Recently in History Category

Walden Pond Closed Sat-Mon

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Closing tomorrow for Hurricane Irene from noon on Saturday through Monday.  (photo taken this morning at Thoreau's Cove at Walden Pond)

298184_10150770879390626_573905625_20507170_6565544_n.jpg©2011 Deborah Bier, all rights reserved

Surely the Cheeziest Thoreau Video Ever

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Orchard House Special Open House, Sept. 17

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Recipients of grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation "Partners in Preservation" will hold Open House Day on Saturday, September 17th, when they hope visitors will discover what a difference these grants have made. Participating sites will be open all day, hosting events that highlight the work they have achieved thanks to the Partners in Preservation grants and the energy and determination of their staff and volunteers.

Locally, a participant is Orchard House, Home of the Alcotts. See all the Boston area participants here.

Louisa May Alcott's Orchard HouseLouisa May Alcott's Orchard House
399 Lexington Rd, Concord, MA 01742
978-369-4118
www.louisamayalcott.org

Open Saturday, September 17, 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Admission: Adults $9.00; Seniors (62+) and college students (w/ID) $8.00; Youths (6-17) $5.00; Children under 6 and members free; Family Rate (2 adults and up to 4 youths) $25.00

"This Old House" Visited Barrett Farm

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The PBS series "This Old House" visited Barrett Farm on Old Barrett Mill Road, the 306-year-old structure being restored by Save Our Heritage. Film crews taped an episode showcasing the preservation efforts, due to air next season.

See a photo gallery of the filming here: http://www.boston.com/community/photos/gallery.html?plckGalleryID=7058f9a8-3e8d-4198-aba9-e7687c9de3eb

Concord Aids Wilbraham with Gut-Wrenching Losses

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By Ellen Bemben, Wilbraham, MA, Co-Founder, Twister Sister Towns Project

103_4198.JPGHello, from Wilbraham, MA, in the new "Tornado Alley"!

I am in the process of preparing "thank you's" for the many wonderful volunteers, adults and students from Concord, MA who converged on Wilbraham on Saturday.

You can try to prepare folks for the sight of tornado devastation, but it's not until they see if for themselves that their minds can better wrap around it -- the vast sea of downed trees, the smell of so much broken wood, trees halves left standing like so many old, proud, dying soldiers, the now, desert-like sun beating down with no shade left to escape to, the cacophony of chain saws, heavy equipment and chippers every day, all day, non-stop, a sea of blue plastic tarps on roofs trying to protect what's left of someone's beloved home and color coded stickers on houses placed by engineers who passed judgment as to which homes would be repaired -- and which ones would be bulldozed due to extensive damage.
 
I met with the FEMA folks last Wednesday on top of Wilbraham mountain, totally surrounded by huge, fallen trees, circling damaged homes.  Homeowners and helpful neighbors, crowded around us hoping for any good news that would mitigate the rumors that FEMA was cutting their debris removal assistance -- by several much needed weeks -- to Wilbraham and other hard hit towns.

103_4215.JPGI asked the FEMA official if he had traveled a lot around the country for the organization.  He had, over many years.  I then asked him where he saw the most tornado damage.  He saw it in the midwest and the south.  I then asked him which had the most tornado damage to remove: an Iowa cornfield and some farms, OR, a 39 mile-long, half-mile wide path left by an EF3 to and EF4 tornado that plowed through thousands of massive trees and thickly settled homes in Massachusetts?

He thought quietly about this for some time, then replied, "I got it."  He seemed a kindly man.  Sometimes "officials" have to be brought back to reality, numbed after years of visiting devastation -- after a while, it all looks the same and should all be handled alike -- until someone snaps you out of it.  I tried.

FEMA originally told the folks in Wilbraham that they would help underwrite the removal of tons of tornado debris from June1 to July 31.  Then they cut that back to July 6 - with only
a few days notice.  It was now official.  The result, most of Wilbraham was out all day Saturday, July 2, with equipment and just bare hands, cutting and moving tons of what was left of FEMA -- "legal" debris to the curb.  They had been moving debris daily and could do it in their sleep - but this new time compression now forced them to move even faster and over a long, holiday weekend. 

103_4179.JPG_Wilbraham.jpgThe folks from Concord did not know, nor did I, that we would be involved in this FEMA-forced, massive effort Saturday.  It was amazing as the kids joined in with exhausted homeowners,
their relatives and friends, and the townspeople, all working shoulder-to-shoulder, nonstop, under a clear blue sky - the relentless July sun beating down on all of them.  Some neighbors sickened from the sun and heat and had to drop out.  These folks did not know what made FEMA cut them off.  They no longer cared.  They were just determined to get the job done, with the clock ticking so cruelly in their minds.  At the end of the day, the streets had become canyons of tree debris - massive stumps, tree trunks, branches - all neatly piled by the sides of the once bucolic, tornado-scarred Wilbraham country roads.  Most were too exhausted to hold a 4th of July celebration.

The Wilbraham homeowners who they helped could not say enough good about the Concord students and the adults with them.  I heard:

  • "We are grateful for the volunteers we have had over the past month - but THIS group from Concord was just amazing!  They never stopped!"
  • "What a bunch of really great kids!" 
  • "If the Concord folks ever come back, we have first dibs!"
103_4180.JPG_Wilbraham.jpgEven the charter bus driver from Ritchie Buslines of Northborough, MA said to me, "If you ever need someone to bring this group back here to Wilbraham, I would be honored." Richard, the driver, is a retired hospital executive who got bored and now drives for owner, Dianne Ritchie, just "for the fun of meeting so many nice folks". (Many thanks to Dianne Ritchie for donating this bus -- and Richard -- to us.  Her son's home in Brimfield and both his vehicles were totally destroyed by the June 1 tornado. They just wanted to help).

I hope the Concord folks will return.  We are already talking about future town collaborations: transplanting trees from yards that were untouched; bringing trees from Concord to be planted in Wilbraham, and a fund raiser to help Wilbraham homeowners cover their insurance deductibles and more.  The Principal of Concord-Carlisle High School, Peter Badalament, told me as he boarded the bus for home that his students told him "they were going home and recruiting their friends to come back to Wilbraham to help again."  The kids had been so moved by the people they met and the sights they saw.

Mari Weinberg of West Concord, my Twister Sister Town Project co-founder, described Saturday in Wilbraham correctly: "gut wrenching."  It was an incredible day.  We know we helped some folks who needed it very badly.  We did not know we were helping so many in the Town meet this cruel new government deadline, that made no sense.  Ironically, the Wilbraham real estate tax bills arrived on Saturday.  Maybe some day all government folks will again work "shoulder-to-shoulder" with its citizens in need...

Mega kudos to Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray, Secretary Bialecki, and so many in Massachusetts government for their rapid -- and sustained -- response to so many hurting folks here in western Massachusetts.  It has been one month since the tornado struck and our state officials have been here since that very day.  These leaders are here every week
and are making careful, well-thought out plans for the rebuilding of this region.  Unlike FEMA, they are not cutting off service just when we need them the most.  We are deeply hoping that the Governor might be able to help get FEMA to reconsider packing up and abandoning us on July 6.  We are still buried in massive tree debris (now an extreme fire hazard).  The FEMA people return July 5th from enjoying their own long holiday weekend -- something few of us here in tornado-struck Wilbraham were able to even think of enjoying.  The very next day, July 6, FEMA cuts off assistance to Wilbraham. 

I am reminded of the blizzard of '78 when some folks on a farm in Connecticut stomped out a message in the 2-foot deep snow to then Governor Ella Grasso that read, "Help, Ella!"  She responded -- big time.  On July 6, Wilbraham residents might just stack their huge fallen trees into a message that reads, "Help, Deval!"  The FEMA clock is ticking.

Wilbraham farmers helped Concord at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775. Thank you, Concord AND Wilbraham Minutemen and women, for once again so proudly working together!

Photos from top: Glendale Road home suffering from heavy structural and tree damage; next, the homeowners, Jim & Susan Dowd and family. The next three photos are also of the their home, the last one showing the huge pile of debris brought to the curb by Concord volunteers, comprised of adults and high school students. All photos by volunteer Nancy Hall of Westford, MA.

July 7-10, The Thoreau Society's 70th Annual Gathering

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Henry David Thoreau's Environmental Ethos: Then and Now

thoreau.jpegCommunity-wide celebration of world-renowned author Henry David Thoreau. Presentations, guided tours, period music, nature walks, and workshops related to Concord, Thoreau, and the environment. Emerson Society Panel; concert by Dillon Bustin and Jacqueline Schwab, of PBS; Laura Dassow Walls on Thoreau's biography; Thoreau Institute dinner; Thoreau Birth House tour; panel discussion at Orchard House; Concord Art Association exhibit. Events at multiple sites.

Advance registration suggested at www.thoreausociety.org or 978-369-5310.

Maybe Palin WAS Right About Revere?

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Historical research and re-enactment at its finest!  See the startling evidence beginning around 4:00.

Buttrick Garden Social, Sunday, June 12

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211133_128337433911950_7549032_n.jpgFirst Annual Buttrick Mansion Garden Social
Sunday, June 12 · 11:00am - 3:30pm
North Bridge Visitor Center Buttrick Garden
174 Liberty Street

Enjoy the view of the Concord River from the Overlook in the beautiful Buttrick Gardens. Meet the experts who guided the rehabilitation and maintenance of the gardens. View historic plans, iris and peonies in full bloom, and light refreshments. The U.S.A.F Band of Liberty, Clarinet Quartet will be performing from 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public. Hosted by the Minute Man National Historical Park and the Friends of Minute Man National Park.

The Next Step for West Concord is Tonight

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71731834.thb.jpgRemember we said last month that West Concord's preservation is not yet in hand? And that the next step would be to advocate for and steward the proper setting up of a West Concord Advisory Committee? 

Well, here we are at the early stages of that next step, when the West Concord Task Force presents to the Board of Selectmen tonight, June 6 (see the BOS's agenda here). The presentation will include a progress report of WCTF accomplishments over the last 2+ years, as well as a recommendation that the Board of Selectmen appoint a West Concord Advisory Committee. 

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m at the Town House.

Concord's 2010 US Census Data

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Wow! Look at the US census data as given to us by Zipskinny.com!

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