Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge Room Exhibition’

Flyer announcing a show at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge.  From the Joe Monteiro Video Tape Collection.

Exhibition Location:
 2nd Floor of the Main Library

During the 1990s, the Zeitgeist Gallery was the catalyst for Cambridge’s emerging community of improvisational musicians. Owned by Alan Nidle, the Zeitgeist was located on the corner of Broadway and Norfolk Streets. Friday night concerts called the Playground Series began in 1997. Subconscious Cafe, also held at the Zeitgeist, were curated by Cambridge resident Rob Chalfen.

The scene was thriving and gaining an international reputation.  A dedicated audience would convene weekly to listen to Cambridge-based groups, joined by musicians from all over the world, for intense boundary-pushing concerts.

On April 26, 2002, the Zeitgeist Gallery was destroyed by fire. The Playground and Subconscious Cafe Series moved to various locations in Cambridge and Boston but never regained their popularity.  By 2005, the improvisational music scene in Cambridge began to slow down. The small art galleries and venues were forced to close due to raising rents.

The flyers in this exhibition are from the Joe Monteiro Video Tape Collection.  Monteiro recorded concerts between 2000 and 2005, becoming the unofficial documentarian of the Cambridge area creative music scene.

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Brattle Street Widens, 1873, View of the “Spreading Chestnut Tree” in front of the Pratt House, the location of the smithy of Longfellow fame.   From W. J. Stillman’s Poetic Localities of Cambridge.

Under a Spreading Chestnut-Tree; The Village Smith Stands…”

Exhibition Location:  2nd Floor of the Main Library

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published his famous poem, “The Village Blacksmith,” in the November 1840 edition of the literary magazine, The Knickerbocker.

Cambridge blacksmith Dexter Pratt was the inspiration for the poem.  Longfellow often passed by the Pratt smithy – located on Brattle Street – as he walked from his house towards Harvard University, where he was a professor of Modern Languages.   Blacksmiths held a place of honor in the Longfellow Family.  The poet’s great grandfather, Stephen Longfellow, owned a smithy in Newbury, Massachusetts.

Forty years later, the “Spreading Chestnut Tree” that so captured Longfellow’s imagination was cut down to widen Brattle Street.  Knowing how important the tree was to the poet and generations of children who memorized the lines, Cambridge asked its children to donate a small amount towards a commemoration of the tree.   An armchair was made from the wood and given to Longfellow on his 72nd birthday.  One of his last poems was “To the Children of Cambridge” thanking them for reminding him of both the glory of the tree and his youth.

Other memorabilia from the “Spreading Chestnut Tree” was created, including a section of the tree and a paper knife, which made their way to the Cambridge Public Library and are now a part of the Cambridge Room collection.


Sketch of the Village Smithy, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1840.  Proceedings
of the Cambridge Historical Society, vol. 25, p. 40.

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Clara Barton and the Red Cross:  Historic Ephemera

On loan from the Cambridge chapter of the American Red Cross are artifacts, photographs, and rare books depicting the history of the 131 year-old philanthropic organization, founded by Clara Barton.

Location: 2nd Floor of the Main Library and the Sakey Room on the first floor of the original Library building.

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