A conversation with Michael Cloherty: his new book and the Malden murder that shocked the nation

By Stephanie Schorow Like so many kids who grow up in Malden, Michael Cloherty spent long hours hanging out at the Malden Public Library. There, looking up from a book, he would see a portrait of Frank Converse and his family. Converse was the son of the library’s benefactor, Elisha Slade Converse (1820–1904), a rubber-soled shoe tycoon, bank president, and Malden’s first mayor.  When he was older, Cloherty learned how Frank Converse, as a 17-year-old bank teller, was shot to death during a brazen bank robbery on Dec. 15, 1863, just a short distance from the library. On that day between 11:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., someone walked into Malden’s First National Bank, when the teller was alone, shot the teenager, and made off with $5,000. The crime is considered America’s first armed bank robbery. Accused of the crime was Edward Green, a 26-year-old postmaster with a drinking habit and heavy debts.  Later, as an aspiring novelist, Cloherty realized no book had been written about the crime and he should be the one to do so. An award-winning video editor who has worked in […]


Researching Black Lives (Enslaved and Free) in Colonial Malden

By Amanda DeRosa  On the Brooks Estate in Medford, once a part of Malden, there is a brick wall about three feet high, built by an enslaved man named Pomp. Pomp’s Wall serves as a reminder that there were enslavers in New England, just as there were enslavers in the South. “It is important that people understand that Northern slavery was significant and involved tens of thousands of enslaved people,” said Dora St. Martin, director of Malden Public Library, who is leading a long-term research project, titled “Black Lives (Enslaved and Free) in Colonial Malden.”   “This project hopes to provide a view into the lives (of) free and enslaved Blacks in Malden from 1760 to 1800.  The project will allow us to understand the centrality and importance of African Americans in the history of the founding era of Malden,” St. Martin said. St. Martin recently hosted a public Zoom lecture event, detailing updates on the research team’s findings. The lecture was funded in part by Revisiting the Founding Era, a four-year national initiative of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History presented […]


Seeking a sweet escape: Reading through the pandemic

By Sandra G. Ndengue All the media  — even TV comedy shows – were focusing on the pandemic. I needed a respite from fear and panic. So I opted for a sweet escape: reading, done at convenience via select outlets. Reading has always been a place for discovery, exploration, and travel. It’s like being in a time capsule, anywhere. My usual reads are nonfiction, autobiographies and memoirs — books that  help me understand and navigate someone else’s life experiences, living in their truth and finding a deeper connection. But during the pandemic, my reads were mostly fiction, focusing on African authors around  the globe and exploring culture in their respective world and how their origins and perspective affect society and how they developed as persons. With the lockdown, lots of people have found solace in reading.  “Before the pandemic more people borrowed non fiction and  memoirs but now people seem to fall back to fiction, fantasy and classics,” said Dora St. Martin, Executive Director of the Malden Public Library. Shaneuik, a 37-year-old nurse at a Boston Hospital, mom of two and former Malden […]


Nothing Trivial About this Pursuit: Maldonians support the library with annual competition

The team from the mayor’s office chose a Game of Thrones theme and won the competition as well as an award for Best Dressed Table. Photo by Ziping Wu.[/caption] By Vekonda Luangaphay Here is a heads up for the hundreds of Maldonians who turned out to play trivia on Jan. 23, 2020 to support the Malden Public Library at the 22nd Annual Triple Threat Trivia.  Reserve your table for next year’s competition by Saturday, Feb. 29, and your team will get two bonus points. In this popular and fiercely fought  competition two points can make a difference!  “It’s a great way to support the library and it’s always a fun night,” said Frank Russell, a life-long Malden resident who says he is among the first to win the very first Triple Threat Trivia 22 years ago, and has returned for more trivia ever since. Although the game was held in the spacious ballroom of Anthony’s of Malden, the large crowd packed the room and bumped elbows with each other. “They’re all supporters of the library […]


Art at the Library: The Playwright and the Sun King

By Jennifer McClain This is  another in a series on “Treasures at the Library.” Please note that direct photographs of artwork at the library is not permitted. The Malden Public Library’s art collection continues to astound us with an imaginary meeting between two of France’s luminaries: its most famous playwright and the monarch known as “The Sun King.” In the painting “Louis XIV and Moliere,” by Jean-Leon Gerome, Louis XIV is pictured as sharing a meal with Moliere. This remarkable work was purchased by the library in December 1940 with funds from the Elisha and Mary D. Converse Art Fund and represents one of the library’s most notable acquisitions. Gerome, born in 1824, used his imagination for this painting as  Moliere died in 1673 and Louis XIV in 1715 and he  completed this painting in 1863. Yet the two imposing figures in French history did have a complex relationship. Louis XIV benefited greatly from the belief in  divine monarchical rule. At the very young age of 4, he became France’s supreme ruler and went on […]


Frank Stella: An iconic artist returns home

By Anne D’Urso-Rose World-famous contemporary artist Frank Stella is a Malden native, but his work has never been part of the treasured art collection of the Malden Public Library. That is, until now. In an exemplary display of local generosity and a full-circle story of returning home, the library has now acquired three works by Stella. Those works were unveiled during a private reception on Sunday, Nov. 4, at the library. In attendance was Stella, who was visiting  his hometown  – and one of his favorite places of his childhood  – for the first time in many decades. One of his works had been purchased through the generosity of local patron John L. Giso and two were donated by the artist himself. “This is more than we could have hoped for,” said John Tramondozzi, President of the Library Board of Trustees and Chair of the Trustee’s Art Committee. “We have wanted to acquire a Frank Stella piece for years.” Stella is one of the foremost living artists in the world today. He is known for […]


Erté, the Father of Art Deco, brings style to Malden Library

By Jennifer McClain The Malden art galleries at the Malden Public Library have another surprise for us: modern art sculptures by Erté, considered the “true father of art deco.” This speaks volumes to the breadth and depth of the collection at the Malden Public Library’s galleries. The sculptures are displayed in the Ryder Gallery. The sculptures are Justice and Peace, both bronzes completed in 1984. The Library purchased them both in 1992. The art collection is purchased through a trust fund created by Elisha Slade Converse. As the founder of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company and first mayor of Malden, he donated several sums of money during his lifetime and at the time of his death that could be only used for the purchase of art for the Malden Public LIbrary. Erté was born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov in St Petersburg, Russia. He was Ukrainian, Russian, and French and used the pseudonym of the French pronunciation of his initials, Erté. The diversity of his nationality is reflected in the diversity of his art. Sculpture was only one of […]


Artist, explorer, photographer captures images of a frozen world

By Jennifer McClain This is this is another in the series on “Treasures at the Library.” Please note that direct photographs of artwork at the library is not permitted. Even as William Bradford  was stranded on an ice-locked ship. he kept drawing and photographing. The eerie and desolate view of frozen water everywhere was for him the epitome of magnificence. As one of Bradford’s companions, Alpheus Spring Packard, wrote in his journal: “From the mountains above us we watched, day after day, the ceaseless march of icebergs and cakes, large and small.” Viewing In the Lee of the Iceberg (1883), a painting at the Malden Public Library by Bradford, you can imagine this very scene. The ship is placed just right of a massive mountain of snow and ice that dwarfs the ship before it. The water appears hard and cold with sheets of ice that seem to be moving as you look at them. To emphasize the grandness of the expanse, another tiny ship is placed just to the left of the iceberg. Bradford (1823 […]


Art treasures at the library: Lincoln at Gettysburg

By Jennifer McClain This is the first in a series on “Treasures at the Library.” Please note that direct photographs of artwork at the library is not permitted. You may think of Malden Public Library as a place for books, but the library has a surprisingly impressive art collection. One of its  startlingly monumental paintings is “Lincoln at Gettysburg,” by Albion Harris Bicknell (1837-1915). To examine this painting, please click on this link. That the Gettysburg address on Nov. 19, 1861, was astounding speech of eloquence by Abraham Lincoln on that day is well known. Less well-known are the other attendees on that event. According an art collection website from Lafayette College, “Lincoln at Gettysburg” was painted in the late 1870s or early 1880s.  Bicknell depicts  20 important Union leaders, some who did not actually attend the ceremony. In a letter to the Malden Public Library, the National Park Service said the Bicknell work was the only painting made of the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg. All of the twenty men represented in the […]


Filming ‘Ted 2’ at Malden Public Library: An Inside Look

Perhaps unbefitting to the historical significance and elegant grandeur of the Converse Memorial Library in Malden, the interior of the library’s historic wing provides the setting for a scene in the recently released Ted 2 comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Amanda Seyfried. The scene was created and filmed over a two-week period in July last summer. Full disclosure: I’m on the Board of Trustees for the library and have an inside view for this story. The Trustees voted on the approval for the filming after the library was approached by the film company, Raging Bear, last June. There was some, but not much hesitation, on approving the deal. According to John Tramondozzi, President of the Library Trustees, “Our main concern was the safety of the building.” The library was offered considerable compensation for the filming, though the project would require a great deal of time and extra work on the part of the library staff. “Sure, we would have loved for the film to be a period drama,” says Dora St. Martin, the library’s executive […]