The John Cabot House is the headquarters of the Beverly Historical Society, with two floors of rotating exhibits that reflect the breadth and depth of the Society's collections and the rich history of Beverly. The largest exhibit space is in Memorial Hall, originally two bedrooms that were converted into one room that serves as the Society's primary meeting and program space. Bronze panels list the names of all men from Beverly who served in the American Revolution and colonial wars including King Phillip's War; and the first fifty settlers of the community. The panels are just one of the Society's many genealogical resources.
The Cabot House is open for guided tours on Tuesday and Thursday - Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm and Wednesday, 1 pm - 9 pm.
Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors/students. Society members, active duty military, and children under sixteen are free.
Masters of Deception: The Ghost Army of World War II (through June 2012)
War, deception and art come together in “The Ghost Army of WWII – Artists of Deception,” a unique one-month exhibit that opens on June 2 at the Beverly Historical Society. The exhibit tells the story of American G.I.s who duped Hitler’s army with rubber tanks, sound effects and trickery during the Second World War. Many were artists, some of whom went on to became famous—such as fashion designer Bill Blass. The exhibit includes wartime artifacts, “Top Secret” military training film footage, photos and original artworks by Ghost Army soldiers, and video from an in-progress documentary on the unit.
The Path of the Planters: The Legacy of Beverly's Seventeenth Century Families
In 1635 five men of the Dorchester Company, Roger Conant, John Balch, Peter Palfrey, John Woodberry, and William Trask, were given a land grant of 1000 acres on the "Bass River Side" of Salem. These men and their families settled on 200 acre parcels, building small houses on their farms, and were soon joined by others.
Increasingly Bass River Side residents felt separated from the town of Salem and wished to form their own legal community. For 17th century New Englanders, one of the most important aspects of community was the church. In 1667 permission was granted to separate from the Salem church and the new congregation hired John Hale as their first pastor.
In 1668 the community separated from Salem entirely and formed its own town, now called Beverly; the 1671 census of homeowners lists 43 different surnames.
As the country grew, some left Beverly for other opportunities, of course, but many stayed. Those early names can still be seen in Beverly, not only on street signs and historic house plaques, but on current voting lists and company directories. The legacy of the early settlers extends to politics, industry, social activism and arts and culture. The Path of the Old Planters, with exhibits and documents drawn almost entirely from the Society's collections, illuminates that legacy.
History Seen Through Art
Montserrat College of Artís student-run gallery, the Bear Gallery, and the Beverly Historical Society have collaborated on this exhibit, inspired by Beverly's maritime history and the related collections of the Society, on view through May 15. The creation of the Bear Gallery provides a venue for the pursuit of student education in curatorial and gallery skills. The gallery serves to bridge the gap between art student and professional artist, as well as to create a sense of community. Each show will present a student perspective of contemporary work by their peers and those who influence them. The collegeís Dean of Students, Maureen Wark, and faculty member Len Thomas-Vickory, assist in coordinating the various projects that are created by the Bear Gallery staff and their fellow students. The Bear Gallery will open its Spring Sculpture Show at Hale Farm on May 15.
Beverly and The American Revolution
The Society's magnificent collection of manuscripts and artifacts related to the Revolution is essential for all students of late 18th century American history. Many of the 19th century paintings used to create book plates for The Story of the Revolution (1898) by Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. are on display, as are signed documents by many of the founding fathers and Revolutionary figures like Generals Gage and General Howe. The exhibit includes a cannon ball thought to be fired at Beverly by H.M.S. Nautilus in 1775.
Beverly Bank: An Early American Bank, Est. 1802
Displaying original documents and artifacts, this exhibit uses the history of the bank, which began at the Cabot House, to explore the role of banks in the development of a strong financial system in the United States. The Cabots and their business associates used profits from their highly successful, global trading enterprise to invest in the building of key infrastructure, such as the bridge to Salem, in Beverly and throughout Massachusetts. The bank's original records and physical evidence such as paint still extant in the room evoke an early nineteenth-century American bank.
Items on display include:
- an original portrait of the bank's first president Israel Thorndike,
- a bankers' desk,
- early currency,
- original records of the bank's shareholders and directors,
- scales for weighing gold