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

We have received inquiries about the status of the Fisher-Richardson House.  For the safety of our visitors and docents ...
06/17/2020

We have received inquiries about the status of the Fisher-Richardson House. For the safety of our visitors and docents the house will remain closed for the 2020 season. We hope to see you in 2021, back and better than ever! Until then stay safe and healthy!

“Glad to Be Here”:  Barry Goldwater at the Mansfield AirportThe temperature was a scorching 95 degrees.  Otherwise the a...
05/29/2020

“Glad to Be Here”: Barry Goldwater at the Mansfield Airport
The temperature was a scorching 95 degrees. Otherwise the afternoon of Sunday, June 11, 1967 seemed like any other at Mansfield Municipal Airport.
“Link” Noble of Carleton-Whitney Aero Service was seated at his desk as usual. Just before noon two men appeared at Noble’s office door identifying themselves as police officers from the nearby town of Franklin. Noble asked the officers how he could be of service. He was surprised when they replied, “Barry Goldwater will be here in 15 minutes.”
Three years earlier Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona was the Republican nominee for president. He lost the 1964 election to President Lyndon Johnson decisively, carrying just six states and garnering 38 percent of the popular vote. A stickler for the constitution and a strong fiscal conservative, Goldwater’s candidacy would later be seen as having laid the groundwork for future successful GOP candidates like Ronald Reagan. He returned to the Senate in 1969 and remained an elder statesman in American politics for the rest of his life.
He also obtained his pilot’s license in 1930. In World War II Goldwater flew P-47 Thunderbolts and C-54 transports. He would later serve as a brigadier general in the Air Force reserves where he piloted a U2 reconnaissance plane to 50,000 feet. He was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1982.
On that hot Sunday in 1967, Goldwater took Link Noble by surprise. The officers explained that Goldwater was delivering the commencement address at Dean Junior College that afternoon. Another man, who Noble assumed was the President of Dean, stood nearby as the officers laid the ground rules. “No publicity. No pictures on arrival,” the officers said.
About 15 minutes later a seven-seat twin engine Beechcraft landed direct from Washington. Barry Goldwater emerged and was whisked into a black Chrysler Imperial and headed to Dean. The two pilots remained behind and began to speak with Link Noble, who invited them to lunch.
The pilots explained that Goldwater’s chartered Beechcraft was small enough to land in Mansfield, which was in fairly close proximity to Franklin. They seemed interested in that fact that Mansfield was central to Boston, Providence and Cape Cod, which might make it ideal for future chartered flights. They explained that upon his return they would fly Goldwater to JFK Airport in New York from where he would return to Washington on a 6pm flight.
Link Noble did not spread the news of Goldwater’s arrival. But a handful of observant townspeople noticed him having lunch with “two white-shirted – and white-haired pilots with natty black ties and deeply tanned.” They also saw the Beechcraft stationed at the airport. A small gathering of about six adults and a handful of children gathered to see who the mysterious visitor was. They were joined by photographer Joan Wood of the Mansfield News.
The Imperial returned at 4:10pm. Barry Goldwater emerged from the car and made his way to the plane. The pilots lowered a four-step stairway covered by a chartreuse rug. Joan Wood asked for a picture in front of his plane, and Goldwater obliged. He removed his coat after she snapped a photograph.
“Glad to have you in Mansfield,” someone called to Goldwater. “Glad to be here,” he replied. He then climbed aboard the plane with the two pilots. Goldwater waved to the small crowd as the plane prepared for departure. He was the only passenger on board.

We need you to kick start your memory!  We are looking to compile a list of diners in Mansfield.  A classic American tra...
05/07/2020

We need you to kick start your memory! We are looking to compile a list of diners in Mansfield. A classic American tradition, Mansfield had a few diners in its day. So far, we have come up with:

1. The Old Colony Diner (Old Colony Way, first operated by George Pomfret).
2. The Tavern Diner (Chauncy Street near the Mansfield House, operated by Jim Clinton, then George Pomfret. It was later bought by Louie Brugliera and moved to near where Cumberland Farms is today).
3. A diner operated by Eddie Whittier on North Main near Church Street (next to the Brogna Building, or Mulligan Gear today).
4. In the 1920’s there was a diner on the corner of North Main and High Streets. Even our oldest readers probably don’t remember much about that one, but if you do, please let us know.

We have also heard reports that there might have been a diner in the North End, near North Main and Pratt Street, but we are unable to verify this. We would love to know more. And there very well could be others. That’s where you come in!

We would appreciate any leads you might have for us to research! Our goal is to come up with a list of diners and at some point do feature stories on them. So please feel free to comment below on any additional diners we didn’t mention, or with any memories you might have. All we ask is that you be descriptive, polite and accurate. If you are unsure about something please say so...someone out there might be able to help you out! Feel free to reminisce...who worked there, what you liked to order, etc. If you prefer not to comment publicly you can email us at [email protected].

And if you have any pictures we could scan (or that you would like to donate), or any artifacts (maybe a menu?) we would also be happy to accept those, or at least photocopy/photograph them. We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

“Farmers and Geese”:  Fine Art at the Mansfield Post OfficeAs the Great Depression entered it’s eighth year, there was a...
05/05/2020

“Farmers and Geese”: Fine Art at the Mansfield Post Office

As the Great Depression entered it’s eighth year, there was a bright spot for Mansfield. On January 1, 1938, a new post office was dedicated at 140 North Main Street. All agreed with Town Manager Harold Everett when he said the building “will stand for many years as a considerable asset to the community.”

But the US Treasury Department was not quite done with the new post office. During the depression the government funded artwork to adorn federal buildings. This would further the appreciation of art and support artists struggling to find work. In Mansfield they were looking for something that would depict local life. Artist Joseph Coletti of Boston was commissioned for the project.

Born in Italy in 1896, Joseph Coletti worked with John Singer Sargent on the ceiling of the Boston Public Library and the rotunda of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. In 1924 he returned to Italy for two years as a visiting fellow at American Academy in Rome. He came back to Boston to set up his own studio. Later in life he would serve as chairman of the Massachusetts Art Commission. Coletti also sculpted the statue of Lt. General Edward Logan at Logan Airport. His work can be found at the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, the Vatican Museum and the Smithsonian.

In 1938 Joseph Coletti came to Mansfield looking for the perfect theme for his commission. After meeting with postmaster James Bellew and local historian Jennie Copeland, the artist sensed that something highlighting local industry would be best. He submitted four themes to the Treasury Department, but secretly hoped that they would select a depiction of Mansfield’s goose farming industry. His hopes were realized when the department selected his idea of a sculpture called “Farmers and Geese.”

“I wanted so much to get away from the banal spread eagle and other symbols of the government which are so overworked,” Coletti told the press. “I was sure we had selected the most interesting theme when I picked up a Boston newspaper and saw a large picture of your Mansfield geese being driven to the farm; all the while blocking traffic behind them.”

By 1938 the Austin Goose Farm had been operating for about 70 years. It once held the distinction of being the largest goose farm in the world. When trains arrived packed with geese from Canada the birds were paraded to East Mansfield halting traffic while they passed. Coletti said “here is a subject with great decorative possibilities, appropriate to the locale, and typically New England in aspect.”

Joseph Coletti finished his bas relief sculpture in late May 1939 and delivered it to Mansfield. “Farmers and Geese” is a plaster cast six feet long and four feet wide. It depicts two farmers, a man and a woman, feeding grain to nine geese below. Its oyster white subjects were chosen to blend with the wall behind it while the terra cotta background provides a strikingly simple contrast.

“Farmers and Geese” was set into a recess above the Postmaster’s door where it remained for five decades. It was moved when a new post office was built on Giles Place in 1990. It now hangs above the door to the service lobby in the current Mansfield Post Office.

In 1939, The Mansfield News called Joseph Coletti “altogether an intelligent and very interesting man.” A visitor griped that the geese depicted in Mansfield’s post office were Canadian. Jim Bellew replied, “Sure, if you go back far enough you’ll find potatoes aren’t native Americans, either.”

We are 99.9% sure we know who this Mansfield person was.  But we want to be 100%.  This photo was taken in 1958.  If you...
04/25/2020

We are 99.9% sure we know who this Mansfield person was. But we want to be 100%. This photo was taken in 1958. If you know who it is, please post below. Please, no wild guesses, only if you are certain. Thanks!

The Old Town Hall ClockMansfield’s old town hall was a stately building.  Opened in 1883, its belfry was adorned by a fo...
04/16/2020

The Old Town Hall Clock

Mansfield’s old town hall was a stately building. Opened in 1883, its belfry was adorned by a four-sided clock with arms that were a foot long. Each clock face was just under three feet in diameter and faced either north, south, east or west.

Getting inside the belfry was not an easy journey, but one that a caretaker had to make every week. First he had to find his way to the attic above the large second-floor auditorium. The attic was “spooky”, with a “maze of wooden timbers”. It was lit by a single light bulb. From there it was “up two narrow but sturdy ladders whose rungs were smooth by years of use.”

The clock and chime mechanisms consisted of over 900 parts. The clock was powered by a two-and-a half foot square crate of rocks. Hanging by a cable just below the belfry, it worked with gravity to turn the gears and keep accurate time for just over a week. Custodians had to turn a massive crank two rotations to lift the rocks up 15 feet to keep time for another eight days. The pendulum was made of a ten-foot iron rod with a cast iron ball at the end estimated to weigh eighty pounds.

The chime mechanism rang dozens of times daily and required more effort from the custodian. It was originally powered by 600 pound weights in the cellar connected to a long cable that rang the bell at regular intervals. Eventually the open shaft that ran from the cellar to the belfry was deemed a fire hazard. The weights were moved and the cable rerouted to an outside shed below. In 1968 custodian Roland Collins said it required 175 cranks every week to wind the chime mechanism.

Maintenance men left their mark over the years. Inscriptions inside the belfry included “Oiled 1887” and “Cleaned, September 12, 1900.” Other visitors left inscriptions like “Gladys B. Cliff, six years old, 1919, Christmas Greetings.” The clock worked well for the better part of 75 years.

One day in 1956 the clock stopped. An anonymous donor paid Howard Clock Products $600 to fix the problem. The Howard crew did not find bats in the belfry, but pigeons. “And plenty of them!” It seemed it was not so much the pigeons that stopped the clock: it was what they left behind.

“We found droppings all over the gears up in the belfry. They had gotten so thick that they just couldn’t turn anymore,” said Ed Archambeault of Howard Clock. Within a week Howard had the gears pristine and the clock was running again. By the time Roland Collins took over as custodian in 1964 pigeons had stopped the clock again. Rollie cleaned up the mess, oiled the works and got the clock running within a week. This time he added chicken wire to keep out the birds. He took great pride in keeping the clock running.

But nothing could stop the calamity that beset the building on December 20, 1970, when it was destroyed by fire. The belfry crashed into the ruins below bringing the stately old clock with it.

So what happened to the four clock faces that hovered over Mansfield for nearly a century? One was fully restored and installed at the new town hall at 50 West Street. It was moved in 2004 to the new train station where it remains to this day. Two of the faces were sold to raise money for the restoration of the first clock face. They remain in private hands. The fourth clock face was damaged beyond repair and could not be salvaged.

Signs of the Times...By now we are all aware that we are living in a difficult yet historic time.  We have been asked if...
04/12/2020

Signs of the Times...
By now we are all aware that we are living in a difficult yet historic time. We have been asked if we are attempting to chronicle the COVID-19 outbreak locally. The answer is “yes”. We have been preserving newspaper articles both digitally and in hard copy form. We have attempted to save literature, such as governmental advisories sent through the mail. And we have attempted to take photographs to further document the time period. We would welcome any suggestions you might have regarding how we can chronicle this time!

We have noticed that there are many signs around town offering help, hope and strength. We would like to share a few of them with you. And if you celebrate we would like to wish you a Happy Passover and a Happy Easter!

Signs:
Mansfield High School
Saint Mary’s Church
Municipal Complex, East Street
Car Wash Pros
First Baptist Church

‪Need something to read? “Mysterious House Lights Puzzle Police” is fun.  From the Mansfield News, July 15, 1949.  Lucki...
04/02/2020

‪Need something to read? “Mysterious House Lights Puzzle Police” is fun. From the Mansfield News, July 15, 1949. Luckily Chief Henderson cracked the case! Thanks to the MPD for keeping us safe then and now! ‬

It was a beautiful day for a walk in the historic Fulton's Pond area!  As usual there were plenty of people having lunc...
04/01/2020

It was a beautiful day for a walk in the historic Fulton's Pond area! As usual there were plenty of people having lunch in their cars in the public parking area, strolling around, and taking in our a little gem right in the center of town...and all were showing proper social distancing! Even though there are houses and even businesses on the pond folks seem to be drawn to it. Maybe we’ll see you there soon!

PS: Facebook won’t let us post both photos and videos, so if you’d like to see some videos, check us out on Instagram!

Spanish Influenza (1918)Last year we wrote an article on the Spanish Influenza of 1918-19.  We have resisted posting it ...
03/28/2020

Spanish Influenza (1918)
Last year we wrote an article on the Spanish Influenza of 1918-19. We have resisted posting it again. We were not sure if readers would want to revisit that pandemic at this time. However, when profiling the “Our Daily Bread” food pantry on Channel 4 last night, WBZ’s Paula Ebben mentioned that the Congregational Church was used as a field hospital during the Spanish Flu, an example of how ordinary people pulled together then as they are now. How true. Our forebears pulled through that freighting outbreak together, and we will do the same now. So here is our article once again. Be well everyone!

THE SPANISH INFLUENZA

In the autumn of 1918, World War I was nearing an end. But few were prepared for the next crisis that was about kill more people globally than the war itself: the Spanish Influenza.
A horrific flu strain that was incorrectly associated with Spain, the “Spanish Influenza” killed over 20 million people worldwide in a six-month span, far more than the war did (11.9 million) over four years. In the United States 600,000 lives were lost, and in Massachusetts the death toll was 22,000.
And sadly, Mansfield was no exception. From the outbreak in late September 1918 through the following February, 44 Mansfield residents died of the flu. The town was in crisis mode from late September until the first week of November, when the worst of the epidemic subsided. Death by Spanish Flu was horrible, and there was great fear over such a virulent outbreak. Fortunately there was also considerable cooperation to see the crisis through.
The first death by Spanish Influenza in Mansfield occurred on September 24, when John Malloy of Chauncy Street, a 20-year old employee of the S.W. Card Manufacturing Company passed away. By then the town was beginning to mobilize against the flu. That same day the public schools were closed and would not reopen for an entire month. Local factories were decimated by a lack of workers. To prevent further spread of the disease the Board of Selectman soon banned all public meetings and ordered all funerals private.
And a string of sad stories began. Among them was Gussie Hanaford, also of Chauncy Street, whose husband and mother both succumbed to the flu within a span of two hours. There was Mrs. George Lameraux, a wife and mother of seven. Florence White, 34 years old, followed two days later by her husband Charles, 38. Several children and infants were lost, including a six-year old boy and twin 17-day old girls. Five Mansfield servicemen died by Spanish Flu while serving in the war.
Our local doctors made endless house calls. There were far too many cases for them to handle, so the town established a “Community Hospital” at the Congregational Church. Miss O’Rourke, a Red Cross nurse from Lowell, was appointed to run the hospital. Selectman William P. McDermott secured the services of two female doctors, a Dr. Bruce and Dr. Benedict of New York and New Jersey respectively. The hospital was opened for five weeks, treated 146 patients, and suffered 15 deaths. A “Community Kitchen” was also established at the Methodist Church for families that were sick and unable to cook.
The Community Hospital was considered such a success that a committee was appointed to consider a permanent hospital in Mansfield, but in the end no such action was taken. The influenza crisis subsided in the first week of November, and the next week great joy arrived in the form of the Armistice that ended World War I. Nine more influenza deaths hit Mansfield through February 1919 when the strain finally disappeared and the frightening episode faded into history.

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53 Rumford Ave
Mansfield, MA
02048

Telephone

(508) 339-8793

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Do you collect cardboard pictures from early 20th century or late 1800's? I inherited some from my grandparents but our family doesnt know anyone. We dont want to toss them. Any suggestions? Thank you .
No car? No problem! Get the perfect car to earn in through Lyft. Apply to drive with an Express Drive rental car in Boston using my link (terms apply):
I would like to invite people to a new group, Historical Homes, Mansfield and the surrounding area. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2572684112859852/members/
This is the 1962-1963 Mansfield Hornets boys varsity basketball team photo in the Mansfield News from Thursday February 14th, 1963
This is an article in the Mansfield News from Thursday February 11th, 1960 and it is initial plans for a proposed shopping center with a supermarket and six stores on Route 106 in Mansfield between Art's Atlantic Station and Gloria Colombo hall on Chauncy Street was presented to the Mansfield Board of Selectmen
This is a pair of articles in the Mansfield News and Foxboro Reporter from Thursday February 12th, 1959 and it is 61 years ago tomorrow on Tuesday February 10th, 1959 that 800 people attended a hearing at Attleboro High School for the proposed Interstate 95 route from the Rhode Island/Massachusetts line all the way up to Route 128 in Canton and this was a map of the proposed Interstate 95 from Attleboro to Foxboro and in Mansfield, South Street and Grove Street were cut off by the new interstate 95 and none of Mansfield's officials were in attendance at that hearing while officials from Attleboro and North Attleboro protested that the road would create Dead ends at Local Streets by the proposed Interstate 95 and also it cut a path through a dairy farm owned by Jack Schultz
While searching memories 💗
Here are photos from the MHS database
I am writing an article and need a photo of Jennie Copeland and or her parents. Can someone post here ?
Does anyone have a photo of Jennie Copeland you could post here? I am writing an article on her.
Thanks Kevin for chatting today at the Fall Festival at Fulton Pond.
Greetings from the Jewelry City Steampunk Festival in Attleboro, MA. Our festival is a day-long celebration of the industrial history of our city with a little steampunk flair! This year we have partnered with Nancy Young's The Women At Work Museum and we are seeking woman to speak to our guests about the unique contribution to industrialization in our past, present, and speak on themes to inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear from you! Please contact us via Facebook, or email: [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!