Every Thursday, the Wareham Free Library will upload new postcards from its local history collection in the Celia Epstein Stone Room. Scroll down the page to see each postcard that was posted on Facebook and our website or click a month below to see posts during that month.
Some information in our posts is courtesy of the following resources: Images of America: Wareham, Life and Times in Wareham Over 200 Years, A Brief History of Wareham, Onset and Point Independence and Glimpses of Early Wareham. If you would like to check out these materials, you can call the circulation desk or click on the book to place a digital hold through the library catalog.
|March – 2021||October – 2020|
|February – 2021||September – 2020|
|January – 2021||August – 2020|
|December – 2020||July – 2020|
|November – 2020||June – 2020|
Thursday, April 8
This week, we move to East Wareham and highlight the New Bedford and Agawam Finishing Company. These three postcards date from the early around 1910. The former site of the factory was located south where Route 6 and Route 28 intersect on Cranberry Highway. We’ve also included a 1925 survey of the factory (Note – Elm Street ran behind the factory on the right side of the map – this street no longer exists), and a present day map indicating the former location of the factory and Elm Street.
In January of 1910, the New Bedford and Agawam Finishing Company constructed a mill on the banks of the Agawam River and opened up shop a year later. It was dubbed “The Bleachery,” as it primarily functioned to complete the dying and bleaching process of cotton thread and material, coming from Page Mill in New Bedford. John W. Knowles, who helped found the Page Mill and served as its treasurer, moved to Wareham. Knowles worked as its president until he retired around 1925. The Finishing Company took full advantage of Agawam Pond and the Agawam River as a source of water for the company. It also took measures in 1912 to install a new treatment system and charcoal filter beds, so less harmful waste would discharge into the river and not affect the spring herring run.
Local history books note that nearly everyone in East Wareham was employed at the New Bedford and Agawam Finishing Company, while other workers commuted from West Wareham by train or trolley. As many as 300 men and women worked at the Bleachery. However, the factory lost workers due to World War I and it struggled to regain the momentum it enjoyed during the early part of the decade. After the factory closed in 1929, rumors were published in September of 1931 that the old factory was under negotiation to become a cannery for cranberries and herring for a firm from Vermont. This gossip was later proven to be false in a subsequent report in July of 1932 by the Board of Selectmen, who did what they could to attract new business and fill the vacant space during the Great Depression. A portion of the plant was purchased in 1937, and the remaining parts were razed. The New Bedford and Agawam Finishing Company was officially dissolved in 1939.
While the main buildings, 50,000 gallon water tower, and 135 foot smokestack from the factory no longer exist, small remnants remain in town today. For instance, Knowles Avenue (two blocks over from the former factory site – named for John W. Knowles), was where Bleachery supervisors lived with their families. Several of the homes were mail-order Sears Catalog homes with ready-to-assemble kits. It is also believed that the white building located at 2845 Cranberry Highway may have been a storehouse for the factory. Lastly, when viewing satellite images of the area, one can still make out the footprint of the main factory building, next to the Elks Club parking lot on the left hand side.
Back to Top
Thursday, April 1
Today we highlight the buildings formerly occupied by the Tremont Nail Company on Elm Street with two postcards which date from the early 1900s. Even though the buildings were owned by the Tremont Nail Company, the main buildings retained the name of the original corporation, the Parker Mills Company, through the early part of the 20th century. We’ve also posted a scanned photo with another view of the primary complex from the Centenary Catalogue, printed in 1919, and included a color postcard which dates from the 1970s or 1980s.
The original nail and rolling mill manufacturing factory was established by Issac and Jared Pratt in 1819 on the site of an old cotton mill, which was burned by the British during the War of 1812. After the Pratt operation failed in 1834, a group from New Bedford purchased the “upper dam” mill in Tihonet and the “lower dam” property on Elm Street in 1834. Shortly after the group took over the business, a fire consumed the mill and destroyed everything, except for a small shed and seven nail machines. After the fire, John Avery Parker and son continued to maintain ownership in the property in the Tihonet factory for the next seven years.
In 1845, the Parker Mills was incorporated as it included the Tihonet “upper dam” works. Three years later, the large and expansive nail factory at the “lower dam” was rebuilt on Elm Street by Parker Mills. With the arrival of the Old Colony Railroad around this same time, Parker Mills thrived through the early to mid 1850s. The company bought pig iron and scrap iron, and processed it into plates, which fed the nail machines. It is also worth noting that a large centrifugal water wheel powered the nail machines in the “lower dam” building until electricity arrived at the mill in the late 1920s. After a depression in 1857 nearly closed the plant down, Parker Mills company did well after the Civil War, but shut down for good in 1878.
Ownership changed hands a few times over the next several years, but eventually the Tremont Nail Company, established in 1858 in West Wareham, purchased the Parker Mills in 1887. By 1915, Tremont Nail was the only cut nail maker in New England, and one of 15 remaining in the US and Canada. James S. Kenyon, Sr. bought the company in 1927 and his family operated it until 1989. During much of the 20th century, the Tremont Nail Company utilized between 50-60 nail machines with the same process and equipment it had since the 1800s. After W. H. Maze Company (IL) bought the business in 1989, the Town of Wareham eventually acquired the property and leased it back to the W.H. Maze. In 2005, Maze sold Tremont Nail to Acorn Manufacturing of Mansfield, which closed the Wareham plant. Most recently within the last month, proposals have been made to redevelop the property into office space and retail establishments.
Interestingly, the Tremont Nail Company went into the fish-raising business in the 1890s, receiving authorization in 1894 to stock and take alewives, salmon and shad in both the Parker Mills and Tihonet Ponds. Tremont Nail also constructed fishways and outlets. We’ve included a fourth postcard dating from the early 1900s. This spot was known to the locals as a herring run on the Wankinco River. Workers from the factory caught fish, wrapped it in paper and placed it on furnaces, for a hot lunch. Today, one can still observe herring and other wildlife in this area as a large fish ladder helps lead migrating fish back into the Parker Mills Pond.
Back to Top
Thursday, March 25
Today, we’re going to highlight two views of Main Street looking west, 20 years apart. The first postcard is from the 1920s. On the right, you’ll notice the Decas Block and the National Bank of Wareham building, and on the left is the S.C.M Packard electrical/hardware store. Observe the trolley tracks and the elm trees in the center of the postcard. The elm trees were removed in 1929 in a near $28,000 project ($430,000 in 2021 dollars) when Main Street was widened and the trolley tracks were paved over. The town added new drains and curbs in preparation for added traffic during the summer months on Route 6.
The second postcard dates from the 1940s. It is a closer view of the Decas Block and National Bank of Wareham building on the right while S.C.M. Packard’s electrical/hardware store and Warr Theatre are on the left.
Seth Chatham Morse Packard, a local electrician, began his business at 226 Main Street around 1915, selling mainly electrical supplies, fishing tackle, paints and other hardware products. He also did electrical contracting work. In the late 1920s, Henry Lathrop joined the business, and it was known as S.C.M Packard & H.G. Lathrop through the 1940s. Packard advertised on the back cover of the 1916 directory and in several of the Wareham High School yearbooks in our collection. We’ve included both ads as the third photo in this post. Note how in the early years of his business, Packard chose to advertise in the same space as other vendors from Middleboro, New Bedford, Brockton, and Boston.
Presently, the Packard electrical/hardware store building is now Eastern Bank, and the Wareham National Bank building is where TD Bank is located downtown.
Back to Top
Thursday, March 18
Today we’re highlighting the original location of Red Men’s Hall at 174 Main Street, with a postcard of the building, shortly after it was constructed in 1912. It was situated across the street from where Cumberland Farms is today, in the area where the Woh Lun Chinese food restaurant is located. The Cromesett Tribe of the I.O.R.M., dedicated the building in the spring of 1913 as this postcard is postmarked, May 27, 1914.
Over the course of its history, the space of the Redmen’s building housed several different business and town departments. Shortly after the structure opened, the Wareham Free Library was housed on the south side of the first floor, before the George Oakes Tobey, Jr. library building was constructed on High Street in 1915. The Western Union and New England Telephone & Telegraph company also occupied the north side of the first floor from 1915 through the mid-1920s.
In 1935, the second floor on the south side of the first floor was leased to the County Commissioners, and the Wareham Police headquarters moved into the north side of the first floor where they remained until relocating to Memorial Town Hall in 1939. Soon afterwards, the Fourth District Court moved into the space on the east side of the first floor, while the Nik-Nak Shop and Mac’s Electric became the other occupants on the other side. Additional offices, a courtroom, and the court library/records were also leased on the second floor by the Fourth District Court.
On February 20, 1950, the same evening the Cromesett Tribe was celebrating its 46th anniversary, the Redmen’s building was destroyed in a catastrophic fire. While the tribe was celebrating next door at the Hidden House, embers from the fireplace landed on the roof of the property around 5 PM, and the building caught on fire. Caretaker Howard Bradley and a friend attempted to put out the fire in the attic, but failed to do so when their fire extinguishers were found to be inoperative. As the Wareham Fire Department battled the blaze for more than two hours and dealt with near freezing weather conditions, they received help from the Onset and Bourne Fire Departments. The high wind whipped sparks from the fire everywhere, that the nearby Tobey Homestead (which was a nurse’s residence at the time) caused a minor fire that was quickly extinguished by the fire department. Several firefighters were treated for frostbite and the local Red Cross disaster committee handed out hot coffee to those working to contain the conflagration.
The entire third floor was destroyed, and the second floor was gutted. Damages were estimated to be $30,000 dollars (Over $327,000 in 2021 dollars) and all of the court records – including the Massachusetts court case library – were lost in the fire. The Cromesett Tribe eventually relocated to 745 Main Street, where they continue to meet and hold functions to this day. The Wareham Board of Selectmen promptly offered the Fourth District Court space in Memorial Town Hall where they stayed for many years, before moving to their current location on Cranberry Highway, near the Middleboro town line. The Hidden House, reportedly as one of the oldest buildings in Wareham, was knocked down in the early 1970s. The building where Advanced Engine Repair is located was built on the lot in its place.
Back to Top
Thursday, March 11
We’re going to stay in the Wareham Narrows area this week by highlighting the E.K. Greer Lumber Yard company, which operated in Wareham from 1891 until it closed in 1988. The first postcard is a view of the Main Street side of the Wareham River as was probably taken from the Nicholson Bridge and dates from the early 1900s. Note the buildings to the right of the smokestack in the left center of the postcard. This is where the lumber yard was located, at the bottom of Cedar Street.
In 1891, Edwin Knowlton Greer purchased a single property adjacent to the New Bedford & Onset Street Railway Company powerhouse (Building with smokestack in first postcard). To ensure a thriving business a few years later, Greer bought out the Tobey Lumber Yard (located across the street on Main Street), to become the primary source of lumber and hardware supplies in the area.
For the first 30 years of business, lumber came from Maine and Canada on three-masted schooners, until the 1920s, when logs were transported by rail and freight. In 1927, Greer expanded the property by purchasing a retail store previously owned by Joshua Tobey in the 1850s. A second floor was added to this building and the E.K. Greer general store became the public face of the business as a builder supply house, with everything from lumber, paints, tools, and hardware. Upstairs, patrons could also find rare bolts or old equipment one couldn’t find anywhere else.
After Edwin Greer had passed away in 1935, his wife Maria Ethel continued to purchase and lease additional property, further developing the business over the next 30 years until her death in 1966 at age 94. There were as many as nine storage buildings, four trucks, and 10 employees by 1952. E.K. Greer advertised its business everywhere – including the first few pages of the Wareham Courier – and we’ve included a few of those advertisements in this post. The first is an assortment of advertisements in the 1933 Wareham Town Directory as Greer’s ad was on the top of every other page, in a different font. The second is from the 1930 edition of the Wareham High yearbook, as Greer placed ads in the yearbooks and “The Tattle Tale”, the student newspaper/magazine through the 1920s.
The second postcard dates from the mid-1980s, when the old New Bedford Onset Streetcar powerhouse was rehabilitated and became the British Landing Condominium and Yacht Club. After E.K. Greer vacated the property in 1988, it was proposed to clear the property and build condominiums, but those plans never materialized. Many of the buildings remained vacant for the next several years, until the land was eventually leveled in the spring of 2019. As recently as last week, the land has been suggested as a potential spot for a new marina.
Back to Top
Thursday, March 4
Today we’re moving across the street from the Tobey Hospital to the Nicholson Bridge at the Wareham Narrows, where the Agawam and Wankinco Rivers meet up to form the Wareham River. The first postcard is one of our oldest in the collection as we believe it dates from the late 1890s to early 1900s. The photo is an illustration from George Walker’s 1879 Atlas of Plymouth County and it was also used as the jacket cover for Raymond Riders, “Life and Times in Wareham Over 200 Years: 1739-1939,” published in 1989. Rider’s excellent historical volume can be borrowed from the library.
Before the first bridge was built in 1793 by the town, a ferry owned by Benjamin Fearing brought passengers across the Wareham River through the early 1790s. The new bridge was built with materials that were so light that horses were required to walk, not gallop, as the bridge would shake violently. With the arrival of the railroad, the Cape Cod Branch Railroad extended its line with construction of a rail bridge in the spring/summer of 1847. A second reconstruction of the bridge over the Narrows occurred in 1901 with a new steel structure built by Berlin & Company. This project was financed by the Town and the New Bedford and Onset Street Railway, which also upgraded the railroad tracks for the trolley line’s electric cars.
The second postcard is a view of the Narrows Bridge looking across the Wankinco River to the buildings along Main Street, between 1910 and 1920. If you look at near the right center of the postcard, you can clearly make out the structure of the Wareham Center train depot. The third postcard is an illustration looking across the Narrows Bridge from the other direction, moving up Route 6 towards Sandwich Road. It dates from the late 1930s or 1940s.
In both postcards, notice the gray building on the right hand side of the bridge of the black and white card, and the brown building in the illustrated card, to the left. This is Charles Anderson’s boat yard, which he established around 1906 and kept through 1938. Anderson was a renowned builder of catboats, but he also constructed vessels up to 268 feet. Anderson also built the “Alert”, which carried mail, passengers, and groceries from New Bedford to Cuttyhunk Island between 1917 to 1987. The fourth postcard shows the damage of the Hurricane of 1938 to the railroad bridge and to Anderson’s boat yard building. Anderson’s property was badly damaged as a result of the storm’s flood, and ceased operations at the boat yard.
After repairs were made to both bridges following the hurricane, the bridge was dedicated in honor of local politician David W. Nicholson in 1964. From 1925 until 1959, he served in the Mass State House of Representatives (1925-26), Mass State Senate (1926-47), as Mass State Senate President (1946-47), and US House of Representatives (1947-59). In 1989, the Nicholson Bridge was reconstructed across the Wareham River in 1989.
Back to Top
Thursday, February 24
Today we salute our nurses, doctors, health care workers, and other medical personnel who are on the front lines battling the COVID-19 pandemic. In their honor, we’re highlighting a few postcards in our collection of the Tobey Hospital. The first postcard dates from when Tobey Hospital was first constructed, the second is from around the mid 20th century (note the larger hedges and ivy growing on the brick façade), and the third postcard is a 8×5 print of a watercolor painting by Charles D. Parsons M.D., to celebrate the hospital’s 50th anniversary in 1990.
The Tobey Hospital was incorporated in 1938, and officially opened its doors on June 1, 1940. It was constructed using funds from a $250,000 bequest by Wareham resident Alice Tobey Jones.
Jones, who was the granddaughter of wealthy industrialist Joshua B. Tobey, also made the provision in her will for the hospital to be located on the Tobey Homestead property between Main and High Streets. Sources noted that Alice might have felt it was necessary to support a hospital in the area since her brother George Oates Tobey, Jr. died in 1916 after having an emergency appendectomy occuring at home with no nearby hospital. At the time, Jordan Hospital in Plymouth was 17 miles away and it was 19 miles to St Luke’s in New Bedford.
During its first year of service, the 40-bed Tobey Hospital cared for just under 1,500 patients from 122 cities from 10 states. We’ve included photos of one of the operating rooms, and the nursery when the building first opened. Tobey Hospital featured two operating rooms, x-ray facilities, kitchen, children’s ward, a laboratory, and ambulance service. Around this same time, the Tobey Homestead on Main Street was converted into a residence for nurses. The hospital’s first baby, Alice Tobey Rigazio, was born one day after the building opened, and named in honor of the institution’s benefactor.
Over the years, the hospital added the North and South wings in 1950 while increasing its capacity and establishing a new pediatric unit. In 1969, the Barth ICU unit was constructed, and in 1972, the Susanna K. Tobey Wing doubled patient capacity. Additionally, a new Emergency/Radiology wing was built in 1989. By its 50th anniversary the hospital had provided services to 3,500 inpatients, and 20,000 inpatients. In 1996, Tobey Hospital merged with Southcoast Health, joining St Luke’s in New Bedford and Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River. Most recently in 2019, the Tobey Homestead was demolished to make room for a new $25 million emergency department at the hospital, to better serve the needs of the Southeastern Massachusetts community.
Back to Top
Thursday, February 17
This week we’re highlighting postcards with a photo’s of the Fearing Tavern, one of the oldest structures in Wareham. This postcard dates from the early 1900s as it is postmarked July 1, 1909. A friend sends a note to the recipient in Assonet, noting, “We are down here on an ‘auto’ ride,” visiting another acquaintance in Marion for a few days. Note the two tall trees in front of the house of the postcard. These were in front of the main entrance for years, until they were uprooted by the Hurricane of 1938.
The Fearing Tavern was constructed around 1690 by Issac Bump, who served as the town miller as he had a grist mill nearby. The residence was close to the center of town, so it served the purpose as a public meeting place from 1690 until 1739. In 1747, Bump sold the house and 26.5 acre property to Israel Fearing I. The original building had four rooms downstairs, four rooms upstairs, and stairs leading to an attic. Benjamin Fearing, one of the five sons of Israel, inherited the property, and he enlarged it in 1765 by adding four rooms – including a taproom – while raising the attic. A third phase of construction occurred around 1800 when another two-story wing was added in the rear of the property. Around this same time, part of the building served as the town’s first Post Office.
In the early 1800s, the Fearing Tavern was located along a stagecoach route through town where a meal and lodging could be had for worn out travelers. The Tavern at the time was known then as “Benjamins House.” There was also a large barn in the rear of the property, where fresh horses could replace the tired ones on the stagecoach route. We’ve included a screenshot of the 1832 Sylvanus Bourne Map of Wareham, where the Fearing Tavern is simply marked “Inn,” south of the graveyard in the center.
Many taverns along the stagecoach route thrived until the arrival of the railroad in 1846. The house continued to stay in the Fearing family through the 1900s, as a school, the Town Offices building, more residences, and Parker Mills were constructed in the area around the Fearing Tavern. The house was gifted in 1958 to the Wareham Historical Society for preservation. The Society performed substantial renovations, and it continues to be operated to this day as a museum with revolutionary period furnishings. The last postcard dates from the mid 20th century, after the Fearing Tavern had been restored by the Wareham Historical Society. For more information about the properties of the Wareham Historical Society, click here.
Back to Top
Thursday, February 10
Last week we highlighted the original Town Hall through the late 1800s and the Town Offices building on Main Street. Today, we’re going across the street to underscore the First Congregational Church, whose narrative is closely intertwined with the early history of the Town of Wareham.
Less than three months after Wareham was incorporated as a Town on July 10, 1739, Rowland Thatcher was chosen as the Congregational Church, and later that December, the Church officially organized itself. Through the early 1800s, until the Methodist Episcopal Church assembled in 1812, the Congregational Church was the only organized religion to hold meetings in town. A house for worship and town meetings were erected in September of 1739 before a more accommodating building was constructed in 1770 near the area of the town green, on present day Main Street. The Town voted to receive the building, on the condition that it maintain it, and keep it for use of its meetings.
In 1828, a controversial decision was made to raze the second Church, in favor of building a new structure. Sources indicate the building was torn down on the same night as the contentious vote, so communicants couldn’t change their mind the next day if they wanted to keep the old Church. One year later, a $10,000 new structure was completed in May, while the town relinquished control and jurisdiction over parochial matters in the Church congregation. As pictured (See first photo), it stood on Quincy granite blocks, had four impressive doric columns at the front, and featured a 1,300 pound bell which hung from in its rafters. According to Daisy Lovell in “Glimpses of Early Wareham,” the Town paid just under $1,500 for its windows and town meetings were held here as long as the building lasted. She notes that it really was the Town Hall, “used for entertainments, lectures, and holiday features requiring a public auditorium.”
On March 30, 1904, the daughter of Rev. Noble W. Everett was burning grass in her fathers yard next door to the Church. The fire spread as it became too much to handle, and as a result it consumed a shed, Everett’s residence and the entire Church. The New Bedford Evening Standard noted all of the hymn books and bibles, some pulpit furniture, and several pews were saved. A fourth church was constructed (See second and third postcards) and it was dedicated on December 9, 1906. The postcards date from the early 1900s. Note the Everett School on the left in the second photo, which had been moved from Marion Road in 1908.
In preparation for an Easter Sunday School concert in March of 1913, a kerosene light fell from one of the big chandeliers, crashed to the floor, and the burning oil spread through the interior of the Church. Upon arrival at the scene, the fire department forced a window and confined the fire to the interior of the Church. The decision was made to remodel the Church, rather than rebuild. A cornerstone laying ceremony was held in July of 1914 to dedicate the new church and a time capsule was placed in the cornerstone. The new renovations were completed on January 2, 1916 (See fourth postcard), and it has stood undisturbed in its current location on Main Street ever since. This postcard, which includes the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the center, dates from the late 20th Century.
Back to Top
Thursday, February 3
This week we’re highlighting a postcard of our beautiful Town Hall, that was printed right around the time it was first constructed, and a photo of the Town Offices building. It opened its doors 82 years ago, yesterday. The postcard dates from the 1940s and the Town Offices photo (See second photo to the right) is from “Images of America: Wareham” book, which one can borrow from the library, or purchase.
The previous Town Offices replaced cramped quarters with the building on High Street built in 1850 (See third photo to the right), which served as a weekly meeting place for the Selectmen, and provided a bit of desk space for the Town Accountant, Town Clerk, and local constable. This single story building was located in the area of 105-113 High Street (opposite from Psychology Associates). It was later moved to 525 Main Street and a second floor was added. It is just a few houses down from the Town Offices building, across the street from the Congregational Church.
In March of 1901, the town approved $3,000 for construction of additional space for boards to meet, a public hearing room, and new offices. Before approval of the project, a few major obstacles on voting for a new building included purchase of a new fire-proof safe, a lock-up, and rooms for storing wood and coal. It opened in 1903 and with the dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors monument in 1905, greatly enhanced the Center Park area of town.
The Town Offices building was quickly overcrowded in about 25 years, and the need came up to build a new office complex for the town administration. An amount of money from the Public Works Administration (PWA) became available to help fund a new Town Hall building. Construction was started on February 10, 1938 with M.S. Kelliher of Boston as the contractor and William G. Upham the architect. It was built with an auditorium to seat 806, a banquet hall in the basement, and 22 offices for every town department.
The building opened its doors less than a year later on February 3, 1939. The total cost was over $200,000, with $95,000 coming from the PWA. A dedication ceremony was held with Lt. Governor Horace Cahill, in conjunction with the Monday Club meeting. A concert was held that included singers from the community, a quartet, and the combined orchestras of the Wareham and Bourne High Schools.
Many local groups and organizations – including the scout troops – continued to meet in the old Town Offices building, as well as several boards and committees. The space is currently occupied by WCTV.
Back to Top
Thursday, January 28
We’re highlighting a few of the train stations/depots that served the area from the mid to late 1800s through the 1950s. The top and first postcard on the left depict the Wareham Village Station constructed by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1900, behind the area of the Decas Block on Main Street. Both postcards date from around the time the station was built and are postmarked, 1907 and 1909, respectively. Note the two views of the front and the back of the building.
Following the incorporation of the Cape Cod Branch Railroad in April of 1846, a 14.7 mile line for passenger and freight traffic was completed from Middleboro to Wareham just nine months later in January. The same line was extended 12.9 miles across the Narrows into Sandwich in May of 1847. These connections gave Wareham direct access to the rail lines to larger cities and towns such as Fall River, Plymouth, New Bedford, Providence, and Boston. After the Old Colony Railroad merged with the Cape Cod Railroad in 1872, it was later acquired by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad in 1893.
Regular passenger traffic lasted until 1958, with brief summer revivals in the early 1960s. The station was torn down in 1965, around the same time the NY, NH & H Railroad went bankrupt for the second time. A new station was built in Wareham Village 1985 to service the Amtrak Cape Codder service from 1986 to 1996. Since 2014, the station has been a stop during the weekends in the summer for CapeFLYER service.
The third and fourth postcards on the right are probably from the 1950s or 1960s, but are photos that date from the early 1900s. The Parker Mills Station was behind the former Town Offices building on Main Street (currently occupied by WCTV), near present day Elm Street. The South Wareham Station was on what is now Station Street, where the railroad tracks intersect the street. Both stations were demolished and no longer exist.
Back to Top
Thursday, January 21
We’re restarting our Thursday postcard series by highlighting the Kendrick House on High Street. This postcard is postmarked from February 12, 1912, sent to a recipient in Paterson, New Jersey (Second postcard). She notes that she was currently staying at the hotel, perhaps through the summer. There is a horse and buggy moving up High Street in the distant right side of the postcard. The third, more recent photo is courtesy of the Wareham Week (Cyndi Murray).
It is believed that the Kendrick House was first constructed around 1825 by Jared Pratt. It was purchased by Ezra Thompson in the 1830s. After Thompson defaulted on his property in 1836, the property fell under the ownership of the Wareham Bank (later National Bank of Wareham), and turned into a hotel in 1845. While the house operated as a hotel, a livery stable was available for patrons 24 hours a day. Livery stable staff tended to the needs of the horses, carriage and other miscellaneous requests.
When the Tobey’s assumed control of the building as an investment property in 1870, a full wrap around porch was added, and the house was extended to the back. In 1880, the building was named the Kendrick Hotel to honor Captain John Kendrick, one of the town’s most famous residents. Under the proprietorship of the Baileys from the 1880s through the 1910s, running water was installed in 1904 and electric lights in 1910.
Following the passing of Alice Jones Tobey, the hotel property was sold to help benefit the nearby hospital in 1940. The house continued to operate as a hotel and changed hands through the years until it was purchased by Milton L. King, who converted it into a home for veterans in 1969. For over 50 years, the former hotel has continued to serve veterans.
Back to Top
Thursday, December 24
With the hustling and bustling of the holiday season in mind, we’re highlighting postcards engaged in activities around town. These postcards are newer prints of scenes from the 1930s.
The first postcard are children in a car, outside of Newman’s Men’s Store on Main Street in the 1930s. Newmans started their business in the late 1920s and was located near Center Street. Previously in this same location was J. Sadow’s, which also sold fine clothing for men and women.
The second postcard are two men standing outside of Waters Drug Store. Waters Drug Store was located where the TD Bank drive-through parking lot on Main Street. Note, there are two signs for Warr’s Theatre in the rear center, and far left of the picture, as the movie theatre was next door.
The third postcard is a delivery man, taking care of handing out groceries in the 1930s.
Back to Top
Thursday, December 17
Here are a few different views of Main Street in the early 1900s. The first postcard has a number of businesses active in town through the early 1910s. It appears as though it may have been winter or early spring when the picture was taken for the postcard as there are no leaves on the trees.
Starting from the left is the Plymouth Business School, Dora Wing’s Millinery Shop (selling hats), the Post Office (where the flag hangs), and Albert Humphrey’s Stove & Hardware. On the second floor of Dora Wing’s shop was the original location of the Wareham Free Library, before it moved to Red Men’s building in 1913. We believe the first three buildings are what existed before construction of the Decas Block in 1917.
The second postcard is postmarked on September 21, 1905. On the left hand side is F.H. Jessup’s Jewelry store, before it moved to the Waters Block, following the fire of 1906. A sign for souvenir spoons is visible, underneath the business name. This establishment also received the first permit in town to sell firearms in the 1920s. The sender writes her message in the space on the front of the postcard, asking her niece if she was feeling better following an illness, and she sends her love.
Note the trolley tracks in both photos. The stately elms going down Main Street, in the second postcard, were later removed to widen the street in 1929.
Back to Top
Thursday, December 10
Today’s postcards highlight the powerhouse and car barn of the New Bedford & Onset Street Railway Company (NB&OSR). All three postcards date from the early 1900s. The top postcard is the side profile of the building (postmarked August of 1910), the second is the front of the structure, and the third is a picture of the electric power engines.
In the 1850s-1860s, the area at the bottom of Main Street was occupied by several iron works, including the Franconia Iron & Steel Company, built in 1864. Around 1900, the NB&OSR Company purchased the land, demolished the Franconia building, and built a modern power plant to run its electric railway, along with a car stable. The brick and granite building was constructed by E.H. Kitfield of Boston, under the supervision of J.W. Bishop of Worcester. The barn was built to accommodate 40 trolley cars and (if you notice in the second postcard), 10 separate tracks led out of the barn onto Main Street. Make note of the trolley coming out of the barn in the first postcard.
Alphons Custodis Chimney Construction Company built a 130-foot, seven-foot diameter chimney to help vent the exhaust system and accommodate high temperatures/gasses being emitted from the engines. The power house contained three large condensing engines, connected to three General Electric Generators (possibly pictured in the third postcard). There was also space for a boiler room, water heaters, boiler feed pumps, and a fire pump to supply water for the sprinkler system for the car barn. It is also believed that the town got the power for its street lights from this power house.
The NB&OSR operated the streetcar line from New Bedford to Buzzards Bay, from 1901 to 1927, until the company was sold. In the late 1920s, Gateway Bus Lines leased two-thirds of the building for its buses, and A.D. Makepeace used the building for storage. During World War II, A.D. Makepeace used the structure to produce can evaporated cranberries before it was converted back to a storage warehouse until the early 1980s. A development company rehabilitated the building and created the British Landing Condominiums and Yacht Club in 1985, which is what presently occupies the building.
Back to Top
Thursday, December 3
Today we’re highlighting the Decas Block and the businesses that were in the building around the same time period of the postcards, which date from the late 1920s to the 1930s. The block was first constructed after the Decas brothers (Nicholas, Charles, and William) purchased the property from W.E.C. Warr that was destroyed in a fire in March of 1917. Starting in about 1911, the Decas Brothers had operated a fruit store next door that was also leveled by the fire.
In the 1920s and 1930s, one of the most notable businesses at the address was The Minerva, which was owned by the Decas family. It contained a candy shop and soda fountain at 223 Main Street, while also selling fresh fruit and cigars. Another business at 219 Main Street starting in the late 1920s was First National, a modern grocery store, which also had another location in Onset.
Flora Phinney, who lost most of her inventory in the 1917 fire, also operated a successful shop we believe was on the second floor which sold hats, silks, cotton and other fine materials through the 1930s. Additionally, Preston Lincoln, a lawyer, leased space on the Decas block from the 1920s through the 1930s.
Today, the Decas Block continues to stand over 100 years later as it contains the Jug Shop liquor store, Mumma Murrays Cafe, Village Beauty Connection, and other residential units. In the second postcard, to the rear of the Decas Block the building with the columns is the National Bank of Wareham, which still stands today. Across the street is Packards Hardware, presently the parking lot of Eastern Bank.
Back to Top
Thursday, November 26
Today we’re highlighting our cranberry growing industry here in Wareham. The first postcard dates from the mid 1930s as it was part of a series of scenes in a “Onset and Buzzards Bay” postcard book. The second postcard dates from the 1940s.
The cranberry industry in Wareham started in the 1860s when a bog was cultivated and constructed on White Island. In 1895, Hayden Cranberry Separator Manufacturing Company was formed, and RC Randall started a cranberry preservation factory in 1898. In the 1916 town directory more than 40 growers of cranberries were listed.
Presently, around 13,300 acres of commercial cranberry bogs help the Commonwealth produce 23% of the nation’s cranberries, as roughly 1,500 of those acres are grown in Wareham. Last year, Massachusetts produced 2.3 million barrels, the second highest amount to Wisconsin in the US. Out of the 400 million pounds of cranberries eaten every year, some 80 million are devoured during the week of Thanksgiving. 200 cranberries are used in every can of sauce and 4,400 cranberries comprise a gallon of cranberry juice.
Back to Top
Thursday, November 19
Today we highlight the trolley system owned by the New Bedford & Onset Street Railway, which ran from New Bedford, all the way through Main Street in Wareham, across the Narrows Bridge, down to Onset. These two postcards, which date from around 1901 to 1910, show pictures of the trolley’s which ran through Main Street of Wareham in the early part of the 20th century.
This railway was opened on Sept 5, 1901, ran a total distance of 23 miles, which was traveled from end to end, in just under an hour and a half. Fare at the time was 25 cents each way (Approx $7.50 in 2020 dollars), or 5 cents from town to town ($1.50 in 2020). In 1906, cars departed as early as 6:30 AM and service ended around 9-10 PM at night. The electricity to run the cars came from two power stations, one which was located at the site of what is now British Landing & Yacht Club on Main Street. This building also housed the train cars, as it was built to accommodate up to 40 cars.
With the emergence of the automobile in the 1920s, and decreased ridership, the company couldn’t pay off its bonds and was sold in 1927. The last trains ran their circuits on Sept 30 of that same year. In 1928, Main Street was widened, and by 1930 the trolley tracks had been removed from the center of downtown, as sidewalks and curbs were installed around the same time.
We’ve included the back of the first postcard, as the writer told the recipient they were going to Blackmore Pond for a swim. Notice on this same postcard, E.N. Thompson Emporium is on the left and the National Bank of Wareham is on the right. The location would be near the center of town.
Back to Top
Thursday, November 12
These two postcards are among the earliest photos we have in our collection of the Soldiers and Sailors monument on Park Ave. They date from around 1910, as the second has a postmark of April 3, 1911.
The monument was dedicated on April 19, 1905 and it has the names of every Wareham soldier that served, from the French & Indian War through the Spanish American War. It was built by Frederick Barnicoat of Quincy, and it depicts an artilleryman, a sailor, and infantryman. The statue cost $6,000 to build ($170,000 in 2020). The 10-inch Rodman guns and 40 shells (in front of the statue) were gifts from the US Government, under an act of Congress with help from Honorable William C. Lovering, who represented the 14th district.
This week we continue to salute the brave men and women who served the United States in not just the conflicts who appear on the plaques in this statue, but additional conflicts that have taken place afterwards in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Back to Top
Thursday, November 5
Today we’re highlighting the Odd Fellows Hall Building, which has served a variety of purposes for the Town of Wareham. The first postcard dates from 1900 to 1910 while the second one is from around 1920 to 1930.
The building was originally constructed in Maine and transported to be assembled in Wareham, with each one of the three floors built as a meeting hall. It was the original home to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Wareham. The first floor held a movie theatre and stage, and some of the first movies in town were shown here. Additionally, after the Congregational Church burned in 1828, town meetings were moved to Odd Fellow Hall until the present Town Hall was built in 1939. Lastly, after the Narrows School burned in January of 1920, 123 school children finished out the term in this building.
The building was later used as Kobrin & Davidson’s furniture store and Majestic Mattress for a time, until it was renovated with a Community Development grant around 2010. Today, the building still stands near the bottom of Chapel Street (361 Main Street), with residential units on the top floors and the bottom floor is occupied by Compassionate Health Care.
Back to Top
Thursday, October 29
Today’s postcard is E.N. Thompson’s Emporium, which was once the largest store outside of New Bedford or Brockton. It was previously on the spot where present day Pezzoli Square is located, in the center of town. The postcard dates from the early 1900s.
Customers could purchase clothing for men and women, and even shotguns. A storefront was added, to serve as a shop and the sidewalk was a place where people could socialize. Observe the horse trough in the center of the postcard, which was erected in memory of Edward Bangs, a citizen. The house in the back on the right side of the card belonged to a Dr. Sawyer and was blown up to stop the fire of 1906.
Back to Top
Thursday, October 22
We’re highlighting the Post Office downtown, which celebrates its 80th birthday this year. It was dedicated on Feb 22, 1940, and replaced the previous post office which was located where the Jug Shop is. An exuberant military parade was held that started at Town Hall, proceeding down Marion Road to High Street, moving onto Center Street before finishing on Main Street. According to the Wareham Courier it included three bands and a banquet for 600 was held at Town Hall later that evening.
The first postcard is a busy view of Main Street in the early 1940s. We’ve included the back, postmarked July 8, 1942 as a friend openly asks the recipient in California, “This is the Main Street in Wareham – Does it look anything like Hollywood Boulevard?”
The second postcard also dates from the 1940s and has a view of the Post Office and the Makepeace Building, which is where the current Gaf Engineering firm is located.
Back to Top
Thursday, October 15
On December 11-12, 1906, Main Street in Wareham suffered a fire that consumed eight buildings and caused over $32,000 worth of damage (Over $900,000 in 2020 dollars). A few of the structures destroyed were the A. D. Makepeace mansion, the Waters Drug Store, and the Boston Meat Supply Company store and barn. Calls of help were placed to neighboring towns from the second floor of the burning Waters building, which was where the telephone company was located. The fire led to the creation of the Wareham Fire District, with a fire and water department, which held its first meeting on January 28, 1907.
Out of the ashes of the fire came a newly constructed Waters’ Block, pictured in the first postcard, dating from the 1920s to the 1930s. You can make out the sign of a “Hook & Ladder Company #1” next door on the right, the location of the first fire station constructed downtown. In the 1916 town directory (also pictured), listed Waters as a druggist/newsdealer, Fred Jessup a jeweler, James Kiernan as a lawyer/justice of the peace, and Fleishman Co. as a yeast seller.
The Waters Block was eventually torn down. It’s previous location is now the TD Bank drive through and parking lot at 242 Main Street.
Back to Top
Thursday, October 8
Today we’re highlighting the Warr Theatre on Main Street, which was built and operated by W.E.C Warr until it was acquired by B and Q Theatres in Feb of 1947. The first postcard dates from the 1930s and the second postcard is from the 1920s. The building on the right is Waters Drug Store, which owned Waters Block. As noted in the book Images of America: Wareham – “Both buildings were the center of social activity in town for many years.”
The Warr Theatre opened in 1916 with 650 seats and a stage that measured 25 by 20 feet. The architect was Merle Barnes. Warr also operated the Colonial Casino, in Onset, and Colonial Hall. In addition to movies and plays, the theatre hosted Wareham High School graduation from 1932 to 1937.
The buildings on Waters Block were eventually torn down. It’s previous location is now the TD Bank drive through and parking lot at 242 Main Street.
Back to Top
Thursday, October 1
Today we highlight the Pilgrim Memorial School as this postcard dates from around the 1920s. You can visibly see a Ford Model T in the middle of the left hand side of the photo. The pictured inlay was embedded on either side of the building and it reads, “This tablet is placed to commemorate the tercentenary of the landing of the Pilgrims 1620-1920. Do not basely relinquish What the Fathers with difficulty attained.” The last sentence is a loose translation of what is written in Latin on former Governor of Plymouth Colony William Bradford’s headstone in Plymouth.
Following the fire at the Narrows School on High Street in January of 1920 and facing a consistent problem of overcrowding of the town’s schools, $130,000 was appropriated at a town meeting later that August to borrow a sum for construction for a new school. The Pilgrim School was built with 10 classrooms and an auditorium by Schwartz Brothers. Unfortunately on July 7, 1966, the school caught fire during a summer renovation project, and was completely destroyed.
The site of the school was used as a neighborhood playground and tennis courts before the town decided to construct a new library in the late 1980s. The Wareham Free Library at its current location on 59 Marion Road opened its doors on May 6, 1991. The pictured inlay is located in an alcove on the right hand side as you come up the parking lot of the library.
Back to Top
Thursday, September 24
The Public Grammar School in this postcard was the Narrows School (or School House No. 4) on High Street. This three-room wooden schoolhouse was rebuilt on the site of the old one for a sum of $5,400 and it opened for classes in the fall of 1892. It was built to accommodate 180 children. This postcard dates from around 1900 to 1915.
On January 7, 1920, an overheated furnace caused a two-alarm fire, during the school’s afternoon session, and the entire structure was destroyed. 116 school children and three teachers evacuated the building. According to the School Committee in the Town’s Annual Report, “the only articles saved were the piano, Victrola, one settee, a very few books and several tons of coal.” The children were relocated to the Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street, which served as a temporary school.
The New Bedford Standard commended the firemen who saved the nearby St Patrick’s Church from catching on fire. The building pictured in the rear was eventually moved back around the same time a new church was constructed in 1940. Today that building is used as a parish hall.
Back to Top
Thursday, September 17
As our students begin their school year, we continue to highlight postcards from our collection with schools. Today, we underscore the Everett School, named for Noble Warren Everett in the 1920s, a descendant of the third minister of the Congregational Church who served on the Wareham School Committee in for 25 years while also serving as its chairman. This postcard dates from around the year 1900.
The Everett School was constructed at 48 Marion Road and opened in September of 1890 to replace the High School, which had burned in 1889. Within 10 years the new school became overcrowded and this building was moved to its current location at 15 Gibbs Avenue in 1908, and a new high school was constructed in its place (currently the Multi-Service center). The building was renovated in the 1920s and used as a K-3 elementary school until 1980. In recent years, it has been used for school department offices and an alternative school, but it is currently vacant.
Note the current building no longer has the steeple pictured in the postcard.
Second picture courtesy of Wareham Week – Nick Walecka
Back to Top
Thursday, September 10
As our local students get ready to begin their new school year, we’re highlighting one of the many locations of Wareham High School. The postmark date of the postcard is Dec 11, 1909.
This building was constructed in 1908 as $35,000 was raised for its construction on the land of Gerard C. Tobey. It contained nine classrooms and built 2.5 stories high. In 1932, for a sum of $40,000, four rooms were added as well as a gymnasium. A new furnace was also installed around the same time. Eventually, two new high schools were built in the last century to meet the growing needs of the town. The first was constructed in 1950 (currently Wareham Middle School), and the second, its present location, opened its doors in 1991.
The building in the postcard is still standing on Marion Road as it is the current Multi-Service center, housing several town offices, and the Council on Aging Department.
Back to Top
Thursday, September 3
Today we highlight two shots of some of the pond/river scenery in town. The first is a postcard from the 1920s or 1930s. We believe it’s a view of the Wareham River close to the Narrows, near one of the Cape Cod Shipbuilding yards. You can faintly make out a building in the middle of the photograph and a dock on the left hand side.
The second dates from the early 1920s. It’s a nice black and white shot of Mill Pond when West Wareham
Back to Top
Thursday, August 27
As the summer days of August wind down, we bring you a few postcards from the Onset Beach. Both postcards date from the 1930s to the 1940s.
In 1923, the Onset Women’s Club instituted free swimming lessons. In its first year 482 children learned to swim. Over its first four years, more than 5,000 were taught how to swim during daily afternoon lessons. You can see the one-story lifeguard tower in the center of the second postcard, which was erected in 1924.
During the year 1942 with WWII in full swing, the Onset Bay Vacation Committee heavily advertised in several periodicals, including the New York Times, promoting the area with “white sandy beach, water temp 72 degrees, dancing, bathing, boating, fishing, tennis, theaters, golf, excellent drinking water, large shade trees, seashore and country, and landlocked bay.”
Text courtesy of the book Onset and Point Independence
Back to Top
Thursday, August 20
Today we highlight the Union Villa, which was once a popular hotel in downtown Onset around the turn of the century. The first postcard dates from the early 1900s, while the second dates from the 1930s-40s. Notice the different colors of paint and trim of the house between the two photos roughly 30-40 years apart.
Built in 1885, the 20-room Union Villa featured a dining room as well as private bathrooms. Electric bells and fire escapes were added in 1896. One could purchase ice cream in the dining room, where a 50 cent fish/meat shore dinner was served. It was one of the first hotels in the area to serve patrons year-round.
The present day Union Villa building houses several condo units.
Back to Top
Thursday, August 13
Here are two postcards from around 1910 of gatherings at the Onset Bay View Grove. The first postcard includes people listening to a band (playing in the rear of the postcard) and the second are cars lined up near the Grove, enjoying the green space.
In the 1880s, a Barnstable Patriot correspondent wrote of the Onset Bay Grove: “There is no more attractive place on the Southern Shore of this State than Onset Bay and its vicinity…The points, and the bluffs, and knobs; the bay sand coves and indentations; the sheltering woodlands and inviting shores, make up a fullness and completeness of things enjoyable and enticing.”
Text courtesy of the book Onset and Point Independence
Back to Top
Thursday, August 6
Here are three postcards depicting the damage following the Hurricane of 1938, which struck New England on September 21. The first is a cottage that was leveled at Swifts Beach, the second a boat beached on an unidentified part of Wareham, and the third is a boat that was deposited onto the bottom of Onset Ave.
The Hurricane of 1938 caused more than $1 million in property damage ($18.5 million in 2020 dollars) while washing away 325 houses and leaving 400 people homeless. Water rose to a level of 12 feet on Main Street, 10 acres of Swifts Beach was washed away, and numerous boats were destroyed.
Back to Top
Thursday, July 30
Check out these beach scene postcards dating from the 1920s of Swifts Beach. Note the rounded corners on the first postcard.
The beach is the former site of Asa & Hallet Swift’s farm where salt was produced, mostly to feed livestock year round. Salt was evaporated by boiling large wooden vats of sea water. Salt making was a profitable business during the Revolutionary times through the mid 1820s.
Back to Top
Thursday, July 23
Today, we highlight two different shots of Point Independence Bridge – an older postcard from around 1910 of two wooden bridges and a second postcard of the newer concrete bridge built over 100 years ago in 1914, which still stands today. The latter postcard dates from the late 1930s to the early 1940s.
The first wooden pile bridge was built between 1889-90 before a second wooden trolley bridge was constructed in 1901. Both wooden bridges were demolished and replaced by a three-span, reinforced concrete bridge for a cost of $40,000. The first trolley crossed the new bridge on July 1, 1914. This bridge helped connect Onset with Point Independence by automobile while helping open up Cape Cod to development following the end of World War I.
Back to Top
Thursday, July 16
Today we highlight Wicket Island, one of the most picturesque islands in Onset Bay, at day and night. Both postcards are from the early 1920s.
After the Great Gale of 1815, historian Daisy Lovell in “Early Glimpses of Wareham” noted that a portion of the island eroded, and it contained Native American burials, which were later reburied. A mansion was built on its grounds in 1882 and was used by various residents as a summer vacation home until the 1960s.
Today, the Buzzards Bay Coalition is in the process of restoring Wicket Island as a recreational area (https://bit.ly/3ecRcAO).
Back to Top
Thursday, July 9
Here are a couple of beach scene postcards from the 1940s of Pinehurst Beach and Parkwood Beach to get us in the mood for the summer.
Back to Top
Thursday, July 2
In honor of Fourth of July weekend, this is a postcard from around 1911, several years after the dedication of the Soldiers Monument at Park Street on April 19, 1905. #ThrowbackThursday
For more info on the history of this monument – https://bit.ly/2YdHTMn.
Back to Top
Thursday, June 25
Check out this neat postcard of Main Street going south dating from sometime in the 1930s.
The building on the right was the National Bank of Wareham, established in 1833 until it merged with First Bristol County National Bank in 1980. The 600-plus seat Warr Theatre, which opened in 1916, is on the left.
Back to Top
Thursday, June 18
Every Thursday we will start posting a photo from the Celia Epstein Stone Research Room postcard collection. #ThrowbackThursday
Today’s picture is the home of the Wareham Free Library from 1916 through 1991 at 76 High Street. This building gifted from Blanche Waterman Tobey in memory of her son, George Oakes Tobey, Jr. who had died in 1915. The postcard dates from the 1920s.
For more information about the history of the library click here.
Back to Top