Monday, November 16, 2015

Portraits at Pine Knoll

My cousin Dave Brewster has once again delighted me by sharing a batch of scanned images from old Brewster family photographs and slides. I never know what I'll find in each batch, but it is always worth looking. The batch he sent November 14 was titled "Nichols Parties 1961-1978" and contained some photos of my parents as well as many other recognizable relatives. What really grabbed my attention, however, was a series of photos of the portraits hanging on the walls at Pine Knoll.

For instance, look at this photograph of "The Holyokes"...

A few weeks ago a woman in Canada reached out to me, inquiring about my Holyoke ancestry. She is a descendent of Edward Augustus Holyoke, and wondered how we might be related. I called her on November 11. We introduced ourselves and shared enough details of family history to convince ourselves that we are indeed cousins of some sort.

Specifically she was curious about my connection to Mary Vial Holyoke. We exchanged email addresses and I followed up by sending her a list of my lineage going back to Mary.  I wrote, "My father's family goes back to the Holyokes via his father William Stanley Nichols, grandfather Andrew Nichols, great grandmother Mary Holyoke Ward, great-great grandmother Susanna Holyoke, whose parents were Dr. Edward Augustus Holyoke and Mary Vial."

Well, what a surprise to see among Dave's images this week one captioned "...fireplace with Mary Vial Holyoke..." !   See below.

Mary's portrait can be seen just to the right of the fireplace. As a child visiting Pine Knoll I hardly noticed these portraits, nor did I pay any attention to who was who. I wouldn't have been able to tell anyone where Mary Vial's portrait had hung.  I only became familiar with these portraits years later when I read The Holyoke Diaries (published in 1911 by The Essex Institute). Facing page 77 in that book is an illustration of the very portrait we see above.  The index of illustrations lists it as "Mrs. Mary (Vial) Holyoke, age 33."  The caption under it gives this information:

From the pastel by Benjamin Blythe made in 1771 and now in the possession of Andrew Nichols.

Pine Knoll is where Andrew Nichols lived. He built the home in 1861, expanded it in 1880, and lived there until he died in 1921. The portraits on the walls of his home remained in place for many decades longer; two of his daughters lived at Pine Knoll until the late 1960's.  The Pine Knoll parlor, in particular, remained unchanged, with many many portraits on the walls.

Here is a closer look at the portrait of Mary Vial's husband, Edward Augustus Holyoke:

Other images of Pine Knoll parlor walls and their portraits:

This last photo gives, I think, a better idea of the real colors in that parlor.  The pinkish photos above may have been taken with a flash, or faded over the years, or both. I thank Dave Brewster for scanning and sharing these old slides and photographs. (I don't know the original format, nor whether his father David, or his uncle Dudley Brewster, took these pictures.)

In 2012 I wrote a column about my memories of this parlor and included a black-and-white photograph taken by Julie Snow in 1968. It was published in The Danvers Herald November 2, 2012. See Parlor at Pine Knoll.

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