Fall Symposium Delivers a Grand Tour of Salem and the North Shore
The “City of Peace” was a welcome respite for members of the Decorative Arts Trust, as we enjoyed reuniting in person for the Fall 2021 Symposium in Salem, MA.
Members were eager to travel, gather, and study after a challenging year and a half of pandemic-related restrictions, as was made apparent by the Symposium selling out in only a few hours in the spring. Event participants made the most of the opportunity, but with health and safety in mind at every turn.
Pre-Symposium Optional Tours commenced on Wednesday, September 15, and continued overnight through the afternoon of Thursday, September 16. One group of members visited Beverly, MA, to tour Long Hill, a Colonial Revival brick house containing early-19th-century interiors from a Federal-style Charleston mansion. They then explored Castle Hill near Ipswich, the estate which the Decorative Arts Trust will feature in a virtual tour on September 30. Next they stopped at Cogswell’s Grant in Essex, the summer home of pioneering American folk and decorative arts collectors Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little. Then members traveled to Gloucester’s Eastern Point to experience Beauport, an enchanting Arts and Crafts-style cottage with a heralded collection of decorative arts assembled by Henry Davis Sleeper. After a stay at the Beauport Inn, they explored the Cape Ann Museum, dined at the Singing Beach Club, and visited an expansive 1870s private summer house.
A second contingent of members traveled to North Andover to tour Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens, an 18th-century farm that was adapted as a rural retreat in the early 20th century. Then they enjoyed the Historic New England curatorial staff’s exclusive tours of their collections storage in Haverhill. After lunch, members visited a private 1797 Federal house, and then Trust Governor Tara Cederholm and her husband KC hosted a lovely reception. Thursday morning ushered in tours of a private home and collection, the late-17th-century Coffin House, and Castle Hill and Cogswell’s Grant.
The main Symposium kicked off on Thursday evening with a presentation by Dean Lahikainen, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM)’s Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Art, and Elizabeth Lahikainen, upholstery conservator, hosted by Karina Corrigan, PEM’s Associate Director-Collections and the H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art. This Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture at the Salem Waterfront Hotel was followed by a lively reception sponsored by Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers.
On Friday, September 17, members learned about Salem’s development and architecture during lectures from Kimberly Alexander and Donna Seger at Salem Waterfront Hotel. We then departed for guided walking tours of the waterfront and an array of historic houses, including the Phillips House, Gedney House, Peirce-Nichols House, Gardner-Pingree House, John Ward House, and Crowninshield-Bentley House. Donna Seger shared remarks about the Remonds of Hamilton Hall as the group savored lunch in this impressive historic building. Friday evening featured two Benefit Fundraisers for the Decorative Arts Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at the residences of generous members.
PEM was the focus of Saturday’s activities, with lectures from Karina Corrigan, Associate Curator Sarah Chasse, Associate Director-Exhibitions and Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History Dan Finamore, and Associate Curator for Exhibitions and Research George Schwartz. Following lunch in the impressive East India Marine Hall, members enjoyed curator-guided tours of PEM’s Fashion and Design gallery, Asian Export Art gallery, Maritime gallery, and the Yin Yu Tang Chinese House.
Sunday’s schedule began with lectures on new research into Massachusetts furniture by Kemble Widmer, Independent Historian, and Brock Jobe, Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts at Winterthur, and Christine Thomson, Furniture Conservator, and Tara Cederholm, Curator at The Crosby Company. Sybil F. Johnson, PhD Candidate at Boston University, delivered the John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture, and Katharine F. Grant, Curatorial Fellow at The Trustees of Reservations, shared the Marie Zimmerman Emerging Scholar Lecture. As the Symposium concluded, members bid farewell to friends old and new, and some continued on to a series of Post-Symposium Tours!
The popularity of the Symposium warranted the addition of several new Post-Symposium Optional Tours, giving members three opportunities to experience more of the North Shore!
One group of members visited Marblehead on Sunday afternoon, lunched at the Corinthian Yacht Club and proceeded on a walking tour with Judy Anderson. They studied Abbot Hall, the King Hooper Mansion, and a private home. Members continued to the Marblehead Museum’s J.O.J. Frost Folk Art Gallery for presentations about Arts and Crafts-period Marblehead Pottery. The day concluded with a tour of the Colonel Jeremiah Lee Mansion and a festive reception. On Monday, a second group enjoyed a redux of this “Marblehead favorites” itinerary.
Thank you to all who participated in the Decorative Arts Trust’s Fall Symposium, and we look forward to gathering again soon. You can see more images in the “Salem” story highlight on the Trust’s Instagram. The Calendar of Events page on our website lists upcoming symposia, Study Trips Abroad, special programs, and virtual programs, and we encourage all to sign up for our e-newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for program registration updates.
About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin
Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.