Past Library Exhibits 2018-03-02T17:53:53+00:00


“Plantsmen” [ January 2015] If you missed our recent exhibit Plantsmen: Portraits of the Founders (January 10 to 24 in the Alice Milton Gallery) you may enjoy reading about some of the accomplished, productive and plant-loving individuals who founded the Worcester County Horticultural Society in the 1840’s. As one visitor wrote in our comment book, “Who knew Tower Hill had such a storied past. I truly enjoyed learning about these men in this beautiful exhibit. And I’ll never think of Christmas the same way again.”  (Hint: check out Francis Dewey’s entry below…)

Alexander H. Bullock, 1816-1882
Isaac Davis, 1799-1882
Francis H. Dewey, 1821-1887
John Milton Earle, 1794-1874
John Green, 1784-1865
Obadiah B. Hadwen, 1824-1907
Daniel Waldo Lincoln, 1813-1880
Levi Lincoln II, 1782-1868
William T. Merrifield, 1807-1895
Frederick W. Paine, 1788-1869
Stephen Salisbury III, 1835-1905
Daniel Waldo, 1763-1845
Emory Washburn, 1800-1877

“Who Brought What” [ 2012] A glance through the exhibition reports in the Tower Hill Library is like looking at a “Who’s Who” of 19thcentury Massachusetts. The fruits and vegetables that Dr. John Green, Governor Levi Lincoln, industrialists Philip Moen and Ichabod Washburn, Stephen Salisbury and many others brought to the shows offered by the Worcester County Horticultural Society (WCHS) is painstakingly recorded in exquisite script. But seeing who participated is only half the fun. These men—and as time went on, women—were serious growers; displaying 20-30 or more different varieties of pears or apples was commonplace. Roxbury Russet and Rhode Island Greening apples appear among names such as the White July Flower and Black Gilliflower apples, providing a time capsule of what was actually being grown in the gardens, orchards, and farms of Worcester County more than 150 years ago.

One can detect some serious rivalries in these reports as well. Consider John Milton Earle and Daniel Waldo Lincoln, the 3rd and 5th Presidents of the WCHS, respectively.  Both were primarily pear growers.  In 1849, Earle brought 30 named varieties, Lincoln brought 34. Each year they increased their numbers so that by 1857, Earle brought 123 and Lincoln, 105!! That’s a lot of pear trees considering each lived in Worcester proper.

In time the Society did more than just provide exhibitions and offer premiums. By the late 1840’s trustees and presidents, such as John Milton Earle, became interested in nomenclature and worked hard to establish names and characteristics, particularly of fruit. They paid special attention to varieties originating in Worcester County, and apples such as the Sutton Beauty [pictured at left], Holden Pippin and Leicester Sweet were the result.


  • Pears (Fall 2017)
  • Prizes Awarded & Prizes Received (Fall 2017)
  • Agriculture, Horticulture and Mechanics: 3 Organizations, 3 Anniversaries (Jan.-Sept. 2017)
  • Looking Back: The WCHS Spring Exhibition (Spring-Summer 2017)
  • Harriette Merrifield Forbes: Can you top this? (July-December 2016)
  • 30 Stories (July-December 2016)
  • Alexander Von Humboldt’s World (February-June 2016)
  • Patient Watching & Faithful Care: Estate Gardeners in Worcester County, 1910 (February-June 2016]
  • Catesby’s Natural World (Winter 2016)
  • The Highgrove Florliegium  (Fall 2015)
  •  Ex Libris Dr. Green (2015)
  • Lost Gardens of Worcester County (2014)
  • Wild Flowers of Mary Vaux Walcott (2014)
  • A Project of Importance: Creating the Preservation Orchard (2014)
  • What He Thought and Wrought: Edward Winslow Lincoln in his Own Words (2014)
  • Dreaming Dreams:  Seed Catalogues from our Collection (2013-2014)
  • When Fletcher Steele Came to Worcester (2013)
  • Plant Hunters, Gatherers, Explorers: Intrepid Souls in Search of Plants (2012-13)
  • Of Worcester County Soil: Luther Burbank and his Plants (2012)
  • Seeing Trees (2012)
  • Butterflies: Why We Love Them (2011)
  • A Childhood in a Garden: Drawings and Writings by Alice Morse Earle and Frances Clary Morse (2011)
  • Early Botanical Journals (2011)