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Medfield History: Dwight-Derby Committee Focuses on Education and Peak House Pantry Sale

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: Reminder that the Medfield Historical Society Peak House Pantry Sale will be taking place on Saturday, Nov. 19. The door of the Main Street Landmark will open at 10 a.m. 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. The Peak House is under the ownership and care of the Medfield Historical Society. After the Pantry Sale is over, work will be done on the stairs leading to the basement, replacing rotten wood and putting in new stair replacements.

DWIGHT-DERBY HOUSE: At its last meeting, one of the areas the Dwight-Derby Committee wants to expand is in the area of education. The committee will continue to work with third grade teachers and students planning for their annual tour of the house and expand by looking for ways to add to the educational experience. The grade 11 AP U.S. History classes for the past 10 years have used the house for their Reformers’ Dinner. Plans are underway for the dinner to take place again this year in early December. The committee will also be working with Curriculum Director Kim Cave and the grade 5 teachers to see how the house can help with their studies of early American history. The goal is to work with the Medfield schools to incorporate local history and the DDH into the students’ curriculum wherever the teachers think it is best and possible.

Work is also beginning on updating the Dwight-Derby website.

 2012 D-D House Board of Directors

  • Cheryl O’Malley, President
  • Richard Gair, Treasurer
  • Jo Ellen Collins, Secretary pro tem
  • Elizabeth Borell
  • Richard DeSorgher
  • Michelle Doucette
  • Linda Kiley
  • Matt McCormick
  • Tim Sullivan
  • John Thompson

LOWELL MASON HOUSE: Work continues on the interior and exterior of the Lowell Mason House to secure and stabilize the house for the winter weather. Fund raising efforts are ongoing.

MEMO is bringing the work of Lowell Mason to center stage during the Tree Lighting and Carol Singing that will be taking place at Baxter Park on Dec. 2. They will be sponsoring a special “Joy to the World” singing contest to commemorate Lowell Mason, one of Medfield’s most famous sons and the composer of the well known Christmas carol “Joy to the World.” The contest winners, from two categories, will be judged at auditions on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the band room of Medfield High School. The contest is open to soloists in grades 1-6 and in grades 7-12 and duets and ensembles grades 1-12.

All entrants must be Medfield residents, well-rehearsed and registered with written parental permission by the night of the audition. They also must be available to perform before a live audience on Dec. 2 at Baxter Park. Registration forms may be obtained at: JTTWcontest@gmail.com. There is no fee for registration and no late entries will be accepted after the auditions.

VINE LAKE CEMETERY: The Vine Lake Cemetery Preservation Trust’s Fall Photo Contest ends on Dec. 23. All photographers (students and adults) are welcome. click this link to the website for further information.

MEDFIELD HISTORICAL SOCIETY: Reminder that the members-only Holiday gathering on Dec. 11 will be in the Dailey Wing of the Memorial Public Library from 2 to 4 p.m. All members of the are invited for food, drink socializing and holiday cheer. The Historical Society and the 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. Some 22 paintings and framed photographs from the vault of the Historical Society have been recently selected to be hung in the reading room of the Library in early December. Society members are researching and developing signs to go with the paintings and photos that will give information about the artist or photo.

Medfield Historical Society Contacts

David Temple, President                        508-359-2915

Kyle Andrulonis                                    508-505-1046

Dan Bibel                                             508-359-8148

Jo Ellen Collins                                     508-404-8023

Alice Crawley                                       508-359-4668

Richard DeSorgher                               508-359-5413

Jack Downing                                      508-359-2289

Debbie Gaines                                     508-528-8114

Bob Luttman                                       508-359-9577

Cheryl O’Malley                                    508-359-7264

Claire Shaw                                         508-359-6928

Mike Stamer                                         508-359-4318

Kabir Thatte                                         508-517-2478

The Medfield Historical Society, located on 6 Pleasant St., behind the Memorial public Library is open from 10 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturdays of each month. It can also be open by appointment by contacting any of the above curators.

MEDFIELD HISTORICAL COMMISSION: At its last meeting on Nov. 9, the Commission held three hearings on demolition applications and allowed all three to go ahead:

  • 1900 cottage at 8 Causeway St., which has been haphazardly expanded over the years and looks like a small ranch; will be replaced by new ranch.
  • 1930s-era Holmquist barn at 37-39 Plain St. He has three barns that are falling down that he wants to dispose of for safety reasons - the other two are less than 50 years old.
  • 1954 ranch at 39 Nebo St. New owner wanted to rehab but found water damage and mold within the walls. Will be replaced by similar ranch.

The 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.

This week’s award goes to Brad and Betsy Phipps for their restoration and care of the Lucy Bran House, ca. 1730—661 Main St. The east half of this house was constructed prior to 1730 and was expanded in the mid-18th century. It is a locally significant example of a modest Cape-type, Colonial house. The property is also historically important for its association with Native-American and African-American residents in Medfield.

The house sits on land owned by Eleazar Ellis, who is believed to have built the structure. It remained in the Ellis family for five generations. In 1758 the house was lived in by Lucy Bran, Medfield’s last Native-American resident. She died in 1837. The house was later lived in by Samuel Green and his wife and two children, descendants of slaves. Green worked at the Tannery Farm, located next door. The house is depicted in an 1889 painting entitled “Roadside Cottage” by Dennis Miller Bunker which is exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

A fire a number of years ago did considerable damage to the house but under great expense and careful restoration by Brad and Betsy Phipps, the house was historically restored and saved. Brad was also instrumental in helping West Main Street approve the Metcalf Historic District to preserve the neighborhood’s  historic character and protect their property values. For their ongoing efforts in saving and preserving an important piece of Medfield’s history, this week’s award goes, with gratitude and appreciation, to Brad and Betsy Phipps.

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