Written by Nicole Walsh, Curator at Minute Man National Historical Park
A beautifully painted fire screen from The Wayside, Home of Authors was recently preserved thanks to a generous donation from the Old Concord Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) to the Friends of Minute Man. The fire screen is over a hundred years old and is associated with both the Hawthorne and Lothrop families.
The Wayside, Home of Authors contains thousands of objects related to the Lothrop family. The Lothrops owned the home from 1883-1965 before it was transferred to Minute Man National Historical Park. Perhaps one of the most notable objects in the house is a beautifully painted fire screen. Fire screens were used as decorative objects that blocked the heat from a fireplace, allowing residents to sit close to the fire and moderate their temperature. The fire screen was hand-painted by Rose Hawthorne for the Lothrops; Rose was a former resident of The Wayside and daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Rose painted pine branches and a quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s essay “Fire Worship” found in his book Mosses From an Old Manse (1843).
The fire screen has been in the house for over 120 years, likely dating to the 1880s or 1890s. After years of use and display, this special artifact was in need of conservation treatment including stabilization and cleaning. The fire screen was recently preserved thanks to a generous donation from the Old Concord Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) to the Friends of Minute Man. Visitors to The Wayside can now better see Rose’s delicate painting on the fire screen since years of accumulated soot and dust were removed by a conservator.
The Old Concord Chapter of the NSDAR has a special interest in the fire screen project as they were founded in 1895 by Harriet Lothrop, a resident of The Wayside. Harriet Lothrop is also recognized by her pen name Margaret Sydney, author of the Five Little Peppers book series. Minute Man National Historical Park recently hosted an unveiling ceremony for the fire screen to thank the Old Concord Chapter of the NSDAR for their generous donation to the project.
Image above, left to right: Jeanne Kangas, Kristina Joyce, Charlene Goddard-Lyle, Nicole Walsh, Steve Neth, and Janine Penfield at the unveiling event for the restored fire screen. Kangas, Joyce, Goddard-Lyle, and Penfield are members of the Old Concord Chapter of the NSDAR. Walsh is Minute Man’s curator and Neth serves as a museum technician. Image courtesy of Karen Weitz.
Image below: Newly restored fire screen, painted by Rose Hawthorne and given to the Lothrop family. Conservation treatment for this special object included removing wax and dust from wooden surfaces, repairing holes in the brittle fabric backing of the screen, reproducing a missing finial, and cleaning the surface of the painting. This work was completed by conservator Joannie Buttkol, who has worked on dozens of other decorative objects from The Wayside collection. Image courtesy of Karen Weitz.