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September 28, 2021: Lawrence History Center welcomes 2 new members to its board of directors and re-opens to the public


September 28, 2021 

Contact(s): Susan Grabski 
Executive Director 
Lawrence History Center 

Lawrence History Center welcomes 2 new members to its board of directors and re-opens to the public 

Lawrence, MA – On September 25, 2021, the Lawrence History Center (LHC) held its 43rd Annual Meeting and 'Re-Opening' Open House. LHC Board President Mark Cutler presided over the meeting at which two new board members -- Brian Sheehy and Dr. Ellan Spero -- were elected by the membership to serve their first three year terms.

The meeting and open house also marked LHC's re-opening to the public after having closed on March 14, 2020 due to the pandemic (LHC Response to COVID-19). Mark called the meeting that took place in the Essex Company Stable to order at 10:00 AM. He welcomed guests and thanked LHC board, staff, and volunteers for their efforts across a very difficult time in our shared history. LHC Board Secretary Sara Morin Barth then presented the LHC Annual Meeting Minutes, 9/19/2020 for approval. 

After the membership accepted the minutes, LHC Treasurer Mark Svendsen presented the FY2021 Treasurer's Report for acceptance. His overview included a summary of our revenue and other support, in addition to our expenses and investment account balance. After the FY2021 Treasurer's Report was accepted, LHC Vice President Glennys Sanchez presented the following Board Slate of Candidates, 2021-2022 and introduced two new nominated board members: 

Renewing Members: 

Officer Position(s) 

Mark Svendsen, Treasurer, 2021 – 2024 (2nd term) 

Director Position(s) 

Kathleen Curry, 2021 – 2024 (1st term) 

Anil “Nilly” DaCosta, 2021 – 2024 (2nd term) 

Ellen Minzner, 2021 – 2024 (2nd term) 

New Board Directors: 2021-2024 (1st term)

Brian Sheehy

Brian is the History Department Coordinator at North Andover High School in North Andover, MA, where he teaches AP European History, AP US History, and Sports of the Past. He is the 2020 Organization of American Historians: Mary K. Bonsteel Tachau Teacher of the Year Award winner and Williams College: Olmstead Secondary Teacher of the Year Award winner. In 2018 he created the North Andover High History Learning Lab, which focuses on enriching and enhancing the history curriculum through object based learning. Brian has also presented at several conferences on the merits of and pedagogy behind the use of object based learning in the classroom. He also developed and published a lesson plan that National History Day published focused on Baseball, WWI, and Patriotism. Brian is also a sports historian who has traveled all over the country giving presentations at conferences, symposiums, historical societies, and museums. He wrote a chapter in the book Stories of Sport: Critical Literacy in Media Production, Consumption, and Dissemination entitled “"Selling Patriotism On and Off the Field: Media Connections Between Baseball, the Military, and the Government". He has designed and created professional development on a variety of topics including local history and how to incorporate sports themes in their classrooms. 

Dr. Ellan Spero

Dr. Spero is a historian of science and technology, professor of the practice, instructor, and social entrepreneur. Dr. Spero is co-founder, and Professor of the Practice at Station1, a nonprofit higher education institution focused on socially-directed science and technology based in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and an instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Spero’s expertise and research takes a multiscalar approach to materiality of infrastructure systems, and technologies of resilience, narratives of human progress, systems of production, and academic-industrial ecosystems. Her areas of focus include technological landscape and systems of production through cases of railways in Portugal, water systems in Lawrence, and circular economy in reuse of waste materials in American applied chemistry at the turn of the 20th century. At both MIT and Station1, Spero leads an instructional team in the development of an integrative, interdisciplinary curriculum bringing the history of science and technology and a material culture approach to collaborate with scientists and engineers. Spero was recently a visiting scientist at the Smart Living Lab at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Fribourg, Switzerland and prior a joint researcher between MIT and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Spero holds a Ph.D. from MIT in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society, a B.S. and M.S. from Cornell University in Fiber Science and Apparel Design, and M.A from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Museum Studies and Textile Conservation. 

After the Board Slate's acceptance by the membership, Glennys also thanked outgoing board member Whimpper Barahona for his 12 years of service to the board (4 consecutive 3-year terms). Whimpper, in his role as a teacher at the Lawrence International High School, has connected Lawrence youth to local history in meaningful and enduring ways. Whimpper, who was not in attendance, will be sent a gift from the board in gratitude for his long-term dedication and service. 

To learn more about the 16 member LHC Board of Directors, 2020-2021, please visit: 

After the business meeting was adjourned, the membership heard updates from LHC Executive Director Susan Grabski and Collections Manager Amita Kiley. Both of their reports will be expanded upon in the upcoming Annual Report, 2020-2021. 

The following guest presentations also took place during the day: 


Out of the Ashes: A Parish Community Rebuilds
Conversation led by Sara Morin Barth 

On February 22, 2021, the Corpus Christi Parish at Holy Rosary Church suffered a massive 4 alarm fire. Because of the heroic efforts of the Lawrence Fire Department, along with mutual aid from surrounding communities, the fire was knocked down and contained to the rectory with no loss of life. In a conversation led by LHC Board Secretary Sara Morin Barth, community members will to learn about the Parish’s history and importance, reflect upon what happened that bitter cold evening seven months prior, and discuss plans to rebuild and move forward. 

* This video is supported by a Digital Capacity Grant from Mass Humanities 


Influenza 1918: What Does History Teach Us About Crisis and Change?
Presented by Professor Robert Forrant

By taking a look at how the U.S. responded to the 1918 influenza, we may consider whether we learn from history or seem more likely caught in a hamster wheel of repetitious trial and error. LHC Board Member and Distinguished University Professor of History at UMass Lowell Robert Forrant, PhD will explore the larger history and then the history in our region, with mention of the hospital established in Lawrence on Emery Hill (now Tower Hill). 

Blacksmithing Saturday at the Essex Company Forge * 
Demonstration by Richard Wright, 

Step back in time with us for a day of blacksmithing at the Essex Company forge, the company that built the city of Lawrence! Richard Wright ( will be demonstrating the craft of traditional blacksmithing methods, forging both iron and mild steel to create items for practical use in our historic courtyard. The forge was first in use in the early 1880's when the Essex Company complex at 6 Essex Street in Lawrence was constructed. 

Funded in part by the Lawrence Cultural Council. 

A short video by LHC volunteer Rick Wetmore:


* These events are also part of Essex Heritage Trails & Sails Weekends! 



Header photo descriptions (L to R):

  1. The front steps of the Lawrence History Center at 6 Essex Street, Lawrence, MA 
  2. Our three presenters at the LHC Annual Meeting and "Re-Opening" Open House who made the day a well-rounded success! L to R: Sara Morin Barth, Richard Wright, Robert Forrant (pictured in front of the Essex Company Blacksmith Shop at Lawrence History Center) 
  3. On display in the Essex Company Carpenter's Shop were three suits and masks, handmade from the Dominican Republic, and used for various celebrations, including parades commemorating the Independence Day and the Semana Hispana celebrations in the North Common each year. The costumes were donated by Stelvyn Mirabal, head of The Asociación Carnavalesca de Massachusetts memory of his father, Rafael Mirabal.