Author Archives: KGeo

Holiday Open House

The Groton History Center invites all our neighbors, friends and first time visitors to the Holiday Open House at the Governor George Boutwell House on Sunday, December 11th, from 2-4 pm. We are so excited by the wonderful changes to this historic 1851 home. Rooms are painted in striking colors, new wallpaper has been hung, and period lighting and carpeting installed. The furniture has been restored and polished and along with our paintings, rearranged to make the house a new experience

This event will be our traditional Holiday Open House with homemade cookies and hot spiced cider. The Groton Garden Club will provide arrangements to enhance the beauty of the season. Music by Indian Hill students will be played as you stroll the rooms. See our antique sampler collection. Visit the President Ulysses S. Grant bedroom and Governor Boutwell’s office on the second floor, which has not been on view for several years.

The Groton History Center is so grateful to the volunteers, members and generous benefactors, who have made this renovation possible. Please stop by and see a part of Groton’s history in living color.

Video: A Walking Tour of Historic Groton Homes

On Sunday, September 18th, 2016, Nicolas Langhart took us on a walking tour to examine the variety of architectural styles of Groton’s historic homes located in the town’s center. Mr. Langhart is the director of the Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster, holds an MA in historic preservation from Cornell University and has served as property manager at Historic New England, Boston. He has taught courses on the history of architecture on Long Island, NY and at Clark University, Worcester State and WPI. He instructs docents at Preservation Worcester and is currently teaching courses on New England architecture in the ALFA program at Fitchburg State University.

Video provided by John Ellenberger.

Get Schooled at the 2016 GHC Summer Ramble

The Groton History Center invites you and your children to our much anticipated Annual Summer Ramble. This year we invite you to walk through Groton’s historic one-room schoolhouses on July 17, 2016, from 2 pm to 5 pm. We have two such Groton schoolhouses preserved today, one located on Sandy Pond Road in Ayer (formerly Groton) and one on Chicopee Row in Groton.

gallery_schoolhouse2Guided tours of the Sandy Pond Schoolhouse will be 2 – 4 pm with schoolyard games for children behind the building. This schoolhouse, now in Ayer, is located at the junction of Sandy Pond Road, Willow Road and Westford Road. Parking will be available along Westford Road.

The Chicopee Row Schoolhouse and its outhouse will be open from 3 -5 pm. Members of the Sawtell (Chicopee Row) Schoolhouse will be there to greet and inform visitors about the schoolhouse experience. The school is found on the corner of Chicopee Road and Sawtell Dr. Parking will be available along the sidewalk side of Sawtell Dr.

Please join us for this exciting and informative Ramble. Refreshments will be served. This program is possible thanks to the Sandy Pond Schoolhouse Association, the Chicopee Row Schoolhouse Association and a generous grant from the Groton Commissioners of Trust Funds. Donations to support the work of the Groton Historical Society at The Groton History Center will be gratefully accepted. Please note there are no bathrooms at these venues.

New England Homes Prior to 1870 (Video)

On April 26, at 7 pm, at the Groton Public Library, Nicholas Langhart spoke about the architecture of homes in Massachusetts prior to 1870. Mr. Langhart illustrated a few of the earliest houses, showing medieval features, then transitioned to more typical colonial houses and showed how they are rooted in the work of the English Renaissance which we know as Georgian. He also looked at some of the post Revolutionary era homes of the Federal style and pointed out features that distinguish them from true colonials. He closed with examples from the Greek Revival style, the first of the great variety of Victorian styles that ran through the 19th Century.

Video of the talk is available courtesy of the Groton Channel.

Mr. Langhart is the director of the Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster, holds an MA in historic preservation from Cornell University and has served as property manager at Historic New England, Boston. He has taught courses on the history of architecture on Long Island, NY and at Clark University, Worcester State and WPI. He instructs docents at Preservation Worcester and is currently teaching courses on New England architecture in the ALFA program at Fitchburg State University.

Three upcoming GHS programs

Mark Your Calendars: The Groton Historical Society has three great programs coming up in April, May and July. All events are free thanks to a grant from the Commissioners of Trust Funds. Any donations will be gratefully accepted.

On April 26, at 7 pm, at the Groton Public Library, Nicholas Langhart will speak about the architecture of homes in Massachusetts prior to 1870. Mr. Langhart is the director of the Forbush Memorial Library in Westminster, holds an MA in historic preservation from Cornell University and has served as property manager at Historic New England, Boston. He has taught courses on the history of architecture on Long Island, NY and at Clark University, Worcester State and WPI. He instructs docents at Preservation Worcester and is currently teaching courses on New England architecture in the ALFA program at Fitchburg State University.

Mr. Langhart will illustrate a few of the earliest houses, showing medieval features, then transition to more typical colonial houses and show how they are rooted in the work of the English Renaissance which we know as Georgian. He will also look at some of the post Revolutionary era homes of the Federal style and point out features that distinguish them from true colonials. He will close with examples from the Greek Revival style, the first of the great variety of Victorian styles that run through the 19th Century.

On May 14th, the Groton Historical Society will participate in Freedom’s Way, Hidden Treasures program 10 am to 3 pm. The antique Torrent fire pump will be on display in the driveway of Boutwell House. At 1 pm, Harrie Slootbeek, Groton resident and director of the USS Constitution Museum, will speak about local inventor Loammi Baldwin Jr., who designed the Torrent and later the dry docks at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Our own Fire Department will be there with an emergency vehicle and a fire man to answer questions (10 am to noon). Visit our open house to see our historical fire buckets, fire marks and other historical items related to fire fighting in early New England. See www.discoverhiddentreasure.org for more information.

On July. 17th, our Annual Summer Ramble, will take place on Sunday afternoon beginning at the Sandy Pond Schoolhouse in Ayer (originally part of Groton). Families with children will be interested to see what school was like in the early days of our town. As always, home-made ice cream will conclude our program. We will provide updates as more details are confirmed.

All events are free thanks to a grant from the Commissioners of Trust Funds. Any donations will be gratefully accepted.

chairs_brooks

Pull up a chair with John Brooks

The Groton Historical Society is very pleased to present “Pull Up a Chair, Three Centuries of New England Chairs,” on Sunday, February 28 at 2 p.m. at the Boutwell House, 172 Main Street.

Our guest speaker will be John Brooks of John Brooks Fine Furniture, Groton, MA. He will discuss design development, structure, finishes and for more recent chairs, the manufacturers, using chairs from the Boutwell House collection and photographs. Participants are welcome to bring photographs of their own antique chairs for evaluation and any questions they may have.

Mr. Brooks has been involved with antiques for over twenty years, and conserves and restores important furniture and objects of value. In addition, he is active in the antiques marketplace. John consults on, and buys and sells antiques and estates. He studied fine art, with a focus on sculpture, receiving his BFA from the Art Institute of Boston now Lesley College. You can find more information about John at his website, www.johnbrooksfinefurniture.com .

This event is free thanks to a grant from the Groton Commissioners of Trust funds. Donations to help preserve and share Groton’s unique history through the Groton Historical Society will gratefully be accepted.

Clara Silverstein speaks about "Ginger to Jello: an Unexpected Christmas History" in a December 2015 program.

Ginger to Jello: an Unexpected Christmas History

On December 1, the Groton Historical Society welcomed sixty people to the beautiful Boutwell House for a program about the history of Christmas celebrations through popular foods of the 1770’s, 1850’s and 1930’s thanks to the Groton Commissioners of Trust Funds.

The presenter, Clara Silverstein, is the Community Engagement Manager for Historic Newton and a former food writer at the Boston Herald. She has published three cookbooks, including The New England Soup Factory. Clara blogs about historic recipes at heritagerecipes.com.

Participants were treated to samples of Sarah Boutwell’s Cider cake and hot cider prepared by Bobbie Spieglman, President of GHS, Bonnie Carter and Liz Strachan. The Boutwell House was decorated with festive greens, fruit, popcorn and cookies. These were provided by Penny Hommeyer, Lynne Kavanaugh and Linda Andelman. Outdoor planters were decorated by Ann White and Laura Semple. The Woman’s Club provided a decorative swag for the front door and the Nashoba Board of Trade donated poinsettias. Special recognition goes to the GHS program committee members, who did the prep work to bring this program to Groton, Nancy Barringer and Judith Adams.

3 Centuries of Holiday Celebrations in New England from John Ellenberger on Vimeo.

cookies

Open House Thanks

Thanks to all who attended today’s very special Groton Historical Society open house, where we experienced the sights, sounds, and tastes of the holiday season.

Sights were provided by Garden Club members including: Lee Burton, who put forward the suggestion for members to help out; Penny Hommeyer, Lynne Kavanaugh and Linda Andelman, who did the indoor decorating; and Ann White and Laura Semple, who did the planters. The majority of the lovely greens came from the home of Peg McWade, and Penny and Lynne brought some lovely greens and winterberry as well. The swag hanging on the front door was donated by the Groton Woman’s Club, and the poinsettias were donated by the Nashoba Board of Trade.

Sounds were provided by the following student musicians of Indian Hill Music: Kristen Williams, flute soloist; Claudia Castro and Erin O’Neill with instructor Sue Gleason, all on flutes; and the adult recorder group of Barbara Murray, Camilla Blackman and Dorrit Schuchter.

Tastes, of course, were provided by all who shared their cookies and the traditional family recipes from whence they came.

Baking

Holiday Memories

by Kara Fossey

The leb cakes are spread out on every available surface-the kitchen table, the dining room table, and the enameled counter of the Napanee hoosier cabinet that has stood in the kitchen forever. There is a method to it, like an assembly line. My grandmother’s two sisters make the dough and cut out shapes with a seemingly endless supply of tin cookie cutters. I like the antique ones best because they’ve darkened with age and I imagine all the hands that have used them to shape dough. The cutters are mostly shaped like animals. The best part about the cookies is that the outlines are always familiar: there is the Pennsylvania Dutch distelfink [a stylized bird], the fat bunny, and the lumpy figure that is simply referred to as the ‘bear or the dog.’

The cookies are tested for doneness by pressing a finger into the center to see if it slowly bounces back. Grammy ices the cookies once they’ve cooled enough that the icing won’t run down the sides of the cookies and adhere the bottoms to the tray. My brother and I stand at the dining room table with bottles of vibrantly colored sugar: red, orange, yellow, green, blue. I won’t learn until years later that Grammy carefully makes each of these batches of sugar by adding food coloring to plain white sugar and then rolling the sugar out between layers of wax paper before letting it dry overnight.

There is something about time shared in the kitchen and over food. It has a way of staying with you even when the details of other memories curl at the edges. It’s how I remember Grammy leaning over a pot of boiling potatoes on her vintage stove and laughing as she smothers the flame that catches on her apron. It’s how I recall the smooth edges of the Griswold cast iron pan as it fluffs up a batch of perfect scrambled eggs. It’s how I know to store my potato chips in the freezer for freshness. And it’s why I treasure an old wooden box filled with recipes written in neat cursive.

And now, in my own home 350 miles away, wearing Grammy’s apron and standing at my great-grandmother’s hoosier, I shake sugar on rows of leb cakes cut from those same old cookie cutters and marvel that something as simple and ephemeral as a cookie has the seemingly magic ability to close time and distance. The buzzer goes off on the oven once more and it’s impossible to feel she’s not there.


On Sunday December 6th, the Groton Historical Society will host a holiday open house and cookie swap from 1-4 PM. The Boutwell House at 172 Main Street will be decorated for the holidays thanks to the Groton Garden Club. There will be live music courtesy of Indian Hill Music. We encourage visitors to bring along a dozen of their favorite cookies and their family food memories to share.