19 Grove St. ~ PO Box 58 ~ Peterborough, NH 03458 ~ 603-924-3235 

The Monadnock Center will be closed Saturday, May 25 for Memorial Day Weekend.

 Peterborough Pageant Cast

“All Roads Lead to Peterborough”:

The Peterborough Pageant 1910 & 1919

New exhibit now on view

In August 1910, visitors from around the region and around the world descended on Peterborough to see something new and remarkable in the woods of the newly founded MacDowell Colony. The spectacle would become a milestone in the history of the town and the Colony as well as an important early production in the American Pageantry Movement that swept the nation in the early years of the 20th Century.

Marian MacDowell conceived this great festival to celebrate the town and her late husband, the acclaimed American composer Edward MacDowell. She convinced the great Harvard professor and pageant director George P. Baker to stage the production and more than 200 townspeople to play the roles. Over three days, thousands made the journey into the MacDowell woods to see the town’s history brought to life through dance, pantomime, and theatre set to MacDowell’s late compositions.

From the days of the Native Americans to the welcoming of “the people of all nations,” the Peterborough Pageant celebrated the history of a small New England village and the career of one of America’s most important artists. For Peterborough, it instilled civic pride and dispelled distrust of this new artist colony that had sprung up in its midst. For the MacDowell Colony, the pageant brought widespread publicity and acclaim that helped to shape the new retreat’s reputation and standing in artistic circles and with the public.

The Muses opened the Pageants First ActIn this exhibit, see vintage images, costumes, sheet music, and artifacts from the 1910 and 1919 productions of the Peterborough Pageant; learn about the American Pageantry Movement and its role in addressing the immigration debate of the early 20th century; and meet the people who created three memorable days when, “all roads lead to Peterborough.”

Museum admission: $3 (free for members and children under 12)

The Monadnock Center for History and Culture has a small but impressive collection of early American furniture and decorative arts on display in its museum. Illustrating New England furniture making from the 18th to the 20th centuries, the collection includes objects that were made, owned and collected by Peterborough residents and have been donated to the Center over the last 100+ years.

Greenie RoomThree distinguished highboys are at the center of the collection. About 1915, Adele Foster Adams donated a circa 1760 mahogany highboy that was built by the Townsend-Goddard workshop of Newport, R.I. This fine example of the Townsend- Goddard style features an arched top with a broken scroll and slender cabriole legs terminating in elongated slipper feet.

The second highboy is by an unknown maker but has a strong Peterborough history having descended through the Wilson family, proprietors of Peterborough’s earliest tavern. Made of maple in a vernacular Queen Anne style, the piece was probably built in New Hampshire or possibly southern Maine. In addition to its fine proportions and beautifully executed shell carving, the highboy’s top molding ingeniously opens to reveal a hidden compartment.

Highboy The third highboy is a showpiece by the Dunlap workshop of New Hampshire. This highboy descended in the Morison family, one of Peterborough’s founding families. Built from maple and dating from about 1790, it features exuberant decoration including carved sunbursts, scrolls and a pediment with pierced basket weave panels. Similar examples of the Dunlap workshop are found at Winterthur, the Currier Museum, the New Hampshire Historical Society and Historic New England.

Other examples of 18th century furniture in the collection include two lowboys, a gentlemen’s desk of astonishingly large proportion, chairs and tavern tables. In addition, the Center has an impressive collection of tall case clocks including two examples by Simon Willard.

Among the items made in Peterborough are two Peterborough pianos made by Hagen & Ruefer between 1890 and 1900 at their piano factory on Depot Street. Additional “Peterborough Made” items are a collection of piano stools by the Briggs Piano Stool factory in West Peterborough and a delightful mahogany and chestnut dressing table made by cabinet maker Lorenzo Holt for his eleven year old granddaughter in 1866.

Monadnock Center Town AtticCome play in the Town’s Attic! The Attic is a hands-on exhibit room for families with activities designed to appeal to preschool and elementary school children. Try your hand at writing with a quill pen or making a rag doll. Look at 3-D pictures with a stereo viewer or explore a set of mini-exhibits on local history topics like the Civil War or the Mariarden Dance Theatre. Picture books (all with a history theme) are available for some quiet activity. New activities are added throughout the year, so there is always something new to try.

Preschool story times are offered periodically throughout the year in the Town’s Attic. Story time features the reading of a history-themed picture book and a related game or craft. Visit our events listings to find the next preschool story time.

Robbe Family KitchenThe Robbe Family Kitchen is a period room exploring the family kitchen in a typical 1785 Peterborough home. The kitchen displays cookware, tableware, lighting and accessories that would have been found in William Robbe’s home on Old Dublin Road. The table is set with pewter dinnerware and serving pieces. The fireplace is arranged with ironware that made it possible for Eleanor Robbe to keep her family well fed. A dresser displays the containers, tools and gadgets necessary for keeping house on an 18th century farm. Learn about the central role the hearth played in 18th century family life and explore the yearly rhythm of life on an early New Hampshire farm.

robbe kitchen implementsWilliam and Eleanor Robbe were like many of their contemporaries, being the children of Scotch-Irish immigrants who came to New England in the early 18th century. William’s father was one of the first settlers in Peterborough. The Robbes settled on Old Dublin Road building a home and farm on land next to the farm built by William’s brother Alexander. William Robbe was said to have special powers- visit the Robbe Family Kitchen to learn more!