Sawyer Free Library the new building concept plans and rediscovering architect Donald Monell #GloucesterMA #ModernMass

This photo chronicle begins with scenes from the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library 2019 Annual meeting, including views of the concept proposal for renovation and addition intended for the library as they appeared in the feature presentation that evening with some brief analysis. The second part of the piece provides  background about the American architect, Donald F. Monell, and visual context regarding his designs for the library expansion built in 1973 and largely ignored through this current new build consideration. Links to several reference documents relevant to this process are collected and provided at the end. (This update is part of an ongoing series published on GMG.)

Annual meeting – Arriving/settling in

About 85 people including Trustees with guests, library personnel, and marketing and architectural representatives were present for the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library’s Annual Meeting on May 20, 2019. (click individual photos to see full size)


Mayor Romeo Theken, Library Dir. Deborah Kelsey, and Trustee Chair John Brennan welcomed the public. Brennan thanked several Trustees for long service and welcomed new ones.


Deborah Kelsey presented the Mary Weissblum Smith Volunteer Award to Susan Oleksiw and Christy Park in recognition of their curation and management of the Matz Gallery rotating exhibitions over the past five years and their notable careers. Ironically, in the new concept plans, there is no Matz Gallery and limited art space. Read more about Matz’s philanthropy and work in Gloucester here. The major works from the art collection continue to be off view and similarly unaccounted for in future plans.

Dir Kelsey presents M Weissblum Smith Award to esteemed Matz Gallery volunteers_SFL Annual meeting installation views_architect presentation_Gloucester MA_20190520©c ryan

Financial Statement YR 2017-18

The library’s treasurer explained that the Annual Meeting financial reports always illustrate the prior year rather than the one just completed. So for this 2019 annual meeting, the report reflects May 2017- May 2018. He explained next year’s will represent the year 2018-19 and will show red and depletion of the 6 million endowment. Former board members asked about expenses to date, related to the new build, and itemization of the Trustee expenses line item, which was not in use when they served. A trustee explained that a title more accurately reflecting those expenses would be helpful. Reports will be shared.

SFL annual meeting 2019.jpg

Architect’s renderings / Oudens-Ello (with Dore & Whittier for library and MBLC)

The 25 million+ quoted for the concept plan does not include preservation of the original heart and soul of the library, the Saunders building, or any mention of the library’s fine art. A recent estimate for potential Saunders preservation begins at 3 million– which would be in addition to any work done elsewhere with the library.

EXTERIOR addition added to Monell_view from fire station_architect presentation_SFL Annual meeting installation views_Gloucester MA_20190520 ©c ryan
View of a proposed addition to Monell (out back). The Saunders House will not be visible. This concept image is not precisely drawn–i.e. City Hall in situ is not captured accurately in this rendering.
Monell addition back and context surroundings_20170129_© c ryan
surrounding context for comparison with rendering above

back sawyer (1).jpg

Stairs and more stairs

3 story glass staircase larger than atrium now_View from Central Grammar renderings_architect presentation_SFL Annual meeting installation views_Gloucester MA_20190520 ©c ryan

Design inspiration did not come from Saunders or Monell. (I asked.) One of the stated goals was striving to continue to make the library accessible for all, although in my opinion since the first presentation years ago, this design undercuts that aim.

Because of gentle switchback steps, currently there is technically no “accessible for all” direct entry from Dale to the Main Floor, or from Middle Street. The accessibility option from Dale curves around to a side* and back entrance. If that level is not the destination, patrons continue to the elevator.

Increasing all of the buildings’ gateway capacities is a fantastic goal. I do not understand how a concept with such tremendous staircase emphasis will remedy that expression of accessibility for all, or ease patron flow. The monumental scale of the three-story glass central stairwell takes up the transition volume between the original Monell and concept addition, and looms larger than the current Monell atrium. In this concept, children’s and teen spaces will be on the top floor. Crowd flow of all ages will need to access the elevator from the ground floor near the back entrance. Once upon a time the children’s wing was on the top floor of the Saunders building and intentionally moved to a space on the ground level. Currently, children’s services is on the ground floor. Friends and librarians using Reading and Salem libraries are not fans of children’s spaces on the top floor.

*The side entrance was sealed off this year due to safety concerns which can be helped by architecture and staff. The new security officers received the biggest applause of the night.

Glass staircase design statements — stacked cantilevered and floating– are common features in malls, retail, and transportation (airports!) hubs, often with escalator options, and ample budgets for cleaning staff. They’re not super kid friendly or easy to clean. For this concept, the staircase massing can be greatly reduced and favorably impact the footprint, cost and siting. I’ve written about the odd flow of moving the library’s busy children’s services up to the top level in this proposal. Just one of Christy Russo’s daily programs may bring in 20 to 80 kids and their grown-ups!

Moving to elevator and stairs with or without strollers will increase flow inefficiency dramatically, and be a disservice to an evergreen and engaged population. Children’s could be flipped back to the ground floor, with or without a separate teen space on this level. Research and multi use rooms requested for “21st century programming needs” could be dispersed throughout the expanded upper levels. Safety issues and bathrooms can be addressed on any floor. The librarians have been patiently awaiting remodeling and interior update and upgrades on the ground floor since 2012. The build out goal of 2026 or later is too long!  They need more space, a functioning and better test kitchen, and major bathroom renovations (yesterday!).

Oudens Concept plan Timeline

ETA library tentative opening 2026

TIMELINE_architect presentation_SFL Annual meeting installation views_Gloucester MA_20190520 ©c ryan

SFL Library atrium, architect Donald F. Monell

Monell building, top floor, no artificial light, no filter: looking across atrium with presentation underway on Main Floor as this space was being described again as an uninviting dark hole.

Design inspiration and high bar – Saunders House and Monell

For nearly 190 years, the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library has played a key role in the cultural life of the city of Gloucester and the Commonwealth.  Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library features not one but three iconic buildings. Investment in building projects with such inspiring history, pedigree, assets, materials and form are indeed a rare and enviable opportunity. Any library build should feature both Saunders and Monell. We are so lucky to have them!

There was worry about the Saunders and Monell buildings, the Stacks, and the Rando Memorial garden when the proposed new building first dropped and as this process continued. Thankfully, a Saunders stewardship committee has been reestablished and the Rando Garden will remain. (There was pushback that the “21st century building” left the community with less green space, not more.)  It’s only since last week that razing Monell was taken off the table. And it’s only since February 2019 that the architects began to emphasize green design as they had not realized how valued such criteria was in Gloucester. A workshop was held at the library.

Still, no one involved in the new process was discussing Monell, his inspiration, or influence. Regarding the library 2019 green visionaries—Monell may be more important to them than they realize. After all, he was ahead of his time incorporating wind and solar design into public buildings and homes. I’ve been thinking more and more about Monell, his studies and business ventures, his devotion to Gloucester.

Donald F. Monell earned multiple degrees at Bowdoin (BS, 1937) , Royal College of Edinburgh (1938), Tekniska Hogskolan in Stockholm (KTH Royal Institute of Technology), and M.I.T. (MS in city planning,1941 and MS in architecture, 1950).  He was a research assistant in City Planning at M.I.T. (1940-41), and a Research Associate in solar energy at M.I.T. from 1949 to 1951. During World War II he served as a Captain with the 333 Engrs. S.S. Regiment in the US Army Corp of Engineers from 1942-46. Prior to setting up his own firm in 1952, he worked as a community planner in Tennessee and for various architectural establishments. His son Alex Monell said that his father declined positions with larger international firms. “He preferred working on a smaller one to one relationship with clients.” Monell’s tenure at M.I.T. coincided with I.M. Pei and Buckminster Fuller; Monell set up his eponymous business two years prior to I.M. Pei. I asked Alex if his father worked with architect Eleanor Raymond. She built her home in Gloucester and had similar interest in sustainable design. She is credited with designing one of the first solar heated houses in 1948 “I know he worked with Maria Telkes (who invented a means to store heat in melted crystals that stored more than water could) on one of their solar homes and now that I looked her up I see the home was designed by Eleanor Raymond! So they knew each other.”

Monell was licensed to practice in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York and was NCARB certified. He was a member of AiA and Boston Society of Architects. He served on Gloucester’s Civic Art Committee beginning in the 1960s. He was a trustee of the Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra, an incorporator of AGH and Cape Ann Savings Bank, and a Vice President of the Cape Ann Museum (then Cape Ann Historical Assoc.).  Monell’s office was located in the Brown Building, 11 Pleasant Street. His son remembers visiting his dad on jobs and admiring the hand made scale models. Local residents may recognize the names of Monell hires:  Kirk Noyes who preserved Central Grammar and other award winning developments, was a draftsman, and Craig Toftey helped Monell with the Sawyer Free library.

The new building planners describe the need for a 21st century library. What does that mean today? Back in 2012, technology was the big discussion point and the library a possible tandem option for schools. (Elementary school libraries were shuttered and/or volunteer run, and school librarian positions cut.) Since then, libraries in schools became “Learning Commons” with a tech focus. By 2019 Gloucester Public Schools have a 1 to 1 student computer initiative. There was a desire for grounds improvement, since completed and well received with the Rando Memorial. I was asked about helping with a public art comission and how it might work as a play structure, too. Mayor Romeo Theken reminded us of the homes and neighborhood playground where the Monell addition and parking lot were built. Community input suggested opportunities for more outdoor spaces would be welcome, not less. Library design trends recommend co-work and makerspace options so the library is a community center. (Sawyer Free has been a community center since its founding.)

One thought regarding “21st Century” library tech goals: partnerships with M.I.T., Harvard, and Bowdoin could be fruitful and shored up by honoring Monell. Perhaps they’d help facilitate subscriptions to specialized libraries. Coordinating public access to resources like MatLab as one example would enhance “accessibility for all” in a 21st century sort of way.

Monell’s son, Alex, shared a section from M.I.T. President’s Report, 1951, with a reference to his father: “Mr. R. Buckminster Fuller, visiting lecturer, who contributed significantly to this conference, worked this year with the third-year students in architectural design and presented his concept of the “comprehensive designer” in a program emphasizing the relation of structure to design. In August, I950, occurred the five-day symposium on “Solar Energy for Space Heating,” under the auspices of the Godfrey L. Cabot Fund, attended by about 900 persons who were mostly visitors to the Institute. Mr. Donald F. Monell, research associate, was responsible for organization. Speakers included staff members and outside authorities in this field. Professor Lawrence B. Anderson was one of the contributors.”  

Don and Lila Monell could be the “Charles and Ray Eames of Gloucester”

Portrait of Lila and Don Monell ca.1951_at Sarah Fraser Robbins home_Gloucester MA_courtesy scan from historic photo.jpg
courtesy image: portrait of Lila and Don Monell ca.1951 at Sarah Fraser Robbins (photographer unknown)

Don Monell and Lila Swift should rightly be included on any Massachusetts #MassModernism trail. Monell and Swift, co-founders and collaborators of their own wrought steel furniture design firm in 1950, Swift & Monell, husband and wife, architect and artist, were the Charles and Ray Eames* of Gloucester.  Original examples of their woven leather, metal and enamel stools, tables, and bins are rare and placed in collections. The furniture was exhibited at Current Design (now ICA) and Furniture Forum. They operated the business in upstate New York when Monell worked for Sargent Webster Crenshaw & Folley. They built a studio for their business in their home when they moved back to Gloucester in 1952. Initial prototypes and editions were inspired by touring Lawrence Mills with Monell’s brother in law, who worked in the textile industry.  Alex clarifies: “I do not know what mill my father’s brother in law was involved in or to what capacity, I just remember my parents toured it and found the source of leather. A Cambridge firm sold them for awhile. And later my parents gifted them as wedding presents to close friends and relatives. Ray Parsons a blacksmith from Rockport often made the frames and later I made some at Modern Heat.”

*footnote: Ray Eames was in Gloucester. Before Hans Hofmann settled into teaching in Provincetown, he was invited to teach summer classes at the Thurn School of Art in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1933 and 1934. Thurn was a former Hofmann student. Ray Eames studied painting with Hofmann in Gloucester and was a student of his for years.  Decades later (during an interview with Ruth Bowman, who was wonderful, and owned a fabulous Gloucester Hopper) Eames mentioned 1940, a later date, for when she first learned about Hofmann. On an architecture timeline-  Charles and Ray Eames were born in 1907 and 1912 respectively, and Monell in 1917. They were married about a decade before Monell & Swift and west coast rather than east. Yet they were contemporaries. Art & Architecture case study homes began in 1945 (Eames house, 1949) Eames lounge chairs were manufactured in 1956 (after years of prototypes). Gropius House in Lincoln , Mass., landmark Bauhaus residence now museum was built in 1938, same year as MoMa Bauhaus exhibition. The Graduate school at Harvard designed by Gropius was a TAC (The Architects Collaborative) build in 1950. TAC was founded in 1945 with the clout addition of Gropius who continued with the firm until his death in 1969. Original 7 founders were Norman FletcherLouis McMillenRobert McMillan, Ben Thompson,  Jean FletcherSarah Harkness and John Harkness. Twenty years later, Monell’s Plum Cove elementary school design in 1967 was leveraged by partnering with The Architects Collaborative. Gloucester’s Plum Cove school is a TAC build. Wikipedia lists several commissions. The school could be added. 

Swift & Monell.jpg

The Monells were friends with many artists and Gloucester residents. They were best friends with Sarah Fraser Robbins which is another rich “green” connection for Sawyer  library. The Monells were married at her house and living there when their first son came home! Eventually they built their dream home in Gloucester designed to maximize its stunning  natural setting, all granite and ocean views. Their family and business grew. Lila’s art and home are inspired by wild nature, especially birds and insects, often the subject of her prints and photographs, and even wardrobe embellishments.  (More than one person recalled a striking faux brooch or embroidery like adornment that was actually a coiled live centipede.) Domestic animals and wild birds were part of the family. There were always pet crows and birds. “Our mother raised geese and guinea fowl,”  Alex continued, “Mainly the birds we had were ones she brought to rescue from oil slicks and other calamaties. She was well known as someone to bring an injured bird to.” Lila wrote an article in the Mass Audubon newsletter about two cormorants which she had a permit to raise.  “Sarah (Fraser Robbins) had an old lobster boat, never used as one.” Alex recalled. “They used it for fishing. Our families were quite close. We’d head to Norman’s Woe and bring back seagulls. You know, rescue babies, and help teach them to fly.” He said he got them comfortable being tossed like a glider. “They’d come back again and again ready to launch!” It was easy to imagine some glimpse of his childhood in this idyllic setting. His delight brought to mind My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and Driftwood Captain by Paul Kenyon. Sea and stone. What a playground!

Monell residence Gloucester Ma
courtesy photo:  Don and Lila Monell family residence (ocean side), Gloucester, MA [Architect Donald F. Monell]

Donald F. Monell Architecture

Monell completed many commissions in Gloucester and elsewhere on the North Shore, New Hampshire and New York. Any renovation and remodel at Sawyer Free is an incredible chance to celebrate his work and honor his legacy. After considering examples of Monell’s architecture it is easy to find his personal design in the work he did at Sawyer Free Library. He was trained as a landscape architect as well which helps to imbue his projects with great sensitivity and gentle passages. Many of his commissions are heavenly sites where buildings serve the surroundings,  whether built or natural. His designs are better because of this reverence for context.

(Note on images- double click to enlarge)

Monell architecture – Residences

Monell designed numerous private residences and additions [e.g. Dotty & Lawrence Brown (1957), Laight (1958), Despard (1959), Boyce (1961), Foster, Nydegger, Marietta Lynch, Judy Winslow, Bob and Libby French (1967), Featherstones, John Hays Hammond Jr, and Phil Weld (many)] in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York. Several clients were repeat customers. The Brown home is one example. Alex writes that “the residence was altered by my father in the late 70s to accommodate a library when they moved there year round.”  Much of the big collection of books were cookbooks. “Dotty was a great cook and good friends with Julia Child.”

2015 realtor images
photo: ocean side_Donald F. Monell architect, Gloucester, Mass. 1957 commision; and below photo comparison of back same residence ca. 2015/2019 ( seawall, cladding modified since Monell)

Gloucester Mass home_Architect Donald F Monell commission_later interior library addition_ views 2015 vs 2017

stilt house kidney pool grounds_Donald F Monell architect_highly modified since commission_Gloucester MA.jpg
then/now photo: Residence (stilt house) designed by Donald F. Monell, Gloucester, Mass. (modified since Monell)

Within a few short years of moving to Gloucester, Robert and Elizabeth ‘Libby’ French expanded their art collection, he was elected Mayor, and they commissioned Monell to design their home and property in 1967.  caption: video shows interior/exterior and was published in 2016. I don’t know when it was filmed. Small lovely moments – note the interior staircase railing, and exterior deck and bridge to glacial boulders. Clearly some modifications since it was designed in 1967 and perhaps since this video.

Monell architecture  – Public Buildings

Besides the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library commission, Monell government and public buildings include the Beverly Newspaper factory and offices, Eastern Point Retreat, Plum Cove School, and the Cape Ann Historical Society. Elements of his signature architecture resonate strongly with the work he did at the library.

Eastern Point Retreat House, Dorm & Dining Halls 1960

For the Gonzaga project, Monell joined two buildings and built a cafeteria and dormitories. Recently his original work at the entrance, connector and dormitories was razed. The historic photos BEFORE illustrate his artistry and display a strong connection with the design Monell established at the front of the library on the stacks building between Saunders and the expansion.

Hall to dorm sadly gone
(courtesy photo) BEFORE: Detail showing Monell’s work at the Gonzaga retreat former connector and gateway heading on the left to the cafeteria (still standing) and to the right to the dormitories (remaining though greatly altered). The compelling double bells and arches, poetry pause in architecture, were subsumed by the most recent build out.
BEFORE eastern point retreat double bell double arch Monell connector so poetic
(before- subsumed with remodel ca.2017)
New construction circa 2017 subsumes some of Donald J Monell architecture_Eastern Point Retreat_Gloucester Massachusetts_20190521_© c ryan (1)
AFTER: renovation/expansion circa 2017 (Monell additions subsumed and/or altered)

BEFORE / AFTER – dorm, far left (ocean side)

new dormitory construction circa 2017 altered Donald J Monell addition_Eastern Point Retreat_Gloucester Massachusetts_20190521_© c ryan.jpg

BEFORE / AFTER – dorm (parking side)

Microphone were set up to amplify sounds of the ocean (white noise) within the dormitory

BEFORE /AFTER – cafeteria low glass ceiling (ocean side) remains

New construction circa 2017 subsumes some of Donald J Monell architecture_Eastern Point Retreat_Gloucester Massachusetts_20190521_© c ryan (7)

Plum Cove Elementary School 1966

Monell subcontracted/collaborated with TAC for build

DON MONELL ARCHITECT_ Plum Cove school and landscape design_built in 1966_ Gloucester MA_20190523_©c ryan _073333

Beverly Newspaper Offices and Factory (now Salem News)

public entrance_gentle poetry_DONALD F MONELL_architect _Beverly Times Newspaper Plant and Offices_1969_ now Salem News_20190524_©catherine ryan (8).jpg

PANO_studied grace_public entrance_DONALD F MONELL_architect _Beverly Times Newspaper Plant and Offices_1969_ now Salem News_20190524_©catherine ryan (8).jpg

wild friend wild respite.jpg
A local resident swooped from nesting (near the roof?). Monell’s design nearly a wildlife refuge. What a beautiful spot! He designed the Gloucester Daily Times (1956) and the Newburyport Daily News, too

Gloucester Daily Times (1956)

side_Gloucester Daily Times newspaper offices built 1956_architect Donald F. Monell_photograph © c ryan May 2019 (5)

Cape Ann Museum (formerly Cape Ann Historical Society) 1968

CAM_20181219_c ryan

Circa 1967 plans for property by Grant Circle

Monell Cape Ann Historical Museum proposal predates eventual Pleasant Street addition Gloucester MA long before 2019 Grant Circle work
courtesy photo: Cape Ann Museum work by Grant Circle is underway, but consideration of that space began decades back. Here’s Don Monell’s illustration related to a  proposed campus for Cape Ann Historical Center by Grant Circle. At the same time he was asked for concepts related to the Pleasant Street addition which is ultimately the direction the museum went at that time (1968).

Cape Ann Savings Bank

Monell’s work at Cape Ann Savings Bank has been altered at least 2x since his commission. Here are a couple of placeholder “before” snapshots until I obtain better examples. Before (courtesy photos)/After example – Note changes like the Monell staircase design vs replacement and office additions vs open floor plan. The arch window motif remains.

architect Don Monell expansion for Cape Ann Savings Bank Gloucester Mass_ altered at least 2x since commission_20190524_© c ryan (2)

Signature elements – arches, contrast in materials, rectangles, winding paths

Monell was concerned with getting it right. You don’t have to know about Monell, his body of work or the history of architecture to be moved or respond. His slow designs are considerate of  their surroundings,  integrating connections with the natural and built environment. Thanks to his gentle, contemplative approach, it feels as though there’s more than enough space even when there isn’t much space to be had.

Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library

When reviewing Monell’s body of work, it’s clear to see that Gloucester’s landscape, history, art and architecture inform his designs. The library’s connector and entrance are signature Monell motifs and beautiful. It’s no accident that the symmetry of the windows at the back of the building echo the five bays of the firestation,

or that they were inspired and reference City Hall, 1867.

Gloucester mass evolution of City Hall_Office of Mayor (2)

No matter which approach one takes to the library, Monell’s consideration of the building and its surroundings is intentional and graceful.

PANO_20170129Monell addition back and context surroundings_© c ryan.jpg

Special thanks to Alexander Monell for sharing his time, knowledge and inspiring family history. Photos are mine unless noted “courtesy”. Those are extra special as they were culled by Alexander Monell in loving tribute to his father and family that he kindly shared and even granted permission to publish here. More to come!

-Catherine Ryan, May 2019

Further reading

  • May 22, 2019 – Annual meeting – Library’s follow up with the Gloucester Daily Times, article by Ray Lamont
  • May 15, 2019 Questions remain unanswered yet trustees should vote today whether it’s a teardown reno or…  
  • Read more about philanthropist Samuel Sawyer here. Prudence Fish has written about the Saunders house and her book Antique Houses of Gloucester,2007, is a must read. Also see exhaustive 2005 Fitch report (link below)
  • 2017 – architectural renderings Oudens – see above, in this post, and architect’s website. Thus far is all that is available. For the past two years I have been told that the plans will be shared all in good time by architects, trustees, and library. I’ll link when they are. Some documents and updates used to be on the library website.
  • 2017- A House in the Sun by Daniel A. Barber “about solar house heating in American architecural, engineering, political and economic and coporate contests between WWII and the late 1950’s” references M.I.T. and Monell’s work. “Many houses and  heating systems were proposed or built by former students at MIT who had worked with Hottel and Anderson, including those designd by Lof in Colordo. One by Donald F. Monell in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for example, which remained unbuilt, proposed an “orange peel” collector that splayed the solar collection unit across an arc on the roof, and indicated some of the formal varieties of solar collection units that became available later in the decade. Monell also proposed to store the heated water in numerous smaller tanks according to the heating needs of different rooms.”- Barber
  • 2017 – Several round up posts on GMG- search library new building or recent re-post with links
  • 2005 – architectural plans Neshamkin, French Expansion Project – with preliminary suggestions to extend Monell’s architecture out back. There are several ways to approach the addition inspired by Monell* and Saunders. Monell’s handling of the two older structures,  front entrance and addition are important examples of his ouevre, not solely the “facade”, a dismissive term negating his work. At this time another generation of the Matz family was interested in assisting with this work. The beloved Matz Gallery is a hallmark of the current design.
2005 architectural plans show extending Monell architecture to the back
2005 – architectural plans Neshamkin, French Expansion Project – with preliminary suggestions to extend Monell’s architecture out back.
  • 2005 – outstanding Finch & Rose Saunders House Preservation report here
  • 2002 – links to Monell obituary, Gloucester Daily Time, Bowdoin, Boston Globe
  • 2001 – architectural plans Finegold, Alexander Expansion Project (here)
  • 1972 – architectural plans Monell  (I posted on GMG here) scroll to end of post
  • 1972 – architectural drawing Monell related to plans for Grant Circle Cape Ann Museum expansion, deferred till 2019 (see above)
  • Matz Gallery example- Mary Rhinelander McCarl solo exhibition 
Mary McCarl_Matz Gallery_20190109_ gallery at entrance to Sawyer Free Library ©c ryan
Mary Rhinelander McCarl exhibition, Matz Gallery, Sawyer Free

Sawyer Free proposed building in the news | annual meeting Monday

Sawyer Free exterior_20190517_© c ryan.jpg

Gloucester Daily Times article Sawyer Free trustees eye renovation by Ray Lamont here

Glouceser Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library 2019 Annual meeting Monday May 20 6-8PM

SFL annual meeting 2019 invite.jpg
SFL annual meeting 2019 (*note to SFL- please consider returning to Valerie Marino type posting days — with real people rather than clipart advert photos of children)


Prior post Febrary 4, 2019 with some questions

Besides the local new Cape Ann Museum build I’ve mentioned, here is a another recent comparable. Bowdoin’s new Roux Center for the Environment is approximately 30,000 ft’. The planning phase took 9 months. The build out took 14 months and the project cost less than 15 million (seeded with 10 million from the Rouxs). The Sawyer Free project is more than double that cost and the planning phase is many times past.

The community has been consistent about addressing the bathrooms for sometime. In 2014, the “immediate objectives will be working with the library’s board, staff and volunteers to review the library’s collections for relevance; revamping the building’s public and staff spaces; overseeing installation of a modern heating and air conditioning system, and mentoring staff in their professional development…”

Round up of new library building coverage prior to November 2018:

Prior post with 1973 brochure ed. Joe Garland


Sawyer Free proposed build in the news | annual meeting Monday

Sawyer Free exterior_20190517_© c ryan.jpg

Gloucester Daily Times article Sawyer Free trustees eye renovation by Ray Lamont here

Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library 2019 Annual meeting Monday May 20 6-8PM

SFL annual meeting 2019 invite.jpg
SFL annual meeting 2019 (*note to SFL- please consider returning to Valerie Marino type posting days — with real people rather than clipart advert photos of children)


Prior post Febrary 4, 2019 with some questions

Besides the local new Cape Ann Museum build I’ve mentioned, here is a another recent comparable. Bowdoin’s new Roux Center for the Environment is approximately 30,000 ft’. The planning phase took 9 months. The build out took 14 months and the project cost less than 15 million (seeded with 10 million from the Rouxs). The Sawyer Free project is more than double that cost and the planning phase is many times past.

The community has been consistent about addressing the bathrooms for sometime. In 2014, the “immediate objectives will be working with the library’s board, staff and volunteers to review the library’s collections for relevance; revamping the building’s public and staff spaces; overseeing installation of a modern heating and air conditioning system, and mentoring staff in their professional development…”

Round up of new library building coverage prior to November 2018:

Prior post with 1973 brochure ed. Joe Garland


Proposed building plans Sawyer Free Library, City Hall…Whoa! In the news plus the 1973 appeal led by Joseph Garland, universal access, and archives

“No finer place for sure, downtown.”

“Fate of historic buildings uncertain” Gloucester Daily Times, Ray Lamont, Jan 3 2017

Seeing double? Yes, you’re supposed to. The Sawyer Free Library addition was designed to mirror Cape Ann Museum as a balanced and nuanced architectural symmetry in deference to City Hall, and catalyst for a graceful city civic center.

Cape Ann Museum, December 2017

Sawyer Free Library has announced a public meeting January 11th for discussions of a new building. (See the flyer at the end of this post.)

City Hall may have some upcoming construction on the Dale Avenue side as well.

Both projects are largely in the name of accessibility of a physical nature. Can they be cost effective, worthy of our history and culture, protect our significant buildings, and address current and future needs? The following are some of the issues, local coverage, links to resources, and archival material for your interest.

NEW LIBRARY 2016. And 1973.

Before the current 2015-16 library outreach, the library hosted extensive visioning sessions throughout 2013. I went to a couple, and I was invited to take part in a focus group (on schools and the library.)  A completely new library and jettisoning of the historic Saunders library building was not an expressed community value. What were some common discussion points? A strategy for digitization of historic archives and newspapers, more staff, more hours of operation (Sundays), better bathrooms, parking issues, air conditioning, electrical work, maintenance, security, maximizing technology/ content access with schools, ditto Cape Ann TV, and attendance (see this great video from Lisa Smith by kids for kids ) were some goals that were mentioned.

So it was a surprise to see the unveiling of new architectural renderings that did not showcase the Saunders house. It’s like the White House not featuring the White House. I think the Saunders house should be key and central to any building overhaul, not tossed aside. Providing universal access should preserve the intended awe factors if there are any, FOR EVERYBODY–such as the architectural details, proportion, welcoming entrance and unique heritage of a historic building. In this proposal, with Saunders severed there is zero physical access to the main event. What a missed opportunity. And for a library. What do you think?

Today’s paper mentioned that the Saunders house could be used for other purposes instead of the library. Why can’t that be the case and the library maintain its #1 asset? The downtown cultural district (which is not going forward in the same capacity) and other organizations could use the library meeting spaces. Do we really need to conjure up another stand alone endeavor?

Back in 1973, the Trustees of the Library began a fund drive for the new library addition; the city of Gloucester paid 2/3. As the Library’s General Chairman, Joe Garland led that campaign. Not surprising, the text of the brochure is a good read! The architect was Donald F. Monnell. (In 1971 Monnell was quoted in the papers speaking about the attributes of Central Grammar.  One likes him more and more.) The population served was 27,000–nearly what it is today.

Awesome design  on this 1973 brochure for the fundraising campaign for the Sawyer Free library– led by the Joe Garland (cover). See photos of complete pamphlet
See “Preserving our Civic Center,” great letter to the editor by Prudence Fish, Gloucester Daily Times, December 23, 2016

Working together


2016 Planning term and movement- “Scaling Up”

A quip about the concept of Scaling UP that I remember from a conference this past September at Peabody Essex Museum and hosted by Essex National Heritage was to “think about the farm not just a barn”; in this case a downtown, or an entire city and region. I like thinking this way in general–architecture and planning, art, and schools. But this conference pushed me to add overlays beyond my areas of expertise or focus like wildlife and waterways. Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts–there’s so much! Mayor Romeo Theken is committed to working together and feels that planning is important and broad. One example, see Gloucester Daily Times Dec 19, 2016 Officials: City to Prioritize Its (competing) Needs 

City Looks to Prioritize its Needs, Gloucester Daily Times, Ray Lamont, Dec. 19, 2016

There are several looming questions, evaluations, and decisions.


Every era has choices. The prior library expansion plans began well before 1972. Possibilities swirled as they do now. (Back then, Central Grammar was also in the news, may or may not have been razed, and possible uses favored senior housing, commercial development, an annex to City Hall, and a courthouse police station.) Today there are competing building needs and uses floated for properties as diverse as: the Cape Ann YMCA on Middle Street, the post office on Dale, the Gloucester Fire Department, police headquarters, St. Ann’s, and the elementary schools–and that’s just to name a few. Let’s celebrate enviable architectural strengths, and not fuss with buildings that should be venerated, unless it’s to help them be accessible and healthy. Let’s get the balance right.

HISTORY MAKING PLEA- Archives for all

The prohibitive costs of best practice historic preservation (ADA compliant, temperature and humidity controls, security, sustainability, in house scanning/OCR/audio transcription, etc) is impossible for all the worthy collections in town, and pits them as foes when vying for funds. Let’s flip that impediment on its head and make Gloucester a model for the state.  Its treasures would be available worldwide if they were truly accessible –digitized.Two words may help accomplish this goal and free up cash for individual operations: shared overhead. It’s one hope I continue to stress–the need to share necessary resources for a state-of-the-art research and warehouse repository. This universal hub should be large enough to encompass any holdings not on view. There could be a smaller downtown central site combined with a larger off site location, such as at Blackburn. The list of sharing institutions could include and is by no means exhaustive: our municipal archives that date back to 1642; Cape Ann Museum; Sawyer Free Library; North Shore Art Association; Beauport; Hammond Castle; the Legion; Amvets and other social clubs; Sargent House; several places of worship; Gloucester Daily Times; Annisquam historical building collections; Lanesville; Magnolia’s historic collections; artists/writers estates; Veterans office; our schools; Isabel Babson Memorial Library, and perhaps businesses such as Cape Pond Ice and Gortons. The library plans don’t appear to retrofit their site(s) for this goal.

If incentives and policy supported neighborhood character over less generic construction collages51

that would be wonderful.  It’s not just Gloucester.


Continue reading “Proposed building plans Sawyer Free Library, City Hall…Whoa! In the news plus the 1973 appeal led by Joseph Garland, universal access, and archives”

Loch Lomond sung for Joe Garland

In this video, gimmesound artist of the week Michael O’Leary sings one of Joe Garland’s favorite songs with Janice Fullman .  This was part of the special tribute to Joe Garland produced by Local Music Seen with Allen Estes that showed on the large screen at the October 1, 2011 ceremony celebrating Joe’s life at I4-C2.  A longer version of this tribute special is in the works and will air on Cape Ann TV once it’s finished.

Michael O’Leary is also featured in today’s Gloucester Daily Times story (see here).

Don’t wait for St. Patrick, get out and dance tonight.  There’s Reggae DJ, Blues, Jazz/hip hop and more.  See complete music lineup here.

Tribute from Senator John Kerry to Joe Garland

Over the holidays Helen Garland kindly lent me a copy of The Gloucester Guide, Joe’s fascinating  historical guidebook, or, as it is sub-titled, A Retrospective Ramble. I am looking for photos and information about Good Harbor Beach and recalled Joe’s book. Regrettably, I had lent my copy and it has not made it’s way back to our home. The Gloucester Guide is unfortunately out of print, but I have heard talk of it going to yet another printing. While visiting with Helen she shared the following heartfelt and moving tribute to Joe, from Senator Kerry, published in the Congressional Record, October 12, 2011, Vol. 157, No. 152.


Mr. KERRY: Mr. President, over the course of the past half-century, Joe Garland served as the unofficial historian of Gloucester, MA—its fishermen, its boats and its life. But Joe Garland not only wrote history in his books and newspaper column—he was part of history, guiding his beloved hometown through headwinds and troubled waters. Joe Garland passed away August 30, and his family and friends gathered October 1 for a memorial service. I would like to share with the Senate the thoughts and memories of Joe that I shared with those who were part of that service honoring this great champion of all things Gloucester.

If you visit the Fisherman’s Memorial on Gloucester’s waterfront on a stormy winter day, the statue of the Heroic Mariner seems to be steering the whole town into the wind toward fair weather. And if you look closely at the statue, you can almost see Joe Garland in its carved granite face, full of grit and determination, guiding his beloved Gloucester through headwinds and troubled waters.

‘‘Beating to windward’’ is the art of sailing into the wind. ‘‘Beating to Windward’’ is also the name of the column Joe wrote so many years for the Gloucester Times. And it is no surprise to any of us who knew him that Joe used the column to champion all things Gloucester.

Joe didn’t just chronicle Gloucester’s history—he was a part of it. In his column and in his books, he brought to life the era of the great schooners—like the 122-foot Adventure, the flagship of Gloucester, and the larger-than-life Gloucestermen—like the ‘‘Bear of the Sea,’’ Giant Jim Patillo, and the ‘‘Lone Voyager,’’ Howard Blackburn.

But he also used the sharpness of his pen to make his case on all kinds of civil causes—opposing unbridled economic development, warning about the loss of local control of the hospital and water supply, complaining about compromises on the environment or demanding the preservation of Gloucester’s beauty. And trust me—Joe never hesitated to offer his advice to a certain U.S. Senator, if he felt like I needed it.

Continue reading “Tribute from Senator John Kerry to Joe Garland”

The Joe Garland Tribute Post

If you have a story about Joe you would like to share send it in and I’ll add it to this post.

Joe “Stoga” Scola remembers Joe Garland in this video interview-




He was a bard of the Atlantic: A crusty, delighted, outraged, self-deprecating, sharp-eyed, ever-curious citizen historian of America’s oldest fishing port.  But it was an unforgettable trauma on land, nearly halfway around the world, that decades ago brought the legendary Joe Garland back home to Gloucester, and to Black Bess, his weathered old house on Eastern Point.

From there, Joe would gaze through his six-foot-high living room windows to the inner harbor, and consider two mortalities:  That of the Gloucester fisherman, and that of himself.

"I immediately felt a kind of kinship with the fishermen that evoked the kind of kinship that I’d felt as a soldier, with my buddies," Joe told me when I first met him in 1997. "And it was nothing that I had ever encountered or seen. Until I sort of discovered what these guys had been going through in Gloucester. So I found a strange kind of brotherhood."

Joe’s connection with the lethal risks to the Gloucestermen came through his own confrontation with death on the winter line at Italy’s Anzio beachhead during World War II. At Anzio, it was trench warfare, as Allied and German soldiers shot and shelled each other over mere feet of land. Joe was deeply scarred by this, and for decades, he worked on Unknown Soldiers, a memoir of his time in war. For years, while that narrative eluded him, he cranked out book after beautiful book about Gloucester and the North Atlantic: Lone Voyager, about fisherman Howard Blackburn, who survived a brutal winter journey, cut off from his mother ship and lost at sea in a tiny dory; Guns Off Gloucester, about redcoats and rebels on the North Shore of Boston during the Revolutionary War; and Down to the Sea, a history of the thousands of men who sailed out of Gloucester harbor and never came back.

"The American Dream has always been that joy and discovery and energy and activism and optimism are what have knit our society together and have brought it power and expansion," Joe told me. "But I reckon in a more profound way, loss is a more enduring kind of a social cement."

Like perhaps all trauma victims, Joe was witness to things he didn’t much want to talk about, but which nevertheless, for decades, he couldn’t shake. And yet he dealt with the loss – and the "shellshock," as people used to call PTSD – creatively: He wrote about it, over and over again, even if indirectly. (And, eventually, directly: Unknown Soldiers was finally published in 2009.) And, in the tradition of the many writers and artists who had came to the North Shore before him, he told great stories.

"Let me tell you about Helen!" Joe exclaimed to me on the day we met, as we sat at dusk in the living room, surrounded by ticking grandfather clocks, watching the blinking lights of the trawlers on the path to the open sea. An army buddy told Joe he needed a pen pal: Helen Bryan, his childhood neighbor from New Jersey. Joe wrote Helen nearly every day from Anzio. They fell in love by U.S. Army Post; in Joe’s mind, with the smoke of battle around him, they would get married nearly the moment he touched American soil. Provided he survived. On Thanksgiving 1945, Helen was waiting for him in pearls and a full length fur coat at Grand Central Station. But she wasn’t ready to marry; on her father’s orders, she would need to finish Sarah Lawrence College first. Joe was furious, dumbfounded, traumatized; he cut off the relationship, burned Helen’s letters, married someone else, raised a family. Decades passed. Helen married too, and had four children. Then, on July 5, 1978, Joe, at work on Unknown Soldiers, contacted Helen to see what she remembered. (After all, he no longer had the letters!) They met again, at the Thayer Hotel at West Point. And fell in love again. "And on my way home I pulled over to the side of the road and I cried my eyes out!" Joe nearly barked at me.

Many years later, when my former wife Lamis and I were living down the street in East Gloucester,, Joe and Helen Garland would hold court beneath the big chandelier in the dining room at Black Bess. There was always something urgent to discuss. Maybe it was the battle over Gloucester’s historicPaint Factory, which a couple of outsiders were trying to turn into condos. Outrageous!, Joe would bellow. What the hell do they think they’re doing? Or maybe it the gas pipeline going in on the Atlantic seabed, and how it might threaten the dwindling fishing stocks. Or it was the endless intrigue of the town’s mayoral politics. Or the battle over the future of Israel and Palestine, what Anaconda Corporation did to the Hudson River Valley, the indigenous politics of New Zealand, the legacy of Margaret Mead in the United Nations, the courage of a Catholic priest in India, or of cousin Billy in Scotland. Often, the conversation was about the decline of a kind of decency and fairness in American society and politics – a theme Joe frequently returned to, with genuine bewilderment and sadness.

Throughout these dinners, there was Joe, chewing his food ever so slowly (he was the world’s slowest eater), ever in his baggy, deeply faded jeans and blue-and-white-striped milkman shirt, his shock of white hair brushed absentmindedly across his brow: joking, inquiring, reminiscing, lamenting – and encouraging his younger visitors in whatever dreams they’d brought with them that evening.

I called Helen the other day to see how she was doing. We shared some Joe stories, and discussed the upcoming celebration of his life, which will take place today [Saturday] on Gloucester Harbor. And then she told me something surprising. Finally, at the end, Joe’s trauma was gone. After his war book – his recurring trauma – went out into the world, the PTSD began to dissolve. Daily, he was reminded of the poem his war buddy Frank Merchant wrote for Joe and Helen:

May this day, a diamond discovered

Glint from the old war and terror

"You saved my life," Joe told Helen, near the end. "You should have seen him," Helen recalled of his final hours. "You’ve never seen such change in a person." He was in the living room, looking out at the passing ships in the harbor. "It was magic. He was totally absorbed in something beautiful."

Sandy Tolan is a former resident of Gloucester and an associate professor at  the Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication at USC.  He is working on a book about music in the Holy Land.


Bruce Bonham-

Sadden to hear of the passing of Joe Garland.
A few years ago during one of our annual Gloucester and Cape Ann visits, I stumpled upon a Garland book up at a Newburyport flea market.
It was the history of Eastern Point. I immediately fell more in love with the area. I purchased a few more of Garland’s Gloucester and North Shore books, then during a September visit a few years ago gathered up courage enough to knock on his Eastern Point front door at Black Bess.
"Come on in!" was the sight unseen call from Joe’s wife, Helen. "You wanna see Joe? He out feeding the dog. He’ll be right in."
She took me to Joe’s perch at the back of his historic house with spectacular views of the harbour and city. I was there, on the premise of getting his books autographed (which he did, making me feel he was honoured to do so), but really wanted to meet the man who wrote the area’s interesting history.
Turns out we had lot’s to talk about. He began, he told me, as a newspaperman. I was a newspaperman too. Perfect!
Joe has touched many lives in his long years.
My experience will be forever cherished.

Bruce Bonham
St. Catharines, Ontario, CANADA


Bill Hubbard Writes-

My wife and I moved back to Gloucester in 1959 and into a home on Ledge Lane in E. Gloucester after living in Western Mass for three years.  I first met Joe that year at Drift In(now Sailor Stan’s) on Rocky Neck and saw him frequently there.

That winter I bought an unfinished banks dory from Burnham & Thomas and decided to make a sailor of her.  I sketched out a sail plan for her along with a centerboard and rudder and took them down to Capt. Bill Sibley’s shop at 15 Rocky Neck Av. – where my cousin Larry Dahlmer has his gallery today.  It was a cold day and Sib had the woodstove cranking and quite a gang was on hand to go over my plans.  Joe was there along with Capt. Tom Morse and soon-to-be-city councilor, Ed Flynn and Dick Hunt.  As I recall, we spent several hours discussing the plans and then Joe invited me to his home at Black Bess and we sat down and drew them up to scale.

Next Spring, Joe and Dick Hunt were on hand when I launched her at Wonsan’s Cove, stepped the mast and bent on the new sails made by Bob Enos and the centerboard cut by Ed Alexander at Beacon Marine.  Then Joe hopped in with me for the christening sail.

A few years later, at Joes’ urging, I wrote a short history of the “Michigan Bears”.  It was the story of the Michigan men who sailed their small boats and gillnets from the lakes to found the gillnet fishery in Gloucester in 1909.  They were led by Capt. Albert Arnold and included Dahlmer’s, Tysvers, Shores, Lasley’s and LaFonds, among others.  Joe was my inspiration for that article, contributed many anecdotes about the Bears. He also suggested I submit it to Joe Kakanes, “Gloucester Magazine” where it was published the following year. 

I probably saw Joe once or twice every week on Rocky Neck, especially at Sibley’s where many of us passed the time in deep conjecture on many topics important to the world, Gloucester and especially to us.  We moved to New Hampshire in 1969 and I only saw Joe occasionally when visiting relatives.  He was a wonderful person and with his books and projects contributed much to Gloucester that will be a lasting tribute to him.  He was one of the prime movers to restore Howard Blackburn’s and Centennial Johnson’s boats for future generations.  I think of him every time I visit Gloucester and drive onto Rocky Neck or Eastern Point.

Bill Hubbard

Visit my artists website at:


Tom Halsted writes-

One day in early October of 1991, I got a call from Joe Garland: “Can you take a day off to drive to the Catskills with me?” he asked. “There are two great rowing canoes we can buy cheap but I need to get there soon. I’m getting one. Do you want to get one too?  Can you get away on Saturday”? I did, and could..

By Saturday we had located a lightweight boat trailer I could tow behind our VW Dasher station wagon. I picked up Joe at about 8 AM, hooked up the trailer, and headed west.

Our destination: Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, 250 miles away. Joe and Helen had just returned from a memorable weekend stay there. It’s a mountaintop resort, with a large 1890s-era hotel, miles of walking and carriage trails, and a manmade lake on a mountaintop. In the lake were a fleet of newly purchased rowboats for guests to use, and in one of the carriage barns (which had once held 300 carriages and their horses) the older fleet of rowboats, all Old Town rowing canoes, was stored. Joe inquired whether any were for sale, was told that they were, and could be had for $50 apiece. The deal, in Joe’s opinion, was too good to pass up.

We arrived at the hotel around noon, and went in search of the manager Joe had spoken to a few days earlier. He was nowhere to be found, but a sympathetic assistant listened to Joe’s explanation and showed us to the carriage barn. There on racks were a dozen canoes in various states of repair. We poked and picked among them, and eventually found two in fairly good shape, and a couple of pairs of oars.

We loaded them on the trailer and then went in search of someone we could pay for them.  The same assistant manager eventually showed up, took our $100, and we were on our way back to Gloucester. We stopped in Vernon, Connecticut, outside of Hartford, for a dish of tapioca pudding Joe knew he could get at Rein’s Deli there, and eventually made it back to Gloucester, arriving at about 6. I stowed my canoe in my family’s barn in Manchester, we unloaded Joe’s at his house, I took the trailer back to its owner, and went home for supper.

Old Town rowing canoes were built in Old Town, ME from the end of the 19th century to the first few decades of the 20th century, and ranged from 15 to 20 feet in length. (Ours were 15-footers). They were built like canoes, thin cedar planks clench-nailed to flat split ash ribs, covered with canvas and painted dark green. They had bronze oarlocks and elegant spoon-bladed oars. They were heavy, but made to slide through the water with ease.

For one reason or another I didn’t get around to working on my canoe at first, but Joe dropped everything to put his in rowing condition as soon as possible.  In a few days he patched the hull, repainted the canvas skin, and painted the name “HOMONK” on the bow. Then he built an elaborate wooden railway from the top of the rocks down to the cove so he could launch the canoe by sliding it  along the planks down into the water at any tide. He was ready to do some serious rowing, and managed to get out for a couple of brief and satisfying excursions.

A few days later, on October 31, Gloucester was walloped by what came to be known as “The Perfect Storm.”  Huge waves crashed over the breakwater, tossing gigantic granite blocks into the sea, before sweeping across the few hundred yards to Black Bess. Railway and canoe were swept away in an instant. After the storm had passed Joe hunted for the canoe in the thicket that lined Eastern Point Boulevard on the landward side of the road.  He came upon a few scraps of green canvas and chunks of hull, one with most of the word “HOMONK” on it — all that remained of his once great Lake Mohonk rowing canoe.

As for my canoe, I never did restore it, but sold it a few weeks later to a collector, for $250. If I’d had any decency I would have split my $200 bonanza with Joe, but I have a suspicion I never did.  Sorry, Joe.

— Tom Halsted
October 1, 2011

imageA 15’ Old Town Rowing Canoe

One of Joe’s unfinished books was to have been the narrative of his life in the many boats — cutters, sloops and a schooner — that he had owned and sailed over the years. All but the last were built of wood, and usually well-used when he bought them. He lovingly cared for them and sailed them each season from the first warm days of spring until late into the autumn.  They were moored just off Black Bess, where he could admire them from the porch when he wasn’t sailing them, in Gloucester waters and beyond.

Joe’s next-to-last boat, acquired in 1986, was March Hare, a 23-foot wooden cruising sloop, designed jointly by famed yacht designers William Atkin and Starling Burgess. She was built in Long Island  and launched in 1932. She had an unusual “turtleback” hull design, the ribs forward of the cockpit completely encircling the hull and the rounded cabin top. The standing rigging was also unusual,  a forestay and two single shrouds. No spreaders, no backstay. Below decks there were four narrow bunks with sitting headroom, a sink and a head. A diesel inboard engine provided power.

One hot summer day in 1987, Joe invited me for a sail on “The Hare.” By the time we had rowed out to the boat, set sail and cast off the mooring, the breeze had dropped to about 5 knots. By the time we reached mid-harbor, it was almost undetectable.
But something was odd: March Hare didn’t seem to notice the flat-ass calm at all. Instead she heeled gently over onto the starboard tack, and glided confidently out to sea past the Dog Bar. The sails obligingly bellied out, water gurgled pleasantly along the hull, a frothy wake trailed off astern in a nice straight line.

“Joe”! I exclaimed, “this is incredible! If only there was another boat like this!”

“But there is,” said he. “Another one is advertised in WoodenBoat, for $5,000. It’s out of the water, in Scituate.”

As soon as I was home, I turned to the magazine, and there she was: Jabberwock, almost identical to March Hare except for the foredeck, which held a more traditional boxy trunk cabin, rather than the turtleback. The Alice in Wonderland-named boats were apparently two of a fleet of at least three; Atkins and Burgess’s first boat was named Dormouse. Surely there was also a Mad Hatter somewhere if still afloat, and perhaps more similarly named sister ships. A Walrus? A Carpenter?

I called Jabberwock’s owner, who told me where to find the boat. “She’s in fine shape,” he told me. “Sailed her everywhere, from Long Island Sound to East Quoddy Head. Wonderful, fast cruising boat.” The liar.

My wife Joy and I drove to Scituate and found the boatyard. The yard owner looked at us with a wry smile; it was clear no one else had been looking at Jabberwock in quite a while, and we soon saw why. There was probably a hefty yard bill.

The boat sat forlornly in an old cradle. She had obviously been there for several hard winters. Remains of a blue tarp hung in tatters over the cradle; there were big gaps between several butt joints and a large hole in the stem timber. A knife went into the stern post like butter. The forward hatch cover had blown off; the rudder hung precariously from a single remaining screw. What little varnish was still on the brightwork fluttered from it in long peeling strips. Rust stains dribbled down the topsides from every bunghole. Below decks, the bunk cushions were soaking wet, and the bilges contained a brew of rainwater, paint, empty bottles, an old chart, and a half-empty can of spar varnish; the other half had also spilled into the bilges. 

The mast, boom, tiller and engine had been removed and stored under cover. The spars looked somewhat better, but the engine looked tired. “To hell with it,” I told Joy. “Too far to go.” “Well —,” she said. Uncharacteristically, she obviously liked what she saw more than I.
We drove home and I reported the bad news to Joe. “It can’t be that bad,” he said. “Let me have a look at her.” Joy chimed in, “I really liked that boat.”

So it was back to Scituate the next day, with Joe. He climbed up on Jabberwock’s deck, squinted along the sheer and waterline, thumped a plank or two, and said “She’s in great shape. You really ought to get her.”

    We drove home. I called the owner. “You have ruined a beautiful boat,” I snarled at him. “You should be ashamed. How can you ask five thousand dollars?” Then, I don’t know what came over me, as I asked, “Will you take two”?

“Sure,” he replied in an instant, and I began to think I should have said “two hundred,” instead of “two thousand.” But it was clear he had enough to cover what must have been a healthy yard bill.

A few days later, I glumly followed behind a boat trailer, watching Jabberwock suffer each jarring bounce as the trailer bumped at high speed over every rut and pothole between the South and North Shore.  At dusk we arrived home, and set up the boat on jack stands in our back yard.

For the next fourteen months Joy and I labored over Jabberwock, with much expert help from Larry Dahlmer, Leon Poindexter and Steve Waldron, and sage advice from Joe. We repaired the stern post, replaced planks, butt blocks, and floor timbers, replaced hundreds of screws, bunged and planed off each screw hole, fashioned a new keel bolt out of a bronze propeller shaft and installed it, repaired and installed the engine, replaced dubious turnbuckles and chain plates, replaced all the running rigging, scraped, sanded, varnished, caulked and painted. Joy spent a long day painting below decks and cutting in a neat blue boot stripe.

At last, on October 14, 1988, we hauled Jabberwock to Hank Bornhofft’s yard at the head of the harbor, slung her in the travel lift, and lowered her gently into the ocean. Joe and Helen were on hand for the launching. We stepped the mast, bent on the sails, and watched for the next day and a half, as water poured into the boat through every seam, and gushed back out through a new bilge pump. But eventually the planks swelled, the gush slowed to a trickle and finally stopped, and it was clear Jabberwock would swim.

After a trial sail or two I called Joe to see how the two boats compared. We met on a sparkling November day off Black Bess, beat across the Harbor on a port tack, ran down to the Cut, jibed, reached up the Harbor as far as Smith Cove, reached back to Stage Fort, beat back to the end of Dog Bar on a starboard tack, and ran back downwind to Black Bess.

Jabberwock beat March Hare on every point of sail.  Joe graciously said, “It’s clear who’s the better skipper.” “No, no,” said I, “You’re the better skipper, but my boat has a cleaner bottom, and you’ve been in the water all summer.” So in the end we agreed we were both great skippers, and both had great boats. But I never did figure out how March Hare could have sailed so beautifully that windless summer day. Must have been that magic Garland touch.
— Tom Halsted
October 1, 2011

Jabberwock Leads March Hare, November 18, 1988

March Hare and Jabberwock, Winter 1989

Crazy Weekend Ahead Here’s Your Playbook

Cyclocross, Joe Garland Tribute, the Bloody Mary Competition, buckle your chinstrap buckaroos, it’s gonna be a good one!


2011 Gran Prix of Gloucester October 1 & 2- It’s Coming

Setting Up Two Days Ago photos From Donna Ardizzoni




Celebrating Gloucester’s Joe October 1, 2011

Stoga Remembers Joe Garland In This Video Interview


Final Mug Up, Bloody Mary Competition & End of Season Blow Out

The Season Grand Finale Mug Up and Ryan & Woods Distilleries sponsored Bloody Mary Competition (yep, we have raised the bar way up) at Rocky Neck, will be on Sunday, October 2.  Bob Ryan has very generously donated some awesome prizes for the creators of the winning Bloody Mary entries, including coasters, t-shirts, and Ryan & Woods Beauport Vodka (!!).  Also, for those planning to enter a Bloody Mary mix, so that we level the playing field and judging is based solely on presentation and mix, and no drink is heavy handed on the alcohol (it will be 10:00 am after all, and we have to protect our judges from inebriation), Beauport Vodka will be conservatively added to all mixes here before they go to the judges and attendees.  So no one has to go out and buy vodka and everyone’s entries will be made with only the best locally distilled Ryan & Woods Beauport Vodka.  Entrants only need bring a container of their best Bloody Mary mix creation and a glass with preferred garnishes for presentation to the judges.  In the best interest of judging time and the judges’ alcohol levels, we will limit the number of entries to six.  Of course, entrants must be 21 years of age or older.  As always at Mug Up, there will be plenty of great coffee, deviled eggs and whatever Mug Up type fare people bring along to share.  Always a good time and everyone is welcome at Khan Studio and the Good Morning Gloucester Gallery, 77 Rocky Neck at Madfish Wharf.  This will be the final Mug Up for the season on Rocky Neck, so don’t miss it.

Celebrating Gloucester’s Joe October 1, 2011


The Garland family and the City of Gloucester welcome everyone to a celebration of the life of Joe Garland, Gloucester’s historian, writer, and civic-proponent who died August 30th at age 88.
The all-volunteer event will take place on October 1, 2011, at 1 p.m. in the center of town at 65 Rogers Street, the harbor-front property formerly known as I4-C2. 
The event celebrating not only the man but the colorful and vital city he loved will include: music, a brief program with speakers, a variety of tents featuring the causes and activities Joe cared about, along with some of his favorite foods, and a gathering of boats—fishing and sail alike—which will salute him from the harbor.

The opening program will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m., and will conclude with an open-mic session so that those who wish may share what Joe meant to them and to Gloucester. Any who prefer to offer a written or illustrated remembrance may bring a page (8.5 x 11”) to be included in The Book of Joe.
Donations in his name to worthy literary, environmental, medical and civic causes will be accepted at the various tents.
Seating will be limited so celebrants are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
Parking for disabled and seniors (70 and older) will be available on site.
In case of rain, Celebrating Gloucester’s Joe will be held at City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue, where parking for elders and disabled will also be available.

For further information
Office of the Mayor: 978-281-9700    Peter Van Ness: 978-525-9093

Joe Garland 1922-2011 RIP

A Cannon Salute, and Farewell to Joe Garland

By Gail McCarthy, Gloucester Daily Times Staff Writer

“Joseph Garland, Gloucester’s historian, spent the last moments of his life in his beloved house by the sea.

One of the last sounds he heard on Tuesday was a cannon salute, a tradition he treasured; he would often give boats passing by a round from his own small cannon.

Garland’s family brought him home from the hospital Tuesday afternoon under hospice care. He would have turned 89 on Sept. 30. But he spent his last 90 minutes of life surrounded by family.

“When we brought him into the house from the ambulance, the (schooner) Lannon was heading out to sea with a sail excursion,” said Rob Carlson, his stepson. “We got him set up in the bed, and the Lannon was heading straight into port and we fired the cannon to get their attention. They immediately changed course and came over and gave a salute, fired their cannon and we fired back for them.

“About 10 minutes later,” he said, “Joe was gone.”

Helen Garland, his wife, said the bed was set up for him to look out at the harbor and the city.

“He was peacefully aware and was squeezing my hand right up to the end,” she said.”

To read more on Joe’s passing, please click here  and for Richard Gaines’ article.

My dad was a great admirer of Joe and although he loved Joe’s books, I remember heated discussions over city policies. After my dad passed, my mom and I stopped to talk with Joe as he worked on his sailboat across the road from his house. He will be sadly missed at the Schooner Races this weekend. It was always a treat to hear his voice announcing the schooners passing by the boulevard during the Parade of Sail.

To quote John F. Kennedy-
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came. ”

Rest in Peace, Joe. The sea will always be your home.

REMINDER-Charles A. Lowe Photos: Gloucester 1975

You have to see this!!

On exhibition through May 31, 2009

****Admission to the Cape Ann Museum will be free to all Cape Ann residents
every Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon for the duration of the Charles A. Lowe exhibition.

Charles A. Lowe Photos: Gloucester 1975

Charlie Lowe was a deceptively great artist possessed unconsciously,
with an extraordinary ability to universalize what he saw in life.  It was
given to him, through his eyes to open ours. His wondrous images guide
us to the perception of something around us, in others, in ourselves,
that was truthful, essential, natural, optimistic I think, poignantly
human, and the essence of our Gloucester.
Joe Garland, foreword essay to Lowe’s book A Portrait of Gloucester, 1983.

From the archives of the Museum, a selection of Gloucester photos from the year 1975 by Charles A. Lowe, photographer for the Gloucester Daily Times from 1957 -1981.
The exhibition is organized by former editor of the Gloucester Daily Times, Peter Watson, and Fred Buck, photo archivist for the Museum.

**An 80 page exhibition catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
It is for sale through the Museum Shop for $25.00.

Copies of photographs from the Charles A. Lowe Archives are also available for purchase. Call the Museum’s Library/Archives for more information,
(978) 283-0455, ext. 19.