Mansfield, MA Historical Society

Mansfield, MA Historical Society This is the official page of the Mansfield Historical Society of Mansfield, Massachusetts.
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The Mansfield Historical Society was founded in 1951 by a group of local citizens interested in preserving the history of Mansfield, Massachusetts. Renowned local historian Jennie Copeland bequeathed her home at 53 Rumford Avenue as a permanent headquarters for the historical society. Today we continue their work by maintaining and recording our local history.

Mission: "...preserving materials and information relative to the history of Mansfield." -- bylaws of The Mansfield Historical Society

Our friends from the Cultural Council are offering one more chance to get your 2020 “Lost Mansfield” calendar!  Come to ...
12/27/2019

Our friends from the Cultural Council are offering one more chance to get your 2020 “Lost Mansfield” calendar! Come to the Copeland House this Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon. The cost is just $20, all proceeds will support local arts and culture organizations. Stop on by and get yours while supplies last -- check out our books, maps, magnets, and other items while you're here, too! Hope to see you Saturday!

Who out there remembers shopping at Cuneo's? DeClemente's? How about going to the Mansfield Theater? The limited-edition...
12/20/2019

Who out there remembers shopping at Cuneo's? DeClemente's? How about going to the Mansfield Theater? The limited-edition "Lost Mansfield" calendar brings those buildings and more "back to life," with full-color pictures showing what our downtown would look like if they were still standing. Each month of the calendar also features historical photos and information. A wonderful and unique gift for the Mansfield fans in your life! Calendars will be available this Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon, at the Mansfield Historical Society, 53 Rumford Avenue, along with a colorful selection of Mansfield maps, books, magnets, and postcards. (You can also order the calendar by emailing [email protected]; cost is $20, with all proceeds supporting local arts and culture organizations.) Even if you're not in a shopping mood, we hope you'll stop by on Saturday to say hello. Happy holidays -- and happy memories! -- to all.

While the newly refurbished and decorated light poles on North Main Street look beautiful, we miss seeing the old Centra...
12/17/2019

While the newly refurbished and decorated light poles on North Main Street look beautiful, we miss seeing the old Central Fire Station decorated for the season. Here are photos we took in 2015. Hopefully in future years we will see it decorated again!

A Christmas item from our collection!  It’s a tiny stocking presented by the Mansfield Cooperative Bank, probably from t...
12/14/2019

A Christmas item from our collection! It’s a tiny stocking presented by the Mansfield Cooperative Bank, probably from the 1950’s. Inside is a series of slots for ten dimes. If you were feeling a little more generous, there was a slot for “for bill or check”. The poem reads as follows:

“A Christmas stocking
Filled with candy
Is a treat we know,
But this stocking
Filled with dimes
Will make your
Savings grow!

Take me to
Mansfield
Co-operative
Bank”

Thanks to Lori Renker for the donation!

Have you ever wondered what downtown Mansfield would look like if our historical buildings were still standing? We got t...
12/13/2019

Have you ever wondered what downtown Mansfield would look like if our historical buildings were still standing? We got together with our friends at the Mansfield Local Cultural Council to do a little research and some imaginative thinking ... the result is the "Lost Mansfield" calendar. With archival photos and 3D renderings showing the old alongside the new, the calendar pays tribute to the Mansfield of yesteryear, and we hope will inspire some thinking about how the Mansfield of tomorrow could look too! You can pick up a copy -- or a few -- on Saturdays at the Copeland House in December, 10 a.m.-noon. It's a great and unique gift, just $20, all proceeds will support local arts and culture organizations. Stop on by and get yours while supplies last -- check out our books, maps, magnets, and other items while you're here, too! Hope to see you Saturday!

“No Gamer Bunch of Boys”: 100 Years of MHS Football Mansfield’s decisive Division 2 Super Bowl victory left many observe...
12/09/2019

“No Gamer Bunch of Boys”: 100 Years of MHS Football

Mansfield’s decisive Division 2 Super Bowl victory left many observers convinced they are the best team in Massachusetts for 2019. It was also a bookend to an historic milestone: 100 years of MHS football. This gives us a perfect opportunity to consider the program’s humble roots.

Mansfield High fielded a football team as early as 1895, but was unable to do so every year. While filled with the love of the game, those early teams were essentially composed of interested students who banded together to form ragtag teams. They weren’t “organized” like we know them today.

In 1919 football became an official sport at Mansfield High and has been played continuously since. That year a ten game schedule was arranged by Manager George Jackson. The team was coached by Harold “Sid” Drew, a 21-year old teacher at MHS. Mansfield was shut out in eight of its games. They played several schools that were much bigger and more experienced. They managed to win the other two games.

Mansfield kicked off its inaugural season on Saturday, September 27, 1919 at Norwood. The result was a 37-0 loss, although Mansfield was driving when the final whistle blew. The following Saturday resulted in a whopping 77-0 loss at Brockton, who started their second team only to bring in the first team later. Brockton’s size and experience was too much for the fledgling MHS squad.

Mansfield’s first home game was played on October 11, a 32-0 loss to Dedham. Home games were played on a newly created gridiron at Fuller’s Field. It was at the end of Wilson Place where we would now find the Cedar Court senior housing. At that time the high school was on Park Row in what is now the town hall, so Fuller’s Field was just down the street.

Next was a 38-0 defeat in Fall River at the hands of Durfee High School, who made good use of the forward pass. “Our boys played a good game…while Durfee started an aerial attack which lasted the entire game,” according to Coach Drew.

The team returned home on October 25th to record its first official victory in the program’s history, a 21-6 victory over Westboro. “Westboro was outclassed in all departments of the game,” said the yearbook. “They scored their only touchdown by a fluke play, after which Mansfield took the ball down the field on line plunges and [Kenneth] Patterson made the first touchdown that a High School player has made for many years.”

Next came a 14-0 loss at Taunton High School. Mansfield played well and held Taunton’s offense largely at bay. Just three days later, on November 11, 1919, came MHS’s second win. This was another home victory, this time over Boston Trade School by a score of 13-0. The highlight was a 50-yard forward pass to Patterson who was tackled at the 1-yard line.

Next came a 24-0 loss at Weymouth, and a 14-0 home loss to Milford. Mansfield closed out the season with a 47-0 loss at Needham on Thanksgiving Day, described as a “stubbornly fought contest.” Mansfield’s captain [Donald] Pike along with Patterson played well in “unfavorable weather conditions.”

Coach Drew accentuated the positive when reflecting on the season. He said the players were crude and inexperienced and “soon found out that football is no tea party.” But he felt by the end of the season they were playing up to their ability. The coach concluded his remarks as follows: “The team gave its best in every game, played clean football, and never quit. No gamer bunch of boys ever played the game, and I am proud to have been their coach.”

We always enjoy it when the Mansfield Women of Today set up the Copeland House for their House Tour, which is tomorrow. ...
12/07/2019

We always enjoy it when the Mansfield Women of Today set up the Copeland House for their House Tour, which is tomorrow. They make our old house look good!

One more cool pic, of the Mansfield sign post on the South Common, taken by Jim O’Brien.  We probably won’t be so happy ...
12/02/2019

One more cool pic, of the Mansfield sign post on the South Common, taken by Jim O’Brien. We probably won’t be so happy to see this snow in March! 😀

12/01/2019

Today was the annual holiday parade with snow arriving right on cue. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of snow hopefully you agree that Mansfield’s decorations combined with the first snow give a unique feeling to town. Be careful out there tonight!

Today we visited our neighbors at the Easton Historical Society.  Their museum is located at 80 Mechanic Street in a ver...
11/29/2019

Today we visited our neighbors at the Easton Historical Society. Their museum is located at 80 Mechanic Street in a very cool old railroad station. We suggest you check it out sometime! We were delighted to see this Easton & Mansfield sign above their door, a relic from the former Easton & Mansfield trolley line that once ran between the two towns. They have excellent displays, impressive portraits and busts of the prominent Ames family, and many publications on Easton history available for purchase. We bought two, and they gave us a free Christmas ornament! Now that’s neighborly. Thank you to our friends in Easton!

“Plenty of Guts”:  Mansfield versus Foxborough on the Gridiron For many in these parts, Thanksgiving means family, food,...
11/26/2019

“Plenty of Guts”: Mansfield versus Foxborough on the Gridiron

For many in these parts, Thanksgiving means family, food, and Mansfield-Foxborough high school football. The rivalry dates back to the 1800’s and was not always played on Thanksgiving. The squads faced off sporadically in the early years. The first time they played was in 1895, an indication of how deep the football tradition runs between the two towns.

MHS and FHS actually played twice in November 1895. On Saturday, November 9, Mansfield High defeated Foxborough High 28-4 in their first ever matchup. (The scoring system was a little different at that time). MHS beat FHS again on November 16 by a score of 20-0.

Russell Wheeler played for the 1895 MHS team. In 1953 he offered his recollection of the season to The Mansfield News. Wheeler recalled that the high school team only had 11 players, no coach, no helmets, no face guards, and were responsible for buying their own gear. “A fellow had to have plenty of guts, then, to play football,” he said. In 1953, The News published a photo of the 1895 MHS football team. The copy seen here is from an old newspaper. If anyone could help us locate an original copy we would be most grateful!

There was also a matchup between a Foxborough town team and a Mansfield town team on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 28, 1895. Foxborough won that matchup by a score of 14-4. Town teams were not high school teams. They were comprised of interested players who were usually a little older.

The year 1919 was a watershed for Mansfield football. That year MHS football became a permanent part of the school’s athletic program and has been played continuously ever since. Mansfield capped off that season with a Thanksgiving Day tilt at Needham.

From 1921 to 1924, Mansfield High found a new Thanksgiving rival in Taunton High School. The rivalry only lasted four seasons and was discontinued because of the size differential between the two schools. “The school authorities thought it advisable to discontinue the annual Thanksgiving game with Taunton,” according to the MHS yearbook. “The difference in size does not give us an equal chance year in and year out.”

Over the next several seasons MHS played either Foxborough or North Easton (now Oliver Ames) on Thanksgiving Day. From 1933 to 1946 the Mansfield-Taunton Turkey Day tradition was rekindled. In 1947 the Mansfield-Foxborough rivalry returned and has been played continuously to the present day.

Whether on Thanksgiving or not, Mansfield and Foxborough began their matchup in 1895 and have played continuously since 1925 (except 1933-38 at the height of the Great Depression). There are several traditional rivalries in Massachusetts that date back to the 19th century. While not the oldest, the Mansfield-Foxborough matchup is among the older rivalries. It is a great tradition and a source of pride for each town. The contest hit new heights in 2018 when Foxborough stopped an MHS two-point conversion attempt in triple overtime to beat Mansfield 35-33 in an all-time thriller at Fenway Park.

11/23/2019

Not sure why, but there were a lot of ducks on Fulton’s Pond when we arrived at the Copeland House this morning. We invited them in but they ducked our invitation. (Sorry that was a bad one) 😀🦆

A view of town hall and Memorial Hall from the old town cemetery.
11/20/2019

A view of town hall and Memorial Hall from the old town cemetery.

“Beauty and Strength”: The Town Hall at 6 Park Row (Part four of a four-part series on Town Halls of Mansfield) When the...
11/20/2019

“Beauty and Strength”: The Town Hall at 6 Park Row
(Part four of a four-part series on Town Halls of Mansfield)

When the town hall/police station at 50 West Street opened in 1974 it was assumed the building would serve Mansfield’s needs for decades to come. But the townspeople didn’t foresee the population boom that was on their doorstep. Mansfield’s citizenry more than doubled in the ensuing 25 years. In little more than a decade the office space at 50 West Street was so jammed some town departments had to relocate to the former Paine School on Chauncy Street. The police department also lacked an adequate facility to serve the growing town. To solve the problems of its present and future, Mansfield looked to its past: the former Mansfield High School at 6 Park Row.

Mansfield High School graduated its first class in 1878. In the early years classes were conducted at the old Number Four School House on North Main Street, the meetinghouse on Union Street, and the town hall. By 1892 MHS took over two rooms at the new Central School on Villa Street. This arrangement was considered less than ideal as they shared the facility with younger grades. By the 1900’s just three rooms and a laboratory were set aside for the high school which had a student population greater than 100.

A lengthy and well-attended town meeting rejected a new high school in May 1910. Some voters balked at the price and preferred to see the ancient Number Four Schoolhouse rehabbed as a new high school. But the following year voters approved a plan to purchase a piece of land on Park Row and erect a high school. On March 6, 1911 the town meeting voted to appropriate $40,000 for the project by a vote of 227-8.

The cornerstone was laid at the new MHS on July 4, 1911. A series of speakers touted the importance of the project for the town. The cornerstone was filled with newspapers, town reports, voter lists, town directories, and many other artifacts meant to commemorate life in Mansfield in 1911. Construction progressed rapidly and came in slightly over budget at a total cost of $42,525.54. Edward I. Wilson of Boston was chosen as architect. J.H. Davidson of Dorchester was the general contractor. W.C. Fuller of Mansfield provided heating, ventilation and plumbing.

The new building was occupied by Mansfield High on Monday, April 1, 1912. “The exterior appearance needs no words of mine to declare its beauty and strength,” wrote Superintendent of Schools Edward P. Fitts. Over the next 43 years MHS students graduated with fond memories of their alma mater overlooking the South Common. But in time MHS outgrew the building. A new Mansfield High (now Qualters Middle School) opened in 1954. The old building now became the Park Row Elementary School until its closure 1992.

The venerable old building sat vacant for a few years but would soon return to service as a town hall. Architects Strekalovsky & Hoit designed a connector between the new town hall and Memorial Hall. The connector allowed both buildings access to an elevator. Consigli Construction was the contractor for the rehab. Most considered the project an effective reuse of an aging but attractive building. And all town offices were once again located under one roof. “It’s one-stop shopping,” said Town Manager Bill Williams. An open house and ribbon cutting was held on February 15, 1997 to commemorate the new town hall. Now more than 100 years after its construction, 6 Park Row continues to serve the people of Mansfield.

If you’ve recently passed by the old Central Fire Station on North Main Street, you might have wondered what happened to...
11/16/2019

If you’ve recently passed by the old Central Fire Station on North Main Street, you might have wondered what happened to the iconic lettering that hung above the bays where the fire engines once parked. Don’t worry, they are not gone...they have been moved to the Plymouth Street station! They add a nice touch to the West Mansfield facility. Kudos to the department for both preserving a piece of history and dressing up Plymouth Street!

By the way, did you realize that the Plymouth Street facility is dedicated to the service of Cyril N. Bellavance? “Cy” Bellavance was a firefighter for 35 years and served as Fire Chief from 1962-76. His son Robert Bellavance was Chief from 2002-07.

Today the community of Mansfield came together to dedicate its impressive new monument, the Bell of Freedom, at the Sout...
11/11/2019

Today the community of Mansfield came together to dedicate its impressive new monument, the Bell of Freedom, at the South Common. Funded entirely through donor contributions, the four-sided monument includes a dedication panel, a panel memorializing the events of 9/11, another dedicated to the Purple Heart, and a fourth recalling the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for their country. The bell formerly hung in the belfry of the Faith Fellowship United Methodist Church. When the congregation sold its building two years ago they donated the bell to be used for the memorial.

Mansfield Veteran’s Agent Mike Raymond worked tirelessly to design the monument and see through its construction. Congratulations to Mike and all those who helped make this beautiful monument a reality! Today’s touching dedication program included appearances from veterans dating back to World War II, speeches from local dignitaries, and performances by the Mansfield High School band. And as an added surprise, when the scheduled singer was unable to perform due to illness, Town Manager Kevin Dumas sprung into action and led the crowd in “God Bless America!” And yes, he is an excellent singer!

The bell will be removed temporarily to complete an “A Frame” from which the bell will hang permanently. Congratulations again to all who made the Bell of Freedom a cherished memorial for years to come!

Address

53 Rumford Ave
Mansfield, MA
02048

Telephone

(508) 339-8793

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