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A cronology of the...

History of the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society, Inc.

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1946 - 1954
Written by S. Lawrence Whipple, Past President 1959-1960

On the evening of May 9th, 1946 a short annual meeting in Masonic Hall was followed by a Pops Concert. This was a gala affair, refreshments were served at tables around the Hall, and vocal and instrumental music of high caliber was enjoyed. A newly formed orchestra of fourteen members made its debut that night.

Due to increasing bills it was voted to allocate fifty dollars instead of twenty-five with which to start the New Year. The office of Second Vice President came into being and the Sculptors Guild became the Ceramic Guild.

The usual auction plans were changed in 1946 and an afternoon demonstration of arts and crafts by eighteen members drew a large crowd. Auction articles for the evening were on display and both food and opportunity tables did a brisk business. Visitors filled the hall in the evening and “it was with regret that the doors had to be closed preventing many from attending “.

We now have a report of jurying of work being done at the spring exhibitions, and in 1947 there were 1370 registered guests, and 364 articles exhibited by 119 members. During these years, as previously, committees were appointed to look for a permanent home, but with no success.

In 1947, the auction was held in the High School. Sealed bids were taken on pictures in the afternoon when auction articles were on display. Food was sold in the afternoon.

Feeling that Masonic Hall was no longer large enough, the exhibit in 1947 was held in Cary Memorial Hall.  A popular feature of the exhibit was a continuous showing of kodachromes by Camera Guild members, for which part of the stage was curtained off. This entertainment was so popular, that each year, until the exhibit was held in the Art Center where there is not room, a kodachrome showing was held downstairs in Estabrook Hall of Cary Memorial Hall.

The Camera Guild

The Camera Guild

A legislative chairman was appointed in September of 1949 and the dues were raised to $2.50 in February of 1950. A Leatherworkers Guild formed in 1950 with monthly meetings held at homes of members. At this time the Needleworkers were renting the Tap Room at Buckman Tavern for their meetings.

On February 9, 1951 the President reviewed the situation as he felt it existed in regard to finding a permanent home. It was practically impossible to find a suitable old house or building to remodel. After talking with a builder, he felt that reports were not as serious as they seemed and perhaps it would be best to purchase some land within the business zone, if such could be found, and build when possible. Acting upon his suggestion the Executive Board recommended that the Building Investigation Committee look into existing sites and properties within the business zones. A member offered to make sketches which could be used as a basis for figuring costs and a sum not to exceed one hundred dollars was authorized if a quick down payment should be necessary. At a regular meeting on March 4th, 1951, a report was made of available “swampland” on Waltham St. and two votes were taken, authorizing the President to sign for purchase of land and authorizing the Trustees to purchase the land for $3745.40, to be paid in case out of the Permanent Fund. After a long search a milestone had been reached.

The Society was incorporated in May 1951 and on November 7th, 1951 twelve members signed as Incorporators. In November 1951 the auction was handled in a different manner. There was a snack bar, articles were on sale all afternoon and what was left was auctioned off in the evening with the result that the sale brought in more than the auction. It was then decided to substitute a Fair for the Auction the next year and plans were made for the Old English Village to be so constructed as to fit into Masonic Hall.

In 1952 all property was transferred to the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society, Inc. At this time, a jury of Society members was appointed to judge the High School Art Exhibit. This courtesy has been continued to the present and the awards now given to outstanding art students are felt to be a real honor. Also, as a courtesy to the town the Society has from its beginning made a yearly donation to the Library of a book on arts or crafts.

In May, 1952 there were 281 paid members, the Rughookers Guild was formed and the first Outdoor Exhibit by the Painters Guild was held on October 19th, 1952 on the ground of Buckman Tavern.

In 1953 the Society became a non-profit organization and therefore tax exempt and the clause “to develop a market for the products of artist and craftsmen” was deleted from the constitution. Another milestone was reached in May 1953 when the Society voted to build on the land purchased on Waltham St. at a cost of $15,000 - $6000 to be withdrawn from the Permanent Fund, $4000 to be raised by the sale of notes to members and friends, and the balance of $5000 by a bank mortgage. At this time the Development Committee was changed to the Building and Fund Raising Committee. The building was designed by architect/member Marjorie Pierce and measured 25 feet by 40 feet.

By November 1st, 1953 the ground had been broken for the new building and $4000 raised by sale of bonds.

The Leather, Camera, and Woodworkers Guilds were reactivated in February of 1954. On April 24th, 1954 the new building at 130 Waltham St. was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. The Society was proud indeed to hold its Annual Spring Exhibition in its new home that same weekend.


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