Aside from poring over seed catalogs, there is nothing to report in the garden world. What a winter — an actual New England winter. We have been spoiled for a number of years. My only complaint since I do not mind cold, rain or snow, is the inability to walk. I whittled a stick to a point so I could have some stability when going to the hen house. Walking there is downright treacherous. A fall could be life changing.
Last autumn I commented on the lovely gazebo on the grounds of the Dr. Daniel Fisher House. I threatened to track down some information. This weekend I received a letter via the U.S. mail from Sam Thoron. Indulge me as I quote it in its entirety.
Notes on Peabody Gazebo.
“Chris Scott at the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust can give you full accurate details. His office is in the Daniel Fisher House in Edgartown. The Danvers Historical Society in Danvers, Mass., also has good information.
“The Peabody Gazebo was built in approximately 1848 for Captain George Peabody of Salem, Mass. (Check with Chris for exact date and captain’s first name. I could be off on both). He was a widely traveled merchant and seaman. It is thought that he visited Russia and that the design is informed by gazebos he saw there. Elise Thoron says it reads like Russian gazebos she has seen.
“I believe it was built on the property in Danvers, Mass., that is now known as ‘Glen Magna.’ This property became a country retreat for the elder William Crowninshield Endicott and his wife. I believe he inherited the property from descendants of Captain Peabody. On his death another William Crowninshield Endicott and his wife, Louise Thoron, took the place over. The elder Mrs. E. continued to be part of the place until her death.
“Louise Thoron Endicott was my great-aunt, the sister of my grandfather, Ward Thoron. As a child, I remember visiting her at the Glen Magna Farm in Danvers. I have happy memories of playing in the gazebo there.
“Uncle William died in the late 1930s before I was born. Louise lived until 1958. She willed the Gazebo to my father, Benjamin W. Thoron.
“Ben and Violet had the gazebo moved to their house on Seven Gates Farm, where it stood for many years in a glade under several large oak trees.
“Mother wanted the gazebo preserved after her death. In her will she left it to the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. After she became ill and no longer traveled to the Vineyard, the cost of maintaining the structure became quite burdensome. (John Anderson can tell you about this).
“Mother’s attorney and her two children, Ann T. Hale and myself, decided to offer the gazebo to Winterthur as a gift rather than waiting for her death. The folks from Winterthur came to the Island and looked it over. They told us they would accept it as a gift, but had no place at the time. They asked us to retain custody of it for two years, to which we agreed.
“At the end of that period, the curators at Winterthur decided that they could find no appropriate place for it on their property and abandoned it. This placed us in a very awkward position. John C. Anderson came to our rescue. He brought the plight of the gazebo to the attention of the Preservation Trust. The Preservation Trust thought that it would be a most suitable addition to the grounds of the Fisher House as it had been built at almost exactly the same time and would have been a sort of folly that a man of Dr. Fisher’s stature might have built on his grounds. The difficulty was that it required substantial restoration and the Trust did not have the funds to accomplish this.
“My family decided that installing the gazebo on the grounds of the Fisher House in the care of the Preservation Trust was the most appropriate way to preserve the gazebo for the future and fit mother’s intention in leaving it to a museum. We agreed to fund the restoration under the supervision of John Anderson.
“And there you have it. The Peabody Gazebo has a happy home where it will be used and enjoyed by many people for many years. It is in a place where it is not shaded by a forest, never fully drying out, and not subject to repeated attacks by carpenter ants.”
Thanks so much, Sam for your family’s generous gift and the wonderful history. I was a history minor in college and loved the story!
Thanks to the morally bankrupt United States Congress, the Farm Bill includes huge cuts to food stamps (SNAP). Families of four have lost $36 monthly. We can help close that gap by a donation of $36 to the Island Food Pantry, P.O. Box 1874, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
The pantry is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Stone Church.