Title: Manchester added to 'Images of America'
Author: Cameron Kittle
Publisher: Gloucester Daily Times
Since Roger Conant settled the first colony on Cape Ann in 1623, relatives of Stephen Roberts Holt have been the architectural minds behind many homes and buildings in Manchester.
His lineage traces back 383 years, to 1626, when one of his ancestors first built a home at Jeffrey's Creek.
Talk about a family business.
Holt, an architect himself, has used his family's history and help from the Manchester Historical Society to produce the latest book in Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series, "Manchester-by-the-Sea." The book was released to the public on Monday, and is now on sale at local retailers and online bookstores. Previously published books in the series from the area have included Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Shipbuilding and Hamilton.
The book was written for every coffee table in town, Holt said. It includes 127 pages of historic pictures, paintings and drawings that date back to the town's earliest years in the 17th century more than 200 photos in all.
"I felt that there's a bit of good scholarship that's been done on Manchester, but I wanted to do something that's visual, easy to pick up and give some history of the area," Holt said.
Holt said he's been thinking about the book for years, and called it "long overdue." He added, however, that it only took him about a year to gather all of the documents and information in the book and then put it together the way he envisioned it.
"It was a tough job," he said. "I hope I captured the spirit of Manchester in an easy-to-read little volume."
The book's cover shows a sepia-toned family in 1915 having a picnic on Singing Beach in front of Eagle Head. It's a photograph from Holt's personal collection that reveals exactly the kind of "wonderful material" he said was able to draw from.
"Buildings become part of a tangible history, and, as an architect, I think of what's left of the buildings as art," he said.
To accompany the book, Arcadia Publishing has used antique, black-and-white pictures of notable places in Manchester to produce 15 historic postcards that explore the town's past and show why Manchester is "representative of the New England character," as Holt said.
Holt was born in 1939 in Manchester, and spent his childhood summers at the beaches with his grandparents. He found his roots in the small town before graduating from the Yale School of Architecture and then returning to direct his own firm, now located on 24 Bridge St.
"I want to give credit to the Manchester Historical Society and all the people who gave their pictures to them," said Holt, who mentioned that the book would have been impossible without the society's help.
Despite producing a book for the town of Manchester to treasure, Holt said his passion still lies with architecture, and there's nothing that will keep him from the continuing the family business.
"It's so much a part of me, making buildings and renovating buildings," he said. "I don't plan on ever stopping."