On July 4th, 2019, members of the Orne family, including Frank Orne, Stephen Orne, Ted Peach and Standley Goodwin, gave Jonathan Orne’s original Revolutionary War cartridge box, dating to 1776, to the Marblehead Historical Commission. Bryan Ruocco and his son Andrew also gave the Commission a replica of the original cartridge box that they created. Presentation of the boxes was made on July 4th, 2019 at historic Ft. Sewall, with members of Marblehead’s Glover’s Regiment in attendance. Click on the link to see a video of the presentation.
Displayed in Abbot Hall’s auditorium is a gorgeous quilt, made in 1976 by a group of Marblehead women, celebrating the nation’s 200th anniversary. The quilt is made of 33 squares and is approximately ten feet square, depicting different scenes and places in Marblehead. Several copies of a book describing each of the squares, with calligraphy by Nancy Ferguson and illustrations by Elaine Daly, have been printed by two of the original quilters, Anne Scully and Bev Simpson. A copy of this book has been donated to the Historical Commission and placed adjacent to the quilt in Abbot Hall’s auditorium. Next time you are in Abbot Hall, be sure to head to the auditorium and check out this delightful addition to the quilt display. You can also link to the Historical Commission’s web page with a higher resolution image of the quilt and a pdf of the book by clicking on this link.
Thanks to USS Constitution Commander David Smith, a part of Old Ironsides is now part of America’s history that is on display in Abbot Hall. The 1,500 lb piece of the ship was moved into a custom-built cradle and is now on display in the lower floor of Abbot Hall.
Take a virtual tour of Abbot Hall with your guide, Chris Johnston, Chairman of the Marblehead Historical Commission. Learn more about Benjamin Abbot’s gift to Marblehead and some of the special features of this historic building that you may not have noticed before. Inside Abbot Hall was created by Jenna Comins-Addis and has been posted on the Marblehead Historical Commission’s new YouTube channel. Take the tour!
The Marblehead Historical Commission is leading a planning project for the future Town-wide Marblehead Archival Facility. Initiated in July 2017, the planning project will culminate in late 2019 with a Master Plan for creation of the Archival Facility. The project is being assisted by well-known archival consultant Michele Pacifico. An Archives Advisory Committee has been established by the Selectmen to provide direction to the project.
In the first phase of the project, local organizations that wished to participate in the planning project, along with Town Departments, were identified; these organizations provided Letters of Intent to verify their willingness to participate. The second phase, establishing the facility requirements, is now underway.
A draft of the Marblehead Archival Facility Requirements Document was presented to the Archival Advisory Committee on June 13th by consultant Michele Pacifico. The requirements are expected to be finalized this Fall, following completion of archival holdings size measurements at a number of Town Departments and other participating organizations in town. The Advisory Committee also will establish types of spaces to be included in the Archival Facility, number of archival workers, volunteers, and researchers to be accommodated. Outlines of many of the archive’s policies and procedures will also need to be completed by the Committee.
We are fortunate to have a Master’s Degree candidate intern from Simmons College, Ariana Fiorello, who is taking the lead, in conjunction with consultant Pacifico, on measurements and recommendations for the other needed items. She is also developing a cataloging tool for the participating organizations to use as well as a list of preferred archival storage materials.
More information is available on the Historical Commission web site at: http://marbleheadhistory.org/preservation-planning/marblehead-archive/
Shipyard Part 1 Survey documents are now complete and available for downloading. Three documents have been posted: the Shipyard Part 1 Final Report, the Shipyard Part 1 Survey Property List, and the Shipyard Part 1 Inventory Map.
This project, the first of a two-phase effort, recorded architectural, historical and photographic documentation for 68 properties in the Shipyard District for individual properties and two areas on inventory forms provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC).
The objectives of the survey were to retrieve information relevant to historic properties, their owners and builders, organize it in narratives that are accessible and informative to a variety of users, and provide assessments of significance that contribute to local and state preservation planning.
The Marblehead Recreation and Parks Commission has received a grant of $33,000 from the Shattuck Fund to restore the Oil House and various walkways at the Lighthouse. They have engaged Peter Rice to do the restoration.
According to the Inspection report of the 2nd District, Department of Commerce of February 12, 1910, who were in charge of all lighthouses at the time, the Marblehead Oil House was built in 1907. It was built of brick at a location 189” southwest of the Tower. The inside dimensions were 8’ – 8” x 10’ – 8”, and it was designed to hold about 450 gallons of oil in 5-gallon cans.
Why oil houses? The Department of Commerce, after seeing multiple lighthouses burn down or blow up, decided it was time to store the flammables elsewhere rather than in the lighthouse. It was common to store the whale oil, kerosene, gas, and hard lard (for back up if everything else fails) in the light itself. So after the turn of the century you will see oil houses at almost all lighthouses.
Marblehead Reporter: A piece of Mary Alley Comes Home.
Oct. 5th article on the Mary Alley fireplace surround and its future installation in the Widget Road municipal building.
Click here to see the article on the Wicked Local web site:
Read more Press clippings.
In early March, 2017, the Historical Commission received an interesting e-mail from Teresa Simpson, a woman living near Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. She had seen a local Moncton auction company’s ad for an upcoming auction, which included a framed print of “Marblehead Harbor in 1840”, originally painted by well-known marine artist John F. Leavitt. Her thought was that the print really ought to go back to Marblehead – although she had no idea where Marblehead was. After some research, she found the Historical Commission’s web site and e-mail address, and sent a message about the print coming up at auction in just a couple of days – quick action was needed if the Commission was to try to bid on this.
After checking the auction web site, Chris Johnston agreed that the print would be a valuable addition to the Commission’s collection and called the auctioneer to be sure they could accept US funds and could send the print to us if we successfully bid on it. With yes answers to both concerns, the Commission put in a bid and was successful in buying the print. By late March, the print was in Marblehead.
This is one of a number of prints of Marblehead-related scenes made for the National Grand Bank, and distributed by the Bank to customers. Two other prints from this series are in the Commission’s collection. One is of the “Engagement of U.S. Frigate Chesapeake and HMS Shannon off Marblehead, June 1, 1813”, which was hanging in the Selectmen’s office in Abbot Hall in a rather sad looking frame. The other, “Old Ironsides Entering Marblehead Harbor, April 3, 1814”, was unframed in the Commission’s archives. The Historical Commission had the two existing prints framed, and “Marblehead Harbor in 1840” reglazed with UV protective glass. All three prints are now hanging in the Selectmen’s Office in Abbot Hall. Next time you are in Abbot Hall, stop in the Selectmen’s Office and admire these beautiful prints.
Welcome to the new version of the Marblehead Historical Commission web site. Improving the look and usability of the site was important, but the key reason for change was to make it easier to search the archives. As the stewards for an amazing archive of historical artifacts, images, and documents for the Town of Marblehead, we serve a range of researchers from the professional to the merely curious, but searching the archive was just too difficult. Not anymore!
New software now makes it possible for the entire archive to be searched either from Google or from our Search page. From the latter, you can search with just a word or two, or you can narrow your search by adding search criteria and categories. Give the new search a try and let us know how you like it.
Another reason for updating the site is the increased use of smart phones and tablets to access the site. More people are browsing and searching for information from their handheld devices with smaller screens, so the old designs for web sites just didn’t work as well. Our updated site is designed to accommodate screens of all sizes and to show the information in a layout that is appropriate to your screen.
For those who want to stay current with upcoming events related to our Town’s history, we have also introduced a calendar that will show not only upcoming events for the Historical Commission, but also events to be held by other organizations that are likely to be of interest. For those who like to look back, our calendar also contains highlighted dates from Marblehead’s history so you can learn Marblehead’s fascinating stories day-by-day throughout the year.
Finally, we’ve tried to provide lots more information for both residents and visitors who want to see and experience Marblehead’s rich history. For historic structures and places and for Marblehead’s numerous museums, there are now maps to guide you there, pictures to show you what you’ll find, and descriptions to help you understand the historical importance.
While the renovation of the site was a large project, we plan to continue make incremental enhancements in the future. As you use the new site, please provide your feedback so we can add the right information in a way that you find usable, fun, and informative. Send us comments at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org