Artifacts from Andover’s Founding Family Examined in New Collaborative Workshop

Peering over artifacts from Andover’s past, students learned about the history of the Phillips family in a Libraries, Archives, Museums (LAMs) event titled “Meet the Phillipses,” in the Mural Room of Paresky Commons on Tuesday.

The workshop, contained exhibits from the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Robert S. Peabody Museum, the Archives, the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) and the Collection of Arts and Antiques, was intended to introduce students to the historical resources on campus. While the lunch focused mostly on Samuel Phillips and his wife, Phoebe Foxcroft Phillips, students also had the chance to examine artifacts from a recent archaeological dig on campus.

As part of the workshop, the Archives exhibited construction debris discovered during an archaeological dig at the site of the Phillips Mansion House, located across Main Street from the Memorial Bell Tower. The mansion house burned down in 1887 after serving as an inn and dorm.

“We were interested in having themes that would highlight as many institutions as possible… and also themes that we thought might be of interest to students and teachers,” said Paige Roberts, Director of the Archives and Special Collections.

The actual excavation of the mansion was completed by both students and faculty over Grandparent’s Weekend in 2013. The focus was on finding evidence of adjacent buildings in the areas surrounding the Mansion House.

“The goal of the excavation was to locate the foundation of the house, if possible. Old campus maps gave us an idea of where to look, but the landmarks have changed so much since the house burned down that it was not immediately apparent where the foundation would be,” wrote Marla Taylor, Collections Manager of the Peabody Museum, in an email to The Phillipian.

The Addison presented an 18th-century teapot owned by the Phillips family, engraved with various elements from the Foxcroft coat of arms. This teapot is said to be the same teapot used to serve George Washington when he had tea with the Phillips family, according to Nile Blunt, Instructor in History and coordinator of Andover’s Collection of Arts and Antiques.

According to Taylor, LAMs hopes to pool the resources of the Addison, the Peabody, the OWHL and the archives on campus to let students, faculty and staff realize the available resources that can be incorporated into classes.

“Whether it’s the Collection of Arts and Antiques or the Archives or the OWHL or the [Addison] or the [Peabody], we want to make sure that people can get a sense of the kinds of objects, the kinds of documents that are in these collections and really learn from them, understand them, see them and interact with them in some ways,” said Blunt.

“I think living [at Andover] is a really extraordinary privilege, and so learning more about it and finding the resources to know more about it is really important… I think education about the history of the school itself and the objects that really tell the story of the school is really important,” he continued.