Author: Anne Mason

Hedge House Frontage Project Underway

After years of preparation and fundraising, we are pleased to announce that the landscape improvements to the 1809 Hedge House are moving forward. A general contractor was selected for the project before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted life in Massachusetts. Since construction is regarded as an essential business, work can move ahead even as all of the Society’s in-person activities are suspended. We hope that the successful completion of this project will lift our spirits during this uncertain time as we anticipate future gatherings in years to come.

This project is generously supported by our members and community partners – thank you!

Historical Background 

Today the 1809 Hedge House Museum sits above a rolling lawn overlooking the Plymouth waterfront. However, during its long history as a residence, the house was located at 83 Court Street and faced west towards the town’s main thoroughfare. The Federal mansion was rescued from demolition by the Antiquarian Society in 1919, and moved a short distance from its original site to a nearby lot that had once been part of Plymouth’s old waterfront district.

The Society acquired an adjoining lot in 1927 from the American Woolen Company, the last of several industrial companies that used the large building (ca. 1880) on the lot as a storehouse. The Society razed this building and leveled the land to create a clear view to the harbor. To provide a better setting for the historic house, the Society undertook a series of landscape improvements at the new 126 Water Street location in the 1920s. Society members created a boxwood-bordered garden area in front and planted trees bordering both sides of the lawn. Eventually they turned their attention to enclosing the property. In its heyday as a home at 83 Court Street, the Hedge House enjoyed only a modest frontage, bordered by a simple white picket fence. The new yard on Water Street needed a more impressive style of enclosure. The Society opted to duplicate the white painted wooden fence and gate from the King Caesar House in neighboring Duxbury. Deliberations about the fence began in September of 1929; it was completed by 1932.

The painted wooden fence, within a stone’s throw of the harbor, required a level of maintenance that the Society was often unable to provide in ensuing years. By the 1960s, sections had rotted and been haphazardly replaced, the original design had become a patchwork, and the need for reconstruction was critical. The Society struggled during years of economic recession, but in 1975 finally managed to install a white painted tubular steel fence, with rebuilt wooden columns. The new design had no historical basis. This 45-year-old metal fencing remains in place today. The metal is in a state of advanced fatigue, the reconstructed wooden columns are in disrepair, and the entire array must be replaced. Furthermore, the removal of the boxwood-bordered garden area, the loss of some of the perimeter trees, and the installation of gas and water lines over the years have disrupted the front lawn, leading to dangerous sections of uneven ground and an austere appearance that distracts from the Federal elegance of the historic house.

Following restorations of the historic building’s interior and exterior between 2002 and 2007, the Society began planning for a major re-landscaping plan for the front lawn of the Hedge House. In determining what type of fencing or enclosure would be appropriate for the frontage of the 126 Water Street property, the Society turned to the work of Plymouth architect Joseph Everett Chandler, born in town in 1863. Chandler, a descendant of William Harlow, had assisted the Antiquarians with the restoration of his ancestor’s 17th-century home, which the Society acquired in 1920. He also consulted on the landscaping for the relocated Hedge House. In the 1920s Chandler prepared several designs for a Colonial Revival garden for the Hedge site that were partially, though never fully, executed. Preserved in the Society’s archives, the long dormant plans formed the basis for the recreation of the Rose T. Briggs Memorial Garden in 2013. Chandler had also sketched some ideas for the front yard of the museum site, but apparently never developed a frontage design before his death in 1945. Fortunately, several historical examples of Chandler’s landscape designs still exist in Plymouth. Among the most striking are the brick gates and walls of the Fay family’s 1889 estate, “Bayswater,” on Sandwich Street, and the Flemish bond brick walls and iron fencing that border the Willoughby House on Winslow Street, today known as the Mayflower Society House. These surviving features are the historical inspiration for a new Colonial Revival style frontage plan for the Hedge House Museum. They have been scaled down to better suit the size and style of the Hedge House.

Project Scope & Design

  • Water Street and Memorial Drive Perimeters: The new fence will duplicate the scale and location of the existing fence. It will include brick piers and black galvanized steel pickets. The brick will be laid in the Flemish bond pattern used in existing examples of Colonial Revival fences in Plymouth, dating from the turn of the twentieth century. This design will complement existing brick pathways. The brick piers will house electric outlets, which will permit the Society to add temporary lighting during events, improving the safety of the property when used by the public.
  • Southern Boundary: The existing cedar fence will be continued parallel to the property line to hide the rear parking lot of the neighboring restaurant. A new bed of native trees and bushes will be planted in front of the fence, restoring the garden border that framed the lawn in the 1930s.
  • Existing Features: In the late 1920s the Society installed walkways to lead to the Water Street entrance and the boxwood-bordered garden on what is now the front lawn. The granite steps have settled; to improve the site’s safety they will be reset and handrails will be added to match existing handrails elsewhere on the property. The bricks in the walkways have been replaced and re-laid over the years; as needed, small areas with bricks that are cracked or heaved will be reset or replaced to eliminate tripping hazards. The paths themselves will maintain their original orientation and dimensions. The four majestic linden trees planted approximately 75 years ago on the Memorial Drive side of the property will be protected throughout the project.
  • Grading and Irrigation: The prominent location of the Hedge House requires regular lawn maintenance to provide the best setting for this historic home. The grass dies every summer, creating an embarrassing blemish on Plymouth’s waterfront. The grading of uneven areas and installation of an irrigation system will help ensure the future maintenance of the property, increase the site’s functionality during high-traffic events, and eliminate the hazard of unexpected hollows and holes to visitors.

Our goal is to beautify the property in such a way that it will remain welcoming to the public, while also providing a secure perimeter on Plymouth’s busy waterfront. The addition of irrigation and electricity enhances the lawn’s functionality for community events, including the Society’s annual Summer Fair. We hope the improved frontage will strengthen the Hedge House’s position as one of the jewels in Plymouth’s historic landscape.

Anticipated Completion: June 2020

Design: Ray Dunetz Landscape Architects (using preliminary plans created by Bill Fornaciari Architects, Inc.)

General Contractor: Sheridan Landscaping (Plymouth, MA)

 

Preservation Grant Awarded for Spooner House Project

The Plymouth Antiquarian Society is delighted to announce that we are the recipients of a grant from the 1772 Foundation to support the preservation of the Spooner House. This grant will fund a project to repaint the North Street façade of this historic home, built ca. 1749. Since the house’s exterior restoration in 2011, the paint has become decayed and dirty, with chalking, discoloring, and significant mildew growth. Our goal is to clean and repaint the façade of the house in order to extend the life of its historic wood shakes and trim. By doing so we will also be restoring this home to its historic appearance.

About the Grant Program

Preservation Massachusetts, in partnership with The 1772 Foundation, has announced the final recipients of a new historic preservation grant program for Massachusetts. Preservation Massachusetts is the statewide non-profit historic preservation organization dedicated to preserving the Commonwealth’s historic and cultural heritage and The 1772 Foundation, based in Providence, RI, plays a leading role in promoting historic preservation nationwide. 

In their most recent grant round, the 1772 Foundation worked with the six New England statewide historic preservation organizations, including Preservation Massachusetts, to administer 1:1 matching grants of up to $10,000. Grants will be given to historic preservation projects for building exteriors. At their quarterly meeting, the trustees of The 1772 Foundation awarded $100,000 in grants to 14 Massachusetts projects, based on recommendations from Preservation Massachusetts. A total of $600,000 was awarded to seventy-nine grants from all six New England statewide organizations. 

Grant recipients in Massachusetts were Historic Deerfield, Inc. (The Creelman House $10,000), Alden Kindred of America, Inc. (Alden House Historic Site $2,600), Great Barrington Historical Society (The Truman Wheeler House $7,500), Historic New England (The Walter Gropius House $10,000), The Royall House Association (The Royall House and Slave Quarters $5,000), The Maria Mitchell Association (The Maria Mitchell House $8,250), Waterfront Historic Area League (First Bap st Church $10,000), Historic Newton (Durant-Kenrick House $10,000), Sons and Daughters of Hawley (East Hawley Meeting House $10,000), Plymouth Antiquarian Society (The Spooner House Museum $3,358), Essex National Heritage Commission (Assistant Light Keeper’s House on Baker’s Island $5,000), Old Colony History Museum (Bristol Academy $10,000), Chase Library Association, Inc. (The Chase Library $4,812) and Canton Historical Society (David & Abigail Tilden House $3,480). 

President and CEO of Preservation Massachusetts Jim Igoe states, “This new funding opportunity brought to Massachusetts by the 1772 Foundation was a great opportunity for stewards of historic buildings all across the Commonwealth. The reception to this grant was overwhelming with over $700,000 in funding being requested through our first round of inquiry letters. It clearly demonstrates the great need for funds to ensure these historic structures remain intact and in use for years to come. The organizations we have awarded grants to are remarkable stewards of these shared community assets and we are pleased to see their projects come to fruition. We are also extremely grateful to The 1772 Foundation for this collaborative opportunity which has enriched our organization and staff with deeper knowledge and connections with organizations and communities from the Cape to Berkshires. We look forward to continuing to work with The 1772 Foundation and also find other opportunities to expand funding for historic preservation projects like these across Massachusetts.” 

1772 Foundation Board President B. Danforth Ely remarked, “Small matching grants for brick-and-mortar preservation projects have long played an important role in the 1772 Foundation’s grant making, as it was the passion of its founder, Stewart B. Kean. However, this is the first year that we have opened the program up to all six New England states, and the expansion has been enthusiastically received. We have been fortunate to work with six fantastic statewide organizations, whose local community knowledge has proven invaluable. The vast response to this grant has also shown to the Foundation how necessary these brick-and-mortar grants are to keeping our historic structures standing.” 

About Preservation Massachusetts: Preservation Massachusetts was established in 1985 as Historic Massachusetts, Inc. We are the statewide non-profit organization that actively promotes the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes as a positive force for economic development and the retention of community character. The organization is supported entirely by grants, fundraising events and the support of our membership. In keeping with our mission, we work in partnership with national, state and local organizations and individuals across the Commonwealth to advance and understanding, appreciation and utilization of our historic built and natural landscapes. More information about Preservation Massachusetts may be found online at www.preservationmass.org 

About the 1772 Foundation: The 1772 Foundation was named in honor of its first restoration project, Liberty Hall in Union, NJ, which was built in 1772 and is the ancestral home of the Livingston and Kean families. The late Stewart B. Kean was the sole benefactor to The 1772 Foundation. The 1772 Foundation works to ensure the safe passage of our historic buildings and farmland to future generations. More information about The 1772 Foundation may be found at www.1772foundation.org

Coronavirus Updates

Due to the public health threat from COVID-19, the Antiquarian Society’s office and historic houses are closed to the public until at least May 18th.

The following events have been cancelled:

  • March 28: Back Roads of the South Shore Symposium
  • April 4: Burial Hill Tour (click here for our virtual alternative)
  • April 23: Jr. PAS Paper-making Workshop
  • April 24: Plymouth 400’s Opening Ceremony
  • May 2: Burial Hill Tour (click here for our virtual alternative)

Any future cancellations or updates will be posted to this page.

We are still working remotely to share local history with you! Executive Director Anne Mason can be reached via email at director@plymouthantiquarian.org.

If you have young kids at home, please make use of our coloring pages, available to download here.

Thinking of everyone at this difficult time and hoping you stay well and take care as we hope for brighter days ahead.

 

Remembering Plymouth’s First Victim of the 1918 Flu Pandemic

This article originally appeared in the Antiquarian Society’s newsletter, Archives & Anecdotes, in June 2018.

One hundred years ago, as World War I came to an end in Europe, a deadly flu virus swept across the globe, killing millions. Although the influenza pandemic of 1918 came to be known as the Spanish flu, the first recorded cases were in the United States. The international movement of armies and refugees allowed the flu to spread rapidly across borders. It killed swiftly and, unlike other flu strains, attacked healthy young adults as well as children and the elderly.

On September 23, 1918, the flu claimed its first victim in Plymouth: 20-year-old Geoffrey D. Perrier, Jr. Born on June 18, 1898, Geoffrey was the eldest child and only son of Geoffrey Daniel Perrier, a French-speaking immigrant from Nova Scotia, and Mary Agnes O’Brien, whose family had immigrated to the United States from Ireland.

Two years before his death, Geoffrey Perrier, Jr. traveled across the country to serve in the often-forgotten Border War. This military engagement took place during the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910. It reached its height in 1916 when the paramilitary forces of Mexican revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa led an attack on Columbus, New Mexico. President Woodrow Wilson sent an expedition under General John Pershing to capture Villa and prevent any further raids on American soil. At a time when many within the United States were calling for the government to prepare for entering World War I in Europe, the conflict along the border provided an opportunity to strengthen the United States military. The National Defense Act of 1916 expanded both the Army and the National Guard.

In Plymouth the Old Colony Memorial repeatedly printed calls to serve, emphasizing duty and patriotism and encouraging local men to follow the example of previous generations who served in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. 18-year-old Geoffrey Perrier, Jr. answered the call. In 1916 he enlisted in Company D of the 5th Massachusetts Regiment. The Standish Guards, organized in 1818, included men from Plymouth, Kingston, Middleboro, Carver, Whitman, Brockton, and other South Shore towns. Under the direction of Captain Charles H. Robbins, 65 men left Plymouth on June 21, 1916 for a camp in South Framingham, before departing for Texas.

On July 1, 1916 Company D arrived on the border. They were stationed at Camp Cotton in El Paso, Texas, within sight of the Mexican camp. The region was suffering from a drought; a report published in the Old Colony Memorial noted that the ground “was white with alkali dust, and the wind whirled the fine stuff into the air and sifted it into the tents so that the camp was soon designated as a dirty one, in spite of the effort made to keep things presentable.” The open ground was “covered in spots with bunches of buffalo grass, and cactus, the latter having spines of exquisite sharpness and well calculated to pierce clothing and even work into shoes in a discomforting manner.” Plymoutheans were asked to help raise $2,000 to provide the Massachusetts troops with a mess house and a recreation shack, wooden floors in their tents, and insect screening. To highlight the exotic hazards the men faced in the desert, a tarantula was sent home and  displayed in the window of the Century Jewelry Store in downtown Plymouth.

The Standish Guards left Texas on October 13, 1916, with a full company. When they arrived in Plymouth on October 21st, they were greeted at the railroad station by a crowd of 3,000, waving flags and cheering. Among those greeting the servicemen was Geoffrey’s father, Drum Major Geoffrey D. Perrier, Sr., who led the band in “its swingiest march” as the men paraded through town. They were escorted by veterans of the Civil War who were members of the Collingwood Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. The Old Colony Memorial reported that the men were “brown from open air life, thinner from active work, but all looking in the pink of condition”. Some of them carried new pets from Texas, including a number of dogs, and a blue-and-white pigeon. The celebration continued with a reception and ball in the Armory.

After his company returned from the border, Geoffrey went back to high school and graduated in 1917. When the United States declared war on Germany, Geoffrey must have imagined that he would shortly be serving overseas. In August he went with the Standish Guards to the training camp in South Framingham. However, he was rejected from service following his physical tests, given an honorable discharge, and returned home.

Over the next year he worked on government contracts as an electrician at cantonments in Carolina, Virginia, Texas, and Florida. Geoffrey returned to Plymouth in August 1918, living with his parents at their home at 12 Washington Street; his plan was to enter the Pratt Institute of New York in September. Instead, he contracted the flu and died after a week. Geoffrey’s funeral was held in St. Peter’s Church on Court Street; he was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery. Four days after his death, his grandfather, Daniel Perrier, also died, leaving his family doubly bereft. Geoffrey’s obituary in the Old Colony Memorial noted that “the community lost a young man who was well known and liked.”

Geoffrey Perrier was the uncle of PAS President Ginny Davis, who assisted with the research for this article and permitted us to reproduce these images from her personal collection.

Celebrate the 19th Amendment Centennial: Spring 2020 Events

ds_wilson_suffrage
The 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women’s right to vote, was ratified in 1920. As an organization founded by women, the Antiquarian Society is proud to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this landmark legislation.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH EVENTS
Presented by the Plymouth Area League of Women Voters & Plymouth Public Library
Film Showing: Iron Jawed Angels
Friday, March 6, 1 pm
Fehlow Room, Main Library, 132 South Street
This 2004 film tells the story of a group of passionate and dynamic young women, led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, who put their lives on the line to fight for the right to vote. Discussion to follow; light refreshments will be served. Free.
Reenactment: Susan B. Anthony
Saturday, March 14, 2 pm Canceled due to public health concerns
Fehlow Room, Main Library, 132 South Street
Meet reformer and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) in this engaging performance that brings history to life. Co-sponsored with Cape Cod Bank. Light refreshments will be served. Free.
Book Discussion: The Woman’s Hour
Saturday, March 21, 11 am Canceled due to public health concerns
Board Room, Main Library, 132 South Street
In The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote Elaine Weiss recounts the battle over ratification of the 19th Amendment and the final push in Tennessee. Light brunch fare served. Copies of the book are available one month in advance. Free.
For more information on these events, please contact Jennifer Jones, Assistant Library Director, 508-830-4250 ext. 230, jjones@townhall.plymouth.ma.us.

Plymouth 400 Opening Ceremony Procession
Postponed from Friday, April 24 to Friday, June 26 (details here)
March with the Antiquarian Society in the parade that will kick off Plymouth 400’s first Signature Event of 2020. Dress as early 20th-century suffragists to commemorate the 19th Amendment centennial. Marchers will gather at Stephens Field at 8:30am, step off at 10:30 am, and march from Lincoln Street to Memorial Hall.  For more information or to enlist as a marcher, please contact Executive Director Anne Mason at director@plymouthantiquarian.org or 508-746-0012.

Suffrage Sing-Along
Wednesday, May 6, 7 pm
Fehlow Room, Main Library, 132 South Street
Music united and rallied the women who campaigned for the right to vote. PAS Executive Director Dr. Anne Mason will teach the songs of the women’s suffrage movement and provide historical context. Song sheets will be provided so that everyone can lift their voices together – no musical expertise required! Free. This event is part of ArtWeek – a unique annual celebration of arts, culture and creativity.

 

CAP Grant Awarded

Plymouth Antiquarian Society to Participate in Collections Assessment for Preservation Program

The Plymouth Antiquarian Society announces that it is one of 79 institutions in the United States selected to participate in the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program.

CAP helps museums improve the care of their collections by providing support for a conservation assessment of the museum’s collections and buildings. The Society will work with a team of preservation professionals to identify preventive conservation priorities. The final assessment report will help the Society prioritize its collections care efforts in the coming years.

Executive Director Anne Mason shared that participating in this program is especially significant this year as the Society celebrates its 100th anniversary. “Since 1919 the Antiquarian Society has dedicated its efforts to preserving and sharing local history. We have a large and important collection of artifacts and archival materials in our three historic houses. As we start our second century we are committed to giving them the best care and making them more accessible to the public.”

The CAP program is administered by the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation through a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency that supports museums and libraries.

WWI Centennial Poppies Project

The poppies that bloomed across battlefields and graves in France inspired Canadian surgeon John McCrae to write “In Flanders Fields” in 1915. Since the poem’s publication the poppy has been used as a symbol of remembrance around the world. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, PAS members and other volunteers knit and crocheted over 1,000 poppies to create a special installation on the Hedge House Lawn—a visual tribute to all those from Plymouth County who have served in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. This project was inspired by the 5000 Poppies initiative and generously sponsored and produced by PAS Trustee Denise De More.

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Photo by Jeanne Lesperance

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Plymouth Men Lost in World War I

Robert Bain

George F. Barrett

Guiseppi Bernado

William C. Bonney

William R. Cottrell

Harvey Davenport

Arthur E. Doten

Walter A. Eastwood

Percy Fish

Chester R. Howland

Leonard B. Langille

Edward J. Lavoie

Joseph F. Lawrence

William R. Maybury

Harrison Murray

Llewellyn C. Small

Adam J. Smith

Samuel J. Smith

Horace D. Stringer

Joseph W. Taylor

Napoleon Viau

Michael J. Vitti

Chester W. Ward

Gustave T. Wirzburger

Dedications

The local community members who knit and crocheted poppies for the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s WWI centennial installation made the following dedications:

 

In memory of my father, Aeneas M. Casey, who served in WWI, I have dedicated sixteen poppies; one poppy to his memory from each of his children, spouses, and grandchildren.

Stephanie Berlo, Quincy, MA

 

In memory of my uncles, Crawford Hoxie, Robert Hoxie, Milton Hoxie, and Channing Hoxie, and my dad, Gilbert Hoxie; all served during WWII.

Harriet Hoxie, Quincy, MA

 

In memory of William Henry Pitts, Fred Bates Morse, and Carl C. Lord, the three men from East Bridgewater who were lost in World War I.

Lois Nelson, East Bridgewater, MA

 

In honor of all veterans who served this country, including my grandfather, Wilfred J. Bois, who served in WWI.

Deborah Correa, Manomet, MA

 

In memory of my father, George Piepiora, my uncle, Joe Murphy, and my brother–in–law, Jack Manuel.

Helen Avitabile, Weymouth, MA

 

In memory of all service members, especially:

My father, C. George Piepiora (WWII 3rd Armored Division)

My husband, John R. Manuel (USN Vietnam Era)

My son-in-law, Andrew S. Rice (Army)

My uncle, Patrick Joseph Murphy (USN WWII)

Liz Manuel, East Wareham, MA

 

Dedicated to Anthony F. Noble (Army)

Kathleen Frye, Plymouth, MA

 

Dedicated to my dear Uncle Willy Bracco, who served in WWI. Truly forgotten – a dear sweet man. He was the only one of four brothers eligible to serve his country; the others were too young for WWI and too old for WWII.

Kathy Burns, Plymouth, MA

 

In memory of all veterans, especially James Callahan and his brother Mike, who was killed in action in WWII.

Evelyn Callahan, Stoughton, MA 

 

Dedicated to my father and uncles who served in WWII: David B. Freeman, James O. Freeman, and Howard E. Twombly.

Carolyn Freeman Travers, Middleboro, MA

 

In memory of Cameron MacDonald of Little Pond, PEI, Canada, who later became a US citizen, and of Edward Hutchinson.

Jane Murphy, Duxbury, MA

 

Additional poppies created by:

Karen Anastos, Hingham, MA

Jeannette Colas, Plymouth, MA

Janet Cole

Die Modlin Hoxie, Sandwich, MA

Barbara Keyes, Plymouth, MA

Mary O’Brien

Judith O’Neil, Rockland, MA

Susan Painter, Rockland, MA

Doreen Roderick, Quincy, MA

Martha Sulya, Monument Beach, MA

The Knotty Knitters, Kingston Public Library, Kingston, MA

Carol Zahn & the Monday Morning Knitting Group at the Center for Active Living, Plymouth, MA

And many others who did not provide their names

 

Special thanks to:

Plymouth Harbor Knits, Plymouth, MA and Yarns in the Square, Hingham, MA for coordinating, promoting, and collecting poppies for this event