J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Furnishing Lectures in September

Next month the Paul Revere Memorial Association is sponsoring a series of lectures on “18th-Century Massachusetts Furniture: Form, Function & Fabrication,” to take place in the Old South Meeting House. Each event starts at 6:30 on a Wednesday evening.

3 September
High-Style Craftsmanship and Patronage in Marblehead on the Eve of Independence
Known more for its pivotal role in the American Revolution and its exceptional legacy of early American architecture, Marblehead also has a noteworthy but relatively unfamiliar heritage of furniture craftsmanship. Judy Anderson, Principal, Marblehead Architectural Heritage, will show how, in contrast to the clamor and boisterousness of the working harbor front, Marblehead cabinetmakers and clockmakers produced high-style furniture for a clientele that comprised more than thirty merchants in Massachusetts’ celebrated Atlantic codfish trade.
10 September
Seat of Empire: Refurnishing Boston’s Historic Council Chamber
The Council Chamber in Boston’s Town House (now the Old State House), where the Royal Governor of Massachusetts met with members of his Council, was once an important administrative center for the British Empire in North America. This historic room has recently been returned to its appearance during the 1760s, when the fate of the British Empire turned on the decisions made within its walls. Dr. Nathaniel Sheidley, Historian and Director of Public History at the Bostonian Society, will describe how, thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between the Bostonian Society and North Bennet Street School, visitors can now sit in the Governor’s chair and thumb through reproduction documents at the Council table.
17 September
Restrained Elegance: Boston Furniture in the Rococo Style
Bostonians in the mid-eighteenth century only cautiously embraced the lively international “modern” style that collectors have come to call “Chippendale” and art historians the “rococo.” Nevertheless, some Boston cabinetmakers and carvers, such as George Bright, John Cogswell, and John Welch, created masterworks in this ornamental, curvilinear mode that owes its name to the Englishman Thomas Chippendale and his influential book of designs. Using objects from important public and private collections, Gerald W. R. Ward, Senior Consulting Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will examine Boston rococo furniture in the context of its heyday in Boston in the 1760s and 1770s.
24 September
The Best Workman in the Shop: Cabinetmaker William Monroe of Concord, Massachusetts
In June 1800, 21-year-old cabinetmaker William Munroe arrived in Concord with a set of tools and $3.40 in cash. Forty years later he proudly recorded having more than $20,000 in assets, a remarkable achievement for a craftsman. Concord Museum Curator David F. Wood will describe how, influenced by fashion and international politics and motivated by self-esteem and good food, William Munroe steered a path through the treacherous economic landscape of Federal New England and along the way helped make some of the most beautiful clocks the new nation ever produced.
All these talks are free and open to the public.

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