Many stories accumulate in 400 years: Event to watch them for 200 years | Local News


An upcoming event on Saturday, November 27 to mark Gloucester’s 400-day countdown to 400th anniversary will explore two centuries of community history – from 1723 to 1922 – at a time when fewer than 5,000 settlers destroyed a living farm, chopping timber and fishing near the shore, at a time when the town, with its 23,000 inhabitants and famous for its fishing, arts scene and tourist attractions, resembled today’s Gloucester.

In “Our Stories Continue: Illuminating Gloucester’s 2nd and 3rd Centuries,” two narrators will address highlights from this vast fringe of Gloucester’s history, interspersed with musical interludes, readings and visuals relating to the two centuries. Sponsored by the organizing committee of Gloucester400, the group of volunteers that brings together the 2023 quadruple, the free event will take place at Gloucester House’s Blue Collar Cafe on Rogers Street starting at 3 p.m. Pre-registration is required (see box).

According to the organizers, it will only scratch the surface of the layers of history and culture that make up this old port.

Consider the city’s maritime heritage: in 1723, the schooner – the ship that defined the city’s peak fishing – had been invented by Andrew Robinson just 10 years earlier. In 1922, Gloucester’s schooner Henry Ford defeated the Canadian Bluenose in a contested international schooner race which was covered by the New York Times and attended by the US Secretary of the Navy.

Or look at the city’s cultural growth during these years: Fitz Henry Lane, born in 1804, would capture the light of Cape Ann and in turn attract artists such as John Sloan, Winslow Homer, Childe Hassam and Edward Hopper to establish the place as an artistic summer colony. An intellectual legacy, from the groundbreaking writings of Judith Sargent Murray (b.1751) to the salons of Gloucester Lyceum (established 1831), would be established.

The fishing industry would shift from sailing to power, and from salt cod to frozen fish developed in the fort in 1922 by Clarence Birdseye. The granite industry would bring thousands of Finnish, Swedish and Irish immigrants to the back of Cape Town, just as other opportunities would bring people here from England, the Canadian Maritimes, Portugal, Italy, Brazil. , Central America and other parts of the world. The Tappan Hotel, built in 1810 (and still standing today at 2 Main Street) and the imposing Pavilion Hotel (1849, on the site of present-day Beauport) would create a tourist industry; in 1922, tourists were delivered by steamboat, train and automobile to the magnificent grand hotels of Magnolia and East Gloucester.

Unwrapping all those layers of Gloucester – untangling all the threads that have contributed to the character and vibrancy of the community – is the foundation for what the organizers of Gloucester400 hope to put in place by 2023.

As Linn Doyle Parisi, who is developing the November 27 program as chair of the Gloucester400 heritage committee, noted, “Every day something could happen, because everyone who has been here has contributed, and each of them has a story. “

After a series of early forums in 2018 aimed at getting ideas for the commemoration, “we found ourselves thinking that it’s all about people and all of their stories,” Parisi said. “We’ve all been here at some point in the Gloucester timeline, whether it was the native people or the early settlers or someone who moved here last week. and each group, each person, brought their own values, their culture, their own food…. and that’s what makes this place’s beautiful and colorful quilt.

This sentiment led directly to one of the 400th’s flagship projects to date, the 400 Stories Project, inviting the community to contribute stories from people who capture the spirit and legacy of Gloucester. The 400th website,, already includes a number of memorabilia, both written and oral, from fishermen like Al Cottone and career workers like Hjalmer Ray to ball players (Stuffy McInnis), musicians (Sylvester Ahola ) and community leaders (Lena roman)

The stories project is being carried out with the help of several groups, such as the Gloucester Writers Center and the Cape Ann Finns, in the kind of partnerships that the 400th anniversary organizers hope to recreate with groups in the city. Gloucester has dozens of events that mark its heritage – the feast of St. Peter, the international dory races and the schooner festival, the novena of St. Joseph, the annual coronations of the Portuguese community – and dozens of gatherings and shows that could be linked to the 400th.

Gloucester400 sees the next two years as “abundant in collaboration across the city,” said 400th Executive Director Laura Alberghini Ventimiglia. The 400th committee coordinates with the city’s cultural, heritage, government and community organizations; some might offer special versions of their annual events, while others might offer specials in 2023.

The next program on November 27 was to be the third of four, one for each century. The first event, “Our Stories Begin: 1623-1722” at the Unitarian Universalist Church in November 2019, covered the early days, paying homage to the first two inhabitants – the Algonquian people who established settlements around Cape Ann where they cultivated, harvested fish and clams and hunted game – and the first settler families of the 17th century, whose names were read in a roll call by descendants. COVID-19 measures have postponed the second conference until 2020, so organizers are doubling this year’s schedule.

While not an in-depth look at 200 years of Gloucester’s timeline, the two narrators will guide audiences through historical aspects of the community’s second and third centuries, touching on important milestones in the community. colony of New England, the newly formed United States and the world that has impacted the growth of Gloucester, its employees, and their progress as a changing and growing community. Particular attention will be paid to the many waves of immigration to Gloucester throughout the program.

Next year, 2022, will bring the first major banquet / fundraiser of the 400th, as well as what organizers hope will be a series of smaller events such as a series of speakers to deepen the history and workshops for ‘writing to support the “400 stories” project. , all leading up to 2023.

As that looms, the biggest events of 2023 will take place at least quarterly: A taste of spring to reveal what lies ahead for the rest of the year; a summer tribute to Gloucester’s waterfront and fishing history; a fall event to examine the city’s diverse heritage, art and community; and a closing commemoration at the end of the season.

Apart from these major events, medium to small sized programs will be organized by the individual committees of the 400th – Arts, Athletics, Diversity and Equity, Education, Food, Heritage, Maritime and Waterways, Veterans. This will be complemented by events hosted by partner organizations that commemorate Gloucester’s industries, community and local talent.

“Gloucester400 is more than a celebration of our 400th anniversary,” observed Bruce Tobey, one of the three chairs of the organizing committee with Ruth Pino and Robert Gillis. “It’s also about providing time for reflection so that we can appreciate where we’re coming from – going back beyond 1623 – and being better able to plan where we’re going. This enlightenment is an important part of this effort.


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