June 1955 | Volume 6, Issue 4
Boston’s famed Beacon Hill will be preserved if a move now under way is carried to successful completion. At a meeting of more than 100 persons interested in the preservation it was agreed to petition the Massachusetts Legislature to create an “Historic Beacon Hill District” with a board of five members to consider all plans for new construction, exterior restoration, or renovation in the area.
Boundaries of the 22-acre area are based on land records of 1795-96. Although almost entirely residential, with apartments over most shops, the Hill no longer contains only the homes of the wealthy. The majority of the large old mansions have been converted into apartments, many of them of only one room.
Louisburg Square, heart of the stronghold of the proper Bostonians, has a small private park and its street is also private. Each year the wood gathered at tree-pruning time is divided into 22 bundles for the 22 traditional proprietors. The annual candlelit Christmas Eve celebration with its carolers and bellringers always culminates in Louisburg Square.
Tourists are drawn to the Hill by the magic of many familiar literary and historic names—Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louisa May Alcott, Minnie Maddern Fiske, Jenny Lind, and William Dean Howells. Early Unitarians, Transcendentalists, Abolitionists, and “advanced” thinkers of their day all walked the red brick streets of Beacon Hill.
A bona fide “missing link” from the only known existing notes scribbled by Abraham Lincoln during his great debates with Stephen A. Douglas is now owned by the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield. The missing portion of the notes, roughly ripped from Lincoln’s working script, was presented by Lincoln to a young admirer, Harry B. Owsley, as an autograph. The item was recently discovered by an historical documents dealer in the Illinois capital.
The newly-found note which fits exactly into the torn lower edge of the library’s prized debate notes was turned up by the dealer in Charlottesville, Va. It was among the effects of the estate of a descendant of the young man who moved from Springfield shortly after Lincoln became President. The other portion of notes was donated to the library by a local family in 1950. The two pieces are the only known memoranda in Lincoln’s handwriting of the many resolutions argued during the 1858 senatorial campaign debates.
Old Fort Osage, some twenty miles east of Kansas City, Missouri, has been restored through the efforts of the Jackson County Court and the Native Sons of Kansas City. The fort was constructed by William Clark in 1808 of hewn white oak logs on a high bluff overlooking the Missouri River, 300 miles from the nearest white habitation. It was built to enable the United States to establish friendly relations with the Indians by providing a government trading house, to enforce the licensing of private traders, and to serve notice upon the British and Spanish colonial authorities that the United States would resent encroachments on its new territory. The trading house continued in operation until 1822 when the system was abandoned.
Two buildings have been completely restored—blockhouse number one, the largest of five that defended the fort, and the factory or trading house.
The New York State Historical Association is offering its eighth annual series of Seminars on American Culture this year in two sessions, the first from June 26 to July 2 and the final one from July 3 to the 9th. The first week only one course will be offered. Called “The American Frugal Housewife and the World in Which She Lived,” it will be offered to a limited number of students who will be divided into small groups working in laboratory situations. Modern Americans will learn how earlier Americans managed their homes by engaging in the activities which occupied their predecessors.
In Cooperstown, N. Y., the museum houses and farm buildings will be put to use in teaching such chores as cooking before a fireplace or in a colonial oven, preparing flax and wool, spinning and weaving, making bayberry candles, dyeing and soap making, and butter churning and molding. One day will be spent around the barns so that the students can learn about oxen, early planting, agricultural tools, crops, fences, and outbuildings.