Archive for the ‘collections’ Category

My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: Biography

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Adapted from obituary in the Andover Townsman, July 11, 1985:

John Radford Abbot was born on April 30, 1893 in Melrose, Massachusetts. He was educated at Roxbury Latin School, and graduated from Andover Academy in 1910. He was also a 1914 graduate of Harvard College, and a 1916 graduate of the Harvard Architectural School. A decorated veteran of both World Wars, he joined the American Field Service in 1916, and was attached to the French Army. He joined the U.S. Army Ambulance Service as a first lieutenant and section commander a year later. He went on to serve in the French Army of the Occupation in Germany. He was decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Purple Heart. He was commissioned a major in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, serving as a group intelligence officer. Part of the 319th Bombardment Group in England, North Africa, Sardinia, and Corsica, he was honored with the Legion of Merit.

A noted architect, Mr. Abbot began his career in 1919, when he joined the Boston firm of Strikland, Blodgett and Law. He started his own Cambridge firm in 1929, and later worked in Andover before he retired in 1974. Among the homes and schools he designed and renovated were Abbot, Andover and Milton academies, and the Noble and Greenough, Middlesex, Groton and Applewild schools.

Mr. Abbot was a trustee of Abbot Academy, a member and former president of the Andover Historical Society, and a trustee and member of the investment committee at the Andover Savings Bank. He belonged to the Union Club, the Harvard Faculty Club, and the Duxbury Yacht Club, where he was a former commodore.

At 92 years old, John Radford Abbot died on July 9, 1985. The widower of Helen Maxwell Abbot, and the father of the late John Abbot and Maxwell Abbot, he left one son, David Maxwell Abbot; three grandsons, John Radford, Ames, and Stephen Abbot; as well as two great-grandsons.


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: September 5 – 14

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

USS Rijndam (Ryndam in transcription)

Sunday, Sept. 5.

Stiff wind blowing all day and the ship pitched arute(?) a little. All the A.M. we were in sight of the English coast. Passed a lot of ships including the Red Star Liner “Zealand”. Read most all day long. Anthony Hope’s books. There was service at 3 P.M. but Thayer was the only one of us to attend.

Monday, Sept. 6

After breakfast I bpught a cap from the barber. Abe had lost his overboard. Fine day but with a lot of wind and a pretty good sea. About 10 o’clock a woman jumped overboard The ship was brought round and remained for an hour but she was not recovered. I had a little attack of seasickness and missed both luncheon and dinner. Read practically all the time To bed at 11. Listened to the music, played checkers and read in the evening.

Tuesday, Sept. 7

Beautiful day. Sea calm but with long ocean swell. Saw several porpoises. [word crossed out and unreadable] Read and played ringtoss all morning and same in P.M. with shuffle board also. Some fun in second cabin. Listened to music and read play in the evening

Wednesday, Sept. 8

Fine day with quite a little sea. Played games and read most of the time.

Thursday, Sept. 9.

Beautiful day. Sighted the “Rhein” No G. [unreadable scribbles] L. [unreadable scribbles] about 9 o’clock and overhauled and passed her at 2:15. Passed within ½ mile of her. Played games, read, etc.

Friday, Sept. 10,

Another fine day. Abe marked the photos. A big dance was held at 8:30 on the promenade deck.

Saturday. Sept. 11

Good day with quite a sea on.

Sunday, Sept. 12

Another beautiful day We lay on the sun deck and read most of the time. The night was one of the finest I ever saw. The whole sea was shining with phosphorus It was most wierd and beautiful.

Monday, Sept. 13

Beautiful calm day. Played shuffle board and ring-toss all the A.M. Passed the Nantucket light ship about 2 and saw several small sailboats afterwards. In the evening there was an impromptu dance. Packing.

Saturday, Sept. 14*

The SS Rijndam/Ryndam (official name USS Rijndam) was owned by the Holland America Line, for whom she served as an ocean liner. She was launched in 1901 by Harland & Wolff, Ltd. of Belfast, Northern Ireland, but later seized and commissioned in 1918 by the U.S. Navy. There, she served as a troopship and transport, making a total of six trans-Atlantic voyages during World War I. Before she was decommissioned in 1919, she made a grand total of 26 voyages across the Atlantic. After her decommissioning, she was returned to her original owner, resuming her pre-war career until she was scrapped in 1929.

*Saturday, Sept. 14 is the final entry in John Radford Abbot’s diary. There is no writing on the page other than the date. According to records from the Holland America Line, September 14th was the day of arrival and subsequent disembarkation in New York for this specific journey.


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: September 3 – 4

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
View of Boulogne, France

View of Boulogne, France

Friday, Sept. 3.


Started out with a lot to do. Abe got some money at Cook’s, and then we went into Brentanos(?) and bought some books. Then we went into the Louvre for 2 hours and finished that up. Saw some fine modern paintings. Luc at Durval’s. Bought some postals and Dale got his films. Then we went out to Napoleon’s tomp, Chamber of Deputies and Arc de Triumphe Dandy view of city from top. Met Pat Barton. Boins(?) de Boulogne and back to our hotel by the under ground (very good). Sported up. Dinner at Durval’s. Called at the Hotel St. Pères but M on Miss Fanny Stevas(?) and Mrs. Kumkardt(?) but they were out. Walk and bus home. Fine day.

Saturday, Sept. 4.

Paris, Boulogne, “Ryndam”

Early breakfast. Then all except Thayer got a hair cut and we packed up our suitcases. Took a walk to the P.O. but nobody got a letter. Came back and got lunch at a nearby Durval’s. then took a taxi to the Gare du Nord. Found Miss Fanny Stevens waiting for us there and we had a talk with her. at 12:33 we left for Boulogne. Dandy train. no stops. We were 1st class. Got to Boulogne at about 3:30 in a pouring rain and got aboard the Tender. Big crowd. Rough weather. Boarded the Ryndam about 4:30 and secured our seats at table and steamer chair.


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: August 30 – September 2

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Drawing of Chillon Castle, by John Radford Abbot

Drawing of Chillon Castle, by John Radford Abbot

Monday, August 30

Montreux, Paris.

Breakfast. Abe got some money and bought the tickets to Paris and then we walked down to Chillon Castle and went through the place. Saw the prison of Bonivard(?), etc. Then we bought some biscuits and fruit and honey to eat on the train, got a dandy lunch at the Suisse(?) Hotel restaurant, and then took the 2:09 train for Paris. It was rather crowded but we had good seats all the way. Passed through the French customs at Ponterlier(?). Ate our supper. Very messy but fine. Very funny and amusing ride. Got locked into the compertment. Got to Paris at 11 o’clock and took a bus to the Hotel Moderne, Place de la Republique (very good)

Tuesday, August 31

Paris (Eiffel Tower)

Started out after breakfast to find another hotel nearer the centre of things, but we could find [word crossed out and unreadable] no good place so we decided to stay where we were. We had visited the P.O. first and got our mail Came back and got settled and then wend down town and got luch lunch at Durval’s (dandy place) In the P.M. we took the steam tram out to the Eiffel Tower and went up in the elevator. Grand view of the city. After half an hour or more we descended, walking part way. Dinner at a Durval’s and then a walk along the Rue de Rivoli and the boulevad before going back to the hotel.

Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Paris (Louvre, Versailles)

Left our suits to be pressed first, we had sent out our wash yesterday, and then went down to the Louvre. Went through the sculpture rooms and ancient paintings, with just a glimpse at the modern ones which we left for another time. Very interesting Lunch at Durval’s. Then went out to Versailles by tram went through the palace and saw all the gardens. Very interesting war pictures in the palace. Came back to Paris on top of a train and took a taxi across the city to our hotel. Went like the dickens. Dinner at a swell café and a walk before bed time.

Thursday Sept. 2.

Paris (Notre Dame, Luxemburg(?))

Wore our newly pressed suits. I got some money on my letter of credit at a nearby place but had a mighty hard time. Then we went to Notre Dame saw the beautiful interior and went up on top, then visited the beautiful Saint Chapelle. Lunch at Durval’s. After lunch we went through the Luxemburg gallery of ^modern sculpture and paintings. Very fine pictures. Then shopping at the Bon Marché and Grand Majasian(?) du Louvre. Dinner at Durval’s. Went right back to the hotel to write our last letters. To bed late. Fine weather all the time so far in Paris.


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: August 28 – 29

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
Drawing of a boat on Lac Leman, which is the French name for Lake Geneva, by John Radford Abbot

Drawing of a boat on Lac Leman, which is the French name for Lake Geneva, by John Radford Abbot

Saturday, August 28

Chamonix, Geneva

Got up early this morning and packed up as much as possible before breakfast. At 8 o’clock we began the ascent of the Brévent(?) (8,000). It is very much like Pilatus a little steeper perhaps The clouds were heavy all around but every little while we would get a splendid view of Mt. Blanc from the path through the rifts in the clouds. We got our last good view at the Planpraz(?), about 2/3 of the way up. Beyond the path got steeper and the last 100 yds. was very steep with steps cut in the rock and iron railing. We got to the top at 10:25 just 2½ hours from Chamonix The top was in the clouds and we got no view at all although we waited till 11:05 before descending. However the views we got lower down more than repaid the climb. The descent via short cuts was easy and took us only 1 hour and 20m. We got lunch at the hotel, paid our bill and skipped for the [word crossed out and unreadable] 2:16 train (electric) to St. Gervais. There we changed into the P.L.M. for Geneva. Our train was the slowest I ever saw. We didnt get to Geneva till 7. We went right to the Post Office but found it closed because of the change of time in Geneva, 55m. We then went to the Hotel Monopole(?), got rooms and supper. In the evening we looked up trams for Paris at the station. And then walked about the city.

Sunday, August 29

Geneva, Montreux

Started out after breakfast to do the town. Took a walk along the lake front to the old quarter of the town where we stepped into the old 10th century cathedral. Then we walked down past the University building and went into the art gallery for a few moments. We then got a good lunch at the restaurant de la Poste and took the 1:25 boat for Montreux. Beautiful ride down the lake. We reached montreux at about 6 and made for the hotel de la Gare (good). Took a walk before dinner and another one after to see the moon on the lake and then wrote letters.

View of Lake Geneva from Montreux

View of Lake Geneva from Montreux


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: August 26 – 27

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
Drawing of the train at Martigny by John Radford Abbot

Drawing of the train at Martigny, by John Radford Abbot

Thursday, August 26

Zermatt, Visp, Chamonix(?)

Left Zermatt at 11 o’clock. It rained off and on all day. However, we had a very nice ride to Visp with occasional view of the Breithorn. We got our wonderful complé at Visp. it was a corker. Left Visp at 2:13 and arrived at Martigny(?) where we changed into the electric road for Chamonix(?). It was a wonderful ride, although the views were shoded(?) by the rain. We rose 2,000 ft. in 2 miles. We changed time at Chatelard 1 hour. No customs. Got to Chamonix(?) at 7:48 and went to the Central Hotel. Walked round the town in the evening. Punk(?) weather.

Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France

Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France

Friday, August 27

Chamonix (Merde Glace)

Very poor weather. Clouds low although we did get a view of Mont Blanc from our window through a rift in the clouds. It is a beautiful mt. We set out for the Mer de Glace about 9:30. It took us not quite 2 hours to get to Montenvert(?). When we got there everything was in the clouds.We climbed higher up the mt. but could not get above the clouds. When we descended again we found that the clouds had lifted from the glacier and we got a good view of that. We walked across the glacier in about half an hour. It is literally a sea of ice, with great crevasses. It was bully short crossing it. On the other side we descended a steep rocky path, the last part called the Mauvais(?) Pas, where the path descends along the face of a cliff and iron rails are used, to the Chapeau, a little but with a good view of the Mer de Glace from there it took us an hour and 10 minutes to descend to Chamonix. It began to rain before we got there and we got pretty wet. We got lunch at the hotel at 3 o’clock and spent the afternoon doing the town, buying post cards etc. After dinner we went to a moving picture show of the ascent if Mt. Blanc, etc. It was corking.

Drawing of Aiguille du Dru in the Chamonix Valley, by John Radford Abbot

Drawing of Aiguille du Dru, part of the Mont Blanc massif, by John Radford Abbot


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: August 24 – 25

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016


Tuesday, August 24

Zermatt (Rimpfischhorn(?))

Abe’s birthday. He got two presents from Dale and Thayer, a music box and an aligator. Beautiful day We had decided to climb the Rimpfischhorn(?) in the P.M. and we spent the A.M. engaging the guides, Theodule Biner(?) and Heronimus Kronig, both very good, and making our preparations. We all had nails put in our shoes and bought dark glasses and Abe and Dale bought winders and mittens as well. I used my thick socks for mittens and wore two pairs of regular socks on my feet. At 3 o’clock we started off. Each of the guides carried an ice pick and a coil of rope and we had 2 alpinestocks for the bunch It was an easy walk up to the hut over a good but steep path. We took it easy and got to the Futh(?) Hut at 5:30. Dinner was not till 7 so we climbed a ridge to have a look at our mt. It’s a dandy. We descended again about 6:30 as it was getting cold and found that three others parties had arrived. It was very cold and we were frozen during supper. It was a good meal but served very slowly. The Englishmen were very pleasant. After supper we froze awhile longer and then turned in about 8:30. It was very cold and I wore everything to bed except my shoes, coat, and hat.

Wednesday, August 25

Zermatt (Rimpfischhorn(?))

We were waked up at 2:30 A.M. and went down to breakfast at once. It was pretty cold, but the breakfast was very good. We started out at 3:30. Each guide carried a lantern. We were the third party to start out, but we soon took the lead We lost the path soon after leaving the hut and had some good rock climbing before we regained the path again. After about 1½ hours we struck the snow. Dawn was just breaking and we soon put out the lanterns. The first sunlight on the snow fields of Monte Rosa was very beautiful After gaining the top of a ridge we were roped together and made A very steep descent on to the glacier. We walked for about an hour over great snow slopes, gradually ascending, steep at the latter(?) parts to the rocks. We had some very steep climbing over rocks to the summit which we reached at 8:45. Grand view. It was very cold so we only spent 35 m. on top. The descent was much easier. We made the hut about 12, paid our bill and dropped the guides. We got to Zermatt at 2:10 and got lunch at the hotel. We spent the rest of the day walking about the town and seeing the sights.

Picture of Winkelmatten Church in Zermatt

Winkelmatten Chapel in Zermatt

Drawing of Winkelmatten Church in Zermatt by John Radford Abbot

Drawing of an old church in Zermatt, by John Radford Abbot


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: August 22 – 23

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015
View of Gornergrat, a ridge of the Pennine Alps, offering views of the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and other peaks

View from Gornergrat (Gormergrat in transcription), a ridge of the Pennine Alps, offering views of the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and other peaks

Sunday, August 22

Stresa, Visp, Zermatt.

We left Stresa on the 8:45 train on a pouring rain. The rain was good for travelling as there was no dust or dirt. This is the first real rainy day we have had on the continent. It was a very slightly ride to Visp through the great Simplon(?) tunnel, 12¼ miles. Had a wonderful complé at Visp, the best yet, but we had to leave at 12:40 to catch the train for Zermatt. It is one of the best scenic roads in the world on a clear day, but we couldn’t see much on account of the rain. We got to Zermatt at 3 and walked the whole length of the town to the Pension dis Alps, a dandy little place. We are living in Pension for 6½ francs a day. The rain stopped when we got there and a little later, about 5 o’clock. the clouds lifted a little and we could see the best part of the Matterhorn. The clouds settled down again in a few minute however. We walked around the town till 7 o’clock and then went back to the hotel for dinner, a corking dinner. Zermatt is a very attractive little town, especially at night when the guides are all around. The shops are very fascinating, especially wood carving and post-cards. We went to bed fairly early.

Sketch of Monte Rosa by John Radford Abbot

Drawing of Monte Rosa, by John Radford Abbot

Monday, August 23

Zermatt (Gormergrat(?))

Beautiful day with only a few light clouds in the sky. We spent the whole A.M. fooling round the town and buying post cards etc. After an early dinner we started off about 2 o’clock to climb the Gormergrat(?), 10,000 ft. our highest mountain yet. It was a good stiff 3 hours walk to the top on a good steep path. About 3 inches of snow had fallen Sunday and the hot sun had melted it so the walking was fierce. The view from the top on a clear day is considered the finest in Switzerland. The clouds hid the Matterhorn and other peaks on the north and east, but we got a splendid view of Monte Rosa, Lyskamn(?) and the Breithorn. We spent about an hour on top and then started to descend. About 15 minutes later the clouds cleared off and we got a view of the Matterhorn and all the other peaks so that we did not lose the panorama view after all. It is a wonderful view all right. We came down in about an hour and a half. Got supper at the hotel and walked about the town till bedtime. Bought postals etc. and talked with André, an old guide about climbing the Rimpfischhorn(?).

Drawing of the north face of Mont Cervin (known as the Matterhorn), by John Radford Abbot

Drawing of the north face of Mont Cervin (known as the Matterhorn), by John Radford Abbot


My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: August 20 – 21

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

View of interior of Doge’s Palace (Palace of Doges in transcription), c. 1900

Friday, August 20th

Venice, Milan,

After breakfast at the hotel we started right out for the Palace of the Doges(?), and went all through it. Wonderful place and full of fine pictures by the great Italian masters. Saw all the old council halls of the state, etc. We then visited the dungeons and prisons. Awful little cells cut in the solid rock. Saw the torture chamber and the bridge of Sighs(?). Could not cross the latter. After the Palace we went to the Art Gallery and saw some of the best works by the great masters, Tintaretto(?) Titian(?) and others. The best was the “Assumption” by Titian(?). Went back to the post office to leave our address and then hustled for lunch at the Cavaletto. Very good. After lunch we went back to the hotel, got our bags and things, and took the canal boat for the station. It was awful slow, and we just got the train after agreed(?) sprint. Left Venice at two. Very pretty and comfortable ride to Milan, although our companions weren’t of the best. Got to Milan at 7:15, had a fine supper in the station, and caught the 8 o’clock train for Stresa, arriving at 10:45. Hotel P Itali(?) & Pension Suiss(?)

Exterior view of Doge's Palace

Exterior view of Doge’s Palace

Saturday, August 21st


Late breakfast. Afterwards we took a walk along the edge of the lake on the road. Went through the ground of some Italian nobleman’s villa. Beautiful trees and flowers. Further along the road we found some black berry bushes and we spent some time there. We got back to the hotel in time for lunch of steak and potatoes. Thayer and Dale had to change rooms. Then we hired a row boat aand rowed over to Isola Bella. We were taken through the palace and through the gardens. We saw all kinds of trees there banana, orange, lemon, cork, bread-fruit, bamboo, etc. Then we rowed ^round Isola Madre and stopped in the middle of the lake and had a swim. It was corking. Then we rowed back to Stresa and got supper. Beef steak, potatoes, etc. In the evening the others [word crossed out and unreadable] took a walk and I stayed and wrote letters. It had begun to rain at suppertime and kept up all night.

When Doge Angelo Partecipazio moved the seat of government from Malamocco to modern-day Rialto in 810, work began on a ducal palace. However, this palace was destroyed in a 10th century fire; reconstruction began under Doge Sebastiano Ziani in the 12th century. Traces of this work can still be seen on the ground floor of the current palace. In 1424, Doge Francesco Foscari began work to extend the palace reconstruction to rooms that would serve as law-courts, as well as many rooms on the first floor, including an internal courtyard. A fire broke out in 1483, completely destroying the Doge’s Apartments, so reconstruction began immediately, but included raising an entirely new structure as well. Another fire broke out in 1547, but luckily caused minor damage to the structure as a whole; refurbishment was in process when a third fire destroyed two very important rooms, the Scrutinio Room and the Great Council Chamber, along with many paintings by famous artists. The palace served both as a residence for the Doge, and for all political institutions for the Republic of Venice until 1797. Since then Venice was occupied by the French and Austrians until 1866 when it finally became part of Italy. When the Italian government began to notice clear signs of decay at the end of the 19th century, all public offices were moved elsewhere, except the State Office for the Protection of Historical Monuments. In 1996, Doge’s Palace was added to the Venetian museum network.



My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: August 18 – 19

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
View of St. Mark's Basilica (St. Mark's Cathedral in transcription) from piazza

View of St. Mark’s Basilica (St. Mark’s Cathedral in transcription) from Piazza San Marco

Wednesday, August 18th

Milan, Venice

Left Milan at 7:45 for Venice Good train with no 3rd class but we didnt get seats. Very fast trip but extremely hot and dusty. Through typical Italian scenery. Got to Venice at 12:30 and took a canal boat up the grand canal to Zaccaria(?), the station right opposite our hotel, the Aurora. The Aurora is not much good. Got lunch at a restaurant on the Merceria. Only fair. After lunch we walked about awhile and then went into St. Mark’s cathedral. Very different from the others. Byzantine style. Very highly decorated. After about an hour in the cathedral we took the steamer for the Lido, an island about 2 miles away. Went to the fine baths there and enjoyed a swim in the Adriatic Sea. The water was very warm and nice. It was late when we got through so we took supper at the Lido restaurant. Very good. It had been very hot all day, but a little breeze came up in the evening, and we had a nice cool ride home in the steamer. Walked down the Merceria, and looked in all the fascinating shops. Venice certainly is an interesting and fascinating city. Went to bed fairly early. I did not sleep well. A little attack of constipation.

Interior view of St. Mark's Basilica

Interior view of St. Mark’s Basilica

Thursday, August 19th


Got up late. A small breakfast at the hotel. We started out to hunt up a doctor. Took a gondola and went to Rialto ^Went through a glass-ware store. Found the doctor we were after was away, So we came back of the Grand Canal and visited Cook’s. They told us of another English doctor, and after a short ride on the Canal and a long hunt we found him He was very nice and pleasant. He fixed me up all right, but we didn’t leave till 1:30. I took a lay off in the P.M. while the others visited St. Mark’s again and got my medicine for me. I took a short walk out into the gardens. The others came back about 5 and we went to the Lido again and had another good swim in the Adriatic Sea. Got back to St. Mark’s at 7:15 and took a gondola ride to the Rialto Bridge. Fine time to ride. We then visited the post office and had dinner at the Vapore Restaurant. Not much good. After dinner we took a short walk, bought some postals, and went to bed. Very comfortable night.