Posts Tagged ‘exhibit’

Exhibit Hightlight: Reverend Samuel Jackson’s dressing gown

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
     In a corner of the exhibit hall at the Andover Historical Society is an old bathrobe, or “dressing gown,” as it would have been called in the nineteenth century.  These were worn before bedtime and served much the same purpose as a bathrobe does today – but the one currently on display at the Common Indecency exhibit is very special.  It is the only piece of intimate apparel with a direct connection to the roots of Andover’s West Parish Church.  Its original owner was the Reverend Samuel Cram Jackson, first minister to that congregation.  The robe passed from the Jackson family to the Abbott family early in the twentieth century.  A member of the Jacksons gave this treasured family heirloom to a person who would see that it was well looked after.  That was Charles Edward Abbott, the Historical Society’s first president.  The piece was officially accessioned in 1935.

      Samuel’s father William was a congregational minister in Dorset, Vermont, and Sam seems to have studied for a time at Middlebury College.  By March 13, 1825, Sam Jackson was enrolled at the Andover Theological Seminary.  It was a Sunday, and like a good son, he wrote his mother:

My dear Mother,

I know not how the evening of a birthday can be more agreeably and dutifully employed than in speaking a word of the goodness of God toward me during the 23rd year of my life to one who deeply sympathizes in all my joys & sorrows, hopes & fears.  I was glad that this anniversary occurred on the sacred day of rest, when, free from secular concerns, I could without interruption review the past & look forward to the future…eternal consequences hang upon a single year…It will no doubt bring unspeakable pleasure to a kind and solicitous mother to learn that her son, who was lost & wandered far from his father’s house, has been found & restored…

There is more than a hint, in Jackson’s emphasis, that he hadn’t always been a well-behaved altar boy.  Still his letter is insightful and thoughtful as he reflects on the year gone by.  He does not close, however, without asking for money.  He explains that tuition costs $3.60 per quarter, room, board and washing another $1.75, and an extra forty cents for lighting.

     And, like any college student, Jackson needed to relax before bed.  The simple yet elegant dressing gown now on display would have made a perfect gift for the young graduate when, on April 21, 1827, Reverend Jackson accepted an invitation to be the pastor of the newly formed West Parish Church.  The twenty-five year old had impressed his parishioners so deeply with his gift for speaking that West Parish’s vestry voted “unanimously” to make Jackson the offer of more than six hundred dollars a year – a fortune for a recent college graduate at the time.
     Perhaps the robe was a later anniversary gift from Jackson’s wife Caroline.  Many a night it may have hung close to the bedstead, listening to Jackson’s talks with his wife about the state of his parish.  By the 1840’s, questions on abolition were at the nexus of scholarship in the United States, and tempers flared in classrooms and churches alike over the issue.  One prominent – and boisterous – parishioner at West Parish was the Scotsman John Smith.  Liberal-minded academia was overwhelmingly Republican in political persuasion, meaning that antislavery attitudes quickly became the rule in the North, even among theologians from the supremely conservative Andover Theological Seminary.  However Rev. Jackson knew that every word he said would be closely scrutinized by his flock, and wisely he wished to avoid the subject altogether when speaking in the pulpit.

     By April of 1840, John Smith was boiling with resentment over a “gag law” that West Parish had imposed upon itself by majority vote.  It was now not allowed to discuss the issue of slavery in the West Parish Church, and John Smith – a staunch abolitionist – did not appreciate his right to free speech hindered by a clergyman with reputed “pro slavery” tendencies.  Jackson later commented, “I had objections to church action on the subject…[but] my great objection had been [to] the evils of debates and contentions among brethren…”  As any pragmatic leader during tumultuous times, Jackson was accused by one side of not taking enough sincere action, and by the other of going too far.  John Smith eventually moved on, in 1846, with his family to worship at the Free Christian Church where Smith became a deacon.  But for now, Smith was stuck with West Parish and West Parish was stuck with Smith.  Jackson commented privately that he pitied Smith, “for no other place will have him.”  Still slavery was too big an issue to avoid altogether, and by the next year, 1841, it was clear that the church would have to adopt some official and public resolution on the subject.  Jackson’s famous “New Year” sermon, which always drew the biggest crowd of the year, would have to wait until Sunday January 3rd.  This business would be tended to before then.  On Friday the 1st, the West Parish Church unanimously adopted a resolution written by Jackson himself, and he read it out to the entire parish.  Here are some highlights:

      Resolved, that we regard American Slavery as a great physical, political, social, and moral evil…oppressive to men & offensive to God…that buying and selling men for gain, holding and treating them as mere property…disregarding and sundering their domestic relations, keeping them in involuntary ignorance…is a sin against God, & ought, like every other sin, to be repented of & immediately forsaken.  While we are constrained to “receive one another” as Christ has received us, we nevertheless can have no fellowship with this unfruitful work of darkness, but must rather reprove it, and rebuke those who encourage and persist in it.

     Resolved, that we view with surprise and regret the painful fact that, in this day of light, some professed ministers and followers of Christ justify involuntary servitude as a permanent condition of society and a scriptural institution which we regard as obviously contrary to the principles of natural justice…& which is condemned by the opinion and example of nearly the whole civilized world.

Attest. Samll C. Jackson

If Reverend Jackson’s dressing gown could only tell us what it was like to hear Jackson speak…still, he has left us his graceful words.


“The Good Lord Sent The Rain”

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Farmer John Rasmussen of Lowell Road

Have you seen this picture before?  This iconic image of John Rasmussen, an Andover Farmer can be seen in the Andover Historical Society’s current exhibit, The Dirt on Argilla Road.  This exhibition explores Andover’s agricultural past telling the stories of several West Parish farms.

In the July 16, 1953 edition of The Andover Townsman the following description explains the story of the photo, “Farmer John Rasmussen, Lowell rd., donned his boots on Monday, the first time he had worn them since last May, and like a little boy at play on the ocean beach knelt down by one of several puddles of water which had formed on his several acre farm and let the water trickle through his fingers while a smile creased his weather-beaten face.  Monday’s storm brought nearly an inch of rainfall, the first appreciable rain since May 28.  And to Farmer Rasmussen, who has been tilling Andover soil since 1912, it brought new hopes for his four acres of corn, his six acres of lettuce, his seven acres of spinach, as well as lesser amounts of cabbage and cauliflower.  Said John Rasmussen: “The GoodLord Sent The Rain.””

The Dirt on Argilla Road will be on exhibit until October 31st, 2011.  Visit the Andover Historical Society Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. to see our vast collection of historic farming tools and learn about Andover’s farming past.  The Andover Farmers’ Market takes place at 97 Main Street every Satruday from June 25th-October 8th from 12:30-3:30.


Director’s Blog: What can you do at the Historical Society this week?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Count the cows in the Dirt on Argilla Road exhibit

Content Andover cows (AHS#1911.001.33)

Here’s a fun way to explore Andover’s agricultural history.  Our new exhibit highlights nine farms that once graced West Andover’s landscape.   Specialty farms, such as George Rennie’s Strawberry farm, the Loosigian family’s Strawberry Hill farm, and the Reed Turkey Farm once drew people from all over.  Other farms produced vegetables for market including farms operated by Arthur Lovejoy, John Noyes, and Freeman Abbott.  Do you know how many dairy farms operated in Andover in the 20th century?  Rolling Acres, Shawsheen Stock Farm, and Wild Rose Dairy are all featured in the exhibit….along with a lot of photographs of the cows that once lived there.  How many cows can you count in the exhibit?

The Dirt on Argilla Road will be on display through October 2011.  The Society is open every Tuesday through Saturday 10:00-4:00.  You can also tour the exhibit and count cows during the Farmers’ Market, Saturdays 12:30-3:30.


The Fourteen Trees of Christmas: Tree Three

Friday, December 11th, 2009


Tree Three: All Work and No Play
Decorated by Angela McBrien
Inspired by a child’s patchwork pocket


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One of the many sweet clothespin dolls handmade for the tree

My name is Sarah. That is my pocket you see there. I made it from pieces of my mother’s old worn out dresses. My mother also let me have some scraps to make some dolls, but before I can play I must first do my chores.


Today I must feed the chickens and the pigs. After collecting the eggs I must take some of them down to Kidder and Swift’s store. When I return my mother will need help to make our noon day meal, there will be fourteen of us for that. In the afternoon I will help my mother with the sewing and the mending. I have six brothers and their shirts always need so much mending.


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Isn't the miniature broom adorable?

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The Fourteen Trees of Christmas: Tree Two

Thursday, December 10th, 2009


Downhill all the Way!
Decorated by Tommy Doucette
Inspired by antique wooden skis and bamboo ski pole



Tommy adds a finishing touch to the top of the tree

I decorated the Christmas tree with images I found online.  One image in particular was taken at a familiar location for those people who are from the area. That picture was taken at the Boston Hill Ski area. The ski area has now been closed for some time now. It was a very popular ski area for people who lived in the area. Two purchased theme ornaments distinguished themselves from the others. Can you find which ones?

It is really cool to see how the first skis were basically two pieces of wood with two straps. When you look at the tree you will see all different types of skis that date back to the past century.


The Fourteen Trees of Christmas: Tree One

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

As part of our holiday programming, an American Christmas Story, we’ll be adding a new tree and it’s description to the blog each day for the next fourteen days, providing an armchair tour of our history-inspired  Christmas Tree exhibit. We don’t have any clever songs to go along with our trees, but I think you’ll see that stand nicely on their own! And of course, if you’re anxious to see all the trees before our virtual tour is over, you can visit them in person at the Historical Society (97 Main Street, Andover) Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.  Now without further ado…


Tree One: Home Cookin’
Decorated by Atria Marland Place
Inspired by antique tin reflector oven and iron toaster


A vintage nutmeg grater hangs on the tree

In days gone by (and today still), the kitchen-hearth was the heart of the home, a place of warmth and comfort, where aromas of baking and cooking emanated throughout. What could comfort us more than the smell of a delicious custard spice pudding or a rich stew cooking over the hearth on a wintry night?



A special family recipe is nestled among the branches

Inspired by the iron hearth cooking tools, the staff and residents of Atria Marland Place Assisted Living have filled our tree with antique kitchen gadgets and favorite family recipes for comfort foods and holiday treats, many from our own residents. We hope you’ll be inspired to break out those old cookie cutters and create the smells and warmth in your own home.

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One week left…

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Have you visited the Historical Society’s current exhibition, From Near and Far: 350 Years of Making Andover Home? If not, you have one week left to stop by and visit!


Featuring the stories of people who have chosen to call Andover their home from the 1600s to today, you can learn more about the many reasons for moving to Andover through the centuries. From business opportunities with Raytheon or the Smith & Dove Mills, to educational experiences at Phillips Acadamy or the Theological Seminary, to reasons relating to religious freedom, this exhibit explores the deeper issues behind choosing Andover as a hometown.


The Historical Society is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am to 4pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public during open hours.


From Near and Far: 350 Years of Making Andover Home
On exhibit through October 31st
at the Andover Historical Society


What’s a Word Cloud?

Friday, August 7th, 2009

elaines-wordle-1-green2       A Word Cloud is a group of words arranged in an artistic way.   The word cloud here was  inspired by the Historical Society’s new mission.   We invite you to create your own word cloud filled with words and phrases inspired by or about Andover. These may be words that generally remind you of the town or words that refer to a specific place, event, time, person, or building in town.

          To get started, visit and click on the ‘Create your own’ button, add your text (whatever list of words you have thought of) and then click ‘Go.’

You can tweak the Word Cloud until it’s the work of art you envisioned and then post it to the public gallery. It’s possible to change fonts, number of words included, and orientation and even customize the colors that are used.

        After you’ve completed your masterpiece, give it a name and post it to the public gallery. Once you’ve done this, copy the URL (the website address seen in the top of your browser) and email it to us. Then we can print it out and display it in a mini exhibit in the Historical Society’s lobby!!









Main Street… not just memories any more!

Monday, April 6th, 2009


Were you one of the many Andoverites to visit our popular Main Street Memories exhibit last year? Ford’s Coffee Shop was brought back to life, 1960s redevelopment plans were on display, and dozens of photographs highlighted the many changes that Andover’s Main Street has seen over the past 150 years.


Now you can relive those Main Street Memories once more through out latest online exhibit! Main Street Memories Online is now available on our website and includes the many images and stories that visitors enjoyed throughout the exhibition. There’s even a place for you to share your own memories of Main Street and have them added to our online exhibit.


Do you have other ideas for our website and future online exhibits? Share your ideas in the comments below – we’d love to hear what you have to say!


Feng Shui: Myth & Reality

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Come explore ways of creating a harmonious, well-balanced environment that nurtures your physical, emotional and spiritual health, and transforms your house into a home. Discover the beauty and wisdom of Feng Shui beyond crystals and fountains…



Presented by A.R.T. Consulting, providing Feng Shui services since 1993. Featured in Boston Herald, New England Cable News, Improper Bostonian and Boston Magazine.


Thursday, April 23, 2009


$5 members, $7 non-members