Medfield History: Peak House Bake Sale, Dwight-Derby House Anniversary and Vine Lake Photo Contest

A roundup of news, notes and happenings regarding Medfield's historic houses, landmarks and committees.

Editor's note: This weekly column will keep you up to date minute by minute on the latest happenings concerning Medfield’s rich history, whether it is giving updates or information concerning town institutions like the Peak House, Dwight-Derby House, Lowell Mason House, or Vine Lake Cemetery or whether they are history related events taking place sponsored by the Historical Society, Historical Commission or other town boards. It will keep you informed about any and all historical related events in town.

Our town’s history, historical houses, landscape and open space are what makes Medfield, Medfield; that unique quality we have here that makes Medfield so special. This column will be the one-stop shopping place to keep you informed, whether you are a local history buff or just concerned about our town and its rich history.

Each week the “William Tilden Award” will be given, recognizing an individual who contributes to our town’s history in a positive way, a restored piece of historic property, a contractor who preserves a historic house, an organization whose efforts add to our history, etc.

PEAK HOUSE: The Medfield Historical Society Peak House Pantry Sale will be taking place on Saturday, Nov. 19 starting at 10 a.m. at the Main Street Landmark. Home-baked pies, breads, cookies, jams and jellies are waiting inside. The homemade apple pies, made by a pie baking committee, and the wheels of Vermont Cheddar, sell out early in the day.  As always, there will be favorite Historical Society memorabilia that include cup plates, in a variety of colors, embossed with the Peak House, refrigerator magnets, maps and postcards. Medfield Histories, prior to 1889 by the Society’s founder William Tilden and from 1889 through 1925 by Town Historian Richard DeSorgher also are popular.  “The History of Medfield” DVD includes photos of Medfield throughout its 350-year history. DeSorgher narrates the video. Profits from the sale of this item benefit the Society’s Medfield High School Scholarship Fund. In addition to the wonderful home baked goodies, more than one bargain can be found on the lawn at the White Elephant tables outside the house and under the tent. The White Elephant sale committee has been tenacious at yard sales and accepting moving castoffs throughout the year. Prices will be extremely reasonable, according to the society. All contributions for the baked goods table and the White Elephant sale should be delivered to the Peak house on Friday, Nov. 18 between 2 and 5 p.m. The proceeds from donor contributions and the annual sale are used to maintain and make necessary repairs to the house. Everyone is invited to visit Medfield's historic treasure while the house is decorated for the Thanksgiving holiday.

DWIGHT-DERBY HOUSE:  The Dwight-Derby is in the mist of celebrating its 15th anniversary. Looking back has been nothing short of miraculous due to the amount of help the Dwight-Derby Committee has received and what they have accomplished. The support has made possible for the interior and exterior of the house to be largely restored putting it on par with those of museum status like at Old Sturbridge Village. The grounds and the barn have also been greatly refurbished. Medfield’s The Garden Continuum recently installed a beautiful patio at the back of the house. Fundraising letters have gone out to continue the maintenance and restoration of the house and property.

Donations may be sent to: Friends of the Dwight-Derby House

P.O. Box 527

Medfield, Ma 02052

At the last meeting goals for the next 15 years were beginning to be developed.

They include:

  • Define/redefine DDH mission statement and vision
  •  Write a Business Plan based on DDH mission and vision and ‘brand promise’
  • Work with other organizations in town to provide joint programming and events

o   Outreach to people in close-by towns with Medfield connection to enhance programming (for instance, Jonathan Fairbanks) and tap into local talent

  • Create committees for fundraising, hospitality, publicity, finance, maintenance, programming and volunteers; need committee chairs for each
  • Refine core DDH events, i.e. Medfield Day, Discover Medfield Day, educational programming, tours
  • Restore the kitchen and milk room; need to document
  • Establish a publicity stream via newspaper articles, e-newsletter, website
  • Identify long-term maintenance issues (roof, furnace, a/c) and how to save for them
  • Create collections storage in the attic

It was reported that the Dwight-Derby Committee spent $2,000 to upgrade and install new and workable plumbing throughout the house.

Elected officers for the 2012 year were:

President- Cheryl O’Malley

Treasurer- Richard Gair

Secretary –JoEllen Collins

LOWELL MASON HOUSE: The house was successfully moved to Green Street in April of 2011.  Since then, the Lowell Mason Foundation has successfully raised close to $120,000. The most recent gift was $ 10,000 from the Middlesex Savings Bank.

Currently, work is being done to secure and stabilize the house for the winter. The windows to the house have been fixed and the highway department recently regarded around the foundation. The inside of the house has been cleaned and the old linoleum that covered much of the first floor has been removed. The vinyl siding has been stripped off the exterior of the house. Efforts are now underway to work through the application process to get the house on the National Register of Historic Places. This will open up eligibility for future grant money. First priorities once additional monies are received will be to fixing the roof and replacing the rotted sills that sit on the foundation and support the structure.

VINE LAKE CEMETERY:  The Vine Lake Cemetery Preservation Trust is in the mist of its Fall Photo Contest. All photographers (students and adults) are welcome. For mor information on the contest, click here.

FIRST PARISH CHURCH: First Parish has been approached by some wireless companies to place wireless antennas inside the 1988 Meetinghouse spire. They would not be seen from the outside. The possibility of having wireless companies renting space in the steeple is seen by many members of the congregation as a financial opportunity of a lifetime. Rather than put the cell tower inside the 1988 spire, the somewhat out of proportion current spire may be replaced with a taller and more architecturally consistent design. Architects, an architectural restoration and preservation expert, structural engineers and steeplejacks have been consulted. The First Parish congregation voted in September to go ahead with a plan for a new steeple and conceptual plans are being presented to the Historic District Commission. In the meantime, T-Mobile has applied for a Special permit from the Medfield Zoning Board of Appeals. Construction, if it happens, will coincide with the construction of the wireless facilities, which is expected to happen next year.  

MEDFIELD HISTORICAL SOCIETY: Plans are under way for its members-only Holiday gathering on Dec. 11 in the Dailey Wing of the Memorial Public Library. All members of the Historical Society are invited for food, drink socializing and holiday cheer. The Historical Society and the Library will be coordinating together in displaying some of the Historical Society’s rich local artifacts. On a quarterly basis, different displays, photos, paintings, artifacts will be put on view in the reading room of the library, site of the original Historical Society room before the Society moved next door to its current 6 Pleasant St. location.

At its last meeting, the Historical Society voted to create two additional curator positions to help run and govern the Historical Society. These two positions will be “Student Curators,” made up of two Medfield High School seniors with an interest in local history. They will serve for a one-year term and will have full and equal voting rights with the other curators. Elected for the 2011-2012 term were Kabir Thatte and Kyle Andrulonis.


The first WILLIAM TILDEN AWARD recognizing an individual who contributes to our town’s history in a positive way, a restored piece of historic property, a contractor who preserves a history house, an organization whose efforts add to our history, etc., is named after William Tilden, Town Historian, author of the History of Medfield 1650-1886, state representative, one for the founders of the Medfield Historical Society and its first president. He was a life-long Medfield resident from his birth in 1830 until his death in 1912. It is appropriate that the first William Tilden Award goes to Mary “McCarthy” Downing of Green Street for her donation of Tilden’s personal history book, The History of the Town of Medfield 1650-1886. Inside Tilden’s original book he penciled in corrections and additions he discovered after the book was published. The book has been in the McCarthy family since the time of Tilden’s death in 1912. Mary donated the book to the Society so that it will forever be preserved and so that it will be back in the very Society Tilden was instrumental in founding. For her efforts in preserving an important piece of Medfield’s history, this week’s award goes with gratitude to Mary Downing.


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