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 m