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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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…

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.

Presenting our New Web Site!

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