Buttonwoods Museum- William H. Moody Room

I am very grateful to the staff of Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA. for allowing this photography of the Moody Room for Warps & Wefts and for arranging a special guide Saturday afternoon. The museum is a must-see and these photos do not do the real objects justice. If you find yourself in Haverhill please stop by not only to see the amazing Moody display but many other items and the historic house. 

There’s nothing like seeing objects owned by a person to reveal a lot about who they are and their place in history. William H. Moody was indeed a match for defense attorney George Dexter Robinson in the Borden case, and went on to have an unbelievable career cut short by extreme rheumatoid arthritis which compelled Justice Moody to step down from the bench at a young age. The first thing one notices in the Moody Room is the impressive portrait hanging over the mantle and the round gaming table in the center of the room which was made to accommodate his wheel chair. The top of this mahogany table flips over to a solid top. One can imagine games played at this table with gentleman visitors. Moody was a rampant Red Sox supporter and took a keen interest in baseball as did defense attorney Andrew Jennings, himself a pitcher for the Fall River baseball team TROY. One wonders if the two men ever discussed baseball during the trial.

William Moody never married, nor did his sister Mary who kept house for him and was a dedicated hostess throughout his career- and what a career it was! The top photo is Moody’s mother, the middle photo is a young Mary, also with a wealth of fair hair like her brother. Mary was asked to christen the U.S.S. Moody (which was sunk purposely in the making of a Hollywood film). The photo shows Mary with a huge bouquet on launch day and the trimmings from the bottle of champagne used to christen the new ship is shown in its original box with red, white and blue ribbons.

The little Klipper desk was used by William H. Moody in the House of Representatives. Klipper desks were used in the House Chamber from 1873 until 1901 The little hole in the front right used to contain a button to summon a page. Before the button, representatives had to clap to summon a page. The two Cabinet chairs are Moody’s as Secretary of the Navy and Attorney General. They were made by A.H. Davenport and Co. of Boston.

The Elizabethan sideboard was purchased by Mary Moody in England for their Haverhill home. The bottom shelf is made of an old door. Apparently it was the thing to have a statue of Daniel Webster in every attorney’s office and Moody was no exception. The photo at the top of the frame is Moody’s father.

Not all objects in the Moody Collection are on display but among those I particularly liked seeing are very personal ones, Moody’s cigar case, ink stand of Benjamin Franklin with a quill pen, and his official document case – which as you can see, is weathered from use in service. A cigar smoker! What a surprise, but then most men smoked socially in that era.

The Moody home at 38 Saltonstall Rd. is currently for sale. While in Haverhill, drive by for a look at the home of the Moodys. There are many interior views of the house on the realtor’s page https://www.coldwellbankerhomes.com/ma/haverhill/38-saltonstall-rd/pid_41517790/?fbclid=IwAR1R71QHEQwuhdRFTbxBvoIM78zzBrx-jHCSHjRXSfxBNcpkIj0p9Yr1s9U

For more about the Buttonwoods Museum, visiting times, and special events, visit http://www.buttonwoods.org To seee the Moody Papers, which includes the majority of the Borden Trial transcript, visit the Haverhill Public Library. https://haverhillpl.org/app/uploads/2020/08/William-H-Moody-papers-31479006368590.pdf

One Comment

  • kate lavender

    Such a great man and one of my favorite people in the trial. It’s amazing to me when you think he had one month to prepare for the Superior Court Trial and he was only 39 and it was his first homicide case. Thanks for this.

Leave a Reply