Sundaes on Sunday

Sundaes on Sunday- to be held on the Middleborough Historical Museum grounds (Jackson St.) July 20 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. rain or shine.  Ice cream sundaes: $5 for adults (12 and older), $3 for children (4 to 11) and free for (3 and younger).  Also available: bake sale, soda and water.  Once again there will be a raffle table with winners announce at the end of the event.

This fund raiser will have free entertainment.  Paramusia, a duo of guitar and flute player as well as vocalist will play eclectic mix of music from pop to folk to oldies.  Mike McKeon will again provide free twisty balloons for children.  This event is a fund raiser to support the museum.

Donations for the raffle table and bake sale would be appreciated.  Call me (Cynthia at 508-947-3394 for drop off.

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Maxim Motor Company Anniversary

Middleborough Historical Association presents the 100th Anniversary
for the  founding of the Maxim Motor Company
Saturday, June 21, 2014 (rain or shine) 1-3:30pm
Middleborough Historical Museum, 18 Jackson Street
Open to the public – free admission
Schedule – Maxim Motor Company Celebration
1:15 pm – Program “Maxim Motor Co.” with Howard Smith author of two books about the Maxim Co.
2:15 pm – Chat Time (former Maxim employees/families
2:30 pm – Walking Tour of Maxim Buildings OR Video – “History of Firefighting”
3:00 pm – Anniversary Cake Cutting
Ongoing during the afternoon
Display of Maxim Fire Trucks
Exhibit – Maxim Motor Company
Display – Bates School Fire 1954 (60 years ago)
Three Factories Fire 1974 (40 years ago)
Some Museum Buildings Open
Children’s Activities
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REVOLUTIONARY

AUTHOR ALEX MEYERS TO SPEAK ABOUT HIS DEBORAH SAMPSON-BASED NOVEL, REVOLUTIONARY  , AT THE MIDDLEBOROUGH PUBLIC LIBRARY

MIDDLEBOROUGH, MA (April 28, 2014) – First-time novelist Alex Myers will be the guest of the Middleborough Historical Association on Saturday, May 10, and will speak about one of our town’s own — Deborah Sampson. The young woman, who disguised herself as a man and joined the continental army in 1782, is the subject of his new book,  Revolutionary. Through the genre of historical fiction, Myers brings Sampson alive during her days in Middleborough and her time serving in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment. Myers will be speaking at the Middleborough Public Library at 1:00 p.m. 

In 1782, during the final clashes of the Revolutionary War, a valiant and beloved soldier was, secretly, a woman.  When Deborah Sampson, living in Middleborough at the time,  disguised herself as a man and joined the Continental Army, she wasn’t just fighting for America’s independence – she was fighting for her own.  Revolutionary, Myers’ richly imagined and meticulously researched debut novel, brings the true story of Sampson’s struggle against a rigid colonial society back to life – and with it, the courage, hope, fear and heartbreak that  shaped her journey through a country’s violent birth.

After years as an indentured servant, chafing under the oppressive norms of colonial America, Sampson couldn’t contain her discontent any longer.  When a sudden crisis forced her hand, she decided to finally make her escape.  Embracing the peril and promise of the unknown, she cut her hair, bound her chest and, stealing clothes from a neighbor, rechristened herself Robert Shurtliff. It was a desperate, dangerous and complicated deception, and became only more so when she enlisted in the Continental Army.

What followed was an inspiring, one-of-a-kind journey through an America torn apart by war: brutal winters and battlefields, the trauma of combat and the cruelty of betrayal, the joy of true love and the tragedy of heartbreak.  Myers, himself, a descendant of Sampson, takes full advantage of this real-life heroin’s unique voice to celebrate the struggles for freedom.

The New York Times writes, “This is a bona fide and unforgettable Revolutionary War novel…[An] approachable, imaginative novel, a tale of muskets and masquerade, of marches and mutiny, that is also as an evocative portrayal of life in the Continental Army…Remarkable.”

 

Myers, a writer and teacher, was born and grew up in Paris, Maine.  He was raised as a girl (Alice) and left Maine to attend boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy.  While attending Exeter, he came out as transgender.  After attending three years as a woman, he returned for his senior year as a man, the first transgender student in the history of the school.  He earned a bachelor’s degree at Harvard University where he also was the first openly transgender student, working to change the university’s nondiscrimination clause to include gender identity  After receiving a master’s degree from Brown University, Myers pursued a career as a secondary school English teacher. He also completed a master’s of fine arts in fiction writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he began his work on Revolutionary.  He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two cats.

The event is free and open to the public. 

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Red Sox Event

Presentation1

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Middleborough Historical Association Program

The Spring meeting of the Middleborough Historical Association, Inc. will be held on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 at 1:00 PM in the lower level meeting room of the Middleboro Public Library.

 

Celebrating the opening of the 2014 baseball season, Middleboro resident Paul Lazarovich will put on his Red Sox shirt and cap and present a program entitled “Fenway Park and The Boston Red Sox.

A professor of communications with Wentworth Institute of Technology, Lazarovich is known in the Cranberry Country area for his long-running Cranberry Country Journal local cable television program. During summer months he worked for the Red Sox as one of their initial Tour Guides, later working with the team’s promotions and marketing activities.

“It was while working for the Sox that I developed this presentation,” said Lazarovich.

The lively presentation begins with the early years of professional baseball played by the Boston boys of summer at the Huntington Avenue Field (now Northeastern University) to the first game played at their new Fenway Park site, up to the 2004 World Series.

A Boston native, Lazarovich brings his love of the team and the park to stories and facts from his research, along with remembrances such as buying grandstand tickets as a kid for seventy-five cents, working for the Sox at the 99’ All Star Game and the 2004 World Series and going inside the Green Monster for the first time.

 

The meeting is free and open to the public. Any questions, please call President Cynthia McNair at 508-947-3394.

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Women of the Civil War

Middleborough Historical Association to Present Program: Women of the Civil War

As our nation continues to remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a special program is planned by the MHA. Women’s efforts were significantly important in war zones and in the home front. Exactly what did women do to help support the soldiers and their home community? Jo Ann Clay will present an informative program: “The Role of Women in the North and the South during the War Between the States” on Saturday, February 22 at the Middleboro Public Library’s lower level Meeting Room. The program which will start at 1 p.m. is appropriate for all ages and is free to the public.

JoAnn Clay recently moved to Middleboro from Virginia, and is now a MHA director. For the past twenty-five years, she has done genealogy and historic work in Virginia and North Carolina. She has even traced her own family lineage to a Jamestown settler of 1607! Ms. Clay is past president of the Pickett-Buchanan Chapter : United Daughters of the Confederacy of Norfolk and recipient of the Jefferson Davis Medal. Her experience included working as a docent at historic Fort Norfolk. Ms. Clay is a published historical writer and has contributed information for two historical books.

Light refreshments will be served, and there will be a table with interesting items for sale. The library is handicapped accessible.

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Middleborough sees culture as key to future

When it comes to the future of downtown Middleborough, local and business leaders have had a united vision: a thriving town center packed with arts, history, shopping, food, and fun things to do.
Now town officials are taking steps to get there by asking the state to designate Middleborough Center as a cultural district, a label they believe would boost tourism, trigger economic revival, and, basically, put the state’s second-largest town on the map.
The assets are all there, said Jane Kudcey, director of the town’s Office of Economic and Community Development, who has petitioned the Massachusetts Cultural Council for grants and technical assistance to complete the application.
“Designating a district would highlight the positive aspects of downtown, establish it as a place to go, and give it its own identity,’’ Kudcey said. “We have a lot going on.”

In place since March, the Massachusetts Cultural Districts Initiative allows cities and towns to add the designation as a way to promote arts and cultural activities, stimulate new offerings, and attract creative businesses.

There are 19 established cultural districts and 45 others in the pipeline, said the state program’s manager, Meri Jenkins.
“We are brand new, so I think that’s pretty good going,’’ Jenkins said. “In Massachusetts, we are blessed with an extraordinary amount of cultural assets, which give people the framework to develop their identity.”
Communities that want the designation need cultural assets clustered in a compact, walkable area, Jenkins said. There must be a partnership with residents, businesses, and arts groups willing to put in the time and effort to develop the district, hold a series of public meetings, and gain approval from local officials.
“It’s a proactive, can-do agenda,’’ Jenkins said. “People really have to be stewards of their own vision.”
In Easton, the Shovel Town Cultural District has sponsored galas, exhibitions, and holiday events since its launch.
Middleborough Selectwoman Leilani Dalpe, who is also an opera singer, has been working to establish the town as a tourism destination.
Creating a cultural district would shine an additional spotlight on the community’s established attractions, she said, such as the Burt Wood School for the Performing Arts, the Alley Theater, the Rachel Park Dance Studio, the Massasoit Community College campus, the downtown historic district with centuries-old homes and buildings, and spaces in public places — from the Middleborough Public Library to the Town Hall ballroom — where events are regularly held.
Middleborough recently launched lantern-illuminated ghost tours downtown, and in the spring plans to debut a new multiple-day Herring Festival, Dalpe said.
The Robbins Museum of Archeology on Jackson Street is foremost in collections of Native American artifacts, she said, and the nearby Middleborough Historical Museum boasts varied collections, including memorabilia of General Tom Thumb.
Once Middleborough acquires the designation, Dalpe said, “we will be eligible to apply for funding for things like the Adams art program, cultural facilities grants, and help in organizing many activities throughout the year.’’
The community has been trying to reinvent itself for some time, said Judy Bigelow-Costa, president of Middleborough on the Move, a business advocacy group.
“Like many struggling towns throughout the country, it becomes necessary to think outside the box and find a way to draw people in,’’ she said.
It is an achieveable goal, Bigelow-Costa said. Imagine a movie theater with a fine restaurant in the center of town, she said, hearkening back to the days when stores stayed open late, unlike today “when the sidewalks roll up at 5 p.m,” and historic buildings renovated to house cultural activities.
It could be a place where students, the elderly, and others feel comfortable going downtown to see ballet, listen to music, catch a movie, have an ice cream, dine with wine, and then stroll along the sidewalks window-shopping and spending money, she said.
The overall transformation is possible with the state’s help, and a commitment by residents and others to shop and dine locally and seek out local entertainment, Bigelow-Costa said.
“In doing so, newer opportunities will come along to feed off the new designs and new population,” she said.
Once a district is in place, the community would work to attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage new businesses and jobs, establish tourist destinations, and preserve and reuse historic buildings — all ways to enhance property values and foster local development, according to the state council’s website.
Middleborough business owner Lorna Brunelle said she would welcome the designation.
Brunelle opened the Burt Wood School of Performing Arts in 1995, and the Alley Theatre in 2010. Response was so good that the theater was booked for 30 weekends a year within a month of opening, she said, and the numbers have only gone up since then.
Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at michelebolton@live.com.

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Historian to speak on the world tour of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Thumb

MIDDLEBORO — The annual membership meeting of the Middleborough Historical Association will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. at Lorenzo’s Italian Restaurant on West Grove Street (Rte. 28).

The program will feature Eric Lehman, who is an historian, travel writer and the director of creative writing at the University of Bridgeport, Conn. His essays, stories, and reviews have been published in dozens of journals, newspapers and magazines. He is the author of numerous books about the Nutmeg State.

Mr. Lehman’s new book, “Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P.T. Barnum and the Dawn of American Celebrity,” is the first academic biography of this iconic American entertainer and will be available for purchase at the program. Mr. Lehman’s talk will include the three-year world tour of Tom and Lavinia, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Thumb, which started just a few weeks after the Golden Spike was driven uniting rail service west to east. From San Francisco, the famous couple and troupe performed in Japan, China, Australia, India, Egypt, Italy and England and met emperors and dignitaries including Queen Victoria.

Many artifacts from this tour are on display at the Middleborough Historical Museum.

Lunch is “Lorenzo’s Famous Hot & Cold Buffet.” Cost for the buffet lunch is $20. Those planning to attend should make reservations by this Saturday by mailing a check to M.H.A.,P O Box 304, Middleboro, MA 02346. Those who wish to attend just the program should plan to arrive by 2:30 p.m. The program is open to the public, however non-members who wish to attend are asked to make a $5 donation. For any questions, call Cynthia at 508-947-3394.

This program is partially funded by a grant from the Middleboro Cultural Council.

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Middleboro town meeting to vote on CPA funds

By Eileen Reece

Posted Sep 24, 2013 @ 06:00 AM

When special town meeting meets on Oct. 7, voters will be asked to approve Community Preservation Funds for the preservation of the historic Oliver Homestead, the purchase of the 103-acre Lion’s Head property, preservation of historic town records and to provide climate control for two Historical Museum buildings.

The Oliver Homestead on Plymouth Street, an 18th-century estate associated with the historic Oliver Mill Park on Route 44 in Middleboro, is for sale and the town hopes to entice a perspective buyer to preserve it.

“It is one of the most significant private homes in town,” CPA Chairwoman Jane Lopes told selectmen this week.

The Oliver Homestead was built by Judge Oliver for his son ,who was married to the colonial governor’s daughter. It is situated on a sprawling 50 acres which abuts the Nemasket River, explained Lopes.

“We would like, as a town, to help preserve this property,” said Lopes noting that the current owners who are selling the property are descendants of Judge Oliver.

Town meeting will also be asked to appropriate $15,000 from the Community Preservation Fund for a historic and archeological inventory of the Oliver house, grounds and outbuildings.

Once the inventory is complete, the CPA would then seek additional funding to help determine a value for placing conservation and preservation restrictions on the property.

The purchase price of the property would be reduced by the value of these restrictions if the new owners agreed to preserve the property, Lopes said.

Articles 19, 20, and 21 seek $435,000 to purchase 103 acres on the Nemasket River referred to as “Lion’s Head.” The land would be purchased for open space and is contingent upon the Wild Lands Trusts and Land Grant funding.

“This is exactly why I supported the CPA,” said selectmen Vice-chairman Allin Frawley, who described Lion’s Head as a ‘fantastic’ property for the town to preserve with its walking trails, horseback riding and access to the Nemasket River.

The special town meeting will be asked to appropriate $156,600 from the CPA toward the purchase of Lion’s Head..

Article 17 seeks $68,509 to begin Phase II of the town’s historic and vital records preservation.

Town Clerk Alison Ferreira said many historic documents dating back to 1669 are stored in the basement and are subject to water damage and mold.

The CPA funding would provide adequate climate control, filing, storage and microfilm or digital formatting of the records for easier access.

Article 16 seeks $91,050 from CPA funds for climate control measures in two buildings owned by the Middleboro Historical Museum that contain historic town records and artifacts.

The CPA fund has a balance of $441,000, Lopes told the selectmen. The funds are obtained through a 1 percent surcharge on property taxes, with the first $100,000 value exempt.

The state matches 27 percent of the funds. Awarding of the funds requires a vote of town meeting.

The selectmen voted unanimously to support each of the CPA warrant articles.

 

 

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Boston Globe Article

Middleborough museum exhibit recalls celebrity little people

By John Laidler

August 25, 2013

In the midst of the Civil War in 1863, a large crowd turned out at Grace Church in New York City to witness the wedding of a diminutive couple, Tom Thumb of Bridgeport, Conn, and Lavinia Warren of Middleborough.

The high-profile ceremony and a hotel reception afterwards that drew 2,000 guests was one of the most celebrated episodes in the eventful career of the two dwarfs, who earned fame as performers through their association with the legendary showman P.T. Barnum.

A century and a half later, the memory of Warren and Thumb remains alive in Middleborough, where Warren grew up and where the couple — when they were not on the road — resided for a good part of their 20-year marriage.

The Middleborough Historical Association maintains a collection of clothing and other artifacts from the lives of Warren and Thumb, whose real name was Charles Stratton, and exhibits them at its Middleborough Historical Museum on Jackson Street.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the fabled wedding, the association recently had a specialist restore a dress that had belonged to Warren and is now displaying the historic garment in a special exhibit at the museum.

“Seeing it on a mannequin specially made to her proportions, you can visualize her height and what she looked like,” Dan Thompson, a member of the historical association’s board, said of the 32-inch Warren.

The black two-piece silk-and-net dress embellished with sequins was originally thought to have been worn by Warren when she and Stratton had an audience with Queen Victoria in England, a meeting that occurred either during a European tour they took shortly after the wedding or on a worldwide tour that began about six years later.

But Marie Schlag, the textile conservator who restored the dress, determined based on design that it would have been made in the 1890s.

Schlag, a Scituate resident, said that the dress was in poor condition when she began working on it, but that she and the association chose it for the restoration in part because it was more glamorous than another dress they considered.

“The other was a lovely silk embroidered dress, but it was sedate. This had a lot more flash and excitement to it,” she said.

Due to the dress’s state of disrepair, the restoration was a challenge that required the use of many different conservation techniques, said Schlag, who estimated the project took her 200 hours to complete.

“I was dealing with silk net and with sequins made of gelatin, not metal or plastic. So you really had to be very particular about how you repaired the damage,” said Schlag, who also had to use a special dry-cleaning-sponge method to clean the dress.

“It’s wonderful to see it,” Cynthia McNair, president of the historical association, said of the dress. “You can talk about how little Lavinia was, but to see the dress, it’s like she’s coming alive.”

The exhibit is located in one of two old mill houses at the museum, a seven-building complex behind the police station.

Born in 1841, Warren grew up in a longtime Middleborough family. After attending school, she left Middleborough to work as a performer on a relative’s riverboat on the Mississippi River.

Stratton was born in Bridgeport, Conn., in 1838. He vaulted into early stardom when Barnum tapped him at age 4 to perform at his American Museum in New York City. Through their affiliation, Stratton performed as General Tom Thumb during the next two decades in this country and abroad, playing the part of real and fictional characters.

Warren gained attention from her work on the Mississippi, and in 1862 Barnum recruited her to work as one of his performers. Warren and Stratton met soon after, and “it was love at first sight,” McNair said.

Their wedding on Feb. 10, 1863, was “a huge media event,” Thompson said, noting that it “put the Civil War off the front page of the newspapers.”

The spotlight on the couple continued when they traveled on to Philadelphia and then to Washington, D.C., where they were hosted at the White House by President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, and later during their European tour.

In Middleborough, the couple lived in a three-story house that they built across from the farmhouse where Warren’s family resided and an adjacent Cape where the family previously lived. McNair said all three houses remain in use as private residences today.

Stratton died in 1883, but Warren remarried two years later to “Count” Primo Magri, an Italian dwarf performer. The two resided in Middleborough but traveled with a performing troupe. Warren died in 1918 and Magri in 1919.

Thompson said that like many in Middleborough, he grew up absorbing the lore of the town’s connection to Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren. The story had a personal connection for him, because when his mother was a child her family lived in a two-family house above Warren’s nephew, Benjamin J. Bump, and his mother. Bump’s father was a brother of Warren, who was born Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump.

“Growing up, it was seen as our connection to the world of the rich and famous, celebrities,” he said of the town’s link to Stratton and Warren. “They were the stars of their time.”

Association members hope that the dress exhibit — and the colorful story of Stratton and Warren it recalls — can stimulate local residents to take a greater interest in the town’s past and explore all the museum has to offer.

“The museum focuses on life here in Middleborough and the surrounding areas as it was in the mid-1800s, and they were certainly part of that,” Thompson said.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.

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