Grants Received to Assess Condition of Abbot Hall and It’s Grounds

The Town of Marblehead has been awarded a matching grant by the Massachusetts Historical Commission for a pre-Development Assessment and Planning project to provide the Town with information to ensure the protection and preservation of Abbot Hall and its grounds. The plan will provide an assessment of the building and grounds, with detailed and prioritized information for restoring and preserving, in an appropriate manner, the building and its grounds. This grant program follows the recent completion of the Abbot Hall Tower restoration project.

Following a competitive bidding process, McGinley Kalsow & Associates, Architects and Preservation Planners, has been selected to conduct this project. This firm was the architect for the Abbot Hall Tower restoration project.

Project work is expected to begin in early 2016, starting with a detailed inspection of the entire building and grounds. This will lead to an assessment of repairs and renovations required, which will be prioritized. Findings and recommended plans will be presented to the Selectmen upon completion in mid-2017.

The grant is from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF), administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The grant award is a 50% matching grant, with Marblehead’s share generously funded by a grant from the Harold B. and Elizabeth L. Shattuck Memorial Fund, administered by the National Grand Bank.


Marblehead’s Cannon Installed in Abbot Hall Basement

Marblehead’s Spanish American War Cannon Courtesy Marblehead Reporter

Marblehead has its very own cannon, which has just been moved into the basement of Abbot Hall. The cannon had been stored in the Town’s Gun House on Elm St. by Glover’s Regiment. Running out of room in the Gun House, the Regiment asked that the Town find another spot for the cannon – after some deliberation, it was decided to move the cannon into Abbot Hall’s basement rotunda, along with the Sign Museum.

The cannon has an interesting history. It was made in Seville, Spain in 1803. The cast bell-metal tube weighs 800 lbs. and originally had a smooth bore. At some point prior to the Spanish American war, the bore was rifled to allow use of shaped projectiles.

The cannon was captured by members of the USS Marblehead during the Spanish-American War in Cuba and brought back to Marblehead with its field carriage as spoils of war.

It was originally placed on display at the Lee Mansion by the Marblehead Historical Society for many years. It was then relocated to Waterside Cemetery and the Spanish American War site. Sometime in the 1970’s, vandals rolled the cannon into Salem Harbor. After some period of time under water, the cannon was recovered by the Marblehead Artillery. Selectmen then granted custody of the gun to the Artillery Company.

The Artillery Company refurbished the cannon and built a new field carriage so the gun could be fired at special occasions, including the bicentennial, 4th of July and the welcoming of the USS Constitution back to Marblehead in 1997.

After more than 30 years, the Artillery Company disbanded and requested the Town to transfer custody of the gun to Glover’s Marblehead Regiment, which has agreed to continue firing it at all special occasions.

Information from: Foster Soule, Marblehead Artillery Company; Robert Erbetta, Glovers Regiment; Bill Conly, Town of Marblehead Historical Commission

Historic Documents Hung in Selectmen’s Room

The Marblehead Historical Commission has installed archival quality copies of four key historical documents related to Marblehead in the Selectmen’s Room in Abbot Hall.

The documents are signed letters from Paul Revere (1787), president George Washington (1789) and Elbridge Gerry (1769) as well as a Massachusetts General Court Resolution (1784) signed by governor John Hancock and state Senate president Samuel Adams.

The Historical Commission recently restored, digitized and copied these documents at the Northeast Document Conservation Center, with cooperation from Town Clerk Robin Michaud.

Washington’s Nov. 1, 1789 letter “To the Inhabitants of the Town of Marblehead” was written days after he visited Marblehead during a month long New England tour. Marblehead was not on the president’s itinerary, yet he insisted on visiting the hometown of his trusted General, John Glover, before landing in Salem.

Paul Revere’s letter was discovered by former Commission Collections Manager Wayne Butler in 2009 hidden away in a file cabinet in the basement of Abbot Hall and long forgotten. Revere’s letter was an attempt to purchase old cannons belonging to the Town for use in his new foundry in Boston.

Elbridge Gerry’s letter was written to the Selectmen accepting a Town Meeting appointment to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. It was obviously written quickly and is almost a scrawl. It was also found in the Abbot Hall basement files.

The Massachusetts General Court Resolution was signed by both signed by John Hancock and Samuel Adams and dealt with Marblehead’s longstanding poverty issues and back taxes owed but the Collector of Taxes, but withheld taxes from the Selectmen, who required the funds to fulfill their duties as “Overseers of the Poor.”