Inspired by Nelson’s fairly recent coat of blue, downtown Gloucester caught between the blues and the deep blue sea
Cat Ryan says have a closer look thanks to Cape Ann Giclee
Mold and forgotten history has damaged a distinctive 19th century jacket, our very own historic ‘coat of many colors’ worth more than the fabric itself!
80 years ago Roger Babson presented this Civil War era coat to the community during a town wide celebration for the 50th Anniversary of the Gloucester High School Cadets, an ROTC forerunner founded by Albert W. Bacheler (b. 1843 Indiana – d.1929 Melrose, MA). Bacheler was an esteemed principal of Gloucester High School for a staggering 30 years (1814-1913), a Civil War Veteran (New Hampshire regiment Army of the Potomac), and a Dartmouth alum.
Chairs for 1500 people were set up in advance of that event! Artist Charles Allan Winter designed the program!
You see, it wasn’t just any coat.
Back then everyone in Gloucester knew Babson and Bacheler and understood the many reasons that this very special coat was a gift for our City. Babson was a key speaker at the event and his topic was solely Bacheler and this coat. School teachers and colleagues said that Bacheler liked to show his students the coat as inspiration, a reminder that one never need to be discouraged. Principal Bacheler told students how this coat was given to him by a Virginia slave who harbored him after his escape from Richmond’s infamous Libby Prison during the Civil War. While this incredible story warrants our attention, verification and further exploration—what a great project for our students!
In 2015, the coat that remains to tell the story is in immediate need of our care.
A concerned parent noticed that the coat near ROTC and Veterans awards and memorials at Gloucester High School had developed mold and brought it to the attention of various folks in town. The coat is everyone’s artifact. The school budget, PTOs, City Archives, city committees, the Cape Ann Museum—none have a budget to pay for this coat repair. The coat has been examined by a professional textile conservator through the Committee for the Arts. This garment needs to be fumigated, cleaned and repaired. It also requires an armature to support it and new display. The estimate for treatment and preparing it for installation is $3800.
Come “see” the coat during Jason Grow’s WWII Veterans’ Portrait Exhibition at City Hall on Saturday, November 7, 2015, from 1-4pm. The coat is too fragile to travel at present and will be represented by a full size photograph thanks to the generosity of Cape Ann Giclee! thank you James!
Donations will be accepted at the event or checks can be mailed and made payable to The Gloucester Fund, 45 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA. PLEASE write “Civil War coat” in memo field on the check. We are setting up a youcaring site and will apply to Awesome Gloucester.
Isabel Babson (1577-1661) was the first Babson in America, and she and her sons Richard and James are the progenitors of all with that name in the country. The earliest known record of her in this country is dated 25 September 1637 and appears in the Salem town records: “Isabell Babson desires admittance to become an inhabitant.” Isabel probably first settled at Salem as it was her port of disembarkation. In 1942 she moved to Gloucester where she was greatly respected as a nurse and midwife. After July 1642 Isabel purchased land at what is now 75-77 Front Street, Gloucester, and it continued in the family about a century and a half. Her dwelling on Main Street, a little to the west of Porter Street, was located at what is now 69 Main Street. She died and was buried in Gloucester, although the exact location of her grave is unknown. A simple stone has been placed in the ancient Bridge Street Burying Ground in memory of this honored and beloved citizen of Gloucester. As a tribute to her memory, Roger W. Babson established the Isabel Babson Memorial Library at 69 Main Street, which specializes in books for expectant mothers. She is also remembered through the Isabel Babson Maternity Wing at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester. Roger Babson believed that conceiving and rearing children, as well as the health and well-being of women, were critical to a stable society. All books in the library reflect this philosophy. Every challenging aspect of family living from prenatal through grandparenting and the golden years is covered. Books catering to men’s issues are also available.