Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Collections Moment:  Opalescent White Glass Bowl

Category of Object:  Glass tableware looks like ceramic

Brief description of Category:  Sargent House Museum has approximately 33 pieces of “early American period” glassware in its collections.  The punch bowl has a nearly identical bowl in the Winterthur Museum in Delaware.  See accession file #315 for reference. 

Description of Object:  3 7/8” H, 8” diameter, opalescent white glass handpainted floral, footed “punch” bowl. 

Personal comments on why presenter chose object or thinks it is important:  I choose this object for its special, outstanding, visual attractiveness.  Outstanding, hand painted, floral decorations both inside and outside.  This is a very special piece of early glass in quality and condition.  I consider it a very elegant example of fine tableware and a rare example, which has been given to the Sargent House Museum. 

Presented by Christina D. Rafter, Sargent House Museum Board member, June 18, 2015

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Celebrating Independence Day 2014 at Sargent House

Fourth of July Celebration in Centre Square, Philadelphia, 1819, by John Lewis Krimmel
In celebration of the Fourth of July this year, we at the Sargent House Museum would like to share excerpts from Judith's description of the Independence Day celebration in Philadelphia in 1790. Judith traveled to Philadelphia with her second husband, Reverend John Murray, to attend the first national convention of Universalists.

While there, the couple were swept up in the hubbub of the first organized observance of the Fourth of July in Philadelphia, a city that truly awed and enchanted Judith. Our nation's first capital, Philadelphia was the most cosmopolitan of American cities at the time, and it offered Judith opportunities to attend the theater as well as meet some of the leading personalities of the day. We share her excitement as she pens a letter to her parents back home in Gloucester, painting a picture for them of both the artistry and the sheer ebullience of the event.

Tammany Society Celebrating the 4th of July, 1812,
William P. Chappel (1800-1880) 
Judith was particularly taken by the grand theatrical spectacle that unfolded in the gardens along the waterway of the city. Such pageantry was based upon French prototypes of political street theatre. Notably, it offered women the opportunity to assert their participation in politics and publicly voice their opinions in demonstrations of their patriotism.1 We can imagine how this exercise of female equality thrilled Judith. She colorfully describes ceremonies populated by: 

"— a number of heathen Deities rendered luminous, and distinguished by their insignia — Bridge dressed in shrubbery, and appropriate Colours for every state in the Union — The Arms of America and France entwined by Liberty — a rich display of Fire works, exhibited from the Lawn, in front of the Federal temple — Thirteen Boys, and an equal number of Girls, issuing from the Grove, habited as shepherds, and shepherdesses, and proceeding to the Federal Temple, chanting responsively, an Ode to Liberty, with a number of songs, Odes, and Choruses, in honour of the auspicious event, which the day commemorated."
Judith continues, " ...never did I behold a scene more truly enchanting than Nature then presented, upon the Banks of the Schuylkill — The river was divinely serene, and the margin was ornamented by romantic, and beautifully variegated imagery —"2

Judith also mentions a discourse delivered that Sunday at Christ Church to the fraternal Order of the Cincinnati, a military officers' organization to which her brother Winthrop belonged, as well as the troops' participation in Monday's commemorations: 
"The Cincinnati were handsomely complimented, and their virtues feelingly eulogized — [Rev. Dr. Smith] barely touched upon the apprehensions, with which the order had filled the people, and judiciously allowed our band of Heroes, the applause which they so justly merited, when instead of arming themselves with indignant pride, they evinced the benign aspect of their association, by revising, correcting, and pruning, and by attributing to a holy jealousy in their fellow Citizens, suspicions for which, had they been activated by the motives imparted to them, they would have found it easy, to have assigned a more malignant cause. Illustrious Warriors, in that moment of self government, the splendid triumphs of dignified condescension, were more glorious, than those fading, and diminished rays, which gild the Coronet or beam around the proudest Monarch who ever wore a crown — ...  On Monday every restraint being taken off, the ebullations of hilarity obtained their utmost latitude — The bells were clamorous, the colors displayed, and the Cannon discharged — The military of every description was concluded by a display of fire works from the State House, and a superb illumination of Schuylkill gardens."3  

The Fourth of July continues to be a celebration of our nation's "band of Heroes," and the Sargent House Museum would like to announce that we are now officially a “Blue Star Museum,” providing free entry to military families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.4 It is one little way of saying "thank you" to the men and women who serve. 

As the wife of an Army veteran, I’m very proud we’re participating in this initiative. We hope to see you soon at the home of one of our Founding Mothers, Judith Sargent Murray.

Happy Fourth of July!

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

1. Susan Branson, These Fiery Frenchified Dames: Women and Political Culture in Early National Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 1 and n.3.
2. Judith Sargent Murray, Letter 768 To my Father and Mother, Philadelphia, Arch Street, July 10, 1790 — Saturday. Accessed 7/3/2014.
3. Ibid.
4. Learn more at:  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Remembering the Past, Building the Future: Our 2014 Graduate Intern

Tegan Kehoe, Summer Grad Intern, reading at "Judith Speaks" (5/15/2014)
Each summer, the Sargent House Museum invites one graduate school intern to learn more about the work behind a historic home first-hand. This summer's intern is Tegan Kehoe, a recent graduate of Tufts University, Boston.

Tegan completed her combined Master's in History and Museum Studies. At Sargent House, she will be working with our collections, doing research and adding data to our database files.

Tegan says, "My concentration in history is the social history of collective identities, such as race, class, gender, and ability/disability, in the United States. My background is in museum education and collections management, and in the future I hope to work in collections and curating with a strong educational leaning."

Along with Sargent House, Tegan currently works at Old South Meeting House in Boston. And, previously, she worked at the Old State House Museum, USS Constitution Museum, and Museum Textile Services.

Tegan feels right at home working in Gloucester on Judith Sargent Murray. She first visited Gloucester with her upstate New York family while she was attending college at Brandeis University. She fondly remembers teaching her younger brother to say “gloss-stir” instead of how it's spelled.

As for Tegan's connection to Judith, she says, "Judith Sargent Murray was actually the sometimes rival of one of the people I did my undergraduate thesis on. My thesis, titled 'Female Education, Gender and the Public Eye in the Literary Careers of Sarah Wentworth Morton and William Hill Brown,' got me very invested in the life of Morton. Morton (1959-1846) was a Boston-based writer who was not quite as explicitly forward-thinking as Murray in her writings on gender. There was a period of time when both she and Murray were using the pen name 'Constantia,' and they had a bit of a polite squabble in the literary columns of some newspapers over the name before Morton backed down and began writing as 'Philenia.' My research on Morton was my first introduction to Murray."

Tegan has also studied Rev. John Murray in her research. She is a Unitarian Universalist and therefore, along with all UU parishioners, claims Murray as a “founding father” of the church. One of the long-term projects that she's put on the back burner while she worked on her degree is a guidebook to sites related to Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist history.

We are so happy to have Tegan with us this summer. What a perfect fit for our little museum!

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remembering the Past, Building Our Future: Herb Donation from Food Project at Long Hill

When studies of period early American gardens are done, they most often mention the inclusion of herb gardens, as every home would want to have these savory kitchen favorites within easy reach.

Thanks to our friends at the Food Project at Long Hill Trustees of the Reservations in Beverly, MA, Sargent House has received a welcome donation of thyme, oregano, mint and parsley for our herb garden by the kitchen ell. In case you aren't familiar, the Food Project at Long Hill runs a two-acre organic vegetable farm as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project.

The donated herbs have been planted amongst the flourishing chives. The new plantings may look small now, but with the wet and sultry summer ahead they will soon become full and lush, adding a special historical note to our growing gardens. 

It is just heartwarming how the community is reaching out to the Sargent House in appreciation of our recent garden enhancements. We're making great strides this year, with help from our friends!

Thanks so much, Long Hill! And, thanks to Board member Jo-Ann Michalak for transplanting, and Rachel Meyer for making the connection to Long Hill.

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

Friday, June 6, 2014

Remembering Our Past, Building the Future: Judith's Dictionary

Among the few objects in the Sargent House Museum's collections that belonged to Judith herself is her English Dictionary, published in London in 1715.

This is John Kersey's "Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum; or, A general English dictionary."

Here are two close-ups of the scanned version of the book via Google books: 

The black and white page scans make it clear that the word "incomparable"--which Judith has appended to the lower lefthand page--does not appear in the book. Its omission prompted her, apparently, to add words to the volume beyond those compiled by Mr. Kersey.  Indeed, a woman with a vocabulary larger than a dictionary's was nigh "incomparable" in eighteenth-century America. Kudos to Judith! Though she often lamented her education, and was forever concerned that her writing would be critiqued for falling short of perfection, clearly Judith was a diligent scholar and scriver. 

A note in the back of the volume reveals that Judith passed the book on to her youngest brother, Fitz William, who in turned passed it along to other members of the family. It was donated to the museum in 1994.

How very special to have this evocative object, one which must have been so very precious to Judith in her life. It rests just steps away from her writing closet, and we can imagine her leafing through those well-loved pages time after time, bringing us just a little bit closer to her.

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Remembering the Past, Building Our Future: Neighborhood Quilt Project

As some of you may know, Juni van Dyke (Arts Coordinator for the City of Gloucester) is the creative force behind "Gloucester: a Community of Neighborhoods Quilt." In May, she met with members of the Sargent House Museum community to discuss the design and sewing of a representation of the Sargent House for the Downtown Neighborhood quilt. The quilt will eventually include Middle and Main Street landmarks such as City Hall, Cape Ann Museum, Sawyer Free Library, the UU Church among others. It is truly a celebration of our community. You can see the fantastic quilt taking shape in the photo below.

Above: The Downtown Neighborhood quilt shows 2 vacant
white spaces where the Sargent House representation could go.
You can also see how wonderfully the Sargent House square is progressing in the next photo; who doesn't absolutely love the modillioned cornice, pediment and Ionic column capitals! Exquisite! 

Above: The Sargent House square is taking shape.  

Juni has asked that we simply baste pieces to the blue sky backing since she will attach to the quilt backing. A few details still remain to be designed and completed. For example, our SHM team will work to better-articulate the lawn and flowers with batting behind to make the slopes, and work up the iconic hollies and boxwoods that flank our stately entranceway.

We also need to figure out how to create details such as our magnificent catalpa tree on right side. Currently, there is talk of employing brown yarn for its distinctive "pods."

Our enormous catalpa tree providing an amazing show.
What a majestic tree! (Photo: June 27, 2013)

Other questions include: should we have a Sargent House sign anywhere? Should we embroider a Judith saying on the lawn slope like "Equal education and rights?" Perhaps even a portrait of Judith herself?

The goal is to complete the representation before the end of the summer. 

Any volunteers (on most Thursdays from 11A - 1P) will be welcome to sew a stitch in order to have their name listed as an artist for the SHM quilt block when it is displayed at the Cape Ann Museum.

Please contact SHM Board Member Jo-Ann Michalak with questions, suggestions, and certainly if you would like to participate.

Cannot wait to see the final product, telling our story to future generations in this timeless art form.

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

Friday, May 16, 2014

Remembering the Past, Building Our Future: UPDATE-Growing the Garden

The Sargent House lawn continues to evolve; here's an update to our last blog post, "Growing the Garden."

On May 8th, Susan Kelly and Terese O'Connell of Generous Gardeners, together with G.G. volunteer Karen Petersen, and two hired men from Wolf Hill Nursery, began installation of the new garden beds on the Sargent House Museum lawn. This beautification project is funded by our wonderful donors: Generous Gardeners, William Taylor and Julie Sidon.


Generous Gardener's Susan Kelly donated labor and perennials from her own garden, and William Taylor funded Wolf Hill to cut the beds and add loam. Because much of the gardens are on the steep slope, the team covered the loam with necessary erosion control fabric and cut holes to plant under that fabric. (This is what you see in the photographs.) Corliss extended the soaker hoses to connect with the shrub borders, and Wolf Hill later returned and put down mulch that hides the fabric.

UPDATE Photo: May 23, 2014. Mulch now installed.

According to Susan, working on the slope was a very physically challenging gardening job for everyone. Moreover, the volunteers made special efforts to participate. One of the volunteers, Terese O’Connell, lives in Boston and came up for the day just to help with installation. Terese is Susan's close friend and mentor---not to mention a Master Gardener! She loves Gloucester and volunteers with Susan regularly. Karen Petersen is a local volunteer with Generous Gardeners who also pitched in and helped for the day. Thanks so much, ladies!

Susan, Terese and Karen have so far installed:

2 large pale pink peonies
2 large Caryopteris (blue mist shrub)
2 Large Daylily ‘Absolute Treasure’
12 Sedum Matrona
12 Leucanthemum ‘Becky’
14 Echinacea ‘Coneflower’ (white and purple)
2 Scabiosa ‘Pincushion flower’
12 Lavender ‘Phenomenal’
6 Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’
16 Alyssum ‘Snow Princess’
12 low pink Daylilies

Susan says, "It was a big project for all of us. We worked from 8 until 4. ... I will be putting in some annuals to fill in and brighten it up until the perennials can get established..."

BEFORE: 2013, with annuals thanks to Generous Gardeners.
AFTER: 2014, roses removed, annuals to come.

The overall theme is pink/lavender/white so the colors are fairly muted. As you see from the before-and-after photos above, there were some antique roses in the front that were potted up for other bare spots on the property, to be planted soon by Lester Stockman, longtime Sargent House garden volunteer.

The roses mentioned were planted a decade ago, as recounted by Peggy Flanagan, a garden designer and former SHM Board member, in the SHM's Summer 2004 "Dolphin" newsletter. Here's what was planted around that time, most of which continues to grow and thrive today:

Roses: "Old Blush," the ancient rose "Celestial," and "Celsiana"
Bulbs: pink and ivory Darwin tulips, "Pheasant's eye" daffodils
Shrubs: summersweet, fothergilla, mountain laurel, "Mrs. C.S. Sargent" rhododendron, & others

In closing, special thanks go to our donors William Taylor and Julie Sidon, and, of course, our deep gratitude to Generous Gardeners who focus on Philanthropy through gardening. Please check out their Generous Gardener Website – which allows gardeners to donate, swap and sell plants online for free - something gardeners do all of the time, but with a significantly larger circle on the website! And, if you're interested in doing some volunteer gardening at the Sargent House, please contact us.

More photos coming soon, showing off the final product. We hope you'll stop by this season and smell the flowers!

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate