Former Newburyport mayor memorialized in library exhibit

COURTESY PHOTO Some of the photos by Bob Currier of many notable fires in Newburyport, which are on display in the Newburyport Public Library. 

NEWBURYPORT — It's been over two years since the untimely death of former Newburyport Mayor Al Lavender and now, the city's Friends of the Library is ensuring his legacy lives on.

When Lavender's plane crashed in February 2017, the Friends of the Library Board organized a memorial fund in his name. The money raised through donations was given to the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center to purchase unique historical material in remembrance of the former city leader and active member of the Friends of the Library.

The center purchased three works of beaded art by local Newburyport artist, Douglas W. Johnson, as well as several photographs and slides of Urban Renewal and the Newburyport Fire Department taken by photographer Robert Currier.

Doug Johnson's three beaded landscapes include "Courthouse Tree (made with 91,000 glass seed beads)," 1997, "Mr. T Take the Kid's Sledding," 2015, and "Spring Library." 

Currier's 17 Urban Renewal photographs are of downtown Newburyport in 1972, just before the restoration. All are on display.

The 28 Newburyport Fire Department photographs feature many of Newburyport's more famous fires, such as the Moseley Estate in 1979, the Greek Orthodox Church fire on Harris Street in 1983, which occurred during the Yankee Homecoming parade, and the YMCA fire in 1987. Currier is the official photographer for the fire department.

Both Johnson's and Currier's work are currently on display in the lower level lobby and in the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center through Nov. 2. The center's hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m.

Also on display are items from the Newburyport Fire Department Chief Herbert H. C. Bryant Collection, which includes early fire department photographs, log books, muster programs and other ephemera.

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