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Nahant Historical Society

41 Valley Road, Nahant Massachusetts 01908 781-581-2727


Lobby case displaying the Bark Sarah

The Lowland Buddha
Now on display in the Community Center Rotunda

Nahant celebrates the anonymous restored gift of the Lowland Buddha, a Jizo Bosatsu. This work of art once graced the famous gate of the 1867 estate of George Abbot James and his wife Elizabeth “Lily” Lodge on East Point in Nahant. Learn how this gate guardian inspired the Lowland Medal of Nahant schools. As an extra-special treat, Dr. Daisy Yiyou Wang, Curator of Chinese and East Asian Art at the Peabody Essex Museum, will share her new research on the history of collecting Buddhist art in the Boston area and beyond in the early decades of the twentieth century. Why Buddhist art? How did a number of prominent individuals and institutions form their Buddhist collections?

Jizo Bosatsu was first introduced in Japan from China during the Heian period (794-1185) and, according to the Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, became “immensely popular as a protector of children, patron of travelers, and guardian of community thresholds.”Probably it is no coincidence that George Abbot James used the Lowland Gate with its guardian as the inspiration for his endowment of the Lowland Medal for proficiency in mental arithmetic in Nahant Schools.

This award has been given for almost 100 years since shortly before his death in 1917. Past winners of the Lowland Medal and their families are especially invited to this special occasion.

If you are, or know someone who is a Lowland Medal recipient, please contact the Society at 781-581-2727 or email info@nahanthistory.org.

Lobby case displaying the Bark Sarah

The Bark Sarah and her Maker
Now on display in the Community Center Rotunda

Learn the story behind this intricate large plank-on-frame ship model, a recreated “Tall Ship” in miniature. Find out about Winthrop Taylor Hodges, the man who spent ten years building this ship in model form based on a youthful memory. See rare photographs of the ocean-going Sarah, upon which he sailed in 1887.

Victorian Parlor

Nahant on the Rocks
Open in the Lowell Room Gallery

In October 2003, we opened our first full exhibition, entitled Nahant on the Rocks, This is an interactive exhibit showing the history of Nahant from its early days as grazing land for Lynn livestock, through its days as a fishing community, its heyday as the Summer resort community for Boston’s wealthy, literary and scientific notables and artists.



Collecting Buddhist Art in Early Twentieth-Century America by Dr. Daisy Yiyou Wang (2016)
Serenity Room

Daisy Yiyou Wang is the Curator of Chinese and East Asian Art at the Peabody Essex Museum, which houses the America’s first major Chinese, Japanese, and Korean art collections. Wang has served as Chinese Art Specialist at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, where she made curatorial contribution to a number of exhibitions, including Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan. Her publications cover topics ranging from Buddhist art to contemporary art and the history of collecting Chinese art.

In 2014, she co-edited with David Hogge the first book in Chinese language on the Freer Gallery of Art’s collection, A Thousand Graces: Charles Lang Freer’s 1910 Pilgrimage to Longmen Buddhist Cave Temples. Her forthcoming book is the first monograph on the leading American art collector Charles L. Freer and his Chinese collection. Wang earned her Ph.D. in art history from Ohio University with a dissertation on the international dealer of Chinese art C. T. Loo. Her work has been merited with a Smithsonian Scholarly Studies Award and a Smithsonian Valuing World Cultures Award. Wang is a recipient of a Getty Museum Leadership Fellowship and a Smithsonian Post-Doctoral Fellowship.

SUNDAY, November 20, 2016 at 2 PM Serenity Room, Nahant Community Center, 41 Valley Road, Nahant, MA. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments served. Parking is limited but shuttle service will be available at St. Thomas church’s lot at 248 Nahant Road one half hour before and after the program.


Remembering The Valiant (2016)

In 1955, Ray Palombo and Frank “Swede” McClain had a dream to build a boat that would allow them to lobster off shore. Many thought it couldn’t be done. However, in October of 1963, after eight arduous years of building in the tight space between their homes on Forty Steps Lane, enlisting the help of anyone who would lend a hand, an 80-ft 90-ton dragger came to life, its launch bringing everyone from the towns people to Life Magazine to an emissary from President Kennedy to watch and support the launch of the Valiant.

drawn to nahant

Drawn To Nahant (2008)
Serenity Room

Like Nahant’s unique geography, this exhibition of works on paper will be anything but flat, comments a Tufts University graduate student curator, Rebecca Dicks, on the newest exhibition to appear at the Nahant Historical Society. Opening May 10th, 2008 in the Nahant Community Center’s Serenity Room, Drawn to Nahant: Exploring Works on Paper will feature many rare works as diverse as 19th century chromolithographs, writings penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, contemporary watercolors, student art, and the recorded voices of Nahant’s current community.

sacrifice of self

Sacrifice of Self: Nahant in the Civil War (2007)
Serenity Room

The Society’s summer 2007 major exhibition, Sacrifice of Self, opened June 23, 2007. The Society completed over a decade of work to document how the people of Nahant coped with the far-ranging effects of the Civil War. The story will be told through exhibit and book, chronicling soldiers’ experiences, the support from those left at home and also how Nahant took care of its own after the war. The Society has created a fascinating presentation to bring this fascinating era to life, including rare images and artifacts, many never on public view before, as well as poetry and music.

painted shore

Nahant: The Painted Shores (2005)
Serenity Room

Our picturesque town has been the subject of artists for well over two hundred years. This unique exhibition featured works of art in oil of the Nahant coast from the period 1800–1950, borrowed from public and private collections and never before exhibited together. In fact, the majority of privately held paintings have never been on public view before. A first-of-its-kind community exhibition, along with a commemorative catalogue, was produced in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Nahant Historical Society in 2005.

Enlisting a Nation

Enlisting a Nation (2004)
Serenity Room

The Nahant Historical Society offered a summer exhibition of World War I posters and artifacts. Nahanter W. Donnison Hodges collected almost all the posters as a teenager during World War I. His son, W. Donnison Hodges, Jr. gave them to the Society in 2002. This graphically powerful exhibit commenced with a reception on Sunday July 18, 2004 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Serenity Room at the Nahant Community Center at 41 Valley Road. The exhibit ran from July 21th through December 5th.