Here, There and Back Again: A Tale of A Sign

The original 1846 Adams House Hotel on Washington Street, Boston. The sign pictured above may be the very one we acquired. (Courtesy: Boston Atheneum)

(Originally posted on January 17, 2015)

A couple months ago, I received a call from a very courteous gentlemen in Santa Fe, inquiring whether or not I might want to buy an old, wooden sign. But not just any sign: An old “Adams House sign,” the caller said. “It dates to about the time of the Civil War, and originally came from Boston.” Oh, my ears perked up immediately, as I had once seen a faded old letter in the House archives a few years back…now if I could just remember the specifics… But perhaps I should tell you the story from the beginning.

The Lampoon As Social History

(Originally Posted on March 19, 2016)

Not to give our neighbors in the castle too much credit, but there is some interesting history to be learned from period pages of the Harvard Lampoon, especially when it comes to determining the mores of FDR’s Harvard. Take the image above, for example, one that is particularly relevant for today as it mirrors a problem soon to be faced by the new Smith Center that the University is building in Holyoke Center. The Harvard Union was the first attempt to establish a place where alumni and students could co-mingle, and it was a hugely expensive flop, for the very reason depicted above: it, like all of Cambridge, was dry. The only liquor available was at private clubs, which is one of the main reasons that final clubs were (and are) popular today: they served booze.