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A Painting Arrives in the Library.

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Tammy Amon, the head of our circulation department, shares with us the story of the painting that has just arrived in the library, in which we not only learn about the artist but also about a piece of town history:


“Franklin Lewis Gifford (1854-1936), a self taught oil painter, was born and lived his whole life in Woods Hole. His paintings capture scenes of Woods Hole and Falmouth in the 1800’s, giving a vivid history of the village and town during that time. Many of Mr. Gifford’s paintings are on display at the Woods Hole Library and the Falmouth Historical Society, and now through the generosity of Mr. Gifford’s great grandson and his wife, Robert and Lois Griffin, one of the Gifford’s paintings, The Landing of the British in Little Harbor, was received by the Falmouth Public Library Board of Trustees and hung in the library on Friday, May 10th with several family members present for the ceremony.


This is how the painting is described in The Catalog of Exhibit of Historic Woods Hole Paintings by the Late Franklin L. Gifford (Woods Hole Community Hall, July 23, 1953):


‘A view of Little Harbor, from the west side. At the time depicted in this painting, the United States was at war with Great Britain. On the particular date of this scene, a British man-o-war was making its rendezvous at Tarpaulin Cove, Naushon Island. (This cove furnished an advantageous lurking place for the enemy vessels strategically located, and a good harbor out of which they sailed, to pounce upon shipping or to make raids on the shore during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812).

As this warship was out of provisions, they sent small boats from the vessel to Little Harbor, Woods Hole, loaded with sailors and marines, to capture a small sloop there which was loaded with corn. However, before they arrived, the men of Woods Hole having received word from the British, ordering the sloop to be held in the harbor until they arrived from the cove, ran the sloop ashore at high tide on the east side of the harbor. This move very effectively prevented the British from capturing the sloop.

In the foreground of the picture is a cob type of wharf. At the wharf can be seen a yawl boat flying the British flag. A number of marines are standing guard. The stack of guns near the boat belonged to other marines who have probably gone up on the hill to the Joe Parker Tavern for smokes and rum. Entering the harbor is another boatload of marines

The windmills on the shore and the upland were used to pump salt water up into the evaporating vats on the hill.

Next is shown a sloop on shore. On the hill is an old grist mill where grain was ground. The old red house was known as the home of Andrew Y. Davis, called the Point House. (The house was originally owned by Samuel Barker, who had a wharf below his house, on the harbor side of the point. From this wharf, Lieutenant Joseph Parker ran a ferry from Woods Hole to the Vineyard in 1729.

The grist mill mentioned above was originally located on the west side of the Harbor in 1773, near or on the land where stood the home of Elial T. Fish, the house which is now owned by Mr. Lawrason Riggs.

Names of occupants of the old red house, The Point House: Samuel Barker (1700); Andrew Y. Davis (1800); Captain Joseph Hatch (1840).’


It is a real honor to have this painting displayed in our library. This historical painting is located on the wall across from the circulation desk within the 1901 section of the library.  We invite you to view this artwork on your next visit. Please also visit the Woods Hole Historical Society website for additional information about Mr. Gifford’s life and paintings.”

Thanks Tammy for sharing the story of our new painting, and you can see some photos of the event and the painting on our library flickr page.

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