Kershaw Estate, “Merrywood,” Marlborough, NH

The Kershaw estate has a tantalizing history with a murder, wild rides in hupmobiles, prohibited alcohol, artists, plays and priests. For all of that, read online or in print the story of Stone Pond, A Personal History by William D. Eddy, The Plain White Press, 1988. Included are the stories of the opulent and mysterious George Bigelow Chase, a Boston and Dedham Episcopalian. Next the bon-vivant and diminutive-figured author Paul Leicester Ford who was the murder victim. Then Edward H. Kidder, whose wife was in the house when Ford was murdered. He was at the top of the high society lists. His tenure boasts rides for his wealthy fun-loving friends in hupmobiles, jaunts on dirt roads into the surrounding country of his Marlborough, NH home. Last came the privileged Kershaws, steeped in religion and the arts, they too had their share of scandal in prohibition days.

The Kershaws purchased Meerwood on Stone Pond, Marlborough, N.H. in 1916 from Forrest L. Hart and renamed it Merrywood. The Kershaws lived on Bond St in Cambridge and were members of Christ Church, Episcopal. The charming St. Francis Chapel was built near the mansion in 1926 on the shores of Stone Pond entered through a stone gate hung with a bell and a bluestone terrace overlooking the water with the mountain in the distance. The book notes that over time during the winters, many things from the chapel were stolen and vandalized, “statues of Francis and other chapel treasures.”

Ivah and Rosamond Hackler supplied much of the information about the Chapel used in Stone Pond. They were living there in 1985 on the Dublin side of the Public Landing. Ivah cleaned the chapel from 1924-1928 and stayed with Mrs. Kershaw in Cambridge in his time off from college studies. Ivah became headmaster of Pinkerton Academy in Derry for 32 years. He married Rosamund, an R.N., in Maine in 1936.

The St. Francis statue pictured in the book on p.70 with its millstone base from Lyndeborough was put in place by Ivah Hakler and Morris Carter, a secretary to Mrs. Kershaw and later in charge of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Adio diBiccari, a favorite student of Frederick Warren Allen, was a regular at Merrywood. His friend and fellow student at the Museum School, Peter Hawes, who had been “adopted” by Justine Kershaw after the death of her husband Francis, first invited him there in the early 1930’s. Peter had aspired at one point to the priesthood so he and his friends would put on little religious plays in the St. Francis Chapel. Adio became entranced by Stone Pond and Merrywood, was married there and lived for a while in one of the estate houses. “It was there that his sculpture career began to take root.” (p.117) He was a student at the Museum School during the 1930’s, receiving a coveted traveling scholarship for the 1936-37 year. It was after his year in Europe that Merrywood became his home.

Frederick Warren Allen sculpted four pieces for the Kershaws: a lunette fresco relief for the door of the chapel, a crucifix in oak for the exterior apse wall, the St. Francis statue in granite and a marble bust of Francis Kershaw.

For more information on diBiccari and his experiences at Merrywood, refer to Adio diBiccari, A Life in Sculpture, by Elizabeth Lutyens, privately published in a limited edition.

For more on the Kershaws and their gracious summer estate, see the following articles on this site.

St. Francis Birdbath Garden Statue
Chapel of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio
Crucifix, St. Francis Chapel
Francis Stewart Kershaw

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