Archives for June 2015

A new exhibit at the Depot Building showcases Lexington’s pivotal role in this international architecture and design movement

 

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Can architecture make the world a better place?

In the years after World War II, a diverse group of bold young architects sought an answer to that question in Lexington. They came to the sleepy Boston suburb with a dream of revolutionizing home architecture and design, and embracing mid-century modernism to achieve a utopian ideal. What they accomplished here has been called Lexington’s second revolution, and it certainly was an architectural “shot heard ‘round the world.”

The Lexington Historical Society will celebrate the town’s unique architectural legacy with a new exhibit that opens in June 2015: Lextopia: Lexington’s Launch of Mid Century Modern. The exhibit will highlight the architects who worked here and examine how their work affected Lexington and the larger world. It will showcase modernist architecture, furniture, and housewares from the Society’s collections, as well as artifacts donated by other individuals and organizations. Several mid-century modern house tours, a mid-century modern marketplace, Sunday afternoon gallery talks and other events will occur throughout the summer and fall.

The exhibit is sponsored by Century 21/Lester E. Savage Real Estate. Additional support comes from the Lexington Council on the Arts.


 

Highlights from the ExhibitTimelines and infographics bursting with historic photos and documents chart the development Mid-Century Modernism in Lexington, and bring together the story of the architects, the neighborhoods they created, and their impact on the world.Mid Century Modern living is showcase with a display of vintage furniture.

Items include:

     -Eames Molded Plywood Chair

     -Original Design Research Couch

     -Adult and child folding butterfly Chairs

Re-created architect’s office populated with artifacts used in the office of famed Lexington architect Walter Pierce (and supplied by his former partner Phil Poinelli.) Features blown-up quotes from Lexington’s Mid-Century Modern architects.

Neighborhood display that includes photo essays, unique 8mm home movies from Moon Hill, artifacts from the recently replaced 1961 Estabrook School building, and more.

A detailed scale model of a house from the Peacock Farm neighborhood (see right).

A display of Marimekko fabrics, kitchen items, and dishware of the type sold Design/Research, the groundbreaking store started by Lexington architect Benjamin Thompson.


Sunday Gallery TalksJune 21 –  Wendy Cox,  Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Art  at Norwich University, Tracing Intentions-The Founding of The Architects Collaborative and Early Housing Project Six Moon Hill.June 28 – Susan Ward, independent curator and consultant, Textiles in Mid-Century Interiors: The Softer Side of Modernism

July 12 – Jane Thompson, co-owner with her husband Ben of the Design Research stores, and author of Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes

July 19 – Peter McMahon, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust and Christine Cipriani, author of the new book Cape Cod Modern

July 26 – Timothy Techler, architect principal of Techler Design Group, A Moon Hill Restoration

August 2 – Wendy Hubbard, Site Manager of Historic New England’s Gropius House in Lincoln, Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus and the Gropius House: Roots of Mid-Century Modern in Middlesex County

August 9 – Andrea Quagliata, former Moon Hill resident, creative director, photographer and author of Modern Orthodoxy and Eclecticism, The Case Study of Six Moon Hill.

August 16 – Pamela Hartford, landscape historian and preservation consultant, It’s Not Just the Buildings: Landscape in the Aesthetics of Mid Century Modernism

August 23 – Bruce Clouette, senior historian of the Public Archaeology Survey Team in Storrs, Connecticut and author of the National Historic District Nomination for Moon Hill in Lexington

August 30 – Katie Rowley, Manager, and Somers Killian, Associate of Machine Age, Highlights of Mid-20th-Century Furniture Design.

September 13 – Bill Janovitz and John Tse – Marketing and Purchas

“We are really expanding our horizons with these events,” says Historical Society Executive Director Susan Bennett. “Our revolutionary history will always be central to our mission, but it is exciting to branch out and celebrate other areas where Lexington has played a pivotal role in our nation’s history.”

Inspired by Walter Gropius and his contemporaries, a number of architects made the town a laboratory to test their ideas. By the 1960s there were more neighborhoods of modernist homes here than any other town in the country. Nine neighborhoods with such whimsical names as Six Moon Hill and Peacock Farms expressed the visions of The Architects Collaborative (TAC), Walter Pierce, Hugh Stubbins, Carl Koch and others. Many of the modernist architects who worked and lived in Lexington would develop international reputations. One of them, Benjamin Thompson, went on to found to found Design Research, the innovative retailer that played a key role in spreading awareness of modern design in the consumer world.

These architects sought to create neighborhoods that would change the way people lived together. “We had grandiose thoughts about reforming the world,” recalled TAC architect Norman Fletcher. These neighborhoods attracted a new kind of resident to the small town. There were scientists and academics – including four Nobel Prize winners (two of whom lived across the street from each other.) Unusual for the time, there were women who were doctors and architects and editors. These new residents were more progressive than Lexington residentsof the time – 90% were Democrats, according to one survey.  Their presence had an undeniable role in shaping the community.

Lexington Historical Society member Harry Forsdick (left) has painstakingly constructed a detailed model of a Peacock Farm house (above) designed by architect Walter Pierce, who lived and worked in Lexington.

Lexington Historical Society member Harry Forsdick has painstakingly constructed a detailed model of a Peacock Farm house (above) designed by architect Walter Pierce, who lived and worked in Lexington.


Lextopia Exhibit
June 20 – September 19
Open daily 1 – 5 pm
The Lexington Depot | Lexington Center
Admission: $5 / Free to members

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Tips for Downsizing

DownsizingAdvice from Amy Roberts
at Out of the Box Moves

Thinking about moving out of your home and downsizing to a smaller home?  Out of the Box Moves is a company that specializes in moving and downsizing and has a few tips that will make this process flow smoother. The first step you will have to make is to decide what you want to take with you and what to do with the rest of your stuff!

The best way is to focus on one room at a time, do not try to do the whole house at once; you will get overwhelmed. Work your way around the room clockwise, or if you insist, counter-clockwise.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Do I use it?

When did I use it last?

Do I need it?

You may want to use sticky notes and label things accordingly. Some suggestions we have are to label items: keep, donate, sell, or give to family or friends.  Other items may just go right into the trash bag or recycle bin.  Once your decision is made, place items in a bin or box that is labeled appropriately.

When organizing the master bedroom, go through your clothes in your closet and bureau, and ask yourself the following questions…

When did I wear it last?

Does it still fit? 

Be sure to have a trash bag ready because it is okay to throw out old socks, nylons, or pilled sweaters.   When an item can be appreciated and worn by someone else, it can be donated. Throw out old hangers and give back the metal ones to the dry cleaners.  Look down at all of those shoes on the floor or hiding in boxes. Old sneakers, which are worn down and actually not good for your posture, can go in the trash, and dress shoes that you will never wear again, can be donated.  And do you really need four pairs of bedroom slippers and those chic expensive boots that hurt your feet? It is time to donate those!

I bet there are a lot of things you can throw out in your bathroom!  First, gather all those expired medications and dispose of them according to your community’s guidelines.  Toss the little soaps and shampoos you have collected from hotels and those ragged washcloths and stained towels.  There is probably an old hairdryer that always shorted out and a curling iron or an electric shaver that has not been used in years. Those can all be thrown out as well. A great way of getting rid of your old sheets, towels, and blankets is to donate them to your local animal shelter to help pets in need.

Now in the living room, you may have shelves full of books or maybe even some textbooks from college collecting dust.  Fill grocery bags with these books and donate them to the local library. If you have a very large amount of books, contact More Than Words, a worthy nonprofit organization in Waltham. They will come and pick up the books from your home. You may also have some decorative items in your living room that may be valuable. Have an antique dealer or auctioneer visit your home to provide you with an estimate of what they are worth. It all depends on the condition of the piece and if it is in demand.

Now onto tackling the office…what about those piles of papers, warranties, cancelled checks, and tax returns that you are determined to sort through some day? If you have a good filing system, that’s great.  If not, buy folders and sort through the papers, and then label each folder accordingly. To make this process easier, listen to music or do it while watching T.V. Create a minimal amount of files and at the same time fill the recycle bin with all the unnecessary papers. Confidential papers should always be shredded. If you do not have a shredder, you can take your papers to Staples, which only charges a small fee for shredding. You do not have to keep things for years and years anymore because so much is electronically stored today.

Photographs are an essential part of our lives and a lot of our memories live within them.  So choose a few of your favorite framed photos to bring with you to your new home.  The rest of the photos can be removed from the frames and put into photo albums.  You can also go through and sort your collection of family photos and distribute them to the appropriate family members.  I am sure they would love to have them! Another option is to scan your photos to make them digital, which would enable you to share fond memories online with family and friends and preserve your memories.

And now for the real challenge—the kitchen! When was the last time you used that George Foreman grill or the waffle iron or the electric percolator? If the small appliances are clean and in good working condition, they can be donated. If any of your mugs, plates or glasses are stained or chipped, it is time to toss them into the trash.  Start using your nicer dinnerware, why wait? If you have a collection of vases, keep just a few, recycle the chipped one, and donate the rest.

As far as your garage and attic are concerned, you may need to recruit some family members or a service to help you. Especially, if you have accumulated quite a lot of gardening equipment, paint cans, and old sports equipment over the years.

Another helpful hint is to create a schedule, put it on the fridge, and give yourself a deadline so that this whole process doesn’t drag on and drag you down. By taking this first step of de-cluttering your home, you will be able to envision your new life in your next home surrounded by the things that you chose and that make you happy!

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What About the Natural Gas Pipeline in Massachusetts?

All Things SustainableBy Mark Sandeen

Mark Sandeen is the chair of the Sustainable Lexington Committee

Mark Sandeen is the chair
of the Sustainable Lexington Committee

Q: I understand we are considering building a new natural gas pipeline in Massachusetts. Is building a new pipeline critical to our energy future?

A: A lot of folks thought so last year. We saw some natural gas price spikes when demand jumped during a couple of cold snaps. The utilities predicted more of the same this winter, but a funny thing happened. Even though we had a much colder winter, colder than we’ve seen in over three decades, we didn’t have any problems meeting demand.

How is that possible? You may have heard that Massachusetts is leading the nation in energy efficiency for 4 years in a row now. Our energy efficiency programs have reduced electricity demand by 2 million megawatt hours (MWh) in the last two years. We’ve also added another 700,000 MWh in new solar generation. That’s enough electricity for over 360,000 Massachusetts homes. And we are just getting started.

But the utilities are asking us to bet that we’ll stop investing in energy efficiency, solar power adoption will slow, and we’ll never get any wind turbines built. Who wins if we make that bet? Let’s just say the utilities like the guaranteed return on investment that comes from building a $3 billion pipeline.

What happens if we build a pipeline and no one comes? We would all end up paying for the pipeline whether it is needed or not.

Q: Would it be better to upgrade our existing pipelines? I heard that our old pipelines have a lot of leaks.

A: That is a very good idea. Nathan Phillips at BU has found that our local pipelines are leaking a huge amount of natural gas, almost 3% of our natural gas. Those leaks are mostly methane and methane is an extremely strong greenhouse gas – 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. Those methane leaks alone are responsible for 10% of our greenhouse gas emissions in Lexington. On top of that, plugging those leaks would provide enough natural gas to heat 150,000 homes and would reduce the need for a new pipeline. Who pays for those leaks today? We do. The utilities pass those costs on to their customers.

Q: Are there other costs associated with natural gas?

A: According to the Energy Information Agency, the US has increased the amount of energy required to transport natural gas via pipelines by 50% over the last decade.

The total amount of energy used by natural gas pipelines is now about 264 million MWh a year. To put that into perspective – that is slightly more than the total amount of electricity consumed in California and about 5 times more than all the electricity used in Massachusetts each year.

But that is small potatoes compared to the 57% to 67% of natural gas energy that is wasted once it gets to a power plant. According to the EIA, only 33% to 43% of the energy in natural gas is actually converted into electricity and makes it on to the power grid. The remaining energy goes up the cooling tower as waste heat.

Our electricity grid loses another 8% in transmission and distribution line losses along the way to our homes and businesses. This highlights a huge benefit of solar energy, every kWh of electricity produced directly at the point of consumption eliminates all those losses.

We could eliminate one California’s worth of electricity consumption, just in pipeline energy costs alone, by switching to renewable energy sources like wind, hydro, and solar. And we wouldn’t have to pay for a $3 billion dollar pipeline that won’t be needed in an increasingly energy efficient but still warming world.

 


 

Send your sustainability questions to questions@sustainablelexington.org. THANK YOU!

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Drought Stressed Trees and Plants

Tree Talk Logo

I can’t help but starting with concerns about recent weather patterns and most important…… Water, or lack of adequate rainfall. The heavy rains we had in the beginning of June were certainly welcome but few realize that even though we had 4 to 5 inches of rainfall in a short period, that was still too little too late. We had more rain in the first week of June than we had in April and May combined and that is a real problem for all trees and shrubs. Just 1/4 inch of rain fell in the entire month of May.

 

When our planting crews were digging within days after the big rains the ground was completely dry just 4 to 5 inches below the surface. When it doesn’t rain for a long periods of time soil can become hydrophobic, this means that even when water is applied it will roll over the surface and not soak into the ground where tree roots can absorb and conduct.

 

I am truly amazed at how oblivious most people are to the moisture requirements of trees and shrubs. Irrigation companies were late to activate automatic irrigation systems this year and I almost never see people hand watering with a hose.

 

Beware, we are in the beginning stages of a serious drought. Please, please, please get some water going on your valued trees and shrubs. Slow, deep watering is always better than fast and hard watering that runs off into the drains quickly. If you have new plants that were installed in the past 1  to 2 years they will require additional watering because their root systems are not fully developed. Very important to water plants this spring and summer that were installed last year.

 

With drought stressed plants comes opportunistic insects, particularly mites. If this dry pattern continues we will see an explosion of mites and other sucking insects that will mine much needed chlorophyll from leaves. Winter Moth, Canker Worm and Gypsy Moth Caterpillars have caused serious defoliation in many areas this spring. Every indication is that these and many other insects will be with us for years to come.

 

Trees and shrubs will require a little extra attention. Always consult a professional arborist and develop a maintenance strategy to protect your valued landscape.


 

Matt Foti

Matt Foti

Matthew R. Foti is the owner of Foti Landscape and Tree Service. Matt is a 1977 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds degrees in social science and general business. Matt became a Massachusetts Certified Arborist in 1979 and served as president of the Massachusetts Arborists Association from 1993 to 1995. Matt currently employs six Massachusetts Certified Arborists.
Foti Landscape and Tree Service 30 Fairbanks Rd., Lexington, Ma 02421, 781.861.0505,
E-mail: mrftree@aol.com

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Memory of Beloved Lexington High School Student Continues to Inspire

The In Anne’s Spirit foundation is celebrating fifteen years of continued service to the community.  Robert D. Putnam to speak at the celebration about his new book Our Kids.

This year The Borghesani Foundation and In Anne’s Spirit is sponsoring a very special evening to celebrate the caring,  hard-working community that has grown up around the foundation named for their daughter Anne who was senselessly murdered in 1990. The foundation and its many supporters are like a second family to the Borghesanis. This is an opportunity to celebrate the foundation’s growth and the work they have done to fight violence in schools and communities for the past fifteen years. The event is open to the public and will be held at the beautiful deCordova Museum in Lincoln.

Robert D. Putnam PhD Is Keynote Speaker

PutnamFifteen years ago Dr. Putnam helped launch the foundation when he spoke about his then current book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Renewal of American Community at the inaugural event.  This year he returns to discuss his recently published and highly acclaimed book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.  He will speak on “Inequality and opportunity: the growing class gap among American young people and the implications for social mobility.”  The public is welcome to attend and learn more about this exciting new book and Dr. putnam will be signing books after the talk.

Dr. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University.  He is founder of the Saguaro Seminar which brings together leading academics, political figures and practitioners to study social issues.

His current book examines the troubling state of income inequality in America and its terrible consequences for social mobility among children of the middle and lower classes. (See box above.)


 

About the book, David Gergen, advisor to presidents and CNN political commentator says:

“In yet another path-breaking book about America’s changing social landscape, Robert Putnam investigates how growing income gaps have shaped our children so differently.  His conclusion is chilling: social mobility ‘seems poised to plunge in the years ahead, shattering the American dream.’  Must reading from the White House to your house.”


 

Anne’s Story

“At the time of Anne’s death our family was supported by so many in the Lexington community and beyond.  I often felt we were being held up by our friends, family, and neighbors,” says Anne’s mother Betty Borghesani.  She believes that The Borghesani Foundation is an outgrowth of Anne’s loving and generous spirit and wants to celebrate the love, hard work and dedication of those who continue to support it.

Anne Borghesani was a bright, vibrant young woman with hopes and aspirations like any of our young people in Lexington.  She was connected to her family and friends, always had time to listen, and was an active participant at LHS and in her town.  She loved travel, learning about different cultures, and had aspirations of attending law school and being a public defender.

Anne Borghesani

Anne Borghesani

Anne graduated from LHS in 1985 and from Tufts in 1989. Ten months later in 1990, Anne was accosted by a stranger and murdered while walking from her apartment to the Metro in Arlington, Virginia to meet friends to celebrate her 23rd birthday.

The first year after Anne’s death a scholarship was started in her name at Tufts.  A year later Anne’s classmates initiated a scholarship at Lexington High School to be awarded to a graduating female who exemplifies Anne’s qualities of school and community spirit.  This committee of classmates has continued to encourage the growth of the scholarship, maintained relationships with the former scholarship recipients, and they meet annually to select a new scholarship recipient.  They are motivated in their work by friendships forged at Lexington High School and Anne’s memory.

About the Foundation

In Anne’s Spirit was created in 2000 by Anne’s friends and family.  In Anne’s Spirit is a non-profit, voluntary organization dedicated to reducing the incidence and effects of violence by promoting development of healthy children and families. A yearly newsletter goes out to supporters describing the grants made by the foundation. Donations received from this newsletter have enabled In Anne’s Spirit to support inner city day camps, after-school programs, victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, violence prevention projects such as anti-bullying and dating violence programs – in addition to continuing to support the growth of scholarships in Anne’s name at Tufts and Lexington High School.  Without the generous support of so many in the community who still remember Anne, this work would not have been possible.

 

 


 

 

In Anne's Spirit Logo

About the Event

A Celebration of Community
With Keynote speaker
Robert Putnam
Author of “Our Kids”
Sunday June 28, 2015
6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
At the deCordova
Sculpture Park and Museum
51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, MA

Pre-keynote wine reception at 6 p.m.
Talk followed by a community conversation and book-signing
with coffee and dessert.
The museum’s exhibits and Sculpture Park will be open during the reception
For reservations and information, please call (781) 862-7309 or

email Borghesani@inannesspirit.org

Honorary Event Committee
Nancy and Joel Adler, Lexington Town Meeting Members
Prof. Drusilla Brown, Director of Tufts Program in International Relations
Michelle Ciccolo, Lexington Board of Selectmen
Norm Cohen, Lexington Board of Selectmen
Linda Cohen, Friends of Cary Library Board Member
Margaret Coppe, Lexington School Committee
Margaret Counts-Klebe, LHS Scholarship Committee
Dan Fenn, Founding Director of John F. Kennedy Library
Hon. Jay Kaufman, State Representative
Florence Koplow, former member Lexington School Committee
Lyn Lustig, Tufts Scholarship Committee
Jerry Michelson, LHS Scholarship Committee
Dr. Daniel and Barbara Palant
Susan Vickers, Founder of Victim Rights Law Center
Steve Volante, chair of LHS Scholarship Committee

 

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Lexington’s civic champion David Eagle has passed

 

 

Dave Eagle

Dave Eagle

In life, some people are spectators while others roll up their sleeves and dive
right in. Dave Eagle was a participant. He personified what it means to be a
“citizen.” He refused to be called a civic leader, yet that’s exactly what he was.
He took no credit for his profound contributions to this community, yet he took
great pride in those accomplishments. He had a deep and abiding commitment
to making Lexington a better place for all. He will be dearly missed. – Jim Shaw


Visiting hours will be on Monday June 29, 2015, from 4 PM to 8 PM at Douglass
Funeral Home in Lexington. His funeral service will be held at Saint
Brigid Parish on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at 10 AM. Full notice will be in the
Sunday Globe on June 28, 2015. (Photo by Jim Shaw)

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DIY Sisters find business inspiration in mid-century modern furniture and a shared love for design

Sisters Lisa Berland of Lexington and Laura Berland-Wyman of Lincoln are partners in Retrocraft Design

Sisters Lisa Berland of Lexington and Laura Berland-Wyman of Lincoln are partners in Retrocraft Design

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In an airy light industrial space in West Concord, sisters Laura Berland-Wyman and Lisa Berland renovate and transform vintage furnishings to enhance contemporary homes.

They launched Retrocraft Design studio in 2011 (www.retrocraftdesign.com) and also have online stores on the e-commerce website Etsy (www.etsy.com) and the new vintage design website Chairish (www.chairish.com).

By Jane Whitehead

On a recent sunny afternoon, the sisters sat with me around a refurbished 1960s Park dining table in their showroom and talked about their mother’s genius for creative dumpster-diving, their enthusiasm for mid-century modern design, their evolving business model, and the dynamics of being sisters in business together.

A DIY INHERITANCE    “We all grew up with a strong sense of design,” says Berland-Wyman, recalling their childhood on the Chelsea/Greenwich Village border in Manhattan in the late 1950s and 1960s. Both sisters attended PS 41, “where all the bohemian kids went,” she says, laughing. Their mother, a modern dancer by training, was an intrepid DIY decorator who furnished their home with curbside trophies.

“Nothing daunted her,” says Berland-Wyman: “She was always cutting legs off things, repurposing them.” Two memorable transformations were the grafting of hairpin legs on to an antique oak pedestal table, and the conversion of a rattan chair into a giant hanging lampshade. Their father, a social worker by profession, was also a photographer who commandeered a bathroom as a darkroom and improvised sculpture out of found objects like pieces of driftwood.

Apart from a sense of design, color and the aesthetics of everyday life, the sisters also inherited their parents’ can-do attitude. “That generation came out of the Depression, and they were just used to doing whatever needed to be done,” says Berland. So whether it was upholstering a chair, making curtains or refinishing a floor: “You learned that you could just do it, you could figure it out,” she says.

A TRAINED EYE    Both sisters have fine art training. While working as an editor and later, school administrator, and raising three children, Berland took many art classes at the De Cordova Museum in Lincoln. “Art was always there,” she says, “something I did in the background.” As a continuing education student at the Museum of Fine Art School in Boston, her younger sister Berland-Wyman honed skills she used for many years as a decorative painter – “faux everything” – and color consultant. “I love working with color, I like materials and I like working with my hands,” she says. Working primarily in other people’s houses had its frustrations, she admits, and part of the appeal of launching a small business was the prospect of more autonomy and creative freedom.

As they started working together on the projects that would evolve into Retrocraft, the sisters studied upholstery at the Elliot School in Jamaica Plain.  “We did a very complicated chair as our project,” says Berland-Wyman, who also took wood-working classes at the school.

A fine mess! The sisters acquire pieces with good bones just waiting for their moment to shine once again!

A fine mess! The sisters acquire pieces with good bones just waiting for their moment to shine once again!

THE ALLURE OF MID-CENTURY MODERN   The idea for Retrocraft grew organically out of the sisters’ shared DIY projects over the years. Berland lives in Lexington, Berland-Wyman in Lincoln, and they’ve always helped each other with home decorating. “When we first thought of it, we thought of taking pieces that we liked, and transforming them in some way,” says Berland. “We went out looking, and we really had no clue what we were doing,” she says. “People gave us all kinds of things, we picked up stuff on the street.”

At first, says Berland-Wyman, “we just found things that we liked, and we really weren’t looking for mid-century particularly, although we found those things and we loved them.”  They found premises in the crumbling Bradford Mill in West Concord, “huge space, cheap, lots of light,” and worked a few days a week, mainly painting antique pieces in bold colors and selling them on Craigslist, reaching customers throughout the Greater Boston area. As the mill buildings were upgraded, the rent went up, the footage shrank, and in 2013 the sisters found new space at 152 Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord, near the Nashoba Bakery.

The interior of Retrocraft in West Concord is filled with lovingly transformed pieces.

The interior of Retrocraft in West Concord is filled with lovingly transformed pieces.

As the business gained traction, it became clear that “the mid-century stuff got so much more attention than anything else,” says Berland. Berland-Wyman thinks the current enthusiasm for mid-century modern design comes from an appreciation of its simple lines and good craftsmanship, as well as a hunger for “eclectic, different, unique pieces.”

Both sisters emphasize that they’re not restorers – they often choose to alter the look of a piece with paint or a colored stain, or add a stenciled design, or other custom element. An example is a rosewood coffee table made from a piece of wood discarded during a renovation project at a local museum where it served as a bench. The rosewood top, with subtly rounded edges and corners, carries the seal of the well known mid century Danish cabinet-maker, Ludvig Pontoppidan. The sisters commissioned welded steel legs to complement the rosewood grain and refinished the top, to create a handsome and unique piece. “We’re always thinking about what we can change up and make more interesting,” says Berland.

Lane Acclaim Dining Table

Lane Acclaim Dining Table

Lane Altavista Credenza

Lane Altavista Credenza

The downside to the boom in all things mid-century modern is increasing competition. “The problem for us is that it’s very competitive to buy this stuff now – it’s getting harder to find, harder to afford,” says Berland. To keep Retrocraft’s inventory fresh, she says, they work with a handful of dealers and businesses that specialize in cleanouts, and as the profile of the business grows they find that more and more people bring mid-century pieces to them.

Before

Before: Custom upholstery gives this drab chair a new life.

After

After: Ready to add a beautiful accent to any decor.

A BUSINESS EVOLVES    From selling a handful of pieces monthly on Craigslist, the sisters have developed a hybrid operation that relies on their constantly updated website, and online stores at Etsy, Chairish and Krrb, to bring customers into the store. They also send out a monthly email newsletter to around 600 clients, highlighting new items in stock.

“The idea is that people can go to the website and see what we have before they truck out here,” says Berland, “and mostly people come because there’s something specific they want to buy.” Recently, they have added a range of accessories including Austrian-made patterned throws by David Fusseneger Textiles, colorful mid-century cased-glass decorative pieces, and sturdy handcrafted brooms from rural Pennsylvania.

Early on, Berland and Berland-Wyman decided that shipping would not be part of their services, so clients buying directly from Retrocraft and through the Etsy store arrange their own shipping – a fact that has not deterred a growing base of fans in California, Texas and New York. Retrocraft’s latest online venture is a store on the website www.Chairish.com, which bills itself as “the first online consignment marketplace,” and handles all shipping arrangements, for a cut of 20 per cent on sales. It’s a mark of Retrocraft’s growing reputation that Chairish invited their participation on the new site.

In the growing local market for mid-century modern design, the sisters see Retrocraft as occupying a unique niche. “There are some very high end mid-century modern retailers who are doing restoration,” says Berland. “We’re not competing with those guys.” At the other end of the scale, she says Retrocraft offers much more than the average consignment store. “When we sell something we want it to be structurally sound and in good working order,” says Berland-Wyman. “We try to make people happy, and if something’s not the way they want, we try to make it right,” she says – an attitude that has garnered many enthusiastic reviews at Retrocraft’s Etsy store.

SISTER ACT    Asked about how they divide up the work, and how they get on as business partners, both sisters laugh. “We get on each other’s nerves,” says Berland. “We have different obsessions.” “I’m also a perfectionist!” admits Berland-Wyman. “Yes! To the nth degree!” agrees her sister.

Retrocraft seems to thrive on the sisters’ complementary talents. “I’m the CFO – I do all the books. I’m a little compulsive about keeping things in order,” says Berland-Wyman, laughing. “I ended up doing the website and the photography,” says Berland, “and Laurie advises on colors and fabrics.” They employ one part-time assistant, and switch off working Saturdays at the showroom.

“I don’t think people realize how hard it is to have a small business and make it work and have an income from it,” says Berland. Trying to figure out the next move for the business is “on our brains all the time,” she says. And yet when the sisters pause to take stock of what they’ve achieved, they share a certain pride. “We didn’t start with a business plan,” says Berland, “but here we are five years later with a business that people know about, that has a profile.”


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RETROCRAFT DESIGN STUDIO

152 Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord. Tel: 781-320-9749/781-710-3911; email: contact@retrocraftdesign.com; showroom open Thurs. 1:00 pm-7:00 pm, Fri. and Sat. 11:00 am – 4:00 pm and by appointment.

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American Ride features Hancock/Clarke House on Emmy Award winning program

American Ride

The production crew from American Ride was in Lexington recently to film a segment for their Emmy Award winning television series. The program’s host, Stan Ellsworth (above center) is a teacher and great guy with a passion for American history. Thanks for featuring this great community.

AR Jane and Susan

 

Pictured left: Stan is with Susan Bennett and Jane Morse of the Lexington Historical Society. Above: Stan is pictured with members of the production crew filming outside the Hancock/Clarke House in Lexington. (Photo by Jim Shaw)

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Building Community Around the Supper Table

COMMUNITY ACTIVISTS SEEK TO HELP THOSE IN NEED

From L. to R: Harriet Kaufman, John Bernhard, George Murnaghan and Laura Derby stir the pot for Lex Eat Together. Photo courtesy of D. Peter Lund.

From L. to R: Harriet Kaufman, John Bernhard, George Murnaghan and Laura Derby stir the pot for LexEat Together. Photo courtesy of D. Peter Lund.

 

By E. Ashley Rooney

On Tuesday, May 26, a group of 35 residents met to discuss how we as a community could help those in need. Though not easily visible, there are those among us who struggle with not having enough food and social interaction.  By providing a free, nutritious and regularly scheduled community meal, open to all, we can address these needs and build community with those whose circumstances serve to isolate them.

It is difficult to imagine as the bulldozers raze older homes and turn them into multi-million-dollar dwellings, that we could be hungry because we didn’t have enough money to buy food, but a husband can die, a job disappear, a family or medical emergency can devastate our savings. As Laura Derby, one of the organizers, pointed out, once you lose your financial security, you may drift into social isolation. Life becomes a vicious spiral downward.

PROVIDING A FREE COMMUNITY MEAL

Laura, Harriet Kaufman, John Bernhard, and George Murnaghan have been meeting for several months to understand how Lexington can help those in need with a free weekly meal, open to all, which they have named Lex Eat Together.  They have researched similar efforts in Concord and Bedford, worked with the Town’s human services director Charlotte Rodgers, and met with community activists to get their suggestions and input.

Harriet Kaufman pointed out that we have many individuals and groups in town with a strong commitment to service.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ”Life’s most persistent and important question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ Here is an opportunity for connection, for change, and for performing a valuable service.”

She then described the Open Table in Concord and Maynard, which provides a pantry and dinner to all who come, with no questions asked. She spent twenty-five years as a volunteer there, in a variety of roles, including pantry manager, cook, president, board member, and head of guest support services.  The spirit of Open Table, she said, is one of kindness, dignity, inclusion and community.  This spirit is what the group envisions replicating In Lexington.

HARNESSING LEXINGTON’S VOLUNTEER SPIRIT

Their overall plan is to have a weekly meal on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7 pm, starting, in mid-October, and they are working with the Church of Our Redeemer, located in Lexington Center, to hold the meal in Redeemer’s renovated parish hall and kitchen.  They believe a central location, with suitable kitchen and dining facilities, ample parking and handicap access will serve the guests best.  Redeemer, which has hosted the food pantry for 25 years, fulfills all those requirements.

The 35 attendees broke into teams to discuss obtaining volunteers for cooking, serving, setup/cleanup, outreach and promotion, and organization and fundraising. In the next several months, they plan to build awareness about the Lex Eats Together program, to inform and invite potential guests and our community at large about the meal. They plan to seek funds to secure at least six months of operation.  The organizers believe it will cost around $500 per meal to purchase, prepare and serve 80 individual guests, or $12,500 for six months. They will establish a non-profit group to receive donations in the next several weeks.

To volunteer, contribute or obtain more information, contact John Bernhard jhbernhard2@gmail.com, Laura Derby lauraderby32@gmail.com, Harriet Kaufman harrietkaufman@rcn.com, or George Murnaghan gmurnaghan@verizon.net.  Or email lexeattogether@gmail.com.

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GIANT Accomplishment! Lexington’s Chris Shaw Chosen in the 1ST Round of the MLB Draft

Chris Shaw_WebHeaderBy Devin Shaw

Every young athlete has dreamed of playing professional sports. In almost all cases the dream fades with age. The realization is painful yet necessary for most, but for a select few, like Lexington’s own Chris Shaw, the dream becomes real.

Chris Shaw will remember June 8, 2015 for the rest of his life—that is the day that the San Francisco Giants selected him 31st overall in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft.

Chris played baseball at Lexington High School and was so good that the New York Mets drafted him directly out of high school with the 800th overall pick, but he chose instead to pursue his education and play ball at Boston College.

I recently spoke to Chris and he told me this time the draft was different, “out of high school I had no intentions of signing professionally; I wanted to go to college and honor my commitment to BC. So this time around it was pretty nerve-racking leading up to the draft because I knew I was signing and I wanted to go as high as possible and end up with the best organization I could. And when I was selected by San Francisco I was excited—because of their track record and the kind of organization they are top-to-bottom.”

Since 2010 the San Francisco Giants have been inarguably the best franchise in professional baseball. Not including this current season, the Giants have won three of the last five World Series. And most of the key-contributors for this baseball dynasty have been developed within the farm system that Chris is about to enter.

Chris possesses what is known in the scouting world as “plus-plus” power. Essentially, the hulking left-hander can hit the ball a mile. His batting practices regularly drew massive crowds of scouts prepared for a show. Power hitters have become increasingly scarce in professional baseball making someone with as much power as Shaw rare and valuable.

Chris has always been a standout athlete; he played both baseball and hockey at LHS. The Lexington baseball team helped shape who he is as a ballplayer. He says, “It taught me all my fundamentals obviously, both on and off field. I learned how to be a good teammate and what it takes to be successful with regards to hard work. It definitely played a huge role in my development in allowing me to get to the position I am in now.”

Chris’ Lexington baseball career was hugely successful; it included an undefeated regular season and the prodigious statistics that got scouts from both the college and professional ranks to give him a look. Chris knew he wanted to go to Boston College from the beginning, it provided him a unique opportunity to not only go to a school in what is considered a premiere conference for baseball but also to continue a family tradition of a attending the college—from his grandfather to his mother to most recently his little brother.

Boston College is in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and for baseball it continually provides some of the best competition for budding Major Leaguers. Chris began his freshman season with incredibly high expectations from both himself and outsiders. He played in 50 games his freshman year at multiple positions including first base and right field and ended his season with a .165 batting average with 27 hits, including five doubles and six home runs (HRs), and ended the season with 27 runs batted in (RBIs).

Though he led the team in home runs, Chris wanted to improve. And during his sophomore year Chris exploded onto the national scene with a breakout season. He told me what helped him do that, “I was able to manage expectations far better going into my sophomore year, my freshman year allowed me to see what it takes to be successful at that level. I think my freshman year I went in there expecting to be a freshman All-American and all this stuff but I learned going from a Massachusetts public high school to the ACC is a pretty significant jump.”


“Every single day I am going to the field

with the short-term goal of getting better

today and don’t worry about tomorrow.”


 

The ACC features some of the best pitchers in the nation, making it more difficult to hit, especially while Chris was there. “You look at some of the guys I faced and they’re in the big leagues already. We faced some very, very good arms and going into my sophomore year I wanted to be a harder worker and not be as result oriented as much as just going out there and having fun and working hard.”

Well it worked.

Chris’ numbers during his sophomore year were absolutely ridiculous. All of his individual statistics went up exponentially. He finished the season with a .329 batting average 68 hits 18 doubles 9 HRs 45 RBIs and a .502 slugging percentage. All of this led to numerous accolades including being named to the First-Team All-ACC Team (essentially, he was the best player at his position in his conference).

Baseball is a game of whispered stories. Before the advent of video and the Internet,tales of unbelievable feats on the diamond traveled ear-to-ear across the country. Mostly exaggerated, these stories grew in proportion until they were deemed unbelievable or would go down as myth (who really hit the longest home run of all time?). During Chris’ summer on the Cape playing for the Chatham Anglers he built his own myths one massive home run after another. Stories of 450-foot home runs to dead center flooded the Internet and scouting circles.

Chris took it all in stride, and ended up leading the Cape Cod league in home runs which is a major accomplishment considering this is the summer league where all the nation’s best collegiate players go to show off their talent in front of major league scouts.

His performance during the summer raised his profile in the eyes of scouts, he said “I’ve had it described to me that after my sophomore year I was viewed as anywhere from a third to fourth round guy but then after my summer on the cape I was put in the discussion of a top-50 guy.”

It also put the pressure on Chris to perform during his junior season which he did—leading all NCAA players in home runs until an injury interrupted his torrid pace. Though inconvenient, it’s an injury that will not impact his future.

And most importantly it did not prevent the Giants from picking Chris in the first round.

Which brings us back to June 8—Chris was in Lexington to watch the draft at home with mom Karen, dad Doug brother Brendan and close friends and family. Everyone was glued to the TV waiting to hear Chris’ name called. Certainly a night filled with stress and excitement but when the moment finally happened Chris says it got very loud—“A lot of yelling, a lot of celebration. We knew at around the 23 pick that the Giants were gonna take me they called and said ‘Hey, if you’re available we’re gonna take you’ it was kind of anti-climatic because we knew they were going to select me. Nevertheless it was still an incredible moment.”

Chris Shaw signs his contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Chris Shaw signs his contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Now Chris is in Arizona practicing every day waiting to find out what the Giants have planned for him. As he says, “I’m ready to take it day-to-day, just go out there keep my head down and try to live in the moment.”

The minor leagues are set up to allow players to develop their skills to a professional level while playing competition of similar ability. There are multiple levels and various teams all over the United States—from Portland, Maine to Salem, Oregon. Some players skyrocket through their systems on their way to superstardom while others play in the minors their entire careers.

Chris wants to stay in the present and work hard as he moves up the ranks, when asked about his goals as a professional entering the minor leagues he says “I think they’re pretty short-term goals—get better every day. I think if I get caught up in thinking about progressing as quickly as possible or setting a date for when I get to the big leagues I may become a bit overwhelmed. Every single day I am going to the field with the short-term goal of getting better today and don’t worry about tomorrow.”

For Chris baseball isn’t just a job, it’s a passion. Becoming a professional athlete is not something that just happens, it requires a lot of love and dedication that usually starts at a very young age, “I’d go and hit whenever I could. I’d be bugging my dad to go and throw me batting practice. Growing up my neighbors and me were always outside playing, I was never a kid that played video games and stayed away from that stuff—I was just always outside. But I think it’s very important to play multiple sports. I played baseball and hockey in high school and once baseball season was over I hung them up and got on the ice.”

Unfortunately Chris won’t be allowed to play hockey anymore. Admittedly he will miss it “a lot” but I think he has more-than-enough baseball games ahead of him to keep busy!

Hopefully we will see Chris in San Francisco under the bright lights playing for the Giants as soon as possible. From what we knew he’ll work tirelessly day-to-day and game-to-game to improve until he’s ready for the big leagues.

Baseball is a game of repetition and one thing will never change for Chris Shaw, whether it’s dad tossing batting practice or facing the best pitcher in the world: “Try to find a good pitch to hit and hit it hard.”

I’m certain of one thing, stories will be told all over the country of Lexington’s Chris Shaw doing just that.

 

Below: Chris (in Bowdoin tee shirt) marches with his LHS teammates in the Patriots Day Parade.

Below: Chris (in Bowdoin tee shirt) marches with his LHS teammates in the Lexington Little League Parade.

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