Paul Revere

"Paul Revere’s Ride Revisited": A Conversation with Fred Lynch

Fred Lynch  Old North Church Photograph by Troy Paff.
Fred Lynch. Photograph by Troy Paff.

The exhibition "Paul Revere’s Ride Revisited: Drawings by Fred Lynch" is on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library through March 7, 2020.

What inspired you to select Paul Revere’s route as the subject of this project?

FL: An interest in American history started at a young age. Growing up, my family would walk the Freedom Trail, visit the Mayflower and wander through old cemeteries. My father was a high school history teacher. Now I’m an educator in the illustration department at Rhode Island School of Design and among the courses I teach is Visual Journalism—the creation of non-fiction artwork of investigation and research. With my own work, I practice what I preach. Preceding this project, I created a large series of drawings from and about faraway Central Italy, where I teach each July. I drew in a state of wonder, like we all experience when we travel. Following that experience, I wanted to turn my attention to a subject closer to my home and heart. I live in Winchester, only five miles from where Paul Revere's route passes by. I wanted to draw attention to the rich history and specific character of the place I live and where so much has happened.


How do you make your drawings?

FL: Drawing on site is an experience as well as an art. It’s extra-sensory. As I sit and draw for hours on the streets, I soak up every inch of the scene, along with its sounds, smells, and local characters. It is quite different from the monastic life of the studio. My goal is to translate and communicate that rich experience through my drawings. Each drawing is the result of hours spent driving along Paul Revere’s route, followed by walking around, and then finally drawing from observation. When I leave in the morning, I rarely know what I’ll draw that day. Something has to catch my interest or catch my eye. I guess I’m seeking serendipity. Much depends upon being at the right place at the right time. There are lots of obstacles to working onsite—such as traffic, weather, lighting, or even pests.

I start with a light interpretive pencil drawing, followed by many washes of ink. Drawing with exaggeration and character is welcome as long as the drawing is still faithful to the subject. After all, drawings are personal translations. My use of monochrome not only reduces the number of pictorial elements I need to worry about in the time I have, it also makes a historic link to documentary drawings and illustrations of the past. I want my pictures to be seen as informative as well as decorative, and timeless as well as contemporary.
After the work on location, comes the work in the studio. There I examine photographs I’ve taken to be sure I did not miss essential details. Often at this stage, I will add more contrast to the drawing and detail to some of the more precise elements. Research and writing is done last.


What did you learn over the course of this project?

FL: My stated goal at the start of the project was "to draw landmarks of the past and present, in order to form a visual essay that explores, documents, and reveals history, preservation, and change in America." In doing so, I soon found that it would take a lifetime to draw everything I found interesting. Between Boston and Concord, the landscape forms an extraordinary quilt of historic places and periods, rich with visual interest and stories. This route holds the story of America in many ways. For example, I’ve drawn everything from Colonial era slave quarters to Barack Obama’s apartment building when he attended Harvard Law School. Revolution, industry, religion, immigration, culture, entertainment—all can be examined in one short ride. In the short time since I’ve created these works, some places have changed, thus making my drawings…history themselves.

 

 

 


New Exhibition: “Paul Revere’s Ride Revisited: Drawings by Fred Lynch"

Royal Pizza (Somerville)
Royal Pizza & Subs, Somerville, 2012. Fred Lynch. Ink on paper. Loaned by the artist.

“Paul Revere’s Ride Revisited: Drawings by Fred Lynch," a new exhibition now on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, provides a fresh perspective on Paul Revere’s famous ride. This exhibition features 19 drawings by artist Fred Lynch, accompanied by his written impressions. Fred Lynch’s drawings of landmarks—both celebrated and lesser known—show how much has changed since Revere’s time, even as echoes of his era remain. The exhibition is currently on view through March 7, 2020.

Americans recognize Revere’s now-famous warnings: “The British are coming” or “The Regulars are out.” The story of Revere’s ride is over 200 years old, and its place in the early days of the American Revolution is well understood. For many, however, the details of Revere’s ride are left to their imagination. Fred Lynch’s drawings fill some of the gaps. His visual and written impressions provide viewers with an opportunity to consider how the scenes and buildings along Revere’s path have changed. Fred Lynch resides in the Boston area and is an artist, illustrator, and professor of Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“Paul Revere’s Ride Revisited” illustrates this evolution within a modernizing metropolis. In one of the more harrowing experiences of his journey, Revere was forced to divert course to narrowly avoid capture by British officers. Today, the location sits across from a pizza shop, represented in Lynch’s drawing “Royal Pizza & Subs in Somerville, MA. The site of a perilous moment in Revere’s story is now shown as a peaceful suburb, far removed from the urgency of Revere’s ride. 

While time has changed much along Revere’s route, some landmarks have been preserved. The drawing, “Munroe Tavern, shows a well-maintained building in snowy Lexington, MA. The building has long been seen as an important landmark and a reminder of the events that took place on April 19, 1775. The tavern currently operates as a museum, on the day of the battles in Lexington and Concord it served as a makeshift field hospital and, in 1789, hosted George Washington when he came to pay visit to the battlefield.

The starting point of Revere’s ride was, of course, his own home. In his drawing, “The Paul Revere House,” Lynch captures the oldest house in downtown Boston—constructed in 1680—behind a modern car, representing the past and present. The building changed hands for years until 1902, when Paul Revere’s great-grandson purchased it. The house was restored with the purpose of turning it into a museum, as it is today.

Paul Revere House
The Paul Revere House, Boston, 2017. Fred Lynch. Ink on paper. Loaned by the artist.

“Paul Revere’s Ride Revisited” traverses Paul Revere’s famous route, underscoring some of what has been preserved, as well as a lot that would be unrecognizable to colonists. Lynch explores this dynamic in a visual essay that talks about Revere’s journey from Boston to Lincoln in a new way.


Lecture: “Paul Revere: The Original Social Networker”

JeannineParis photoSaturday, October 1, 2016

2 PM

Free

Lecture by Jeannine Falino, Curator and Museum Consultant, New York

Social networking is considered a thoroughly modern idea, but in this lecture by noted scholar Jeannine Falino, we will learn how Paul Revere pioneered the idea in the second half of the eighteenth century.  Revere is well known for his work as a silversmith, but he also expanded his business into other forms of metal working.  Revere’s mill produced the first rolled copper made in America, and his brass casting business crafted bells and cannons in the early eighteen hundreds. 

Despite his success in his trade, Revere longed to achieve a spot among the rich merchant class of Boston.  To this end, Revere joined numerous clubs and organizations, including Freemasonry.  He was able to use his many contacts within these clubs to generate business contracts.  Through this “social networking” he was able to secure his financial income but he was never accepted as a member of the Boston merchant class.      

In her lecture at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Falino will examine how Revere used his family connections and these social contacts, including Masonic associates, to create the most successful business model of all the Boston silversmiths in his generation.  

This lecture is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation and is the final of four talks in the 2016 lecture series, “Enterprise and Craft in the Young Nation.”


Lecture: “Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere’s Evolution from Craftsman to Innovative Entrepreneur”

Rob Martello photoSaturday, March 5, 2016

2:00 PM

Free

Lecture and Book Signing by Robert Martello, Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Olin College of Engineering

There is no doubt that Paul Revere played a key role in our nation’s history. His midnight ride immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” and his participation in the events leading up to the Revolution will forever shape our understanding of the man. However, Revere was a craftsman by trade, and his innovations in his craft helped him become a pioneer in industry.

In the aftermath of the American Revolution, Revere began to experiment with new technologies in metal working. He also began to use wage laborers instead of the traditional apprentice system. Although not all of his experiments were successful, Revere’s willingness to try new methods, both in working metals and in using labor, allowed him to transition from a colonial craftsman to an industrialist.

In this lecture at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Robert Martello will discuss Revere’s role as a craftsman and entrepreneur. Drawing on material from his book Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn, Martello will examine how Revere’s willingness to embrace risk and to experiment with new techniques helped him to become a successful businessman. Professor Martello will be available to sign copies of his book after his lecture.

This lecture is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation and is the first of four talks in the 2016 lecture series, “Enterprise and Craft in the Young Nation.”


Revere Charter from St. Paul Lodge on Extended Loan

Revere charter scan for blog postRecently, St. Paul Lodge A. F. & A. M., of Gardner (previously Groton), Massachusetts, deposited their lodge's charter on extended loan with the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library for safe keeping (see detail of charter on the left). The museum has an extended loan program in which lodges, chapters, and other Masonic bodies from the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction can place their charters with us.  These charters are stored in a secure vault which is temperature and humidity controlled.  Charters are then documented in our database for tracking purposes.  There is no fee for this storage which is a service to the Masonic community.

The St. Paul Lodge charter, dated January 15, 1797, is signed by Paul Revere, Jr. (1734-1818), Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, and Samuel Dunn (b. 1757), Deputy Grand Master.  Other signatures include Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831), Senior Grand Warden, Joseph Laughton (1746-1808), Junior Grand Warden, and Daniel Oliver (b. 1750), Grand Secretary.  The 24 charter members of St. Paul Lodge are listed on the document.

During Revere’s terms as Grand Master from 1795 through 1797, he chartered 23 lodges in Massachusetts.  This doubled the number of Masonic lodges in Massachusetts. Among these lodges were Union Lodge (Dorchester), Montgomery Lodge (Milford), and Jerusalem Lodge (South Hadley) whose charters the museum also holds on extended loan.          

The 216 year-old St. Paul Lodge charter is in very good condition.  Having been conserved at Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in 2010, this document has been de-acidified, flattened, and encapsulated.  This stabilization insures that it will be preserved for many years to come.   

We welcome other lodges and chapters to deposit their charters here at the museum on extended loan.  We will store, track, and record each document in our database.  If you are interested in this program or have questions about it, please contact either Catherine Swanson, Archivist, or Maureen Harper,  Collections Manager.   


Keeping Cozy: A Masonic Fireback

Joseph Webb fireback 83_26As autumn takes hold, keeping warm reemerges as a daily concern.  One of the most fashionable and intriguing heating-related objects in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library is this fireback, made for and sold by merchant and ship’s chandler Joseph Webb (1734-1787) sometime between 1756 and 1787.

In Webb’s day, people installed thick cast iron plates like this one into the back of their fireplaces.  They could be set into or rest against the rear of a fireplace.  Called chimney backs at the time, these plates served a dual purpose.  The iron protected bricks in the fireplace from heat and flame.  The substantial metal slabs also trapped heat that helped extend the warmth of the fire. 

Webb’s fireback, with its bow-shaped top and exuberant folliate decoration, would have brought style into its setting.  Its iconography would have said something about the values and interests of its owner.  Webb belonged to the Lodge of St. Andrew's in Boston.  Perhaps seeking clients among his Masonic brethern, he had a large version of the arms of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge (derived from the arms of the Grand Lodge in London) cast into this fireback.  Along with the arms, the Massachusetts Grand Lodge's motto, "Follow Reason," ornaments this fireback. Webb held several offices at the Masschusetts Grand Lodge and served as the Grand Master from 1777-1783 and again from 1784-1787.  The symbols on this fireback certainly spoke to Webb's identity and likely resonated with Masonic consumers.  When a homeowner displayed this fireback in his domicile, he proclaimed himself not only fashion conscious, but also allied with Freemasonry.  

Joseph Webb had a flair for advertising.  To promote his business, he had a message cast into the bottom edge of this fireback:  "Sold by Joseph Webb, Boston."  In 1765 he commissioned fellow entrepreneur and St. Andrew’s Lodge member, Paul Revere (1734-1818), to engrave a splendidly ornamented trade card (view a copy in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society).  The card listed and depicted many of Webb’s products and let shoppers know where to find him.  As noted on his trade card, Webb sold household necessities such as pots, kettles, spiders (a kind of skillet with legs), window sash weights and chimney backs.  He also provided more specialized iron goods to craftsmen like “Fry Kettles for Whaling” and “Hatters Basons & Irons.” 

Researchers have suggested that the enterprising Revere may have cast firebacks for Webb.  He owned a furnace in Boston and paid craftsmen to carve the kinds of wooden patterns used in producing firebacks.  A 1793 receipt from Revere to David Greenough  shows that Revere did sell firebacks.  Greenough purchased three “Iron backs” as well as some “Window Weights” from Revere.  A receipt or other documentation would help clarify if Webb ordered this and other firebacks he sold at his shop from Revere.

Another of Webb’s firebacks decorated with arms and motto of the of Massachusetts Grand Lodge survives.  It forms part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and came out of a Cape Cod home.  A similar example, with a history of having been taken from the cargo of a British trading vessel captured during the American Revolution and installed in the John Cabot House in Beverly, also survives.  Decorative and intriguing, these objects offer clues about both business connections and domestic life in the 1700s.

Photo credit:

Fireback, 1756-87.  Boston, Massachusetts.  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Howard W. Johnson, 83.26.  Photo by John M. Miller.

References: 

Donald L. Fennimore, Iron at Winterthur, The Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum, Inc., Winterthur, Delaware, 2004, page 53-54, 400.

Morrison H. Hecksher and Leslie Greene Bowman, American Rococo, 1750-1775:  Elegance in Ornament, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1992, page 51, 220-222.

D. A. Massey, History of Freemasonry in Danvers, Mass., C. H. Shepard, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1896, page 48.

Research Department, Beverly Historical Society, Beverly, Massachusetts.


Visit Us on Patriots' Day!

Join Us for Patriots' Day Activites!

DSCF7856There is always plenty to do in Lexington when April vacation rolls around. The town and neighboring communities have many traditional events that commemorate the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775 and celebrate the community spirit of today. While you and your family are out, plan on dropping by the Museum for some fun programs. We've scheduled them conveniently so that they fall before or after the main reenactments and parades. Please note that the Museum will be open on Patriots' Day, Monday, April 16.

Farmer-soliderSaturday, April 14
11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Gallery Talks: “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution”
Get the inside scoop on the tendencies and tensions in Lexington before the British marched into town on April 19, 1775. Join Museum staff for this free gallery tour.

Monday, April 16
10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Patriots’ Day Activities
Celebrate Patriots’ Day with arts and crafts activities exploring life in 1775. While you are here, take the opportunity to view "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty:  Lexington and the American Revolution." $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members).

You'll also find the Lexington Alarm Letter on display in the Museum's lobby.

Revere ladleVisitors will be interested in exploring our exhibition "Curators' Choice: Favorites from the Collection." There, you'll find two objects related to the most famous midnight rider, Paul Revere. One is a wonderfully crafted silver ladle that showcases Revere's great talent as an silversmith. It's no wonder his works were coveted in their day. The other is much more recent - it dates to 2009. It's an ice cream carton. Brigham’s, a local ice cream company, created a special edition flavor called “Paul Revere’s Rocky Ride.” The name was the contest-winning suggestion by a couple from Charlestown, Massachusetts, where Paul Revere began his ride late at night on April 18, 1775. Come see what else you can discover in Curators' Choice.

For more information about visiting the Museum, call 781-861-6559 or see our website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.

Photo Credits

Farmer, 2007. Joe Farnham, National Heritage Museum.

Ladle, ca. 1765, Paul Revere, Jr. (1734–1818). Boston, Massachusetts. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.2088.