Thursday, October 13, 2016

Painting the Local Picture

When the Lanesville Community Center hosts a program by Jon MacDonald next Tuesday evening at 7:30 we will broaden our glimpse of the Village a century ago. The photographs below are from glass plate negatives in the family archives.
John Ingersoll Coggeshall (1857-1927)
Jon's great-grandfather, the painter John Coggeshall, discovered Lanesville in 1902 at the suggestion of a Lowell neighbor who had a summer house in Rockport. He soon developed the Coggeshall Art Camp on the shoreline off Langsford Street and commuted from Lowell by the regional trolley system of the day. He never obtained a driver's license himself.

A postcard view of the trolley on Langsford Street, corner of Viking Street,  Lanesville.
Wainola Hall, a center of local Finnish culture, is the tallest building to the right rear.
"Red Gate," the Langsford Street entrance, now Coggeshall Road.
Today the studio on the left is occupied by painter Lynn Loscutoff.
The dormitory at right offered ten double-occupancy rooms
supplemented by tents on the lawn.
Theatrics at the Camp c. 1922, looking west from the main lawn.
Jon's mother "Little Edith" seated at center.
His grandmother "Big Edith" - Coggeshall's daughter - stands third from right.
This house was one of two buildings originally on the property purchased by John Coggeshall, He used it as a family residence. The fireplace made four-season living possible if not always comfortable. My grandparents bought this house in the early 1930s.

A letter on Art Camp stationery
Jon MacDonald perusing family correspondence
The Coggeshall family has woven an interesting history since immigrating from Essex, England in 1634. Jon MacDonald now resides in France, custodian of  family archives and memories of Lanesville summers from the 1940s and 1950s. He inherited the Camp dormitory building after it had been converted to a bungalow.

A watercolor painting of Lanes Cove by John Coggeshall,
hanging in Jon MacDonald's house.
In addition to painting and managing the art colony John Coggeshall founded Boy Scout Troop 7, the first in Gloucester.

Boy Scouts in formation along the shoreline.
John Coggeshall, mounted
Scout Troop 7 on an outing by bus
Recalling a reference to Scoutmaster Coggeshall I revisited the memoir of Waino Ray (née Rajaniemi - no relation to our family) A Young Finn on Cape Ann. Waino put forth "a slice of time, roughly 1920-1935." He dedicated it to trumpeter Sylvester Ahola "The Gloucester Gabriel" whose family's cow barn has been converted into the Lanesville Community Center. Waino writes with great affection of Scoutmaster Coggeshall.

Waino Ray at Barker's Pit, 1927.
Photo by Walker Hancock.
Waino puts together a collage of the ethnic village, of his father's stone cutter life, of the first-grade teacher tasked with making Finnish-speaking kids literate in English. Despite the hard economic conditions he and all his siblings graduated from college. "We were indeed free spirits with strong family ties."

We can anticipate that Jon MacDonald's exploration of the several cartons of his Coggeshall heritage will contribute to the tapestry of Lanesville lore that gratifies our ties to this place. His great-grandfather's paintings can be enjoyed at the Cape Ann and the Peabody Essex Museums.

Shoreline by John Coggeshall
Collection of Robin Cody, formerly of Coggeshall Road

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