Blooms and buildings- finding sunflowers at every turn downtown Gloucester, Mass.

Enjoying all these sunny sunflowers swaying downtown. Can you spot them all? Hint- Main Street and Pleasant Street (Patti Amaral’s garden stretch); on the West End of Main Street at legendary storefront Bananas; Washington and Granite Streets nearby Mother of Grace; and Centennial nearly bookended at both Washington and Western Avenue.

 

Sunflowers at every turn _ Main Street and Pleasant _ downtown Gloucester Mass©c ryan 2018 Aug 30. GIFSunflowers at every turn _ Main Street and Pleasant _ this one thanks Patti Amaral_ downtown Gloucester Mass©c ryan 2018 Aug 30 (2)

 

 

 

bike happy tours then & now: 1885 Gloucester travel guide for cyclists & 2017 stylish new bike fleet at Beauport Hotel

Beauport Hotel guests can explore the city of Gloucester, MA, and Cape Ann…by bike. What a great perk for visitors!

Biking culture linked with tourism in Gloucester and Cape Ann hearkens way back…as in 1878. Scroll down to see historic tourist guides from 1881 and 1885 that catered to cyclists and visitors. The sights and recommendations are the ones we continue to celebrate.

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Lookout Hill and Stage Fort Park as seen here from the Beauport Hotel deck is just a close walk or bike ride away.

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Enjoy excerpts from an 1885 cyclist tourist guide

In and Around Cape Ann: A Handbook of Gloucester, Mass., and Its Immediate Vicinity. For the Wheelman Tourist and the Summer Visitor by John S. Webber, Jr with eleven illustrations. Gloucester, Mass: Printed at the Cape Ann Advertiser Office, 1885. Library of Congress collection

“…After months of labor–hard labor, too, for one unaccustomed to the work–I am permitted to send forth the present little manual on Gloucester and its immediate vicinity. The material here given is designed for the especial use of the touring wheelman and the summer visitor, and I have endeavored to describe–in a way perhaps peculiar–all the most important sights and places of interest to be found upon this rock-bound territory of Cape Ann

The streets about town are generally in condition for bicycle riding, though the surface of most of them is either cut up by thick patches of the coarsest gravel or a layer of loosely lying stones; the rider, however, can pick his way along without any very serious trouble. Main street is paved with square blocks of granite from Porter street to Hancock street, and from Chestnut street to Union Hill. Western avenue, or more frequently spoken of as the “Cut,” is a favorite street for bicycle riding; beyond the bridge take the deserted sidewalk on the left, and enjoy a very pleasant spin upon its easy running surface…

the first suggested itinerary- Bicycle rambles on Eastern Point

“And now let’s take our wheel for a short run along our harbor road to East Gloucester, and note the many points of interest on the way. The start is made at the Gloucester Hotel–the headquarters of all visiting wheelmen in the city–at the corner of Main and Washington streets;

Gloucester Hotel 1885 Washington and Main

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photo: cyclist on the bend passing brick building at Main and Washington now features Tonno Restaurant. Notice the chimneys and same stairs as when it was the Gloucester Hotel. “Special Rates Made to Wheelmen”

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“from thence the journey takes us over the rather uneven surface of Main street, going directly toward the east. In a few minutes we pass the Post Office on the left, and soon leave the noisy business portion of the street behind us, then, e’re we are aware of it, we reach and quickly climb the slight eminence known as Union Hill. Once over the hill the road has a downward grade, with generally a very muddy surface, but on through this we propel our machine to the curve in the road at its junction with Eastern avenue. To the right we follow the now well trodden thoroughfare and again pedal quickly up the steep incline before us. Now the machine is well taken in hand, and with a sharp look-out ahead a pleasant little coast over the gently sloping road is cautiously indulged in; down, down we spin, following the main road to the right over the well worn surface, an on, on we glide, past the dwellings of the rich and poor, directly though the business section of the settlement, until in a few minutes we reach the “Square,” so called, at the village center. Passing the pump at this place on our left, we continue the ride over the mud-covered highway, enjoying highly the magnificent stretch of harbor scenery before us. A short distance, and the first dismount is now taken at the foot of a rough incline known as “Patch’s Hill.” At this place are a number of prominent Summer cottages, among them being the Delphine House, Craig Cottage and Brazier Cottage, each affording first-class accommodations, with facilities for bathing, fishing, and boating in close proximity. Once again we bestride the slender wheel and continue on for half a dozen rods or more to the gate-way at the entrance to Niles’ Beach, which marks the terminus of the public way… 

Celebrity spotting famous authors

“…Our trip on the bicycle in this direction has finished, and so we sit awhile on the near-at-hand rocky bluff and watch the merry throng of bathers in their sportive antics in the cooling sea, and inwardly wish that we were among them in the refreshing exercise. At our back, as we sit facing the sandy shore, is the little Summer abode of the well known authoress, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps–the cottage in which she has already penned a great number of interesting works, and where she passes the greater portion of the long, warm  Summer days.

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photo caption: Elizabeth Stuart Phelps house

“Directly in front of us, at the further end of the beach, is the old mansion house of the Niles family, and still further on, at the extreme end of the rocky shore, is the tall stone column of Eastern Point Light. “The walk across the beach and over the narrow winding tree bordered path is well worth taking, and makes a pleasant 

Continue reading “bike happy tours then & now: 1885 Gloucester travel guide for cyclists & 2017 stylish new bike fleet at Beauport Hotel”

Stacy Boulevard Public Works stunner | Gloucester is an early client for the Harvard and Olmsted trained landscape designer Thomas Warren Sears. His 1908 photos are a must see! Part 2

 

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The Gloucester Daily Times published this image in 1923 with the photo caption: “Now Under Construction on the Southern Side of Western Avenue, this Project When Completed Will Give Gloucester one of the Finest Approaches of Any City on the Atlantic Seaboard.”  The meticulously hand drawn credit within the drawing itself caught my eye as much as the drawing: “Proposed Treatment of Waterfront, Gloucester, Mass. Thomas W. Sears Landscape Architect, Providence RI”. Thomas W. Sears was a remarkable 20th Century landscape designer. The modern Boulevard work completed in 2014-17 gracefully carries out and returns to the original dreams for the Western Avenue highway and park that are more than a century in the making.

 

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photo caption: Boulevard construction progress © Catherine Ryan, December 2016 

Thomas Warren Sears (1880-1966) preliminary designs for Gloucester’s future Boulevard

Thomas Warren Sears was born in 1880 in Brookline, Massachusetts, and grew up in this elegant abode at the corner of Beacon and Charles Street. This black and white house portrait was shot in 1897.

1897 Thomas William Sears the Sears family home Brookline corner of Beacon and charles streets

Here’s a Google street view photo for comparison today.

google earth brookline sears family home

 

After being ousted from the New York City parks department, the ‘father of American landscape design’, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), launched his business a ten minute walk from the Sears family home.  The headquarters at 99 Warren Street was named “Fairsted” and was in operation until 1979 when it was declared a National Historic Site and transferred to the National Parks.

 

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photo caption: Frederick Law Olmsted Fairsted  © Jack Boucher, Library of Congress collection

If there was no neighbor connection early on, a professional one came soon: Sears worked for the Olmsted Brothers immediately after receiving two degrees from Harvard– his BA in 1903 and his BS in 1906. (There may have been an earlier Brookline connection.) Rather quickly Sears left to set up his own firm: first in Providence, RI, when he did work for Gloucester’s Boulevard, and not long after in Philadelphia. In 1911 he gave a talk for the Proceedings of the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia 28 (April 1911):147-158., “The Functions of the Landscape Architect in Connection with the Improvement of a City” available online as part of an urban planning anthology compiled by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University.  I wonder if he shared his Gloucester photographs as part of his talk?

“There are two main approaches to cities: (1) On water by boat, and (2) on land by railroad. Along both of these lines of approach land should be taken for public use, and for very different reasons. Take first the use of water fronts: Unless some provision is made for the public, the whole water front, whether it be river or harbor, may be usurped by commercial enterprise and the public deprived of ever seeing the water except when aboard a boat. In certain cases, as in New York, where the water front must of necessity be utilised for dockage, a combination of commercial and public use may be successfully employed. There the docks are owned by the city and leased by the steamship companies; in this way their appearance can be controlled. At present it is planned to build on the tops of these docks huge recreation parks which may be used by the public.”- 1911 Thomas W. Sears

Mike Hale’s contemporary perspective shares a similar philosophy with Sears:

“An effort has been made in this paper to show clearly that landscape architecture is utilitarian quite as much as esthetic; that whatever one is designing, whether it be a city plan or any of the elements in a city, the design should be governed by use as much as beauty.” – 1911 Thomas W. Sears

By 1917 Sears was commissioned regularly and had a long, full career including notable designs for the Reynolda estate now part of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the wildly influential outdoor amphitheater for Swarthmore College, the Scott Outdoor Auditorium. His work in Gloucester is rarely mentioned.

Since the Gloucester drawing was marked ‘Providence’, I knew the drawing was done long before the 1923 construction. I tentatively dated the schematic ca.1910. Thankfully Thomas Warren Sears was a photographer, too. Turns out that this image is a Sears’ photograph of a lovely Sears’ design. The glass negative is dated 1908 which squares with his professional career timeline.

 

thomas Warren Sears rendering and photograph aag title a perspective drawing for the area along what is now stacy boulevard

ALL NEW LED LIGHTS

One of the modern design elements is the welcome ornamentation of lights. They feel like they were always here because line is such an essential part of design and they add the vertical visual interest. When I saw the new light bases I thought of the line of trees in the Sears drawing. I love the mix of natural and formal design in his rendering, but am equally gobsmacked by the sweeping open vista. Both are sensitive approaches and part of the context of the Boulevard’s build.

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photo caption: animation emphasizing new lights, late November 2016, ©c. ryan

BEFORE THE BOULEVARD- Sears photos

Thomas Warren Sears photographed Western Avenue for his preparatory work. See the homes along the beach that were later removed for the construction of the Boulevard; distant vistas to the Surfside Hotel (built after Pavilion burned) and Stage Fort park; and Western Avenue street scenes looking east and west before the road was widened.

 

Thomas Warren Sears seawall and park area1908 Thomas Warren Sears looking west along the seawall

Thomas warren Sears glass negative houses along the beach later removed for the creation of Stacy Boulevard

More photos and Gloucester designs:

Continue reading “Stacy Boulevard Public Works stunner | Gloucester is an early client for the Harvard and Olmsted trained landscape designer Thomas Warren Sears. His 1908 photos are a must see! Part 2”