Sam Novello asks GMG: What Happened to the Cannons at Stage Fort Park?

ca.1870

Stage Fort Park Gloucester MA when Fort Conant spruced up after Civil War_from historic photo pre 1900.jpg

cannon embrasure at stage fort park Gloucester Massachusetts_20191009_ cannons removed for restoration ©c ryan

 

 

Sam Novello asks GMG, “Joe, what happened to the cannons at Stage Fort Park—— two are gone?” 

The cannon(s) are undergoing restoration (cleaning, chemical treatment and re-painting). In 2018, the CPA Committee awarded $22,705 of an estimated $46,000 to the Stage Fort Park Advisory Committee to refurbish the Parrot Rifle Cannon for work scheduled to commence spring 2020. The project is led by the Stage Fort Park Advisory Committee. The grant application project summary indicates the scope of work as follows:

  1. The fabrication of an aluminum “historic-rendering of a carriage for the Parrot Rifle Cannon as part of a multi-year project to restore the Fort area of Stage Fort Park.
  2. Cleaning, treatment and repainting of the Parrot Rifle Cannon.
  3. Machining or “sleeving” of the Parrot Rifle Cannon to create a narrow lined bore capable of firing a small charge report.

“Our final goal is to restore the Fort area as a historic feature of the Park and its importance to our local military history.* Repairs and restoration of this site are long overdue. The ramparts are overgrown with vegetation**. The cannon barrels are suffering due to neglect. The barrels are subject to trash, dirt and debris. We hope to preserve this site for future generations. The cleaning, capping and painting of the cannon will protect the barrel against future damage. We have proposed an annual stipend in the city budget of $2000 for maintenance of the Fort as well as a security plan for the Fort which would include lighting and security cameras. *Our ultimate goals include a visitor education center with historic references to the Fort and its history. It is expected that the entire Stage Fort Park will be used as a centerpiece of the city’s 400th anniversary celebrations.”

 

– Stage Fort Park Advisory Committee CPA application excerpt, photo from packet and phasing goals

Read the full application here: 2019 CPA Application SFP Parrot Rifle Cannon Carriage

*There is no finalized plan for this area overall. See photographs then/now below. There is a history of Fort use and restoration for  historic battles as well as city celebrations honoring this legacy and the kind souls who volunteered to do so. I’m not sure if the 187th Infantry Brigade was paid for the work they did in 1973, which I’m assuming was the last big overhaul. The CPA grant is just about the work on the cannons. The Historical Commission wrote a letter of support stressing replica accuracy using period materials (wood and metal)

**The area is overgrown at the moment because of various DPW work on the boulevard and future plans. (When I photographed the area annually it’s cleared.)

Stage Fort is the oldest fort in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

2019

view over cannons at Stage fort_view of Gloucester Harbor_ Ten Pound Island_Gloucester Massachusetts_20191009_ ©c ryan
October 2019 cannons removed for restoration from site design 1973 by 187th Infantry Brigade

ca.1870

Stage Fort Park Gloucester MA when Fort Conant spruced up after Civil War_from historic photo pre 1900.jpg
“Fort Conant”, post Civil War – pre 1900 site of ramparts before land set aside as Stage Fort Park. Four cannons were mounted during the Civil War

 

temporary visibility_20191009_cannons stage fort gloucester ma ©c ryan.jpg

 

1973

As part of the city’s 350th celebration prep, the cannon site area (earthworks, entrance area, powder magazine, and gun embrasures) was restored by an engineer brigade from Wollaston. The design intent turned the clock back to how the fort would have been built out in the 1700s. Julian Hatch, the chairman of the 350th, had been director of public works for the city. The project was decades in the wishing and sensitively designed at long last.

1930

In 1930, the Fort was spruced up from its formal design post Civil and Spanish war.  Fisherman’s Field Stage Fort information plaques were commissioned and unveiled.

Printable PDF of the plaque translation here 

fishermans-field-transcription.jpg

Read more about historic battles and Gloucester Stage Fort Park in this trivia quiz designed by Shaun Goulart, GHS history teacher in this prior GMG post

1921

1920 Frank Cox Stage Fort Frank Cox

copy of Frank L. Cox fine art photograph (pre dates 1921) he used to illustrate his pocket Gloucester guide “The Gloucester Book”, and sell prints

ca.1870

historic stereoview woman on fort conant stage fort park after civil war.jpg

 

RESULTS WEEK 2 Defending #GloucesterMA | try Mr. Goulart’s local history hunt Throwback Thursday #TBT

Gloucester High School_20190318_photo © catherine ryan.jpg
Gloucester, Mass.- Great teacher at Gloucester High School, Shaun Goulart, creates a local history scavenger hunt trivia game for his 9th grade students that takes place weekly for 6 weeks. We’re taking the challenge one week after the students. Good luck!

ANSWERS TO SHAUN GOULART’S LOCAL HISTORY TRIVIA WEEK TWO

How did you do? Week two delved into scenes of historic battles. I’ve added some background. Stop here if you prefer to go back to see Week 2 questions only from 3/17/19 

WEEK 2: DEFENDING GLOUCESTER Location #1

  • Who was the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony? ANSWER –  ROGER CONANT
    • Go to the location of the fort named after him and take a picture with a member in it. *Stage Fort Park “Fisherman’s Field”

*“In 1623, 14 English fishermen set up the first European colony on Cape Ann here in what was then Fisherman’s Field and is now Stage Fort Park. These ramparts overlook the harbor, first built during the Revolutionary War, renewed for the War of 1812, the Civil War and the Spanish American War. Alas, those first settlers, sent across the ocean by the Dorchester Company, were unable to live off the sea and these rock-bound fields. They moved a few miles south to what is now Salem in 1626. Then, within a decade, there were enough permanent settlers on Cape Ann to incorporate the town of Gloucester. The first meetinghouse was built on the Town Green in 1642 near what is now the Grant Circle rotary of Route 128. The City set this land aside as a public park in 1898 and its Tablet Rock was dedicated by Henry Cabot Lodge in 1907.  James R. Pringle was designated to write the inscription for the bronze plaque. The execution of the design was by Eric Pape. “The nautical scheme of decorative framework and embellishment was the composite suggestion” of various committees dating as far back as the 1880s.” *see Gloucester HarborWalk Stage Fort Park marker #42  photo on marker ©Sharon Lowe. See also Stage Fort Park then/now photos in prior GMG post

Bronze tribute plaques embedded in Tablet Rock at Stage Fort Park detail the site’s history and were commissioned and unveiled at different times. The monumental and stunning Founders plaque from 1907 on Tablet Rock itself is in fantastic condition. Two DAR plaques were inlaid on the glacial outcroppings past half moon beach on the way to the cannons. The Fisherman’s Field (ca.1930) is so worn it’s nearly indecipherable, though that’s part of its charm. The plaque compels close inspection, lingering and discovery. It’s a fun family activity for anyone who likes a challenge. For those who want help reading the content, I transcribed it back in 2010. Scroll down below the “read more” break in this post to open.

 

  • During which war did it receive this name? ANSWER – FORT CONANT during the Civil War 
detail-battery-k
When you zoom in on this 1901 photograph, you can see the big ‘Battery K’-  for the Spanish American War (Camp Hobson) Fort conant during Civil War

 

Location #2

location 2 courtesy photos

 

  • Take a picture at Fort Point with the former location of the Coast Guard Aviation Station behind you (must be visible in the picture) ANSWER – TEN POUND ISLAND
  • What was the fort called on Fort Point? ANSWER – FORT DEFIANCE Fort Point Hill, Fort Lillie (Lily)
  • Name a war it was utilized in. ANSWER – Efforts to fortify as early as 1703 (see Pringle) ATTACK OF CAPTAIN LINDSAY (OR LINZEE) 1775 –population about 5000 –REVOLUTIONARY WAR, WAR OF 1812, CIVIL WAR

“In 1743, what is known as the old fort on Commercial Street, now encroached upon and surrounded by buildings, was completed. On this point, well selected strategically, is a hill which effectually commands the inner harbor. In 1742 and 1742, the General Court appropriated 527 pounds to defray the cost of fortification. Breastworks were thrown up and eight 12-pounders placed in position in the fort. The immediate cause of its erection was the fear of French incursions, but these fears were never realized. An effort had been made as early as 1703 to fortify the place, but the petition of the selectmen to the General Court for an appropriation for the purpose was refused. The petition shows that he harbor, even at that early date was extensively frequent for shelter, and was “very seldom free from vessels.”

“In order to be better prepared for future assaults breastworks were thrown up at Stage Fort, the Cut, Duncan’s Point and Fort Point. This, however was the last attack by sea or land that the people experienced.”

Location #3

  • From Fort Point go to the location of the seven-gun earthwork battery and barracks in ramparts field. Take a picture with the old towers in the background (do not go on private property) ANSWER –  EASTERN POINT FORT by eminent domain, Ramparts Field Road Fort Hill 
  • Name a war it was utilized in  ANSWER –  CIVIL WAR

“Immediate action was taken toward the erection of fortifications. Land at Eastern Point, belonging to Thomas Niles was acquired by the government, and earthwork fort erected and manned…”

Screenshot

  • Screenshot Google Earth with all three above locations in it and circle them. Submit the image.

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Continue reading “RESULTS WEEK 2 Defending #GloucesterMA | try Mr. Goulart’s local history hunt Throwback Thursday #TBT”

Boston Commons public art: Robert Gould Shaw – Mass. 54th Regiment by Saint-Gaudens | POW MIA Freedom Tree | Boston Massacre by Robert Kraus

Three memorial monuments along a small corner of the Boston Commons by the State House  remind us of those who gave their lives for freedom.

modest Freedom Tree POW-MIA tribute

 

“The Freedom Tree: With the vision of universal freedom for mankind this tree is dedicated to Joseph Dunn and all  prisoners of war and missing in action. 1976.”

Read more about Maureen Dunn’s advocacy on behalf of her husband, Lt. Joseph Dunn, Vietnam War. Find the book, The Search for Canasta.

Boston Massacre Crispus Attucks patriots memorial by sculptor Robert Kraus

“In the Granary Burial Ground, in Boston, rest the remains of Crispus Attucks, Samuel  Gray, Jonas Caldwell, and Samuel Maverick, who, together with Patrick Carr, led by Crispus Attucks, were the first Martyrs in the cause of Amerian Liberty, having been shot by the British soldiers on the night of the fifth of March, AD 1770, known as the Boston Massacre.” 

Crispus Attucks was a longshoreman and whaler regarded as the first casualty in the Boston Massacre (‘the first to defy, the first to die’). In 1888, the state appropriated $10,000 for the commission. Robert Kraus was the sculptor and he worked with the foundry, Henry Bonnard Company of New York. The base and obelisk are Concord granite.

“The monument is of Concord granite, twenty five feet six inches high, and measures ten feet six inches at the base. The pedestal, which is round, except where a rectangular projection is made tosupport the statue and receive the relief is eight feet two inches high. The bas-releif on the face of the pedestal represents the Boston Massacre in King street. In the foreground lies Crispus Attucks, the first victim of British bullets; the centre of the scene is the old State House, behind which may be seen the steeple of the old brick or First church, which stood on Cornhill, now Washington Street. In the Upper left-hand corner is the following inscription: “From the moment we may date the Severance of the British Empire. Daniel Webster;” and in the upper right hand corner, “On that Night the Foundation of American Independenc was laid. John Adams.” Under the relief on the base appears the date “March 5, 1770.” Above the bas releif stands “Free America.” With her left hand she clasps a flag about to be unfurled, while she holds aloft in her ‘right hand the broken chain of oppression, which, twisted and torn, is falling off the plinth. At her left side, clinging to the edge of the plinth, is an eagle. Its wings are raised, its beak is open, and it has apparently just lit. Its pose is in unison with the fiery spirit of its mistrees, shown in the serious, determined, and heroic gaze of her upturned face.”

( And crushing the crown under her ‘Spirit of America’ foot.)

Read the archived 1889 dedication program which includes a letter from Frederick Douglass 

Robert Gould Shaw Massachusetts 54th Regiment memorial

Robert Gould Shaw Massachusetts 54th Regiment memorial Boston Commons by Augustus Saint Gaudens_dedicated 1889 ©c ryan 2018 March 1_ (3)
Robert Gould Shaw – Massachusetts 54th Regiment memorial, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, dedicated 1897, Boston Commons. (photo shows one of the eagles– and in the background  quite nearby you can find the POW MIA Freedom Tree and the resited Boston Massacre memorial.)

Joshua Benton Smith pushed for a memorial beginning in 1865.  It took another 20 years for a sculptor to be commissioned. A dedicated committee selected sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The tribute was unveiled and dedicated on Memorial Day May 31, 1897 (called Decoration Day at the time). Frederick Douglass was in attendance; two of his sons were in the 54th regiment. The memorial was cast by the Gorham Company foundry in Providence, R. I., at a cost of $7,000. The Gorham Company was contracted for Gloucester’s Fisherman at the Wheel memorial by Leonard Craske, and the Joan of Arc WW1 memorial by Anna Hyatt Huntington.

from the National Parks:

“Saint-Gaudens always strove for perfection regarding realism. In this relief he wanted to show a range in facial features and age, as found among the men of the regiment. This was the first time a monument depicted blacks realistically, and not as stereotypes. He hired African American men to pose, and modeled about 40 different heads to use as studies. His concern for accuracy also extended to the clothing and accoutrements.

“Saint-Gaudens, however, worked slowly. A committee member complained in 1894, “. . . that bronze is wanted pretty damned quick! People are grumbling for it, the city howling for it, and most of the committee have become toothless waiting for it!” It would still be three more years until the unveiling. In answer to criticism, Saint-Gaudens wrote:

“My own delay I excuse on the ground that a sculptor’s work endures for so long that it is next to a crime for him to neglect to do everything that lies in his power to execute a result that will not be a disgrace. There is something extraordinarily irritating, when it is not ludicrous, in a bad statue. It is plastered up before the world to stick and stick for centuries, while man and nations pass away. A poor picture goes into the garret, books are forgotten, but the bronze remains to accuse or shame the populace and perpetuate one of our various idiocies.”– Augustus Saint-Gaudens

“Many of them were bent and crippled, many with white heads, some with bouquets… The impression of those old soldiers, passing the very spot where they left for the war so many years before, thrills me even as I write these words. They faced and saluted the relief, with the music playing ‘John Brown’s Body’…. They seemed as if returning from the war, the troops of bronze marching in the opposite direction, the direction in which they had left for the front, and the young men there represented now showing these veterans the vigor and hope of youth. It was a consecration.” – Augustus Saint Gaudens