Every other 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.

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Thursday, March 31

Today we’re going to highlight a few postcards from the Pastime Theatre and the New Onset Theatre. Both of the black & white photos in our collection are postcards dating from the 1910s or 1920s. Thanks to a recent donation, we’re able to provide two schedule cards of the New Onset Theatre from the summer of 1936.

First constructed in 1907, the Pastime Theatre was located at 21-22 Union Ave, between Union Avenue and Highland Avenue, while the New Onset Theatre popped up on Onset Ave sometime around 1916, on the opposite block between the same two streets. They were both owned by David H. Farrell, whose son Charles was a movie star. The New Onset Theatre showed the world premiere of “7th Heaven”, released in 1926 with Charles and Janet Gaynor receiving top billing. This film took home Best Director, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay at the 1st Academy Awards ceremony. Charles Farrell starred in 12 films with Gaynor as he later starred in the 1950s sitcom, “My Little Margie.” 

We’ve included screenshots of a schedule cards from the week of June 26-July, 2 and July 10-July 16 in 1936. Note the middle of the first card, highlighting a boxing match between Joe Lewis and Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium. This was a 12-round fight, where Schmeling knocked out Lewis, the first of their two famous matchups. Note the price of admission 35 cents for Adults ($7.14 in 2022 dollars), 10 cents for Children ($2.04 in 2022 dollars), and the different features like News, Cartoons, and Musicals shown at the bottom of each card, in addition to the movies. For many audiences, the TV replaced simple moving picture entertainment shown at the theaters in the 1930s and 1940s.

On the middle of the second card, “Speed,” featured James Stewart in his first starring role, was about a major car company trying to perfect a carburetor for the Indy 500. In the middle of the third card, “San Francisco” was another movie shown on the weekend of July 10-13 in 1936 as it billed big names like Clark Gable, singer Jeannette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy. This film, which was a drama set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning for Best Sound. You can check out more schedule cards from the New Onset Theatre here on MassHistory – https://bit.ly/3JSbXCI. 

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Thursday, March 17

This week we’re highlighting scenes of Onset along the beach from the early 1910s-1920s. The first postcard is an illustration of the East River looking out to Wickett’s Island, postmarked July 15, 1912. The last two date from the beginning of October 1928. We have included the back of both of them as there was an interesting story that we researched. 

Henry Lyman Covell was a retired boot salesman, who previously had a shop in the same building as the East Wareham Post Office, located at present day 34 Depot Street. Covell closed his business in the late 1910s-early 1920s due to health reasons. In 1928, he lived at 20 West Boulevard in Onset, and it appears as though he suddenly found out that his younger sister was admitted to Mass Homeopathic Hospital in Boston. 

We have three postcards sent roughly a week apart sent by Henry to his sister. The trio of illustrations were shots of the Onset shore; simple reminders of nice scenery from home. He must have purchased the postcards at a nearby souvenir stand (or he had them in his possession), went to the Post Office in downtown Onset and mailed them to his sister. Henry eventually found out that Myrtle was fine (third postcard), as he sent well wishes from himself and his wife, Alice.

Interestingly, the Mass Homeopathic Hospital practiced a pseudoscientific form of alternative medicine. Patients were sometimes treated with homeopathic dilutions made up of alcohol or distilled vinegar, shaken with insoluble solids, such as quartz or oyster shells, then weakened with lactose. Despite being the location of the first ever successful kidney removal in the US, the hospital eventually abandoned the practice of homeopathy around the same time these postcards were sent, as it merged with the Mass Memorial Hospitals in 1929. The building’s main facility is now part of the Boston University Medical Center and the BU School of Public Health.

Sadly, Henry died unexpectedly on June 31, 1931, 20 months after these postcards were sent. Myrtle, who was 18 years younger, lived out her days with her husband in East Wareham, and died in 1972, the year of her 50th anniversary with her husband Walter. Myrtle and Walter are buried in Agawam Cemetery, while Henry rests with Alice in St. Patrick’s.

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Thursday, March 3

Today we’re highlighting several views of Shell Point from the early 1900s. These three postcards date from around the turn of the century through the mid-1920s. 

Leisurely walks along the bluffs were a popular pastime among beach strollers in the early 1910s and 1920s. As the area grew into a destination, many guests at many of Onset’s hotels and lodging houses in the Post World War II era sought diversions, such as walks along the beach, which were a perfect escape from the busy reality of everyday life. Note the numerous trees along the bluffs, which today are still present, but fewer in number along Shell Point beach. Many have fallen down over the years due to the Hurricane of 1938 and Hurricane Carol in 1954. 

The first postcard is dated July 4, but we’re not sure about the year. It was probably in the 1910s or early 1920s. Mary pens a quick note back home to West Swanzey, New Hampshire, “Mariam and I are spending the Fourth here.” The second illustration is a single also highlighted in Japanese Bazaar owner George Kashimura’s postcard book, postmarked July 31, 1928. 

The third postcard is the view one would have seen from the area of the bluffs on Shell Point. It dates from the early 1910s to 1920s. One can imagine the many boats along the harbor, a gorgeous sunset, and an overcast evening in the summertime. 

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Thursday, February 17

Today we’re highlighting a postcard booklet from the late 1930s that helped promote tourism with different scenes of Onset and Buzzards Bay. Inside this booklet were 20 illustrated shots that underscored the area in and around the Cape Cod Canal. 

The first shot is the cover of the booklet that depicts the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge and the Bourne Bridge right behind it. The Railroad Bridge opened on December 29, 1935 and it currently is the second longest lift bridge in the United States. It replaced a bascule bridge that was built in 1910 to assist with rail traffic going on and coming off the Cape. This link has information/photos of the current and previous bridge – https://bit.ly/3sGvKxz. 

The second illustration is Onset Beach during the summer, if you were looking from the area of Second Street. Note the heading at the top that publicizes the “New Pier.” The Town built a new $68,000 pier in Onset, which was dedicated on July 11, 1936. If you walked down South Boulevard down to Fourth Street and looked out over the water, the third picture is what you would have seen – Wicket’s Island and boats enjoying an afternoon on Onset Bay. The fourth picture is the Dummy Bridge, with Wabun Grove in the rear part of the postcard and the houses of Slab City on the left. 

We’ve included the inside shot of a period road map of Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, before the Interstate Highway System. Route 6, Route 28, and Route 3 were the primary ways of getting to Wareham and Cape Cod, before Route 25 (present day I-495 from I-95 in Wareham to Route 24 in Raynham) was constructed in the late 1950s-1960s. 

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Thursday, February 3

Today we’re going to highlight two restaurants next door to each other that were popular in the early part of the 20th century – the Young Brothers Cafe and the Ronald Inn & Cafe. The first two postcards show Dudley Brown Square on Onset Ave. The first postcard is from the 1910s, about the same time the restaurant opened. The second postcard and most likely the third illustration of the interior of the cafe, is from the 1930s or early 1940s. The last illustration comes from George Kashimura’s postcard book we highlighted last week, which is probably from the early to mid 1920s. 

The Young Brothers opened their restaurant in the early 1910s, and it was restyled as Young Bros. Cafe in 1919.The produce and poultry served were raised on Young Brothers’ own farm on Dicks Pond, which was also advertised on postcards. The cafe was located at 2 West Central Ave, which is the building on the far right with the orange overhang in the first postcard, and the building on the far left in the second illustration. In the second black and white postcard, observe the Model T vehicles, and the patrons enjoying the day in the park, which at the time was named Flagstaff Square.

The Ronald Inn and Cafe, established in 1892, outgrew its smaller Pleasant Street location and moved to 4 West Central Ave. Up to 200 diners could be accommodated in the dining room, while additional space was provided by the screened in open-air pavilion. There were also six bedrooms that guests could stay in. The Ronald Inn heavily advertised and built up a loyal clientele, in addition to other out-of-town patrons. Both Young Brothers and the Ronald Inn offered chicken, steak, lobster, and a la carte offerings at all hours of the day. After being hit hard during the war years and rationing, the building was offered for sale in 1942. 

Both buildings still stand today, with the Young Brothers Cafe building currently occupied by a tattoo parlor and the Ronald Inn as a private residence.

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Thursday, January 27

We’re going to take a look at one of the postcard booklets from our collection that highlights several Onset scenes that date from the mid-to-late 1920s. The booklet was produced by George Kashimura, who owned a Japanese Bazaar on Onset Ave at Bullocks Block. We’re going to highlight pictures we haven’t in the past, as several have been featured before as individual postcards or directly from the booklet.

The first illustration is the cover, which has the On-I-Set Wigwam on the left and Onset beach on the right. Observe the large bath house on the right center edge of the photograph. This was the Onset Bathing Pavillion, it was constructed in 1924 with capacity to accommodate 1,000 bathers. Kashimura was a staunch supporter of promoting Onset beaches as a lifeguard and probably wanted to include a beach picture as the cover shot for the postcard book. 

The next two illustrations are of Shell Point and a view of the Point Independence Bridge. In the second postcard, you can see a view of Point Independence from across the way, and the bridge scene appears to be a lively one, as the Point Independence side is on the right and the Onset side is on the left. Take note of the tall posts along the sides of the bridge – these are probably for the electric trolley that went over the bridge through the late 1920s. The red roofed building on the right side is the Glen Cove Garage, which operated from the mid 1900s through the late 1930s. A fire occurred at this location on December 16, 1920 which consumed the garage and seven automobiles. 

The fourth illustration is a picture of the Cape Cod Canal, before it was expanded by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the mid 1930s, and the last picture is a view of Point Independence along Onset Bay all the way to Nanumett Heights along the right hand side.

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Thursday, January 20

Today we’re highlighting one of the most unique structures in Onset, the On-I-Set Wigwam. The first postcard is postmarked August 28, 1908 with the simple message that reads, “Here’s your favorite church,” sent to a recipient in Somerville, Mass. Note the view of the Onset Stand Pipe on the right hand side of the illustration, which originally sat on the top of the Waban Gove hill. The next two postcards date from the late 1910s to the early, 1920s, and the last picture is from the later part of the 20th century. 

In 1848, the On-I-Set Wigwam Workers felt the need to recognize the Native Americans (Red Men) who had occupied the area and this movement grew in intensity over time. The Wigwam Workers were a group of spiritualists who wanted to stay true to their roots of relying on communication with Native American spirits to provide readings and services. After an unsuccessful merger with the Onset Bay Grove Association in 1891, it was suggested at a meeting of directors to secure a piece of land to erect a wigwam, at Waban Gove, if possible. 

The Wigwam Workers finally decided to purchase a lot on Thirteenth Street facing Waban Park (now Cresent Park). The Wigwam was constructed with the aid of a gift of $125 from Mary Weston, one of the early presidents of the group and a director of the Harvest Moon Festival. The society was officially incorporated on October 25, 1893. At the dedication of the building in 1894, representatives of the Micmac Indians were present as they sang Native American songs while dances were also demonstrated.

The On-I-Set Wigwam itself is a tribute and a monument to the Native Americans. Spiritualists are said to have claimed Native American spirits directed them to paint the Wigwam red and to build the roof 26 feet high, so any spirit could find it. The building is 96 feet in circumference and has a seating capacity of 100-200 people. Another intent of the building was its use as a healing center. In its first year alone, the On-I-Set Wigwam attracted over 4,000 attendants to its daily meetings where many were claimed to have been cured of their ailments. 

For its 100th anniversary, the building was restored and re-shingled with 9,000 hand carved cypress shingles. It remains the oldest spiritualist summer camp in the country and it continues to hold religious services to this day. A book written about the On-I-Set Wigwam in 1904, “The Story of a Wigwam,” by Russ H. Gilbert is available for checkout by patrons. 

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Thursday, January 6

Today we’re highlighting postcards depicting the Temple Theatre and Arcade. The Theatre was at the corner of Union Avenue and Bishop Avenue (once known as Park St), while the Arcade ran along Union. These two postcards date from the early 1900s. We’ve included screenshots of the map from the 1885 Map of Onset and 1912 Sanborn Map to give you an idea of where these buildings were located.  

First built in 1885 as one of the first buildings in Onset, the Onset Spiritualist Temple was intended for spiritualist lectures and public seances, but the construction was controversial and it created a rift with the management of the Onset Bay Grove Association. When spiritualists met at this location, a medium was usually present on the large stage, as they received messages from the departed to give to the audience. In the summer these meetings were held across the street at the bandshell behind the Onset Bay Grove Association building. According to “Life and Times in Wareham” by Raymond Rider, Wigwam Workers also celebrated the “Harvest Moon Festival” within its walls. 

As spiritualism decreased in popularity, W.E.C. Warr (who owned the Warr Theatre in downtown Wareham) converted the space into a theatre for dancing, concerts, vaudeville shows, boat shows, and cinema. As noted in a 1967 Wareham Courier article, the famous Weber and Fields comedy company once performed at the Temple Theatre. We believe this space was known as the Pastime Theatre, which advertised in the 1910 through 1935 editions of the Town Directory. The Temple was later converted into a movie house known as the Cape Theatre and the structure’s unique tower was removed. 

Towards the end of the late 1960s, parking space in downtown Onset was at a premium (especially during the summer) and the Temple Theatre fell into disrepair. There was talk of rehabbing the building and creating a convention center or community theatre, but the Town seized the property by eminent domain. In the early 1970s, the Temple Theatre was demolished to create a parking lot, which is what currently occupies this space as the aptly named Temple lot. Note the building in the postcards behind the Temple Theatre, which is where tennis courts are presently. This was the Arcade which housed a roller skating rink where roller polo was popular. It is marked “Spiritualist Arcade” in the 1912 Sanborn Map screenshot. 

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Thursday, December 30

Today we’re highlighting postcards of buildings along Onset Avenue, namely the Onset Bay Grove Association (OBGA) headquarters building and the Holmes Casino. The first postcard is from between 1900 to 1910, the second postcard of Onset Avenue is postmarked July 7, 1909, and the last illustration dates from the early 1940s. (2 PM)

The “Greetings from Onset” postcard features photos of the On-I-Set Wigwam, the Dummy Bridge (and Onset Stand Pipe), and a picture of the Holmes Casino. The Holmes Casino was built in 1893 on Onset Ave by George Holmes of Brockton, on a lot to the right of the OBGA headquarters building. Initially the Holmes Casino was utilized as a restaurant, but was eventually turned into a catch-all store that sold and rented bathing suits, fishing tackle, soda, cigars, and newspapers. The Casino also held public bathing privileges in 1895 with 20 bathhouses on the beach below the bluffs. 

Many of the postcards we’ve featured in our weekly Thursday posts were printed by the Holmes Casino to sell as souvenirs for tourists. One such postcard is our second illustration which features a view of Onset Ave in front of the Holmes Casino. We’ve included a view of the area in the LJ Richards 1903 atlas to give you an idea of the location of where this area depicts. The casino is behind the elm trees on the left (center) and the Steamboat Wharf is on the right side, out of view of the postcard. The Holmes Casino was destroyed on July 21, 1921 by a fire set to cover up a robbery and was never rebuilt. 

When we were researching the exact location of the second postcard, the observation was made that the double trolley tracks turned into a single track directly in front of the Casino. Perhaps the brown trolley in the illustration hides the spot of this interchange intentionally. The double track ran directly through the center of Onset Ave up until the Onset Junction Station in East Wareham to most likely accommodate busy passenger trolley traffic. The single track ran along South Boulevard into Point Independence, up through East Wareham (near Buttermilk Bay) and into Buzzards Bay.

The Onset Bay Grove Association headquarters building was built in 1884. It was first utilized for offices by Association president H.B. Storer where Spiritualist literature was sold on the first floor and the second story room was fitted for seances. The scanned postcard shown here from the early 1940s contains the original trim of red, white, and blue. During World War II, the building served as a United Service Organization facility before it subsequently housed a Howard Johnsons, Harbor Lights restaurant, and a Dunkin’ Donuts. The first floor space is presently occupied by Quahog Republic and Guido’s Ice Cream.

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Thursday, December 23

With the hustle and the bustle of the holiday season, we’re highlighting the busy areas of Onset roughly 20 years apart in the first two postcards, Main Street of Wareham in the third postcard, and the last card is an advertisement card we believe is from the late 1870s-early 1890s. 

The scene in our first two postcards is Onset Ave in the area of Dudley Brown Square, which is on the right hand side. The first illustration comes from a photo booklet that was published by George Kashimura who operated a Japanese bazaar located on Bullocks Block, which is on the far right. Note the trolley tracks running down the street in the photograph. The second postcard is from around the late 1930s to early 1940s. Some of the businesses that existed in both postcards were Waters Ice Cream (yellow building on the left), and Young’s Restaurant (Orange trimmed building on far right). 

The third postcard from the early 1940s is Main Street looking south, as you can clearly see the Post Office and the AD Makepeace building, now occupied by Gaf Engineering, on the right. Further down the street is Waters Drug Store and the Warr Movie Theatre. Across the street, according to the 1935 Town Directory, Hurley and Buffington ran a real estate firm at 255 Main Street while there was also a hair salon named Lou’s Beauty Parlor at that same location. The Silver Dollar Restaurant was located a little further down at 259 Main Street. We think that the illustrator purposely drew the buildings closer together to fit everything in the postcard. 

The last postcard (advertisement) is of Sydney T. Robinson’s cash store that he operated from the late 1870s through the early 1890s. It reminded us of Christmas with children holding the chewing gum (or taffy) and the peppermint stick. According to the 1879 map, the store was located in the area where the Decas Block presently is. Around the early 1890s, Robinson switched careers in his early 40s and purchased farmland at the address of 144 Marion Road (Across from the Shaw’s plaza) where he became a milk farmer and a cranberry grower up until the day he died at the age of 73 in 1920.

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Thursday, December 16

Today, we highlight a few different views of the Point Independence Bridge. The first two postcards date from around 1900 to 1910 and the last two postcards are from the late 1930s to the early 1940s. Many of the houses pictured along North and South Water Street are still around today.

The first wooden pile bridge was built between 1889-90 before a second wooden trolley bridge was constructed in 1901 by the Middleboro, Wareham, & Buzzards Bay Street Railway. The second bridge was a 13-foot wide bridge. In both postcards you can visibly make out the utility pole lines for the trolleys and in the first illustration, you can see the two bridges side-by-side across the East River. The new trolley bridge helped encourage the development of Point Independence.

Both wooden bridges were demolished and replaced with a three-span, reinforced concrete bridge for a cost of $40,000 ($1,100,000 in 2021 dollars). Interestingly, work was delayed on the project when six carpenters walked out on the job following a quarrel with the superintendent of the project in March of 1914. Construction was eventually finished in June and the first trolley crossed the new 271-foot bridge on July 1. This concrete bridge connected Onset and Point Independence by automobile while helping open up Cape Cod to development following the end of World War I.

We included the back of the last postcard which was sent on Tuesday, August 12, 1941. The sender starts off the postcard by saying they have had, “one lovely week.” The postcard continues when she asks recipient Georgia Withrop of Brockton about a rain “tempest” she might have received the previous Saturday. The sender also went to “Camp Edwards on Sunday” morning which was referred to as a “great place.” The construction of Camp Edwards had been completed in January of 1941 and the sender must have been visiting friends stationed at the base in this pre-World War II postcard dated less than three months before Pearl Harbor day.

For more history on Camp Edwards check out – https://bit.ly/3DT8LTD. 

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Thursday, December 9

We’re highlighting a few postcards of Shell Point and South Boulevard in Onset this week. The first postcard is postmarked July 4, 1905 while the second dates from around 1900 to 1910. The third illustration of the boulevard is from around 1900 and the last postcard is dated August 3, 1910. 

Salt was a profitable business from the time of the American Revolution until the mid-1820s and several of them were located along the southern shores of Wareham. Some of the locations included Swifts Beach, Barney’s Point (Parkwood Beach), the east and west sides of Muddy Cove, and called “Old Pan.” Old Pan was so named for the abandoned pans that were left where they happened to lie. Starting in the 1860s, the area of Old Pan, now known as Shell Point, soon became a favorite picnic spot for children.

The view in the first postcard is the view of Shell Point from South Boulevard. The second postcard is from the walkway, looking to the left as you can make out some of the bath houses along Onset Beach and the cottages along Water Street in Point Independence. Note the message on the first postcard that reads, “Where we are now. The weather is fine – twice today. 9 hours from W(altham) by trolley.” The present day route from Onset to Waltham (via I-495, Rt 24, Rt-95) is one hour and six minutes in light highway traffic. 

The third postcard is potentially looking down from 43 South Boulevard, heading towards Onset Avenue. Observe the many elm trees that line both sides of the street and beach as there are very few of them still in existence today. The faint outlines of some of the bath houses can also be made out on the left side of the card. The last postcard is a view of South Boulevard, before it intersects with Prospect Avenue on the left side. You can make out the beach, some of the bath houses, and the street on the way up to the area of Shell Point. 

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Thursday, December 2

Today we’re returning to the area of the Onset Bluffs with three postcards from around the turn of the century. The first is postmarked, August 19, 1908, the second dates from the early 1900s, the third of the bandstand is from the late 1940s, and the fourth has a stamp with the date of August 13, 1910.

The first postcard depicts the bustling area of the Bay View Grove, where South Boulevard (bottom of Union Street) intersected with Onset Ave. At the time of this postcard, horse and buggy was still a very common way to get around, until the mass production of the automobile in the 1920s. On the left center, also observe the trolley tracks, which were part of the New Bedford & Onset Street Railway Company that was in business from 1901 through 1927. Passengers could hitch a ride into Onset from Wareham Center, Onset Junction Station in East Wareham, or the end of present day Onset Ave, near Buttermilk Bay. On the far left you can also make out the bath houses along the East River.

The second postcard depicts a view of a band concert at the bluffs, with the band behind the trees and a cluster of listeners, with their backs to the artist of the illustration. The Bay View Grove was the first parklike bluff to be developed in Onset as it was cleared of undergrowth in 1877. The various small parks that were spread on the grounds were equipped with benches which invited seating and clusters of people to enjoy the scenery, listen to a concert, or visit the beach.

The third postcard features a moonlight illustration of the bandstand and Onset Bluffs. Note the distant view of the open-air Band Shell (now known as the Lillian Gregerman Band Shell), which in reality was probably further away, as it is behind the Onset Bay Grove Association Headquarters Building. The bandstand was an early edition to the Bluffs, as it was a regular venue for concerts with bands from around the region. The bandstand was destroyed in the Hurricane of 1944, and the postcard probably depicts the one that was rebuilt a few years after the end of World War II.

In the last postcard, one can see the view of the East River looking down from the Bluffs. The illustration depicts a clear view to the end of South Water Street in Point Independence, a view of Onset Island (in top right corner), and even Nanumett Heights just beyond the dock in the left center of the card.

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Thursday, November 25

In observing today’s Thanksgiving holiday, we’re highlighting an early photo of the athletic field that has a postmark of March 24, 1911. The field was constructed when the new high school building was built in 1908. Over the years, it was a venue for many school and town activities. The present location of the athletic field in this postcard is the parking lot between the Multi-Service Center and Memorial Town Hall.

We’ve included three yearbook photos from our collection of the Wareham High School football team as we highlight their series against Bourne, which is the second oldest Cape Cod Thanksgiving rivalry. The first photo is our earliest yearbook picture of the 1941 Vikings, the second is a photo of the 1971 Wareham High football team, and the third is the 1996 squad went 9-2 overall, with future NFL linebacker Stephen Cooper playing at quarterback.

Eighty years ago on Thanksgiving (Nov 27), Wareham High finished the year 4-3 in 1941, but were blanked by a score of 12-0 by Bourne. 50 years ago (Nov 25), the 1971 team was defeated 29-14 by the Canalmen and on November 28, 1996, the Vikings were upset, 20-14.

We wish the 2021 Wareham High football team the best of luck as they try to end a two-game skid on Thanksgiving to Bourne as they kickoff at 10 AM in Wareham at Spillane Field. The Vikings hold the 58-35-1 edge in the all-time series that started in 1931. The two teams have played each other on Thanksgiving since 1934.

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Thursday, November 18

This week we return to Point Independence to highlight postcards depicting views of Water Street, along the East River. The first dates around 1910s to 1920s, the second is postmarked September 12, 1916, and the third is dated August 24, 1920.

The first postcard is a view of South Water Street, most likely drawn from the perspective of standing on the Point Independence bridge. Note the many row boats drawn into the photo and the Onset Water Company standpipe on the left side of the postcard. The other two postcards are views of the Northern side of the bridge. The third illustration has a full view of North Water Street, with the Glen Cove Hotel wharf on the bottom left side. Over time the paint colors and architecture may have changed, but some of these same houses are still around today.

As Michael Maddigan notes in his postcard history book “Onset and Point Independence”, a majority of the residential development of Point Independence occurred in the 1890s as an advertisement in August of that year noted there were fifty seashore lots with “beautifully shaded with pine and oak trees.” Many of the cottages along the seashore also tended to be larger than their cousins on the other side of the bridge in Onset. Maddigan also points out that Point Independence was also developed by residents of Brockton, partially due to the influence of Albert H. Fuller, editor of the Brockton Enterprise.

We’ve included the back of the second postcard, which depicts the simple message, “Having a great time.” This card was sent by Helen King, who was probably visiting the area in September of 1916. We found it curious that she addressed it to her fathers work place on Spring Street in Newport, RI, rather than the family home on Bliss Street. Using our Ancestry Library Edition database and Census data, we figured out that William worked as a brass finisher well into his 70s through the 1930s. Helen, who was a 25-year old teacher at the time of this postcard, started working at the Calvert School in 1912. Helen went on to work at the Calvert School – including through its merger with the Cranston School in 1930 – for 31 years.

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Thursday, November 11

In honor of Veteran’s Day, we’re posting three postcards highlighting the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Park Avenue. The first is from the late 1900s, the second is postmarked April 3, 1911, and the third is from a series of local postcards from the 1990s. 

This monument was dedicated on April 19, 1905 and it has the name of every Wareham soldier that served from the French & Indian War through the Spanish American War. The date was significant because it was the beginning of the American Revolution and when the 6th Massachusetts was attacked by a mob in Baltimore, marking the first bloodshed of the Union during the Civil War. The monument was designed, engraved, and manufactured by Frederick Barnicoat of Quincy. It was one of the largest structures the company produced. The two statues depicted at the bottom are an artilleryman and a sailor while an infantryman looks in the direction of Wareham Center. The Town paid $6,000 to build the monument, which was oer $187,000 in 2021 dollars. 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 assistance from Representative William C. Lovering, who represented the 14th district. You can learn more about this monument here – https://bit.ly/3n7NwZb. 

Note the different Congregational Churches in the background of the second and third postcards. The Church in the second postcard burned in March of 1913, but the fire was confined to the interior leaving most of the rest of the building intact. As a result, the decision to remodel the facade and it was rededicated on January 2, 1916. 

This week we continue to salute the brave men and women who served in the United States not just in the conflicts who appear on the plaques in this statue, but additional conflicts that have taken place afterward in the 20th and 21st centuries. 

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Thursday, November 4

Today we’re going to Point Independence to highlight the Point Independence Yacht Club and Nanumett Heights. The first postcard is postmarked August 12, 1913, while the other two postcards are from the late 1910s to early 1920s. 

Established in 1908, the Point Independence Yacht Club purchased land from the Hammond estate at Seventh Avenue for the location of a clubhouse. Brockton shoe manufacturer Thomas Barry was named the club’s first commodore. The original club house depicted in the first post card was built at a cost of $4,000 ($120,500 in 2021 dollars) and dedicated on July 3, 1909. Meetings of the Yacht Club were held at the Pine Tree Inn until it burned in 1964.

The Hurricane of 1938 destroyed the docks of the yacht club and the club house was turned on its foundation facing Independence Lane. Over the years, the clubhouse and docks have been rebuilt numerous times following hurricanes and fires. You can read more about the history of the Yacht Club on this page – https://bit.ly/3mEEn9Y. 

On the East side of Point Independence, large tracts on Long Neck were developed for summer residences, including Nanumett Heights with 248 lots. The easternmost portion (as depicted in both the second and third postcards), of Pilgrim Park (82 lots) and Plymouth Park, were platted in the early 1900s. This area remains a close-knit community to this day. 

We included the back of the second postcard which contains the simple message, “Having a good time.” Many of the postcards in our collection are blank or contain plain greetings, to let a family member or friend know that the recipient reached their destination safely. The recipient, Lora Berry, lived on Highland Street in Berlin, Mass, just one mile north of town center.

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Thursday, October 28

We found a few more pictures of the Onset pier area in our postcard collection. The first two photos are from around 1900 to 1910, the second photo dates from the 1920s, and the last postcard is from the mid 1950s.

The first postcard depicts the Steamboat Wharf and Onset Beach around the turn of the century. Observe the ship that is loading passengers on the wharf in the photo. You can also visibly see Point Independence from across the harbor. The building above the ship in the right center of the photo is most likely the Pine Tree Hotel. The second postcard is a close-up photo of Phillip’s Wharf which was nothing more than two floating stages measuring 45 by 12 feet and 28 feet by 18 feet, joined together and connected to Onset beach by a 112 foot gangway. It’s faint, but you can make it out alongside the Steamboat Wharf in the first postcard.

The third photo is a later photo of the Steamboat Wharf and the pier constructed by the Town of Wareham in 1917. Speed boat and Powerboat rides were popular in the 1920s as they were a novelty for most people as it was an exhilarating experience. You visibly make out advertisements for speed boat rides on both wharfs in the illustration. The template for the postcard was produced by Curt Teich & Company of Chicago, a leading postcard publisher.

The final postcard shows Kenny’s Salt Water Taffy stand and the Hotel Onset is on the right center, directly behind. During the 1938 hurricane, the stand was washed from its foundations and later returned to its site. For the next 73 years, it continued to sell taffy, fudge, and popcorn before adding a snack bar to its operation, as depicted by signs in the postcard. In 2011, Kenny’s closed and Stash’s Onset Beach restaurant took its place on the pier.

Observe the advertisements on the far right for speed boats and charter fishing cruises. We thought it was remarkable to see the similar businesses in operation roughly 30 years apart in two different postcards.

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Thursday, October 21

We’re going to highlight four postcards today showing the islands in and around Onset Harbor. All date from the early 1900s, as the first postcard was dated (never sent) May 31, 1907 and the last one is postmarked August 31, 1909. In the third postcard, on the left center of the illustration, note the view of the Steamboat Wharf (which at one time had a covering, which is pictured), and Phillips’ Wharf. We’ve included a screenshot of the 1903 Richards Atlas showing what the islands in Onset Bay looked like at the time of the postcards, before the excavation of the Cape Cod Canal.

The three islands pictured in the first postcard are (from right to left), Onset Island, Hog Island, and Wickets Island. You can also make out the three islands slightly better (as the illustration is drawn from a higher elevation) in the second postcard. In each of the postcards, observe the picturesque sailboats and rowboats. Such row boats and skiffs could be rented from various parties along the shore to provide hours of leisure activities. Cat boats and yachts advertised their availability in local publications for cruising, fishing, and sailing parties near the turn of the century.

The four postcards also pre-date the expansion of the Cape Cod Canal, which turned Hog Island and Mashnee Island into an isthmus. According to Farsons book “Cape Cod Canal”, one of the issues that the Canal posed to mariners was the approach up Buzzards Bay, with its two bends. The solution was to replace this channel with a straight one. To prevent silt deposits and cross currents from the old channel, a two-mile dyke was built and the two islands were connected to each other by a causeway. This causeway was constructed from material dredged from the new channel. Hog Island was also cut in half and Buzzards Bay was dredged deeper. We’ve included a satellite photo which show the trees of Hog Island with settled dirt and sand around it.

Presently, Onset Island is a private association island and only accessible via a small number of registered boats owned by the island’s homeowners. Approximately 50 families live on the island and most are summertime residents. “Wareham Week” published an interesting article in 2014 about the only known native islander born on Onset Island, who returned to visit (https://bit.ly/3FNabB8).


Thursday, October 14

We’re returning to the beach with four postcard shots of Onset Beach from the early 1900s. The first postcard is postmarked August 23, 1909, the second and third postcards date from July/June of 1912, and the last postcard the early 1910s.

The photograph of the first postcard is a good look of the bath houses that were along South Boulevard just after the turn of the century. Most were constructed on an ad hoc basis until a more permanent bath house was built in 1924, the Onset Bathing Pavilion. You can visibly make out the dock of Phillips’ Wharf on the left center of the picture. One can also make out the name of the closest boat to the photograph, “Marjorie.”

The second postcard is a beach illustration somewhere in Onset and the third shows a scene with the Onset Steamboat Wharf and Kenny’s Salt Water Taffy building in the top left corner. In the early 1900s, newspapers noted the clean sand, shallow depth, gradually descending bottom and water that was 10 degrees warmer than elsewhere along the Massachusetts coast. The lack of surf also made it suitable for children, as there are several pictured in both postcards.

The view in the fourth postcard is the view of Onset Ave along the bluffs. It is what one probably would have seen from the dock of the Onset Steamboat Wharf. You can make out the Hotel Onset in the left center of the postcard, and the dock for the Glen Cove Hotel on the right center. Remarkably, you can also make out some of the houses on Water Street in Point Independence, which was probably an accurate view. Take note of the long, tall grass in the first, third, and fourth postcards – much of this was uprooted by hand after World War I to make the beach look more attractive.

We’ve included the back of the second postcard sent from Alberta, to her 44-year old friend Hattie Bennett, living on Whitman Street in East Bridgewater. Oddly enough, the message is about a trip Alberta took on the weekend of June 30 1912 to Bourne.

She writes at the beginning, “Just a word to let you know that I am O.K. here at Pocasset and having a good time. Had a clambake on Basset’s Island yesterday. About 16 of us. There were 20 here (on) Saturday of the Sunday School Class. We had a great time.” The front of the card, several young girls and women enjoying the beach in Onset, probably reminded her of the pleasant weekend. She closes the card by saying, “I’ll send you a card from here (probably Onset), later on.”

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Thursday, October 7

Over the last few weeks we’ve posted postcards of the pier and Onset Beach. Within the background of several of those shots has been Wickets Island, a 4.6 acre islet in the middle of Onset Harbor, located just 1,100 feet from shore. We noticed there were a few questions about visible houses and structures on the island in those postcards. Our first postcard is dated August 11, 1915 as it was sent to Elizabeth McNaughton, whose PO box was located in Port Edwards, Wisconsin. The last three are from around the 1910s through the 1920s. 

The island was first known as Sagamore Island in the 1600s, and it was later named for Weeanucket, who signed the Agawam Purchase in 1666. In 1695, Weeanucket’s widow willed the island to her 11 children, including Nathan Weked, who later took the Christian name Wickett. Following the death of Nathan’s son Jabez (who had the last name Wicket – note the single “t”), the members of the native Webquish family took ownership and the town continued to recognize native rights to the island. The Great Gale of 1815 eroded a part of the island containing native burials. These were either washed out to sea or reburied. 

In 1828, the Town conveyed the island to Hezekiah Freeman, and it subsequently came into possession of the Hammond Family. Later in 1882, Dr. Abbie Cutter, a noted Spiritualist and “eclectic physician,” opened a Spiritual Institute and Home for the infirm on the island. A decade after Cutter’s death in 1888, the island was purchased as a summer home for Richard Ela, and his brother Dr. Walter Ela of Cambridge. The last postcard is part of a view of Point Independence that could be seen from the tower of the Cutter home. Observe the houses on the left on South Water Street and the Pine Tree Hotel in the center. The 80-ft dock in front of the Pine Tree Inn was in the harbor until a gale destroyed it in 1914.

In 1925, Dr. F.W. Murdock of Brockton acquired the island with a purchase price of $25,000 (Approx $390,000 in 2021 dollars), which included the large wooden dwelling house and other buildings from the Ela family. During prohibition, the island was rumored to have been used by rumrunners to hide liquor. Harold Pilon purchased the isle in 1959 and he restored the Cutter House, utilizing it as a summer retreat for his family. It included the large mansion, three summer cottages, and a stone pier. By the 1970s, the house was no longer used regularly and it fell prey to vandalism before burning on March 18, 1981. Previous to the suspected arson fire, there were plans to develop the property into a prime off-Cape resort, with a restaurant and bar.
Wicket’s Island was offered for sale in 1990 for $3.4 million. In 2016, the Buzzards Bay Coalition purchased the island to help develop the Onset Bay Center. Plans are in the works by the Coalition to preserve the island, and use it as a resource for both outdoor recreation and environmental education.

You can learn more about this endeavor here – https://bit.ly/3ecRcAO.

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Thursday, September 30

This week we are highlighting one of Onset’s most popular attractions – the Onset Beach! The first two postcards date from the late 1930s, the third is postmarked in 1943 and the last one was sent out in 1912.

By the 1920s, swim meets, diving exhibitions, lifesaving instruction, and drills as well as beach calisthenics were part of the summertime program at Onset Beach. The illustrators might have chosen a mid-weekday to capture each of the first three postcard scenes, as the beach doesn’t seem to be as densely populated as it would have been on the weekend. 

The Onset Bay Vacation Committee advertised heavily in periodicals, including the New York Times during the World War II era. One such 1942 ad promoted Onset’s “white sandy beach, water temp 72 degrees, dancing, bathing, boating, fishing, tennis, theatres, golf, excellent drinking water, large shade trees, seashore, and country, [and] land locked bay.” After the war, efforts were undertaken by the Onset Chamber of Commerce to improve amenities. Starting in 1947, the main beach was illuminated at night by floodlights, which remained on nightly until 11 PM.

Note the floats painted in the water in each of the first three postcards. You can make out a slide float in the center of the second illustration, and in the far right side in the third postcard. Initially, floats were simple to set up as they consisted of a floating platform with two walls. Over time, slides and diving platform floats were added. A channel was also dug behind the floats to allow for safe diving from the wooden platforms. 

The bathhouse in the last postcard is probably part of a block built in 1897. As the postcard notes, it was situated below the Bay View Grove, as it featured a wooden staircase allowing divers to descend easily into the water. The stairs also were a great vantage point for spectators to watch what was happening in the Bay. The seawall (which is visible underneath the third bathhouse from the right below the water), dates from 1896, at which time the bluff was graded. This facility was replaced in 1924 when the Onset Bathing Pavilion was built to accommodate 1,000 bathers.

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Thursday, September 23

This week we’re wrapping up our series featuring postcards of the Onset Pier. The first three postcards date from the 1940s as the first one has a postmark of August 24, 1948. The last color photograph postcard dates from the mid-1950s, includes views of the parking lot and the top of the beach. 

Two wooden wharves were replaced with a brand new steel and concrete Town Pier in 1936 for a cost of $68,000 ($1.3 million in 2021 dollars). The new pier was dedicated on July 11 before a crowd of 4,000 spectators. It was eight-times larger than the previous pier, and had parking for 400 automobiles. Three-quarters of the cost was financed by the Works Progress Administration, with the other balance coming from the Town of Wareham. 

By the 1920s and 1950s, the automobile transformed how Americans vacationed as the resort area of Onset flourished with visitors during those years. The Onset community drew a wide range of visitors from all over the region who dined, stayed in hotels, or boarding houses. To accommodate the large number of visitors, parking was provided regularly on the new Onset Pier in the 1940s.

In both the second and fourth postcards, take note of the octanol building in the center and far right of each illustration, respectively. This building still serves as the Onset harbormasters office. Also observe background views of Wickets Island in the first and fourth postcards. In the last postcard, you can make out the residence on Wickets Island before it burned in 1981.

We’ve included the back of the first postcard, which we believe was written by a 43-year old William Jervis to his neighbor Elise Schnieder, who lived across the street, in the quiet Laurel Hill area of Norwich, Connecticut. Jervis writes, “This is the life. I’ll be lazy when I get back. All eating and sleeping. Be swell. Love, Will Joe.” We believe William was on a vacation in Onset from his job at Norwich State Hospital, and enjoying himself. Elise’s husband died nine years earlier and she had remained a widower at the time of the postcard. Additionally, Elise was a sixth-grade elementary school teacher. The overall tone and closing of the note suggests a close friendship between the two, who continued to live across the street from each other for at least the next 20 years, as far as we can trace online.

Next week we will highlight a few postcards from Onset Beach.

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Thursday, September 16

We’re highlighting Onset Beach this week before the Onset Pier was constructed in 1936. The first postcard is postmarked on August 3, 1905 while the other two postcard illustrations are postmarked 1928 and 1930, respectively. Both the first and second postcard offer before and after views of what Onset Beach looked like 25 years apart.

Throughout much of World War I, Onset Beach had been left in its natural state, which included beach grass and rocks on the shore, and partially submerged eelgrass. Under the guidance of local organizations and the efforts of local merchant George Kashimura, the beach was improved. Observe the poles used as ties for skiffs along the water of the beach in the first postcard. These were removed and much of the grass was uprooted by hand. New floats were also installed. You can also visibly see a steamship unloading (or loading its passengers) in the upper right center of the postcard at the Onset Steamboat Wharf. 

The second postcard shows a view of Onset Beach along South Boulevard, with the wharves in the distance on the far left side, in the middle of the illustration. In 1924, a one-story lifesaving station was erected on the beach above the new municipal bath house. Next to it was a tall tower that was manned by a guard during bathing times. Note the adjoining boat shed in the third postcard. This contained a flat-bottomed boat to be used for rescues as it was staffed by the Onset Chapter of the Red Cross Life-Saving Corps. In the same year the tower and station were erected, 22 rescues from drowning were made by the Red Cross Corps while 465 were provided medical treatment. The program was so successful, that the Town of Wareham appropriated $375 to extend life saving work at Onset to the town’s other beaches. 

We included the back of the second postcard, which was postmarked on Tuesday, September 28, 1930 from Dorchester, Mass. An unknown sender writes about her trip to Boston to a friend (Addie Ireland), living in Mount Vernon, NY, which is located above the Bronx section of New York City. She opens the card suggesting they ran into terrible traffic by saying, “Landed in Boston Saturday – 8 hours on the road.” Most likely referring to Onset, almost like she’s never heard of it, but in a positive way, “Went down to this place yesterday – my sister-in-law’s vacation place.” The card concludes with a story about a dress for a possible afternoon or evening out. The tale was probably recounted in greater detail when they spoke in person, “The dress works fine, it [was] cozy…we had [the] slip on backward! Ha! Ha!” 

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Thursday, September 9

This week we’re focusing on the area of the Onset Pier between 1917 and 1936. All of these postcard illustrations date to around those years. The first postcard is postmarked August 12, 1919 while the second is actually dated August 29, 1940. We suspected that the postcard might have been old inventory still on display in a souvenir stand or it was a reproduction as the card is in very good shape. 

As noted last week, Phillips’ Landing was replaced by a second pier, which is shown on the right hand side of the first postcard. Both piers attracted throngs of motorists, who parked on public parkland. Prospect Park in 1932 was graded for a parking lot to help alleviate this situation, as you can see the parked cars on the left center of the second postcard. We believe the illustrator drew Onset Avenue and the Hotel Onset a little too close together, as in actuality the locations of the two docks were probably much farther apart. 

The third postcard is from a book of 18 scenes from around the area of Onset published by G. Kashimura, who ran a Japanese Bazaar across from Flagstaff Square (now Dudley L. Brown Square). The Ellis Speed Boat Company advertised rides from the Town Pier, while a competitor did the same from the Steamboat Wharf. A power boat ride was still a novelty for most people in the 1920s as a ride around Onset Bay was an exhilarating experience. As noted here in this postcard, Bay View Grove was a central gathering point and had a fantastic vantage point to observe boat races on the bay.

For the fourth postcard, one can make out both docks in the right center of the illustration. Take a look at some of the bath houses that lined Onset Beach in the mid 1920s. We included the back of the postcard, with Bess writing to her husband in Somerville, “We are having a great time…Going to Monument Beach in a few minutes.” Her husband Clinton back home must have been busy with his job working as an elevator operator at the Customs House in Boston (the tallest building in Boston until 1946), where he was later employed as an agricultural inspector in 1930.

We checked the weather forecast for August 28 in the Boston Globe, and the prediction for the area was a low of 67, with a high of 82 degrees. With a cloudy day with temperatures in the 70s along the coast, it must have made for a great opportunity to head across to the other side of the bay on Monument Beach in Falmouth. Our guess is that the sender was engaging in what we would call modern day beach hopping in late August.

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Thursday, September 2

We’re highlighting the Onset Steamer Dock, as these four postcards date from the early 1900s through the late 1910s. They present a view of the early waterfront before the construction of the Onset Pier in 1936.

The Onset Steamer Dock was constructed in 1878 as it was built by the Onset Bay Grove Association for use of steamboats to bring Spiritualists and day-trippers to the area. The dock was also used by coastal schooners carrying goods to and from Onset, such as lumber from Nova Scotia or bulk goods like coal. 

he sole commercial building permitted to remain on the beach by decree in 1916. Over a 100 year period, the building saw numerous owners sell taffy, fish, popcorn, and soft beverages, until the building was sold in 2011 and converted into the dining establishment, Stash’s Onset Beach restaurant in 2013. Notice the horse drawn carriage and trolley in the center of the second postcard – this is what the bottom of Onset Avenue looked like in the early 1900s.

The dock in the third postcard was built by Captain Joseph Dimmick in 1884, and it was later known as Phillips’ Landing or Phillips’ Wharf for G.H. Phillips, who purchased the operation just two years later. Phillips later conducted the business of renting rowboats and sailboats in conjunction with his boatyard in Point Independence. We’ve included a screenshot of the advertisement of this business listed in the 1903 town directory. You can also make out a schooner being unloaded in the rear left of the photo on the Onset Steamer Dock.

In the fourth postcard, you can clearly make out the area where Phillips’ dock was located to the left center. It was probably perpendicular to the area of Union Ave or Prospect Ave. In addition to faint outline of the Onset Steamer Dock in the upper right corner, one can observe several of the bath houses that might have existed on Onset Beach along South Boulevard. Phillips’ Landing was later replaced by a pier authorized in 1917. Next week we’ll take a look at several postcards from the docks in the 1920s and early 1930s.

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Thursday, August 26

We’re going to finish off the month of August with these three postcards, highlighting different hotels around Onset. The first hotel is postmarked July 5, 1906 while the last two date from the 1930s or 1940s. 

For our first postcard we’re looking at a 225-foot wharf constructed around the same time as the Pine Tree Inn, which was between 1894-95. This wharf located at the foot of Third Avenue (now Admirals Way), received steamboats virtually at the front door to the hotel and it was used as a launching off point to service Wicket’s and Onset Islands. In silver ink on the right side, the sender sent this postcard to a friend in Middleboro, writing “We’re having a lovely time.” Note the boaters in this postcard are wearing both formal and casual outfits.

The second postcard is The Eastlook (or the East Look), which was known as a lodging house under that name from 1944 probably through 1952. It was mainly operated by the Terlizzi family, of Worcester. The Eastlook was located on the corner of South Boulevard and Fourth Street. The inscription on the back of the postcard notes, “Located directly opposite Onset Beach, overlooking Buzzards Bay. Strictly high class accommodations.” Interestingly, in the yard where the flag and floral arrangement is shown, there was a house which once existed on that lot as late as 1912. We figured it must have been removed to extend the boundary of the current property. This building is now a private residence at 29 South Boulevard.

Lodging houses were common in the area of Onset and Point Independence from the mid 1930s through the early 1950s. In the Town of Wareham Annual reports, we counted just 20 lodging house licenses issued in 1930 before the numbers shot up with 66 handed out in 1935, 90 distributed in 1940, and 123 in 1945. In the years following the Christy’s gas explosion and the Ruth McGurk Murder in 1946, there were just 77 lodging house licenses issued in 1950, 54 in 1955, and 30 by 1960.

The final postcard is a photo of the Hotel Onset, which was located further down South Boulevard. This hotel was one of 14 operating in Onset around 1928. The 55 room building was eventually converted into 16 condominium units now known as Bayside Onset. On the reverse side, a one-cent George Washington stamp was attached to the back, but it was never sent. It is worth noting that we have several blank or fully written postcards in our collection that have stamps, but no postmarks. 

Next week, we will focus our attention on several postcards that cover the area of the Onset Pier and beach.

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Thursday, August 19

This week we’re including one of our most popular hotel postcards in the collection, the Pine Tree Inn. This hotel was previously located in Point Independence, at the end of Third and Fourth Avenue. The first two postcards are from the early 1900s (both are postmarked in the summer of 1908), the third is stamped in August of 1925, and the last is from the early 1930s to 1940s. The hotel operated seasonally from June 1 through October 1. At its peak, the Pine Tree Inn had 89 rooms, with two rental cottages on Third Avenue. 

While a hotel was part of the original layout plan of the community, it was not until 1894-1895 that one was constructed along the waterfront by the Point Independence Company of New York. Upon completion, the hotel was an immediate success advertising itself as the “coolest spot on the coast.” Managed in the early 1890s by Albert Shaw, the Boston Post reported that demand for lodging was so high, prospective guests were turned away. Note the second wing in the final two postcards. Along with a beach house at the bottom of the structure, this four-story brick addition was added in the 1920s. 

One of the principal attractions of the Pine Tree Inn was its 300 feet off beach frontage directly in front of the hotel. This hotel was the only lodging house in Onset which could boast this particular amenity, as most of the other hotels along the water were built above the bluffs. Fine dining was another selling point of the Pine Tree Inn as it offered fresh seafood. In the early 1920s, chef George Ferris required a hogshead of lobsters to go with 60 gallons of clam chowder for hungry diners. An advertisement in the 1925 publication “Onset the Beautiful,” notes the Pine Tree’s “Magnificent view of Bay and Islands”, “Rooms for Sea Bathers”, and “Electric Lights in Every Room.” 

We included the back of the second postcard, which appears to have been sent from a guest at the Pine Tree Inn. It is possible that this postcard might have been available at the hotel gift shop or in one of the guest rooms. The lettering on the top looks like it was written separately in gold colored ink. With the illustration on the front of four women attempting to milk an uncooperative cow, Laura (Laurie) muses to her sister Edith Chenoworth on Nantucket, “Nothing like fresh milk. Love to all.” The 19-year old resident of Boston was probably vacationing in Point Independence in July of 1908. According to our Ancestry Library Edition database, her father Charles sold furniture in Boston and he owned “Ye Old Curiosity Shop” on Pearl Street (now India Street) in Nantucket.

While the hotel survived the postwar era, it was offered for sale in May of 1960 by an owner who wished to retire. Sadly, the hotel is not around today as it burned just four years later in 1964. 

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Thursday, August 12

We’re going to continue our series on historical hotels in the Onset area. This week we are highlighting several postcards which date from the early 1900s to 1910s. 

As far as we’ve been able to figure out, the New Oracle House on Longwood Ave operated between 1910 until around 1918 with James Mulhair as the proprietor. Mulhair, the son of an Irish immigrant, moved down from Brockton after running the West Elm Cafe in prior years. Note the sign above the porch which denotes a dining room while an American Flag proudly waves in the breeze in the photograph. Around 1919, Mulhair purchased the Marcy House on nearby Prospect Ave (which we highlighted last week), and he continued to run this property through the mid 1920s. 

Crowninshield Hotel (also known as the Crown and Shield) was owned by Dr. Kate P. Crowninshield. It was later called the Auto Inn and it is located only a few doors down from the Glen Cove Hotel on Onset Ave. Kate emigrated to the United States from England in 1885 and she had a medical practice on the corner of Water Street and Main St (Onset Ave) in the summer during the early 1900s. After purchasing the Crowninshield property, Kate was the proprietor from around 1907 until her death in 1919. We took notice in the town directories that she continued to practice medicine through around 1910 at the age of 63.

We included the message on the back of the postcard, which appears to be sent from one friend to another, living in Connecticut. It is postmarked August 5, 1910. In her message the sender notes that she wanted to send a picture of the hotel she was staying at in Onset. The sender continues by writing, “This is a most delightful place and [I] am having an ideal vacation. Bowling…bathing, moving picture shows, dandy dance hall, an ideal boarding place owned by Dr. Crowninshield….A dear old lady.” The sender said she might remain in Onset for two weeks or more. 

For the last postcard, we included a beach view with the Hotel Onset in the right center of the postcard. Take notice of the numerous trees on top of the bluffs which actually hide the large hotel property. If you look closely, you can even see a few of the houses on South Water Street on the right hand side at Point Independence in the illustration. 

The building that previously housed the New Oracle Hotel is now a private residence on 49 Longwood Avenue. Under different ownership, the property formerly known as the Crowninshield is now known as the Inn on Onset Bay at 181 Onset Ave, a 24 room inn that is temporarily closed. 

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Thursday, August 5

We’re going to continue to highlight hotels in Onset this week. Each of these postcards dates from around the 1900s through the 1910s. In 1928 as many as 18 hotels operated in Wareham, with 15 in Onset. 

The first postcard we are highlighting is the Marcy House on Prospect Avenue, first established by Charles D. Marcy of Boston in the late 1800s. It included a dining room which hosted numerous functions over the years. Beginning in 1934, the hotel was rebranded as the New Prospect Inn – a 30-room lodging. We included the back of this postcard, which is dated September 12, 1913. The sender writes to a friend in Cambridge that she “arrived safe and sound,” stopping to stay at the Marcy House. Tomorrow she is hoping to “get a chance to look around in the daylight better.” 

The second postcard is the Washburn House, located on Longwood Avenue opposite Longwood Park, between second and third streets. The hotel was operated by a Mr. Washburn from Brant Rock in Marshfield, and the hotel was expanded in 1885. Unlike some of the more transient hotels who stayed for a few days, the Washburn House attracted more long-term guests. The building was transformed in the 1920s into the Longwood Garden Hotel which featured a ballroom with hot and cold showers in all rooms. In advertisements, the hotel boasted about a delicatessen and bakery near the third street entrance. The postcard is postmarked August 7, 1913. 

The Hotel Onset was Onset’s first hotel as it was constructed by the Onset Bay Grove Association with 19 rooms in 1884. Originally named the Prospect Park House on Onset Avenue. It was sold to New York tea merchant James B. Clark in 1886 and Clark expanded the hotel building while he also added swings, tennis and croquet courts. The postcard is postmarked Jan 24, 1902. 

The Marcy House Building still operates as a five-room hotel named the Onset Beach Suites on 4 Prospect Ave. The building on the right is a private residence on 6 Prospect Ave. The Washburn House still stands as an apartment complex at 56 Longwood Ave. The Hotel Onset was converted into condominiums in 1986 and is now known as the Bayside Onset at 185 Onset Ave.

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Thursday, July 29

We’re going to stick in the area of Onset Ave this week by highlighting the history of the Glen Cove Hotel with four postcards that date from around 1900 to 1910. Three of the postcards include the dock and view in front of the hotel. Even though paint colors on cottages across the water can change over time, we observed that most of the same houses depicted on South Water Street in the postcards are still around today. 

The Glen Cove House was first built by Nelson Huckins, Sr. of Brockton in 1883. Huckins also petitioned the Massachusetts Harbor and Land Commissioners to build a wharf in conjunction with the hotel. The spot of the hotel on the water quickly became popular among vacationers coming in from Boston, where patrons could also rent boats. Huckins continued to make improvements to the hotel which included granite sidewalk curbing in 1888. Initially, Huckins leased the hotel to various parties including Charlotte Ring and Mrs. A.R. Williams, who managed the property jointly with Charles A. Neal. Huckins’ son, Nelson, Jr., also operated a boat shop on nearby Ocean Avenue that burned in March of 1900 before being rebuilt. We wondered whether that served as motivation for Nelson later serving as Onset’s fire chief for several years. 

After Huckins, Sr. passed away in 1899, the family retained ownership until 1921 when it was sold to the Helides family of Taunton. In the 1940s, a cocktail lounge was built overlooking the bay. One main reason for the popularity of the Glen Cove Hotel was the section of its front beach with bath houses, where guests could rent bathing suits and other items. The 13-room Glen Cove Hotel continued to operate through the 1970s before it was advertised for sale with an asking price of $70,000 in 1974 ($385,775 in 2021 dollars). Most recently, the property sat vacant through 2012 until it was purchased by the Salerno family. After significant renovations to its rooms and lounge, the hotel opened for business again in January of 2019.

The first postcard is postmarked July 1, 1913. Note the trolley tracks that run through the center of the illustration as the trolley ran up and down Onset Avenue, across the East River into Point Independence. The sender tells her mother (who lived in Rockland) that she had been to the “pictures” or the silent movies. The movie theatre she might have referred to was the Pastime Theatre in downtown Onset, located near the corner of Union Street and Highland Ave, first built in 1907.  It was a 10 minute stroll from the Glen Cove Hotel, or a quick trolley ride up the boulevard. At the end of the postcard, the sender also describes dining in Tihonet with 20 people.

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Thursday, July 22

This afternoon we’re going to highlight a few postcards depicting the Bay View Grove area of Onset, located at Onset Avenue and South Boulevard around the turn of the century. All postcards date from the early 1900s as the third is postmarked August 2, 1909 and the last card is dated Sept, 2 1910.

The sample of postcards we’ve provided here illustrates the grounds which were equipped with small park benches and seats, inviting sitting and a gathering of people who could appreciate the scenery. The Bay View Grove was among the first areas of the parklike bluff to be developed in Onset when it was cleared in 1877. The Onset Protective League, founded in 1897, further asserted the public’s right of access following a lengthy court battle (1899-1915). The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts decreed in 1916 that the bluffs, including the Bay View Grove, were to remain forever open to public use. This led to the creation of the appointment of Parks Commissioners, who cared for the maintenance of public lands. 

We thought it was interesting to post the back of the “Lovers Lane” postcard, which could be interpreted as a subtle romantic overture from a male acquaintance named Frank to a 19-year old woman named Catherine Schraut, living in South Braintree (note the incorrect/informal spelling of the name – “Miss Kitty Schraute”). Frank writes, “Come over soon and you may get an auto ride.” While we’ll never know if Catherine ever took the gentleman up on his offer, we do know, courtesy of our Ancestry Library Edition database, that she died in 1948 having never married.

In addition to capturing a fine view of Onset Bay in the last postcard, Bertha Woodward writes to her mother-in-law, hoping for better times after dealing with a bout of neuralgia on her face and head while vacationing in Onset. The postcard was addressed to Alfred and Anne Woodward who ran a lodging house, The Ardmore at 93 High Street in Brockton. At the beginning of the postcard, Anne had written a letter to Bertha indicating she wasn’t feeling particularly well. 

Midway through the message, Bertha notes, “Ms. Swain brought her gramophone over last night and she plays some fine records. Wish you could have heard it.” The postcard suggests a close relationship as she ends with the line, “Glad you enjoyed yourself while you were here. Keep up your courage.” Both were eventually buried in the same plot in Brockton’s Melrose Cemetery, as Anne lived to be 84 in 1935 and Bertha died at the age of 87 in 1966.

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Thursday, July 8

When we posted about the Dummy Bridge on June 24, someone asked about the black and white building in the background of one of the photographs. Today we’re answering that question as we have a few postcards in our collection highlighting the Wabun Grove area, dating from the early 1900s. The first two postcards have postmarks of July and August, 1911. 

The postcard illustrations depict the houses along East Boulevard, with Wabun Grove in the rear. The houses were constructed on piles over tidewater and this area was known as Pile City, Spile City, or Slab City, as the first postcard notes. In 1913, nearby residents were concerned about access to the beach and desired to build a seawall between Glen Cove and the Dummy Bridge and opposed the construction of these houses. Nonetheless, several cottages were built and some of these same houses remain as pictured to this day. 

The wooden structure with the black top in the background was known as the Onset Stand Pipe, which no longer exists. This building was property of the Onset Water Company, which formed in 1892, as an extension to store water and help extinguish fires. The Onset Stand Pipe stored more than enough water to the village through the night, if the Sand Pond pumping station was shut down. Nowadays, smaller standpipe systems are installed in multi-story buildings to assist firefighters for manual application of water onto a fire, in addition to fire hydrants. We’ve included a screenshot of the 1912 Sanborn Map, which clearly shows the area where the Onset Stand Pipe once existed. 

Controversy ensued when the Onset Water Company refused to pay rent to the Onset Bay Grove Association in 1924 after contesting the decree that the Wabun Grove was public land. The OBGA claimed that the decree did not apply to the Onset Stand Pipe grounds. In March of 1924, the Onset Fire District voted to purchase the Onset Water Company for $85,000. It was also voted to petition the Massachusetts State Legislature to borrow money for the purchase, extension, and repairs. The Onset Fire District Annual Report of 1931 notes that a new stand pipe was installed at a cost of roughly $8,500.

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Thursday, July 1

This week we’re highlighting the Colonial Theatre and Casino, which was formerly located at the intersection of Onset Avenue and Tenth Street. This first postcard dates from the early 1900s as it is postmarked July 30, 1919. The second photo of the Theatre and Casino as pictured in Michael J. Maddigan’s postcard book, “Onset and Point Independence,” available for checkout here at the library.  

The Colonial Theatre originated as a vaudeville house in 1909, and around 1912, a two-story casino housed a 20-lane bowling alley and a second-floor Nautical Ballroom. During the swing era the Colonial attracted several marquee names which included Kay Kyser, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, Rudy Vallee, Harry James, Guy Lombardo, Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald. Other notable performers who came to the Colonial were Fats Domino, the Platters, and Jackie Wilson.

The caliber of the entertainment declined after the body of Cambridge resident Ruth McGuirk was found floating in the Green Lodge Reservoir located in nearby Carver. On the evening of July 27, 1946, McGurk, who was out with a pair of friends at the Casino, told them she was going out with a man named “Frank”. McGuirk asked her friends to wait for her, but she never returned to the boarding house. An autopsy revealed she had been dead for four days and there appeared to be evidence of strangulation. Several days after the discovery of the body, 

Onset resident Charles Russell Goodale was arrested in connection with the murder. Supposedly, he was the man identified as last dancing with Miss McGurk, and Goodale was identified at the trial having used the name “Frank” by several witnesses. In an era before DNA evidence, similar strands of hair to McGurk also turned up in Goodale’s car. Still others testified that Miss McGurk was with another man and Goodale had an alibi in the late evening hours on the night of the murder. After 12 hours of jury deliberations, Goodale was found not guilty of the charges, and the murder still remains a mystery to this day.

The Colonial Casino was the location of a near riot on August 13, 1960, following a Rock and Roll dance attended by 1,300 people. 21 local police along with state troopers from three different barracks were called to put down the disturbance. 11 were arrested and the town banned events at the venue. Three years later, the Casino was later burned in an arson fire on January 24, 1963. The space where the buildings were located is now an empty lot. We believe the illustration in the postcard has the Theatre and Casino moved up slightly, as the actual view of the buildings was set back more.

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Thursday, June 24

This week we return to Onset. We will begin to highlight a number of postcards in our collection underscoring the history of the village in the early part of the 20th century, when Onset was primarily a summer resort community. 

One of our most photographed postcards in the collection is the Dummy Bridge, which connects Main Ave with the main part of Onset and Riverside. It is between Muddy Cove and Broad Cove. The first two postcards date from the early 1900s while the third postcard is from around the 1920s. The fourth postcard dates from the 1940s when the bridge was rebuilt following the Hurricane of 1938. 

Around the time the Onset Bay Grove Association was chartered, a foot and traffic bridge connected the main land of Onset to the woodland, which is now Riverside. At the time, Onset was served by steamboat and the Old Colony Railroad, with the departure point being Gibbs Crossing. On March 31, 1877, a narrow-gauge train powered by a “dummy” engine was constructed and provided transportation from Gibbs Crossing to the Onset Bay Grove over the East River. Because there was concern that horses on the street would be frightened by escaping steam at the street level, the steam from the engine was recycled through a condenser, which was called a dummy engine. The engine on these trains was small and the passenger car held about 60 people, with a baggage car to suitcases and other freight. 

The dummy engines were in use from the early 1880s through the year 1890, and carried passengers over a double-span and steel framed truss bridge. When an electric railway was established from Wareham Narrows to Onset, a spur track was run to the Onset Junction Station in East Wareham where passengers could be picked up. As a result, the narrow gauge railroad was abandoned, but the name “Dummy Bridge” stuck. Even though the railroad discontinued use of the engines, you can still see a remnant of a rail car in the center of the bridge in the first two postcards. The bridge was eventually expanded for pedestrian traffic and later for road traffic when automobiles became popular in the mid to late 1920s.

The wooden bridge was destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938, and it was replaced the following year with a single span steel girder bridge built by Vulcan Construction and the American Bridge Company. It has been rebuilt several times over the years.

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Thursday, June 17

Two weeks ago we highlighted the Bourne Bridge and how it was constructed. Today we’re going to put up a few postcards of the Sagamore Bridge and explain more of the history of the Cape Cod Canal. The first postcard we believe is from the 1920s and postmarked July 29, 1929. The next two postcards were postmarked in the early 1940s and the aerial photograph postcard was taken in 1942. See if you can spot all three bridges in the last postcard. We needed a 10x loupe magnifying glass to find the Bourne Bridge here at the library.

There had been talk of building a canal across Cape Cod when Pilgrim settler Myles Standish first made a proposal connecting Cape Cod to Buzzards Bay. After several surveys through the 1700s conducted by the Commonwealth, several companies were granted charters and attempted to raise stock prior to the Civil War, but none of them ever put a shovel to start digging. Other companies in the latter part of the 1870s and 1890s started to build the canal, however, they all failed in their attempts. Finally, the Boston, New York, and Cape Cod Canal Company got the job done starting in 1909 before finishing in the spring of 1914 at a cost of $11 million ($294 million in 2021 dollars). The project was largely financed by August Belmont, Jr. and William Barclay Parsons was the chief engineer. When the canal opened on July 29, 1914, tolls were charged ranging from $3 for pleasure craft under 16 feet to $478 for passenger steamers. The 100-foot wide, 25-foot deep canal took two turns, which were later eliminated when the canal was expanded in the late 1930s to 540 feet across and dredged to a depth of 32 feet. 

Following the outbreak of World War I and an attack by a German u-boat in 1918 on a tugboat, just off the shore of Orleans, Mass, the US government was prompted to purchase the canal as it had significant military, industrial, and agricultural interest in doing so. Due in large part to the narrow waterway of the canal for maneuvering ships, there were 14 accidents that occurred between 1914 and 1918, with the “William Chisholm” sinking in July of 1916. As a result, passage through the canal became unpopular as many captains thought it was safer passage to go around Cape Cod. Even with reduced rates to attract boats to the canal, the Cape Cod Canal Company was looking to sell the canal, but at the right price. The US Government eventually stepped up to the plate to purchase, but the sale was held up in the courts for close to nine years due to a disagreement over a fair price. It was finally sold in 1928 at a cost of $11.5 million, with the US Army Corps of Engineers taking over operations of the canal.

Once funding was secured for three bridges along the canal to replace a trio of outdated drawbridges, the Sagamore, Bourne and railroad bridge construction began in 1933, eventually opening to traffic on June 2, 1935. The Sagamore Bridge spans 1,408 feet across the canal and it is 135 feet from the center, down to the water below. The Sagamore Bridge also cost $1,400,000 to build (over $19,5000,000 in 2021 dollars). Over the last five years, an average of over 54,400 vehicles have crossed the Sagamore Bridge every day. 

Last year, the US Army Corps of Engineers reached an agreement to replace the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges at a cost around $1.5 billion dollars. Upon completion of the project to be paid for by the Federal government, the replacements will be transferred to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Thursday, June 10

In honor of hosting “Remember Back Then” event with the Wareham Garden Club and the Wareham Historical Society this Friday and Saturday, we’re highlighting postcards of what Onset Avenue, near Dudley Brown Square, used to look like before the Christy’s Spa explosion on July 18, 1946. 

The first postcard is from our collection and it dates from the 1930s or 1940s. The second postcard is courtesy of the George Decas Collection from the Wareham Historical Society. The illustration was probably produced in the 1920s. The third photo is what the aftermath of the explosion looked like as this photo is courtesy of the New Bedford Standard Times. In the first postcard, Christy’s Spa was located in the building where the American flag is flying, in the left center.

Around 12:30 PM on July 18, bar manager Cliff Downey smelled the odor of gasoline and ordered everyone out of the building. A plumber was working in the basement and reportedly struck a pick through a gas pipe. Once the gas was turned off and the building secured 30 minutes later, some staff went back to work inside the restaurant while police continued to keep a gathering crowd away from the area. While gas had most likely filled up the basement of Christy’s Spa, the building exploded due to an unknown origin, and was lifted high into the air.

When the building landed and the dust settled, four buildings in total were destroyed, with many onlookers buried in the debris. Area buildings were shaken and several windows within three quarters of a mile went crashing to the ground. Nine people – including Christy’s Spa owner William English – were killed and over 70 people were injured in the blast. Makeshift first aid stations were set up on the street and many were transported to area hospitals by cars from stopped automobiles.

Tragically, two other victims were Guy Rizzuto and his wife, Catherine, who had opened up their fish and chips establishment next door only a month earlier, were also killed, leaving behind three children. Several years after the explosion, Buzzards Bay Gas Company and Liberty Mutual paid more than $115,000 (over 1,500,000 in 2021 dollars) to families who were killed and injured. 

The Christy’s Spa explosion is one of four key events in Wareham’s History that are being featured in our “Remember Back When” event with floral displays, historical information and a library scavenger hunt for children on Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12. The Library is also celebrating its 130th Anniversary of incorporation this year. For more information – https://bit.ly/2SSCx95

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Thursday, June 3

As the summer months approach, we are reminded of the increase in visitors and vacationers to the area of Cape Cod and the South Coast. Today we’re highlighting four postcard views of the Bourne Bridge, which date from the mid-to-late 1930s, around the same time the bridge opened for traffic. The first illustration is the cover of a postcard booklet that included 20 front/back linen graphic cards, published by the New Bedford News Company. The second two illustrations are part of 20 different views that depict the local scenery on both sides of Buzzards Bay and Onset. The fourth postcard is another view that highlights the Cape Cod canal. 

Following the US Government’s purchase of the Cape Cod Canal in 1928, the US Army Corps of Engineers initiated a series of improvements in the 1930s to replace three outdated draw bridges and widen the canal. Construction started on the Bourne Bridge in December of 1933 with funds authorized by the Public Works Administration. Contractors began laying bridge foundations as the two highway edifices were designed by Fay, Spofford, and Thorndike of Boston. Construction ended in early 1935 and opened for traffic on June 22 of the same year. It has a 616 foot main span, with a 135 foot ship clearance, and cost $1,603,585 to build ($31.2 million in 2021 dollars).

In each of the postcards, note the longer approaches to the main span, which are actually longer than those on the Sagamore Bridge. Additionally, the Bourne Bridge is 976 feet longer than its counterpart on the other side of the canal. This is due to the topography of the land, and to accommodate the widening of the canal between 1935-1940. It is also worth noting that 1,410 gallons of paint were used to cover the bridge. It was awarded by the American Institute of Steel Construction, a Class “A” Award of Merit as the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in 1934.

Last year, the US Army Corps of Engineers reached an agreement to replace the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges at a cost around $1.5 billion dollars. Upon completion of the project to be paid for by the Federal government, the replacements will be transferred to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Thursday, May 27

This week we are going to continue to highlight houses of worship around Wareham from our postcard collection. The first three postcards date from the early 1900s while the fourth postcard of St. Mary’s in Point Independence dates from the late 1920s or 1930s. 

For our first postcard, we return to High Street as we highlight the Church of the Good Shepherd, where the Episcopalians presently meet. The edifice was formerly located in West Springfield, where it was no longer needed. The Wareham Church bought it, took it apart, loaded the building onto freight cars, and it was rebuilt on its present site, with a cornerstone of Sept 20, 1883. The Tobey Family, who lived a few blocks away, made many bequests and gifts to the organization, including the land for the church. The postcard pictured does not include the stone tower, which was constructed in 1915 as a memorial to Mrs. Susanna K. Tobey. 

The second postcard was known as the Keyes Chapel and it was located near 805 Main Street. It was founded by Methodists in South Wareham. When a Methodist church was established in downtown Wareham, the chapel was sold by Burt Keyes to the Roman Catholics. The building was moved to Gault Road on land donated by Assunta Bosari, and in November of 1935 was dedicated as St. Anthony of Padua. In 1988, the chapel was enlarged and a lavatory was added.

The third postcard is a picture of the Methodist Episcopalian Church (on right) and the Spiritualist Church (on left), on Highland Ave. The Spiritualist Church was chartered by the Commonwealth in 1903. Services have continued to be held regularly at this house of worship, often with distinguished speakers. The Methodist Episcopalian Church was later sold to the Baptists when the Methodist Churches of Wareham were merged. The building was most recently occupied by the Emmanuel Assembly of God, a Pentecostal Church.  

A chapel was established in 1913 to serve the resort community of Onset by the Catholics in Point Independence, but this soon proved to be inadequate. In 1923, land was purchased near the property and construction started across the street from the chapel. Sadly, both buildings were lost in an arson fire. Boston architect Charles D. Maginnis designed the new building and it was dedicated in May of 1925, serving the community of Onset as St. Mary Star of the Sea Mission Chapel of St. Patrick’s. It later became a mission church for St. Margaret’s of Scotland Parish in Buzzards Bay. The fourth postcard was probably printed not long after the chapel had been constructed.

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Thursday, May 20

For the next few weeks, we will be highlighting several postcards in our collection which contain various churches that are around town. This week we will highlight St. Patrick’s, a Roman Catholic Church, of which we have several postcards in our collection. The first three postcards are photographs and illustrations of the original church, now the parish hall, and date from the early 1900s. The first postcard has a postmark of April 4, 1911. The fourth postcard is the current church, which was built in 1939.

The first Catholic Church in Wareham was established in 1865 when the building on High Street was purchased from the Baptists, for a sum of $3,000 (just under $50,000 in 2021 dollars). This church helped serve the needs of the Irish population, who came in great numbers to the area to work in the mills throughout town. The French also immigrated from Canada, and some settled in Wareham.

Over time, the Catholic population of the Town of Wareham continued to grow. It was also realized that the church on High Street could no longer accommodate the areas increasing summer population. After permission was secured from the Bishop to construct a new church, Father Francis D. Callahan worked with Charles D. Maginnis to design a colonial style wooden church, a nod to the Pilgrim and Puritan roots of Cape Cod and Massachusetts. Construction started in December of 1939 as Maginnis & Walsh served as the architectural company. Pews were donated by friends of the Parish, while the sanctuary features a painted depiction of the crucifixion by Bernard M. Keyes, an artist whose portrait and sportsman art appears in several museums around New England.

To make the space for the new church, the old one was moved back 100 yards, the steeple was removed, and it was converted into a parish hall. Construction on the new church (pictured in the fourth postcard), was finished in the fall of 1940. A dedication was held on December 8 of that year, with Bishop James E. Cassidy as the celebrant. The church was filled to capacity with congregants, priests, religious leaders, and laity from all around the Diocese of Fall River for the ceremony.

The school in the second postcard is the former three-room Narrows School (District School No. 4), which burned down on January 7, 1920. The New Bedford Standard noted that the firemen did an excellent job of containing the fire, otherwise the church may have also fallen victim to the flames. The residence to the immediate left of the current church was the Silas T.S. Hathaway estate, and purchased in 1940. Following its renovation, it was converted into a residence for three nuns, and called the “Saint Patrick’s Cenacle.”

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Thursday, May 13

With spring on our minds, and nicer weather ahead, we decided to highlight three postcards with river scenes, all dating from the early 1900s. 

We believe the first postcard is a view looking up the Wareham River towards the direction of the Tremont Nail Factory (called Parker Mills until the 1920s), pictured in the left center. US Geological Survey maps tell us that buildings didn’t appear on the other side of the river until the 1930s, so it is very possible that the houses on the right of the map were drawn into the illustration, to make it more visually appealing. 

The second postcard is a photo from the Tremont Nail Factory, looking back down the Wareham River towards Wareham Center, which you can see in the distance in the center. The note with “Best Wishes” on the back to an address in Manchester, New Hampshire, is dated on Nov 10, 1908.

The third postcard, we believe, might be near the Narrows Railroad bridge on the Sandwich Road side. You can see railroad tracks on the left center part of the illustration. It has a postmark of July 29, 1910. 

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Thursday, May 6

This week we are continuing to highlight buildings and industry in East Wareham. We have two postcards from the early 1900s of the Squirrel Nest Inn, an image from a pamphlet published around 1919, and an advertisement in the 1919 town directory. We’re also going to highlight the interesting life of Samuel Tisdale, who owned the Agawam Nail Factory and the Glen Charlie Mill. The inn was previously located in the area where the Graphic Sign Company and other private residences are today, off Old Glen Charlie Road. 

This property was built around 1720 by Squire Israel Fearing, who helped incorporate the town with the Agawam Purchase. Fearing also owned a grist mill, which later became the site for the Agawam Nail Factory. Around 1750, the house was known as “Deacon Swift’s Inn”, where farmers, hunters, fishermen gathered to drink New England rum and molasses. It was purchased by Daniel Savery around 1825 along with the original Agawam Iron Works property, located at the bottom of Mill Pond, off present day Cranberry Highway. Savery refused to sell alcohol at the tavern, and when the iron mill business failed, he sold the house and iron works to Tisdale. Savery was so opposed to alcohol that he had an 8×8 foot sign hanging 18 feet above the door of the inn that read, “No Ardent Spirits Sold Here.” 

Tisdale, born in Taunton in 1802, and in his early years he was a clerk for Lazell, Perkins Company of Bridgewater. He came to Wareham at the age of 21, and was a clerk for Isaac and Jared Pratt’s nail factory on the Wankinco River. Tisdale moved to New York City and became a successful merchant. With his profits and continued interest in the New York mercantile business, he established the Agawam Nail Company in 1836, and the Agawam Nail Works three years later, after the first building burned down. Tisdale built a second mill in the area of Maple Park (off Glen Charlie Road) for a cost of $30,000. The Agawam Nail Works ran successfully until his death on December 31, 1869. 

Tisdale was very well liked by the local community as he invested large sums of money in the East Wareham village, building homes for workers, boarding houses, and encouraged many poor children to attend school. Without these investments, the town of East Wareham most likely would never have developed. Near his death, he estimated that he had given away roughly $500,000 of his own wealth (Just under $10,000,000 in 2021 dollars). Last week we highlighted a postcard with some of the houses that Tisdale constructed for his workers. Along with neighbor Stephen Burgess, Tisdale personally planted over 200 elm trees to enhance the streets and lanes all around town. Many of these Elm trees disappeared because Dutch elm tree disease that ravaged the area in the 1920s or were removed on Main Street (in Wareham Center) when the street was widened. 

Tisdale turned the inn into his private residence while retaining the tavern portion as his own sportsman den. Tisdale was visited by many prominent national figures, including Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz, lawyer Rufus Choate, naturalist Jefferies Wyman, and the famous orator Daniel Webster. These visitors would often stay at Tisdale’s lodging to hunt, fish, or talk politics. Savery, who was involved with the group, Tisdale, Webster and Agazzi developed a successful scheme to import bass and raise them in nearby Flax Pond. Tisdale continued to keep his New York City residence, which later became the site for what is presently Delmonico’s. 

In 1895, Charles C. Billings refitted the building for use as a tavern as it was then named the Squirrel Nest Inn. Billings ran the business for eight years, until he converted it into a private residence. Philip Rogler of New Bedford took over the property in 1912, and he made it into a wayside inn before Cornelius J. Duggan of Holbrook purchased the property. Sadly, a fire destroyed his historic property in June of 1923.

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Thursday, April 29

This week we’re highlighting two separate scenes of Mill Pond in East Wareham, which is geographically located to the west of Glen Charlie Road, running from Cranberry Highway on the eastern side, and Maple Springs Road on the western end. Both postcards date from the early 1900s, as the first depicts a simple water scene on the pond. Mill Pond is part of the Agawam River stream, a well-known herring run that runs from Halfway Pond on the eastern side of Myles Standish State Park all the way down to the Wareham River, near the center of town. This body of water is also called Agawam Pond.  

We don’t want to confuse this tributary with Parker Mill Pond, which is to the north of Wareham Center. Maps from the 1879 George Walker atlas and 1903 LJ Richards Atlas (pictured below) refer to Mill Pond as “Iron Work’s Pond”, most likely named for the nail and rolling factories that operated between 1836 to 1871. The Agawam Nail Company was one such company and the Glen Charlie Mill (located near the area of Maple Park), both owned and operated by Samuel Tisdale. The Agawam Nail Company was situated near the intersection of Route 6 and Route 28, as Cranberry Highway was then known as Main Street. 

The front of the second postcard is looking west across the dam, with Main Street (Cranberry Highway) running on the left side of the photo. The house on the right was a boarding house built by Tisdale for his employees who worked at the Agawam Nail Company. Tisdale also built 20 to 30 smaller two-story homes for working class families, which are pictured in the background of the postcard, as the area was referred to as “Littletown.” Today, only a few buildings remain along Cranberry Highway, near Atlantic Boats and Garden Homes. 

We’ve included the back of the second postcard, which is postmarked, May 21, 1913 and simply says, “Arrived O.K.” Sending postcards with safe salutations was a common practice, as it was an inexpensive means of sending a quick communication, rather than a telegram or long-distance phone call. We have several blank postcards and quick messages in our collection. From 1898 from 1952, the postage rate to send a postcard was 1 cent, with brief raises to 2 cents during WWI and the mid 1920s.

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Thursday, April 22

Today we’re highlighting the railroad station in East Wareham or Agawam Station, more commonly known as the Onset Junction Station. All three postcards date from the early 1900s, as the first postcard is most likely a rear view of the building. The last postcard has a postmark of August 3, 1908. We’ve included a photo of the message on the back of a wife (Jennie) describing a lovely weekend and travel plans back to her husband, Alton, who was living in Waltham. She was spending the weekend in the area with her mother in law, a friend and her parents. Using our Ancestry Library Edition database, we determined that Alton and Jennie enjoyed a marriage of almost 50 years, until Alton passed away in 1938.

The Cape Cod Branch Railroad began its service to Wareham in 1848, before extending its service to Agawam a short time later. The station in East Wareham served as the Cape Cods main rail destination until the Sandwich line was completed. This depot replaced a previous one, which had been located on the north side of the track. Around 1900, the Onset Junction Station was moved from behind the old Ocean Spray complex on Cranberry Highway to its present location. 

Trolley’s could pull directly into the station area on a spur line to pick up passengers whose destination was Onset Village. Several trains per day would be met by carriages, trolleys and soon automobiles, which waited to sweep visitors to area hotels and beaches. In a very busy area, the train depot employed its own telegrapher, freight agent, and baggage handlers while encouraging local vendors to sell newspapers and snacks to passengers. The station also housed East Wareham’s first post office, until it relocated to 24 Depot Street (Mr. Carter’s Unisex Salon) in 1892. The Onset Junction Station provided service to passengers traveling to Onset and Wareham for over 100 years, until the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad sold the property in the early 1950s.

In 1972, Ronald McIlvaine used the property to build a new service station, and later the lot was used as a lot to sell automobiles in the late 1970s and early 1980s. You can see the remnants of the Onset Junction station when you drive by the old Depot Auto Repair/Gas station at the intersection of Great Neck Road, Onset Ave, and Depot Street, across from Depot Liquors. The building in the middle, which was also once a consignment shop, is the train station pictured above.

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Thursday, April 15

This week we’re sticking with our industry theme, but this time we move to South Wareham to talk about the Horseshoe Works, which was formerly located on the banks of man made Horseshoe Pond. These three postcards are different views of the factory and all date from the early 1900s. Note the second postcard, which notes in pencil, “This is where papa worked. He came home Wed. night…He has gone to N.H. today.” It is postmarked November 16, 1906. We’ve also included a photo of an inside of the Horseshoe factory from “Images of America: Wareham,” and a map of where the factory was located, published in the 1903 L.J. Richards Plymouth County Atlas.

Our earliest maps and records indicate that this location played host to a variety of iron-based industries over the years. In 1827, Colonel Bartlett Murdock and George Howland built a rolling mill and nail factory, which later became Weweantic Iron Company operated by Josha B. Tobey. Following a fire, it was quickly back in operation and ran until 1838. From 1838 until 1860, the Weweantic company continued to produce iron (and was rebuilt after another fire in 1848) until it was leased by the Tremont Nail Company during construction of their plant located in Tremont, which had been destroyed in another fire. 

After the Tremont Nail company moved out, the Wareham Nail Company took over the business. This building burned in 1882, but was rebuilt two years later. Fires were a common occurrence in the late 19th and early 20th century because of the sparks from the furnaces in wooden iron mills. The inadequate method for large blazes was to put it out by passing pails of water hand to hand. It was not uncommon for an entire complex to be consumed by a single conflagration. While researching this post, we counted five fires at this one location in a period of roughly a century. 

In 1890, the Boutwell family took over the business and established the Standard Horse Shoe Works. H.W. Hollis served as the superintendent from 1902 to 1917 as he oversaw an operation that employed approximately 100 men. This company made horseshoes and mule shoes, which the US Army bought in large quantities, especially during World War I. When the mill was sold to Phoenix Horseshoe (based in Pennsylvania) in 1929, it was one of three horseshoe factories that had remained in operation in the US. John J. Beaton, a local well-known Cape Cod cranberry grower, revived the horse shoe mill in the early 1930s. With the fall in demand for horseshoes and rise in the number of affordable automobiles, the company ceased operations in 1939. A dog food factory attempted operations for a short time, but after complaints from neighbors, the Board of Health shut down the factory. A fire several years later destroyed the edifices and it was never rebuilt.  

Presently, the area has been transformed into the 34-acre Horseshoe Mill recreation area, owned and operated by the Buzzards Bay Coalition, offering visitors a chance to hike, paddle, and fish. In December of 2019, Luciano’s Excavation removed a dam that had impeded migratory fish from laying eggs in upstream water for more than 200 years. It has provided a chance for species like American eels, river herring, white perch, and rainbow smelt to breed into more than three miles of freshwater. Stone structure remnants still exist around the property and near the entrance, metallic bits of “slag” litter the ground, left over from the iron ore processing that took place on the site.

For more information about the Horseshoe Mill recreational area you can click here – https://bit.ly/3e8OiPN.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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