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.

November – 2020August – 2020
October – 2020July – 2020
September – 2020June – 2020

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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