Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Petrosomatoglyphs: Dinosaur Footprints at Wisteriahurst - Holyoke, MA

Dinosaur Footprints at Wisteriahurst
Holyoke, MA


N 42° 12.314 W 072° 37.029



Quick Description: 

The walkways surrounding the entrance to the Wisteriahurst at 238 Cabot Street in Holyoke, MA, is lined with quarried slaps containing dinosaur footprints.

Long Description:

Belle Skinner, the daughter of silk manufacturer William Skinner, paved the walkways of Wisteriahurst, the family estate, with quarried brownstone slabs that contain ripple marks and many dinosaur footprints. The slabs were obtained from quarries in the Connecticut River Valley and contain the footprints of the Eubrontes species of dinosaur.

The Skinner family owned the estate until 1959 when the youngest child of William and Sarah Skinner, Katharine Skinner Kilborne, gave Wistariahurst to the City of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes. It is now the home of Holyoke Museum of Natural History and Art.

No sign identified the dinosaur footprints. They are intentionally left to be discovered by visitors. On occasion, the Wisteriahurst will hold special educational programs that feature these footprints.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Roadside Attraction: Dead Frog Circus - Holyoke, MA

Dead Frog Circus
Holyoke, MA



N 42° 12.302 W 072° 37.055




Short Description: 

The Dead Frog Circus is located in the carriage house visitors center of the Wisteriahurst Museum at 238 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA.

Long Description:

This glass encased diorama was created by naturalist Burlington Schurr in 1927. It consists of a number of taxidermied frogs, and several rats and turtles positioned as circus performers and spectators. On the left is the circus frog band. The center has frogs performing acrobatic stunts, some perched on turtles and rats. On the right is an audience of frogs.



A sign at the exhibit explains the history of the frog circus.

Burlington Schurr, a naturalist, was born in Chatham, New York in 1884. After an education in the public schools in Pittsfield, MA, Schurr began his career as a naturalist with an exhibit of mounted animals for the Cleveland Public Library. He furthered his reputation by writing and lecturing on nature.

When civic leaders finalized plans for a museum on the second floor of the Holyoke Public Library, Schurr was asked to arrange the exhibits and be the museum curator. The Holyoke Museum opened February 1927 and Schurr was its curator until his death in 1951.

Under his leadership, the Holyoke Museum became a home-away-from-home for thousands of city youths wishing to learn more about wildlife and nature. Schurr used both mounted and live specimens to teach children about animals.

The Frog Circus is one of Schurr’s most popular works. Over 70 years old, it was exhibited at the opening of the Holyoke Museum in 1927, and has been viewed by thousands of curious visitors.

Open on Saturday 12:00 - 16:00 - call 413-322-5660 to confirm hours.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Carriages and Coaches: Skinner Family Carriage - Holyoke, MA

Skinner Family Carriage
Holyoke, MA


N 42° 12.302 W 072° 37.055



Short Description: 

Skinner Family Carriage has been fully restored and is now display at the carriage house of the former Skinner estate, Wisteriahurst, at at 238 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA.

Long Description:

Wistariahurst is the former home of William Skinner, a 19th century industrialist and manufacturer of silk. The family owned the estate until 1959 when the youngest child of William and Sarah Skinner, Katharine Skinner Kilborne, gave Wistariahurst to the City of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes.



The family carriage, built around 1870, is on display at the carriage house, which is used as a visitors center and museum. A sign on the seat of the carriage tells the story of the historic carriage. It reads:

Skinner Family Carriage Returns to Wistariahurst
WISTERIAHURST MUSEUM
The Restoration of a Holyoke Manufactured Carriage

The carriage that once belonged to the Skinner family is coming home to Wistariahurst this autumn. The horse drawn carriage (circa 1870) was manufactured by Fenton and Dunn of Holyoke, a well know and reputable carriage maker among those in New England. In a write-up of their work, it was said, “We speak advisedly when we say that this company make only the finest of work—their reputation all through the line of their patronage bears out this statement.” Wistariahurst’s archives contain several photographs taken of Skinner family members seated in carriages. The Skinner Fenton and Dunn carriage has been in storage in a barn in Granby, MA, after it was carefully repaired and restored to its original condition by Mr. William Menard. Mr. Menard received the carriage as a gift from Miss Elizabeth Skinner of South Hadley, the daughter of Joseph. The carriage was first transferred from Mr. Menard into the care of The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum of Mount Holyoke College. However, when their storage facilities changed, the carriage was then gifted to Wistariahurst Museum, to be displayed for educational purposes. The carriage remained in storage for several years while Wistariahurst Museum’s Carriage House underwent renovations. This summer, communications with the Menard family revealed that all parties were ready to return the carriage to its proper home in Holyoke. Wistariahurst is proud to house this family artifact, and it will be on permanent display in the Carriage House.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

National Register of Historic Places: Wistariahurst - Holyoke, MA

Wistariahurst
Holyoke, MA


N 42° 12.314 W 072° 37.029



Short Description: 

Wistariahurst, currently the Holyoke Museum of Natural History and Art, is located at 238 Cabot Street, Holyoke, MA.



Long Description:

Wistariahurst is the former home of William Skinner, a 19th century industrialist and manufacturer of silk. The first building on the site was built about 1848 and moved from Williamsburg, MA to its present location in 1874 when Skinner relocated to Holyoke. The mansion has three sections: the three-story original section, a two-story hall attached on the west side, and a wing housing a conservatory and music room.

Skinner expanded the building into its present Second Empire style structure starting in 1874. The conservatory and music hall, designed by Clarence E. Luce of Philadelphia, were added in 1913. The present complete structure was designed by the firm of Wilson, Eyre and McIllvaine in 1927. William Skinner's wife Sarah created the gardens at Wisteriahurst. The grounds are planted with a variety of trees, and the wisteria vine along the house that gave the estate its name. The mansion, lawns, and gardens occupy three acres, an entire city block.

The family owned the estate until 1959. The youngest child of William and Sarah Skinner, Katharine Skinner Kilborne, gave Wistariahurst to the City of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes.

Admission to the house is by guided tour only. General admission is $7 adults. Tour times are: Saturday - 12:15 pm, 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, and 3:15 pm. Wistariahurst grounds and gardens are free and open daily from dawn until dusk.

Street address: 
238 Cabot Street
Holyoke, MA United States

County: Hampden

Year listed: 1973

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Industry; Architecture; Social History

Periods of significance: 1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1850-1874; 1825-1849; 1925-1949

Historic function: Single dwelling; Secondary structure

Current function: Museum; Music facility

Privately owned?: no


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Infamous Crime Scene: Spooner Well - Brookfield, MA

Spooner Well
Brookfield, MA



N 42° 13.289 W 072° 05.687



Short Description: 

The site of the murder of Joshua Spooner is marked by a granite monument on
East Main Street in Brookfield, MA.

Long Description:

January 15, 1766 Bathsheba Ruggles, the daughter of Brigadier Geneneral Timothy Ruggles, had an arranged marriage to the prosperous farmer Joshua Spooner. In early 1778 she became pregnant by a Continental Army soldier Ezra Ross. Bathsheba convinced Ezra and two escaped British prisoners of war, Pvt. Williams Brooks and Sgt. James Buchanan, to murder her husband.

On March 1, 1778 the three men beat Joshua Spooner to death and dumped his body down the family's well. The perpetrators were soon caught and put on trial in Worcester, MA. All four were found guilty and hanged on July 2, 1788 in front of 5000 spectators. Authorities failed, or refused, to determine that Bathsheba was five months pregnant at the time. Bathsheba became the first women executed on for a crime in the United States following the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

A granite marker at the site known as Spooner Well tells the story of the murder.

SPOONER WELL

JOSHUA SPOONER MURDERED
AND THROWN DOWN THIS WELL
MARCH 1, 1778, BY THREE
REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIERS
AT THE URGING OF HIS WIFE
BATHSHEBA. 
ALL FOUR WERE 
EXECUTED AT
WORCESTER, JULY 2, 1778.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Medal of Honor: MM2 George Francis Henrechon - Bloomfield, CT

Medal of Honor Recipient
MM2 George Francis Henrechon
Bloomfield, CT


N 41° 48.932 W 072° 41.520




Quick Description: 

The grave of Medal of Honor recipient Machinist's Mate Second Class George Francis Henrechon is located in section F of Mount Saint Benedict Cemetery in Bloomfield, CT.



Long Description:

George Francis Henrechon was born in Hartford, CT on November 22, 1885. He enlisted into the Navy from California and was stationed aboard the gunboat USS Pampanga as part of U.S. Navy "Mosquito Fleet" assigned to patrol Philippine waters and contain the native Moros from insurrection.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism on September 24, 1911 at at Mundang, Basilan Island, Philippine Islands during the Philippine Insurrection. His citation reads:

While attached to the U.S.S. Pampang, Henrechon was one of a shore party moving in to capture Mundang, Philippine Islands, on 24 September 1911. Ordered to take station within 100 yards of a group of nipa huts close to the trail, Henrechon advanced and stood guard as the leader and his scout party first searched the surrounding deep grasses, then moved into the open area before the huts. Instantly enemy Moros opened point-blank fire on the exposed men and approximately 20 Moros rushed the small group from inside the huts and from other concealed positions. Henrechon, responding to the calls for help, was one of the first on the scene. When his rifle jammed after the first shot, he closed in with rifle, using it as a club to break the stock over the head of the nearest Moro and then, drawing his pistol, started in pursuit of the fleeing outlaws. Henrechon's aggressive charging of the enemy under heavy fire and in the face of great odds contributed materially to the success of the engagement.

George Francis Henrechon died on August 16, 1929 in Hartford, CT at age 43. He is buried in a family plot in Mount Saint Benedict Cemetery, Bloomfield, CT. The family plot contains a large headstone inscribed HENRECHON. The back contains the names and dates of six family members but not that of George F. Henrechon. Behind and to the right of the family headstone is a rectangular granite grave marker set at ground level that marks the grave of George F. Henrechon. It is inscribed:

GEORGE F HENRECHON
MEDAL OF HONOR
MM2 US NAVY
PHILIPPINES
NOV 22 1885 AUG 16 1929

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Decorated Utility Box: Remind Them Why You're Here - Pittsfield, MA

Remind Them Why You're Here
Pittsfield, MA


N 42° 27.034 W 073° 15.191


Short Description: 

A decorated utility boxes commissioned by the Pittsfield Artscape Committee is located on North Street and in front of Palace Park in downtown Pittsfield, MA.



Long Description:

The City of Pittsfield Artscape Committee has chosen the eight designs that are now painted on utility boxes throughout the downtown area. All he boxes were painted July 9th and 16th 2016 and were unveiled on July 21, 2016 during the Third Thursday street fair.

Stephanie VanBramer created this decorated utility box with a motivational message. The street side contains the portrait of a young black girl, against a white background, wearing a white mask to emulate a superhero. The remainder of the utility box is spray painted in tones of purple and blue. The back and north side side carries the motivational message painted in white. The sidewalk side is inscribed: this place needs you  remind them. The south side is inscribed: why you're here.

Title: "Remind Them Why You're Here"

Name of Artist: Stephanie VanBramer

Title of the Art: Remind Them Why You're Here

Year Decorated: 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

Decorated Utility Box: Faces - Pittsfield, MA

Faces
Pittsfield, MA


N 42° 27.067 W 073° 15.208



Quick Description: 

A decorated utility boxes commissioned by the Pittsfield Artscape Committee is located on North Street at Persip Park in downtown Pittsfield, MA.



Long Description:

The City of Pittsfield Artscape Committee has chosen the eight designs that are now painted on utility boxes throughout the downtown area. All he boxes were painted July 9th and 16th 2016 and were unveiled on July 21, 2016 during the Third Thursday street fair.

Paul Dodds created this decorated utility box located in a fenced in alcove on top of an embankment with railroad tracks below. The utility box is painted orange on the front and sides. A black line drawing of faces of all types and shapes, some normal - some grotesque, are painted on the front and sides. The back is very close to the fence and not easily seen and photographed. There seems to be some black line drawings of vegetation against an unpainted background; most probably old graffiti not done by the artist.

Name of Artist: Paul Dodds

Title of the Art: Faces

Year Decorated: 2016