WHITMAN — After nearly two years of work, Whitman now has a home for its memories.
The new Whitman Historical Museum officially re-opened Saturday, Oct. 19, as several of the historical society members who have worked tirelessly on re-establishing the space to house the memorabilia were present. They held a private opening Thursday, Oct. 3, and then again Saturday at the public opening.
John Campbell, 77, president of the Whitman Historical Society, Natalie Powell a longtime Whitman resident and Eunice McSweeney were just some of the members who worked on the exhibits for immeasurable amounts of time to document, label and organize the displays of hundreds of items.
Campbell was mid-sentence during a guided tour when longtime resident Ara Manoogian, who moved to Whitman in 1949, handed him photos of a former dairy barn.
The presentation was exciting and spurred immediate conversation in the room regarding the content and the details in the image. It was a photo circa 1920 of the Pleasant View Dairy, with its original milk room and barn intact, located on Plymouth Street near Pleasant Street. There were several dairy farms in town over the years. Peaceful Meadows, an ice cream shop that entices visitors from all over the South Shore is one of the businesses highlighted on the “now and then” timeline.
Receiving memorabilia is the norm for Campbell and members. There is not always a high monetary value to an article, he said, but added that they always carry a priceless memory. They intend to display and protect each item.
Their cumulative goal is to create a place which educates others by cradling the memories, keepsakes and treasures.
The project of getting the museum ready and re-established for Campbell, who once owned the Bostonian Shoe Museum in early 2000, was both a passion and a necessity. He knew that there was a need to share Whitman’s history.
“There is more to Whitman than just its shoe history,” he said.
Campbell stopped and reminisced with friends and residents, some who have since moved, but grew up in town. There were discussions at each corner of the building. Guests stopped to read various framed accounts on each walls in the entry to the building. A factory-style hallway was adorned with details on Whitman’s Town Hall, the facts on the largest fires, and in another room the old wooden sign from the Dyer School is hung from a beam.
The format of rooms included amazingly minute details covering the walls to the quite obvious concrete piece — a now retired, paint peeled fire-breathing dragon from King’s Castle Land. Numerous items evoked childhood memories such as the King’s Castle replica and the shops that families frequented to purchase their necessities, clothing, or even penny candy. There are countless items in the front reading room overflowing with books containing newspaper clippings and images as well as rows of decades-old school yearbooks uniforms, brochures, menus, old baskets from the Cavicchi’s market just to name a few.
One family from Hanson brought their visiting son and daughter in-law to see the museum. The couple, who now resides in Philadelphia, were included in conversation which multiplied from wall to wall as other visitors shared their own memories with the ‘sight-seers’.
Bob Milk formerly of Auburn Street saw the event on Facebook and allowed for his scheduled visit from Arizona to include the museum. The former Spellman student said his sister graduated from Whitman-Hanson in the 1970s. His father Robert Milk was on the school board in the late 1960s.
He was happy that he could take in the opening on his trip to Whitman, he said.
The museum is housed adjacent to Harding Print at 15 Colebrook Blvd. It is open to the public and organizations wishing to have group tours.
Inquiries can be made by contacting Harding Print at 781-447-3941.
In their recent invitation which was shared regarding the open house event the Whitman Historical Society provided a statement of intent for generations to come.
The Whitman Historical Society is a not-for–profit educational institute. Its mission shall be to preserve the past, present and future history of the town of Whitman, and its residents through acquisition and preservation. A great emphasis will be placed on education to acquaint present and future generations with those who have passed.