Lexington Historical Society operates three historical house museums that welcome about 20,000 visitors each year. In addition, we offer many programs and events to members of the community. The activities we engage in each year allow us the wonderful opportunity of working with other local nonprofits.
One of our long-time partners is the Lexington Field and Garden Club. While we pride ourselves on being one of the oldest organizations in town (founded in 1886), the Lexington Field and Garden Club beat us by ten years!
Every year, members of the Garden Club generously care for our two gardens. The one at Munroe Tavern features beautiful flowers that would have been in an 18th century garden, and the one at the Hancock-Clarke House features herbs used for culinary purposes, medicinal purposes, and for dyes. The Munroe Tavern garden, chaired by Kris Burton, is tended to on Tuesdays throughout the spring, summer, and fall. The Morning Study Group, a sub-group of the Lexington Field and Garden Club, has maintained the Hancock-Clarke herb garden since 1934—even before the house was moved back to its original location! Barbara Mix and Harriet Hathaway are the current stewards of the herb garden.
In addition to maintaining our gardens, the Garden Club collaborated with us this past December to host Holiday Gifts and Greens at the Depot. The event featured stunning centerpieces and decor made by Garden Club members, and we look forward to working with the club again for the 2018 holidays.
When you’re visiting our museums this coming season, I encourage you to spend some time in the gardens. If you happen to see members of the Lexington Field and Garden Club working, ask them some questions about the flowers, herbs, and the roles the plants played in colonial life! You’ll find that the gardens not only adorn our house museums, but are museums in and of themselves.
For more information on the Lexington Field and Garden Club, visit their website or their Facebook page.
-Erica Dumont, Executive Director
One of the prized possessions of Lexington Historical Society is the banner that welcomed General Lafayette to Lexington on September 2, 1824 during his American tour. Nearly 40 feet long, the banner is made of linen and bears the painted legend: WELCOME, FRIEND OF AMERICA, TO THE BIRTHPLACE OF AMERICAN LIBERTY. It hung from an arch erected near the corner of Massachusetts Avenue (then Main Street) and Clark Street. Contemporary accounts of Lafayette’s visit to Lexington describe the banner, so it has excellent provenance. It is a unique artifact of Lafayette’s visit and there are no others like it known in the United States.
Although in remarkably good condition given its age (193 years in 2017), the banner required significant conservation in order to preserve it for future generations. The Society undertook a fundraising effort to pay for this project, which was carried out in 2013 by Deirdre Windsor, a highly regarded textile expert.
The banner was featured in the Battle After the Battle exhibit at Buckman Tavern from 2014 to 2016 (below left) and it recently returned from a six month loan to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (below right). UV light can harm textiles so after so long on display, the banner will now be packed for long term storage and have a little rest in the dark. Luckily, we have images of it to enjoy!
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.