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Catalog entry

inv. 10
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
View of the Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in. (55.9 x 91.4 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: F H. Lane 1863
On view at the Cape Ann Museum

Commentary

Both this painting and the related work The Babson Meadows at Riverdale, 1863 (inv. 11) show the house and property of the Babson family in the Town Parish area of Gloucester. Though both houses are still standing on Washington Street, they abut an area of countryside and salt marsh in the foreground that has become a large traffic rotary (Grant Circle). The paintings were companions (along with a third believed to be lost) and were commissioned by the Babsons, a prominent Gloucester family. 

The notes on the drawings indicate that these two works were painted in 1863 for the Babson sisters before their move west to California and served as a remembrance of their home. The scene is a seemingly straightforward account of the Babson house on the right, lit up by the late afternoon sun, and the Ellery house, partially hidden by trees with a barn across the road. The broad town landing comes down to the water where a gundalow full of late summer marsh hay is being poled in to unload.

Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester is a masterpiece of serenity and order. The Babson house is a substantial gambrel-roofed New England house; simple, dignified and solid. The eye is led up to the house by the diagonal of the board fence enclosing the garden, all bathed in the pink light of a late summer evening. Moving to the left the gable end of the Ellery house sticks up out of the trees and across the road is the barn in shadow, a sliver of light reflecting off its west side.

Lane has integrated the horizontal composition by stitching it together with the stone walls (each stone obsessively drawn and shaded) that organize the spaces and lead the eye along the roads and into the distance. The walls define rectilinear areas that echo the geometry of the buildings and their enclosures giving order to what could otherwise have been a bland expanse.

The foreground is another example of Lane’s remarkable ability to make a mass of indiscriminate plants and grasses into a delicate botanical tapestry. There is a vaporous pink atmosphere in the sky reflected on the roads and every lit surface in contrast to the diversity of dark greens across the landscape.

This can be called one of Lane’s “perfect” paintings. Every element is locked together in harmony; composition, color and tonal values. The eye is led around a complete and perfect world. There is a great feeling of nostalgia to this work. One can imagine Lane consciously evoking that sentiment on behalf of the departing Babson sisters. Lane himself was nearing the end of his life and the restrained but obvious emotion in this painting has a clear relationship with his elegiac Brace’s Rock series done only a year or so later, just before his death in 1865.

– Sam Holdsworth

[+] See More

Related Work in the Catalog

Supplementary Images

Infrared image shows Lane's carefully rendered buildings, including windows and trees. The grid in t... [more]he center of the painting shows how he transferred the preparatory drawing to the painting. Dark patches are areas of retouching by a later conservator. – Marcia Steele
Photo: J. Neubecker, Cleveland Museum of Art
© Cape Ann Museum
Infrared detail shows the carefully measured grid at center with numbers at the top of the vertical ... [more]lines corresponding to those found in the preparatory drawing. – Marcia Steele
Photo: J. Neubecker, Cleveland Museum of Art
© Cape Ann Museum
Map showing Lane's viewpoint.
Photo: © Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
 

Explore catalog entries by keywords view all keywords »

Subject Types:   Landscape »
Landscape Types:   Field / Meadow »   //   Salt Marsh »
Vessel Types:   Gundalow (marsh hay) »
Cape Ann Locales:   Riverdale Marshes & Meadows »   //   Town Parish »
Activities of People:   Marsh Haying »

Historical Materials
Below is historical information related to the Lane work above. To see complete information on a subject on the Historical Materials page, click on the subject name (in bold and underlined).

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artwork
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.02)

Detail showing a flat-bottomed gundalow loaded with marsh hay and being propelled by men with long sweeps.

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Traditionally known as the Babson-Alling House, this two-and-a-half-story gambrel-roofed structure was constructed in 1740 for Joseph Allen, Jr., a successful merchant and land owner, and his family. It is located at what was once Gloucester’s Town Green, the center of civic and religious life during the Colonial era. The gable end of the house sits parallel to Washington Street and the front façade faces south.  By Lane’s time, the house was occupied by the Babson family; the fields surrounding it were given over to haying, gardens, and grazing of cows. Shortly before Nathaniel Babson's death in 1863, ownership of the Babson House was taken over by Maria and Emma's uncle, Gustavus Babson (1820–97). The house remains privately owned.

– Martha Oaks (May, 2015)

photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 612. Homestead of Gustavus Babson, Riverdale
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo view of the house owned by Nathaniel Babson (Emma and Maria). The house was sold to Gustavus shortly before Nathaniel's death.

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artwork
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.02)

Detail showing a flat-bottomed gundalow loaded with marsh hay and being propelled by men with long sweeps.

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Old First Parish)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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publication
1861 Cape Ann Advertiser 2.8.1861
2.8.1861
Newsprint
From bound volume owned by publisher Francis Procter
Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck

"We visited the studio of Mr. F.H. Lane a few days since, and spent an hour very pleasantly in viewing the paintings of this talented artist. There are quite a number of beautiful pictures now on exhibition among which is a spirited picture of an 'Outward Bound Ship'; there is an air of life about this painting which characterizes the works of this artist, and in gazing upon it the ship seems imbued with motion and with a slight stretch of the imagination we can fancy that we hear the rippling of the water under her bow, so natural is the scene. It is a master piece.

There is also a view of the 'Outer Harbor' taken from the Point, which is a gem. It should be seen to be appreciated as no description of ours will do it justice.

A scene at Town Parish, showing the old meeting house on the Green, with its tall spire, as it appeared in days agone. The old Ellery house, and Babson House are prominent features, which with the surrounding scenery form a picture which will prove of interest to the visitor. It is faithful to nature and well executed.

Mr. Lane has just commenced a large painting of 'Boston Harbor' which bids fair to prove one of his best efforts, if we can judge from the picture in its present state. Numerous other pictures adorn the walls, and those of our citizens who have a taste for the fine arts should not neglect to visit the studio. Mr. Lane ranks among the Marine Artists of the country, and his paintings meet with a ready sale."

Image: Collection of Fred and Stephanie Buck
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map
1823 Saville highway map
William Saville
1823
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Grayscale version of color original

Map of Riverdale from the Mills to the Whittemore House at Middle and Washington Streeets ordered by a committee of selectmen, William Pearce, Samuel Stevens, Daniel H. Rogers with John Mason and Anthony Presson.  Map drawn by surveyor William Saville and present to the committee in June, 1823. It contains a enlarged view of The Green, including the Ellery and Babson houses painted by Lane. 

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Annisquam River)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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photo (historical)
Riverdale
E. G. Rollins
c.1869
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View of the Babson Farm taken from Pole's Hill, showing the old Murray Meeting House (rear section of barn), fields and Mill River. In the background is the skyline of the major buildings at Harbor Village, including the first version of City Hall destroyed by fire in 1869.

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The David Low house appears in Lane's Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester, 1863 (inv. 10); it was located near the current corner of Washington Street and Cunningham Road. The roof and chimney peek up over the hill and field at the far left of canvas, above the man in the gundalow. It no longer exists, but it stood where Cunningham Road now leaves Washington Street, between Grant Circle and Addison Gilbert Hospital. 

David Low, the son of John Low Jr. and Sarah "Gee," was born in 1759.  He married Elizabeth Rogers in 1786 and they had fourteen children. By 1863, both David Low and Elizabeth were dead, but three of their daughters inhabited the house. It was these three sisters, Mary, Lucy and Sally/Sarah Low, about whom Lane's posthumous promoter, Alfred Mansfield Brooks, wrote, referring to them as the sisters of Captain Gorham Low:

"The Low house was a three-story Federal in which each sister occupied a floor wholly her own except for the parlor, which was reserved for callers, tea parties and funerals. A fine Copley portrait hung in this parlor, and Grandmother remembered how it was always rubbed over with a rind of fresh pork to make it shine when company was expected. I was taken in and shown as 'Abby's boy,' which I hated, and then expected to sit silent during each of the three visits, which I hated even more. Precisely the same length of time to the minute was exacted by the old ladies, else, as Great-Aunt Sarah said, they would never overlook the slight." 

In the early twentieth century, after the deaths of the sisters, the house left the Low family and was owned by Edith and then Florence Cunningham, but was eventually torn down to allow for the creation and development of Cunningham Road in the 1950s.

– Sarah Dunlap (September, 2013)

Related tables: Low, Colonel David »
Low House and family
c.1890
Sepia photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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map
1823 Saville highway map
William Saville
1823
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Grayscale version of color original

Map of Riverdale from the Mills to the Whittemore House at Middle and Washington Streeets ordered by a committee of selectmen, William Pearce, Samuel Stevens, Daniel H. Rogers with John Mason and Anthony Presson.  Map drawn by surveyor William Saville and present to the committee in June, 1823. It contains a enlarged view of The Green, including the Ellery and Babson houses painted by Lane. 

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Annisquam River)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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The White-Ellery House was built in 1710 and is one of just a handful of First Period houses in Eastern Massachusetts that survives to this day with much of its interior detail intact. (First Period means c.1620–1725.) It is a two-story “saltbox” structure with a massive central chimney that once serviced six fireplaces. Stepping inside today, visitors enter much the same house they would have 300 years ago.

The White-Ellery House is on the National Register of Historic Sites because of its unique construction and important interior features. The most important elements of the House include the following:

·Vertical plank frame construction.

·A framed overhang on the front façade.

·Elaborate chamfering (decorative plane work) on ceiling beams, particularly on the first floor.

·Three different examples of painted wall decoration.

·Renaissance-inspired architectural features illustrating the transition from European building traditions to early American ones.

·Very rare examples of raised-field paneled doors between rooms on the first floor.

·Unusually elaborate bolection moldings around fireplaces.

·Several examples of original clay plaster (with hair and eel grass), and skim coat of lime plaster.

·An integral lean-to roof (built at the same time as the rest of the structure).

·One of the most highly developed front staircases of the period in Eastern Massachusetts.

The White-Ellery House was built for the Reverend John White (1677–1760), brother-in-law of Cotton Mather, former Chaplain at Fort Saco, author of New England's Lamentations (1734) and Gloucester’s first settled minister. In keeping with White’s esteemed position in the community, the House exhibits a certain elegance and refinement, perhaps best reflected in the surviving interior details.

At the time the House was constructed, the surrounding area was Gloucester’s Town Green–the center of the community. The Reverend White’s church, also called a meeting house, was located on the green and most of the townspeople lived in the immediate area. The Annisquam River was readily accessible and was an important means of transportation for early residents, most of whom were farmers or simple tradesmen, and their families.

The second owner of the White-Ellery House was James Stevens who kept it as a tavern between 1735 and 1740. The House was owned next by the Ellery family who retained ownership of it until 1947. Although the center of Gloucester long ago moved from the Town Green to the Harbor Village, the site remains the entrance to Gloucester and an important historical site.

The barn alongside the White-Ellery House is also a First Period structure, built in the mid-1730s, exhibiting the same early construction techniques as the House. Recently it has undergone stabilization work by students in the Preservation Carpentry Program at the North Bennet Street School; further work will focus on preservation of the exterior.

photo (historical)
White-Ellery House
1890s
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photo (historical)
White-Ellery 1890s
House was given to Alfred Mansfield Brooks in 1954 by Harvey's brother, Elliott Rogers.
Image: Photo taken by Martha Hale Harvey
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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Old First Parish)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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photo (historical)
White-Ellery House Being Moved, September 1947

In 1947, plans were unveiled showing the soon-to-be-constructed Rte. 128 coming into Gloucester directly through the Town Green and literally on the doorstep of the White-Ellery House. Realizing the House’s importance, the City of Gloucester took it by eminent domain and sold the building to the Cape Ann Historical Museum with the proviso that it be moved immediately. Under the leadership of Museum president Alfred Mansfield Brooks, the House was picked up and moved approximately 100 yards to its present location. For the next decade, Brooks oversaw restoration of the structure, a process which successfully preserved much of the original fabric of the House and which has allowed visitors today to see this gem of First Period architecture, still standing on the edge of Gloucester’s former Town Green. 

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Annisquam River)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 35 Old Ellery House
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Stereoview card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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photo (historical)
White-Ellery House
A view of the White-Ellery house in the 1890s
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illustration
White-Ellery House
Fitz Henry Lane
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)

See p. 230.

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illustration
White-Ellery House Construction
In Abbott Lowell Cummings, Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625–1725 (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1979)

Diagram showing the frame of the White-Ellery House with its integral lean-to and vertical planking.

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Technically not a river but a saltwater tidal estuary, the Annisquam (or "Squam") River almost cuts off Cape Ann from the rest of the world. Its constantly flowing tides, and the gleaming expanse of marshes surrounding it, inspired several of Lane's paintings. Marsh hay was harvested along its tidal inlets and provided subject matter for Lane's depiction of this ancient occupation, and the traditional craft associated with it, the gundalow. The Annisquam is connected to Gloucester Harbor by The Cut, also known as the Blynman Canal, which was first dug in the seventeenth century, filled in and opened again to complete the more direct inland passage between the harbor and open ocean.

photo (historical)
Annisquam River
E. G. Rollins
1870s
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

This view is taken from Bellevue Heights, Governor's Hill, and shows Poor Farm, City Home, Emerson Avenue, and the railroad bridge over the Annisquam River with the Little River in the center. 

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photo (historical)
Clammers in marsh behind Wingaersheek Beach
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
4 x 5 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10159

Rare view of a marsh gundalow, being used on the Annisquam River for harvesting salt marsh hay. 

Also filed under: Gundalow / Scow »

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Annisquam River)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 6 from Bellevue (Governor's Hill) looking west, showing Annisquam RIver
Procter Brothers, publisher
1870s
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Historic Photographs »

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map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (Fresh Water Cove)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850: 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850: 3,213."

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chart
Chart of Ipswich Bay with Davis Neck inset
US Coast Survey preliminary chart of Ipswich Bay, 1855

Also filed under: Davis' Neck »

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photo (historical)
Postcard of Riverdale, Annisquam
Hugh C. Leighton, Portland, Maine, publisher
c.1900
Postcard
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Riverdale / Town Parish »

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map
U.S. Coast Survey Chart: Ipswich and Annisquam Harbors
1857
Survey of the Coast of the United States, Washington, D.C.
Collection of Erik Ronnberg

Also filed under: Maps »

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Gloucester’s First Parish was started here in 1641 when Pastor Blynman and his dissident group left the Plymouth Colony to start anew on Cape Ann. They were focused on agriculture, not fishing, and chose this relatively flat area of Cape Ann for its soil, fresh water, and relative protection from the sea weather to start their colony and build their first church. It was another fifty years before fishing began in earnest and the population gradually moved to the harbor area. This left Meetinghouse Green as a quiet pocket of small farms and tidal mills seemingly worlds away from the bustling harbor.

The Green, as it was commonly called, was located between the Annisquam River at Done Fudging and the head of the tidal Mill River to the north. The first meetinghouse on Cape Ann was built there in the 1640s, replaced by a successor built in 1752 which lasted until the 1840s when it was taken down for lack of funds and parishioners. The southern side of the Green is now almost completely obliterated by the Grant Circle rotary just over the Route 128 bridge as it comes onto Cape Ann. The northern side of the Green was up Washington St. from the rotary and occupied the present site of Addison Gilbert Hospital and the neighborhoods around it. The only structure left from the days when The Green was the town center is the Ellery House, which is now on the east side of Washington Street. This house is now owned by the Cape Ann Museum.

In Lane’s day there was a public landing on the Annisquam River at Done Fudging where the rotary now sits. Washington Street came north from the harbor and followed its present day route up the hill between the Babson house and Ellery house (moved to the east side of the street in 1953) and onto the Green. It was a quiet rural area in Lane’s time in contrast to the intense activity and swelling population of the harbor town.

Lane painted a number of pictures of this area, starting in the late 1840s with several self portraits of him painting in the landscape looking west from Done Fudging up the Annisquam River. Nowhere is the serene nature of this area better expressed than in two of Lane’s late views, Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester, 1863 (inv. 10) and The Babson Meadows at Riverdale, 1863 (inv. 11). The former shows the town landing at Done Fudging with a pole barge full of salt hay and the two prominent old houses flanking Washington Street. The view in Riverdale is taken from the north edge of The Green and looks up Mill River towards Riverdale in the distance. 

map
1823 Saville highway map
William Saville
1823
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Grayscale version of color original

Map of Riverdale from the Mills to the Whittemore House at Middle and Washington Streeets ordered by a committee of selectmen, William Pearce, Samuel Stevens, Daniel H. Rogers with John Mason and Anthony Presson.  Map drawn by surveyor William Saville and present to the committee in June, 1823. It contains a enlarged view of The Green, including the Ellery and Babson houses painted by Lane. 

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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map
1831 Mason Map
John Mason
1831
Lithograph
28.5 x 21 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

When Massachusetts decreed that each town be mapped, John Mason drew the map of Cape Ann in 1830. This drawing was sent to the Senefelder Lithographic Company of Boston (owned by William Pendleton) to be printed, and then sold in Gloucester by W.E.P. Rogers, whose Gloucester Telegraph of February 12, 1831 announced, "A few specimen copies of the map, uncolored, have reached the town" and that they cost $1.25. Perhaps this business arrangement between Pendleton and Rogers provided Lane with his introduction to Pendleton.

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Riverdale is one of Gloucester’s many neighborhoods. Although its boundaries have never been formally set, it runs from the historic Town Green north around the shores of the Mill River. Dogtown is upland and Wheeler’s Point is to the west. Riverdale has been continuously inhabited since the late 1600s. Landmarks in the neighborhood over the years have included a dam built across the upper end of the Mill River; a corn mill which ran off tidal waters that flowed out of a pond created by the dam; Poles Hill, a huge granite outcropping at the intersection of what are now Wheeler and Washington Streets; a Methodist meeting house; and the original Town Green. A history of the neighborhood, privately printed in 1950 and available in the archives of the Cape Ann Museum, has this to say about the derivation of the name Riverdale:

"This section of the town (of Gloucester) has long borne the name 'Riverdale,' said to have been given it in 1859 by Lodowick H. Bradford, a Boston man who married into the Brown family which then owned the mills. The name does not appear in Babson’s History; he alludes to the section as the 'old town.' It kept its purely Yankee population and character longer than most other parts of the city."

– Martha Oaks (2015)

photo (historical)
Riverdale
E. G. Rollins
c.1869
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

View of the Babson Farm taken from Pole's Hill, showing the old Murray Meeting House (rear section of barn), fields and Mill River. In the background is the skyline of the major buildings at Harbor Village, including the first version of City Hall destroyed by fire in 1869.

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map
1823 Saville highway map
William Saville
1823
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
Grayscale version of color original

Map of Riverdale from the Mills to the Whittemore House at Middle and Washington Streeets ordered by a committee of selectmen, William Pearce, Samuel Stevens, Daniel H. Rogers with John Mason and Anthony Presson.  Map drawn by surveyor William Saville and present to the committee in June, 1823. It contains a enlarged view of The Green, including the Ellery and Babson houses painted by Lane. 

Image: Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Babson House »   //  Low (David) House »   //  Maps »   //  Meetinghouse Green »   //  Riverdale Mills »

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photo (historical)
Postcard of Riverdale, Annisquam
Hugh C. Leighton, Portland, Maine, publisher
c.1900
Postcard
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Also filed under: Annisquam River »

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From Colonial times to the present, Gloucester and other shore-side communities have maintained certain tracts of land as public landings, assuring everyone the right of free access to and from tidal waters. Such ways are carefully delineated in deeds, are to be kept clear of encumbrances and be available for all to pass over. For communities like Gloucester whose economies were based solidly on maritime pursuits throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, allowing access to navigable waters was essential.

Public landings were designated across Cape Ann including at Folly Cove, the historic Town Green, Done Fudging, Lobster Cove, Cripple Cove and Stanwood Point in West Gloucester.  While public access to the water has gradually constricted in recent decades, even during Fitz Henry Lane’s lifetime, landowners guarded their property rights fiercely, making public landings all that more important.

Gloucester's first public landing was on the Annisquam River at the site of the old First Parish (now occupied by the Grant Circle rotary where Route 128 intersects Washington Street). Given the shallows of the river, most goods had to be landed in scows or gundalows—goods such as marsh hay, lumber, livestock, domestic needs, and business wares—in short, everything from the rest of the world.

As one of the earliest pockets of settlement in Gloucester, Fresh Water Cove was another logical and practical place for a public landing to be located and indeed one was laid out there by the town’s founders. It was over that tract of land that granite from the upland quarry, located in what is now Ravenswood, was transported to awaiting sloops in the Cove.  The landing was also how shore fishermen would access their boats and carry supplies to and from their homes.  

– Martha Oaks

map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Old First Parish)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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map
1834–35 Mason Map: Gloucester Harbor (detail 2)
John Mason
1834–35
24 x 38 in.
Gloucester City Archives

"Drawn on a scale of one hundred feet to an inch. By John Mason 1834–45 from Actual Survey showing every Lott and building then standing on them giving the actual size of the buildings and width of the streets from the Canal to the head of the Harbour & part of Eastern point as farr as Smith's Cove and the Shore of the same with all the wharfs then in use. Gloucester Harbor 1834–35."

This map is especially helpful in showing the wharves of the inner harbor at the foot of Washington Street. 

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map
1834–35 Mason Map: Gloucester Harbor (detail 3)
John Mason
1834–35
24 x 38 in.
Gloucester City Archives

"Drawn on a scale of one hundred feet to an inch. By John Mason 1834–45 from Actual Survey showing every Lott and building then standing on them giving the actual size of the buildings and width of the streets from the Canal to the head of the Harbour & part of Eastern point as farr as Smith's Cove and the Shore of the same with all the wharfs then in use. Gloucester Harbor 1834–35."

This map is especially useful in showing the Fort.

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1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail showing wharves)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

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The rivers of northern New England gave rise to a type of freighting scow called a "gundalow," having square ends, a flat bottom, shallow draft, and sturdy construction going beyond the usual standards for this hull type. The term “gundalow”—variously spelled and pronounced—was first used in the late seventeenth century in New England, and was derived from the Old World term “gondola”—also a flat-bottom vessel, but more varied in hull form and uses. (1)

The rivers and estuaries of Essex County, Massachusetts were subject to tidal variations and their surrounding lowlands were salt marshes which yielded prodigious quantities of grass. The more succulent varieties, called “marsh hay” were valued fodder for livestock, while “thatch,” which grew along the tidal creeks, was used for roofing of buildings, bedding for livestock, and compost for gardens. Grasses on higher elevations could be carted away after cutting, but at lower elevations, it was the job of gundalows to bring it to a landing for  distribution. Gundalows for these tasks were relatively small, less than 40 feet in length, propelled by long oars called “sweeps,” and by poles. Occasionally a single square sail was set from a short mast if the landing was distant and downwind. (2)

Larger gundalows, of more elaborate construction, were to be found on the Merrimac and Piscataqua Rivers of Northern Massachusetts and the Maine–New Hampshire boundary, respectively. The Merrimac gundalows probably reached 45–50 feet in length, had long overhangs with a stem post, a skeg with rudder and tiller, heavy framing, and a mast stepped well forward from which a square sail could be set when going downwind. (3)

Not just confined to the Merrimac River, many of these vessels found their ways to the Ipswich marshes via a canal on the mainland side of Plum Island. Smaller and simpler versions of this type were built to work in the salt marshes of Essex and West Gloucester, dispensing with sails and propelled much of the time by poling through narrow tidal creeks. (4)

Lane took notice of a gundalow in his painting Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester, 1863 (inv. 10) and the remains of another in his Looking up Squam River from Done Fudging, 1850s (inv. 26). In both cases, the hulls are small and simple in detail, but the latter shows part of its heavy inboard construction. Gundalows of this variety survived in Cape Ann estuaries long enough to be photographed.

Piscataqua River gundalows were the largest and most highly developed of this vessel type, measuring 65 feet or more and rigged with a lateen sail set on a very short mast. When sailing under a bridge, the sail could be dipped without lowering and quickly reset once clear. The hull was modeled with a rounded bow and finely shaped stern; many were fitted with a leeboard so the vessel could sail upwind on the broader reaches of the Piscataqua. (5)

Lane’s depiction of a gundalow in Boston Harbor in the mid-1840s is of the type associated with the Piscataqua River, but having features of both earlier and later examples, together with a rig not known to be used on these craft. The “spoon bow” has generally been regarded as a post-1860 feature, yet Lane’s example has one. The stern has a finely modeled transom which is clearly seen in the underdrawing revealed by infrared scanning. Rudders were supposed to be fitted by the early 1800s, but Lane’s example is steered with an oar. The graceful sheer is another feature considered to post-date Lane’s painting. Finally, the rig consists of a gaff- headed sail set from a very short mast. Short fixed masts setting large lateen sails were common to late gundalows, but the gaff rig depicted is so small that its usefulness is limited if not questionable (6).

Close examination of the infrared scans of this image shows careful drafting of the hull and re-drawing of the crew, sweeps, and steering oar. The cargo of casks is also extensively redrawn to show correct stowage. Whether the changes were due to criticisms from others or the artist’s own evaluation is probably lost to history.

– Erik Ronnberg

References:

1. M.H. Parry et al., Aak to Zumbra: The World's Watercraft, (Newport News, VA: The Mariners' Museum, 2000), 264.

2. Ibid.; and Nancy V. Weare, Plum Island: The Way It Was, 2nd ed. (Newbury, MA: Newburyport Press, Inc., 1996), 43–48.

3. D. Foster Taylor, "The Piscataqua River Gundalow," The American Neptune II, no. 2 (April 1942): 127–39.

4. Weare, 43–48.

5. Taylor, 127–39.

6. Ibid.; and author's observations.

photo (historical)
Clammers in marsh behind Wingaersheek Beach
Martha Hale Harvey
1890s
4 x 5 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
#10159

Rare view of a marsh gundalow, being used on the Annisquam River for harvesting salt marsh hay. 

Also filed under: Annisquam River »

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artwork
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.02)

Detail showing a flat-bottomed gundalow loaded with marsh hay and being propelled by men with long sweeps.

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photo (historical)
Lanesville granite scow
c.1880
Stereograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
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artwork
Harbor of Boston, with the City in the Distance
Fitz Henry Lane
c.1846–47
Oil on canvas
17 x 27 in.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund and partial gift of Travers Newton, Joanna Newton Riccardi, and Georgia Newton Pulos (2004.35)

Detail of gundalow.

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photo (historical)
Granite scow
c.1900
Photograph
Private collection

Granite scow being unloaded at Knowlton's Point, Sandy Bay. Sandy Bay Ledge visible in right background, Dodge's Rock in left background.

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From the days of the earliest English settlements on Cape Ann through Fitz Henry Lane’s lifetime, subsistence farmers harvested hay during the summer and autumn months and stored it away to feed livestock during the winter. They also sold it to others in the community for cash or bartered it for other goods and services. Two types of hay were harvested: English hay, meaning hay that was cultivated, and salt marsh hay which was cut from tidal areas where it grew naturally. Many farmers dealt in both. Hay was transported either in wagons drawn by horses or oxen, or by gundalows, flat bottom work boats which could easily maneuver in shallow marsh areas. One example of a family who engaged in haying was the Ellerys who lived at Gloucester’s old Town Green. An account book which Benjamin Ellery (1744–1825) kept is preserved in the archives of the Cape Ann Museum. It reveals that Ellery dealt in both cultivated and natural hay as well as other commodities. He also owned a gundilow, oxen and wagons, all of which he used for his own purposes and made available to others on a barter basis. The practice of haying died out on Cape Ann as automobiles and trucks came into use during the first quarter of the twentieth century and livestock disappeared from the area.

– Martha Oaks (April, 2015)

artwork
Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester
Fitz Henry Lane
1863
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 in.
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Roger W. Babson, 1937 (779.02)

Detail showing a flat-bottomed gundalow loaded with marsh hay and being propelled by men with long sweeps.

Also filed under: Babson House »   //  Gundalow / Scow »

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Emmeline (Emma) Rogers Babson (1839–1905) was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the eldest of the two daughters of Nathaniel Babson and Emmeline Davis (Rogers) Babson.

Her mother died when Emma was five and her father, who was a house painter by profession, a selectman, and active in the abolitionist movement, never remarried.

Emma attended the Oread Institute of higher education for women in Worcester, Massachusetts, for one year (her sister Maria attended for one term), before returning to Gloucester, where she brought income into the house as a dressmaker. She married William Hovey Friend (1840–1914) in 1869, and immediately moved to San Francisco, California, where her husband had been residing since 1863.  He was a bookkeeper for several firms, and at one time represented the California branch of the Gloucester wholesale fish business of John E. Pew & Sons. In 1896, he became the postmaster of Oakland, California, where he was also trustee and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church for many years. He and Emma had two sons, William Nathaniel Friend, born in 1870 and Roger Berry Friend, born in 1873.

Emma was one of the original organizers of the Ebell Society in 1876 (formed to promote and advance the study by women of literature, science and art), and although suffering from ill health, continued an interest in its affairs until her death. She also helped to organize the Oakland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, was a member of the General Society of the Mayflower Descendants, and a life member of the YWCA. She was active in the first campaign for woman's suffrage in 1896, and when the Spanish war broke out she was instrumental in organizing the Oakland Red Cross Society, whose first meeting was held at her home. She was also an avid collector of china and wrote authoritatively about it. She wrote many other articles on a variety of subjects, including art. She died in Oakland, California, in 1905.

Lane made paintings for Emma and her sister Maria from three sketches.

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Maria Rogers Babson (1840–1913) was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the youngest of the two daughters of Nathaniel Babson and Emmeline Davis (Rogers) Babson. She died unmarried in California at the age of seventy-three.

Her mother died when Maria was four and her father, who was a house painter by profession, a selectman, and active in the abolitionist movement, never remarried. Maria and her older sister Emma both briefly attended the Oread Institute of higher education for women in Worcester, Massachusetts—Maria for one term and Emma for one year.

Maria moved to California in 1870, following her sister who had married and moved there the previous year. In California, both sisters became active in a variety of charitable, social and religious organizations. Maria was a charter member of the Ebell Society and Club (formed to promote and advance the study by women of literature, science and art), its General Curator, and indefatigable promoter for many years. She also was prominent in the Oakland Red Cross Society and helped found the Convalescent Home during the Spanish war. She was treasurer of the fund for the children's room in the Carnegie Library and involved in the organization and perpetuation of the Oakland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She took a significant interest in the activities, especially the missionary work, of the First Presbyterian Church, being an honorary member of the American Board and an active member of the Occidental Board of Foreign Missions. She died at the home of her nephew in San Francisco on May 1, 1914. (1)

Lane made paintings for Maria and her sister Emma from three sketches.

(1) Past and Present of Alameda County California, Vol. II
  (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914)
, 472-475.

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Nathaniel Babson was a Gloucester merchant and a town selectman from 1847 to 1850, and again in 1860.  He was a strong supporter of abolition and brought speakers into town to lecture on the subject. He was part owner of two schooners, the "Dianna" in 1855 and the "Flying Cloud" from 1855 to 1859.

According to notes on his drawings, Lane made a painting for Nathaniel Babson of Stage Rocks, and three paintings for his two daughters of their family home.

Nathaniel Babson (1810–63) married Emmeline Davis Rogers (1816–44) on January 16, 1838. He was the son of Capt. Nathaniel Babson and Eliza Gorham Low and a cousin of Edward and John James Babson, his father and their father being brothers. Emmeline was the daughter of Shubael Gorham Rogers and Mary (Davis) Rogers. They had three children: Emmeline Rogers (1839–1903) who married William Hovey Friend; Maria Rogers (1840–1913), who did not marry, and an unnamed daughter who died in the year of her birth, 1844. In the 1860 census, after his wife’s death, Nathaniel Babson was described as a [house] painter and their daughter Emmeline as a dressmaker.

Shortly before his death, ownership of Nathaniel Babson's home went to Maria and Emma's uncle, Gustavus Babson (1820-1897)

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photo (historical)
Cape Ann Scenery: No. 612. Homestead of Gustavus Babson, Riverdale
Procter Brothers, Publisher
Stereograph card
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Stereo view of the house owned by Nathaniel Babson (Emma and Maria). The house was sold to Gustavus shortly before Nathaniel's death.

Also filed under: Babson House »   //  Historic Photographs »

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PDF
view ]
Gloucester Lyceum Record Book
1849
Handwritten ledger
Sawyer Free Library
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Exhibition History

1966 DeCordova Museum: DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 56.
1980 National Gallery of Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875.
1988 National Gallery of Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia, Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, no. 20, ill., p.16, as Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester.

Published References

Wilmerding 1964: Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865: American Marine Painter, p. 51.
American Neptune 1965: The American Neptune, Pictorial Supplement VII: A Selection of Marine Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, 1804–1865, plate XXX, no. 117, as View of the Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 1966a: Fitz Hugh Lane: The First Major Exhibition, no. 56, as View of the Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 1971a: Fitz Hugh Lane.
Wilmerding 1980a: American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850–1875, ill., fig. 37, pp. 45–46, text, pp. 111, 116, 261.
Wilmerding 1988a: Paintings by Fitz Hugh Lane, ill. in color p. 16, as Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester.
Moses 1991: "Mary B. Mellen and Fitz Hugh Lane," p. 834. ⇒ includes text
Cape Ann 1993: Training the Eye and the Hand: Fitz Hugh Lane and 19th Century Drawing Books, p. 23, as Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester.
Worley 2004: "Fitz Hugh Lane and the Legacy of the Codfish Aristocracy," p. 73. ⇒ includes text
Wilmerding 2005: Fitz Henry Lane, ill. 98.
Craig 2006a: Fitz H. Lane: An Artist's Voyage through Nineteenth-Century America, pl. 23.
Berry 2016: "Digital Arts: The Cape Ann Museum moves 19th-century artist F.H. Lane online and into the 21st century." ⇒ includes text
Swift 2016: "Miraculous Detail: The Legacy of Fitz Henry Lane," as Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester. ⇒ includes text
view all »

Interactive feature

Citation: "Babson and Ellery Houses, Gloucester, 1863 (inv. 10)." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/catalog/entry.php?id=10 (accessed October 20, 2017).
Record last updated March 20, 2017. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
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