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Deadline Today for Pocket Park Naming Contest

The deadline to submit suggestions is Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.

The "pocket park" is between Starbuck's and Zebra's Bistro. Credit: Medfield Cultural Commission.
The "pocket park" is between Starbuck's and Zebra's Bistro. Credit: Medfield Cultural Commission.
The following press release was submitted by the Pocket Park Steering Committee.

The Town of Medfield owns a small 5,352 square foot parcel of land between Zebra’s and Starbuck’s that has affectionately been called the Pocket Park for lack of an official name. The Pocket Park Steering Committee was appointed in Oct. 2013 to initiate a public planning process to both design the park and establish its name.

Medfield residents are invited to vote on, or propose, a name for the Pocket Park by completing an on-line survey HERE.

The deadline for entries is Thursday, Jan. 23, at 5 pm.

As an added incentive, Woodland Theater has generously donated two tickets to a Jan. 24 – 26 performance of Spelling Bee, one of Broadway’s most buzzed about Tony award winning musicals. The winner for the tickets will be selected at random from among all entries. The performance takes place in the Lowell Mason Theatre at the Medfield High School and additional tickets may be purchased at www.Woodland-Theatre.com.

The Pocket Park Steering Committee will select the name from among the entries and forward for approval at Town Meeting.

History of the Pocket Park Area (with thanks to Town Historian Richard DeSorgher)

Medfield’s first land grant was made in 1650 to Ralph Wheelock and included the area by North and Main Streets. Wheelock, commonly known as the “founder of Medfield,” became the first schoolmaster in Medfield’s first schoolhouse located on the Zebra’s site in 1666. The site remained a school for nearly 200 years, before becoming a boarding house for hat factory workers. In 1959, the current structure was built as the post office, now occupied by Zebra’s.

From 1801 until 1956, Medfield’s most important industry of hat making was centered in this area. In 1876, Daniel Curtis built the current Montrose School building and under subsequent owner Edward Vinald Mitchell, the Excelsior Straw Hat Factory employed more than 1,200 people (larger than the town’s population), producing over 2.5 million hats a year, the second 
largest straw hat factory in the US.

Medfield’s first minister, the Rev. John Wilson, lived nearby where the Town Hall stands today. His house was used as a garrison during the King Philip War. The Wilson house changed hands and was eventually purchased by Wheelock descendants who kept a store here, selling some of the property to David Fairbanks in 1809.

Fairbanks turned the former Wilson house into a tavern, which continued in operation until 1842 through subsequent owners. In 1816, Fairbanks built the house that still stands on Main Street at the head of South Street. He was known as the businessman in town, manufacturing straw bonnets and running a boarding house for the workers. He also served on the Board of 
Selectmen.

In 1816, Fairbanks also replaced the original Wheelock store with a new general store, an early version of Lords. The Fairbanks store was later owned and operated by Francis Ellis until 1842 when he sold it to Isaac Fiske. Fiske ran it for 40 years and was known as the town merchant. Fiske built a hall over the “new” Old Corner Store used for lectures, dances, and by famous abolitionists who spoke against slavery. Eventually, the hall was divided into bedrooms for rent. Fiske was also elected to the Massachusetts state legislature, and served Medfield as Town Clerk, Treasurer, and 
Postmaster, running the post office out of his store.

In 1866, Fiske hired Julius Augustus Fitts and later made him partner. When Fiske retired, Fitts took over the store. In 1888, Fitts built an addition of two stores and added a third floor to the main building. At age 100, Fitts was Medfield’s last surviving Civil War Veteran and he was the oldest active grocer in the state. The Old Corner Store was torn down in 1935, while the one-story addition remained until the 1960s. The A&P grocery store, Alfred’s Barber Shop, and a beauty parlor, were the last businesses to be located in the addition before it too was torn down. 

The site of the Old Corner Store became a gas station, known first as Socony Gas and then Mobil. Starbucks renovated the building in 2013, with a small addition. 

Suggested Names

Some of the suggested names to vote for include Boarding-house Park, Bonnet Park, Ellis Park, Excelsior Park, Fairbanks Park, Fiske Park, Fitts Park, Mitchell Park, Old Corner Store Park. Or survey participants can write in one of their own suggestions.

Please note: "Wheelock Park" and "School-House Park" are discouraged, to avoid confusion with other similarly named locations and structures in town.

For questions or more information, please email JeanMineo@aol.com
Jean Mineo January 17, 2014 at 06:45 AM
Thanks Theresa - correction: the contest is open until Thursday, Jan. 23 at 5 pm. My error on the release.
double.trouble31 January 23, 2014 at 07:27 AM
My thought was a new meaningful name for a woman who was a wonderful educator,and principal....Andrea Trasher. She made an impact on young children and the community and currently has cancer. Why not call the land Andrea Trasher Park!?
Catherine Hanson January 23, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Post Office Park ?

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