Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Viewing Nature Through History

Recently we debuted a new outreach program at the Tin Mountain Conservation Center.

Entitled “Viewing Nature Through History,” it is one of many free outreach programs offered by the Conway Public Library’s Henney History Room to schools and community groups.

Some of the other topics we can cover include the Abenaki, barns, early New England architecture, NH and its polar explorers (including Chinook - our NH State Dog), maple sugaring, maps and map making, mills and manufacturing, ice harvesting, Redstone quarry, tone walls and cellar holes, and art of the White Mountains.

We can tailor the programs to your group’s time frame, academic level, curriculum needs, etc. We are pretty flexible schedule so please contact us if you are interested. We can present programs at most any facility, we offer field trips to local history spots, and welcome tours here at the library.

Our new program explores the ways in which different cultural groups have used local natural resources at different times over the years. In the image above are some examples from the Abenaki site in Intervale.

For example, basswood (whose leaves are seen in the foreground) were used by Native Americans for a wide variety of reasons including making cordage. Hemlock bark was used by early settlers to tan leather in nearby Pequwaket Pond and used in the leaning building in the background for leather work.

The program covers many other trees and plants, as well as wildlife, rocks, sand, mud and tools used to process natural materials into useful objects. To learn more about this program or any of our program offerings contact us at the library or send us a comment in the box below.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Brick by Brick

In previous blogs we have traced the construction of the Conway Public Library building through a “Memorial Booklet” written by the building’s architect Thomas Silloway. Recently a photograph of Silloway was found in the attic by the library’s Director, David Smolen. See the picture on our facebook page at this link.

According to Silloway, the contract for the building above the foundation was concluded on March 31, 1900 with Mr. George M. Tufts of Boston, building contractor, who sub-let all work of masonry to L.K. Marston, of Boston. When the library was expanded some of the original bricks were removed to allow a connection between the old and new sections. Some of these bricks were sold to help raise funds for the expansion and an example is currently on display in a curio cabinet near the library's main entrance on Greenwood. One of our Sanborn Insurance maps shows that at one time Greenwood was named Silloway Street. See this link for details on our map collection or better yet, come in and browse the collection. 

If you look carefully you can see that the original bricks were probably molded by hand using a mold similar to the "hands-on" example below.

A remarkable painting in a local private collection shows a brick making operation along the Saco River with Cathedral Ledge seen in the background.

You can compare the details of the painting with a "living history" example recreated at Colonial Williamsburg.

The library has a number of great books that detail the historic building process. The library also offers free outreach programs to schools and community groups, either powerpoint presentations and/or "hands on" displays of building tools and materials if you would like to learn more about historic New England building processes from "cellar to shingles."

To learn more contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.