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Association Hall and Robert Frost Part 2

Guest Blogpost 2

 


This is the second in a series of guest posts by Pinkerton Academy’s historian Mark Mastromarino on the history of Association Hall, the 1875 building at 1 Pinkerton Street in which the shop is located.

 

LM: I’ve heard the building actually played a role in the history of American literature. Can you tell me about that?

 

MM: Well, the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. and the Concord, Massachusetts, Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered public lectures in it, but I’m guessing you’re referring to another event.

 

LM: Yes. I was thinking of someone closer to home.

 

MM: I thought so. In March 1906 a shy thirty-one-year-old poultry farmer and jobseeker attended the annual Men’s Leaguedinner held by the Central Congregational Church on the second floor here. After dinner, one of his poems was read by the church’s minister because the poet was to shy to read it himself in front of the crowd. Thus it was that on March 2, 1906, the banqueters in Derry’s Association Hall were the first people to hear Robert Frost’s “A Tuft of Flowers.” Suitably impressed, one attendee, John Carroll Chase, the secretary of Pinkerton’s Board of Trustees, before the night closed informed Frost that a temporary teaching position would soon open at Pinkerton, and later that month, Frost was hired for the remainder of that school year. He then spent the next five years as a Pinkerton faculty member, growing in self-confidence as a teacher during the day and writing poems at night, laying the foundation of an extraordinary and prolific literary career. Robert Frost’s showing up the evening of March 2, 1906, at Association Hall was his big break that eventually led to his becoming one of America’s best-loved poets and a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

 

For more on Robert Frost at Association Hall, see Mark’s article “Association Hall’s New Lease on Life” on pp. 6–7 in Pinkerton Academy’s Spring 2019 Alumnus magazine at https://www.pinkertonacademy.org/uploads/files/The_Alumnus/Spring-2019-Pinkerton-Alumunus.pdf?v=1656522273602.

 

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