Today, we get a firsthand account of Open Road’s visit to the Gertrude Warner Museum in preparation for publishing the beloved Boxcar Children Mysteries series as ebooks. Have a look at some of the treasures they found!
Without further ado, I'll turn the blog over to Rachel Chou of Open Road:
“Have you ever heard of the iconic children’s series the Boxcar Children Mysteries?” Barbara Marcus asked me at one of our first meetings back in summer of 2010.
“Are you kidding?” I said, “Not only did I teach them in my fourth grade class, my own children (ages eight and ten) are up to #15 in the series.”
That was my first conversation leading to the epublishing of The Boxcar Children Mysteries Box Set this past month. It was hard to contain my excitement about bringing the world of the Alden children—Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny—to e-readers around the world.
So, you can imagine how amazed I was to find out in short order that there was a Boxcar Museum in the town of Putnam, Connecticut, where author Gertrude Chandler Warner lived. I quickly reached out to the museum and discovered a treasure trove of memorabilia, anecdotes, and photos waiting to be shared with fans of this classic series.
On November 22, 2010, I set out on the four-hour drive from New York City with Lily Henderson, one of Open Road Integrated Media’s film producers, to begin to document the archives of Gertrude, interview the former students of the author and teacher, and photograph the surroundings that influenced the author in her series.
Upon arriving in Putnam it became clear that not much has changed in the decades since the original book in the series, The Boxcar Children, was published in 1924. You immediately get the feeling of an industrial town with a railroad station smack-dab in the middle and shop owners who quickly notice the dressed-in-black New Yorkers ordering the Reuben sandwiches. The whole area evokes a time where conversations between neighbors were a key part of everyday life, everyone knows your name, and being kind matters. It’s like stepping back in time and finding the Alden children there waiting to lead you on an adventure in their tree house, the houseboat, or the lighthouse.
After meeting with the museum’s director, Frederick Hedenberg, and docent, Barbara Scalise, Lily and I couldn’t wait to get inside the museum, which of course is in a relocated boxcar. The moving of the boxcar is a whole other story—one we’ll tell you about in a future post! But below are a few of the archival documents and reproductions lining the walls of the museum. Hope they give you that warm, endearing feeling I know I get when I think about the series and a time gone by.
The Gertrude Chandler Warner Museum in Putnam, Connecticut.
The best guides in the world—museum director Frederick Hedenberg and docent Barbara Scalise.
Gertrude Chandler Warner in 1901, at the age of eleven. Do you think she looks more like a Jessie or a Violet Alden?
Gertrude Chandler Warner, in addition to writing the Boxcar Children Mysteries series, was a schoolteacher. Here, she’s pictured with her class in 1924.
The museum contains a display of early and first editions of the many children’s books Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote—including titles other than the Boxcar Children Mysteries series.
A sketch of the Gertrude Chandler Warner Museum in Putnam, Connecticut—housed right inside a boxcar!
A recreation of Warner’s writing environment—typewriter, desk, and personal artifacts included!