Archived Newsletters


2019 Fall Newsletter – Pirates, Privateers and Buccaneers

To celebrate the school’s production of “Treasure Island,” the library is showcasing works about pirates! Black and white flags representing five notorious pirates are featured on shelves. Books, movies, and a detailed description of the differences between pirates, privateers and buccaneers are also on display.

Pirate Display 3 October 2019

Treasure winners 2019 (2)


In the spirit of treasure seeking, a “clue” was hidden nearby. The “clue” led to a book on the shelves about Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of “Treasure Island.” Inside the book was a pirate-themed bookmark that promised buried treasure. Working as a team, Ivan Andarza and Zack Bartley noticed the clue, searched the stacks, and ultimately found the treasure!

(Pictured at left are Ivan and Zack with visiting alumna Chiara O’Connor)



2019 Fall Newsletter – Halloween: Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid

Halloween Display October 2019For this year’s Halloween display, the library showcased scary short stories. We selected several collections featuring spooky tales by authors such as Poe, Lovecraft and Jacobs. Halloween-themed bookmarks were placed at the start of some staff favorites, including “The Monkey’s Paw,” “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and “The Dunwich Horror.”

Also included in the display were a variety of movies meant to frighten you — from Hitchcock’s The Birds and Psycho to Nightmare on Elm Street and The Conjuring.

Happy Halloween!  (MFV)



2019 Fall Newsletter – America’s Cup, Boats and Boatbuilding Interest at the Abbey

This fall, the library received an interesting boxed set of the history of the New York Yacht Club from Gregg Dietrich, class of 1974. Within the set are 8 slim volumes, one of which Gregg wrote on the display of models of the America’s cup boats located in the NYC club’s building in NYC.

For many years, Abbey members have sponsored the Abbot’s reception at the club’s headquarters in New York City during December.

The set adds to the numerous books donated by Gregg Dietrich ’74, Brian Carlos, husband of faculty member Janice Brady, John Robinson ’32, and others, on boats and boatbuilding now held in the library collection. Mr. Robinson, as well as Erick Ridder of the same graduation year, began their lifelong interest in sailing at the school.

The walls are decorated with an original print, also donated,  entitled “The Yacht Squadron at Newport,” (1872) done by Currier and Ives (1813-1895) which shows the Newport Harbor Cup races: 1872.


The library also holds a series of America’s Cup drawings done by Yngve Edward Soderberg (see “Exhibits Winter 2002-03”) donated by Mrs. Robinson in memory of her husband along with books and funds for additional sailing books.

The oldest sailing book, a donation, is Small Yachts : Their design and construction exemplified by the ruling types of modern practice. (1885). Two books, White Sails, Black Clouds (1967) and Billion Dollar Catch (fiction, 1987) were written by alumnus John J. McNamara, Jr, ’49, an America’s Cup helmsmen. Two others, You Are First and Skene’s Elements of Yacht Design were written by Francis S. Kinney, father of Christopher ’60 and grandfather of Warren ’98. Mr. Kinney was a noted yacht designer with was the firm Sparkman & (Olin) Stephens, Inc.

The interest in boatbuilding continued in 1995, when, as the brainchild of Jeremy Nivakoff ’97, Peter Elliot ’97, and Joe Alfred, the former business manager, a boat building project was proposed. Thus, Brother Joseph, O.S. B with a dozen students decided to build a 27’ four-oared rowing “gig” boat in the Herreshoff way, with direction from Boatwright Warren Baker. The project was completed in 1997 when the gig, named Colette, was finished. This was done about the same time as the restoration of the ca. 1847 stone boathouse original to the property was completed. The finished project, the boat,  is currently on display in the dining hall.

The most recent books donated with Robinson funds (in 2019) are Beken of Cowes 1897-1914 v. 1, Beken of Cowes: 1919-39 v. 2 and Yachting, the photography of Beken of Cowes.   (RS)

boat dining hall


boat cover






boathouse IMG_0133


2019 Fall Newsletter — Famous Readers

Readers on ReadingFor the Fall 2019 term, the library hosted “Famous Readers.” Our display started with a question: What habit do many successful and influential people have in common? The answer is: They read. A lot.

We selected quotes from nine famous people about reading books. Each famous reader also had a clue beneath his or her quote. Students were asked to figure out each famous person based on the quote and clue.

The person who guessed the most names correctly was Anna Friendshuh.

Congratulations, Anna!



2019 Fall Newsletter Faculty Book Club – Many years of meeting and good reading!

Click here to see what the club has read over the past twenty years.            (RS)


2019 Fall Newsletter — Happy Birthday, Batman!


In May 1939, the first Batman story was featured in Detective Comics #27 (DC Comics). The library celebrated the 80th birthday of this enduring and beloved superhero with a colorful display. Books detailing Batman’s evolution in popular culture as well as several movie versions lined the display shelves. Interesting facts about the “Caped Crusader” appeared in comic book inspired “thought clouds.”

Did you know that a copy of Detective Comics #27 sold for $1.07 million in 2010?  (MFV)


2019 Spring Newsletter — Jumbled Authors

Jumbled Authors Final (2)

Throughout May, the library hosted “JUMBLED AUTHORS.” Each day, the mixed-up name of an author appeared. A small treat was awarded to the first student or faculty member who correctly unscrambled each author’s name. A bonus treat was given to the winner if he/she also named a work by that author.

The top student was senior James Brower, who successfully named seven authors. Mr. Soldi led the faculty with ten correct guesses.

Other students and faculty members who guessed correctly were Ines Minondo, Riley Carter, Kaitlyn Farah, Jamarya Jackson, Lilias Madden, Maddie Knudson, Laney Rauch, Zack Bartley, Annie St. George, Diana Reno, Katie Pacheco, Mac Macomber, Emma Alexander, Jack Healey, Sean O’Hara, Dr. Rudasill, Mr. Cowan and Father Paschal.




2019 Spring Newsletter – You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

You Can't Judge 2 (2)

Throughout April, students enjoyed “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.” Over seventy books, ranging from classics to contemporary fiction, were wrapped in brown paper bags. No one could see the titles, authors, or cover art. Only the first few lines of each book were visible.

Students were encouraged to choose a book based only on the opening lines. Some students read multiple books from this display!



2019 Spring Newsletter- Furniture and First Editions

Display-1st-ed-0322191448-2023166731-1553525707770.jpgThis past winter, in late 2018-2019, the library completed a display of the donation of a new piece of beautiful furniture which was combined with a previous donation of a collection of recent first editions.

Each donation was given by long term alumni families that have been generous friends of the monastery and school. The elegant old original Irish breakfront now contains a collection of 41 books, all first editions of predominately Irish and English authors. There are also multiple works of the American playwright Eugene O’ Neill. Other multiple works are by the authors John Banville, Seamus Heaney, Graham Greene and T.S. Eliot. Also included are writing by the female authors Margaret Atwood, A. S. Byatt, Anita Brooker and Penelope Fitzgerald.                                                       (R.S.)


2019 Spring Newsletter- Dietrich, Kennedy Donations to the collection

During the spring term, the library catalogers finished adding two alumni book donations to the collection. One was from the family of marine painting specialist, Gregg Dietrich ‘74, of books on art and artists, boats, ships, boatbuilding and trains. The two part donation totaled 167 books. The 115 books donated by Professor Emmet Kennedy’59 were primarily in the field of the history of the French Revolution and art. Included was a copy of his own latest (2015) work, Abbe Sicard’s Deaf Education : Empowering the Mute, 1785-1820.                                                                                    (RS)


2019 Spring Newsletter – Cherry Blossoms, Haiku, and Origami

From late March through April, the library celebrated the lovely cherry blossom. According to the National Park Service, plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of “friendship from the People of Japan to the People of the United States.” Each year, visitors flock to Washington D.C. to see the beautiful flowers, known as sakura in Japan. Members of the Abbey community visited the library to enjoy a display of art, haiku, and origami.  (MFV)

Cherry Blossoms


2018 Fall Newsletter – Anniversaries of Frankenstein and Little Women 

During the Fall Term, the library celebrated the anniversaries of two enduring novels.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 200th Anniversary

Frankenstein Display b 2018 (3)In 1816, Mary Godwin, just a teenager, traveled to Switzerland with her future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. They spent the summer in a villa near Geneva with poet Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont. The weather at the time was horrible, so Lord Byron proposed they each write a “ghost story.” Mary’s story became Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, which was published in 1818.

Our display featured a description of the “ghost story” challenge, an image of Mary’s rough draft, a sampling of the “monsters” throughout history, and library resources related to Frankenstein, including histories of the novel and related films.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 150th Anniversary

Little Women display (3)

Fifty years later, on the other side of the Atlantic, Louisa May Alcott agreed to write a “novel for girls” as part of a deal with an editor that would also help her father publish his own work. Louisa based her story on her family. She was Jo, of course. Her novel took only ten weeks to write and was an instant success.

Our display featured copies of Little Women, books about Louisa, and DVDs.                                (MFV)

2018 Fall Newsletter – Great American Read Winners

GAR Winners

Throughout the month of October and in early November, the library staff invited students, faculty, and staff to vote for their favorite books in “The Great American Read” Competition. The competition was based on an eight-part television series of the same name, which was shown on PBS and hosted by Meredith Vieira.

The national televised competition ended with Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird earning the top spot. At Portsmouth Abbey, nearly 150 votes were cast for 53 different books. Among students, the favorite book was Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Faculty and Staff chose Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier as the top novel. The overall community selection, which included parents who voted during Parents Weekend, was a tie between To Kill a Mockingbird and Moby Dick.

The top books in each category were as follows:

GAR Winners Final

Thank you to everyone who voted!       (MFV)

2018 Fall Newsletter – 80th Anniversary of The Hurricane of ’38

The Great Hurricane of 1938 hit Portsmouth on September 21st. To mark the 80th anniversary of the hurricane, the library displayed newspaper articles published in the days after landfall as well as books written by local authors, faculty, and alumni. A map from Weather Underground was also featured; it showed the storm’s track and intensity as it moved from the coast of Africa to the shores of Rhode Island.                                (MFV)

Hurricane Display 1 (2)

2017 Fall  Newsletter – Head, Ogden Donations to the collection

The library has  finished cataloging the books donated by the estate of Thomas Head ’74. Professor Head taught history, especially Medieval Studies at a number of colleges. His collection of 648 items and three wooden bookcases were added to the School and Monastery holdings. These additions complement the 123 Medieval Studies books donated by Professor Kathleen Biddick ( an aunt of alumni) during the 2013-14 school year.

The library received a donation of a beautifully hand painted antique religious Thai manuscript from the 1800s, donated by Christopher Ogden ’62, in memory of Dom Damian Kearney, O.S.B. ’45. Father Damian was Chris’s teacher while he attended the School. ( see exhibits 2016-). Mr. Ogden also gave the school library a collection of 165 books that focused on politics gather during his journalistic career. .       (R.S)

2016-Winter Newsletter -Raven Covers, 85th anniversary as Poster

For a number of terms the more colorful and diverse covers of the school’s art and poetry magazine ,”the Raven” were put on display in the case or above the computers. However to celebrate the 85 anniversary of it , all the Raven covers  were made into the magazine issue annual itself, using both the inside and outside of this year’s cover. Mrs Bonin and the Raven staff  made such wonderful creation, that  Mrs.. Stevens had it made into  a poster and is now displayed in the library.                                                    (R.S)

Raven covers

                        Raven covers 2008

The Fall 2008 exhibit coincided with the school’s Alumni Weekend. A selection of the cover of the 80 years of The Raven was on display.The Portsmouth abbey School Literary magazine The  Raven comes out once or twice a year and includes short stories, poetry, and drawings. Each cover has been either drawn or photographed by a student. The Raven started in 1927 as a mimeographed newspaper with three issues each term. It contained news about the school and monastery and was augmented by some Student created works. After a few years (1920-1930) other publications developed and became more specialized  thus the Raven became the vehicle to publish literary and artistic works by students.

A group was also placed over the computer catalogs for the display. They included a variety of styles chosen by the current editors from over the last 80 years. These were done by Patrick Vaillancourt, ’98,  Nicole Beletsky ’04,  Tim McKenna ’75 and the joint editors of ’07.                                                                  (R.S.)


Raven covers 1________________________________________________________________________________

Raven covers 2


2016  Spring Newsletter- Poetry Out Loud Winner Donates Award Funds

In the spring of 2016, Portsmouth Abbey VIth former, Zoe Butler won the state wide 2015 competition for Poetry Out Loud and advanced to the Washington, D.C competition. For her state award she received $500 for poetry books, which she donated . Additional poetry books were added to the library collection with the award funds.                   (RS)


2016 Spring Newsletter- Father Joe Healey, Alum Visits With Donation

Father Joseph Healey, an alumnus, class of 1956, a Maryknoll Missionary priest, visited the school in May. He is very interested and energized by the social work of Pope Francis and donated the Pope’s book, Morning Homilies- In the chapel of St. Martha’s guest house March 22-July 26, 2013.  The Pope offers a daily homily while praying Mass for the residents and guests where he lives. Father Joe was delighted to learn we already had a display up of books for the Portsmouth Institute upcoming talk on Francis’s papacy. Thus, it was timely that his book donation was so appropriate.  (also exhibits 206- present -Portsmouth Institute).                                                                                               (R.S)

Fr healy


2016- Spring  Newsletter -Faculty Authors

With the publication of  Father Paschal’s  latest book, we displayed books and significant magazine articles written by present and former Portsmouth Abbey School faculty. Included were works by monks and lay faculty; works in the fields of classics ( Fr. Gregory Floyd, Dr. Stevens and others), theology (Father Julian, Father Aelred and others), German, (Mr. Kennedy), history (Father Paschal, Mr. Garman, Mr. Taylor, Dr. Lally, and Dr. Zilian), math,  (Mr. Taliaferro) , and adult fiction (Ms. Hughes. and Ms. Ohlin) are represented as well as a few children’s books. At this time there are 116 items in the collection. (R.S.)

2015 Fall Newsletter – 25 Yrs. Library in the Classroom Building 

October 28, 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the then “new” 1990 school LIBRARY addition to the Burden classroom building . It was constructed in order to move from the crowded first floor Manor House lobby where it had been located. The display contained the original invitation, photos of both “old’ and “new’  libraries, construction plans and photos, school newspaper articles, and calculations for projections for additional shelving space and utilization.  For a few hours during the day students stopped by for refreshments and to view the displays.                                                                         (R.S.)

2013-Spring Newsletter- Art Class Figures on the Lawn – A Reader

One day in May permissions was given for the Holy Lawn to be invaded very early in the morning for this special day. A group of paper Mache figures created by the art students appeared to the surprise of all. We were thrilled that “the reader” cow sitting on it’s chair was set up facing the library!                                          (R.S.)



2013 Spring Newsletter – Waugh Visit March 1949, Noted at Conference

Following research done by Father Damian Kearney ’45, O.S.B., in the monastery archives for details of a visit to the school by Evelyn Waugh on March 30, 1949,  a donation has been made to the library.  Father Damian, writing to a researcher of  Mr. Waugh for the conference being presented , noted:

“He came to the Monastery/School to give a lecture in March 1949 on the topic, The Catholic Novel in England. This was a benefit lecture to parents and friends of the School to be given  in Providence to raise money for a projected monastery and church. Mr. Waugh  stayed in guest quarters in the Manor House, which served as the main building for administration, guest facilities and reception rooms.  The Headmaster was a monk, Dom Gregory Borgstedt, and the Assistant Headmaster was Mr. John Brady, who lived in a colonial building on the campus. Mrs. Sue Brady served as the hostess and presided at teas given in one of the reception rooms on Sundays and special occasions such as the Waugh visit.  At the tea Mr. Waugh was on his best behavior and was most cordial; a number of the monks were present as well as several lay faculty. Also present was Mrs. Waugh.  The Waughs  were met at the train in Providence by one of the monks, who was surprised to find  Mrs. Waugh carrying the suitcase and offered to take it from her, only to be told by the  author that she always carried the luggage,  or words to that effect.  When he was introduced  by  the sponsor of the lecture,  his name was mis- pronounced, sounding something like  wawf, which must have been disconcerting, but  Mr. Waugh took it in good stride.  No copy of this  lecture exists at the School; he may have published it subsequently as an article in a magazine or in a collection of essays.   I am quite certain that when the  Waughs attended  mass the next day ( a Sunday), he was not using an ear trumpet, (see below). Although I  came to the monastery in early 1950,  several  of the monks gave me this information which is still quite recent.”

waugh newpaper as pict

The Brady daughter-in-law, Sally, a next-generation author has written,  “I had barely heard of Evelyn Waugh or Brideshead Revisited, but all three of them knew the book almost as well as they knew their Gospels. Evelyn Waugh had even visited the Priory, gone to Mass with his large ear trumpet, and had tea poured by Madee at the Manor House. Upton, Buff, and Lib talked about Sebastian Flyte and Lady Marchmain the way they talked about the monks…”

Also seen here, ” According to the article in the Providence College newspaper (The Cowl) for March 23, 1949, the lecture was delivered in Hope High School on the evening of March 20.  Portsmouth Priory was the sponsor.

Waugh article as pic

Last year,  February 27th to April 7th, 2012,  Loyola Notre Dame University Library in Baltimore, Md., held an exhibit, “An Englishman in Catholic America,” which was a display of artifacts, documents, first editions, letters and photographs, as part of the Evelyn Waugh Conference. Portsmouth Priory was noted as the last stop for the visit. A T-shirt was created and donated  to the School at the conclusion of the conference. (R.S.)


2010 Fall Newsletter – New Vases Cases, ARTSTOR

During the spring of 2010 the library started subscriptions to two a electronic sources. One, ARTSTOR is a resource similar to JSTOR , which indexes and presents journal articles and visuals in the arts and humanities.

Just as School closed last spring, Father Damian helped install some newly created Plexiglas cases created to display the largest of the Greek vases donated by Peter (Class of 1975) and Lily Ferry.  The same cabinet-maker that created the free standing cases was employed to devise and build a mirror-backed and lighted display cabinet for some of the other pieces in this collection.                                                          (R.S.)



2008 Fall Newsletter – Furniture, JSTOR

The library has received 10 beautiful new leather chairs from the Furgerson Copeland Company, which are very suitable for reading and relaxing, as a donation from a generous alumnus through the Mary Kennedy Foundation. They have been placed in the new art seminar room and in the magazine reading area, next to the case with the Ferry vase and coin donation.  The dark brown ones are “Pasadena” and the lighter brown ones are “Chartwell” versions. The students, faculty and even the monks have been enjoying the pleasurable comfort of the new pieces.               (R.S.)


2007-2008 Winter -Bookcase on Wheels, Giegengack Architecture Book Donation, Parent Manory Photographs

The library has received a small old wooden bookcase on wheels to be used for highlighting books on a topic of interest. That bookcase, added this fall, had seen displays of “Prep school” titles, Christmas books, and the titles most recently published about Abraham Lincoln.

Peter, Class of ’75 and Lily Ferry have generously added more Ancient artifacts to the Greek vase display case. Father Damian has placed them there with appropriate labels.

Robert Giegengack, brother of the late Richard Giegengack, Class of ’59 has donated his brother’s books on art and especially architecture to the library collection. Over 140 new titles were added for the use of students and faculty. To accommodate them, the former microfilm room was re-designed to have bookcases and lounge chairs, thus creating a new second art reading room.

Christine Manory, parent of Jack, Class of 2011, displayed a series of photographs in the library foyer during spring of 2008. One wall displayed large black and white floral images, while the other was a series of color images taken at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport.                                    (R.S)


2005-2006 Winter Newsletter – Vases

The library has a new lighted display case containing the recent contribution of the Ferry family. Included in the case are six ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan pottery pieces, dating from centuries before the Christian era. They range in date from about 1400-1300 B.C. to about 300 B.C. and they are described as vases, Epichysis, and a stirrup jar.  Peter, class of 1975 and his wife, Lily, donated the pieces and the case to display them.                                                                                                              (R.S)


2004-2005 Winter Newsletter- Historical NY Times on-line, Tierney Peace Books Donation

September school year began with a display for the Summer Olympics held in Greece. The school has had students receive gold medals in previous Olympics in sailing. (see exhibits)

The library has added the New York Times complete historical database to it’s electronic resource collection. This will serve our students doing research in primary source material for the history department’s economics, United States history and world history courses. A new library assistant was hired to continue the work of cataloging the monastery collection.

The library has just finished cataloging a donation from the Tierney family of Phoenix, Arizona (alumnus Michael, class of 1984).

This collection represents the books and (limited) audio material collected by Dr. James Tierney before he died in 2000. The special collection is designated as the Tierney Peace Collection to reflect his many years of college teaching on international politics, including arms control and security, nuclear proliferation, alternative defense, and civil liberties and his directorship as CEO for the Fund for Peace (1977-88) and as a member of the Center for Peace Through Common Security (26 years).In retirement he served as the director for the Alternative Defense Project. Within the collection are works on the Jewish, Episcopalian, Methodist and Catholic bishops’ responses to potential nuclear war, various treaty agreements, biographies of national leaders during periods of war, military budgets and atlases, pamphlets from the Asia Society on communism, capitalism, a divided Korea, etc. About 25 titles in the collection were not found in area colleges and universities. There are over 187 books and audios and over 65 magazines in the collection. They are displayed separately although everything is cataloged in our computer system and are available for check out.         (R.S.)


2002-2003 Winter Newsletter – Jerome Sculpture Revised

The retired, former Abbey librarian, Robin Scanlan, wife of alumnus Joe, class of 1946, has now been faithfully working part-time to complete the cataloging of the donated CDs. At 5,000 titles completed of the approximately 15,000 items of classical music additions to be made we are now just about one third done.

During the summer and early fall a repair was made to the bronze guilt sculpture which resides on the library table in the Art Seminar room. The piece, “Flight into Egypt” by Jean-Leon Jerome was done in 1897.

Gerald Ackerman in his Catalogue Raisonne of the artist describes it as “Mary, dressed like a Bedouin woman, sits sidesaddle on a donkey, holding the swaddled Christ Child to her breast”.  See photograph below.  The piece was removed from library for it’s protection.                               (R.S)



2002 Summer Newsletter – Bookmarks, Church Representations

Over the years the Abbey school library has received many book donations. To recognize the donors, bookplates have been designed for placement inside the cover.

One of the early ones, done in woodcut style, shows the Holy Spirit (or the dove of peace) descending from above in red, and containing within its rays a chapel on an island. The sea and chapel are black, thus using the school colors. Printed in block text is written “Ex libris scholae S. Gregorii Magi, Portsumuthensis”. John Howard Benson (1901-1956) of Newport designed the bookplate in the 1930’s when we were identified as Portsmouth Priory. It is named “Church on the Island”. His granddaughter, Abby S. Benson, was a member of the first class at the school to graduate females in 1992.
The present donor bookplate, designed by faculty member, Donald McGuire, Sr. (1919-1986), shows the church of St. Gregory the Great at the Abbey, with the classroom building off to the left, done in maroon, on cream. It is presented as a sketch. It was done in the early 1980¹s when Donald was the chairman of the art department.
When Donald died his family set up a library book fund with monetary donations and proceeds from the sale of prints. For the special art books purchased with these funds, a bookplate designed in 1986 by Eileen, his wife and daughter Ellen, is used. The dove of peace, holding an olive branch is inscribed in a circle.
Dr. and Mrs. Peter Mogayzel, parents of Dr. Peter Mogayzel, class of 1979, and cousin of William ’02, also have an endowed book fund in memory of Elias D. Mogayzel. A bookplate designed by Kathryn, William’s mother, is placed within those book
Most recently a bookplate was used for inclusion in a gift book given to the graduates  by alumnus Tom Healey’60. For this special bookplate their very talented classmate, Ginny Yang, ’02 incorporated the raven and “Veritas” school symbols in her work.
Representations of the church have figured in bookplates and publications of the school for many years. The present Church of St. Gregory the Great was designed by architect Pietro Belluschi in 1960.
Modern Church Architecture, by Albert Christ-Janer, a book from 1962, includes a black and white sketch of the architect¹s design of the church. It is shown here.

James Burke of the class of 1980 did a very colorful representation, in oil. This forms that class’s artistic section of their signature panel hanging in the foyer of the Cortazzo Administration Building.

In the late 1980’s a local artist, Eileen Shanley, did a series of pen and ink sketches of all the churches of Portsmouth. Later she produced a watercolor tinted print of the Abbey church, which was on display for a show held at the school in 1990. That print, shown here, viewed facing north shows the church from the cobblestone walk with the wellhead on the left. This print is now hanging in the Library Director¹s office.

In 1993 Eileen McGuire painted a watercolor of the church. The view facing south shows the church as seen through the distinctive tall English oak trees. It was done in green washes on a cream background.

Donald McGuire used a sketch of the church in a bookplate, but he also did a beautiful oil painting entitled “View from the Farm”. This now forms a poster size print and postcard, sold in the bookstore, proceeds from the sale of which are used to purchase art books.

The signature panel for the class of 1996 includes a unique representation of the church done by student Sae-Jung Lim. View from the bottom stair the church is made in mosaic form from tiny chips of color cut from magazine covers. Pastel in color palette, and pointillistic in style, the Church of Saint Gregory the Great looks almost as if done by an Impressionist. Shown below.

An alumnus, James A. Zilian, class of 1995, son of faculty members Dr. and Mrs. Fred Zilian, did a woodblock representation of the church. It was once reproduced a Christmas card and is shown below
Most recently the church has been represented in a sparse graphics art style as a logo for the school¹s 75th anniversary. Seen here, the two-toned olive green background contrasts with the maroon, and the cupola, cross and Veritas logo are visible. While there are many designs, the centrality of the church in the landscape of the campus, and, as seen, in the choice by these artists as their representation of its importance both as bookplate and visual depiction captures one essence of Portsmouth Abbey School.      (R.S)


2002 Spring Newsletter – Belluschi church architect

On a recent visit to the library by a writer of architectural history and an article of important examples of modern architecture in the state of Rhode Island in the February 10, 2002 Providence Sunday Journal Newspaper prompted the creation of an exhibit in the library of the works by and about Pietro Belluschi.

Belluschi (1899-1994), an Italian born architect who headed the architecture program at M.I.T., designed all the buildings surrounding the “Holy Lawn” on campus between 1960 and 1991. He had done modern skyscrapers, office towers, and theatres as well as churches.

Bill Van Siclen of the Journal calls ours,”the states’ finest group of modern buildings”. Clockwise, they include the Cortazzo Administration Building  (1967), (auditorium 1966), the science building (1966), the dormitory complex (1973), the gymnasium, (1983), the Burden Classroom Building (1980), (the St. Thomas More Library (1990), the St. Gregory Abbey Church and Monastery (1960), and the Stillman Dining Hall (1960), (Nesbitt Infirmary, 1967); a total of eleven buildings.

The library has some interesting books on Belluschi and his works as well as a bibliography and some prints. These include, Modern Church Architecture by Albert Christ-Janer and Mary Mix Foley, The People’s Architects by Harry S. Ransom, Built in USA: Post War Architecture, ed. by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Arthur Drexler, Spiritual Space: the Religious Architecture of Pietro Belluschi and Pietro Belluschi: Modern American Architect by Meredith Clausen. The bibliography is part of the Vance Bibliographies Architectural series, # 2123, by Anthony G. White.  

While we are still seeking to add to this collection, we wish to own one book in particular, Pietro Belluschi : Edifici e Progetti =Buildings and Plans, 1932-1973 a catalog edited by Camillo Gubitosi and Alberto Izzo in Italian but including mostly photographs. The work of Belluschi at the school was also documented in numerous articles in Architectural Record magazine some of which we also own.

Christ-Janer and Foley used a color photograph of the interior of the church and the beautiful Richard Lippold (1915-   ) wire sculpture of the crucifixion as their cover for Modern Church Architecture in 1962. Just this year, the annual Benedictine Yearbook 2002, “a guide to the abbeys, priories, parishes and schools of monks and nuns following the Rule of Saint Benedict in Great Britain, Ireland, and their oversees foundations” published by the English Benedictine Congregation Trust, has the same photograph, our own Saint Gregory’s Abbey interior, on its cover, thirty years later than the first book cover.


2001-2002 Newsletter -75th  Anniversary , Veteran’s Day, Bowls, Tapestry, Soars, Sweet Paintings

In conjunction with the Portsmouth Abbey School 75th anniversary weekend in September, a large display was mounted in the library. On display were books written by alumni, faculty and parents of alumni. Father Damian brought memorabilia from the early years of the school for the glass display case, including diplomas and commencement lists from the 1930s, many pictures of the first campus and the subsequent changes, and portraits of our founders and of early students and faculty. Hundreds of artifacts were dispersed in the building’s display areas for the first term, which many returning alumni enjoyed.

Later, Veterans Day was commemorated by adding photographs to the display of the School’s fallen alumni who served in wars. Also included was a portrait of our Portsmouth Priory Benedictine monk Father Lawrence McGinn, O.S.B., who became a chaplain in World War II and continued to serve in the military after the war. A war memorial had been placed in the side chapel of St. Basil in the Abbey church. The stone tablets were designed and carved by sculptor John Hegegauer. Depiction of the memorial was included in the display case. A card was made of the plague to remember those who have died was included                                                            (R.S.)



The next display, for December, was antique stamped tin toys of the 1930s and the 1940s. These colorful items were from the collection of Tom Casselman, a resident of Portsmouth and husband of the Abbey summer Elderhostel art teacher, Izabella Casselman. (see exhibits).

The current display is of the wood-turned bowls and cups, created by Abbey Sixth Former Michael Kroger. Michael began his hobby in August of last year. One early piece, beautifully done in beech wood, was made from a felled Abbey tree. He uses many different woods and styles. The bowls will then move to join others in the student art exhibit in the art building. The case even smells lovely! The wood he uses now comes from all of the world.

Two new additions have been made to the many artworks  housed in the library. A seascape titled, “Surging Waters-Ogunquit, Maine,” was done by late-nineteenth-century American impressionist oil painter William Otis Swett, Jr., who lived in New England.

Secondly, an antique secular tapestry depicting an idyllic garden scene, which measures 14 x 18 inches, was installed. Its height requires that it hang on a high wall .

The William Heysman Overland (1851-1898) piece, “Soccer Game” has been moved.

Following an exhibit of his works in the Art Building, Jose Soares, father of Sixth Former Philipe, has donated a large canvas of the harbor of Ponte Delgada in the Azores to the School. It has now been placed in the lobby of the Burden Classroom building, at the base of the stairs leading to the St. Thomas Moore Library.                        (R.S.)

2001-2002 Newsletter- Manuscripts in the Library, Gloria Dei Cantores Schola,  chants in celebration of the school’s 75th anniversary, 911 Memorial Ted Brennan, ’82  Victim’s Obituary

The Portsmouth Abbey School library is fortunate to have several authentic manuscript pages in its collection. Manuscript pages can have the Mass or prayers, without notes, thus for reading only, and very often these have beautiful illuminated first letters. Those pages with notes are for the singing of prayers and hymns (either at Mass or at the Order’s prayers, the Divine Office). The pages have the notes to be sung. and usually the Latin text of the chant. They also can have illuminated letters.

These text pages appear in two formats, the first is the simple but large choir master pages, the text of which is done in two colors, red and black. The second is the more elaborate illuminated page which has the initial letter painted with designs and sometimes scenes from the Bible or lives of the saints. The library has four examples of the choir master pages that have only text and pause symbols as instruction. We also have two examples of the illuminated pages, both from an Italian antiphonal, (circa the 15th century). They were photographed for use in the summer bulletin article on Gregorian chant at Portsmouth Abbey by Dom Julian Stead, ’43 and one is shown here.

The notes for the chant are seen on these pages as a series of square strokes (not the “flagged” shaped notes of contemporary sheet music). The long and short strokes provide the time and thus the rhythm of the language and music.

The monks of the abbey sing this sacred music. This past May a full choir, Gloria Dei Cantores Schola, sang a service of chant in celebration of the school’s 75th anniversary. The library owns two of the over 40 CD disks produced by the chorus, “The chants of Christmas”, and “The chants of Easter” as part of its collection.

To mark the anniversary of September 11, 2001, Father Damian Kearney,’48 created a display of newspaper articles, photographs and books for the library at the opening of school. Included in the display was the New York Times obituary of Edward “Ted” Brennan III,  Class of 1982, who had been a bond trader with Cantor Fitzgerald. The booklet from his memorial Mass, which had been celebrated by Father Ambrose Wolverton of Portsmouth Abbey, was also included. Also part of the display was a dramatic color photograph of the former World Trade Center Towers taken by Father Christopher Davis ’48.      (R.S.)