establishment of a City Workhouse, and Investigation of Assessing and Fire Alarm Systems Urged

The inauguration exercises of the city government for 1900 took place this morning in city hall. As usual, a large number were in attendance, the especial point of interest being the reading of the inaugural. Those who expected to hear a plain and straightforward statement of certain facts were not disappointed, as the inaugural certainly treated certain matters in a trenchant manner.

The chapters in relation to the administration of highways, the debt of the city, revaluation, the need of better discipline in the police force, recommendations in regard to an equitable reduction of water rates were received with especial favor. The inaugural made a distinctly favorable impression.

In considering the finances, he said that the city’s liabilities were $829,243.72. The net debt is $368,211.04, an increase of $77,713.72. The reserve amount which the city now can borrow is $22,496.78.

The following recommendations were made: The appointment of a special committee to investigate and report to the city council as to the present system of valuation of the city by the assessors, and what action, if any, is needed to secure more equitable taxation; an investigation and report by the committee on fire department as to the needs of an improved fire alarm service and the probable cost; the abolishment of the public library fund, a special committee to consider carefully the question of the scale of the poor farm property, and what may be done toward the establishment of a city workhouse, which would be such in fact as well as in name; the appointment of a joint special committee upon water, to act with the water commissioners upon all matters relating to the purchase of the work, the improvement of sources of supply, and to suggest in what manner an equitable adjustment of the rates may be made; that no claim made against the city be paid without first having had a reference to the proper department and report thereon in accordance with the advice of the law department, and the appointment of a special committee of the city council to investigate all matters relating to the collection of taxes, and to suggest how best a way may be found for better service in this connection.

The mayor advocated a gradual revaluation of the city, saying he believed it to be the duties of the assessors to look carefully into the matter. Under the subject of highways, the mayor took occasion to criticize adversely those having them in charge the past year, while those officials who were brought in close contact with the work performed were roundly scored. The schools, fire department and trust funds were kindly criticized in the interest of advanced ideas and business judgement. Regarding the police and the matter of license, the mayor emphasized the statement that while not looking for any difficulty in this line the police must do as they were bidden and observe discipline.

City clerk Somes administered the oath to the Mayor elect Merchant, after which the keys of office were delivered to him by Mayor French. Mayor Merchant administered the oath to the following aldermen: Ward 1 Alphonso Davis; ward 2 Osborne Knowles; ward 3 Levi J. Hotchkiss; ward 4 Edward H. Quigley; ward 5 Albert H. McKenzie; ward 6, William J. Sleep; ward 7, William L. Allen; ward 8, James W. Ingersoll.

The following members of the common council were also sworn in: Ward 1, Austin F. Coombs, Addison W. Bailey, John W. Gaskell; ward 2, John F. Riley, Samuel J. Somers, Melvin Parsons; ward 3, John J. Cunningham, Frank W. Lothrop, John A. Stoddart; ward 4, Ernest S. Parsons, John J. Sullivan, Ray S. Friend; ward 5, James E. Tolman, Samuel W. McQuinn, Thomas Hodge; ward 6, Addison G. Stanwood, Samuel P. Favor, James A. Lawrence; ward 7, William Stephens, Charles C. Smith, Thomas F. Wherty; ward 8, Ephraim R. Andrews, James M. Chadbourne, Howard T. Bray.

After the reading of the inaugural the boards proceeded to their respective chambers for organization.”

– From “For Year 1900: Recommendations Made by Bay State Mayors. How Government of Cities Can Be Improved. Necessity of Practicing Economy Where It Can be Done Without Detriment to the Public Good. Questions of Finances, Schools, Water. Lighting and Sewage in Various Municipalities of the Commonwealth.” , Boston Globe, New Year’s Day, 1900

MUNICIPALITIES INCLUDED IN THE ARTICLE: SOMERVILLE. HAVERHILL. LAWRENCE. EVERETT. MEDFORD.  SALEM. GLOUCESTER. FITCHBURG. BROCKTON. LYNN. BEVERLY. MARLBORO. WOBURN. NORTHAMPTON. SPRINGFIELD. NORTH ADAMS. NEW BEDFORD. QUINCY. WALTHAM. HOLYOKE. PITTSFIELD. TAUNTON. MALDEN. WORCESTER. BEVERLY CITY FATHERS. FOR THE SECOND TIME.

This was uncommon.

Then all hell breaks loose- on the very same day~

Jan 1 Day one whiplash- Council upends Mayor’s first day.

At the organization of the government today there were two unusual incidents.

“Mayor Merchant read a communication from ——-, protesting against administering the oath of office to Councilman elect Thomas Whearty, announcing that Chairman should contest the election. Mayor Merchant decided that there was nothing for him to do but take the returns of the election as they were rendered to him, and accordingly swore Mr. Whearty in.

“This had an important bearing on the contest of the presidency of the common council. When that body proceeded to elect as president James E. Tolman, who was a candidate for re-election offered an order that Mr. Whearty be not allowed to take part in the deliberations of the board until his case was finally settled. After several points of order had been made it was decided, to sustain chairman Lawrence, in adding Mr. Tolman’s order out of order. Councilman William Stephens was elected president of the council…In the afternoon Mayor Merchant announced his committees…

“Immediately on their announcement Alderman Sleep moved that the communication of the mayor be laid on the table. Mayor Merchant made no reply. Alderman Sleep insisted that his motion be put. Mayor Merchant contended that the committed announcement was simply a communication from the Mayor.

“Alderman Sleep produced the rules that urged that the aldermen by the rules could elect their own committees. Alderman Hotchkiss offered and order, if the mayor would entertain it, that the whole matter be referred to the city solicitor for his opinion as to the right of the aldermen to appoint the committees.

“Alderman McKenzie said there were committees to which he was appointed on which he did not care to serve.

“Mayor Merchant, after asking for further business, stated that he did not care to appear in the light of bulldozing the aldermen and should give them every opportunity to act except in the illegal expenditure of money, and then he should interfere. He therefore withdrew his nominations, and an order previously introduced by Alderman Hotchkiss that the aldermen reassemble at 7:30 in the evening and ballot for committees was passed.

“The mayor stated that the appointment of the committees had always been a prerogative of the mayor and he had proceeded in the matter as did former mayors.

“This is the first time in the history of the city that a mayor’s committee appointments have been protested or withdrawn. The incident caused somewhat of a sensation, and resulted in some animated conversation after the board adjourned.

“At 7:30 all the aldermen but Allen were in their seats. Mayor Merchant not putting in an appearance, President Sleep presided.

After the adjournment a conference was held, and a committee list satisfactory to the aldermen was arranged. The aldermen then, for the first time in the history of the city, proceeded to elect their own committees…Alderman Knowles offered an order that the city solicitor give his opinion in regard to the legality of the action of the aldermen in electing committees after the mayor had announced the appointment of committees. This was not seconded.”

Boston Globe, 2nd article of the day Jan 1, 1900

Apparently this balking at Mayoral appointments was trending as Haverhill was in the same boat. Unsurprisingly, by the ides of March the Mayor and council are

by March 17 At Loggerheads

Gloucester Aldermen on their Mettle. Render Useless Several Vetoes of Mayor Merchant. Mr. Sleep Proves a Sharp Critic of His Honor.

“The session of the board of aldermen this evening was one of the most sensational for some time. The old feud between Mayor Merchant and Alderman Sleep again broke out.

The mayor when “communications from the mayor” was reached, resigned the position of presiding officer to chairman Sleep and departed from the chamber. The chairman then proceeded to read the three vetoes to the aldermen and two presented in the council, which came up for action.”

Boston Globe March 17, 1900 excerpt

VETO TOPIC 1- conflicts of interest and spite

“The order adopted in relation to the payment to Sleep Bros. for certain services on Beacon Street was vetoed by the mayor on the ground of illegality and that it was work done on private land…Mr .Sleep said that despite the veto, the mayor had paid the bill of W.R. Cheves for stone and E.H. Griffin for cement, but objected to that of Sleep Bros. for labor ($97.50) on the same job because the members of the firm were unfortunate enough to bear the same name as the speaker…the action of the mayor was simply a matter of spite against him for certain matters which had occurred on inauguration day…The order to pay the money was carried…”

Boston Globe March 16, 1900 excerpt

Veto topic 2- PROTECTING GOOD HARBOR BEACH

“Some sharpshooting occurred on the veto of the mayor of the order that signs be placed at Good Harbor Beach by the committee on police and that all persons be prohibited from taking sand and ballast from the beach. The mayor informed the board that the proper way to proceed in this matter was for the committee on public property…Sleep denied there was any politics in this measure, and said the committee on public property attended to its work, but as it received no pay it was not its duty to lay around Good Harbor beach all the time and protect the property.”

Boston Globe March 16, 1900 excerpt

VETO TOPIC 3 – Protecting Dogtown

The order that the mayor and city register the land known as Dogtown commons, under the provision s of the Torrens law, was vetoed by the mayor on the ground that it was not the duty of the mayor but of the committee on public property.

Boston Globe March 16, 1900 excerpt

Veto topic 4- pay Raise for Firemen

“…The mayor vetoed the order for an increase in the salaries of firemen because he said that the city was not in a financial condition to make the raise…Sleep stated that some of the business men are raising money to put through the defeated charter which the mayor favors and which provides for salaried commissioners and clerks. Money for their friends was all right, but when it came down to the firemen it was a decidedly different matter…”

Boston Globe March 16, 1900 excerpt

1900

Governor Crane named ex-Mayor French to Gloucester Police Court

september 1900 Briar’s neck free for all origin story continues

And the Mayor is in the story.

“Gloucester has had a little Oklahoma boom. The place in question where this excitement has occurred is at Briar neck. The strip of land has for many years been vacant, with the exception of one (shack)…although it is claimed by two capitalists, who assert that they have deeds…

“It is a strip of about 200 acres of shore land, which is undoubtedly one of the sightliest and most desirable places for a summer home along the North Atlantic.

Briar’s Neck development

“Early in the season an attorney inserted a small item in a local paper to the effect that there was no valid title, and that anyone who settled down on the property could hold it. Mayor Merchant was the first one to squat down on the property and his example was followed by others, and there was a veritable rush for the place for several days. All the available sites were staked out and the names of those who had located claims were written on the stakes. There was a rumor circulated that the mere staking of the land was unavailing and that nothing less than the erection of a building of some sort would hold the land. A nondescript settlement immediately sprung up, and the sound of the hammer and saw was loud for several days…”Seashore Boomers

“There has been a great hunting up of old deeds and a revamping of family genealogies, …The Parsons of Joppa do not believe that the present squatters can hold the land, but eventually will be ousted. Mayor Merchant, by the way, claims descent from the Parsons.” Two capitalists of the city, George R. Bradford and George J. Tarr assert ownership of the tract, and have taken measures to protect their property…”

-excerpts from wild story about Briar Neck origins in the Boston Globe (Thacher is spelled Thatcher’s Island in this one)

Assuming its veracity, how did this Briar Neck business sort out? Two years earlier, a Boston Globe report stated Mayor Davis had plans for Briar:

Long standing Briar Neck controversy

The controversy as to the ownership of Briar Neck property, between the street railway company and Mayor Davis, resulting in the company acknowledging the city’s rights in an old road there, has become further complicated. Today two of Gloucester’s wealthiest capitalists, George R. Bradford and George J. Tarr, entered the fight, and served papers on the street railway company. The plaintiffs claim that they own 36 acres of land at Briar Neck, which extends from the stone wall to the beach, including the fresh water pond, lowlands and uplands traversed by the street railway company. Meanwhile Mayor Davis has something up his sleeve in regard to ownership of the property which will be developed later.

August 1898 Boston Globe

October 24, 1900 Checkmate

The Mayor was limiting the amount of the council’s loan request.

“A long and tedious period of silence, lasting over 40 minutes, followed. Mayor Marchant holding his chair through fear that his seat might be usurped by Alderman Sleep, who is president of the board. In the meantime two of the aldermen had gone out in search of legal advice…”

“…Alderman McKenzie: “Since the mayor refuses to entertain my appeal, I appeal to you.” Mr. Sleep put the motion and Mr. McKenzie was sustained by the unanimous vote of the board…the portion of the loan not approved by the mayor was then passed over his veto by a unanimous vote…Having accomplished their purpose the board adjourned.”

Boston Globe October 24, 1900

January 1901

Mayor French is back in the saddle. (The prior November, ex-Mayors Cook and French, Alderman Hotchkiss and ex-Alderman Barrett vied for the nomination.)

1899 New Year’s message for the Boston Globe by Mayor William French — who was back in as Mayor for 1901.

1899 New Year’s msg from Mayor French

and his 1902 address published in the Gloucester Daily Times. I had read about French before.

photo caption: Gloucester Daily Times archives retrieved at Sawyer Free November 2018. Read more about 1902 and Haskell Dam in my prior post here on GMG, .

Honorable George E. Merchant Fast Facts

He was described as a modest man from a well known and well regarded “old Cape Ann family”, and endearing accounts about his enthusiasm at reaching his 50th wedding anniversary milestone suggest a loving one, too. (Gloucester Daily Times obit)

Prior to serving as Mayor, he served a term as an alderman 1886-87 (and many appointments/commissions before. Waterways after Mayor).

Born1853, Gloucester
OccupationAdult – Printer/printing since 1870 when he began his career at John S.E. Rogers, owner and printer Gloucester Telegraph, various newspaper jobs. And printing press from his home at advanced age after retirement.
Boyhood 1870 census- 16 years old, working as a fisherman (family lore he was the cook on father’s boat; father in business with his sons) giving it a go for 8 years like generations of his family. Education unknown, presumed self-taught. Prior to Mayor-1886-87 served as city councilor (overlapping with his father) and more since 1870s. After Mayor, appointments, too. Master gardener. Family historian-writer. Photography.
FatherGeorge Merchant
Master mariner, fisherman, owner; founded seine net repair business 1873; fisheries advisor; served years as city councilor Ward 1
Affinity & skill for art- studied painting with FH Lane; fisheries display models, etc. (And his father was an incredible violinist.) Full & busy life, family man. 31 Main Street family residence
See Shute & Merchant
MotherMary Douglass Merchant (1832-1923)
Oak Grove Cemetery
Siblings
Parents had 9 kids
Mary Jane 1851 – 1944
George Edward 1853 – 1929
Orlando 1856 – 1930
Flora Estelle died at 2 1858 – 1860
Eugene Howard died at 2 1861 – 1863
Robert Clifford 1864 – 1936
Joseph Carleton 1867 – 1961
unnamed son 1870 – 1870
Percy Washburn
WifeCharlotte E. Lufkin (1857-1945)
Childrentwins died at 8 days and 9 days
Ernest H (16 years old when his father was Mayor; GHS 1904)
–buried in Santa Barbara–
George E. Jr. (14 years old when his father was Mayor; GHS)
Residences1900 33 Eastern Avenue
family compounded variously split up before/after
eventually 31 Eastern Ave where Charlotte remains
Death1929
see 50th wedding anniversary
Mt. Pleasant Cemetery
Obit both “well known member of old Cape Ann family”

George E. Merchant, Gloucester, Mass.

31-33 Eastern Avenue George E. and Charlotte E. Merchant

George Merchant, Gloucester, Mass.

1900 census- 30 East Main – George and Mary Merchant (and son Robert)

George Merchant, grandfather, fisherman and accomplished violinist

Such creative, multi-talented family members! George E.’s photograph and family historian piece on the occasion of his grandfather’s 90th birthday was published in the Boston Globe

“He had quite a reputation as a violinist in his younger days, in fact was a born musician, having what is called “fiddler’s elbow,” and many a weary night on the deep has been made pleasant by the strains from his violin.”

About George Merchant (George E.’s grandfather)

Mayor Portraits

Portraits of many Gloucester Mayors are exhibited in Gloucester City Hall. These are photographs of (most of the) Mayor portraits I took back in 2017, after another inauguration. Paintings, photographs and drawings of Mayors have been commissioned or gifted then installed after the term(s) years of service.

Major Field House restoration progress at Gloucester High School | Big DPW project #GloucesterMA #GHS #Basketball #Track

After twenty plus years in need and many years of planning, the Gloucester High School field house deficiencies are no more. Restoration is underway on this 1.6 million capital improvement directed by Gloucester Public Works.

The old bleachers are being replaced with top notch product.

Issues with the original concrete and under laying have been resolved. “The new work will be done correctly.” This mean new hardwood flooring. New usable track. Gloucester DPW hired Capital construction for this big project.

Views of the progress July 2020– so exciting!

 

Gloucester High School Field House summer construction major renovations_20200727_Gloucester Mass photographs ©c ryan (5)

 

The old bleachers were punched out all over, holes like confetti. Rumor one I’ve heard was shot put tosses caused the damage (whether practice misses or on purpose, I’m not sure) Rumors two is the holes were a result of indoor baseball and softball practice. What do you think caused the holes? Cue up GMG poll.

Whatever the results, counting on community taking care of the new fieldhouse.

The  Benjamin A. Smith Field House, aka Smith Field House, was formerly dedicated to  Albert Bachelor. 

 

Upgrades at O’Maley School thanks to DPW #GloucesterMA

Before*(about March 2020) | After (July 2020)

INSIDE

Mike Hale, Director of DPW,  and Jeff Destino, VP at O’Maley, reviewed top to-do list items at O’Maley back in January 2020, before Covid-19 hit. They also consulted with the principal and teachers, mentioning Ms. Crosby as one point of contact. The third floor (7th grade wing) was deemed “the most tired”. DPW slated work for February and April vacations with more lined up for the summer. When the pandemic closures ensued, many of these projects were ready to roll. Essential improvements and remodel efforts inside O’Maley include a wide assortment of interventions and upgrades by the DPW team: floor cleaning/refinishing/buffing (perpetual! a la Golden Gate Bridge painting); fresh coat of paint in various classrooms (in consultation with the teachers); wall repairs; 8 bathroom renovations; custom murals with hand painting by Jason Burroughs; built-in benches and high top counter; remodel of the resource officer’s room; renovation of one of the teacher lounges; and new classroom clocks.

About those classroom clocks. Ralph B. O’Maley (O’Maley) school was built ca.1972 and first class welcomed in ’74. The original classroom clocks were synced (hardwired and controlled from the main office) and no longer operational and hadn’t been for some time. They were kept up until they couldn’t be; after so much time the manufacturer was long gone. Bids for repairing the classroom clock system were astronomical. Instead, DPW replaced them with new clocks, automatically synced and operated via a wireless station in the Commons.

(update: *phase one is 50 replacement clocks- 30 more to be added if these do all they should)

 

 

The hodgepodge assortment of abandoned seats and folding tables in the teachers’ break room were replaced with quality and safe amenities.

 

Two large bathrooms on the ground floor and six small bathrooms on the third floor were renovated. The bathrooms looked rough and dated. Swapping out elements with smart design choices have made a huge difference. New non-porous epoxy flooring in stock colors, fixtures, ceiling tiles, and brushed aluminum wall squares (to clean up and conceal fifty years of mismatched accessory drill holes) work wonders.

 

AFTER bathroom remodel_DPW renovations at O'Maley school since March 2020 Gloucester Mass_photo copyright ©c ryan (5)

Similarly, spot design choices in long halls appeared to complete punch items lingering from the original build. For instance, random walls of cinder blocks– where banks of lockers were planned for and never needed–are now sheet rocked and finished. Others were repaired and painted. The odd, old wood base runners and lifts (again related to locker banks) were removed. Built in custom benches in one hall and a counter for another clean up long corridors and are functional for these spaces in ways they hadn’t been before. Paint color, good quality “brag” boards, and painted quotes were selected by teachers and students. Jason Burroughs hand painted the custom selected phrases.

 

Custom built-ins

 

Wall murals hand lettering by Jason Burroughs

 

Classrooms – Cleaned up walls and fresh coats of paint (colors selected by teachers)

 

Teacher’s desk rather than folding table (bonus- match case goods already there)

Acquisition of case-goods in some classrooms was necessary. For instance, this teacher’s desk is no longer a folding table.

 

Mike Hale describes the recent DPW O’Maley interior projects as small yet necessary and beneficial to staff and students alike. He added,

“Coming in at roughly $100,000/ $10,000**, all in all they’re worthy, and relatively short money on the return.” 

-Mike Hale

Note from author- typo- $100,000 for this work (includes less than $10,000 for clocks).

OUTSIDE

Exterior efforts at O’Maley include: new trees; garden sprucing; and sign appearing brand new and now sporting Gloucester colors–out with the green/gold in with the red. See prior post related to the completed (long planned) courtyard improvement phase

 

BEFORE O'maley green sign_ courtesy photo_O'Maley Gloucester Mass. © Mike Hale
before

AFTER O'Maley sign repainted_20200727_Gloucester Mass ©c ryan (3)
after

AFTER exterior- DPW renovations at O'Maley school since March 2020 Gloucester Mass_photo copyright ©c ryan

*Before snapshots courtesy Director of  Public Works, Mike Hale.

O’Maley courtyard | City of Gloucester DPW work during Covid-19

City of Gloucester DPW work on O'Maley courtyard in progress during Covid -19_20200402_ © c ryan (2)

 

As one branch of the city’s essential services, Gloucester DPW is busy serving the city during this pandemic. Sanitation, disinfecting and water management are critical public health priorities. Regarding construction and infrastructure work, the Governor gave specific instructions that limit construction projects with safe and rigorous controls so as not to expose anyone uneccessarily to bigger groups. Big DPW jobs may involve layers of interactions among larger crews, city staff, police and partners which is inherently at odds with any social distancing mandate. At the city level, Mayor Romeo Theken and local administration are following the Governor’s advisory on construction to a “T”. It would be unsafe if every town did something differently. “The Mayor is adamant about the use of PPE,” stressed Mike Hale, the Director of Public Works. “She’s spot on with daily notifications and advisory on essential and supplemental guidelines. And she shares directly any Federal and State communications.”

Gloucester DPW has

  • reduced crew size and staggered staffing level to limit potential exposure

“We have plans a,b,c,d,e as far as staffing goes. Look, the Gloucester DPW staff is fantastic! They want to be here. They’re willing to work; they feel it’s their public duty. The ability to work right now is essential for the staff and the city. DPW work is hard to catch up on under normal circumstances. And we had caught up on so much. We won’t fall back.” – Mike Hale

  • modified ride sharing (from groups of guys in a truck to 1 or 2 per individual vehicle)
  • prioritized smaller jobs and/or
  • specific jobs where bigger crews can be spread out more and the project is still manageable under covid-19 constraints
  • assigned work that can start and finish without disruption (for example if a building is re-opened it’s good to go)
  • dispatched crews inside schools cleaning, deep cleaning (management of school disinfecting started the Saturday following the Friday school closing), and traditional maintenance work (i.e. old doors that need replacing)

At Gloucester’s O’Maley middle school campus, DPW is making good progress on a courtyard improvement phase they’ve long planned. Three raised planter wells were removed and three lower planting beds with 16 new trees are coming.

“Lots and lots of concrete panels are being replaced.”

The scraggly boarder gardens around various walls facing the street will be attended to; DPW is teaming with Generous gardeners for the flower beds. The anchor will be relocated within a flower bed along the building.

IN PROGRESS

(photos above)

Wow– even at this stage, the project mitigates the outdated elements that felt harsh.  Looks fresh, and it’s easy to envision the future plans so full of life!

BEFORE

 

raised beds removed_new courtyard design_photo 20181129_ ©c ryan

 

Lobster Cove: Gloucester DPW rebuilding stone wall along Washington Street / 127 (and brush clearing at Bennett)

Brett Chelsea and John_Gloucester DPW stone wall repair Lobster Cove_ Washington Street_Rt 127_20191009_© c Ryan.jpg
Brett, John, Chelsea – DPW crew covers their masonry work in progress on the stone wall by Lobster Cove October 9, 2019, ahead of a forecast nor’easter, Gloucester, Mass.

CAUTION- slow down!

Gloucester DPW crews are restoring the old stone fence along Washington Street/Rt 127 between the Annisquam footbridge and Annisquam Church. They are filling and resetting capstone and top stone along its length and attending to areas of greater disrepair. The fence on this route has been hit by cars more than once. Estimates for contracting the work went far outside the department’s budget. Thankfully, Gloucester DPW is up to the city maintenance of a traditional public works build.  They began the job last week (see below)

BEFORE (and one in process/mortar)

 

AFTER

So far- Gloucester DPW is just a fraction of the way into this project. They’ll tackle sections at a time.

Gloucester DPW repairing capstone and topstone by Lobster Cove Gloucester MA_20191009_©c ryan (2)

Gloucester DPW repairing capstone and topstone by Lobster Cove Gloucester MA_20191009_©c ryan (1)

Goose Cove

Gloucester DPW repaired the stone wall at Goose Cove (also hit)

Gloucester DPW stone wall repairs Goose Cove Bridge _20191009_© c ryan.jpg

Nearby another DPW crew completed much needed roadside overgrowth clearing on Bennett Street up towards Dennison Street

Before (Google Street view) / After

 

Cranes, trucks, piers and parking lots! Maintenance and new construction on Stacy Blvd and Rogers St #GloucesterMa

What’s happening on Stacy Boulevard? That Department of Public Works (DPW) project involves the main interceptor sewer cleaning and inspection which is an every 7-10 year process.

At the western edge, Yella on the Water staff training took place outside on their new deck. They refurbished the parking lot and completed the accessibility ramp.

Along Rogers Street, Building Center and Gloucester House are busy with construction. A bit further down, DPW is improving the Rose Baker Senior Center parking lot, completing “just the binder for now, then on to ramps and finally top coat.”

Waterfront businesses require unusual maintenance like pier infratstructure maintenance. Gloucester House has been in business since 1958. I wonder how long the pilings last? The trio of wharf booths for special adventures there include Gloucester Boat Rental, the Thomas Lannon, & 7 Seas Whalewatch.

City to handle tricky removal of graffiti nuisance tag below founder’s plaque at Tablet Rock #GloucesterMA

Blanched and illuminated area beneath the founder’s plaque was tagged with graffiti which will be ably removed by the city.

graffiti tag below founders plaque Tablet Rock Stage Fort Park_20190505_© c ryan

 

 

 

 

Days earlier it wasn’t. For comparison, here’s how the giant rock appeared May 1, 2019. Had it been on that day…

 

 

1974

Though uncommon, graffiti has been removed from this same spot before. Here’s a 1974 photograph from the Gloucester Daily Times catching a family reading the founder’s plaque. Graffiti was visible and without mention. 

1974 graffiti Tablet Rock _ maybe Charles A. Lowe photo_Gloucester Daily Times

1907

Stage Fort Park Gloucester MA Tablet Rock 1907 John Hammond SR and Natalie looking back.jpg
John Hays Hammond, Sr (1855-1936) holding hands with daughter Natalie (looking back to the camera) after the unveiling. Hammond’s involvement made this tribute happen. Natalie hays Hammond (1904-1985) had the honor of pulling back the cord for the big reveal. 1907 photograph collection Library of Congress

Gloucester’s wrap around picturesque landscape was preserved as a public park in 1898. In 1907, the monumental natural glacial outcropping was decorated with an inset of bronze plaque and stone relief commemorating the first fishermen from England laying claim in 1623. Eric Pape was commissioned for its design.

1901

 

1901 branded Battery K still visible_Tablet Rock Stage Fort Park
branded Battery K still visible 1901 photo

2016

2016 Stage Fort Park graffiti_20161228_©  c ryan.jpg
graffiti 2016 tablet rock  © c ryan

 

 

There are a few circle-A’s tagged around town of late. Also Eon

circle A graffiti tags trend_20190505_© c ryan.jpg
saw this symbol a lot in NYC many, many moons ago 

trending graffiti 2019 april_ c ryan.jpg

Coming soon! ADA sidewalks & paving | Gloucester DPW at work along School St from Prospect to Proctor by library and fire station

Helping people move safely and easily throughout the city is a contant Gloucester Department of Public Works directive. One recent construction project with CDBG ADA funds that’s fast finishing will be a welcome addition in the neighborhood along School Street between Prospect & Proctor, before the Gloucester Fire Department and back of the library. The new sidewalks extend roughly .10 mile each side. Expect some road closure to cars and no parking through May 10th. I’ll post Before/After pictures when the work’s complete.

 

 

school street work.jpg

In the meantime, here is a completed Before/After sequence- the evolution of the Duncan Street sidewalk and road repairs September-October 2018.

 

 

 

 

Stacy Boulevard: Walker Hancock Triton sculpture, Betty Smith gardens & tennis courts to the East, and Blynman Bridge & railings to the West – more stunning investment #GloucesterMA thanks to DPW, Ann Gilardi Johnson, Generous Gardeners, CPA, DOT

Gloucester, Ma.

There is much exciting work in progress along Stacy Boulevard including welcome tributes to women. Incremental aesthetic improvements, public access, ease of movement, and celebration of culture require many hands and deliver a huge impact. Here is a brief description of the special current projects and some people involved.

Two revitalized and enhanced gardens beyond the tennis courts will emphasize generations of care

“Remarkable support comes from volunteer expertise like award winning designer Ann Geraldi Johnson and Susan Kelly and the Generous Gardeners who have stepped up as the city’s groundskeepers on the boulevard.” Mike Hale, Director of Public Works 

The Elizabeth Gordon Smith (Betty Smith) garden was cleared and the small Picture garden past the boulevard tennis courts was unearthed. Because Gloucester garden groups pre-date 1900, it’s especially moving to see the work in progess shoring up inspiring legacy connections. Incredible volunteers past and present serve the city’s Department of Public Works (DPW). Stacy Boulevard & Stage Fort Park advocates like Betty Smith, Louise Loud & the Gloucester Civic & Garden Council tended and protected Gloucester’s natural beauty — the very same grounds that are so lovingly served now by dynamos like Ann Gilardi Johnson and Susan Kelly & the Generous Gardeners. Plaques for Lucy Brown Davis, tribute by her sister Catalina Davis, and for Lucy P. Rogers ” president of the Gloucester’s Woman’s Club 1927-29″ are nearby.

photos: Betty Smith garden IN PROGRESS February (overgrowth and clearing underway–poison ivy was found) vs. March and can’t wait to experience the AFTER!

Gloucester MA Department of Public Works directing restoration special gardens Stacy Boulevard _20190215_ sculpture Walker Hancock © catherine ryan (4)
February 2019

TRITON bronze scupture public art Stacey Boulevard Gloucester Ma_ artist Walker Hancock monuments man_ raised atop boulder base _20190324_© Catherine Ryan (12)
March 24, 2019 more progress two gardens revitalized- Paul Manship Triton fantastic enhanced boulder base clearing

TRITON bronze scupture public art Stacey Boulevard Gloucester Ma_ artist Walker Hancock monuments man_ raised atop boulder base _20190324_© Catherine Ryan (6)
Gloucester, Mass., March 2019. Pubic art – Walker Hancock Triton

 

 

 

Continue reading “Stacy Boulevard: Walker Hancock Triton sculpture, Betty Smith gardens & tennis courts to the East, and Blynman Bridge & railings to the West – more stunning investment #GloucesterMA thanks to DPW, Ann Gilardi Johnson, Generous Gardeners, CPA, DOT”

Stacy Boulevard: Walker Hancock Triton

March 2019 work continuing across Stacy Boulevard – read details HERE about  these projects– Hancock SculptureBetty Smith Gardens & Tennis Courts to the East, and Blynman Bridge & railings to the West-  additional stunning work and investment thanks to Gloucester MA Department of Public Works, Ann Gilardi Johnson, Generous Gardeners, CPA, Department of Transportation (DOT), and more.  Stacy Boulevard Part 8

TRITON bronze scupture public art Stacey Boulevard Gloucester Ma_ artist Walker Hancock monuments man_ raised atop boulder base _20190324_© Catherine Ryan (12)

March 24, 2019 photos of Walker Hancock Triton and grounds prep before/in process.

TRITON bronze scupture public art Stacey Boulevard Gloucester Ma_ artist Walker Hancock monuments man_ raised atop boulder base _20190324_© Catherine Ryan (6)
Gloucester, Mass., March 2019. Pubic art – Walker Hancock Triton

 

 

 

expect a little bit of traffic on RT 127 as Days Pond wall and sidewalk get some Gloucester DPW love

Gloucester MA DPW Days Pond stone work Dec 2018 (3)

 

Another Gloucester DPW project began last week along RT 127, near Wolf Hill, at Days Pond. The fence and wall have been damaged over the years from simple wear and tear, and even automobile accidents. “A recent one took it from more than just an eyesore to potentially dangerous,” Mike Hale explained. The wall is being replaced and raised. The crew will be there a couple of weeks this December to complete all that is doable in winter, and return in the spring to finish the job. Since the crew began the pond has frozen over and thawed. Note the stone work.

City Hall gleaming floors | DPW steadfast support for Gloucester’s culture

Spectacular City Hall, Gloucester’s cultural landmark and active municipal building, has nearly reached its 150th milestone at 9 Dale Avenue. Rising from the ashes, construction began in 1870 after the Gloucester fire of 1869 consumed its short-lived precursor. Gridley J.F. Bryant & Louis P. Rogers, leading architects at this time, were awarded the commission. Massive disaster response came two years later: the Great Boston Fire wiped out scores of Bryant designed buildings and the firm was awarded a significant percentage of its own rebuilds.

City Hall  was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973… which means the research and preparations leading up to that designation timed with its centennial birthday.Recently the expansive floors in Kyrouz Auditorium were buffed and polished and not for the first time.  150 years! Imagine all the footsteps and the generations of staff and volunteers that have cared for this building and community.

Credit DPW for their professionalism and kindness, and steadfast support for the city’s culture. Note their extra caution for protecting heritage from airborne material: mural and portraits were covered.

Before / After 

 

 

City Hall looks stunning always- BEFORE shots

 

 

during (these two photos shared with me)

 

 

after 

AFTER_looking out from stage after floor care Kyrouz Auditorium_City hall_Gloucester Mass ©c ryan20181017_164535.jpg

Massive and beautiful Ken Gore painting repaired and returned to City Hall

Information labels were applied to City Hall walls with an epoxy that is ill advised near art. In early spring a label for this Ken Gore painting migrated to its surface and pulled away a small patch of paint.  Elizabeth Mehlin, an expert painting restorer in Ipswich, Massachusetts, repaired the accidental damage. She was able to tease out pulverized pieces of the paint stuck to remnant epoxy and match the loss so beautifully the fix is indiscernible. The painting is large and heavy. I suspect that its original custom frame was likely carved by multi media artist and Montserrat teacher, Alfred Czerepak (1928 – 1986). Gloucester’s Department of Public Works are such great stewards of the city’s art and history!

BEFORE painting surface damaged_ by epoxy from wall  label_ brought to restorer E Mehlin_©Catherine Ryan.jpg
Before repair – and remnant epoxy

DPW rescue_Mike Hale KEN GORE back to City Hall after conservato repair necessary due to ill choice for wall label_ nasty epoxy migrated to painting surface_20180907_©c ryan.jpg

Mike Hale and Bobby return KEN GORE painting to City Hall after slight repair necessary due to ill choice for wall label_ nasty epoxy migrated to painting surface_20180907_©c ryan.jpg

 

 

 

Gloucester Ma Public Works_reinstalling  restored KEN GORE painting to City Hall_Gloucester Mass_20180907_©c ryan.jpg
To the rescue as usual. Fantastic Deparment of Public Works – Mike Hale, Bobby Gross, Phil Curcuru, Mike Tarantino –  the return of the repaired Gore painting

KENNETH (KEN) GORE
(American, b.Oct 2 1911 Elvira, Illinois -1990 d. Gloucester)
Ken Gore visited Gloucester for the first time in 1948 and settled into a home and studio within a year. Eventually he purchased 186 East Main Street where he resided and maintained a studio and gallery. (Today it’s Lynzariums, aka the Plant Shack, across from Beacon Marine Basin in East Gloucester.)  Gore was a student and art professor at the  Detroit Meisinger Art School. He served as president of both Rockport and North Shore Art Associations and for the Cape Ann Festival of the Arts. He performed regularly with the Cape Ann Symphony. He taught regularly. Apparently his personality was as joyous and musical as his painting: his art students and friends considered him “one of the nicest mans they’d ever met.” I’ve heard that his plein air road trips and truck “studio” were quite a sight.  I would love to see a picture of him on location by his truck. I do love seeing Jeff Weaver and his signature truck around town.

186 East Main Gloucester Ma_ 2018 September 14_former home gallery and studio of artist Ken Gore_©Catherine Ryan (1).jpg
186 East Main Street, Gloucester, was former home, studio and gallery of artist Ken Gore

Cape Ann Festival of the Arts detail map of artists locations

Snazzy access breaks along Thatcher Road guard rail replacement | Gloucester DPW road work progressing

Construction along Thatcher road and its new marsh walkway to Good Harbor Beach continues. The guard rail replacement is underway with a wood element coming soon. The access breaks caught my eye.

Thatcher road construction Snazzy access breaks_Gloucester Mass_20181004_©Catherine Ryan.jpg

in the news: update on stands at New Balance Newell Stadium

Gloucester Daily Times article by Ray Lamont

IMG_20180912_112513.jpg

“Hale said the Woburn-based firmof Heimlich Landscaping and constracting which installed the stands and track in 2013, is heading up the repair work wiht inkind design assistance from CDM Smith of Boston…

“It was safe, and it would have been safe. It just looked bad–it looked old when it was still new. But this administration wants to be sure to fix it. We want this to be good product, and a good long-term investment.”

See amazing 1901 historic photos from Bruce Roberts: Gloucester crews worked on Haskell’s dam

City of Gloucester officials are working towards a Phase 3 for the Haskell Pond Dam reconstruction which I wrote about last week (Part 1). I included information about the original monumental build. In response, Bruce Roberts was kind enough to share these amazing photographs of the impressive crews at the Haskell Pond construction site 1901. Bonus: they were annotated by his grandfather in 1958.  West Gloucester families may recognize a surname or two, maybe a family resemblance. Please help ID if you can.

Bruce Roberts explains: “My grandfather, Edward F. Roberts, identified the individuals back in 1958.  There are some folks he didn’t recognize, since he would have been pretty young when these images were taken.  The first picture has the most identified individuals. One thing that has always been remarkable to me in the second image is how much Chester Andrews, my g-grandfather, resembled my father, Eugene Roberts, at that age.”

 HASKELL’S POND CONSTRUCTION ca.1901-02 – (Individuals ID’d by Edward Roberts in 1958)

Clearing Haskells pond late 1901 © courtesy historic photo collection Bruce Roberts

Photo 1, Dec 1901 (in snow): “Wood Choppers at Haskell’s Pond, December 1901”
Front Row, L-R: 1. Otis Lufkin, 2. Matt Poland, 3. Loren (sp?) Harris, 4. Melvin Wilkins, 5. Jim White

Back Row: 1.Asa Sargent, 2. unknown, 3. Ed Lufkin, 4. James Chadbourne, 5. Joseph Abbott, 6. unknown, 7. Joshua Roberts, 8 & 9. unknown

Clearing Haskells pond late 1901 © courtesy historic photo from collection Bruce Roberts

Photo 2 (late 1901 or early 1902):

Front, L-R: 1. Loren Harris, 2 & 3. unknown, 4. Asa Sargent

Center, w/ white shirt: Eps Walter Haskell

3rd row: (Right side, behind Asa Sargent, in light coat): Chester Andrews

(2nd to left from Chester Andrews): Fred Jeffs

2018 July 2 Haskells Pond Dam reconstruction Gloucester Massachusetts Department of Public Works directing SumCo_ photograph ©c ryan (4)

read more:

Continue reading “See amazing 1901 historic photos from Bruce Roberts: Gloucester crews worked on Haskell’s dam”

Great Public Works then and now | Haskell’s Pond Dam 2018 reconstruction with 1902 construction plans & wild origin story #GloucesterMA

Last month I was fortunate to glimpse the impressive Haskell’s Pond Dam reconstruction orchestrated by Gloucester’s Department of Public Works (DPW). Protecting and managing water utilities can be easy to take for granted. “This not so sleepy dam by Rt. 128 continues to deliver almost 30% of the city’s water,” exclaimed Larry Durkin, City Environmental Engineer. He explained that years ago the DPW team began assessing the city’s water infrastructure and compliance requirements including what would happen during an event storm. Haskell’s Pond Dam needed attention: The reconstruction was projected to cost 2 million (based on the preliminary plans and the recent Babson Reservoir repair). Phase I and II  were contracted out to SumCo Eco Contracting and the estimates were correct. The project cost two million and the work is largely completed thanks to grants and loans from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), and the Commonwealth’s Dam and Seawall Program.  DPW Director, Mike Hale, and Larry Durkin concur: “They are fabulous to work with.” Discovery was anticipated. While drilling it was determined that the Haskell Pond Dam was indeed not structurally stable, and a MAJOR fix would be required to bring the dam into compliance. The DPW team is working with the state to fund the critical work of Phase 3.

Until then, take time to enjoy its history. While checking out the 2018  progress, I pulled stories and stats from the Haskell’s Pond Dam original build In 1902. As with today, the dam work was regarded  a model project. State assistance and contracted elements were required then, too. The numerous links among these two century projects are a fascinating delve and described below. The evolving breaking news in 1902 kicked off with a bang, surprising lawsuits (next stop for one could be Supreme Court), and deft leadership. Readers and history buffs will recognize names. (Tarr ancestors were involved; were yours?)

panorama and contemporary photos – Like a mini Walden pond- Haskell’s Pond during Dam reconstruction Gloucester, MA ©c ryan July 7, 2018.  

2018 July 2 Haskells Pond Dam reconstruction Gloucester Massachusetts Department of Public Works directing SumCo_ photograph ©c ryan (1)

FAST STATS 2018 Phase 1 & 2 – $1,928,000

Scope for Phase 1 & 2: Construction of a new concrete spillway chute, concrete repairs, clearing of trees and unwanted vegetation and valve replacement at an earthen embankment dam within the City’s active water supply system, and more (A prior $175,000 grant from the state’s Dam and Seawall Program was awarded to support “engineering, permitting and the development of construction documents”  which established scope for Phase 1)

2018 July 2 Haskells Pond Dam reconstruction Gloucester Massachusetts Department of Public Works directing SumCo_ photograph ©c ryan (7)

Contractor: SumCo Eco Contracting,
Status: largely completed
Mayor: Mayor Romeo Theken
DPW Director: Mike Hale
City Environmental Engineer: Lawrence A. Durkin, P.E.
Project start (historic): 1902
Modern project start: 2013-18; RFP for Phase I issued: March 15, 2017
Total project cost: estimated to be $7 million
Funding Awarded to date: $1,925,000 

  • from State: $1,925,000 – The City has done very well with Grants and Loans from the MA Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), and its Dam and Seawall Program, Mike Hale and Larry Durkin concur. “They are fabulous to work with.”
No EEA Grant Loan Comment
1 Design  & permitting grant FY 2016 $175,000 Completed 6/30/16
2 Haskell Phase 1 Construction Grant FY 2017 $500,000 Closed 6/30/17 and City reimbursed
3 Haskell Phase 1 Construction Loan FY 2018 $500,000 Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
4 Haskell Phase 2 Construction Grant FY 2018 (Applied to Phase 1 change orders) $500,000 Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
5 Additional FY 2018 EEA, funds applied to Phase 1 change orders $250,000 Submission by DPW to EEA 7/26/18 for reimbursement
6 Haskell Phase 2 Full FY 2019 Grant, to be applied to Phase 3 $500,000 to be realized if Phase 3 goes forward in FY 2019
7 EEA Total to date $1,925,000 $500,000

Phase 3:  Some future phase was anticipated, though obviously impossible to nail down until Phase 1 & 2 were completed. The reconstruction was based on discovery put into works five or more years ago as Durkin and DPW team assessed city’s watersheds. The dam has been deemed unstable and will require a major fix to be compliant. According to Durkin, the scope for Phase 3 will include “a secant concrete wall to be drilled and concrete along the dam crest for its entire length, cored in the bedrock beneath dam for structural stability and a concrete parapet wall tied into the secant wall that provides the necessary containment for the maximum storm as defined by the state” and some exicting ancillary projects I’ll write more about in a future update. Phase 3 is estimated to cost 5 million and DPW is working on grants with the state to ensure that it happens.

Location(s): West Gloucester
Priority:  Mayor Romeo Theken’s Office-City consider water highest priority – this one continues to provide 1/3 of the city’s water

Before / After

before photos courtesy DPW ca.2014  /  after photos ©c ryan 2018

 

 

ORIGINAL 1902 PLANS AND PROPOSAL

Plate 14 West Gloucester showing Haskell's Pond_from Gloucester MA Dept Public Works archives

Reviewing the ordeal that was constructing the dam– one hundred and six years ago –is a fascinating read, and helped me appreciate the major job it’s been in 2018. The original dam construction was contentious and hence the top news story of 1902 and years prior. While researching its beginnings, I was struck by just how many areas of concern and themes of city governance from 1902 remain relevant in 2018. Here’s a short list: the financial condition of the city (“revaluation”), suitable allocations, considering work on Rogers Street, water costs, heroic solo sails, possible steel bridge over Annisquam, Burnham Field play ground, pros and cons of tourism, disagreement over what is considered sound development, new theater on Main Street, announcing state grants, eminent domain, boundary lines, Gloucester Fresh, cut bridge in bad condition, aiming to keep work in town when possible, Stage Fort Park tributes, environmentally friendly innovations,  sustainability, access and oodles of local politics-  Office of Mayor and City Council, city staff, committees, and commissions.

The excerpts below pertain to Haskell’s pond dam from 1902 Gloucester Daily Times  archives that I pulled from reels at Sawyer Free and transcribed for easy access.  Plans and maps are courtesy of Mike Hale and the Department Public Work team. Links to high resolution versions are provided at the end of the post.

January 4, 1902 – MAYOR FRENCH LOSES: Aldermen Vote to Exonerate Water Commissioners

Continue reading “Great Public Works then and now | Haskell’s Pond Dam 2018 reconstruction with 1902 construction plans & wild origin story #GloucesterMA”

sweet ducklings navigate the current at the Cut alongside Gloucester DPW lovely storm repairs

It has been a long time since I’ve brought a tiny boat through the Cut from the Annisquam side (alert and praying I wouldn’t slam into the walls or another boat as the waters rush and pull).  How were ducks faring? They were  amusing and difficult to count for a few stolen moments on this glorious summer day. They’d dive to eat what I’m not sure, and pop up, sometimes a bit too far back. Once they were under so long I found myself crossing to the other side of the bridge to see if they were dragged back or catching a ride. Not a chance.

I found the completed winter storm repairs at the Cut equally beautiful and distracting.

Nice job Gloucester Department of Public Works (DPW)!

DPW completes winter storm repairs at Blynman The Cut _Department of Public Works _Gloucester MA _20180713_photo © c ryan (2)

VID (38 seconds) ducklings negotiate current at the Cut (wait for the cluster to pop up)

 

 

July 13 2018 – Gloucester Department of Public Works has completed winter storm repairs 

 

 

March 2017 (winter storm damage) Continue reading “sweet ducklings navigate the current at the Cut alongside Gloucester DPW lovely storm repairs”