MARBLEHEAD — Don Doliber, who by legend is a descendant of one of the first settlers in Marblehead, wants residents to brush up on the town’s history.
The Second Annual Marblehead Spirit Day will take over the town on Saturday. Doliber, the town’s historian, is the co-founder of the history-heavy event, alongside retired educator Libby Moore. What began as an educational tour for eighth-graders more than a decade ago is now an event Doliber hopes to continue annually.
The free event, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is a self-guided walking tour of five of the town’s historic locations. Attendees can start at any of the locations — Abbot Hall, Marblehead Museum and The Jeremiah Lee Mansion, the Old Town House and the G.A.R./Civil War Museum, Tucker’s Wharf, or Fort Sewall — and receive a free name tag, guidebook, and map.
“Over 10 years ago, Mrs. Moore established the Headers in History, which was founded so that our eighth-graders would have knowledge about their town’s government, history, and historic locations,” said Doliber. “A number of parents came to us saying their kids do this but they don’t get a chance, so how about doing it for the adults.”
Doliber said after hearing from a plethora of parents, he spoke with Moore and they began planning for last year’s debut spirit day. The two co-founders, with the help of volunteers from Headers in History, were able to put the event together on a very limited budget. He said he was ecstatic that more than 500 people showed up.
“We were doing it as a gift to the town,” he said. “We decided to do it again this year but add more events.”
Doliber said he and Moore added more people to the spirit day committee after a critique of last year’s debut. After someone suggested the event include more kid-friendly activities, the co-founders developed a festival full of entertaining children’s events to be held in a tent on Abbot Hall’s West Lawn, sponsored by the Marblehead Cultural Council.
Selectwoman Judy Jacobi will guide attendees through Abbot Hall’s renowned architecture, the famous “Spirit of ’76” painting in the selectmen’s office, and a few historic artifacts placed around the building. Doliber said there will also be an opportunity to learn about the town’s unique history, focused on the people who lived in the houses around the hall over the past 250 years.
Captain Ray Bates, a well-known Marblehead fisherman, scuba diver, and author, will also be at Abbot Hall. He has been diving since he was 16 years old and has collected noteworthy artifacts from more than 25 shipwrecks off of Marblehead, Salem, and Swampscott, which he will showcase during his presentation.
The Jeremiah Lee Mansion, built in 1768, will celebrate its 250th anniversary. The mansion is one of the most important colonial structures in the United States, according to Doliber. The J.O.J. Frost Exhibit at the museum will also be showcased during the tour. Fort Sewall will host the Glover’s Marblehead Regiment reenactment and there will be crew members from the USS Constitution.
Doliber said attendees will learn about the town’s history and how the town government works. Presentations at each location will begin every hour on the hour, but everyone is invited to tour at their own pace. An hour-long lunch break will begin at noon, where people can picnic with their own food or check out the local restaurants.
“Marblehead is a living classroom in terms of history and it’s a perfect location for us to showcase and offer people the opportunity to learn about their town,” said Doliber. “It’s an attempt to reach out to our population of over 20,000 people.”