Lowell Cemetery held its annual Memorial Day Remembrance Sunday afternoon.
Lowell Cemetery held its annual Memorial Day Remembrance Sunday afternoon.
It was July 1848 and famed poet Edgar Allan Poe was staying in Westford at the home of wealthy paper mill owner Charles Richmond and his wife Nancy. The couple, former Lowellians and big fans of Poe’s work, invited him to stay at their home rather than a hotel when they heard he would be lecturing in Lowell.
In the time before Facebook, the Kardashians and the 3D IMAX version of The Fast and the Furious 6 lectures by writers, intellectuals and political figures were the main source of entertainment and night-on-the-town socialization.
The eccentric writer was a night owl, sitting up all night long in front of the fireplace. Nancy joined him. Friendship blossomed into romance.
Poe wrote a series of passionate love letters; she visited him, unaccompanied by her husband.
The following April, Poe’s poem “For Annie” was published in Flag of Our Union, a weekly Boston-based publication. Nancy Richmond bragged to her friends she was in fact Poe’s “Annie.”
The final stanza of the poem reads:
But my heart it is brighter
Than all of the many
Stars in the sky,
For it sparkles with Annie—
It glows with the light
Of the love of my Annie—
With the thought of the light
Of the eyes of my Annie.
When Charles Richmond died in 1873, Nancy went to the probate court and had her name legally changed to Annie.
“It’s not a stretch to say Edgar Allan Poe’s girlfriend is buried at Lowell Cemetery,” local historian Richard Howe Jr. told a crowd of more than 50 who gathered at the sprawling 173-year-old garden-style cemetery off of Lawrence Street Friday afternoon for the first guided tour of the spring.
The 90-minute tour was packed with fascinating stories of the souls who rest there. I will not give them all away, since you should take the tour yourself, but I will tease you with a few crumbs . .
Swett lived at the corner of Liberty and Pine Streets in the Highlands and ran a livery stable on Green Street near the train depot where he provided horse-drawn carriages for visitors who arrived by train.
Rebecca died at the age of 26, six years after they wed. The next Mrs. Swett was Rebecca’s sister Mary, who died seven years later. At the age of 45, he married 22-year-old Fanny, who died a couple of years later. Elizabeth, wife number four, was older than John . . . and outlived him.
At the cemetery the four women’s graves are marked by tall headstones. John’s sits flat on the ground.
“I think there is some symbolism that his stone is prostrate . . . with four wives . . . “ Howe said.
In addition to being a cemetery, the beautifully handcrafted monuments also make it a public art museum. One of the most striking pieces is at the grave of Louisa Maria Wells.
When she died in 1886 at the age of 69, her will stated all of her money should be put toward a suitable monument in honor of herself and her mother.
Louisa’s cousins, who wanted the money for themselves, contested the will.
“In a court case right out of a Charles Dickens novel,” Howe said, the case dragged on for 20 years, during which time the funds earned a considerably amount of interest.
The judge upheld the will and Louisa’s wishes. Famed sculptor Daniel Chester French, who had carved the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, was asked to create the piece.
He suggested his associate, Evelyn Longman, who had trouble getting work that was not awarded through blind design contests due to her gender.
“No one wanted to hire a woman for something as important as carving a statue,” quipped Howe.
The imposing piece depicts a comforting Angel of Death leaning over a kneeling mill worker, clad in a smock and holding a bobbin with the yarn cut, symbolizing the end of life’s yarn.
Howe has been conducting tours of the Lowell Cemetery for four years. The spring tours cover the Lawrence Street half of the burial ground, while in the fall the tour starts from the Knapp Avenue entrance.
For more information, including upcoming tour dates visit http://www.lowellcemetery.com.
A special guest post by James Ostis of the Lowell Heritage Partnership
A unique look at Lowell’s past through the expert eyes of a Legendary Local author. A festival of international renown that celebrates both traditional culture and the wonders of water. An in-depth research project on the canals that created a revolution. A collaborative development project that both preserves history and helps provide health care access to over half of Lowell’s population. And finally, a well-deserved recognition of the man who made it all possible by believing in the potential of Lowell’s historical resources several decades ago.
On Thursday May 16th, 2013, Lowell National Historical Park, the City of Lowell, and the Lowell Heritage Partnership honored recipients at the annual Community Excellence Awards in Historic Preservation and Culture Heritage. The winners were Richard Howe, Jr. for the Lowell Cemetery Tours, the Southeast Asian Water Festival committee, Albert Lorenzo for his research project on the Lowell Canal system, and Lowell Community Health Center for their renovated building in the Hamilton Mill. The family of Dr. Patrick J. Mogan was also honored with a posthumous award for his many years of service and integral role in Lowell’s preservation efforts.
The Community Excellence Awards were presented as part of the kickoff of Doors Open Lowell 2013 at a reception before a packed room at the Boott Mills Counting House. Speakers included Superintendent, Celeste Bernardo, LHP President, Paul Marion, and City Manager Bernie Lynch among others.
For more photos from the event, please like and check out Lowell Heritage Partnership on facebook at www.facebook.com/LowellHeritagePartnership.
The Mighty Merrimack River is the reason the city of Lowell was born in the 1820′s. It is where we get our drinking water. It is a place for recreation, both passive and active. It is the pride of a community.
But, how much do we and our children really know about the river? Not much. We could read a book about it, but the Lowell National Historical Park has a better idea.
The Tsongas Industrial History Center, Lowell National Historical Park’s educational partnership with the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Graduate School of Education, has been selected to receive a 2013 “Ticket to Ride” grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF), the official charity of America’s national parks.
The grant will allow the LNHP to offer outdoor educational programs for students in grades 7-10 from Lowell, Haverhill and Lawrence focused on how to detect the quality of water in the Merrimack River Watershed through hands-on experiments and activities.
During field trips to the Tsongas Industrial History Center, students will participate in the “Bridging the Watershed” program, conducting water quality tests and investigating aquatic insects to determine the health of the Merrimack River watershed.
“This grant provides local school districts with access to the Park to participate in an outdoor educational program, where they otherwise would not be able to come due to financial constraints,” Park Ranger Rebecca Lofgren said in a statement. “The students now have the opportunity to learn how to detect the water quality of the Merrmack River watershed, which is the source of drinking water for their households.”
The “Ticket to Ride” grant program, supported by $500,000 in funding from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, provides for similar field trips to local national parks for 60,000 students nationwide each year.
Rita Neal has been teaching “Exercise for Health” classes at the Lowell Senior Center for 15 years.She retires this week.
Adding exercise to their lifestyle allows the seniors to age in place, living healthier, longer and more independent lives. Monday morning, City Councilor Marty Lorrey presented Rita with a citation of appreciation during her class.
The City of Lowell formally adopted an the current version of the Open Space Plan in July of 2005. The plan seeks to preserve and improve access to open space and recreational opportunities for all residents, as well as addres public park maintenance, environmental protection, regional greenway connections, and other citywide initiatives to protect valuable greenspace.
OPEN SPACE PLAN UPDATE
Although many of the objectives outlined in the current plan remain relevant, the City of Lowell is currently preparing an updated Open Space Plan in response to the changing needs of the community and an evolving environmental context. The plan will also reflect the vision of the recently completed citywide comprehensive plan, Sustianable Lowell 2025, which was developed with a significant amount of public input.
The Open Space Plan will provide a framework for the City, private, and non-profit institutions to work collaboratively in allocating resources for parks, recreation and open space over the next 5 to 10 years. The plan will guide land protection efforts, maintenance of open spaces, and enhancements made to existing recreational facilities and programs. The Open Space Plan will also enable the City to remain eligible for state funding for open space preservation and park improvement projects.
OPEN SPACE SURVEY
The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has created anseeking community input specifically related to open space issues to supplement information gathered during planning process in support of Sustainable Lowell 2025.
Community input is extremely important in helping the City develop an open space plan that reflects the public’s preferences and needs, so please take a moment to participate in the survey. Your contribution is a cruscial part of the planning process and will help shape the City’s vision for the future. Please complete the survey by Monday, May 27, 2013.
Copies of the survey will also be available at the Pollard Library, City Hall help desk, and Lowell Senior Centor for those without easy access to the Internet. The Open Space Survey has also been translated to Spanish, Portuguese, and Khmer and will be available at each of the above listed sites. Translated versions may also be downloaded at the following links:
Portuguese Translation (available soon)
Khmer Translation (available soon)
, Senior Planner
Department of Planning and Development
In early March, Mayor Murphy visited the Lincoln School as part of Read Across America Day. He spent time in room 203 (grade 4) reading “The Fantastic Flying Book of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” and talking to the kids. Following the visit, a packet of thank you letters arrived at the Mayor’s Office. We are a little late in getting these posted, but here are a few examples from the awesome kids in room 203: