Today’s Flashback Photo is a picture of the dredge Governor Warfield working on the Cape Cod Canal in 1914. The Canal opened for its first ship 99 years ago. If you think public works projects from the past were built any faster than they are today, consider that the first person to float the idea of creating the canal was Myles Standish in 1623. He was military advisor to the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth. The idea was batted around by governments for nearly 300 years, with various surveys starting and stopping before the work finally got underway. During that long delay, ships were lost that could have been saved had the canal been operational. Countless hours were expended by vessels taking the now-avoidable long way around the Cape while moving up and down the coast. If you’re in the area, the canal visitor center in Sandwich will host a presentation this evening on the shipwrecks that helped make the case for building the canal.
If early American Massachusetts furniture is your passion, you’ve undoubtedly cleared your fall calendar—or should. Eleven museums have joined together to launch an exhibit of Massachusetts furniture-making, which kicks off in earnest at the end of August. The museum exhibits will be opening around the state at various times throughout the year, and the lineup is a who’s who of Massachusetts cabinet making. If you can’t make all the exhibits, you can get a look at some eye candy for furniture lovers at the website built to showcase the event.
What do you do when your town is the birthplace of one of the most detested participants in the American Revolution? Well, it’s an issue Norwich, Conn., is wrestling with. Before he famously became a traitor to the colonies, providing the British with intelligence and eventually joining up with the British Army, Benedict Arnold was a successful military leader on the American side. And before that, this son of Norwich was a prosperous and successful businessman in New Haven. His Connecticut ties were deep. Yet his native state, not surprisingly, has been reluctant to pay him much attention. Now, however, ideas of a Connecticut Arnold history trail and new Arnold play are percolating, though with little momentum. The Norwich Bulletin put the idea of celebrating Arnold’s history to the current governor. Though not a complete non-starter, he was cool to the idea. Maybe the brains at Disney can do for Arnold what they did for pirates.
Jane Stickles’ gorgeous quilt is coming out of the closet this weekend for its annual appearance at the Bennington Museum. It’s a special show for the textile marvel, as this year is its 150th anniversary. The museum is honoring the event by displaying the quilt alongside a watercolor painted by Stickles that has been stored for the past decade. The Bennington Banner tells us the quilt is made up of 169 five-inch blocks and probably won first prize at the Bennington County Fair in 1863. Pam Stewart, curator of the New England Quilt Museum, wrote an academic article about Stickle, about which little is known, and about the quilt, which fills in some of the blanks about Stickle. Stewart said the quilt has followers so dedicated “they would probably have my head on a post outside the museum” if the quilt wasn’t taken out of storage. The Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street in Bennington (natch), and it’s open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
Today’s Flashback Photo…