Author Archives: KGeo

Groton During WWI

War Effort at Home in Groton

Somewhere in France April 14 [1918]

Dear Friend—Will write you a few lines before going to mess. I got your box Friday and believe me was some pleased with it. Ralph Lawrence says he is going to write you soon. We both thank you and all the Willing Workers for the good things in it. There is not much I can write, but we are having plenty of excitement now. The papers probably tell you more than we know of what is going on. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end and everything will soon be righted . . .

Yours sincerely,

Private Leroy Johnson

Co. B. 101st U.S.A.A.E.F.

[Part of letter written from Private Leroy Johnson to Miss Josie Gainey, President of the Willing Workers. Published in Turners Public Spirit, May 18, 1918.]

During World War I, while soldiers trained on American soil and went on to battle in Europe, the citizens left at home worked on their own war effort. The Groton Town Diaries reveal various organizations in town doing their part to support the United States in the war. A War Savings Stamp Committee urged people of Groton to purchase savings stamps, and Liberty Loan rallies were held at the Town Hall to motivate people to invest in government bonds. The Groton branch of the Red Cross sent socks, sweaters, and gauze strips by the thousands to France each month. The Groton Fuel Committee managed the rationing of coal in town. The Willing Workers, a club organized in October 1917, sent supplies to American soldiers as well as boxes containing tobacco, cigarettes, candy and other comforts.

This massive town-wide support even included school students in town. In the 1918 Groton Town Report, the School Superintendent, Edward P. Fitts, notes:

“One not in close touch with the schools can hardly realize what a number of calls are made upon the time and strength of the teachers and pupils for work outside of their regular school duties. They are asked to sell War Savings Stamps and keep record of the number who buy and the amount in dollars, to sell Liberty Bonds, to do Red Cross work, to make card catalogues of enlisted men and going to Ayer on Saturdays to do this service, to have Humane Day exercises, Bird and Arbor Day exercises, to canvass farmers for amount of food production, to enroll boys for farm labor during the summer, to encourage home gardens, to form pig clubs, to manufacture tables and chairs for camp use, to urge and encourage military drill, to carry out a Thanksgiving Peace program, to give and urge others to give for the United War Work campaign.

“In all these and other ways we have gladly responded so far as we have been able and so have helped on the cause dear to our hearts.” ■

 

Video: Groton Junction & The Railroad

On Sunday September 17th, Carl Byron from the Boston & Maine Railroad
Historical Society spoke about Groton Junction, a hub of activity in the 19th century. South Groton or Groton Junction (now Ayer) became a center for both railroad freight and passengers.

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.