Who was that woman in the window?

Buchanon, photo margaret buchanan

And who had one of these?

blue blanket edited

Who remembers or better yet, still has their beautiful wool hand woven carriage blanket from the lady who sat in the window?  This is mine from when I was a baby, probably by now it should be an artifact in the Smithsonian.  Of course I still have it; it is a piece of Marblehead memorabilia.

I remember walking by 106 Washington Street, where Tory’s jewelry store is now and watching Miss Margaret Buchanan sitting in the window weaving a way, thinking how fun that would be.

Margaret Buchanan was born on February 27, 1883 in Alexandria, Scotland to Donald and Agnes Whytock Buchanan.  She had two brothers Robert Chalmers Buchanan (1885 – 1979)and  John (1889 – 1980) and a sister, Elizabeth (Tibby) Mary Buchanan (1891-1988). 

Miss Buchanan came to the United States from Scotland in 1911. She and her brother Robert left Glasgow, Scotland on April 29, 1911 aboard the SS California and arrived in Brooklyn, NY on May 8, 1911.  She became a naturalized citizen on September 26, 1917 listing her occupation as a housekeeper and residing at 7 Revere Street Place, Boston, MA. In 1920 she lived at 7 Healey Street in Cambridge, MA with her brother Robert, who was a mechanic in a typewriter shop. According to her passport application of 1923 she was 5’2″ tall, hazel eyes, brown hair and medium complexion. She took several trips back to Scotland to visit with family. It appears her sister remained in Scotland but her brothers came to the United States to live.  In 1924 she was trained as a weaver at Berea College in Kentucky.  She moved to Front Street in Marblehead from Cambridge, MA and opened her shop known as the Buchanan Craft Shop and in 1939 moved to 106 Washington Street.

Miss Buchanan specialized in hand loomed Scottish plaids or tartans, each pattern representing a Scottish family. I tried to determine what clan my blanket was from but didn’t have much luck.  She had two looms, a large one for individual lap or knee robes and a smaller one for tightly woven articles like neckties.  Baby blankets were her most popular item, selling out every Christmas. She received orders from all over the world mainly from tourist who had visited Marblehead and admired her work. She trained her niece, Mrs. Archibald (Nancy) MacDonald, the daughter of Margaret’s brother Robert.

In 1976 at the age of 93 she was forced to move her shop or lose her business. She was given a six weeks notice by the owner of the building to find a new place to live as he was selling the business. I believe she moved to Powder House Court according to a 1976-77 nosy book.  Margaret died ten years later in August 1986 in a Danvers Nursing Home at the age of 103.   



5 thoughts on “Who was that woman in the window?

  1. I am a MacLeod, and about 1968 my Dad gave the family two different MacLeod plaid blankets by Buchanan, I think both recently were sent to a blanket donation for the homeless.


  2. Is there any way I could tell if I had one of these? It has fringe on the edges, it is wool, kind of thin, and has no tags on it. It is a red multi color. Did the ones you are describing have a fringed edge?


      1. Wish I could post a picture. It is navy with red, white, green. It is from either the 1940s or 50s. My Dad was from Marblehead and we went back every summer vacation to visit family. Let me post a photo of it off my webpage and post the link here. Will let you know. Thank you so much for responding.


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