Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

January 30, 2014

Andover's town seal tells many stories

It is an image we have seen a thousand times. It appears on official documents and on town buildings. It is worn by first responders and displayed on town vehicles. The image is our town seal commemorating the founding of Andover with the purchase of land from Cutshumache, the sagamore of Massachusetts Indians, for six English pounds and a coat.

The origin of today’s town seal came from a local jeweler, John E. Whiting. He created a cloisonné pin memorializing the town’s 250th anniversary. The distinctive pin pictures a Native American in full headdress, standing arm outstretched, holding a coat and gazing out over a river and down on the town below.

It incorporated our then-circular town seal, the date of incorporation and a flowing ribbon hailing Andover’s 250th anniversary.

The design and his pin caught the town’s fancy — so much so that it became the official logo of the celebration. An artist created a large canvas banner depicting the seal. Restored by the Andover Historical Society for Andover’s 350th anniversary, it now hangs at Town Hall outside the town manager’s office.

In the afterglow of Andover’s 250th anniversary celebrations, the town began renovating Town Hall. Local architect, artist and Andover native Perley Gilbert was hired to oversee the project. The results of his work can still be seen today — the dramatic spiraling staircase leading to the second-floor ballroom and the town seal on the front foyer tile floor.

Determined to get it right, Gilbert and our town fathers hired local artist and photographer Leonard Sherman to give the seal a more polished look. They brought in mosaic artist Elias Galassi to help create the ceramic pieces for Gilbert’s design and Sherman’s adaptation. Set in the Main Street entryway, it remains today a stunning version of Whiting’s original creation.

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