Category Archives: Lectures

REMARKS ON THE FIRST LIGHTING OF THE SAINT MICHAEL’S STEEPLE

By Robert L. Howie, Jr., Historian Emeritus and Chair, Tercentenary Committee
All Saints Day
November 1, 2015
6:00pm

More than 50 years ago the idea was proposed of erecting a steeple to replace the one that graced St. Michael’s from 1714-1793, when it was taken down, bring rotten. A decade ago the idea of a new steeple fired our imaginations as we began planning our 300th anniversary and our fourth century.

With the erection of the steeple, a cherished wish for many has come true, and what is old is new again. It is and will remain the most visible of our 300th anniversary gifts to ourselves, and a landmark in the Marblehead skyline. On a practical level, it will make it easier for people to find us, which has not always been easy.

While the new steeple more accurately reflects the exterior appearance of the original church, the motivation was not to look back to the 18th century, but forward into the 21st and beyond. The steeple is less historical than aspirational, an outward and visible symbol of our mission to proclaim the Gospel and to seek transformation in God’s grace.

A steeple is often the first thing you see of a church from a distance, which is intentional. A steeple reminds the faithful not only of where they should go to worship, but also that they should worship. It is part of its function. If you can see the church, then the church—and God—can see you; the steeple implies that you are safe within the protection of the church. It draws our attention upward, towards Heaven, and to God. While the weathervane has a civic function—telling us the wind direction, it also has a religious one—reminding us of God’s presence in every direction, and the extent of his creation. It also reminds us that whichever way the wind blows, we will not be blown off course, as the church is our anchor to windward.

And so it is fitting that on All Saints Day we conclude our 300th anniversary celebrations with the lighting of our steeple, a bookend, if you will, the last act of our Tercentenary. We would like to thank Steven Rosen, lighting designer; Andy Robinson, electrician; Ed Nilsson, project architect; and Jean Howe, whose generous gift enabled the installation of the lighting.

The steeple helps us communicate and proclaim to the wider community and beyond why we exist, what we believe, who we are, and to welcome one and all to this House of God. We celebrate our past as a source of continuity and strength, our present as we live out the Gospel in this place, and with the church as our foundation, joyfully set our course for the future.

April 30: Edward Nilsson on Architecture of St. Michael’s

The Architecture of St. Michael’s: English and Dutch Antecedents

Marblehead historian Samuel Roads stated that “The frame and all the materials used in the construction of the building were brought from England.” But not in the way Roads meant. Ed Nilsson, local architect with a keen interest in architectural history, co-chair of St. Michael’s Property Management Committee and a former Senior Warden of the church, speculates that the builders of St. Michael’s in 1714 were aware of the significance and meaning of the form that their religious building would take. This visual essay will explore possible 17th century English and Dutch antecedents of the church, one that is unique in American ecclesiastical architecture. It will also look at later 19th century modifications to the building that renewed the worship environment to the liturgical practices of the day.

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Date/Time
Wed 04/30/2014
7:30 pm

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

Categories


photo of Edward NilssonEd Nilsson is founder and principal of Nilsson + Siden Associates, Inc., Architects & Planners in Salem and serves on St. Michael’s Historic Church and Tercentenary Committees, the Marblehead Planning Board and the board of Historic Salem Inc.   His architectural work includes the adaptive reuse of the Charlestown Naval Yard and the development of Crosby’s Marketplace in Marblehead. He will be presenting a paper titled “No Place Like Home–Huxtable’s Ranch House as Her Housing Ideal” at the April 2014 Annual Meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians, Austin, Texas.

March 11: Robert Booth on “Who Filled the Pews 1714-1750?”

“Who Filled the Pews in St. Michael’s Church: 1714-1750?”

Robert Booth, author and researcher of original home owners in Marblehead, continues our lecture series on Tuesday, March 11 at 7:30 pm with a look at parishioners of St. Michael’s 1714-1750.

St. Michael Church’s first parishioners were different in many ways from most other Marbleheaders. To be Anglican was to embrace a different religious tradition from that of the rest of the town and the rest of New England, and to risk being marginalized by the town’s merchant employers, shipmasters, and shoremen, most of whom belonged to the First and Second Churches (post-Puritan Congregational). Who were the individuals and families who chose St. Michael’s, the poorest and smallest congregation in town? Why did they do so, and how did they fit into a place that was evolving from a depressed fishing town to a rich seaport?

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Date/Time
Tue 03/11/2014
7:30 pm

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

Categories


3-11-2014robertbooth-smRobert Booth, Executive Director of the national Center for Clinical Social Work, is a resident of Marblehead and the author of the book Death of an Empire: The Rise and Murderous Fall of Salem, America’s Richest City, which won the New England Society of New York’s award as best book about New England published in 2011.

February 26: Judy Anderson on “Marblehead 1714″

Social and cultural historian Judy Anderson will speak about “Marblehead: 1714” – the year St. Michael’s Church was erected. Her illustrated talk will discuss community and social life of the period – including how Marblehead residents dressed and furnished their houses – and describe the many domestic and public buildings being constructed in the seaport town in the early years of the 18th century.

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Date/Time
Wed 02/26/2014
7:30 pm

Location
St. Michael's Episcopal Church

Categories


Judy Anderson
Judy Anderson

Formerly curator of the Jeremiah Lee Mansion and a frequent lecturer on Marblehead topics, Judy Anderson is author of the award-winning Glorious Splendor: The 18th-Century Wallpapers in the Jeremiah Lee Mansion.