I am extremely pleased to be able to share with you the news that the Planning Board has received a letter from St. Mark’s withdrawing their application to install night lighting on the historic Clark field. The letter went on to state that St Mark’s would take a look at the project over the next several years with an eye to addressing residents concerns. So for now, blessed darkness reigns, thanks again to citizenry advocacy. Next step, getting some hoods on the lights at Woodward and putting a “use only” policy in place that turns off the current automatic timer that illuminates the fields (at taxpayer expense) regardless of whether anyone actually IS on the field, and replacing it with a simple on off switch for use during official activities.
Congratulations to all the residents of Southborough on this one!
Fayville Village hall was purchased by Mr. John Delli Priscolli (who also bought and renovated 84 Main Street). He plans to preserve the facade, and renovate the interior as an antiques mart and auction house. This building had been subject to tremendous debate, with previous BOS members arguing that the town should simply sell the property and let the historic hall be torn down. Thanks to public pressure, and excellent work by members of the Southborough Historical Commission, a conservation plan was conceived, and now the Village Hall looks to be headed for another century of active use!
We are also delighted to announced that the barn at 135 Deerfoot Road has been carefully disassembled and is undergoing restoration in Vermont. There are some plans, yet to be confirmed, that it will reappear as part of Chestnut Hill farm. Regardless, it is not in a thousand splinters in some landfill, and that success can be entirely credited to you, my friends, members of the Southborough Historical Society! The Society kept up constant pressure on the developer to salvage the building, and at the very last minute, I was able to locate several parties interested in preserving the structure. Literally days before the lot was schedule to be cleared, they carefully labelled and stored every beam and rafter, so that this wonderful piece of Southborough’s rural history will live on. So if anyone tries to tell you that public advocacy for preservation doesn’t make a difference, you point them to this barn and advise them to think again.
Unfortunately, this good news is tempered by the arrival of bad. I’ll let my letter to John Warren, the headmaster of St. Mark’s school, speak for itself:
It has come to the attention of the Southborough Historical Society that St. Mark’s has requested permission to install 70’ light pylons to illuminate the field directly behind the historic Burnett Burial Park* and the Southborough Museum. We are heartily opposed to this request and ask you to reconsider it. We have already seen the disastrous results of putting these monstrous light towers in front of the Woodward School: they make the area look like a K-Mart parking lot and completely destroy the approach to the historic town center. I highly doubt that is the effect you wish to create at bucolic St. Mark’s, especially as this field has huge historical significance: it is, in fact, the former colonial muster-grounds, where the militia practiced for over a hundred years, and where our valiant residents gathered before they marched off to fight the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
In addition, there is the environmental damage these lights cause. Let’s forget for a moment the tremendous carbon cost of installing and running night lighting. All over the world, night skies are disappearing, and a majority of the inhabitants of North America can no longer look up from their homes and see the stars. Additionally, this light pollution is adversely affecting numerous species already stressed by the climate crisis.
For hundreds of years, our children, and your students, have grown and matured into productive, hard-working citizens without the nebulous benefit of illuminated playing fields. Given there is no apparent advantage to the human species, and clearly documented harm to many other species caused by these installations—not to mention the aesthetic destruction to our town fabric—I would ask St Mark’s not to make the same mistake the residents of Southborough made in approving the lighting for these fields. Few of us had any idea how ugly and destructive they would be. And since we can’t undo our mistake, why not use our town fields for the occasional night game? I’m sure St Mark’s and the town could come to some agreement. But if, after weighing the environmental damage, you MUST light yet another a field, perhaps the one closest to your solar array and out of public view might be an option.
Thanking you in advance for your consideration,
President, Southborough Historical Society
Please consider writing Mr. Warren directly to express your concern at yet another attempt at destroying what remains of our downtown. Also, please comment on My Southborough and help muster support to defeat this proposal. Finally, there will be meetings to determine the status of St Mark’s request on June 17 (ZBA, write here to express your objections to the chair) and June 22 at the Planning Board (write here for the same)
We’ve already seen how public advocacy for preservation works! Once more unto the breach, dear friends!
And thanks, as ever, for your continuing support.
* An earlier edition identified the Burnett Burial Park as St. Mark’s Cemetery. It is in fact the private cemetery of Joseph Burnett’s and his descendants.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Tomorrow is our Town election. We have four candidates on the ballot for two open Selectman slots. Each has distinct views. Read about them here, and GO VOTE! The election will depend on a handful of ballots, truly! Southborough is at a tipping point in terms of historic preservation, open space and our quality of life. If you care, lend your voice! YOUR VOTE WILL COUNT!
Our thanks to all four candidates for running, and god bless us all, everyone!
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are forced to postpone tomorrow night’s performance till the fall. We apologize for any inconvenience.
The SHS is delighted to announce that we will be hosting a Fancy Flea and Tag Sale on Heritage Day at the Museum this October, and we are looking for items to sell. So now’s the time to sort through that basement and overstuffed garage you’ve been meaning to clean out, and donate unwanted items to the Society. If you don’t use that old clock, send it to us. Grandma’s china not your favorite pattern? We’ll take it! Have a nice old table or two you don’t need? Donate it! You’ll feel better, and receive a valuable tax deduction to boot. We are looking for both genuine antiques and vintage collectibles.* Items can be dropped off at the Museum most Sunday’s between 12-2; or, for larger items, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange for pickup.
Plus, we are in discussions with a local antique car club to organize a Classic Automobile Show at the Museum as well!
So as you can see, we are pulling out all the stops this Heritage Day, and we need your help. It’s time to start that spring cleaning!
*Items we cannot except: clothing, computers, non-vintage electronics, large furniture. Any items we can not use/sell will be sent to the Town Swap Shop
The Southborough Historical Society is excited to bring Sheryl Faye’s performance of “Sally Ride – America’s First Woman Astronaut” to the Museum and Archives on Saturday, March 9 at 2 pm. Sheryl Faye brings a powerful and inspiring message to anyone interested in space exploration and science.
Since 2003, Sheryl Faye has masterfully brought to life important historical women to both children and adults. In her one-woman shows, she immerses the audience in a multimedia learning experience that captivates viewers and sparks their interested to explore more.
This event is especially suitable for children, but people of all ages will enjoy the show! Sally Ride’s story is the second in a series of three performances the SHS is offering this spring.
The Southborough Historical Society is pleased to bring an “Immersive Living History” experience to the Museum and Archives on Thursday, February 28th.
Judith Kalaora, will portray Deborah Sampson, the first woman to fight in and be honorably discharged from the American Military. Deborah enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army as “Robert Shurtlieff.” Come and learn how and why she disguised herself and fought alongside male soldiers.
Sampson’s story is the first in a series of three performances the SHS is offering this spring. Admission is free, but reservations are required. Click HERE to hold your place. Limited to 30.
It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of Kate Matison, a longtime member of the Southborough Historical Society, the Southborough Historical Commission, and one of our most civic-minded citizens.
Born in Australia in 1948, Kate and her husband Peter Quirk immigrated to the United States in 1988. They settled in Southborough in 1993 with their two sons.
An exceptionally skilled and enthusiastic photographer, Kate lived in London for a period and worked at the renowned Photographer’s Gallery.
Her interest in preservation sprang from her studies in art history, and she went on to combine talent as a photographer with her preservation studies, which eventually included two Masters degrees from Boston University. Kate spent countless hours meticulously photographing historical structures, often providing a complete record of buildings that were later demolished. She was actively engaged in the Vernacular Architecture Forum, and she implemented and moderated their widely followed Facebook page.
A life-time member of the SHS, Kate brought her boundless energy and commitment to the Southborough Historical Commission in 2007. It is impossible to overstate her impact on the Commission and the Town of Southborough. In 2012, she became the Vice Chair, and she held that position until she was unanimously voted Chair this past January to honor her decades-long commitment to preserving our shared past. Kate never recovered sufficiently to wield the actual gavel, but in truth she never had to—Kate had long ago commanded our respect through a staunch belief that there was indeed a right way and a wrong way, and that we owed it to our fellow citizens to follow the correct path.
It is extremely rare to find an individual who is willing to work tirelessly for the good of her community for so many years. Kate was that person in spades. We have no doubt that future residents of Southborough will benefit from her dedication as they experience the historical character of the adopted town Kate worked so arduously to preserve.
It is our hope that the public Kate Matison will be remembered as fondly as the charming Aussie we knew up close: dedicated, tireless, witty, wise, and, above all, a loyal friend.
She was truly one of a kind.
Fare thee well, dear Kate.
We will miss you.
The Southborough Historical Society will host a memorial reception honoring Kate in the spring. Details will be announced as soon as they are available.
We have also just received the news that former SHS Treasurer and renowned Town Moderator John Wilson died yesterday. We’ll be commemorating John in a separate post.
A quick update on Lost Southborough: We had a last-minute chance to include 8 never before published pictures, and took it. To accommodate these extra illustrations, publication date has been pushed back until next week, 2/18. For those of you who ordered mailed copies, the book will hit the post office 2/20. For those who requested a copy to pick up, we’re hoping to arrange a Town House location so you don’t have to find a narrow slot at the museum. As soon as we receive delivery from the publisher, we’ll let you know. The proofs are in, and the book is looking fantastic.!
For the first posting of 2019, I thought it would be fun to share this newspaper clipping from a scrapbook once owned by Mrs. Arlene Morrison, who ran the general store in the Sealey Block on Main Street across from the old train station. (Older residents will remember the Gulf station on the corner of Main and Newton street that replaced the block. Both buildings are now gone.)
As you can see, the article reveals that the Flagg school, which is now home to the Southborough Historical Society, and where I now sit writing this, was scheduled to be torn down for timber— a fate suffered by all the other clapboard one-room school houses in town about the same time. What saved the building is unclear. But for whatever reason, calmer minds (or more than likely, continued economic downturn) saved the structure for us to enjoy today.
Which brings me to my main point. Every time we allow pieces of our historic fabric to be destroyed, it has a ripple effect of unintended consequences. In this case, a precious part of our educational history would have been lost forever, and the Museum would be homeless. Think about the other missing buildings mentioned here, and what they might have been: the Sealey block converted into retail and living space on Main Street; the old train station made into a great pub; the Cordaville mills as condo and restaurant space. Loss is just that, loss, especially when these wonderful old buildings are torn down just to sit as vacant lots or parking spaces.
Finally, a quick reminder to those of you who haven’t sent in order forms for our new book, Lost Southborough or haven’t mailed your year-end contribution to the Society. Please do! Or even easier, donate online! Contributions so far are lagging last year’s tally and we’ve way too much programmed this year to slow down now!
Happy New Year Everyone!