Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gold in the Hills or the Dead Sister's Secret

During the summer of 1931 the Dummer Allies, an association organized by female graduates and friends of the Academy in 1910, performed the play, Gold in the Hills or the Dead Sister's Secret. The production was held in the qymnasium of the school.

According to the playbill, "Gold in the Hills, or the Dead Sister's Secret" is warranted to run the gamut of emotions, wring the heart-strings, delight the eye, show you the brink of the abyss, and leave a good taste in the mouth. Young people may bring their mothers and fathers without dread of any harmful influence, and grandmother will wipe her glasses and ask for more."

The casting and production was a group effort and in the September 8, 1931 minutes of the Dummer Allies, it was voted "that a vote of thanks be extended to Miss Helen McG. Noyes [an Academy friend and benefactor] and the caste for the melodrama, "Gold in the Hills of the Dead Sister's Secret" which was given so acceptably at the Dummer Gymnasium...Special thanks to be given to Mrs. Eames [the wife of Headmaster Ted Eames] for providing lemonade at a very hot evening at one of the rehearsals. A vote of thanks be given Mr. William Dummer [the husband of the President of the Dummer Allies] for his kindness and help in giving on the wiring and lights."

*The photograph is of cast member Dorothy Dunn dressed as Nel Standley. Click on the above images to enlarge.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

1913 Banquet Invitation

This handmade invitation to the 1913 Annual Basketball Banquet was recently donated in the memory of the late, Dr. David W. Yesair, Class of 1950, by his wife, Ruth A Yesair. Tied with red and white ribbons and measuring five inches in circumference, the invitation is in the name of Capt. Yesair, David’s uncle, John Yesair, Class of 1914.

The banquet took place on March 11, 1913 to honor members of The Team - John Yesair, Captain, Harold Coleman, Manager, Marston D. Young, Ward Loud, Anthony Poto, Everett Trask and Edward Cummings, Mascot. The menu consisted of “Blue Points on the half shell ConsommĂ© au naturel, Roasted Vermont Turkey, Sage Dressing, Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Green Peas, Waldorf Salad, Hot Tea Rolls, Pineapple Ice Cream, Cake, Nuts, Raisins, Candy and CafĂ© Noir”

The 1912-1913 Dummer Academy Basketball Team had a good season winning 7 games and losing 4. They won against Newburyport Y.M.C.A 2d 32 to 12, West Newbury High 19 to 9 and 41 to 10, Salem High 38 to 21 Lynn Classical High 26 to 11, St. John’s Prep 27 to 24 and Melrose High 25 to 18. They lost to Haverhill High 14 to 35, there first match with Melrose 11 to 26, there second match with Lynn English High 12 to 26 and their first match with St. John’s Prep 13 to 14.

The back cover of the invitation is filled with twenty-six signatures of team and faculty members including Headmaster Charles S. Ingham with the largest signature being William G. Ramsden, Coach.

The photograph to the left is of the 1913-1914 Dummer Academy Basketball Team. Seated at the center of the front row, holding the basketball, is Captain John Yesair '14. To John’s right is his younger brother, Wayne Yesair, Class of 1915, the father of David W. Yesair '50.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sword and Scabbard

Here is another interesting curiosity from the archives collection. The following information appears on the tag hanging from the handle of the sword. "Sword and scabbard carried by one of the officers of the Dummer Guard, a military training unit at the Academy in the early 1880s. The sword and scabbard was given the Academy this past summer by Moses Bradstreet Perkins, a graduate of Governor Dummer and Dartmouth College. Son of John Wright Perkins, Headmaster of Governor Dummer from 1882-1894, and for whom Perkins Dormitory is named, Moses Perkins was for many years head of the English Department at the Clark School in Hanover, New Hampshire. He is at present retired and living in California. 8/1957"

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Boston Residence of Governor Dummer?

A typewritten memo was found with the pencil sketch shown to the left. The memo reads:

"December 11, 1946

Dear Mrs. Stone:

The attached sketch of Governor Dummer's house is a gift from Phil MacInnis' father, William J. MacInnis of Gloucester. Below are two paragraphs from his letter to Mr. Eames dated November 30, 1946:

"I want you to keep the sketch of Governor Dummer's house. It may not mean anything, on the other hand, perhaps it may turn out it is a copy of the house at Boston. I imagine it was pretty rural in Boston in those days.

I had some books from the house of Mary Allen, Summer Street, Gloucester, when she moved to New Hampshire. Among the books was an old leather-covered Bible dated 1858 and while I was going through it, I found this sketch. I wrote to Miss Allen and she said she had never seen the sketch. Evidently the old Bible had not been opened very much so I take it there is considerable age on the sketch. E. W. E"
***The memo was typewritten by Headmaster, Edward W. Eames. ***The handwriting in the decorative scroll area just below the sketch of the house reads, "The Residence of Governor Dummer". The drawing measures 7 1/2" x 7 3/8"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ghost, Spectres, and Apparitions continued...

***See the October 31 ,2007 blog post to find the beginning of this article written by former faculty member, Harold M. Curtiss. The article first appeared in the February 4, 1941 issue of The Archon***

The old Post Road which passes by Degen House has in past times borne spectral traffic. One to the apparitions has strong evidence in its favor, and with it goes an interesting story.
At the time of the persecution of the witches of Salem, the religious fanaticism connected with that dark episode in New England history spread over this entire countryside. In Ipswich a young girl was accused of practicing witchcraft and was seized and imprisoned. The girl had formerly worked on a farm in Byfield and during that time had become betrothed to a young man of the parish. The news of her seizure soon came to the ears of her swain, and he learned that she was held a prisoner pending trial in the attic of an Ipswich house. On the second night after her arrest the Byfield boy rode to the house and signaled to the girl, who managed to climb through a small dormer window and slide down the long sloping roof which came nearly to the ground. The boy threw his cloak about her shoulders assisted her up behind him on the horse, and off they rode into the night. The pair cut across to the Post Road heading northward, and it is said they eventually reached Canada, where they were married and lived for the rest of their lives.

In the years following their death several people reported having seen the ghost of the two riding upon a spectral horse down the hill and past Degen House. The horse was galloping at full speed with the boy bending low over his neck. The girl sat behind him with her hands clasped tightly about his waist. Her cloak streamed out behind, and now and again she would turn her head apprehensively as if fearful of pursuers. As they rushed past, not a sound was heard, and the horse’s hoofs seemed to skim the ground, for not a single imprint was left behind.

There are two ghost connected exclusively with the Mansion House, one, of course, being of Governor Dummer himself, who spent some of the happiest days of his life here on his country estate. It is one of these happy occasions that brings the spirit of the Governor back to his home. In 1715 at the house warming of the newly built mansion, the Governor fulfilled one of his cherished ambitions when he rode his favorite white charger through the enormous front door and up the broad staircase to the second floor before the eyes of his admiring guests.

Reliable reports state that to this very day when the month of August has two moons, on the night of the first full moon, Governor Dummer repeats the spectacular ride. The ghostly appearance occurs sometime between twelve midnight and five o’clock in the morning. The Governor, attired in a brilliant uniform, sits proudly upon his beautiful horse, whose richly ornamented trappings glow with a luminosity of their own, filling the entrance hall with a warm, subdues light.

The old kitchen was for many years haunted by the smiling ghost of a small child. The child was dressed in white and would appear always in the same doorway. It would open the door just a crack and then would slyly peep around the corner, disappearing as suddenly as it had come into view.

In recent years, unfortunately, the visitations from the past have become less frequent. It is because we have closed our minds and our eyes by skepticism that we are forbidden the pleasure of making the acquaintance of these figures. Let us hope not, for if our traditional ghosts and apparitions refuse to come back to us, one of our closest and most intimate links with the past is forever severed.

The End

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ghosts, Spectres and Apparitions

The following article entitled, Ghosts, Spectres, and the Apparition, first appeared in the February 8, 1941 edition of The Archon. It was written by faculty member, Harold MarshallCurtis, Jr., who taught English and Latin at the Academy in the early 1940s. The unidentified photograph of gravestones is from the Academy’s collection.

Ghosts, Spectres, and Apparitions

by Harold M. Curtiss, Jr.

If, some evening, you should suddenly come upon a ghostly shape gliding softly across the Mansion House lawn or if you should spy shadowy figures riding past Degen House along the Old Post Road, do not be alarmed. You will not be the first to have such an experience. Some sunny afternoon you may even meet the Devil himself, for he has visited Byfield Parish before. Merely keep out of the way and watch the fun. The ghosts and apparitions of Byfield are not to be regarded as objects pf terror, rather we should welcome them, feeling fortunate that our forefathers loved this locality enough to wish to return occasionally and reenact scenes from their earthly lives.

In this old New England community we live close to the past. Old traditions and customs have a strong hold upon us. The settlers of this locality were people with strong wills and deep-seated convictions, and it is not to be expected that even in death they should lose interest in the town which they helped to establish. Nor should we of this generation question the authenticity of the stories connected with their reappearances. It is a matter which transcends scientific research and beyond the bounds of factual investigation. The stories must be taken and handed down from generation to generation for what they are worth; the proof must lie with those fortunate enough to be witnesses to the shadowy scenes.

The most famous of all the ghosts or apparitions of this locality is the Byfield Spectre. It made its appearance on Sunday afternoon, April 27, 1778, and was seen by a large number of natives. Several eyewitness accounts of the event have been preserved and are incorporated in Mr. John L. Ewell’s Story of Byfield. The spectre, as described by Deacon Coleman and Deacon Chute, two stalwart worthies of the Byfield Parish Church, and whose opinion, therefore, must be considered unimpeachable, was “a giant certainly not less and probably more than twenty feet tall.” It was clothed in a long robe of black material, which, unlike cloth, did not move with the motion of the figure, but remained perfectly still and undisturbed. The dreadful giant suddenly appeared by the Mansion House about 2 o’clock on this beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon. It was first seen by a number of Academy boys who fled in abject terror. The apparition strode from the Academy grounds towards the Byfield parish Church, stalking at a “good horse’s pace” through the air about two or three feet above the ground. As it went along, the spectre glided through walls and fences without disturbing them, and constantly screamed in terrifying fashion.
Proceeding towards the church, the figure met a Mr. Within who was driving a herd of cows towards his barn. When the animals beheld the phantom, they roared and bellowed, some ran off in all directions, while others dropped dead of fright.

Upon its arrival at the Byfield Parish Church the spectre circled the building twice, screaming more than ever, and then rushed with increased speed to the top of Hunslow Hill where it turned to face the parish, flung out its arms, and with one final, terrific, ear shattering cry vanished into thin air.

The church people of the parish were naturally much disturbed by this unusual incident. The Reverend Dr. Parsons, pastor of the Parish Church, proclaimed that it was the Devil taking a walk. Deacon Coleman agreed that it was the Devil all right, but thought that he was doing a little more than merely taking a Sunday stroll. In fact he laid the blame right at the door of the good Doctor, stating that the Devil had appeared as an omen of divine displeasure against Dr. Parsons because he kept slaves. Whether Dr. Parsons released his slaves as a result is not recorded.

The real center of the ghostly traditions of the community is the Mansion House and it immediate surroundings. Local history has it that the front lawn of the Governor’s house was once the site of a bitter duel between a French officer and an English officer of his Majesty’s forces. After a prolonged battle with swords the Frenchman was victorious, and the English soldier succumbed near the front door of the Mansion House as the result of his wounds. According to eyewitnesses the duel is reenacted on moonlight August evenings just as it occurred in pre-Revolutionary days. All the formalities and participants are there, and the now peaceful lawn becomes once again the scene of violence and bloodshed.

The English officer who was killed also occasionally appears alone on the lawn, and his visits are not restricted to merely one month but may take place at any time of year. He is usually seen walking slowly across the lawn from Commons towards the Milestone. He is in full uniform with a beautifully embroidered cloak hanging from his shoulders. By his side swings a long sword and on his braided, cocked hat is a powdered wig with a short queue. As he walks, he appears to be in deep meditation and he is not frightened into disappearance by a beholder of his nocturnal stroll. It is said that one brave native who happened upon him determined to accost him, but the ghost merely quickened its pace in order to keep six feet between itself and the intruder. When it reached the proximity of the Milestone, it vanished from sight, for it never proceeds farther than that point.

To be continued……..

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Heralding Cherub!

Does anyone remember seeing this chubby cherub on top of a building on the Academy's campus? If so, which building? The nearly three foot long weather vane has a beautiful coat of greenish grey patina from years of exposure to the elements. It sits on top of a seven foot metal rod and swirls gracefully in a circle with a slight touch of the hand. It could be heralding the beginning of a new day or cheering the Boston Red Sox on to victory! It all depends upon your perspective!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Student Artwork From The 1924 Milestone

While looking through old copies of The Milestone, I noticed, scattered among the black and white photographs, pages of students art work dividing the yearbook into separate chapters. In the 1924 copy of The Milestone, the line drawings of one student in particular, all signed with the initials WTC, caught my eye. The initials stand for William Terhune Carpenter or "Carp", the student Art Editor of the yearbook. After graduating from Dummer Academy in 1924, Carpenter entered Cornell University. Upon graduating from the University in 1928, he entered the Boston Museum of Art School. Carpenter worked as an advertising executive until his retirement. Scroll down to view examples of his work.

***The photograph is of the 1924 Milestone Board. William Terhune Carpenter is standing in the back row fourth from the left.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Name this House

This small oil painting is of the original Smith/Moody House. Including the pine wood frame it measures 10 ¼” x 12 ¼”. Given to the Academy by George N. Whipple, a member of Class of 1874, the painting was probably completed in the same year. According to the yellowed paper label glued to the back of the frame, the canvas was “Painted by his friend-Mrs. Chamberlain.”

In 1800, Isaac Smith, Headmaster of Dummer Academy 1790-1809, purchased the house and moved it to campus for use as his own residence. In December 1914, the Smith house accidentally caught fire and burned. It was quickly rebuilt on the same sight, in the same architectural style, and renamed Moody House. Eighty years later, during the summer of 1995, the building was lifted off its foundation and moved from old Elm Street, to its present day location on Middle Road.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A New Home For Perkins

In the summer of 1956, to make room for the construction of the new Morris Pratt Frost Building, Perkins Dormitory was raised and moved to a new location on Middle Road. By October 12, 1956, when the photograph at the lower left was taken, Perkins appears at home under the beautiful elms trees lining the country road.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

John W. Perkins, Headmaster 1882-1894

John W. Perkins was the seventeenth Headmaster of Dummer Academy. A graduate of Harvard College in 1865, and again in 1871, Perkins began his career as Principal of Salem High School in Salem, Massachusetts. He came to Dummer Academy in 1882, approximately the same year the photograph at the far left was taken. Perkins remained at the Academy for twelve years until 1894 when he returned to Salem to assume the position of Superintendent of Schools. As mentioned in a previous posting, Perkins was respected and well liked by his students. During the dedication ceremony of Perkins Dormitory at the 1925 commencement, the portrait of Perkins, shown above, was presented to the Academy by his former students. John W. Perkins died on January 16, 1931 in Milton, Massachusetts at the age of ninety.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dorm Room in Perkins 1931

Here is a photograph of a student’s room in Perkins Dormitory taken in 1931. The neatly made bed and simple sheer curtains makes the room seem warm and comfortable. To the left is a scarf covered bureau on which rests a framed photograph of an older woman. Could this be the mother of the inhabitant of this room?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Perkins Gymnasium to Perkins Hall

In 1924 Perkins Gymnasium was moved to the corner of Elm Street and Middle Road where it was remodeled as housing for twenty-two boys and one Master. At Commencement held on June 5, 1925, the building was renamed Perkins Hall and dedicated and to former Headmaster John (Jack) W. Perkins who attended the ceremony. “The arrival of the honored guests on the grounds”, wrote the Newburyport Daily News, “was hailed with great enthusiasm and as their car drove in on the grounds as a dozen old grads gave them a Dummer cheer-“D-u-m-m-e-r! Rah! Rah! Jack!” that made the old master smile at the greeting. Soon he and Mrs. Perkins were in the midst of the old boys they loved so well, greeted by the warm embraces of the joyous group of old school fellows. “Jack” Perkins certainly enjoyed it and “Mother” Perkins was hugged and kissed by her boys, now really old boys, many of them graduates of nearly 40 years ago.”

*The photograph to the left shows the beginning stages of the remodeling of Perkins Gymnasium into Perkins Hall. The photograph to the right is of Perkins Hall and was taken ca. 1932.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tennis Anyone?

Here is a photograph of the Dummer Academy tennis court taken in 1905. The earthen court was located behind the Perkins Gymnasium. In the background, looking to the right of the gymnasium is the Mansion House. Further to the right are open fields where the Morris P. Frost Building and the Carl A. Pescosolido Library stand today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Perkins Gymnasium ca. 1905

This photograph of Perkins Gymnasium is similar to the one in the previous posting. Built in 1887, the structure was named in honor of John W. Perkins, Headmaster of Dummer Academy from 1882 to 1894. At the time of completion, the building contained a 30 by 60 foot basketball floor, gym apparatus and a handball court. Originally located where the Phillips Building stands today, Perkins Gymnasium was moved and reconstructed into Perkins Hall in 1925.
*See the next posting for the continuing story of Perkins Hall!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What was the name of this Gymnasium?

This building was constructed in 1887. Does anyone know what the building was named and where it was moved?
***See next posting for answer

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dummer Academy Catalogue 1905-1907 (continued)

The second installment of pages from the Dummer Academy Catalogue 1905-1907. Please look for the final installment of pages in my next posting. I hope you are enjoying traveling in time!