Many people and organizations are helping with the preparations for our 30th Anniversary of the Lawrence History Center ~ Immigrant City Archives' celebration to be held on June 12th in the courtyard.
The event will celebrate ten lesser known Lawrence historic figures; individuals who have been chosen by the ten previous Dengler Award winners who represent the future leadership of the City in areas such as business, non-profits, education, culture and non-profit leadership; and, last but not least, the celebration of the former Essex Company compound courtyard as a venue for City residents and visitors alike.
On Memorial Day week-end, John and Lou Chistolini of Syracuse, NY drove to Lawrence to donate a push cart used by their uncle whose family emigrated from Sicily to Lawrence. They restored the pushcart, used by their uncle until the late 1970's. They brought along the peddler's license plate, the scales that hung on the cart to weigh the produce and photos of their uncle. The cart will be part of our courtyard exhibit. and it is housed in our courtyard.
Helpers with the courtyard work include (but not limited to) Lawrence Youth Build, Jericho Road, Hall Rea, Collier Masonry, Kinkos of Haverhill. and volunteers Kathy Flynn, Tom Walsh, Eugene Winter, Christian Martinez and Julian Azerat.
YouthBuild has taken on the task of re-creating the original Essex Street gate (and in the near future the Union Street gate) using the Essex Company plans from 1883 held in our collection. Under the guidance of master carpenter, Cleeve Taylor, they have used lumber found in the sheds left behind by the Essex Company, studied the original drawings and are building the gates in the historic courtyard just as the Essex Company carpenters did 125 years ago. This has been a great way to utilize the documents in our collection and teach the history of Lawrence to these students. What an opportunity for these young Lawrence Carpenters to be using Essex Company drawings anddo the work in the same site as the original carpenters from the 19th century! Youth Build is also creating a handicapped ramp for the building's rear elevator access.
Dennis George of Hall-Rea Company, 27 Winter Street in Lawrence, has fabricated the metal work hinges for the gates, copying the original design. Mr. George has also replicated the handrail the Essex Company had on the front steps of the Essex Company office building. The railing on the handicap ramp will also be designed and made by him.
Jericho Road under the leadership of Joan Kulash connected artist, Andrew Royce Fournier with the History Center to create a mural to be placed inside the gates on the shed wall. This mural, based on a newspaper article celebrating the arrival of President Benjamin Harrison's visit to Lawrence in 1889, was painted in Amesbury in Fournier's studio. The mural includes also an inset of scene of Essex Street, with 1889 two way traffic. The mural scene dates to the decade when this Essex Company compound was bult and utilized as well as providing a glimpse of earlier traffic patterns on Essex Street. ( As you may know Essex Street will return to two-way traffic around June 27th)
Collier Masonry has repaired the brick pillars that support the Essex Street gate. Scott Collier sent mortar samples away to get a color and material to match the mortar that was used in the 19th century on these buildings and he was able to use bricks left in the ware house by the Essex Company.
With opening up the courtyard to the public, identification of the work done by Essex Company employees and of the compound buildings became apparent. Under the curatorial leadership of Kathy Flynn and assisted by Tom Walsh and Christine Lewis research was done on the use of the courtyard buildings and on the workers employed. As a result of this research, panels were designed and Kinkos of 306 Main Street in Haverhill has done a wonderful job of fabricating weather-proof panels to be displayed on the courtyard brick wall.
Volunteers Gene Winter, Christian Martinez and Julian Azerat have been working on cleaning up the courtyard ~ painting stanchions, cleaning out the sheds, cutting brush and other activities to enhance the site for our celebration and for future visitors.
This nationally registered site, the corner stone of Lawrence and its history, will be celebrated on June 12th, 2008 and then be open as an historic green space for Lawrence residents and visitors alike. Please come and celebrate with us!