Archive for April, 2012

Photo of the Week

Sunday, April 29th, 2012


I know it’s the beginning of Spring and you’re probably not thinking about snow, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

In 1898, a snow storm hit New England hard. Throughout Frebruary, blizzards trampled on Andover. Telephone services were almost completely cut off, and Andover residents had trouble traveling for days. Many trains were cancelled or delayed due to the snow and ice build-up on the tracks. Hundreds of men were employed to remove the snow from major roads like Main Street. Plowing services and shovelers cleared the streets and dumped the snow in lot next to the Tyer Rubber Company, which is now the Andover Public Safety Center.

After the blinding sheets of snow ceased, these two kids made an igloo in the mountain of snow on the intersection of Salem Street and Highland Road.

That concludes Disaster Month, brought to you by the Photo of the Week blog!

All information gathered from the Andover Townman, Friday February 11 1898, Vol XI No 18.


Can You Dig It? Was a Success!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Attendees participated in a simulation canvas dig of the Blanchard House.

On April 19th, the Andover Historical Society  hosted  eight children at our newest program  Can You Dig It? Andover Archaeology.  All of the participants had a lot of fun learning about archaeology and taking part in fun hands-on activities. The cookie excavation was a crowd favorite.  Each child carefully excavated M&Ms and chocolate chip “artifacts” from the cookie “site” doing their best to keep the “artifact” intact.  It was hard work and the kids realized that they had to be very careful to prevent any damage.  Once the artifacts were excavated we turned our stomachs into museums to store the artifacts.   One of the participants, Ashlyn, said “My stomach is happy!

This participant is carefully excavating an M&M from a cookie!

At one point, objects from the Blanchard House were interpreted by the children.   The children learned how to look closely at  a variety of objects to determine what they were and how they were used.  Some of the objects were very unique and the children had never seen such things before.   As the children gained a critical eye   and determined what several of the artifacts were! Another favorite part of the program was using the “coil and scrape” method to make clay pots.  This Native American pottery method was used in the Northeast for thousands of years. Using experimental archaeology, the kids were able to practice this method to learn how the pots were made.

Ashlyn and Charlie created their very own pots using the "coil and scrape" method.


The Andover Historical Society has many programs for children of all ages to learn about the past.  If you would like to sign-up for this program or learn about other opportunities to visit the museum please call 978-475-2236 or email

Coming up next on the Andover Historical Society calendar, a series of events this June called Spirit and Sacrifice: Andover in the Civil War.

Children can learn about Abby Locke a real Andover Girl and families are invited to a Civil War Reenactment by Jim Bedford.  Don’t miss out on all of our exciting events.



Exhibit Highlight: Bohemian Glass

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

If you look through this week’s Exhibit Highlight, the world will become a haze of ruby. If you look at this week’s Exhibit Highlight, your mouth will drop open slightly and you will dream of warm summer nights and wine or cool lemonade. The Exhibit Highlight for this week is a beautiful collection of wine glasses, and a matching carafe with stopper. The collection is two wine glasses, each made of red glass and decorated with a delicate pattern of grapes and leaves, with a ring on the stem and standing about eleven centimeters high. The carafe has a similar grape pattern, with a glass stopper and the pattern cut into it. They are made of Bohemian glass, hugely popular in the 1800’s before sinking into obscurity as other glass techniques were created.


Objects 1960.022.1, 1960.023.1, and 1960.026.1ab

The pieces of the week were donated to the Andover Historical Society in 1960 with a large collection of glassware by Priscilla Blackhouse Wilkinson. The pieces are from circa 1885. As mentioned earlier, the wine glasses and carafe are made of Bohemian glass. Bohemia was a large part of central Europe including the Czech Republic and several other countries. The glass made in the area known as Bohemia was famous in the 1800’s, but by 1890 it had died out as other glass from around the world became popular. People in Bohemia made glass before the nineteenth century, but it was in the early 1800’s they began to make good quality colored glass products, including vases and glasses.

Bohemian pieces were famous for their color, mostly ruby and sometimes blue or green. Ruby refers to a deep red color, of which the pieces on display at the Historical Society are a good example. They also included wonderful cut patterns on their pieces, and their pieces quickly spread across Europe and around the world. At first, colored glass and the effort to make it were very expensive, but eventually a new technique was discovered in which a clear layer of glass was covered in a thin layer of color, making it less expensive.

The pieces on display now are worth taking a look at, and if you look closely, you can see how good the workmanship is and why this style of glass was so universally popular in the 1800’s.


Photo of the Week

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012


Disaster Month week 4: Hurricane Carol. This was the worse hurricane to hit Massachusetts, excluding the hurricane of 1938 that I covered last week.

In late August of 1954, a tropical storm quickly formed in the Bahamas. It was swept up into Florida and was identified as a Category 3 on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. The storm surged through North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, and Conneticut. Carol, similar to the hurricane in 1938, hit Massachusetts during high tide. Winds of 80 to 110 miles per hour blew down the Old North Church in Boston. Carol killed 68 people and destroyed “4,000 homes, 3,500 cars, and over 3,000 boats.” Most of Eastern Massachusetts lost power, and 95% of the telephone services went down. Carol caused millions of dollars of damage.

The Public Safety department of Massachusetts reported that the name “Carol” has been retired for hurricanes. No wonder…

I quoted from this very helpful article:

Another source:


Photo of the Week

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

 No, this isn’t a war zone; it’s Main Street in 1938. Welcome to week 3 of Disaster Month, presented by the Photo of the Week blog. 


In early September of 1938, a huge tropical storm took root in Africa. It gained speed and turned into a Category 5 storm over the Atlantic ocean, and struck down in the US in Florida. Although meteorologists had barometers to predict some of the storm, radar had not yet been invented, and the news of the storm didn’t spread fast enough. The Great Hurricane of 1938 struck down in the south and started to make its way north. Officials predicted that it would blow out to sea or dry up in Virginia, but two high pressure systems pushed it in another direction: New England. Nicknamed the “Long Island Express”, the hurricane ripped through New York, causing oceans to rise and destroying Long Island. Then it hit Massachusetts.  

The hurricane just happened to breeze through Massachusetts during a high tide and during the Autumnal Equinox, making ocean waters particularly high already. When the “Yankee Clipper” came along, it completely devastated MA. The eye of the storm caused major damage in the Western part of the state, including flash floods and power outages. Winds topping off at 186 mph ripped through boats in the New Bedford Harbor. Boston wasn’t affected too badly, but as you can see from this picture, Andover was still struck hard. Our archives house hundreds of photos of the damaged houses, trees, and cars.  

After blowing down numerous trees in Quebec, the hurricane finally died out at sea.  

If you have time for a lengthy first-hand account from an Andover man, check out this letter:  



Registration is Open for Can You Dig It? Andover Archaeology

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
There is still space available for our Can You Dig It? Andover Archaeology program on April 19th so don’t forget to sign up! This program is a great chance to learn about the archaeological history of Andover including some of the findings from the Native Americans who once called the area around Andover “home.”

Color Image of a Pawtucket Village along the Merrimack River courtesy of the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. All Rights Reserved.

Arrowheads and handicrafts that have been found tell us that Native Americans lived along the Merrimack River for thousands of years.  Shattuck Farm in West Andover is believed to have been one of the largest Native American villages in the area.  Much of the site was damaged, making it difficult for archaeologists to interpret the history.  What they found helped them understand the settlement of the area.  Some of the items that were found included plant remains, bones, and ceramics.  The archaeology program will discuss what archaeologists can learn from these discoveries and how they are excavated from the ground.

Children ages 7-11 are invited to join us for this exciting look at archaeology and artifacts of Andover’s past from 9:30-11:30 on April 19th during school vacation week.  The program cost is $10 per child.  Space is limited and Reservations are required.  Register by phone at 978-457-2236 or at the Andover Historical Society website by April 18th.


Are you ready for Spring Break?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

At the Andover Historical Society we have been busy preparing for our newest program “Can You DIg It?: Andover Archaeology.” On April 19th from 9:30-11:30 children ages 7-11 will  step into the shoes of an archaeologist and learn about Andover’s history from a new perspective.

Archaeology is a science that allows us to open the doors to the cultures and people of the past. Artifacts that are hidden underground tell unbelievable stories. It is the role of the archaeologist to uncover these treasures and find the meaning in them.  Come learn how archaeologists make discoveries and how they interpret the material culture of our predecessors.

Children ages 7-11 are invited to join us for this exciting look at archaeology and artifacts of Andover’s past from 9:30-11:30 on April 19th during school vacation week.  The program cost $10 per child.  Space is limited and Reservations are required.  Register by phone at 978-457-2236 or at the Andover Historical Society website by April 18th.

Can you Dig It?




Photo of the Week

Sunday, April 8th, 2012


Remember this? In spring of 2006, almost exactly 70 years after the flood I reported last week, Shawsheen was under water. This is the soccer field across from the Andover Hockey Shop. I remember my dad and I drove around Andover just to see the damage. Shawsheen was by far the worst and most exciting place in Andover that spring.  

For many older Andover residents, history repeated itself. On Mother’s Day weekend, rain battered down on Andover, flooding the Shawsheen river. The river flooded 8.63 feet over it’s normal height. After the water leaked out, 10 roads were completely water-logged, including Main Street and High Plain Road. Residents lost electricity for days. Many of the condominiums in the flooded area had to be evacuated, including the Balmoral Condos. These condos were especially damaged, and after their restoral in the fall, Andover won a court case against making units in the basement. The risk of flooding was just too dangerous.  

Just be thankful that our April showers aren’t flooding. More on the natural disasters of Andover next week.  

Check out this article in the Andover Townsman comparing the 1936 flood to the 2006 flood:


Exhibit Highlight: Children’s Dress

Thursday, April 5th, 2012


Hidden in one of the upstairs bedrooms of the Andover Historical Society is an exquisite children’s nightgown which is part of the current exhibit, “Common Indecency.” This is one of several pieces of children’s clothing at the Historical Society, but it is one of the most beautiful. Made of white cotton with real lace trim, it would have been one little girl’s dream nightgown, and it is our Exhibit Highlight this week.


Close Up of the Neckline

The nightgown is made of white cotton, and it is full length with from tie closure with long sleeves. There is fine lace trim decorating the neck and sleeves, and a high lace waistband. Also added are several ruffles in the skirt and at the shoulders. This handmade piece of clothing was donated to the Andover Historical Society in 1940 by Mr. William A. Trow, who was born in 1868 and died at the age of eighty-one in 1949. Mr. Trow was married to Miss Florence Gardner, and they had an adopted daughter named Charlotte, who married in 1947 and became Mrs. Charlotte Bowes Trow Young.


Object 1940.122.1

William Trow was an integral part of the community, and served the town of Andover in many different ways. He graduated from Punchard High School, and went on to be part of the Punchard School Board of Trustees. He was a member of the Andover School Committee, and was even a president of the Andover Historical Society from 1936-1947. Mr. Trow enjoyed collecting historical notes, and there is a William A. Trow collection at the Historical Society today, containing mostly information on the Samuel Phillips family during the Revolutionary War.

The nightgown on exhibit now is a beautiful example of children’s nightwear, and how elegant it used to be. I know that as a small child, I would have loved to wear something  like that to bed. I bet the child that was that lucky had magical dreams.


Photo of the Week

Sunday, April 1st, 2012


Last summer, hurricane Irene blew through New England in late August. Although the rain and winds were not disastrous, a fallen tree left my house without electricity for days. My family had to shower at a gym. At night, instead of watching TV, we read with flashlights. I learned to make cookies on a gas stove top. Although it was a rough week, Irene is nothing compared to the storms I’ll uncover this month in this blog. Hopefully our April showers won’t seem too bad compared to these storms. This week, let’s take a look at the flood of 1936.

The winter of 1935-36 was very snowy. Mountains of snow still stood into the spring due to prolonged cold weather. Heavy rain caused Lake Winnepesaukee to overflow and rush into the Merrimack and Shawsheen rivers. Headlines of all the local newspapers highlighted the rising New England rivers. On March 13th, the Wood Mill in Lawrence had to shut down. On the 14th and on the 18th, rainstorms flooded Shawsheen. On Saint Patrick’s day, the Merrimack River rised 5 feet in 24 hours. A record  of 48.85 feet of water reached the top of the Lawrence Wood dam.

There were thousands of dollars of damage to Andover alone. It was reported that 13 states in the North East were affected by the flooding. 104 homes in Shawsheen had to be evacuated, but thankfully the Marland Mill dam in Ballardvale prevented further flooding. After 400,000 people became homeless and 178 people died, the National Guard helped clean up the mess of Andover. Thousands were without heat and water, making disease a problem. Pneumonia, typhoid, and influenza were lurking in the stagnant waters. Thankfully by the end of March, the waters began to receed and Shawsheen was restored.