1890 Boston Globe historic houses article features White Ellery #GloucesterMA

Then and Now

woodcut illustration for 1890 Boston Globe article | photos: c. ryan, mostly 2021

The first Massachusetts home featured in this Boston Globe historic house article was Gloucester’s “Ellery house”, as a classic First Period saltbox:

OLD HOMES, OLD FAMILIES. Houses in New England, Each of Which Has for Three or More Generations Sheltered the Same Race. Romances Drawn from Wood and Brick

The Sunday Globe begins today to publish stories and pictures of old New England homesteads which have sheltered at least three generations of the families now living in them.

This is not so endless a task as some may suppose it to be. New England, no doubt, contains a greater number of old houses than any other division of the country, but it is rare indeed to find one among those that has been long in the possession of the same family. Such a shifting of ownerships may reflect the growing prosperity of the original occupants who perchance have built greater homes than those of their fathers, but often the disappearance of the inheritors of these ancestral houses signifies either the utter extinction or the scattering and breaking up of the family.

The sketches in this series opening today appeal, therefore, in a peculiar way to the public curiosity, and the Sunday Globe would thank any of its readers if they would call attention to any houses within their own knowledge which may be occupied by a family who have possessed the property through three or more generations continuously or otherwise.

There are various periods in the history of Gloucester house building, each marked quite as distinctly to the architectural student as the different strata of the earth’s crust indicate to the geologist the various periods of formation. In the case of the old houses of note it may be said that they all belonged to the upper crust.

The houses of the first settlers of Gloucester, with rare exceptions, have long since been replaced by others of more elaborate design, and the few remaining in the suburbs are small one-story edifices of no particular architectural pretensions.

In common with Boston, Salem, Newburyport and other colonial seaports, Gloucester once owned a large fleet of ships, brigs and barks, that sailed to foreign ports, exchanging the products of the town and of the county for Spanish gold and Surinam molasses, which was converted into New England rum.

These merchants built commodious residences and dispensed a hospitality commensurate with their position as leaders of the social and intellectual life of the town.

The most historic edifice in town is the Ellery house, which stands just below the old meeting house green on Washington street in Riverdale, a suburb of the town.

It was built by Rev. John White shortly after he came here in 1702 to minister to the spiritual wants of the First Parish, receiving a grant of land from the town on which to build his home. At that time the main settlement was in that portion of the community, but the necessities of commerce and fishing made it convenient for the inhabitants to remove nearer the seashore, deserting their first habitations on what is now known as “Dogtown Common,” where the remains of their cellars can still be traced today.

The type of architecture is well portrayed by the accompanying cut. On the projection which overhangs the lower story in front there were four balls pendant, a style of decoration of the times, which have long been removed.

Inside, the old-fashioned low studded style of room is at once apparent, and the antique furnishings and general air of the place make one realize more vividly the age of the house and fixtures, which are of a nature to bring joy to the heart of an antiquarian.

Some of the furniture in the parlor is about 200 years old. The house was bought in 1710 by Capt. William Ellery, and it still remains in the hands of his direct descendants, the occupants being John Ellery and his wife. Thus it will be seen that it has been in this family 150 years.

The purchaser of the house was a son of the original settler, William Ellery. The Ellery family were prominent in the social and intellectual life of the place from the first, being leading merchants. Hon. Benjamin Ellery, called in the family “Admiral,” was the eldest brother of William. He went from Gloucester and settled in Rhode Island and was the father of Deputy Gov. William Ellery and grandfather of William Ellery who signed the Declaration of Independence, the signer being a grandnephew of the first owner of the house.”

Boston Globe 1890*

Read the full article (PDF) to see the other Massachusetts homes selected for the article.

The Declaration of Independence connection was artfully slipped in. Fast facts on the signers from the National archives here.

*For current information visit Cape Ann Museum

The White Ellery House is part of the Cape Ann Museum collection. There are inaccuracies in the 1890 nutshell above. James Stevens and the tavern he operated is absent. The rum trade is acknowledged; any NE slave trade economic connections are not. [Massachusetts was the first colony to legalize slavery. Vermont was the first to abolish (VT 1777 vs. MA 1783).] The article predates the build out of Rt. 128 which rallied a preservation relocation.

Maybe CAM might commission a set of woodcuts of the historic properties as they are now by various local artists.

Beautiful improvements on the grounds of Cape Ann Museum

note: pinch and zoom or double click to enlarge photos.

Gloucester Smiles with Kevin Martin

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BC Kevin MartinBreakfast at Charlie’s Place and also see Martin in a Gerttyimage used for an article on Dogtown Common.

 

 

 

A Plan To Keep Dogtown Wild And Free : News Photo

“A Plan To Keep Dogtown Wild And Free
GLOUCESTER, MA – MARCH 12: Kevin Martin checks out a Babson Boulder with a ‘Keep Out of Debt’ carving on Dogtown Common in Gloucester, MA on March 12, 2018. The area in Gloucester and Rockport known as Dogtown is hard to pin down. It is part historical site, part recreation area, and part rambling woodland. It is a place where mountain bikers ride rugged trails and history buffs come to explore the remains of Colonial-era homes. No matter how you see Dogtown, the land is an important local resource that needs to be protected, said Mary Ellen Lepionka, co-chair of the Gloucester Historical Commission and one of the leaders of an effort to have Dogtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)” Link

Salem witch trials end with Esther Elwell, from Gloucester, Sarah Jessica Parker’s ancestor

Sarah Jessica Parker season 1 episode 1 NBC Who Do You Think You Are tv show_ ancestor ESTHER ELWELL one of 3 women from Gloucester was accused of witchcraft.jpg

In the tv show, Who Do You Think You Are? (March 5 2010), produced by Lisa Kudrow, season 1, episode 1, Sarah Jessica Parker learns that her tenth great grandmother, Esther (Dutch) Elwell, was found guilty of witchcraft in 1692. Her arrest was the last formal accusation recorded during the Salem witch trials. The grisly court was dissolved days prior to her sentencing because spectral evidence was banned. Esther lived to be 82 years old. Parker visited Danvers to meet with historians and inspect the original records, and then on to Salem to pay respects.

Did Sarah Jessica Parker come to Gloucester?

Well, not according to the final edit. The show could have filmed here.

Witches of Gloucester

Beckoned to Gloucester, Salem teenager and accuser, Betty Hubbard, officially confirmed the false suspicions in 1692. And just like that three women from Gloucester– Esther Elwell, Abigail Rowe and Rebecca Dike– were arrested for killing Gloucester resident, Mary Fitch, by witchcraft. Historians determined that nine women from Gloucester were caught up in the witchhunts, jailed, and released (by the spring of 1693). Accused were more often than not related and at odds with accusers, well off, and/or “trouble”.  Collaborating institutions and collections have gathered and digitized 17th century documents. You can peruse them here: http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/17docs.html

Later history of witches in Gloucester revolve around Dogtown. In the 1896 book,  In the Heart of Cape Ann, Charles Mann described Gloucester’s Dogtown as “practically the only ruined city in America.” By then Dogtown legends persisted about “witches” like Tammy Younger (died 1829), her aunt Luce George, Peg Wesson, and Judy Rhines.  Percy Mackaye’s 1921 poem Dogtown Common acknowledged Mann’s book, “curious reader may learn many strange, half fogotten facts concerning the old Puritan life of that region…”  Here’s the eerie opener setting a fitting scene for Halloween.

Inland among the lonely cedar dells
of old Cape Ann, near Gloucester by the sea,
Still live the dead–in homes that used to be.
     All day in dreamy spells
They tattle low with toungues of tinkling cattle
     bells,
Or spirit tappings of some hollow tree,
And there, all night–all night, out of the
     dark–
They bark–and bark.

eerie opening Dogtown Common 110 page poem by Percy Mackaye 1921.jpg

 

Apparently, when Sarah Jessica Parker starred in Hocus Pocus (1993), she did not know this family history. Some of the movie was filmed on location in Salem and Marblehead.

Deborah Cramer’s book The Narrow Edge galvanizes action to push biomedical rescue for horseshoe crabs and red knots! Revive and Restore convenes Eli Lilly to announce environmental breakthrough

horseshoe crab wingaersheek beach low tide January 21 2018 ©c ryan

Biomedical Breakthrough is win-win for shorebirds and horseshoe crabs:  Deborah Cramer of The Narrow Edge spreads the word

“Jay Bolden, a senior biologist with pharma giant Eli Lilly, has spent the last five years proving a synthetic molecule works as well as horseshoe crab blood in a life-saving medical testIt took a dedicated birder to convince pharma giant Eli Lilly to use a synthetic compound instead of horseshoe crab blood in a mandatory medical test. Now, he hopes the rest of industry will follow…” – from National Audubon article published this March 11 2018  Inside the Biomedical Revolution to Save Horseshoe Crabs and the Shorebirds That Need Them, by Deborah Cramer with photographs by Timothy Fadek

Cramer explained that Ryan Phelan, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Revive and Restore contacted her “to see how this organization might help accelerate institutional and government exploration, acceptance of the synthetic endotoxin test to replace the use of horseshoe crabs…In the book, I’d portrayed how essential the energy rich horseshoe crab eggs are to shorebird migration, and how their numbers decline when they leave for the Arctic, hungry.  I’d described how every human family, and their pets, depend on the horseshoe crab blood test to detect potentially life-threatening endotoxin in vaccines, joint replacements, PET scans, heart stents, IV lines, etc.  And went on to tell the story of the development of the genetically engineered substitute, and the– at the time decade long–that had elapsed without it being accepted or adopted by regulators or the pharmaceutical industry.”  

Revive and Restore’s announcement in the NJ Audubon news this week has more information about these dedicated scientists and exciting news. Deborah Cramer is too modest to spell it out, so I will. Revive and Restore was inspired in part by Cramer’s book, The Narrow Edge, an award-winning read that’s smart and lyrical, and an environmental game changer. Have you read it yet?

 

horseshoe crab verso © cryan wingaersheek beach gloucester mass 20180121_070721.jpg

Here was a substitute test that could leave hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs in the water every year, no one was using it.

 

 

The Narrow Edge reveals more unexpected alliances and consequences. Readers learn that hunters have done much to protect wildlife at the edge of the sea through the tax on guns and ammunition. The Federal Duck Stamp that’s required on hunting licenses  provides millions of dollars to support national wildlife refuges (and supports contemporary fine art). Memberships to organizations like National Audubon and donations from wildlife fans, photographers, and birders make a difference.

Cramer had to be trained how to handle a gun for necessary wild and remote travel research.  Gloucester, Cape Ann and North Shore readers: she took the course for her license to carry at Cape Ann Sportsman Club found along Dogtown’s edge where it’s been for over a century. (I’m not certain how Cramer rated there, but a president’s daughter was a good shot. In 1912, Helen Taft, qualified as an “Expert with a Rifle” when she visited the range with her Gloucester friend, Elizbeth Hammond.)

1912 Government rifle range in Dogtown Common

prior gmg post, June 2016Piping Plover Fans: Local author Deborah Cramer on sandpipers is a must read. Oh, and dogs vs.

To learn more about Deborah Cramer, go to www.deborahcramer.com

Continue reading “Deborah Cramer’s book The Narrow Edge galvanizes action to push biomedical rescue for horseshoe crabs and red knots! Revive and Restore convenes Eli Lilly to announce environmental breakthrough”

7PM tonight | Dogtown National Heritage project kicks off at Gloucester city hall

Reminder-  Dogtown could be eligible for the National Register. A team of archaeologists began surveying and reviewing Dogtown the week of November 13. Come to a special public presentation TONIGHT – November 29th in Kyrouz Auditorium, Gloucester City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, at 7pm.

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 Artistic practice inspired by Dogtown takes on many forms across generations and centuries. I’ve shown examples of 20th century artists and writers connected to Dogtown. Here’s a 21st century one to note: Deborah Guertze, Babson Boulders # (Courage), original small and lovely hand colored etching, ed.50. This particular impression is currently for sale at Rockport Art Association.

Oct 28 GMG post announcing tonight’s public meeting: Before Dogtown was Dogtown: archaeological survey project to be presented at City Hall November 29! Maybe hello blueberries bye bye lyme disease

“Presenters at City Hall on Nov 29th will include Betsy Friedberg from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, who will explain how the National Register program works and what it does and does not do, and Kristen Heitert from the PAL, who will present an initial plan for defining the boundaries of Dogtown as a National Register District. People attending the meeting will be asked to respond to that plan and to express their views about what makes Dogtown special. What should be the boundaries of the proposed National Register District, and what cultural features should be included in it? What would be the benefits of National Register status, and are there any drawbacks?”

Before Dogtown was Dogtown: Archaeological Survey project to be presented at City Hall November 29! Maybe hello blueberries bye bye Lyme Disease

Old tree Rockport Road ca.1892

Dogtown is eligible for the National Register! Will Gloucester earn another major district designation?

Nov 29th, 7PM, Public Meeting

Come to a special public presentation November 29th in Kyrouz Auditorium in Gloucester City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, at 7pm.

Read excerpts from the press release shared by Bill Remsen, local project coordinator, and Mary Ellen Lepionka, co-chair Gloucester Historical Commission, and some Dogtown maps and memorabilia 1633-1961:

Continue reading “Before Dogtown was Dogtown: Archaeological Survey project to be presented at City Hall November 29! Maybe hello blueberries bye bye Lyme Disease”

RECONNECTING BLUEBERRIES AND BUTTERFLIES TO OUR CAPE ANN LANDSCAPE

the_berry_pickers

Winslow Homer “The Berry Pickers”

Forum on the Cape Ann Landscapes

A thoughtful and thought provoking forum was held this morning at the Cape Ann Museum. The discussion was led by Ed Becker, president of the Essex County Greenbelt Association, with presentations by Mark Carlotto from Friends of Dogtown; Tim Simmons, restoration ecologist; Mass Audubon’s Chris Leahy; and Cape Ann Museum representative Bonnie Sontag.

cape-ann-museum-landscape-forum-panel-copyright-kim-smithSpeakers, left to right, Mark Carlotto, Chris Leahy, Tim Simmons, Bonnie Sontag, and Ed Becker 

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Today, the undeveloped areas of Cape Ann look much as it did when Champlain arrived in 1606, a mostly verdant forested peninsula, with some land management of grasslands conducted by the Native Americans that farmed and fished the landscape. In the coming months, the community will be examining how to restore very specific areas of Dogtown to the years when the landscape was at its most productive and richest in biodiversity, approximately 1700 to 1950. Most areas will remain forested and others will be returned to grasslands, moors, meadows, and pastures, similar to how it appeared when 19th and 20th century artists such as Homer, Hopper, Hartley, and Brumback painted Dogtown Common.

hartley-whales-jaw-drawingMarsden Hartley Whales Jaw sketch

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brumback-33406-webBrumback’s view of Dogtown in the eaqrly 1900s

pond-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smithA typical Dogtown landscape of today

Tim Simmons charmed the audience with his “Blueberry Metric,” a formula whereby prior to grassland restoration, it takes approximately one hour to pick four cups of blueberries. After a blueberry patch has been restored, the time to pick a pie’s worth of blueberries is reduced to just 20 to 30 minutes. Here is Tim explaining how fire management helps blueberry bushes become more productive:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BROu4H5lwrW/

Not only blueberries but many, many species of wildlife, especially those in sharp decline, such as Prairie Warblers, Eastern Whippoorwills, native bees, and nearly all butterflies, will benefit tremendously from restoring native grassland and meadow habitats.

This is an exciting time for Cape Ann’s open spaces and a great deal of input from the community will be needed. A facebook page is in the making. It takes time to effect positive change, but the alternative of doing nothing is not really an option at all. Eventually a fire will occur and when landscapes are not managed well, the outcome may well be cataclysmic.

 

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From the Cape Ann Museum: The once open landscape of Cape Ann, a mosaic of glacial boulders, pastures and moors, has given way over the past century to a uniform forest cover. Through short presentations and public engagement, this forum examines the issues, methods and benefits of restoring this formerly diverse and productive landscape. Can Cape Ann once again include the open, scenic terrain that inspired painters, writers, walkers, bird watchers and foragers of wild blueberries? Come and lend your voice to this exciting and important conversation moderated by Ed Becker, President of the Essex County Greenbelt Association. The forum is offered in collaboration with Essex County Greenbelt, Friends of Dogtown, Lanesville Community Center and Mass Audubon.forest_succession_ecology-0011
Successional forest regeneration graphics and images courtesy Google image search