The Sawyer Free Library will be hosting the first two-part series: “Urban Renewal in Gloucester,”presented by Beth Welin, local historian and director of Manchester Historical Museum, on Saturday, October 23 at 2 pm.
See images of old Gloucester and learn about the city’s history and redevelopment. Attendees are encouraged to share personal memories throughout the presentation.
Part two of the series will be Saturday, November 6 at 2pm. Registration is not required but mask are for all that attend.
The Sawyer Free Library is pleased to welcome local author, Dan Connell for an author talk and book signing on Thursday, September 23 from 6-7pm at the Library, located at 2 Dale Avenue in Gloucester.
The author will be discussing his book, Against All Odds, which has just been re-released with a new update and a reappraisal. First published in 1993, Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution is a firsthand account of Eritrea’s 30-year fight for independence from Ethiopia. Copies of the new edition of his book will be available.
The East Gloucester resident, Dan Connell, a former journalist and aid professional, has reported on Eritrea for five decades for numerous print and broadcast media. He is a two-time MacArthur Foundation grantee, the author of five books on Eritrea, including Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution (1997); Rethinking Revolution (2002); and a two-volume Collected Articles on the Eritrean Revolution (2003, 2004). His reports and commentary have been carried by the BBC, Voice of America, AP, Reuters, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, Le Monde, Foreign Affairs, The Nation and others, and he has consulted for numerous aid agencies and human rights organizations. He is currently a lecturer in journalism and African politics at Simmons College, Boston.
Against All Odds is a firsthand account of Eritrea’s 30\-year struggle for independence from Ethiopia, which it won in 1991 with little outside support after defeating successive U.S.\- and Soviet\-backed regimes and overcoming drought and famine while working to unify and reform the society from which it derived its strength. A 1997 Afterword captures the optimism generated by these achievements. But a New Reappraisal recounts its slide into despotism after renewed conflict with Ethiopia and the dark years of isolation and repression that followed, the hopes raised by a 2018 peace pact and then dashed by another round of war. It concludes with reflections on how to break this cycle and begin the democratic transition for which so many fought and died.
The Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library is pleased to announce the restoration and conservation of its grand murals by renowned artist Frederick L. Stoddard (1861-1940) with the assistance of Howard Curtis (1906-1989). Located in the Library’s historic Saunders House, the murals were painted in 1934 as part of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Along with Gloucester’s City Hall, the Sawyer Free Library was a local beneficiary of the federal government program designed to create jobs for artists and bring art to public places and communities across the country.
“Restoring these significant WPA murals depicting Gloucester’s origins is not only our responsibility but our great privilege. They are community artistic treasures and historically significant features of the Saunders House,” said Mern Sibley, the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library’s Board of Trustees’ President. “This project will preserve these unique works for historic study and enjoyment by residents and visitors.”
The artists’ work, completed over 80 years ago, was done entirely in oil paint on the bare plaster wall, giving the murals an antique appearance, harmonizing with the age of the Saunders House constructed in 1764. Built by Thomas Saunders, a prosperous merchant and a Representative to the Massachusetts General Court, at the time, it was one of the grandest houses in Gloucester and Boston’s North Shore. It became the permanent home of the Sawyer Free Library in 1884 when Samuel Sawyer generously deeded it for a public Library.
The Library’s murals titled “Scenes of the Region,” depict maritime culture against a backdrop of the agrarian life that supported the early settlement of Gloucester. Filling the great space throughout the main stairway of the Saunders House, the murals capture the activity of the busy working harbor with views of the distant rocky shoreline, the city, Rocky Neck, and Ten Pound Island. They also feature a simplified representation of Dogtown Common and old “Whale’s Jaw,” along with other colorful scenes offering unique glimpses of what life was like in Gloucester’s early days.
“As stewards of our city’s library, we are committed to the Saunders House’s preservation, as it is still the anchor of the Sawyer Free Library, rich with history and purpose,” added Sibley. “It is appropriate that this mural restoration project is the first of many as we move forward in realizing a reimagined, renovated, and expanded Sawyer Free Library, one that is worthy of our heritage and our future.”
The Stoddard mural restoration will be done by local conservator Lisa Mehlin of Essex, MA, who holds a Master of Art Conservation, and has seventeen years of experience in the conservation of oil paintings for government agencies, private institutions, and individual clients in the U.S. and Canada. She most recently completed work on the murals in The Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens for the Trustees of the Reservations in North Andover.
The project will be completed in two phases with the first being consolidation, ensuring that all original mural pigment is still attached to the plaster. Phase two is the visual restoration process. After securing the pigment to the plaster, paints will be used to carefully tone back any white gaps where the paint flaked away, allowing the original design to shine through once again. The project is funded through Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library corporate funds.
The next phase in preserving and restoring Saunders House is anticipated to begin in early 2022, planned under the guidance of the Saunders House Stewardship Committee of the Library Board. The work will include, but not be limited to, stabilization of the building structure and restoration of the murals in the Anderson Room. Further renovation is planned to improve accessibility and upgrade building systems to support contemporary use by Library staff and the public.
For more information about the Saunders House’s mural project and the concept design for the 2025 Sawyer Free Library and Saunders House, visit sawyerfreelibrary.org.
Mary Ellen Lepionka of Gloucester is a retired anthropologist, college instructor, author, and textbook editor who embarked on a study of the archaeology and early history of Cape Ann and Essex County from the last Ice Age to around 1700. Her articles on indigenous history here appear in the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society and at www.capeannhistory.org, www.enduringgloucester.com, and www.historicipswich.org. When not researching and writing, Mary Ellen enjoys gardening and is continually inspired by her amazing daughter Lara (Backyard Growers’ founder & executive director) and Backyard Growers.
Thanks to Backyard Growers’ Cultivator & Harvester Sponsors for making this programming possible:
How much do you really know about Gloucester? Join the Sawyer Free Library’s Local History Librarian as she hosts a fun competitive evening of GLOUCESTER TRIVIA, this Thursday, March 11 from 6:30-7:30pm and find out!
Register here as a team or by yourself, all are welcomed. Zoom link will be provided. Community teams are encouraged. Winners are entitled to indefinite bragging rights!
Get a team together and join the Sawyer Free Library Local History Librarian on Zoom for a fun night of Gloucester Trivia on Thursday, March 11 from 6:30-7:30pm! Sign up at here! Teams can be 1-5 members!
Virtual programming from the Museum’s exhibition lectures, educational programs, and archives offers at-home opportunities during closing for COVID-19
GLOUCESTER, MASS. (May 20, 2020) – Although the Cape Ann Museum is closed temporarily during the pandemic to protect staff and visitors, there are many rich opportunities to experience the Museum virtually with a new initiative called CAM Video Vault, which features 60 lectures, programs, and archival material dating back to 1992.
The wide range of offerings include exhibition and program lectures by curators, artists, community leaders, educators, and others. Featuring discussions about past museum exhibitions, well-known artists with Cape Ann roots, natural environments and habitats around Cape Ann, as well as the region’s maritime history all 60 programs are accessible via the Museum’s website.
To help at-home educators and parents looking for a variety of online resources for their children, the Museum is also adding educational content from its robust programs, using art and the region’s history as the basis for art-making activities, reading adventures, and virtual tours and experiences. From the Museum archives and library, there is also now online content called “Stories from the Stacks.”
For more information about the exhibition and related programming, please visit the Museum’s website www.capeannmuseum.org.
The Cape Ann Museum has been in existence since the 1870s, working to preserve and celebrate the history and culture of the area and to keep it relevant to today’s audiences. Spanning 44,000 square feet, the Museum is one of the major cultural institutions on Boston’s North Shore welcoming more than 25,000 local, national and international visitors each year to its exhibitions and programs. In addition to fine art, the Museum’s collections include decorative art, textiles, artifacts from the maritime and granite industries, three historic homes, a Library & Archives and a sculpture park in the heart of downtown Gloucester. In June 2021, the Museum will open a new 12,000-square-foot collection storage and public exhibition space in Gloucester as part of its Cape Ann Museum Green campus. The campus includes three historic buildings – the White Ellery House (1710), an adjacent Barn (c. 1740), and the recently acquired Babson-Alling House (c.1740) which are located on the site at the intersection of Washington and Poplar Streets in Gloucester. Visitcapeannmuseum.org for details.
The Cape Ann Museum is located at 27 Pleasant Street in Gloucester. While temporarily closed due the COVID-19 pandemic, regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $12.00 adults, $10.00 Cape Ann residents, seniors and students. Youth (under 18) and Museum members are free. Cape Ann residents can visit for free on the second Saturday of each month. For more information please call: (978)283-0455 x10. Additional information can be found online at www.capeannmuseum.org.
🎂 Happy Birthday, Judith! John Singleton Copley’s oil portrait of early American women’s rights advocate and Gloucester native, Judith Sargent Murray, circa 1770-72, captures the 18 year old Judith in an alluring Turquerie costume, which is believed to belong to the artist. In spite of the sensuous, fluid garments, there is no mistaking Judith’s steely and determined gaze. This is a woman of power!
To celebrate Judith’s birthday, another young Gloucester woman recreates Copley’s original portrait, capturing both the sensual and determined spirit of the original subject. Please celebrate with us by sharing your own interpretation of this stunning portrait on social media and using #JudithSargentOnCanvas!
The internationally acclaimed a cappella choir Skylark will perform a program called ‘Masterpiece’ at 7:00pm with a 6:00pm pre-concert talk on Friday, April 5th in the historic (1806) Gloucester Meetinghouse at the corner of Middle and Church Streets. A reception to celebrate the performers follows the concert.
Over the centuries, art has inspired music, and music has inspired art. In this innovative multi-faceted program, Skylark will offer musical reflections and reactions to the visual arts from the ancient to the modern.
Skylark’s program will pair a specific piece of art with a particular musical composition from the same time period. Beginning with watercolors and music by Felix Mendelssohn and Hugo Alfvén, the program will progress through the impressionists Renoir and Monet – paired with music by Ravel and Debussy – to art and music of good friends Pablo Picasso and Francis Poulenc.
From Picasso, Skylark will introduce audiences to the work of Adolf Wölfli, from the Art Brut style. Wölfli was a prolific artist during his long residence in the Waldau Clinic, a psychiatric hospital in Bern – Skylark will pair his art with Wiegen-Lied, music by Per Nørgård, and lyrics by Adolf Wölfli.
Contemporary composer James MacMillan’s beautiful The Gallant Weaver recalls elegant Celtic knot work designs found in the Book of Kells.
Skylark was nominated this year for 2 Grammy Awards and is known for a sublime blend of classically trained voices with perfect pitch, exquisite dynamics and a broad range of repertoire.
This is Skylark’s debut performance in the Gloucester Meetinghouse, offering North Shore music lover’s a top-tier concert choir experience close to home. Comprised of some of the most distinguished classical vocal soloists from around the country, Skylark’s singers have joined together to create a tour de force a cappella ensemble that thrills audiences with their dynamic range, rhythmic prowess, and sheer beauty of sound.
No one turned away for lack of funds; just ask at the entrance desk. Note: side entrance with elevator available at 10 Church Street.
Skylark has quickly become one of the premier recording choirs in the United States, earning accolades from critics at home and abroad, including Gramophone, Classics Today, the BBC, and Limelight Magazine (Australia). Skylark’s most recent three recordings have all placed in the top 10 of the Billboard Traditional Classical Chart. Award-winning CDs include ‘Forgotten Dreams’ (2014), ‘Crossing Over’ (2016), ‘Winter’s Night’ (2017), and ‘Seven Words from the Cross (2018).
‘Bach and Beyond’ will take you on a musical journey around and through the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach.
In the first half, soak in the serene exultation of Trumpet Concerto No. 2 by Tomaso Giovani Albinoni to gain an understanding of why this popular composer was so intriguing to Bach. Next, venture onward to Bach’s vibrantly fast-paced Orchestral Suite No. 2 with haunting melodies for the flute. Then hold on your seat for Bach’s powerful Prelude and Fugue (“the Wedge”) in E minor for organ solo played by Jeffrey Mead on the mighty 1893 Hutchings-Fisk pipe organ.
In the second half you will meander forward in time to Mozart’s exquisite Clarinet and String Quintet, in which Bach’s influence runs through like a golden thread. And finally we return to Bach for his glorious and brilliant Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, a musical challenge for the whole ensemble including harpsichord and famous for it’s trumpet fanfare, to complete the journey.
TICKETS ONLINE OR AT THE DOOR – cash, check or credit card
Preferred $45 (front center 3 rows & rear gallery front row)
Students $10 with ID
12 & Under Free
LOCATION AND MORE INFORMATION
The Gloucester Meetinghouse (home of the Unitarian Universalist Church) is located on the green at the corner of Church and Middle Streets. Event parking is allowed on the green and is available at other parking lots nearby and on the street in the Historic District. An elevator up to the Sanctuary level is available from the side entrance at 10 Church Street.