As we get closer to the beginning of Lexington's WWI centennial commemorative activities this fall, I've been combing through all of the Society's WWI related materials - photos, textiles, documents, etc. Lexington resident Stanley Hill, who died after the second Battle of the Marne, has become the poster boy for this fall's program. In the first week of October, Lexington residents will see his image on street banners, posters, flyers, and rack cards around town.
We are lucky to have a recent donation of photos, medals, and other items from Stanley's niece, Shirley Stolz. One of the photos we have of him is this one, taken at Camp de Chalons Barracks at Mourmelon le Grande in July 1917. At the time, Stanley was in the AEF (American Expeditionary Force) and attached to the French army.
Two things struck me about this photo. First, Stanley is holding a poster of a drowning woman from the Lusitania, which was sent to him from the United States. This poster was drawn by Fred Spear and produced by the Boston Committee of Public Safety in June 1915, after the sinking of the British Passenger Liner, Lusitania. Stanley is holding the poster just over two years after the tragic event and he, along with other young men who joined the fight, has heeded that appeal.
Secondly, as our collections record blandly states, "George Allison is shaving in the background." Who is George Allison? His name is not on the list of Lexington men who fought in the war, so it's possible that he was in the First Dartmouth Unit, to which Stanley belonged at that time. Whoever he is, I like how he is going about his daily ablutions, seemingly heedless of the posed photo going on outside the window.
It's century-old images like this one that help put a face to the war, help us understand the daily lives of soldiers, and hopefully comprehend a little better the sacrifices that were made. Starting next Monday, October 1, look for a new exhibit in the CVS Pharmacy windows on Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington. The exhibit features images and biographies of the eight men that Lexington lost in the Great War, including Stanley Hill.
More about the Enlist poster:
More about daily hygiene for WWI soldiers:
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
This coming fall, Lexington Historical Society is partnering with several other organizations in town, including the Town Celebrations Committee, Lexington Minute Men, Lexington Veteran's Association, and Cary Memorial Library, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the ending of WWI.
I’m thrilled to share that the Community Endowment of Lexington, an Endowed Fund of the Foundation for MetroWest, has given us a generous grant of $4,000 to support this work. The Community Endowment of Lexington promotes a spirit of philanthropic giving to help enhance the quality of life for all Lexington citizens now and in the future. In addition to support from the Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Lexington, the Community Endowment of Lexington’s grant will allow us to bring an often forgotten aspect of Lexington’s history to the community.
This commemoration will include an exhibit in the CVS windows in Lexington center on the soldiers who died in the war, exhibits at Cary Memorial Library, lectures, a panel discussion, and several other programs that touch on many aspects of the war.
As I’ve worked on the committee to prepare for this commemoration, I’ve learned a bit about Lexington’s involvement in the war, and it’s truly fascinating. One of the things that I thought was of particular interest was Lexington’s Liberty Loan Flags. During the war, towns encouraged folks to buy bonds to finance the American war effort. If a town met its quota, it was awarded a Liberty Loan flag from the U.S. Treasury. Lexington met its quota for all five Liberty Loan drives, and received accordingly; having met the quota for all drives was marked by a line through the flag given for the fourth loan. Lexington Historical Society has all four flags in its collection.
An event I’m particularly excited about is the Armistice Day Poppy Gala to benefit Lexington Historical Society which will take place on October 19 at the Masonic Lodge right near the Green. This event will feature a plated dinner and several live bands playing songs from WWI. In addition, there will be a raffle and live auction and guests will be encouraged to dress in period attire. More information about the Poppy Gala is available here.
I look forward to commemorating the ending of WWI, and I hope that you will join us at these events to learn about this fascinating aspect of Lexington’s history.
For information on the WWI commemoration and how to contribute to the conservation of the Liberty Loan flags, please visit our World War I Commemoration page.
-Erica McAvoy, Executive Director
Everyone’s house has a story to tell.
Maybe your house was built two hundred years ago and has a fascinating history and a rich story of its inhabitants before you. Maybe it stood during the Revolutionary War or was home to a historically significant figure.
Maybe your house was built during the 1950s. Maybe it was built by a well-known mid-century modern architect in one of Lexington’s architecturally significant planned communities.
Or maybe you designed your house yourself only a few years ago. You carefully considered the exact layout and design that would be best for you and researched and installed all the amenities that you found important. Yours is the first and only family to have inhabited it, and you are the very beginning of its story.
Regardless of the age of your house, that house is your home. Whether you know a lot about the history of your house, or whether you know nothing and would like to learn more, your home has its own unique story that it is waiting to tell you.
Many people are fascinated with learning the story that their home has to tell. What has their home seen over the years? How has it changed since its original construction? Who else lived there, and who else made it their home, too? There are a lot of resources that you can use to learn more about your home in Lexington.
In Lexington Historical Society Archives, the most common research requests we get are concerning the history of specific homes and buildings in town. We have realized that people love to know about where they live! To that end, we have been working in the archives to get our Properties and Landmarks Collection online so that this collection, and others, can be available to the public. Individuals can now search this collection for their address to see any information or photographs that we might have on their home. Don’t forget, though – if your search doesn’t yield any results for your address, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any information! This is an extensive collection, and while we are doing our best to make it available online in its entirety as quickly as possible, we aren’t there yet! So, if you don’t see any information on your address, be in touch and we will see what we can find for you.
The Society isn’t the only resource available to those in Lexington, though. You can also find more information on your house at the Town of Lexington Archives, Cary Memorial Library, and by browsing the Historical Commission’s Cultural Resources Survey, where you can find information on the architectural and historical importance of specific Lexington houses and neighborhoods.
If you are interested in learning more about all of these resources available in Lexington, consider attending the panel discussion “Discover Your Home’s History” on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 9:30am at Cary Memorial Library, where representatives from all of the above organizations will be participating as panel members!
And always remember – your house is your home. And you are now part of its story and history.
-Elizabeth Mubarek, Archives Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.