Mapping Marblehead: the 19th century – Recap Presentation

Thursday June 23 at 7:00 pm

Join Marblehead Historical Commissioners Pam Peterson, Chris Johnston and David Krathwohl to learn about Marblehead’s 19th history through maps on Thursday, June 23 at 7:00 pm. The Marblehead Museum will host the presentation via Zoom. Register at to receive the link to the free lecture.

Marblehead is a town that is unusually rich in history. The19th century was a time of tremendous change. The War of 1812, the Civil War and the rise of tourism all shaped the century. Maps from the 19th century set the framework for the town and its development.

The presentation will recap the highlights of the exhibit presented by the Marblehead Historical Commission at the Old Town House in 2020.  The next exhibit, Mapping Marblehead: the 20th century and beyond, will open on July 8th   at the Old Town House. Descriptive panels, artifacts, and interactive computer maps will illustrate Marblehead’s growth. Oral histories from 20th century Marblehead remind us of where we were and where we are going in the 21st century and beyond.


Mapping Marblehead Returns 2022!

Mapping Marblehead
The Twentieth century and beyond
New Exhibit at Old Town House Opens July 8, 2022

Closing date for this exhibit has changed.  The exhibit is now open through the 16th of October, so visit now!

The Marblehead Historical Commission will present a new, innovative exhibit at the Old Town House, 1 Market Square, beginning on July 8. Mapping Marblehead The Twentieth century and beyond continues the Historical Commission’s project of presenting the highlights of Marblehead’s history. This is the third and final in a series of three planned exhibits. The goal is to tell the story of our town in a way that can be appreciated by all ages, encouraging residents and visitors to walk through the exhibit, and then out into the town with a greater understanding of its past. The interactive maps and video displays present the history of Marblehead in a way that can be enjoyed by all.

Funded by a grant from the Harold B. and Elizabeth L. Shattuck Memorial Trust, the exhibit will run from July 8 through October 16. Regular exhibit hours are Fridays from 1 – 4 pm, Saturdays from 10 – 4 pm, and Sundays from 1 – 4 pm. All are welcome, and there is no charge.

The exhibit includes interpretive panels, artifacts, and interactive maps illustrating Marblehead’s growth and expansion. Marblehead entered the twentieth century poor but charmingly situated, with declining industry. It exited wealthy and outwardly focused, with a harbor full of recreational boats.  Forever tied to the sea, Marblehead’s location and history continue to define it.

Marblehead Historical Commissioners David Krathwohl and Pam Peterson have collaborated to present highlights of Marblehead’s history through text, artifacts, and interactive computer displays. Exhibit designer, and local resident, Helen Riegle of HER Design has created an exhibit that will engage and excite visitors of all ages.

Docents from Marblehead’s Historical Commission will be onsite during open hours to interpret the displays for visitors. Schools, and groups of all ages, are encouraged to take advantage of the exhibit as well.

Black Heritage Video Links

Links to videos on Black heritage in Marblehead have been added to the Resources page in the Research section of the website.  “The Inclusive History Project: Black Heritage in Marblehead” comprises a series of short video clips produced by the Marblehead Racial Justice Team (MRJT).   MRJT has a goal to increase awareness about people of color, and the videos give MRJT’s take on individuals and events during several periods in Marblehead’s history.

Gift Shop Will Open Just After Memorial Day!

Abbot Hall Gift Shop is opening!

The Town of Marblehead Historical Commission announces that its Gift Shop in Abbot Hall will open just after Memorial Day and invites you to visit.

The Abbot Hall Gift Shop is THE place in Town to find the perfect Marblehead-related gift or souvenir. The Gift Shop has Marblehead-themed hats, post cards, note cards, notepads, calendars, mugs and glassware, braided rope-work kits…and much more.

It is also the best place in town to find Marblehead related fiction and non-fiction books. The Shop will soon have copies available of the exciting new book about Marblehead’s Glover’s Regiment by Patrick O’Donnell, The Indispensables.

While you are in the Gift Shop, be sure to check out the extensive museum display of Marblehead Pottery as well as a collection of Marblehead duck decoys, including many made by famed decoy-maker Gerald Smith.

The Abbot Hall Gift Shop is located on the first floor of the building and will be open weekdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. For the time-being, nose and mouth covering masks are required to be worn in Abbot Hall, including the Gift Shop.

Abbot Public Library digitizes Marblehead Reporter/Messenger

The Abbot Public Library has digitized more than 140 years of the Marblehead Reporter/Messenger – a great resource for Marblehead historians and genealogists!  Read all about it here:

Inside Abbot Hall Video Tour

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!

Shipyard Survey Report

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.

Learn more and download the survey documents…

Marblehead Light Oil House Restoration

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.

A piece of Mary Alley Comes Home

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.