COMMUNITY SPEAKERS SERIES

L arz and Isabel Anderson made various provisions to ensure that their beautiful estate in Brookline would be a resource and benefit to the surrounding community. In addition to hosting dignitaries, the Andersons used their home as a cultural center, hosting plays for children of the town, dog shows, birthday parties, charity functions, and ice skating on the pond in the winter, as well as playing host to informal lawn gatherings of likeminded early automobile enthusiasts, at the dawn of the motor age. Decades after their passing, the Larz Anderson Auto Museum continues the Anderson’s enduring legacy by opening our doors to the public for our Community History Speakers Series. Designed to create a community-wide conversation about history in our area, the topics range from architecture, textiles, American history in Brookline, and of course, the Andersons themselves. Doors open at 6:30pm | Presentation at 7:00pm for all events.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Though these are free community events,
online registration in advance guarantees your admittance.
Make sure to reserve your ticket before
it’s sold out!

Doors open at 6:30pm | Presentation Starts at 7:00pm
for all events unless stated.

Every dollar received for these presentations helps to defray the cost of providing outstanding community programing. Please support the Larz Anderson Auto Museum as we fulfill our mission to serve and educate.

 
 

If you’ve been to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum this past year, you’ve probably seen Ken Clark’s 1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet prominently displayed in The Golden Age – Era of Distinction, Style and Grace: 1915-1948 exhibit – one of the finest restorations in the whole exhibit!


At its debut in 1929, the Cord L-29 was revolutionary. Borrowing drive system technology originally experimented on race cars created by Miller and others, the L-29 was the first American production car with front-wheel-drive, easily making it the most innovative automobile to be offered to the public in nearly a decade.

When new, the Cord L-29 Cabriolet cost between $3,095 and $3,295, depending on the model. But even an $800 price cut failed to keep this car alive in the midst of the Great Depression. Production ended in 1931 after only 4,400 had been produced. Now, only 250 survive and 6 of those are owned by renowned L-29 restorer, Ken Clark.


Ken’s interest in cars began when he was a young boy. By 15 he had already purchased his first car for $20, a 1947 Oldsmobile Club Coupe Model 66, a car he still owns and drives today. Now, Ken owns Ken’s Classics, a shop based out of Pittsfield, ME whose primary focus is the restoration of Cords, both L-29s and 810/812s. He is the guy to see for a restoration.


Clark purchased this car after it had been kept in storage for nearly 60 years, becoming only the third owner. After a complete restoration which took nearly 7 years, this L-29 maintained 99.9% original parts and its stunning original paint scheme of black with copper trim. It is a masterpiece of classic era restoration. Prior to its exhibition at Larz Anderson, this vehicle has been prominently featured in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum and the National Automotive and Truck Museum. It won first place in the Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg category at the 2016 Hemmings Motor News Concours d’Elegance. Join us on this special evening for an in-depth exploration into the complete restoration of this extraordinary classic car by the owner and master restorer himself.


Don’t miss one of your last chances to see the Cord L-29 up close and in all its glory while on display at Larz Anderson! And by all means, do not miss this masterclass in car restoration from one of the finest restorers in America.

This is a free community event. Suggested donation of $10.

Although this is a free community event, online registration in advance guarantees your admittance. Make sure to reserve your ticket before it’s sold out!

 
feb6

Ghosts & Shadows:

Commonwealth Avenue’s Automobile Row!
Thursday, February 6, 2020
Doors open at 6:30pm | Presentation Starts at 7:00pm
 

From Kenmore Square to Packard’s Corner, Commonwealth Avenue in Boston and Brookline was lined with grand auto showrooms for much of the 20th century. Join Brookline Historical Society president Ken Liss for an exploration of the history of Automobile Row and the remnants left behind, many of them hidden in plain sight.

Ken Liss has been president of the Brookline Historical Society since 2009. He is a librarian at Boston University where the Charles River Campus encompasses many of the former Auto Row buildings.

This is a free community event. Suggested donation of $10.

Although this is a free community event, online registration in advance guarantees your admittance. Make sure to reserve your ticket before it’s sold out!

 
feb13

A Special Viewing

For Gold & Glory
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Doors open at 6:30pm | Presentation Starts at 7:00pm
 

In honor of Black History Month, please join us at the Museum for a special viewing of For Gold & Glory, a PBS documentary directed by Todd Gould, which focuses on Charlie Wiggins, “the Negro Speed King,” and the creation of the national racing league for African Americans.


During the 1920s, before athletes such as slugger Jackie Robinson, Olympic great Jesse Owens, and boxer Joe Louis blazed new trails in the fight for equal rights, a forgotten group of African-American sportsmen risked their reputations, their careers, and even their very lives on a barnstorming motor sports tour. It was a time when heroes were measured not by the number of home runs hit or touchdowns scored, but rather by their ability to survive in an era of intense racial prejudice.

Charlie Wiggins was one of these forgotten heroes. The humble mechanic and racecar owner lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, home to the world-famous Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. When auto racing's governing body turned away the talented black driver, Wiggins helped create a national racing league for African Americans. The most widely celebrated race for black drivers was the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, an annual sporting event so grand it attracted the attention of national news agencies, as well as thousands of spectators coast to coast. Charlie was a four-time champion on the circuit, a distinction that earned him the title "the Negro Speed King."


For more than a decade, Charlie and other black drivers dared to run a dusty gauntlet, traveling to racing events in one small Midwestern town after another, steering clear of large ruts in the road as well as angry citizens who resented the presence of "coloreds" in their town. With their racecars and hopes in tow, Charlie Wiggins and the other black drivers dared to face overwhelming challenges to create new opportunities for African Americans in the realm of sports. Vivid recollections of Charlie's career capture images of the famed driver, such as his unexpected run-in with the KKK in Louisville, Kentucky, his outrageous stunts to help promote the Gold and Glory circuit, his deep and unwavering love for his wife, and his strange relationship with the notorious gunman John Dillinger.


For Gold & Glory spotlights first-hand conversations with Charlie's wife Roberta, and features interviews with former Gold and Glory drivers, families, witnesses to the old African-American auto racing events, and historians, such as our own Joe Freeman.

Some refreshments will be available for purchase.

Although this is a free community event, online registration in advance guarantees your admittance. Make sure to reserve your ticket before it’s sold out!

 
MAR19

Edmund March Wheelwright: Architect of the Anderson Carriage House

by Dennis J. De Witt
 

Join us as we learn about Edmund March Wheelwright, the architect of our beloved Carriage House, now home to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. Wheelwright was born in Roxbury, MA and graduated from Harvard University in 1876. By 1883 he started the firm Wheelwright & Haven and was commissioned by his fellow India Wharf Rats club member, William Weld, to construct a mansion and a carriage house on his Brookline estate. While the mansion received an enormous expansion under Larz and Isabel Anderson and eventually was torn down in the 1950s, the Carriage House still remains a notable landmark in the area.

The Carriage House was heavily influenced by the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire in France and completed in 1888. The grand building stored carriages, horses, and housed stable staff who lived in the upper floor. While the carriages and horses have been replaced with automobiles, and the bedrooms upstairs have been replaced with offices, the Carriage House still remains an incredible preservation of life in the time of the Andersons. It has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This talk will focus on the life and works of Edmund March Wheelwright. Not only including his great contributions now located in the Larz Anderson Park, but also his work as the city architect of Boston from 1891-1895, the Chestnut Hill Pumping Station which is now the Waterworks Museum, and his connection to The Harvard Lampoon and the India Wharf Rats.

Dennis J. De Witt is an architectural historian with graduate degrees in Architecture from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. He is a director and past president of Boston’s Metropolitan Waterworks Museum, a member of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and former president of the Society of Architectural Historians in New England. As a 40 year Brookline resident, he has been Vice-Chair of its Preservation Commission. His scholarly articles include several about the earliest iron roof structures in the U.S., the oldest of which is at the Route 9 Brookline Reservoir, and his books include Arthur H. Vinal / Edmund March Wheelwright: Architects of the Chestnut Hill High Service Pumping Station. Date TBA.

This is a free community event. Suggested donation of $10.

Although this is a free community event, online registration in advance guarantees your admittance. Make sure to reserve your ticket before it’s sold out!

 
 

Exploring twentieth-century car advertising, this talk considers the primary themes that advertisers hoped would appeal to women. Throughout, car manufacturers & advertisers asserted that women’s car buying was unique and gendered. With remarkable consistency, advertisers implored women to buy cars for different reasons than men, and only occasionally promised handbags that matched the upholstery or matching lipstick.

Katherine Parkin is Professor of History and the Jules Plangere Jr. Chair in American Social History at Monmouth University in New Jersey (US). She is the author of Women at the Wheel: A Century of Buying, Driving, and Fixing Cars (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017) and Food is Love: Food Advertising and Gender Roles in Modern America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), each of which won the Emily Toth Award for best book in women’s studies and popular culture. She is also the author of more than a dozen articles and book chapters. Her teaching and research interests include the history of women and gender, sexuality, and advertising and consumerism. She has been interviewed by the Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, WICN’s Mark Lynch in Worcester, NPR’s Bob Edwards on Sirius-XM, and WHYY’s Marty Moss-Coane in Philadelphia.