Friday, July 6, 2012

Essex Happenings... July 6, 2012


Second Annual Pear Tree Lecture
On June 19, the Massachusetts General Hospital/North Shore Medical hosted the second annual Pear Tree Lecture in partnership with Essex Heritage and the Danvers Historical Society.  The lecture titled Herbalists. Midwifes, Nurses and Physicians: A History of Woman Healers on the North Shore presented by Dr. Karen Krag, staff medical oncologist, who did considerable original research to prepare this very interesting and informative talk on the history of women healers on North Shore.  The presentation provided a comprehensive look at the role that woman have played in this region over the period of time that the Endicott Pear Tree has flourished in its location.  Doctor Krag is an excellent example of the contributions to medicine made by woman in this country and this area.

The event was timed to be part of the Endicott/Endecott Family Tenth Anniversary Reunion.  It was very well attended by a standing room only crowd of over one hundred interested members of the reunion group and members and staff of the three collaborating organizations.  Included in the audience were several re-enactors in 17th century garb.  The evening began with guided tour of the original Endicott Pear Tree, believed to be the oldest living fruit tree in North America, and followed by a visit to a scion (off-spring) of the pear tree which was recently planted in the medical center’s Norton Family Healing Garden adjacent to the cancer center.  As part of the tour, a recently dedicated bronze plaque created by Society of Colonial Dames to highlight the history of the famous Pear Tree, was pointed out to visitors.  

Ms. Elena Sierra, Executive Director of the medical center, moderated the event, and the Endicott Family presented her with a bronze plaque to commemorate planting the scion tree in the garden.  Delicious pear themed hors d’oeuvres were prepared by Claudio Sierra of Tutto Italian Restaurant in Lexington, MA 

The Endicott Family celebrated a week of activities commemorating Governor Endecott and his descendants including visiting the Endicott portrait at the State House in Boston and a symposium at Endicott College in Beverly.

It was a pleasure to host all of the members of the Endicott Family. We sincerely hope that this event and cooperative effort will be repeated in the future

History of the Endicott/Endecott Pear Tree
The pear tree was planted in its current location between 1632 and 1649 (William Bentley reports dates of 1630, 1631, and 1639 in his diary).  It was planted by John Endecott, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, one of the Colony's earliest settlers, and ancestor of Endicott Peabody—and it was likely brought from England on the Arabella in June 1630.

Tradition holds to that Endecott himself planted the pear tree in the presence of his children, farmworkers and reportedly declared: "I hope the tree will love the soil of the new world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive”.

The 1925 USDA Agriculture Yearbook, citing the memoir of Samuel Endicott—a descendant of Endecott (the spelling of the family name changed in the 18th century)—suggests that the tree may have been transplanted from Endecott's garden in Salem to Endecott’s farm in Danvers.  An article in the Salem Observer, written in 1852 by Samuel P. Fowler, lends further credence to this idea, noting that it was in Salem proper that Endecott "probably planted his famous pear tree.”  Flower also reports that Endecott was likely among the first to cultivate fruit in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

During the Centennial Celebration in Danvers, Massachusetts in June 1852, the Endicott Pear Tree was heralded as "probably the oldest cultivated fruit-bearing tree in New England." At that time the pear tree was over 200 years old. One hundred and fifty years have passed since that proclamation was made and the Endicott Pear Tree is still producing fruit. It is very unlikely that any other cultivated fruit tree in North America is as old. As this was written in August 2002, the Endicott Pear Tree is approximately 372 years old! (Today it is 382 years old.

n the USDA Agriculture Yearbook for 1925, there is a report about "the remarkable fruit tree" in Danvers, Massachusetts. This report cites the memoir of Governor Endicott's descendant, Samuel Endicott, that the tree may have been planted in its present location in 1632, or it may have been transplanted from "Governor Endecott's garden in Salem."

Essex Heritage Requests Support
If you have considered providing support to Essex Heritage it is never too late to contribute and help support our work of this region. 

Thanks to all who have generously given to our 2012 Annual Appeal.  With your help, we accomplished a great deal including the 10th anniversary Trails & Sails weekends with nearly 200 free events.  We also held several unique Photo Safaris that showcase the region's unique resources, have developed the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, and, in a strong partnership with the National Park Service, we provided opportunities for under-served youth to work at the National Parks in Salem and Saugus.  

Please donate today! A gift of any size is greatly appreciated.  All of our work is made possible by your generous support. We look forward to another exciting year together.

The Essex National Heritage Area was created, in part, to partner on projects with The National Park Service - especially at their two parks - Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Saugus Iron Works National Historic SiteSalem Maritime has several community programs planned for this summer.

July 4th Celebration
Once again Salem Maritime hosted a huge Independence Day celebration at their waterfront site.   There were vendors, music and, of course, fireworks, all with the National Park Service’s tall ship Friendship as a backdrop to the celebration.    The event drew as always a large enthusiastic crowd who enjoyed the entire presentation. If you watched fireworks at this location or some other site within the Essex National Heritage Area, we hope that you had a pleasant and peaceful 4th of July celebration.

Annual Maritime Site Festival
The Salem Maritime National Historic Site is looking forward to their annual Maritime Festival – a family event they have offered every year for the past fifteen years.   This year’s event is scheduled for the weekend of August 4-5.   There will be fun events offered for everyone in the family including music, sails, and authentic maritime demonstrations.  A complete schedule of all the events will be presented in this space and in all of the local newspapers as the event gets closer.  Put the dates on your calendars as it will be special and will highlight the work of the National Park Service. 

National Park Service Names new Captain for Friendship 
Congratulations to the first permanent Captain of the Friendship, Jeremy Bumagin.  The Friendship is a replica of the 1797 East Indiaman by the same name.  The original ship made 15 voyages to the Far East and Europe.  On her last voyage she was captured by the British off the English coast as the War of 1812 had just been declared.  Today, you can tour and visit the Friendship at Derby Wharf. Learn more about Friendship. 

Town of Essex Boat Builder, Harold Burnham, Receives One of Nine NEA Fellowships
In 2002, Essex Heritage presented Harold Burnham with a special recognition award at our Essex Heritage Annual Fall Meeting for his work as a traditional wooden shipbuilder in Essex.   We are extremely pleased to note that Mr. Burnham’s extraordinary work has now been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts.  He recently received a NEA Arts Fellowship and a $25, 000 grant for his work constructing the 55-foot schooner Ardelle.   He is only the fourth shipbuilder out of 377 recipients over the years to receive this prestigious award.    Mr. Burnham is carrying on the tradition of wooden ship building that goes back in the Town of Essex for nearly 400 hundred years.  Mr. Burnham will receive the award and the grant at a special presentation at the Library of Congress in October.   Mr. Burnham’s craftsmanship using the local materials and traditional construction methods is a wonderful example of the types of heritage resources that still abound in Essex County.  It confirms the importance that Congress placed on this region by designating Essex County as the Essex National Heritage Area.


City of Salem Art Project
The City of Salem has adorned its downtown with a dozen artfully decorated ship figureheads.   The figureheads have been painted by local artists as the ‘Lady of Salem” program to create art in the city.   The program was kicked off at the City’s art festival in June.   The figureheads will be displayed until October.  The public are being asked to vote on which they like best and the People’s Choice Award winner will be recognized at an event during the Essex Heritage’s Trails & Sails  weekends in September.   To vote for a favorite figure and to see a list of the sponsors for this effort view the program at


Town of Danvers Agrees to Purchase Open Space
The Town of Danvers has entered into an agreement to purchase the almost 22 acre parcel known as Lebel’s Grove on Rt. 114.  The purchase of the land with over 1000 feet of frontage along the Ipswich River is a long desired acquisition by the town.   This was one of the largest parcels of open land still left in the Town of Danvers, and it will be acquired as open space with funds from a variety of sources including, potentially, a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Keeping this property undeveloped is also important to the preservation of Danvers’s water supply.

Salem State Summer Theatre Schedule
For excellent summer theatre, Salem State University’s summer programs can’t be beat.  I encourage you to sample their summer offerings in air conditioned comfort in the Callahan Theater.  Here is a list of the upcoming plays: 
  • Sylvia (July 6-8, July 13-15)
    If you have ever owned a dog, loved a dog or wished your dog would take a long weekend, you don't want to  miss Sylvia by A.R. Gurney running July 6-8 and July 13-15. Meet empty-nesters Greg (David Allen George)  and Kate (Linda Burtt) whose well-planned shift to a  new phase of life is upended by stray pup Sylvia (Kate  Amory). This unique look at love and relationships also features James Fallon and is directed by William Cunningham.
  • Almost, Maine (July 20-22, July 27-29)
    What would summer in New England be without a visit  to the state of Maine?  On a cold, clear moonless night, all is not quite what it seems in the remote, mythical town of Almost, Maine. As the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky above, residents of Almost find themselves falling in and out of love is unexpected and often hilarious ways. John Cariani has created a romantic fable that explores the mysteries of the human heart. We'll spend two weekends in Almost, Maine, July 20-22 and then again July 27-29. The cast includes Angelo Athanasopolus, Brianne Beatrice, Bryan Collins, Sara Tode and Michael Zuccola. Directed by Brianne Beatrice.
  • Greater Tuna (August 3-5)What do Arles Struvie, Thurston Wheelis, Aunt Pearl, Petey Fisk, Phineas Blye, and Rev. Spikes have in common? They are all among the upstanding citizens of Tuna, Texas – the big state’s third smallest town. You will meet them if you select our Greater Tuna itinerary, August 3-5. The long-running Off Broadway hit features two actors creating the entire population of Tuna in a tour de farce of quick change artistry, changing costumes and characterizations faster than a jack rabbit runs from a coyote. Featuring: Bryan Collins and David Allen George.  
Tickets on sale now! $25 General/$20 seniors and students; Pre-show dinner available: $10 (advance reservation required/ by phone only/dinner begins 90 minutes prior to curtain) 
Purchase tickets  (individual show tickets)  
Purchase tickets by phone: 978.542.6290 (dinner/theatre package or individual show tickets)  
Times: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm/Sundays at 2 pm** Sunday, August 5 includes a second performance at 7:30 pm 

City of Salem Receives Two New State Grants
The City of Salem has recently been awarded two grants from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One grant is from the Massachusetts Seaport Council for $1.75 million and it will be used to continue improving the Blaney Street Wharf.  These funds will extend the pier further and provide for some dredging.    The city also received a $1.5 million grant for a three-year period to help support the educational improvements planned at the Bentley School.   The two grants are very beneficial to Salem as they will improve the quality of life in this community and positively impact the educational development of its youth. 

Beverly Receives Federal Grant
A recently announced Federal grant will pay for half of the $1.5 million that it needed to help this community address a serious flooding problem in the “Farms” section of the city.

Newburyport Planning to Extend Pedestrian and Bike Trail
The City of Newburyport recently held at public meeting at the Firehouse Theatre to outline and receive public input into the 1 ½ mile extension of the Clipper City Rail Trail and Harbor Walk along the Merrimack River.   The current trail is very popular and heavily used.   The trail links up to the larger Border to Boston Rail Trail, the eight town trail that Essex Heritage has supported for many years.    The development of recreational trails is an important element of Essex Heritage’s strategy to enhance the quality of life in the region. To offer input about the project to the community contact Geordie Vining, senior project manager, at 978-445-4400.

City of Peabody Plans New Park
The City of Peabody has awarded a contract in an amount just over $1 million to complete phase one of the enhancement of an old factory site on Wallis Street.   This phase is expected to take about two months to complete and includes making certain that the site is clear of any contamination.   The second phase of the project will involve building a park that will include benches, a bridge to connect the street and a walking path.   The project is part of Mayor Bettencourt’s plans to beautify the city.


Dukakis Helps to Mark Home Care Law’s Anniversary
Elder Affairs Committee co-chairs Rep. Alice Wolf and Sen. Patricia Jehlen recently helped celebrate the 40th anniversary of the state’s home care laws. According to Mass Home Care, the Massachusetts Home Care System, created during the administration of Governor Frank Sargent, is one of the largest in the United States.  The $335 million in state and federal funds managed by Mass Home Care agencies help to reduce nursing home expenses in the state Medicaid program. The typical home care client is an 81 years old woman, living alone, and 45 percent of home care clients live at or below the poverty line.  Home care specialists typically assist clients with eating, bathing, dressing and toileting to enable individuals to remain living in their homes rather than transitioning into nursing homes. Michael Dukakis addressed the group and said that the Commonwealth’s care system is “considered by many as the best ‘human services’ governor in the state’s history.” Dukakis was introduced by Paul Lanzikos, Executive Director of North Shore Elder Services in Danvers and elder affairs secretary during the Dukakis administration.

North Shore Elder Services Officer Receives Award
During a recent ceremony at the State House, State Treasurer Steve Grossman helped honor Gerald Stepner of Peabody, for his important contributions as a longtime volunteer with the Massachusetts Money Management Program, co-sponsored by the AARP Foundation, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and Mass Home Care.  As a Money Management volunteer, Stepner - and more than 1,000 others in the Bay State - donates his time and energy to help lower-income seniors stay financially independent.  AARP Massachusetts State President Linda Fitzgerald commended Stepner and the corps of Money Management volunteers.

"To you, our volunteers, I say: Thank you for your service, your passion, caring, and compassion," Fitzgerald said. "In addition to helping vulnerable seniors manage their weekly budgets and pay their bills, you are also there for those who may feel isolated and alone. You are their social connection and that is invaluable. On behalf of AARP, I thank you."

The Massachusetts Money Management Program is a free service that assists low-income seniors who might be at risk of losing their independence due to their inability to pay basic rent, food and utility bills on time. Volunteers help as bill payers, representative payees, and monitors.  For more information, visit

North Shore Music Theatre
Last Spring my wife and I attended a presentation at the North Shore Music Theatre where the theatre was of great help to the North Shore Elder Services as a fundraising event.   We were able to watch that performance from a handicapped section of the theatre and as result of that experience we reasoned that we could attend the theatre for regular shows too.  The North Shore Music Theatre is a most important component of the cultural life of this region, and that element is most important to Essex Heritage and its mission.  We purchased tickets at that time to attend two future shows scheduled for later in 2012.   We are looking forward to attending shows in July and August and encourage you to view the theatre schedule to learn if a day or an evening at the theatre might work for you.   Details of the shows and concerts available or to purchase tickets visit

Salem News Produces Excellent Synopsis of Title IX
Congratulations to the publisher and the staff of the Salem News for a first class presentation of the effect that the enactment of US Title IX has had on woman’s sports both in this country and the region.   The coverage offered by the News was in their June 23 edition of the paper.  The Act has opened the doors to many more young women who are having a chance not offered at one time.   I have two young granddaughters who are clearly the beneficiary of this opportunity that is now forty years old since its enactment.

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