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.

BOBCATS SPOTTED IN DOGTOWN AND IPSWICH

Lynx rufus

Recently I read that Bobcats are expanding their range in Massachusetts, to include our Northeast region. I asked if anyone had seen a Bobcat locally and two readers responded. One was spotted in Dogtown and another in Ipswich. Coincidentally I came upon this video of Bobcats in Love, so even if you don’t see one, you may hear one calling for its Love 🙂 To view the video, click on the Vimeo link.

The gray one is the female and the rufous colored cat is the male.

Images courtesy USFWS

Dogtown news

Consideration of Dogtown for National Historic Register failed to pass last night 2 to 6 (and one recused).  1623 Studios (formerly Cape Ann TV) films city council meetings so if you missed the meeting you’ll be able to catch it there.

This just in from Lisa Smith: “1623 Studios recorded last night’s City Council Meeting, which had a hearing about Dogtown, and it will air on Channel 20 on Saturday at 1pm and 11:30 pm.” Once 1623 Studio edits, they’re uploaded to its youtube channel here. 

And here’s a link to Ray Lamont’s coverage in Gloucester Daily Times posted on line now and in print tomorrow.

Dogtown detail google maps
detail from satellite view Google maps – blue dots indicate photos for some Babson boulders relative to (red circles) O’Maley, Applied Materials, Babson museum, watersheds, whale’s jaw

Twentieth century gift to the city by Roger W. Babson

Babson Reservoir and Sanctuary 1931 dedication plaque Gloucester MA photograph 20160810_©catherine ryan
BABSON RESERVOIR AND SANCTUARY [eleven hundred and fifty acres] commemorative plaque 1931 “This reservoir, watershed and reservation are for the people of Gloucester, the land having been given in memory of my father and grandfather who roamed over these rocky hills. They had the vision that some day it should be conserved for the uses of the city and as an inspiration to all lovers of god and nature. Roger W. Babson”

a few prior Dogtown posts-

April 28 Annual Dogtown day – ribbon cutting and some reasearch results

Oct 2017 there was a public presentation about an archaelogical consultation and information about historic designation: Before Dogtown was Dogtown

March 2017 What if…a section of Dogtown brush was cleared away? Summit by Essex County Greenbelt & Mass Audubon at Cape Ann Museum 

Gloucester Smiles with Kevin Martin

_2019_01_14_113269

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

Stephanie Buck: Shadowed Lives presentation at Sawyer Free

stephanie buck talk at gloucester lyceum and sawyer free public library january 2019 gloucester ma

Stephanie Buck: Shadowed Lives

Saturday January 12, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

In conjunction with the African-Americans and Maritime History Exhibit from the Massachusetts Commonwealth Museum, From Slavery to Freedom, on view in the Matz Gallery, Stephanie Buck, a local expert on Gloucester History, will share information regarding the effects of slavery on Cape Ann.

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.

Dogtown Days 2018 research updates and special events! Cape Ann Museum May 5 & ribbon cutting May 6

Dogtown Days 2018

Dogtown Days 2018

 

CAPE ANN MUSEUM PROGRAM, SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m

“This program, presented by the Friends of Dogtown, offers an opportunity to remember the past and imagine the future of Dogtown. Free and open to the public.

Starting off with a presentation by local artists recalling Thoreau’s 1858 visit to Dogtown, Dogtown Days will present a collection of newly discovered historical photographs of the early 20th century landscape and will debut new poetry inspired by the “ghosts” of the old settlement. Members of the Gloucester Historical Commission will review the history of archaeological investigations, including the recent survey of Dogtown, and will explain the process and implications of its inclusion in the National Register of Historical Places. The City of Gloucester’s Dogtown Advisory Committee and privately-supported Cape Ann Trail Stewards will describe ongoing projects including site cleanup, trail maintenance, and the construction of a new footbridge at the site of Gloucester’s first mill. The program will conclude with a presentation by members of the Friends of Dogtown on a new project that is underway to restore key historical, ecological, and art landscapes in Dogtown.”

ENTRANCE TO DOGTOWN –RIBBON CUTTING – SUNDAY MAY 6th 10am-noon

“celebrating the new footbridge constructed by Gloucester High School students followed by tours of the art, ecological and historical landscapes described on Saturday.”

2016 PDF vision for dogtown (maybe visitor center)

Boston Globe on #GloucesterMA Dogtown

IMG_20180309_152546.jpg
Dogtown has inspired artists working in all media. This photo shows some of the panels comprising the Dogtown Commons section of the Frederick L. Stoddard monumental “conventionalized treatment” (his favored descriptor) of Gloucester and the region — two story “mural fresco in situ, completed in 1934 for Saunders House, Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library, under the auspices of the WPA. The city of Gloucester was awarded an impressive array of WPA-era pursuits- from creative expression in all media to civic construction projects.

Boston Globe article: A Plan to keep Dogtown wild and Free by Sarah Shemkus 

Dogtown Historic Place Boston Globe above the fold _20180325_100152.jpg

Bring it home! Rockefeller Edward Hopper #GloucesterMA Dogtown painting @ChristiesInc

EDWARD HOPPER Cape Ann Granite oc 29 x 40 1928 est 6 to 9 mil private collection Rockefeller

Christies, the New York auction power house is currently marketing the Peggy and David Rockefeller art collection across the (art)world–Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles– before the spring 2018 live sale back in New York. The collection includes a painting by American artist, Edward Hopper (1882-1967), that was inspired by Gloucester: Cape Ann Granite is one of the rare Hopper paintings remaining that’s not currently held in a museum. There are more than 110 Gloucester houses and vistas depicted by Edward Hopper.

Advance promotion of Christie’s upcoming Rockefeller auction have yet to illustrate the painting, although the artist’s recognizable name is mentioned in every press release and the painting is included in the world tour highlights exhibit. The catalogue for the sale is not ready.

Former owners of Cape Ann Granite have in common connections to Harvard, banking and art collecting

Billionaire and philanthropist, David Rockefeller (1915-2017), was a Harvard graduate and longtime CEO of Chase Manhattan bank (later JP Morgan Chase). His art appreciation began early,  influenced by both parents and the Rockefeller family collections. His father was the only son of  John D. Rockefeller, a co-founder of Standard Oil Corp. His mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (1874-1948), helped establish the Museum of Modern Art, and the fund in her name helped secure Hopper’s Corner Saloon for the permanent collection. Several family members were Trustees. After his mother’s death, David took her Trustee seat.

Like David Rockefeller, the first owner to acquire Cape Ann Granite was a Harvard graduate, art collector and financier, about the same age as Rockefeller’s parents, and Hopper. Benjamin Harrison Dibblee (1876 – 1945) was the scion of  California businessman, Albert Dibblee. The family estate “Fernhill” was built in 1870 in Ross, California (later the Katharine Branson School). Benjamin H Dibblee was a Harvard graduate (1895-1899), an All-American Crimson football player (halfback and Team Captain), and head coach (1899-1900). W.H. Lewis, a famous center rush, was the Assistant Coach. (Harvard football dominated under this coaching team. See the standings below the “read more’ break.) In 1909, Dibblee donated his father’s historic papers concerning California’s secret Civil War group “The Home Guard of 1861” including its muster roll and pledge of loyalty to Lincoln and the Union cause. Dibblee was an alternate delegate from California to the Republican National Convention in 1912. As a  Lt. Col. he was listed as one of five California committee members for the American Legion in 1919. He was a big wheel investment banker at EH Rollins & Sons, a firm impacted by the Wall Street crash of 1929.

Benjamin Harrison Dibblee Harvard Football all american then Captain Wikipedia photo first purchaser of Edward Hopper Cape Ann Granite Gloucester MA Dogtown painting later owned by Rock
Wikipedia photo of Dibblee  from The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association football guide, 1899

It’s fun to think about Dibblee possibly visiting Gloucester during his time at Harvard, like so many students and faculty; then, decades later, acquiring a major Hopper because it was both a modern masterpiece, and a Gloucester landscape.

The Hopper Cape Ann Granite painting has me itching to research all Crimson team photos– not simply varsity nor football circa 1895-97– because of the (remote) chance of another Gloucester-Harvard and athletic connection. In 1895 Dibblee was involved with sports at Harvard at the same time as author and Olympian, James Connolly.  In 1899 both were involved with football; Dibblee as the Harvard coach and Connolly as Gloucester’s athletic director and football player**. Maybe they scrimmaged. Maybe they scrimmaged in Gloucester.

Hopper’s artist inventory log pages for ‘1928 oils’ itemizes Cape Ann Granite as follows: “Sent on from Gloucester September 27, 1928, 3 canvases. Cape Ann Granite, 29 x 40, Green picture on hill with rocks. Fresh green in foreground. Slanting shadows cast by rocks and boulders. Sky blue with clouds. Small tree on R. BH Mr. Dibblee 49 Wall Streeet of San Francisco (Lived near 14 miles from San Francisco. Knows Alex Baldwin in Calif. (SanFrancisco) 1500 -1/3. 1000 on June 5, 194 ” 

EDWARD HOPPER diary page includes Gloucester entries
From Hopper’s Artist’s ledger -Book, ink graphite on paper, Whitney Museum of American Art, Gift of Lloyd Goodrich

 

The pencil annotation “Modern Masters EH 1933” accompanying the thumbnail sketch for the painting on the right of this entry may be mixed up. There was a  “Modern Masters” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) held in 1940 but it did not include this painting on the checklist. There was an Edward Hopper Retrospective held at MoMA October 30–December 8 in 1933 that did list this Gloucester painting, and the lender, Dibblee. (Incidentally, two other 1928 oils catalogued on that same inventory page, Manhattan Bridge Loop and Freightcars Gloucester, would both end up in the Addison Gallery collection at Phillips Academy.)

The Pure Landscapes

Excerpts from the 1933 MoMa Hopper retrospective exhibition catalogue:

“…When Hopper went to art school the swagger brushstroke of such painters as Duveneck, Henri, and Chase was much admired. Perhaps as a reaction against this his own brushwork has grown more and more modest until it is scarcely noticeable. He shuns all richness of surface save where it helps him to express a particular sensation…in spite of his matter-of-factness, Hopper is a master of pictorial drama. But his actors are rarely human: the houses and thoroughfares of humanity are there, but they are peopled more often by fire hydrants, lamp posts, barber poles and telegraph poles than by human beings. When he does introduce figures among his buildings they often seem merely incidental. Perhaps during his long years as an illustrator he grew tired drawing obviously dramatic figures for magazines. Hopper has painted a few pictures in which there are neither men nor houses. The pure landscapes Cape Ann Granite (9), Hills, South Truro (16), Camel’s Hump (22) occupy a place apart in his work. they reveal a power which is diconcertingly hard to analyze. Cezanne and Courbet and John Crome convey sometimes a similar depth of feeling towards the earth and nature…” Alfred Barr, 1933

“In its most limited sense, modern art would seem to concern itself only with the technical innovations of the period. In its larger and to me irrevocable sense it is the art of all time; of definite personalites that remain forever modern by the fundamental truth that is in them. It makes Moliere at his greatest as new as Ibsen, or Giotto as modern as Cezanne.” Edward Hopper, 1933 

Yale owns a related watercolor by Edward Hopper, Cape Ann Pasture

EDWARD HOPPER, oil on canvas, Yale University collection, Edward Hopper All Around Gloucester by Catherine Ryan

 

Catherine Ryan art image design Edward Hopper all around Gloucester MAProceeds from the sale of the Peggy and David Rockefeller art collection at Christies next spring will benefit 10 selected charities. Perhaps a magnanimous collector might consider this Hopper Dogtown purchase for the Cape Ann Museum, a philanthropic twofer in this case, and needed. Cape Ann Museum does not possess a Hopper Gloucester painting and if any musuem should, it’s CAM. We need to eventually guide back the Hopper painting Gloucester Street, too.

Gloucester Street private collection Edward Hopper all around Gloucester

Glou Street Edward Hopper

To date Christie’s auction house has promoted primarily a Picasso and Matisse as the star lots from this collection of masterpieces because of their hefty valuation. The presale estimate for the Matisse Odalisque couchée aux magnolias (1923) is 50 million.  The Picasso painting, Fillette à la corbeille fleurie (1905), a “Rose period Masterwork”, is estimated to top 70 million. The presale estimate for the Hopper is 6 million to 8 million.

Christies highlight page for Rockefeller does not show the Hopper yet Dec 12 2017
Christies first press roll out features the Pciasso and Matisse

 

The Picasso was diplayed in the  libary of  the Rockefeller Upper East Side mansion at 146 East 65th Street.   Its first owners were Gertrude and Leo Stein. Gertrude Stein hated it though her brother bought it anyway. After Alice B. Toklas (Stein’s partner) died in 1965,  MoMa trustees drew lots and were offered first pass on the legendary Stein collection. David Rockefeller won first pick, and selected the Picasso. I wonder how it will fare in this #metoo awakening. At the time of her death, Toklas had long been evicted from their Paris home as she had no legal standing nor benefit from any estate sales.

Gertrude and Leo Stein Rockefeller Picasso provenance
installation Leo and Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas collection at home
installation Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas

Continue reading “Bring it home! Rockefeller Edward Hopper #GloucesterMA Dogtown painting @ChristiesInc”

Stephanie Benenson HARBOR VOICES light show #GloucesterMA | immigration, conversation & acts of generosity manifest as public art

Stephanie Benenson, artist studio, discussing 2017 Harbor Lights 20171122_091510

Stephanie Benenson, artist studio, discussing Harbor Lights, GIF 1122091429
from a studio visit with Stephanie Benenson Nov 2017

You can join in Stephanie Benenson’s fascinating big vision, Harbor Voices, a public art and cultural piece that’s made from light, sound and community participation. Part of the project is a  large-scale and temporary LIVE light & sound installation which will happen on ten minute loops from 4-8pm on Friday December 8th, and Saturday December 9th, one of many featured events for the 2017 Middle Street Walk. Harbor Voices will be held inside the Kyrouz Auditorium in City Hall , 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA.

Come experience a sweeping ocean of sound, stories and light, drawn by the voices and acts of generosity of neighbors and friends.

Benenson, a Rockport native and North Shore based fine artist, received a prestigious and competitive RISD grant to create Harbor Voices. Benenson collected over 100 stories in eight languages of recent and ancestral immigration to Cape Ann. For the past year she led (and continues to lead) practical and creative storytelling sessions and workshops at area schools like Veteran’s Memorial and Gloucester High School,  as well as community organizations and centers such as Sandy Bay Historical Society. Students talked with Benenson about “their ancestors* and families bringing cultural heritage to Cape Ann.” She said that kids mentioned “family members that started businesses here (like Jalapenos, Sclafanis, and other cultural destinations on Cape Ann)…and how meangingful that was to them…and people that they had deep respect and admiration for…” They discussed “family recipes, music, food and how immigration historically has made American art and culture come alive.”  Mayor Romeo Theken was the first story collected. Other Cape Ann storytellers outside of the schools and non profit partners include: Jean Testaverde (Portuguese fishing ancestry), Ingrid Swan (Swedith quarrying ancestry), Heather Lovett (descendent of Roger Babson), Sal Zerilli (Awesome Gloucester and Rockport), Jan Bell, Buddy Woods, Susannah Natti (Finnish and descendent of Folly Cove designer), Rich Francis (GHS teacher), and Celestino Basille (GHS teacher).

Depending upon age and preference, stories were written, recorded, or drawn. All were mixed into materials and audio that will choreograph connections directly into the light installation, and an enlarging community. At first, Benenson thought the light might guide any audio. Instead voices continue to guide the light.

Every story and act of generosity is linked to the installation and transformed into light.

Blurring the lines between public art and social sculpture, LIVE happening and virtual action, Harbor Voices emblematically presents stories, shared connections and actions. Participants of all ages are encouraged to interact with the project www.harborvoices.com and its installation– to bathe so to speak in a community of vibrancy and waves of interconnectedness and support.  Benenson adds that from 4-6PM during the two days of this installation iteration, “children will be offered a small flashlight to engage with this artwork, allowing them a tangible moment to consider their part in this interconnected network of community and local history by creating their own beam of light.” Also, before the installation opens to the public, one hundred Gloucester High School students –including some who have already added into the piece– will come to City Hall to experience Harbor Voices.

Benenson’s promotion for Harbor Voices launched in September. Leveraging attention for this remarkably ambitious project is an essential component as more involvement means more impact. Straight away it fostered community and brought opportunities. For example, Benenson spoke about the project and shared audio of the stories with Rose Baker seniors, Gloucester Rotary and the Cape Ann Museum’s Red Cottage Society. Someone from Beverly has already underwrittten  support for a class at Veteran’s Memorial Elementary School. She spoke about the project with Joey as part of GMG podcast #253

As a third generation Cape Ann artist, Benenson is especially excited to “create art and conversations around our cultural heritage and our contributions to the vibrant mix of people that live on Cape Ann.”

See more pictures and read more about the artist

Continue reading “Stephanie Benenson HARBOR VOICES light show #GloucesterMA | immigration, conversation & acts of generosity manifest as public art”

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”

Finding Fall: bound into exquisite Rockbound art exhibit at Cape Ann Museum before Oct 29!

CLOSING SOON

The blanketing New England autumn is stronger on the walls at Cape Ann Museum than the fall landscape all around us just now. (When I saw this ravishing exhibit at the beginning of June, I had that same feeling about ‘summer’.) Though the seasons of color may disappoint us one year to the next, the impact of these paintings only intensifies with close observation. This is a show for anyone with an interest in painting. Rockbound at Cape Ann Museum features a terrific variety of  iconic Cape Ann seacoast scenes and artists. There’s an added urgency to see the show in person: most are on loan from private collections, shown together for the first time. Come fill your eyes and heart before this exclusive opportunity passes by.

Rockbound:  Painting the American Scene on Cape Ann and Along the Shore closes October 29th.The Cape Ann Museum “gratefully acknowledges the many collectors* who lent to this exhibition and the following individuals: Mary Craven, Margaret Pearson, John Rando and Arthur Ryan.”  *anonymous private lenders, Endicott College, Roswitha and William Trayes, JJ and Jackie Bell, and others

(The wonderful Fitz Henry Lane exhibition that just opened will be on view through March 4, 2018.)

W Lester Stevens Hilltops Gloucester ROCKBOUND installation Cape Ann Museum ©c ryan 20170602_120926 (1)

3 works by W Lester Stevens

 

EXHIBIT MYSTERY

I think that the “Unattributed decorative mirror for over mantel” may be the hand of artist Frederick Stoddard. Perhaps it’s from a series or the “Morning Mantle Decoration by Fred L. Stoddard” that’s listed in the 1923 Gloucester Society of Artists inaugural exhibition.

UNATTRIBUTED over mantel view of Good Harbor Beach ca1920 ROCKBOUND installation Cape Ann Museum 170602_110624

INSTALLATION highlights

Ptown printmaker goucache by Margaret Patterson Motif Number One Rockport Harbor collection Roswitha & William Trayes RROCKBOUND installation Cape Ann Museum 20170602_110133.jpg
Margaret Patterson, Motif Number One Rockport Harbor, ca.1920, goauche, collection Roswitha & William Trayes, installed at Cape Ann Museum 2017 Rockbound exhibition

Artists include Yarnall Abbott, Gifford Beal, George Bellows, Theresa Berenstein, Hugh Breckenridge, Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley,  Aldro Hibbard, Max Kuehne, Emma Fordyce Macrae, Margaret Patterson, Lester Stevens, Anthony Thieme, and more (hover over image to see artist information)

 

photos pairings below: Finding Cape Ann Museum Rockbound color/mood inspiration just outside in Gloucester October vistas (not literal place/time pairings but that could be done as well!)

What if…a section of Dogtown brush was cleared away? If you missed Chris Leahy at Sawyer Free Library last week come to a summit by Essex County Greenbelt & Mass Audubon at Cape Ann Museum March 4

“This Saturday morning forum is offered in collaboration with Essex County Greenbelt, Friends of Dogtown, Lanesville Community Center and Mass Audubon and held at Cape Ann Museum. The forum will be moderated by Ed Becker, President of the Essex County Greenbelt Association.”

Register here

UPDATE: Cape Ann TV is scheduled to film the event!

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Edward Hopper Cape Ann Pasture watercolor drawing (ca.1928) was gifted to Yale University in 1930

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East Gloucester Atwood’s Gallery on the Moors as seen on the left in 1921–open vistas at that time

 

Chris Leahy gave a presentation at Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library on February 23, 2017: Dogtown- the Biography of a Landscape: 750 Million Years Ago to the Present
A photographic history through slides presented by the Gloucester Lyceum and the Friends of the Library. Mary Weissblum opened the program.

Chris broadly covered the history of the local landscape from an ecological bent with a bias to birds and blueberry picking, naturally. New England is a patchwork of forested landscapes. He stressed the evolution of bio diversity and succession phenomenon when the earth and climate change. “Nature takes a lot of courses.” He focused on Dogtown, “a very special place”, and possible merits of land stewardship geared at fostering greater biodiversity. Perhaps some of the core acres could be coaxed to grasslands as when parts of Gloucester were described as moors? Characteristic wildlife, butterflies, and birds no longer present may swing back.  There were many philosophical takeaways and tips: he recommends visiting the dioramas “Changes in New England Landscape” display at Harvard Forest HQ in Petersham.

“Isolation of islands is a main driver of evolution”

“Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester has the highest concentration* of native butterflies in all of Massachusetts because of secondary habitats.”  *of Mass Audubon’s c.40,000 acres of wildlife sanctuaries statewide. “The fact that Brook Meadow Brook is in greater Worcester, rather than a forested wilderness, underscores the value of secondary habitats.”

“1830– roughly the time of Thoreau (1817-1862)– was the maximum period of clearing thus the heyday for grasslands…As farmsteads were abandoned, stages of forests return.”

Below are photos from February 23, 2017. I added some images of art inspired by Dogtown. I also pulled out a photograph by Frank L Cox, David Cox’s father, of Gallery on the Moors  (then) compared with a photo of mine from 2011 to illustrate how the picturesque description wasn’t isolated to Dogtown.

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Edward Hopper, Cape Ann Granite, 1928, oil on canvas can we get this painting into the Cape Ann Museum collection?

dogtown-cape-ann-massachuestts-by-louise-upton-brumback-o-c-vose-galleryLouise Upton Brumback (1867-1929), Dogtown- Cape Ann, 1920 oil on canvas

atwood-cox-gallery-on-the-moors-photo-1921

DOGTOWN DAYS A TREMENDOUS SUCCESS!

Dylan L'Abbe-Lindquist Dier Beer ©Kim Smith 2015

Dylan L’Abbe-Lindquist serving Cape Ann Brew Pub Dier Beer

Although it sounded so interesting, I very unfortunately missed the Dogtown Days lecture program held at the Cape Ann Museum as I was covering the Rockport Harvestfest (we oftentimes say on GMG that we are incredibly blessed that here on Cape Ann we have an embarrassment of riches in wonderful and worthwhile things to do and see). I did however attend the reception held afterward at the Sawyer Free. This is the second annual Dogtown Days event sponsored by the group of citizens Friends of Dogtown, a relatively newly formed outfit dedicated to restoring, protecting, and celebrating Dogtown, along with the far reaching goals to construct a visitor’s center and to help mitigate the ongoing misuse of the landscape.

Mary Weissblum ©Kim Smith 2015 jpg

Mary Weissblum’s Swamp Cake

Two of the highlights of the reception were Mary Weissblum’s Swamp Cake and Cape Ann Brew Pub’s colonial Dier Beer, both made with ingredients mentioned in historical accounts of Dogtown. Mary is going to provide GMG readers with the Swamp Cake recipe, spiced with ginger and nutmeg, and super delicious. Dylan L’Abbe-Lindquist’s Dier beer was outstanding and is going to be available at the Brew Pub in about a week. The brew was richly dark, made chocolatey in color almost, from the molasses and special carmelized flavored hops. Most amazingly, Dylan and his wife, along with their little baby, scoured Dogtown trails for authentic ingredients, which include Staghorn Sumac, winterberries, cranberries, and beach plums–it truly is a wonderfully flavorful brew. Ask for it at the Brew Pub, you won’t be disappointed.

To learn more about Friends of Dogtown, visit their website here.

Kit Cox Dylan Lindquist ©Kim Smith 2015

Kit Cox and Dylan

ANNIVERSARY

Today is the 123rd anniversary of James Merry’s unfortunate encounter with a neighbor’s bull, Jack. It is recounted in Charles Olson’s renowned poem and is permanently memorialized in Dogtown, where it all occurred.

Thanks to Paul Morrison for the reminder.

From  MAXIMUS, FROM DOGTOWN-I

Charles Olson

Originally posted October 18, 2010

Graffiti Clean Up in West Gloucester and Dogtown

Joey-

Below is a blurb describing some graffiti removal work around Gloucester yesterday.

I wonder if your GMG readers might help us identify other areas around Gloucester for future clean-ups.

Nick, Cape Ann Trail Stewards

The Essex County Anti Graffiti unit was in town this Wednesday morning to clean up the Sawyer Library and sites in West Gloucester and at the Cherry Street entrance to Dogtown.

The clean up team, led by Sergeant Christopher Goudreault, uses a combination of high pressure water and baking soda to remove paint from various surface. 

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Here is a before and after view of a utility building along Concord Street near the new Exit 13 entrance to Greenbelt’s Tompson Street Reservation.

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Below are before and after photos from the Bray Street entrance to Tompson Reservation and the entrance to Dogtown.

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Thanks to Mary Devaney of Rockport’s Anti-graffiti task force and to the Gloucester Department of Public Works and Gloucester Police Department and Sawyer Library Director Fred Cowan for coordinating this work.

Nick Holland, President, Cape Ann Trail Stewards

                  www.capeanntrailstewards.org

Nicholas Holland

                                                    (617) 233-7332

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James Merry: First Attacked tonight

EJ posted these shots in 2011. September 18, 1892 122 years ago. The death of James Merry by a three year old bull owned by Patrick Nugent in a field in Dogtown owned by Curtis.

James Merry was a fisher man back in days of yore
But he left the blue in ninety-two for the trade of matador
So he got a bull and he raised it up full
And he learned the corrida lore
Then he died like a toad on the Dogtown Road
Bleeding from a stomach gore

-by Shep Abbott