Tag Archives: Peter Dorsey
Lots of snow down on the pier
Harbor starting to ice up – interesting pattern forming
Gig floats covered with snow
The marine railway full of snow
That mackerel sky was the on-coming moisture from the last blizzard
This is one of the statues that inspired my series of the last few weeks in Good Morning Gloucester. It was after I noticed this statue of Fitz Henry (Hugh) Lane and the Joan of Arc statue, that I started looking around Gloucester for more and more statues and plaques. It has been a fun and interesting search for me. The legacy of Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) and his wonderful paintings is such an important part of the artistic heritage of Gloucester. Just go to the Cape Ann Museum, and look at their enormous collection of these detailed, soothing seascapes. These paintings are world famous glimpses into life on and about Gloucester’s harbor and shores.
One of the things I learned about Fitz Henry Lane was that he was crippled as a child by ingesting some kind of a plant. And it was because he was unable to run around like other children his age that he became fascinated with drawing and sketching; and the thing that was nearby was Gloucester harbor, and its shipping activities. And because he had all this time to sit quietly sketching, he was able to see the play of light evolving at different times of the day; and fortunately for us, he became fascinated with the interplay of darkness and light. He was one of the school of luminous artists. Because his only formal training was with a lithograph and printing studio in Boston; he also showed the fine intricate details of many of the things that he painted. He took the painted equivalent of snapshots for us of nautical things that might not have been preserved from the workings of the Gloucester and other harbors of this day. His house where he lived as an adult, and created many of his paintings and drawings was in the center of what is now Harbor Loop. If you look at old photographs of the early 1900’s this, the western edge of Gloucester Harbor was packed with houses, warehouses and docks. All but this one granite constructed residence remains, and it was from this elevated perch that Fitz Henry Lane looked out often to the harbor. This life-like copper statue of him that is here was “Sculpted by Alfred M. Duca in 1997 “, and carved into the granite base it says, “step into my shoes and become inspired”, and next to that are a pair of copper or bronze sandals that are welded to the rock.
“I am have been a residential real estate broker for 26 years. Also, I am a novice rower down on Harbor Loop at the Gloucester Rowing Club at Maritime Gloucester. I have roots in this city that go back to 1919 when my father was born here. My grandfather worked as a scientist for John Hays Hammond at the time. Every year, as I do business in this city, and travel around Cape Ann, I find more and more interesting things that I see for the first time. I like to share some of these special places here on Good Morning Gloucester with my camera.”
Possibly the largest plaque in the City of Gloucester is found 20 feet high set into the side of a 60′ high by 200′ wide glacial outcropping mass of granite at Stage Fort Park. This park is where the first settlement on the Eastern Shore of what would become the Massachusetts Bay Colony was first settled in 1623. The inhabitants came from Dorchester, England (which is in the Dorset region), and were first engaged in fishing. The wide open fields were used for drying the fish. This large rock outcropping was used first by the native inhabitants as an ancient ritual area, and is the most prominent geological feature in the area.
The bronze plaque and the extraordinary granite carving that surrounds it was placed there in 1907 by the Citizens of Gloucester to commemorate an important piece of arbitration and peace-making by the soon-to-become important governing citizen, Roger Conant. The peace-making efforts by Roger Conant enabled the settlement to continue peacefully between two groups of citizens who both wished to fish for cod in those coastal waters. I have provided close up photographs of the wonderful chiseling that produced links of chain and anchor elements out of the granite face into which the plaque was fastened.
There is a historical marker sign that was erected in 1930 which re-commerates Roger Conant’s action of peace-making for the 300th anniversary of the settlement.
In my travels around Gloucester there is one memorial stone that I do NOT recommend that anyone try to visit or to even look at closely. The best place to see this stone marker is right here on Good Morning Gloucester.
The reason for this is because the marker in question is located at the outside edge of inside of the first traffic circle you come to on Rte. 128 when you come into Gloucester; called Grant’s Circle. The only other way to see it is to park in the Friendly’s parking lot, hop over the traffic barrier at the side of the circle, and carefully negotiate on foot through two lines of circling automobile traffic. You could peer out the window of your car as you drive around the circle, BUT I DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT EITHER!! The stone marker is a tall dark, possibly slate or polished granite stone with a carved relief portrait of Chester Grant, for whom the circle is named ” This Circle, Erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1956, is Dedicated to Honor Chester H. Grant, 1897 -1954, A Soldier and Devoted Citizen”. Chester Grant served in World War I in France from 1917 to 1919. He was, “cited 3 times for Meritorius Conduct Under Fire and Received the Silver Star with Palm.” The silver star, known as the Croix de Guerre or the War Cross is a French Military decoration to honor people who fought bravely with the Allies against the Axis Force during World War I. “As a Public Official for the City of Gloucester – Displayed Great Ability in the Performance of His Municipal Duties.” There is a flag pole behind the stone marker with a light which shines on the flag from the underside at night.
While researching the Civil War statue that is next to City Hall c.1879, I discovered that there was an earlier Civil War monument that had been erected by the City. So I went to find it, and check it out, and then photograph it early one evening in advance of an on-coming snowstorm. Its unlikely that many people even know that it is there; as it looks just like another, if larger, granite Greek Revival memorial in the middle of the cemetery, and not otherwise set apart. The granite obelisk was carved and erected in 1867 in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery which had a, “…symmetrically modeled shaft, 20 feet height, and stands in the center of the grounds. It was dedicated on May 27, 1868.” (History of Gloucester, James R. Pringle – 1892).
Like a few of the Civil War statues I have seen in Gloucester, there were lots of beach stone or cobble stones set around the base; perhaps signifying the many who perished.
Another Civil War memorial I have recently noticed sits in the Riverdale section of Gloucester on Washington Street, near the intersection with Hodgkins Street and across from the Mill Pond. It is an area which was filled in on the tidal side, and has a granite sea wall built up around it, and a cast iron fence with granite posts. The historical marker is a granite obelisk with a pointed cap on the top and beach stones set into and around the base. The inscription reads, “Riverdale Martyrs in the War of the Rebellion 1861 – 1865”. The names of the Riverdale men who died in the Civil War are listed on three sides of the memorial. Carved into a top section of polished granite are the Union Army Corps badges. It is a very scenic location for a war monument; in a tidal inlet.
I have been looking at some of the commemorative statues that there are around Gloucester. There’s art and history in so many places. One is a WWI memorial and is a large statue of Joan of Arc on a horse in Legion Square at the intersection of Washington and Middle streets. The imposing bronze statue, which was dedicated in 1921, is one and a quarter times life size, stands on top of a large carved granite base. There are bronze plaques on either side listing “The Sons of Gloucester Who Gave Their Lives in the Great World War” and decorative plaques at either end. Wrapping around the base is a granite bench; perhaps designed so people might sit there with friends and family, and reminisce. There are beach stones surrounding the monument, and set into the ground like cobblestones.
Designed by Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973), her original Joan of Arc statue won an honorable mention at a Paris art show. There were four other Joan of Arc statues cast by her that were placed in either New York City, San Francisco, Quebec, Canada and Blois, France. Huntington was 34 when she made the original plaster statue in her family’s studio in 1910 which was near Annisquam. It has been reported that the horse was modeled after one of the East Gloucester Fire Station’s horses, and that “Joan” was actually Anna’s, niece who was sitting on a barrel.
For those who have never looked closely at this imposing statue and monument, I suggest they park, and carefully walk to the center of the square. It is truly an artistic masterpiece!
Here is a World War II monument that many people might be passing by every day without knowing it. Located at the intersection of Gee Avenue and Washington Street in Riverdale are set of handsome granite steps and a monument dedicated to the residents of Riverdale who fought and died in the Second World War.
I knew that there had to be a Civil War statue in downtown Gloucester, but I had to hunt around a little for it. Sure enough, right next to the City Hall at the corner of Dale Avenue and Warren Street is a Greek Revival obelisk, a ” large granite and bronze monument with a finely hammered base, plinth (slab base), die and cornice, surmounted by a large size statue of Liberty in bronze.” (from “History of Gloucester, James R. Pringle -1892) It was dedicated oddly enough on September 11 in 1879, a day which was observed as a general holiday in order to mark the occasion. It was the second Civil War statue erected in Gloucester. This statue, next to the City Hall, was erected by Post 45 of the Grand Army of the Republic, G.A.R., one of the many patriotic societies of the day, “In Honor of the Soldiers and Sailors’ of Gloucester, who Fought in the War of 1861 – 1865, for the Preservation of the Union”.
This is another of the beautiful statues that graces the City of Gloucester. I recommend taking the time to find and gaze upon this handsome monument.
Update: Series- A question About The 100 Year Old Gloucester Postcards From Peter Dorsey- A Gloucester Fisherman
Jonathan Olly writes-
Hello Joey C,
While doing a Google search just now I came across the postcard you posted on March 22 of the old fisherman posing in oilskins. Would you happen to know the name of this man? I ask because I’m a graduate student down here in Providence, RI, and I’m writing a dissertation chapter on old salts. They’re found around the world, but in the United States they’re almost exclusively found in New England. Your postcard photo (which is rare, and one of the old salt postcards I’m still hunting for) may have been done by Gloucester photographer/engineer Herman Spooner, who photographed a number of retired fishermen (John Scott, Lemuel Friend, Oliver Emerton, and David Stanwood among them). But, I don’t recall seeing this image in his photo collection at the Cape Ann Museum. So if you have any additional information about your postcard I’d be happy to hear it.