Some time ago, members of the Atwood family donated a small collection of buttons to the Westford Museum. Penny Lacroix, Museum Director, sent the buttons to the Keep Homestead Museum in Monson, MA for appraisal and recommendations for their preservation and display.
On December 5th, 2017, Kelly Ross and George Murray traveled to Monson to meet with Emma Ladd Shepherd, director of the Keep Homestead Museum, to get feedback from the museum’s expert on the button collection housed there.
The house is a beautiful example of a New England farm home, originally built around 1749; additions were added in 1854 and 1863. In 1988, when the last owner, Myra Keep Lovell Moulton, died childless, she deeded the property, its contents, and an endowment fund to the Town of Monson, with the stipulation that the home should be open to the public for at least one day each year and that it should be named the Keep Homestead Museum. The property consists of the house, 75 acres of land with two miles of walking trails, two small abandoned granite quarries, a sculpture garden, and Monson community gardens.
Keep family members were avid collectors and the house contains collections of rocks and minerals, shells, and needlework – samplers, quilts, embroidery and crewelwork. In addition, there are BUTTONS. Thousands of buttons! Buttons of every material, size, and description one could imagine.
The women of the museum greeted Kelly and George with wonderful hospitality and courtesy. They reviewed, with great care and patience, the buttons loaned from Westford. Their conclusion was that although we have some pretty buttons and a variety of materials, their value is primarily sentimental.
Many of Westford’s buttons are in poor condition because they were mounted on paper plates, using (now) rusted paper clips to hold them to the plates. Ms. Shepherd and her volunteers demonstrated for us the proper methodology for cleaning and mounting the buttons if we choose to, and even gave us samples of the acid-free mounting cardstock and the wire they use for mounting the buttons.
For Kelly and George, this was a brief but rewarding “field trip.” They met some wonderful people who greeted them with courtesy and an enthusiastic sharing of their knowledge about the fascinating history of button collecting and the Keep Homestead Museum. You can learn more about the museum and its collections by visiting www.keephomesteadmuseum.org.