Booklet of Town-Owned Artwork Created by Historical Commission

The Marblehead Historical Commission has created a booklet of Town-Owned Artwork, including artwork in Abbot Hall, Abbot Public Library and the Mary Alley Office Building. The booklet was created by summer intern Melissa Duffy.

The booklet is available as a PDF on the Historical Commission’s web site, using the “Museums” Tab, or by clicking on this link: The Town of Marblehead Artwork.

90th Anniversary Race for Marblehead Trophy Held This Year in St. Petersburg, Russia

Marblehead Trophy – racing was initiated in 1929 as part of Marblehead’s Tercentennial celebration, to be awarded to the best international sailor’s yacht club. The Trophy’s purpose was to promote Marblehead as the “Yachting Capital of the World”.

2019 is the 90th anniversary of the yachting world’s historic Marblehead Trophy. This trophy was established by the Marblehead Selectmen in 1929 in

honorof the 300th anniversary of Marblehead’s settlement. It was raced for in the International Race Week racing that year in Marblehead, could only be won by an international yacht club in the first year, and is a perpetual trophy for sailboat racing. It was intended that over the years, the Trophy would keep Marblehead’s name as Yachting Capital of the World in front of an international audience.

In 1929, the trophy was raced for in 30 Square Meter yachts, and won by the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, represented by Erik Lundberg in his yacht Bachhant. Since that time, there has been occasional awareness in Marblehead of racing for the trophy, with only a few articles in the Marblehead Messenger or the Boston Globe over the years.

1929 Marblehead Trophy winner, Erik Lundberg and his crew in their yacht Bachhant

That all changed in 2018, when Marbleheader Bruce Dyson went to Denmark to race for the Marblehead Trophy. The Trophy was raced for in Dragon Class boats, and won by the Yacht Club de Cannes (France), raced for by Anatoly Loginov. Although unsuccessful in returning it home, Dyson’s trip did reawaken awareness of the Trophy and an interest in finding out where the Trophy has been all these years.

This year, the 90th anniversary racing for the Trophy was held by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club (Russia), which held the event in conjunction with the Yacht Club de Cannes in late July. With assistance from the St. Petersburg Yacht Club organizing committee and especially the head of their Media Center, Andrey Petrov, much more of the Trophy’s history is now known. The means to do this was quite simple. Most years, the name of the winning yacht club, skipper and yacht were engraved on the Trophy – a massive solid silver bowl created by Daniel Low Co. of Salem. Petrov painstakingly photographed each engraving and also copied down the engraving text, summarizing them on a spreadsheet. The Trophy has no engravings for 24 years, and 3 years when the Trophy was known to not have been given out. While there is more to be learned, we now have a much better handle on where the Marblehead Trophy has been and which country and yacht clubs won it.

2019 Marblehead Trophy racing was in Dragon Class boats run by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club (Russia), in conjunction with the Yacht Club de Cannes (France). The winners are shown in this photo. In center is skipper Dmitry Samokhin, along with his crew members.

Sweden dominated Trophy wins until 1950, winning every trophy racing for which there are engravings on the bowl (16 times). After this, the Trophy was won by German (13 times), Italian (9 times), Greek (2 times), Danish (13 times), and French (once) yacht clubs.

This year, the Marblehead Trophy was won by “Yacht Harbour “Hercules” of St. Petersburg, Russia, represented by Dmitry Samokhin, sailed once again in a fleet of 22 Dragon Class boats. The Race Committee was able to get off 5 races over a span of 3 days, with the final outcome not known until the finish of the final race. As a result of Samokhin’s victory, next year’s racing for the Marblehead Trophy will also be in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The second place boat in the 2019 Marblehead Trophy racing was skippered by Pedro Andrade of Portugal, sailing for the Yacht Club Nautico de Tavira, with an all-female crew.

The fact that racing for the Marblehead Trophy is still going on after 90 years is remarkable, and has, indeed, helped keep Marblehead’s name as a yachting center on the world stage.

Click here to see a video about the 2019 Marblehead Trophy racing.

Jonathan Orne’s 1776 Cartridge Box and Replica Given to Marblehead Historical Commission by Orne Family and Bryan Ruocco

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.

Marblehead Bicentennial Quilt Display Updated

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.


Marblehead Bicentennial Quilt – copyright Rick Ashley

Archival Facility Requirements Nearing Completion

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:

Historical Commission Purchases Marblehead Harbor Print at Canadian auction, returns it to Marblehead – Sailing Ship Prints Have Been Installed in Selectmen’s Office

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.

Marblehead Harbor in 1840


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.

U.S. Frigate Chesapeake and HMS Shannon

Old Ironsides Entering Marblehead Harbor, April 3, 1814

Marblehead Shoe Shop to Become Museum

Marblehead’s early history was formed by the shoe industry almost as much as it was by its fishing fleet and revolutionary spirit. Between voyages, many fishermen would hand-make shoes in small shops, called “Ten-Footers”. Later in the 1800’s this led to the creation of a full-fledged shoe industry in Town.

Several “Ten-Footers” still survive in Marblehead, although most have been modified over the years and are now barely recognizable as such. However, one excellent example of a “Ten-Footer”, located at the foot of Fountain Park on Orne St., is owned by the Town. This shoe shop can reveal much about the local economy before the industrial era. Thanks to a grant application by Town Planner Rebecca Cutting, the Town has received a 2016 Essex Heritage Partnership Matching Grant Award that will allow this “Ten-Footer” to become a museum of the early pre-industrial shoe industry in Marblehead. The Town has awarded a Contract to Larson Fisher Associates, of Woodstock, NY to research and design an interpretative program for this “small” museum (after all, it is called a “Ten-Footer” for a reason). The primary goal of the project is to design, fabricate and install interpretative panels at the site. The project work scope will entail researching and creating story boards, the exhibit’s visual elements, and its physical specifications. The displays will use information and possibly artifacts from the Marblehead Historical Commission and other sources. It is expected that this project will be completed in mid-2017. In a separate project, the Town will renovate and restore the shoe shop.

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.”