Friday, October 22, 2010

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting, Archaeology Month, Salem Preservation Project, SJP Homecoming


Essex Heritage Annual Meeting

Next Tuesday, October 26, 2010, the Essex Heritage Commission will hold its annual meeting at Lynch Park in Beverly at 8:30am. The meeting is open to the public and it is not too late to make a reservation to attend. The event is scheduled to be held at the Carriage House at Lynch Park in Beverly and will provide an opportunity for residents of this region to view a truly historic location, and see the work that a committed and dedicated volunteer group is accomplishing as they restore this famous old property. At the meeting a number of new Commissioners who will serve Essex Heritage over the next three years will be announced. We expect that United States Congressman John Tierney who has played such an important role in the development of this regional initiative will also be in attendance and will offer some thoughts on the role of the Commission in the region. In additional to Congressman Tierney, Beverly Mayor William Scanlon will bring the greetings of the City to the meeting and its attendees.

The meeting will also provide an opportunity to learn more about current projects of Essex Heritage like the Border to Boston Bike Trail from Salisbury to Danvers, and the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway that covers 85 miles of historic roads in the region adjacent to our spectacular coastline from Lynn to Newburyport. The presentations will help you to ascertain how those projects will impact the region and the residents who live in this area. A series of Pioneers in Partnership awards and Special Recognition Awards will also be announced that morning. Details about an exciting trip sponsored by Essex Heritage to the Northern National Parks in conjunction with Collette Tours will be outlined and additional information on a planned session with a representative form Collette Tours at the National Park Service Visitor center in Salem will be provided. The current status of the well received Essex Heritage Membership program for both business and personal members will also be provided. To make a reservation to the meeting contact Emily Levin at 978 740 0444 or contact her at

Archaeology Month October

A couple of weeks ago we received a mailing from the Massachusetts Historical Commission that outlined a schedule of events in this area that are available to residents during October 2010 that has been named Archaeology Month by the Commonwealth. During the month of October, there are more than seventy five events that will be offered around the state that promotes awareness of the Commonwealth’s rich archaeological past. The events that are offered promote the past through fun and engaging projects. I went thought the listing of offerings and found two events that are being offered at the end of this month in locations within the Essex Heritage Area. For a more complete listing of the state wide array of events or to check on last minute changes visit the State’s website at Brief outlines of the two local Essex County events are as follows.

  • Amesbury….A Maritime Archaeology Dig at Lowell’s Boat Shop

Join local maritime archaeologist and historian Graham McKay and the head of the Massachusetts State Board of Underwater Archaeology, Victor Mastone at Lowell’s Boat Shop at 459 Main Street, Amesbury on October 30, 2010 at 10:00am for an intertidal dig. The floors of this historic building have been swept into the adjacent river for over 200 years and there is likely much to be found. Participants will have the opportunity to dig trenches in the intertidal zone under the debris chutes to learn what has been deposited in the river over these last two centuries, During the recent Essex Heritage Trails and Sails event, I had the good fortune to visit Lowell’s Boat Shop for the first time, and I found the facility to be most intriguing. I am certain that if you take advantage of this opportunity that you will be rewarded. Participants must register by calling 978 834 0050 or by accessing The fee for participation is $5.00

  • Haverhill….Tombstones and Trowels

Discover archaeology at the Haverhill Historical Society/Buttonwoods Museum at 240 Water Street, Haverhill, MA. The Museum has also been a long time affiliated visitor center for Essex Heritage, and during your visit you can pick up information on Essex Heritage as well as sample the exhibits at the museum. Try your hand at archaeological skills like cleaning and reconstructing art artifacts. Participate in a mock dig, create a “spooky” archaeology project and then explore the nearby Pentucket Burial Ground. With a scavenger hunt as your guide discover how tombstones provide vital clues about life and death long ago. Admission to this event has been set at only $5 per family.

Local Preservation Project Outlined at Salem Rotary Meeting

Earlier this week at the Salem Rotary Club weekly meeting, two prominent former Salem Rotarians and good friends of mine, Dr. Nancy Harrington and David Ives provided an update on a campaign that is underway in Salem. The effort to restore historic Ames Hall in the YMCA building on upper Essex Street was outlined. The campaign is a major restoration project that will restore the century old facility and develop a new Creative Arts Center for the region.

In my youth growing up in Salem just after World War ll, I was a youth member of the Salem YMCA and have fond memories of Saturday mornings in the pool and at the gym in that facility. Later in life during the earliest days of my employment at the Salem Five Bank, I became a senior member of the Y and used the facility at lunch hour to enjoy a break and a workout. But my fondest memories of the YMCA and Ames Hall was of a social event that was offered for all Salem youths that began in the late 1940’s and continued will into the early 1970’s called Teen Town. Every Saturday evening while school was in session all though the early 1950’s my friends from Salem regularly attended the evening’s entertainment at Teen Town. Life was certainly simpler then and certainly less complicated, and teens from all across the City of Salem regardless of where they attended high school would gather for an evening free of any alcohol and we danced to a DJ, played pool and ping pong and bowled on a two alley section in the basement all for the most nominal admission fees one could imagine. Salem then and now is a walking city, and we came by foot from all over the city without having to climb into cars to enjoy the activities offered each Saturday evening at Teen Town.

Now the Capital Campaign leadership for this restoration effort is planning to offer a Salem YMCA Teen Town reunion on the evening of November 6, 2010 at the old location in Ames Hall. Entertainment and refreshments will be offered and for many in this region it will be a chance to return to younger days when we all enjoyed the camaraderie that was so evident each evening at that time in Salem. The reunion is moderately priced at $25.00 a person and all of the proceeds earned that evening will be put toward the restoration project. I expect that during that evening at some time, an overview of the main capital campaign project will be provided and the hope of the leadership is to find a few more supporters for the main campaign. For advance tickets to the November 6th event call 781 990 7084 and I suspect that you need to act quickly as the tickets may go fast for this event.

St John’s Prep Homecoming Event

Last weekend on cool and windy Saturday, St John’s Preparatory School held their annual Homecoming event. The day seemed to go very well, and even though the Prep lost the football contest with St John’s of Shrewsbury, the day was not a complete loss as the soccer team won their game against Malden Catholic High School. The event was very well attended and we enjoyed seeing several “Golden Eagle” classmates at a luncheon between the two athletic contests. The day ended with an alumni liturgy in the schools chapel, where a former chaplain for the school celebrated a mass. At that time alumni who have passed on since the last Homecoming event were noted and a remembrance was offered.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thank You. Tom Leonard

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