A Page from North Quabbin History: Explore local history this summer

  • Petersham is one of many local historical societies offering special exhibits and events this summer. Photo courtesy Petersham Historical Society

  • Pictured inside the parlor of the Orange Historical Society: From left, front: Society President Kathryn Schiappa and member Pataricia Smith hold up the bottom corners of a friendship quilt produced by Addie Whitman Robbins (1881-1909) and donated to the 41 North Main St. museum by Addie's granddaughters (positioned at middle section) Phyllis Cameron and Jean Hodgdon, with support from husbands Bud and Al, at top. Photo/Ann Reed

Published: 5/23/2022 2:32:21 PM
Modified: 5/23/2022 2:32:24 PM

With the warmer weather, historical societies are reopening for the summer season. Whether you are interested in quilting, the lost Quabbin towns, antique vehicles, or something else altogether, the societies offer a wide variety of historical items to peak a visitor’s interest.

The Petersham Historical Society will showcase two exhibits focused on the themes of democracy and journalism. “A Republic, If You Can Keep It” will feature core documents from the society’s archives related to the founding of the American republic presented from Petersham’s perspective.

The second exhibit will be a display of a large collection of newspaper articles created by Athol Daily News reporter Dick Chaisson, which were donated to the Society by the Chaisson family in 2015. Both of these exhibits had been planned for the Spring of 2020 but were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the events scheduled by the society include a program at Petersham Town Hall, on June 3 at 7 p.m. entitled “Ken Levine and The Rabbit Run Railroad: A Quabbin Art & History Project.” Levine will present a multi-media program with video, photographs and song telling his story of creating a 25-foot diorama of the historic Rabbit Run Railroad for permanent display at the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem. The event is free. The Petersham Historical Society Museum opening date will be June 18, hours of noon to 4 p.m.

Swift River Valley Historical Society museum

The Swift River Valley Historical Society will have several new items on display, including the Enfield Congregational Church Communion Table donated by the Jones Library in Amherst. Also on display will be a working diorama of the Rabbit Run Railroad which once ran through the lost Quabbin towns of Dana, Enfield and Greenwich, created by the aforementioned artist and co-owner of Frames/Ink in Petersham.

Several events at the Swift River Valley Historical Society will revolve around the towns lost when the Quabbin Reservoir was built. On Sunday, May 29, there will be a Memorial Day observance commemorating veterans from the four Quabbin towns at the Quabbin Park Cemetery from 10 a.m. to noon. On July 17, the Dana reunion will be held at Dana Common. Gate 40 opens at 11 a.m. and the event will conclude at 3 p.m. On July 24, Dana Vespers will be held at the Prescott Church on the society grounds at 2 p.m. On Aug. 21, the Prescott Bicentennial Celebration with a Time Travel Tour presented by Jon Melick will be held in the Prescott Church on society grounds at 1 p.m. The society will also be sponsoring a hike from Gate 22 Puppyville to the shore on July 24, with hikers carpooling at New Salem Common for an 11 a.m. departure. Several fall hikes are also planned. Hikers are asked to bring a lunch and prepare for insects/ticks. Light showers do not cancel a hike.

Other events sponsored by the society will include Birds of Prey with Tom Ricardi on July 10, at the museum at noon. Any changes cancellations or postponements of events can be found at https://www.facebook.com/swiftrivermuseum/

The Swift River Valley Historical Society will be open Wednesdays and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. from June 22 through Sept. 14. The first Sunday of July, August and September will be Open House. All other visitation days are by appointment. All of the events are free although a small donation to the Swift River Valley Historical Society for hikes would be greatly appreciated More information can be found at https://swiftrivermuseum.org.

Orange Historical Society museum

The recently donated Friendship Quilt belonging to Addie Whitman Robbins, who grew up in Orange, will be on display at the Orange Historical Society. Robbins died in 1909 of a postpartum infection at age 28, leaving behind her husband and 20-day-old daughter, Eunice. The quilt, as well several other artifacts related to Robbins, were donated in April by Jean Hodgden and Phyllis Cameron, daughters of Eunice, as well as their husbands Bud and Al. Other items at the society several steam-powered Grout automobiles. The society will be open on Wednesday and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. beginning the first week in June. The society is always in need of volunteers and are in particular need of a volunteer willing to do yard work and care for the flower beds, according to society president Kathy Schiappa. More information on the Orange Historical Society can be found at their website www.orangehistoricalsocietyma.org

Phillipston Historical Society Museum

Among the items that will be on display at the Phillipston Historical Society will be a display honoring past officers and board of director members who have passed away, according to Historical Society Museum Curator. Other items at the society include a display of Marine, Army and Navy uniforms dating from World War II to Vietnam, a Native American dug-out canoe, and a Lego recreation of the town common as it would have looked in 1891, according to Curator Jane French. Their programs will begin in September with Sandra Larson, speaking about her experiences as a former antiques dealer.

The historical society building was recently repainted and new clapboards and painting are planned for the back of the building. The society will be open on July 2 and is always open by appointment. New members and volunteers are always welcome. The society is in particular need of a volunteer with computer skills as they continue to work on updating their website. More information about the Phillipston Historical Society can be found at www.phillipston.org

Narragansett Historical Society

The Narragansett Historical Society in Templeton offers a wide range of historical items for visitors to view. “The constant flow of donations is generous and appreciated, ranging from books, art works, documents, and photographs,” said Brian Tanguay, Curator and President of the Narragansett Historical Society.

The society will also continue its work on Grange Hall. “The main focus this year will be the full restoration of the Grange Hall, with the hopes of a grand opening in the next two years,” Tanguay continued.

Upcoming events at the society include an open house on June 5 from noon to 4 p.m. during a concert on the common, sponsored by the Templeton Cultural Council.. On June 11, there will be a Garden Tea Party with old fashioned tea and treats from 2 to 4 p.m. Residents can view local collections during the Cabin Fever Collectors Show, Baldwinville Legion, 3 Central St., Baldwinville, from noon to 4 p.m. on June 26. For those looking to enjoy some kite flying on Aug. 7, the society will sponsor Go Fly A Kite, at 324 Baldwinville Road, Brooks Field, from noon to 4 p.m. For all things motorized, residents can attend Motorpolooza on Sept. 25, on the Common from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The historical society welcomes all volunteers including hosts for the building, event workers, event organizers, for small projects inside the building as well as volunteers and to provide outdoor garden work and overall cleaning. More information about the society can be found at www.narragansetthistoricalsociety.org

Warwick Historical Society museum

Among the items at the Warwick Historical Society include dresses from the early 1900s and military uniforms and a dollhouse. The society will also be part of Old Home Days in August. During that time, they will be having their free, fourth annual cemetery walk highlighting previous Warwick residents. Reenactors are always welcome. The Warwick Historical Society is open the first Sunday of the month in July and August from 2 to 4 p.m. More information about the society can be found at www.history.town.warwick.ma.us

Royalston Historical Society

The Historical Society of Royalston will be closed due to the remodeling of the cove ceiling at the society. Updates on the ceiling and when the society will reopen can be found at their website at www.royalstonhistorical.org

Athol Historical Society

The Athol Historical Society building will be repainted this year. Currently, there are no events or open hour scheduled. If any events or open hours are scheduled in the future they will be posted at the society’s website at www.atholhistoricalsociety.weebly.com

Carla Charter is a freelance writer from Phillipston. Her writing focuses on history with a particular interest in the history of the North Quabbin area. Contact her at cjfreelancewriter@earthlink.net.

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