Sharon, Massachusetts is a town so rich with history. It has evolved and changed and has had so many different identities over the last 250 years. Sharon started as an agricultural town, rich with natural resources. It later became an industrial town, a summer resort, and now a residential suburban community. In 2013, Money Magazine named Sharon the number one place to live in the United States because of its natural beauty, excellent schools, diversity, and location.
The students pictured above are 3rd graders from the Cottage Street Schoo.l They are waiting for the walking history tour of Sharon center to begin. Recently I lead all four 3rd grade classes on the tour on two separate days.
When I was teaching, I loved touring with my own third grade students, so I volunteered to come back and lead their tours. It was great to catch up with my colleagues and to be with students again.
The tour starts behind the school on a section of Massapoag Trail that leads to Mann's Pond, our first stop. The trail is wonderfully maintained by the town's Boy Scouts. I noticed that the usually soggy areas now have well constructed bridges over them. Thanks Scouts!
Pictured above is an old image of Mann's Mill where cotton duct fabric was manufactured. It was one of the many mills that were here in Sharon in the 1800s.
Mann's Pond is one of the many ponds in Sharon that gets its water from Massapoag Brook, a large stream that is fed from Lake Massapoag. The brook eventually winds its way into Canton and empties into the Neponset River. Its flow was strong enough to power many mills along its path.
The Paul Revere Copper Company, owned by Paul Revere, in Canton, MA, once owned the rights to the flow of water from Lake Massapoag. They could control the flow of water using dams. This effected the water level of the lake, which would sometimes become undesirably low. The situation created a lot of tension between the town and the Copper Works. A lawsuit between the town and the Revere company ensued. The court sided in favor of the Revere Copper Works.
Some more recent photos of Mann's Pond and the surrounding area.
Natural resources were very instrumental in the town becoming a thriving industrial community. The cedar swamps near the lake provided tall trees that were harvested for ship's masts. The cedar was also used to make roof and house shingles. Iron ore, "bog iron", was grappled from Lake Massapoag, and melted in Sharon foundries. It was used to make cannonballs and cannons, the first ones cast in the nation. They were used in the Revolutionary War.
Many other industries were are part of Sharon's history. Shoes, tools, charcoal, carriages and stove polish, were some of the items manufactured here. Ice was harvested from the lake and stored in ice houses like this one along the lake to be used by hotels in Boston and Providence and by the residents of Sharon.
A favorite stop on the tour is the Sharon Police and Fire Museum. It is housed in a historical building that was once a Sharon school, then later the was the administrative office of the Sharon School Department.
The Building once had two floors, but the top floor was removed. The reason for doing so is unclear.
The museum is a result of the hard work and vision of these two men and their families, John McGrath and John Ford.
They took this empty space and transformed it into a museum that has to be seen to be believed. It's truly amazing. Visitors, particularly the students, can learn so much, not only about police and fire history, but about their town. History shapes all of us. Kids are captivated by thoughtfully put together displays and the enthusiastic tours that the men give.
Students also learned about fire trucks from Sharon Fire Fighter and fellow history lover, Dave Martin.
Officer Leavitt shares the police motorcycle with the students
Officer Fitzhenry shows the inner workings of the police cruiser.
After eating lunch, we are off again.
Here are a few more stops we make along the way.
The Sharon Historical Society is a great place to visit. We were unable to go in on this date, but we usually do. It is worth checking out.
The recent addition of the rain garden was planted by students at Sharon's Binah School. The rain garden controls stormwater runoff and lessens pollution.
Third graders of the past had a part in raising funds used in the construction of the building. The style of the building mimics an old school house because there used to be an old school on the spot where the adjacent parking lot now is.
This is that school being torn down when it was no longer safe for use. When it was open, there was an entrance for boys on one side and another on the other side for girls.
I will end with Sharon Center. I don't have the date of this picture.
This is South Main Street in 1911. To the right is where Eastern Savings Bank now is. It was The Quaker Inn. Trolley cars ran up and down the street and horse drawn carriages were used.
Sharon center January 1, 2015, First day of celebrating Sharon's 250th year.
Our town is truly worth celebrating!
After 31 years of teaching, I have decided to retire and start a new chapter of my life as a photographer. It has been my passion for about 7 years now.