The Cape Ann and Gloucester which I knew as a teenager is unrecognizable today.
From a stop in front of the Annisquam Village Church I caught the bus to town for movies at the North Shore or Strand theatres or to roam Brown’s Department store. A prevailing sense was the stench of fish along the waterfront and symphony of sea gulls squawking for scraps.
When I was a teenager in the 1950s there was dramatic change. As Peter Anastas posted in Enduring Gloucester, December 28, 2014, “Beginning in the late 1950s and lasting for nearly a decade, the bulldozers of Urban Renewal tore through Gloucester’s 300-year-old waterfront, leveling sail lofts and net and twine manufacturers, driving ship’s chandlers and carpenters out of their shops on Duncan Street and working people from homes and tenements clustered around the Fitz Henry Lane house on Ivy Court. The Frank E. Davis fish company headquarters on Rogers Street, long thought indestructible, was knocked down, and 18th and 19th century buildings of considerable historic and architectural value in the city’s West End were also demolished…
”Enraged that the Solomon Davis house on Middle Street, Gloucester’s last surviving Greek revival dwelling, was torn down by the YMCA for a basketball court that was never built, (Charles) Olson composed what he called ‘A Scream to the Editor.’ ‘Oh city of mediocrity and cheap ambition,’ he charged in a letter that comprised the entire editorial page on December 3, 1965, ‘destroying its own shoulders, its own back, greedy present persons stood upon.’ Olson’s imprecation would have incredible reverberations into the present. Yet during those years of destruction and loss in Gloucester, Charles Olson was practically alone in speaking out. “
There was a palpable difference from hard scrabble Gloucester with its dives and bars and our life of privilege. My sister Pip and I learned to swim, sail, and play tennis in the Junior Program of the Annisquam Yacht Club.
Pip was born in April, 1949 the summer we moved from Red Gates in Lanesville to our home in Norwood Heights, Annisquam. Our ranch house contrasted to the prevailing shingle style cottages.
A mid-summer highlight for Annisquam was the annual Sea Fair a festive fundraiser for the Village Church. Dad painted a lively version of it. A particular delight was the Wax Works and its clever tableaux vivants initiated by local artist Margaret Fitzhugh Brown (1884-1972). As an adult I declined an invitation to portray Saddam Hussein.
Too young for the independence of wheels, life as a teen in Annisquam was insular and claustrophobic. A welcome relief was competing in Marblehead Race week and other regattas. There I met friends who came to wild parties I threw when Mom and Dad were home working in Brookline.
There would be occasional excursions to the art galleries of Rockport and East Gloucester/ Rocky Neck. The prevailing style was conservative marine paintings.
As recreation our parents, Dr. Charles Giuliano and Dr. Josephine Flynn, studied painting. Dad took me to the weekly painting demonstrations of Emile Gruppe (1896-1978) in his Rocky Neck studio. He also studied with Roger Curtis (1910-2000). Upon retirement Mom pursued classes in Palm Beach and enjoyed weekend workshops in Rockport.
As I matured with ever greater interest in the fine arts, I grew indifferent to the conservative Rockport and Rocky Neck schools of painting. By then, I was committed to modern art which led to clashes with Dad. Provincetown and the Hamptons overshadowed the significance of the visual arts and cultural heritage of Cape Ann.
In graduate school I researched the American cubist, Karl Knaths (1891-1971), and artists of Provincetown. With Ross Moffett (1888-1971) and Edwin Dickinson (1891-1978), he was one of the leading artists of the generation that founded the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
Initially, I knew of Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) the luminist and Gloucester resident. The Cape Ann Museum displays his work in depth. Through graduate study of American art, I was aware that Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, John Sloan, Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley and photographer, Aaron Siskind, among many others, worked in Gloucester.
Painting of the Annisquam Sea Fair by Dr. Charles Giuliano.
Our ranch house in Norwood Heights Annisquam was built in 1949.
Our family the summer of 1949.
Vintage view of Annisqum Yacht Club.
Yacht Club seen from its tennis courts.
Vintage view of Annisquam
Flynn family gathering with panorama of Annisquam. Giuliano photo collage.
Gloucester waterfront by Dr. Charles Giuliano.
Pole Hill, Wheeler's Point, from one Solstice rock photographing in a straight line to the corresponding Solstice Rock, by Astrid Hiemer
(L to R) Jo Ann Castano and Rebecca Reynolds invited us to Manship Artists Residency.
Artist and art historian Susan Erony is the authority on Cape Ann artists. Giuliano photo.
Poet Charles Olson bitterly opposed urban renewal in Gloucester. Photo courtesy of Gerard Malanga.
Olson viewed Gloucester as a polis in the classical sense. Courtesy of Gloucester Writers Center.
Peter Anastas published Olson's vitriolic letters to the Gloucester Daily Times. Giuliano photo.
Charles Giuliano and Henry Ferrini at Gloucester Writers Center. Astrid Hiemer photo.
During a visit to Cape Ann last spring, Pip, Astrid and I spent several hours looking through albums of vintage images, many by Martha Hale Harvey (1863-1949), at the Annisquam Historical Society. It conveyed clues to a very different village than the one we grew up in. There was evidence of lobstermen, clam diggers and boatyards. What is now village hall had a market and post office. There was an abundance of subject matter and colorful fisherman for artists to depict. Summer rentals were cheap in shacks along the water as well as inns and boarding houses. The venerable Brynmere Inn is a signifier of that legacy.
There is ever-emerging evidence of prehistory that entails millennia when the Pawtucket people clammed and fished along the Annisquam River migrating inland and north during the winter. Records indicate historical erasure.
Mary Ellen Lepionka, who researches indigenous people of Cape Ann, states that “Pole Hill in Riverview, some say Poles Hill, was the place where shamans went to read the sky for the people living at Wanaskwiwam in Riverview, Gloucester. Algonquians sited their villages near landscapes that could serve as astronomical observatories—hilltops shaped like shallow bowls with false horizons where watchers at the center could see the slow dance between earth and sky—hilltops with boulders to align, marking sightlines to celestial objects and events on those horizons—the rise and fall of the Pleiades; the cycles of the sun and moon; the warriors hunting and wounding the great bear; the bear’s hibernation and recovery; and special times—first planting of seeds, initiation of the youth, green corn harvest, ascension of the spirits of the dead on the trail of bright stars to the sky world under Draco’s fearsome protection…
“Pole Hill was a glacial heath then, treeless. It was a ceremonial landscape as well as an astronomical observatory. Some modified boulders can still be seen as effigy stones if you know what to look for: representations of the snake, a powerful underworld spirit; spirit animals—turtle, mountain lion, whale; abstract symbols—triangle of healing, numerical tally, standing stones, stone circles, wedged-open portals to the spirit world…”
Through Rebecca Reynolds, Astrid and I were invited as Manship Artists Residents in the former Lanesville home of the sculptor Paul Manship. During three weeks of researching the artists of Cape Ann, many helped.
Most notably, the artist and art historian Susan Erony. She provided access to a detailed, intensive study of centuries of Cape Ann artists from limners and sampler creators to 20h century modernists. During a previous residency at Gloucester Writers Center, we were exposed to the literary legacy of T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), Charles Olson (1910-1970), and Vincent Ferrini (1913-2007). Through Henry Ferrini, I gave a reading with Annisquam poet, Geoffrey Movius, which drew now-deceased writers Gerrit Lansing (1928-2018), Peter Anastas (1937-2019), and rocker/ artist Willie Alexander.
As Erony has written, all the great American artists passed through Cape Ann. In the 20th century they included “Milton Avery, Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, and Aaron Siskind … They all explored new ideas about their art in the protected space here, and its impact on their art continued long after they stopped coming.
“During World War I, Gloucester was an alternative to European art colonies and a place where New York realists uninterested in European abstraction felt at home. Between 1900 and 1920, New Yorkers such as Maurice Prendergast, John Sloan, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, William Glackens, Ernest Lawson, Randall Davey, Charles Demuth, and Charles Sheeler spent varying amounts of time here. Frank Duveneck and his student John Henry Twachtman did some of their best work in Gloucester. Other Duveneck students, including Joseph DeCamp and Edward Potthast, followed them…”
Most astonishing to me Annisquam was an artists’ enclave before emphasis shifted to East Gloucester, Rocky Neck, and Rockport.
As Erony notes “Annisquam’s art colony included Anna Hyatt Huntington, Cecilia Beaux (who also lived in East Gloucester), Stephen and Maxfield Parrish, and N. C. Wyeth. William Morris Hunt brought his students Ellen Day Hale and Helen Knowlton to Magnolia.”
During a meeting with Rebecca Reynolds, a former Museum of Fine Arts curator and authority on American sculpture, she told us “We no longer use the term artist colony.” It connotes the legacy of colonialism. Virginia Lee Burton, Katherine Lane Weems, and painter Leon Kroll all lived and worked in that dramatic north Gloucester landscape.
Geoffrey Movius and I read at Gloucester Writers Center. Giuliano photo.
Poet Gerrit Lansing attended the reading. Giuliano photo.
Lansing influenced Gloucester writers. Giuliano photo
Musician and artist Willie Alexander attended our reading. Giuliano photo
Anna Hyatt Huntington working on Joan of Arc in her Annisquam studio in 1915.
Joan of Arc is a Gloucester Memorial to WWI veterans. Giuliano photo.
Another view of Anna Hyatt Huntington sculpture.
Rockport's Motif #1 by Dr. Charles Giuliano
The Brynmere is a signifier of the legacy of inns in Annisquam. Giuliano
The Philadelphia sculptor Charles Allan Grafly built a home and studio in Lanesville.
We are indebted to artist Bing McGilvray who provides detailed and colorful backstories and shared frustrations with conservative leadership of the cultural community. His views echo those of Charles Olson in letters to the Gloucester Daily “GD” Times which were compiled and published by Peter Anastas.
Charles Allan Grafly, Jr. (1862-1929) was an Instructor of Sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for 37 years. At 17 he apprenticed to John Struthers & Sons Marble Works, at that time one of the largest stone carving ventures in the country. He spent four years carving ornament and figures for Philadelphia City Hall, under the direction of sculptor Alexander Milne Calder the grandfather of Alexander Calder.
In 1888 he traveled to Paris to study at Académie Julian and for a year at L’Ecole des beaux-arts. A roommate was the artist, Robert Henri. In the Salon of 1891, he won an honorable mention for a life-size nude female sculpture. He was noted for portrait busts and created numerous monumental works earning praise and prizes.
In 1905, Grafly bought property in Lanesville, and built a house and studio that he named “Fool’s Paradise.” Favored students were invited to visit and use his studio. Following the 1917 death of sculptor Bela Pratt, he taught (additionally) at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
In Annisquam, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (1876 –1973) lived in the family home and her studio until the 1920s. That ended when, in her 40’s, she married Archer Huntington. She had a remarkable career as a sculptor of animals and equestrian monuments. In 1915, she created the first public monument by a woman to be erected in New York City. Her Joan of Arc located on Riverside Drive at 93rd Street, is the city’s first monument dedicated to a historical woman.
The maquette was created in her small studio which is anchored on the end of the causeway that overlooks the Annisquam River. In Paris, she enlarged it in clay which was cast in plaster then bronze. It was not medaled because jurors didn’t believe that the work could have been done by a woman.
A copy of the sculpture was commissioned by A. Piatt Andrew to honor the memory of Gloucester men who died during WWI. It was sited facing the American Legion building at the edge of downtown Gloucester. At the time, incoming traffic came over the cut bridge and ascended a hill encountering it head on. The symbol of French patriotism faced the flow of traffic. Ironically, because of the later A. Piatt Andrew Bridge, traffic now flows from the other direction. The result is that we first encounter the monumental sculpture from the rear.
She was the daughter of Audella Beebe and Alpheus Hyatt, a professor of paleontology and zoology at Harvard University and MIT. Her father encouraged her early interest in animals and animal anatomy.
Her husband, Archer Huntington, was enormously wealthy. They were major philanthropists. The Huntingtons founded fourteen museums and four wildlife preserves. They also donated the land named for his father, Collis P. Huntington State Park, to the State of Connecticut. It consists of approximately 800 acres of land in Redding the town where they lived.
Reynolds, an authority on her work, told me that “Anna was a ‘studio-body’ vs. ‘a home body.’ She liked to stay close to her studio. The couple’s extensive travel had more to do with finding and living in climes that were suitable for her familial affliction, TB. Archer was a world traveler before marrying Anna.”
Paul Manship (1885-1966) and Hyatt Huntington were friends, and the Manship archive has their correspondence. There was collegiality among the sculptors that centered on Lanesville and expanded to Folly Cove. When Hancock settled next to a quarry Manship, some years later, acquired one as well. In 1944 he purchased 15 acres which had two quarries. Because of the scarcity of lumber during the war, the Manship residence and studio were constructed with salvaged materials from a house and barn.
Working in the art deco manner Manship was greatly in demand. His best-known, of many works, is the Prometheus which overlooks the skating rink of New York’s Rockefeller Center. His son John (1927-2000) and wife Margaret Cassidy Manship (died 2012) were also artists. In 2000 the North Shore Art Association in Gloucester mounted Manship: Paul, John, Margaret a Retrospective.
Among Margaret’s notable sculptural portraits are likenesses of Presidents Reagan and Carter, poet Robert Frost, as well as His Holiness Pope Pius XII, and a heroic statue of John Cardinal Newman at the University of Mass, Amherst Newman Center. She also was responsible for creating a large Pietà, representing a grieving Mary over the body of Jesus, at the entrance to the Maryknoll Fathers cemetery in New York, a Japanese Madonna and St. Joseph at the Holy Spirit Church in Kita-Ku, Kyoto, Japan.
In addition to creating his own work, John Manship was a leading authority on his father’s career. He published a biography ”Paul Manship” in 1989, and frequently lectured on and authenticated his father’s work. As executor of the Paul Manship estate, he placed more than a thousand sculptures and drawings with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington.
Walker Hancock (1901-1998) studied with Charles Grafly. One summer, the older sculptor left his Folly Cove studio in Hancock’s care who took this opportunity to create a head. The resulting sculpture, Toivo Heiberg, won him the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1925. The prize allowed Hancock to study for three years at the American Academy in Rome.
The Cape Ann Museum prominently displays his soaring, narrow, vertical angel lifting a deceased soldier. It’s a maquette for his celebrated Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial. The sculptor made many small studies of local kids who came to swim in his quarry. He settled in Lanesville year-round commuting to Philadelphia to teach.
While he is remembered as one of the Monuments Men at the end of WWII, he also worked on Stone Mountain a Confederate monument in Georgia. In 1964, Hancock took over supervision of the Confederate Memorial at Stone Mountain a project that was initially funded by women likely married to Klan members. The proposed relief carving had been begun in 1917 by Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) who created Mount Rushmore. Borglum was dismissed in 1925 and replaced by Henry Augustus Lukeman (1872-1935). Hancock simplified Lukeman’s model, eliminating the horses’ lower bodies and legs, and made design adjustments as problems arose with the carving of stone. He modeled towers to flank the carving, but they were never executed due to a lack of money. Roy Faulkner completed the carving of the memorial in 1972.
Rebecca Reynolds is an authority on American sculpture. Giuliano photo,
Home of the Manship Artists Residency. Giuliano photo.
View of Butman's Pit from Manship living room. Giuliano photo
At the table with the Manship family. Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
Studio of Paul Manship, 1957. Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
Paul Manship. Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
Paul Margaret and John Manship. Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
Paul and John Manship. Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
Manship sculpture. Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
Lanesville sculptors, Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
Hancock worked on the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial.
Stone Mountain on a postage stamp.
Sculptor George Demetrios. Courtesy of Manship Artist Residency. Copyright estate of Paul Manship.
George Demetrios family with Virginia Lee Burton.
Virginia Lee Burton founded Folly Cove Designers.
In conversation with Hancock, Rebecca Reynolds told me “Walker Hancock told me that he regretted taking that commission.”
In an era when Confederate monuments are being removed as signifiers of hate and racism, Stone Mountain remains an enigma. It was intended to have the scale and significance of Mount Rushmore. Today it is a destination for tourism and shrine for values that continue to divide our nation. Unlike bronze generals on horses it is not that readily dismounted. Is this monument “too big to fail?” Hancock took on this colossal work during a different era but hardly an age of innocence. The complexity comes from looking back at those monuments, and their creators, through the contemporary lens of social justice.
Cape Ann has many heterogeneous ethnic, social, and economic communities. There is the old money, gated communities of Eastern Point, and the isolated Ames Estate in Bayview. The Fort section of Gloucester next to the demolished Birdseye processing plant was a community of Italian fishermen. Next to the luxury Beauport Hotel homes in that enclave have been flipped and lavishly renovated. The Portuguese fishermen settled on a hill surmounted by the exquisite church Our Lady of Good Voyage.
While my Nugent ancestors farmed in Rockport, the primary industries of Cape Ann were fishing and working the granite quarries of Rockport and Lanesville. My Flynn ancestors were quarrymen. The granite industry began in the 1830s and collapsed during WWII replaced by concrete. The fishing industry, which once thrived, has slowly devolved. It is now down to a few boats. That has changed not just the economics but also the culture of Cape Ann. The economy has shifted to tourism and ever-expanding condo development.
There are now summer traffic jams, particularly kamikaze circumnavigations round Grant Circle, the end of Route 128 and gateway to Gloucester. That was unheard of during my youth when Gloucester was a grungy fishing port and nearby Rockport was notably quaint. Lobstermen still head out past Motif #1 the subject of endless paintings and photographs.
Growing up in elitist Annisquam it was surprising to learn that it was once a popular destination for artists. Researching vintage images at Annisquam Historical Society, and the Cape Ann Museum, (with generous help from archivist Trenton Carls) revealed a very different village than the one we grew up in. (Margaret Calkins assisted with viewing and selecting materials from the Manship archive.) The buildings and topography remain the same but there was abundant evidence of fishing, fish flakes and drying racks, boat building and repair in Lobster Cove. There were cheap rentals in shacks, hotels like the still active Brynmere, and rooming houses. Artists flocked to Annisquam because it was affordable. We found images of groups of artists painting on Lighthouse Beach.
The Irish and Finnish people worked the quarries. There is a sustained Finnish heritage primarily in Lanesville. There was a public sauna we enjoyed that operated in Lane’s Cove. Many private homes have saunas. That small harbor is protected by a massive granite sea wall. It was badly damaged by two hurricanes but now has been rebuilt.
Our catholic family worshiped at Sacred Heart Church just up the hill from small Plum Cove. When the kind and caring Father Bullock passed away the church closed and is now a private residence.
The abandoned quarries attracted a unique community of several of the most successful and renowned sculptors of the 20th century.
As Erony informs us “Sculptor Charles Grafly began his own art enclave in Folly Cove by moving there in the 1890s. Walker Hancock, Paul Manship, George Demetrios and Virginia Lee Burton later moved to that area of Cape Ann.”
.The painter of the Lanesville group was Leon Kroll (1884 – 1974). He was a noted lithographer. He was dubbed by Life Magazine as “the dean of U.S. nude painters.” Kroll was also a landscape painter and created many still-life compositions. In a private collection, we encountered a charming, vertical canvas of nude kids diving into a quarry.
George Demetrios (1896-1974) was born in Pyrgoi, Macedonia, Greece, and came to the United States at the age of 15 making his living as a shoeshine boy at a Boston hotel. Two years later he entered the Boston Museum School following which he spent four years studying under sculptor Charles Grafly (1862–1929) at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. A scholarship awarded there allowed Demetrios to complete his studies in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts where he was a student of Antoine Bourdelle and Auguste Rodin.
By 1927, he had begun his own teaching career, opening The George Demetrios School of Drawing and Sculpture in Boston. After Grafly’s death in 1929, Demetrios used his Folly Cove studio to offer summer classes. He followed Grafly’s teaching methods, modified, and elaborated upon them, and soon became known as an excellent teacher. Walker Hancock has written that teaching was Demetrios’s greatest talent. In his own work he had a unique gift for shape and form. After his marriage to one of his students, Virginia Lee Burton, in 1931, Demetrios settled permanently in Folly Cove.
The couple entertained lavishly in the Greek manner with roasted whole lambs. You still encounter individuals who attended those celebrations.
Virginia Lee Burton studied art and dance in San Francisco and illustrated for the Boston Transcript while at the Museum School. She taught design and graphics to local people. Mostly women, they created linoleum block prints which were printed onto fabric. That evolved into Folly Cove Designers which our family frequently visited.
Between 1941 and 1955, Folly Cove Designers participated in 16 museum exhibitions. They also supplied designs to a number of well know wholesalers and retailers including Lord & Taylor, F. Schumacher, Rich’s of Atlanta and Skinner Silks. In 1948 the Designers expanded their operations into a barn owned by the Demetrios family in Folly Cove. The barn was open from August 1 through Labor Day for demonstrations and sales. In 1959, the season was extended from early March through December.
Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios died in 1968. Within one year, Folly Cove Designers ceased operations. As a group, some 45 artisans agreed to stop selling their designs under the name Folly Cove Designers. In 1970 they donated their sample books, prints, and remnants to the Cape Ann Museum. Since then, the museum’s Folly Cove Collection has continued to grow, becoming the single largest repository of work by this collective.
Events related to Gloucester 400 Plus include a summer exhibition of work by Edward and Jo Hopper at the Cape Ann Museum with loans from the Whitney Museum of American Art. The programming for this historic occasion will focus national attention on the cultural heritage of Cape Ann.
This is an occasion to examine and debate much that has been lost while addressing a new century. For the poet Charles Olson Gloucester was a polis in the classical sense.
As Peter Anastas wrote “Place, as Olson taught, is not only where we live, but also where we get our bearings from. Place is who we are and how we feel about ourselves, how we’re anchored in the world. Place is our very identity, ‘the geography of our being,’ as Olson put it. And if we lose place, or undermine its character, whittle it away year after year through inappropriate development—chopping up neighborhoods, driving people away from the houses they were born or grew up in—we destroy the basis of our lives, if not our very identities.”