Archive for the ‘Waltham tours’ Category

DSCN2972Sally Collura and the WSRC tour group at the entrance to the Lyman Estate

On a rainy morning in late April, a group of WSRC scholars, staff and guests boarded the Waltham Trolley on a tour around town. The tour was expertly guided by Waltham native Sally Collura, a former City Councilor, TV host of Around Town, and owner of The Tea Leaf teahouse. Accompanied by the the Waltham Chamber of Commerce executive director John Peacock (who was behind the generous donation of the Waltham Trolley by Waltham Tourism Council), we headed to our first stop at Gore Place, the historic house and estate of Massachusetts Governor Christopher Gore.

We then continued to the studio of WCAC-TV to a refreshment reception, cordially hosted by Maria Sheehan, the station’s executive director and a long time Rotary Club member. There, with the cameras rolling at the WCAC-TV studio, we were introduced to some of Waltham’s most accomplished women leaders – philanthropists, activists, and businesswomen. We were treated to a huge goody bag full of mementos from our hosts, coupons to local businesses and information about the Waltham community.

Moving along, we boarded the shuttle and continued to Girl Scout Camp Cedar Hill, where we were introduced to some of the women behind the place – among them Cornelia Lyman Warren whose 75 acres estate was donated to Cedar Hill, and Patricia Ross who handed out to us signed copies of her book Cedar Hill Memories. Next, we went back in time to the historic galore of the Paine House and the Lyman Estate. Owned by two of the wealthiest and most powerful families at the time, these estates are recognized as historic national landmarks and are open to the public year round, offering educational, touristic and private event venues. It was especially fascinating to learn about the women behind the Gore, Lyman and Paine families, who in their own ways, were able to influence, shape and leave a lasting mark on the community.

Our last stop was at Sondra Celli Design studio at the heart of downtown Waltham. Daughter of bridal fashion icon Yolanda Celucci, Sondra blazed her own trail into popular wedding fashion with pouffy , long train bridal gowns, with bling, glitter and sequins to delight the hearts of (often under-age ) young brides from the American Gypsy community. Her successful venture is featured on TLC’s reality show My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, which offers an unusual, albeit dramatized, glimpse into the life of the American Gypsy community, whether Romanichal or Irish Travelers. Our fast-paced tour of Waltham ended with a short ride back to WSRC, just in time for Amelia LeClair’s superb presentation Illuminating History.

On behalf of the Waltham Committee and the WSRC community we would like to express our gratitude to Sally Collura, John Peacock and Maria Sheehan and to the many women of Waltham who welcomed us on the tour for bringing WSRC closer to Waltham, one woman at a time.

Selected photos and feedback from participating scholars:


The tour was wonderful –

  • I loved seeing the old estates.
  • The brief intro by all the professional women- very impressive.
  • Discovering that Brandeis can use the TV studios.
  • Sandra Celli was amazing + fascinating insight into American Gypsy Culture I’m very impressed by all the work that went into this.

Thank you, Waltham Committee and also Sally Collora for her informative guidance as tour leader.


I was amazed by the mansions – the Gore place I knew, but Lyman and Paine I did not. And fascinated (shocked) by the Celli wedding place.Thanks so much.


My favorite thing was the TV station, because I pitched a TV program!


The whole tour was fascinating. I have lived in Waltham for only a few months, and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to see so many fascinating places which, I suspect, a lot of Waltham permanent residents unfortunately do not know.My favorite part was probably the visiting of these old mansions, The Gore Estate, the Paine House, and the Lyman Estate. How exhilarating for someone who’s passionate about American history! I also felt inspired by the Waltham women whose work and achievements are so impressive. An amazing tour!



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The Waltham Committee is pleased to invite you to an exciting tour around Waltham, introducing our community to “Waltham Women, Past and Present.” Former city councilor Sally Collura will guide the tour to Waltham’s historic gems, introducing us to women who helped shape the city. Highlights include Gore Place, Lyman Estate and Paine’s Stonehurst Estate. We will stop at WCAC-TV, where the station’s executive director Maria Sheehan will host a reception with Waltham women who combine their passion for business, art and activism to drive change and make a difference in the city. On our way back we will visit the Watch Factory Museum for a glimpse at the photo exhibit of the factory women workers. Transportation via the Waltham Trolley is generously provided by John Peacock, executive director of Waltham Chamber of Commerce.


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A walk organized by members of the Waltham Committee and led by Sonja Wadman of the Waltham Land Trust exposed us to the many facets of local environmentalism and activism. Sonja took us to the paved trail path (which is easy to walk on and wheel chair accessible) on River Road. At the point of entry was the splendid Silver Maple – the oldest in Waltham stood majestic and presented a most welcoming sight. Onto a footbridge over the Charles River backwaters – was dedicated to Mary Early an activist to work in South Waltham.  For the Scholars, this was a treat to learn about women activists who have been recognized locally for the difference they make in their community. The vistas along the bridge and beyond were breathtaking. The unusually warm day was encouraging as we made our way to the serene pathways marked by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. At one point Sonja gently chided a visitor on picking Bittersweet vines that choke local foliage. In a previous post we have talked about the activities the land trust is involved in removing these parasitic vines from the area. Continuing on our path the Blue Heron bridge was a suspension bridge that did not cease to awe us with its shape, construction and the arches framing the sky as if it were.As a community partner the Waltham Land Trust has led us to newer avenues of being engaged locally.

Note of thanks


Donations collected from Scholars during the walk will go towards supporting the following: Land Preservation, Outreach and Education, Western Greenway development and literature and maps on local open spaces.

We hope to remain connected to the Land Trust and organize further activities to support this worthy initiative.

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The Waltham Committee members were pleased to organize for Scholars at WSRC a visit to the store More than Words. Scholars have participated in continued book drives thereby supporting a local cause. The Committee members have developed strategic relationships with the store and we hope to take this further by increased collaborative programs.

More than Words is a unique store and a non-profit social enterprise that empowers youth who are either in foster care or court involved. We were met by Ananda who welcomed us and led us to Alex who was our tour guide.  Although he was a new member of the team he was confident that he would reach his goal – to get into a school and gain a degree in Nursing. With an action plan in mind he presently trains to manage the store in its retail business – which includes collecting books, sorting, cataloging, for both online and regular sales. He looked forward to managing the cafe like Dan – who as we learned aced the competition and was rewarded for his achievements. We were joined by Rickie who had met his goal and completed his GED last month. Both Rickie and Alex were open to our questions about the books that finally makes the store and its unique program to enable youth to get on track.

In addition we also met with Bobby Nasson who is the Business Development Manager and during our conversations we realized there were many areas where the Scholars could contribute that would be mutually beneficial. An example is organizing tours at WSRC during art exhibits. Some Scholars present offered to check local libraries in their towns as further resources for book donations. We thank the More than Words team for hosting our group from WSRC and hope to develop collaborative projects together.

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By Rajashree Ghosh and Michele L’Heureux, Guest Columnists

The Waltham Committee at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center organized a studio tour of select women artists at the Waltham Mills Artists Association on Dec. 16.

In an attempt to learn more about Waltham landmarks and the community, the tour to the Waltham Mills Artists Association focused on thriving women artists. Fortunately, one of the artists at the studios also happens to be the WSRC’s curator. Who better than Michele L’Heureux to lead us in this tour? Her intimacy with the studios as a resident and as an active member of the artist’s community enabled the group to make connections with the artists.

The Waltham Mills Artists Association is not far from Brandeis University on Moody Street in Waltham and is accessible by car and commuter train. The studios occupy two large industrial buildings along the Charles River that formerly housed the Waltham Cotton and Wool Factory.  More than twenty people including faculty and staff from Brandeis, artists and WSRC Scholars took part in this tour. Ms. L’Heureux directed this sizable group to 12 studios, including her own, to meet the artists and hear about their work and influences.

Beginning in Liza Bingham’s studio, visitors were treated to several paintings that explore a particular American landscape and got to hear Liza explain her interest in the figure/ground relationship.

Painter Julie Weiman then shared her process in creating rich multi-layered striped paintings.

Antoinette Winter’s works on paper reference architecture and plumbing structures, while Joan Baldwin’s paintings of tiny furniture that reference human relationships were unique and fascinating.

Painter Sue Post explained that her paintings represented her relationships with people close to her but that she wanted viewers to relate to them in their own ways.

When the group walked into Janet Shapero’s studio, they were enthralled by the installations that covered the large walls with promising possibilities for viewer interaction.

And it was sheer indulgence to learn about 30-year WMAA member Suzanne Hodes and to see her work that has inspired so many other artists.

Hilda Kahne, resident scholar at the WSRC said, “I really enjoyed seeing Suzanne Hodes’ new directions. When I last saw her work, it was focused on paintings resulting from her work in Japan–also very beautiful.”

It was riveting to watch Lyn Christiansen demonstrate her work on Kumihimo braiding and to view her work with mosaic tile.   Lyn also displayed commercial work she does to support her art, including creating hand-made tassles and curtain ties.

Elli Crocker’s
constellations and depictions of human and animal forms depict mythological themes, as well as address current issues.

Kris Waldman’s small sculptures and large photographs draw from organic sources and make use of discarded items such as seed pods, metal scraps, and more.

The tour culminated in Michele’s studio which has also been her home for the past couple years. She said that it will be bittersweet to move into a new home because of the terrific sense of community at the WMAA.

In her role as curator at WSRC, she exhibits work by other artists, but it was in her home studio that visitors got a peek at what she does when she’s not working at the WSRC. Using mixed media, collage and painting, her work engages viewers in a dialogue about identities which are often ambiguous.

In the end, Shulamit Reinharz, director of the Women’s Studies Research Center, said, “The tour was a wonderful experience.”

Naomi Myrvaagnes, a WSRC scholar, found the tour and the women’s art “most stimulating, engaging, uplifting.”

For the rest of the visitors, the range of art, vision and techniques were impressive.

The WSRC comprises a vibrant community of scholars focusing on gender in their respective fields by combining research, art and activism.

The WSRC’s Waltham Committee addresses the Center’s concern for engaged community activism in that it enhances partnerships with entities in the local Waltham community and works to increase community participation at WSRC events.

In the past, it has organized discussions with local non-profits on how to address the needs of the community and how to reduce the disconnect between the university and the Greater Waltham community. These discussions have led WSRC Scholars to recognize that some of the community’s needs are pressing ones, and the Waltham Committee has undertaken several initiatives in collaboration with Waltham organizations to effectively respond to these issues.

This tour unveiled for all a new set of treasures in our own backyard. The WMAA studios are not only important spaces for women artists but also for all members of the Waltham community as a landmark with a rich history and a dynamic contemporary life. The Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University is proud to be part of that community.

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The Committee organized a “Walk through Waltham” to familiarize ourselves with issues related to women in Waltham through the decades. The plan for this even began to take shape in Sally Collura’s store, “The Tea Leaf” on Moody Street, Waltham. As the City Councilor at Large, Sally has vast knowledge and lived experience of the city that Committee members Nurit and Rajashree decided to tap into. Following several interactions with Rajashree, it was decided that Sally would be our guide. Who better than her as an eminent “Walthamite” to guide us in our endeavor!

The tour was open to all Scholars at WSRC and to members of the Brandeis community. Our committee members were joined by our Director Shula Reinharz, our fellow Scholars Pnina Abir Am, Mary Berg, Susan Eisenberg, Janet Freedman, Lois Isenman, Louise Lopman and Ruth Nemzoff. Audra Grady who is the Program Administrator for Experiential Learning also joined us.   Our guide Sally connected us with several charismatic and dedicated local activists who shared their knowledge about the town, governance, and working conditions of women in Waltham down the ages. It was an opportunity to connect with women from the community who are in the local government, managing the landmarks that form physical reminders of the past and connect with the present.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to Sally Collura who led us in our endeavor to learn more about the contributions of women through the 1800s till present in making Waltham a verdant community. Only a true “Walthamite”, like Sally could have enthused us in discovering Waltham in ways that we had not anticipated!

Our sincere thanks go out to officials at The Gore Place, Waltham Museum, and Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.

And we wish to acknowledge our Director Shula for her support in making connections with the community of which Brandeis is a part and for accommodating this tour in her very packed schedule.

This event was featured in Boston.com

Click here to view photos of the event.

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