Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Walking Tour of Central Square Bridgewater Massachusetts

As part of the third grade curriculum students study the town in which they reside.  The George Mitchell Elementary School does an amazing job with this by having the students participate in a self-guided tour of Central Square.

Keith did the tour with Kaitlyn and I was lucky enough to do it with Alyssa.  I had so much fun with her that I thought I'd share our tour with everyone.  Bridgewater is so pretty this time of year and is rich with history.
Alyssa in Central Square

1.  Start in front of the Bridgewater Savings Bank.  What are the two dates above the front door?
Bridgewater Savings Bank
1872 and 1924
Did you know that the first date is the year the bank was established?  It was the first bank in Bridgewater.  The second date is the year the bank built this building.  They moved in on 
April 19, 1925.

2.  Stand at the intersection and read the green street signs.  Middleboro borders Bridgewater to the south.  How many miles to Middleboro?
The Sign to Middleboro has been replaced so we looked it up on our GPS.
9 Miles
If you travel on Route 28N, you will travel to West Bridgewater and Brockton.  How many miles from Bridgewater to each town?
West Bridgewater: 3 Miles
Brockton: 7 Miles

Did you know that Brockton was once part of Bridgewater and was called North Bridgewater?

What other two towns border Bridgewater?
Bridgewater is bordered by West Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, Halifax, Middleborough, & Raynham
3.  Walk to the Jack Conway brick building.  What does the red sign on the side of the building say?  (If you look closely at the brick you can see the outline of a saltbox building that used to be next to it).
Old Bank Building
Circa 1850
Did you know this building has been used as a barbershop, a music studio, jewelry store, clothing, and shoe stores, and was a meeting place for the Fraternal Order of Red Men?

4.  Continue walking in the direction of the library.  Stop at the black house.  It is the oldest structure in Central Square.  Walk to the left side of the house.

An unassuming two story wooden building known as the Tory House overlooks the Common in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The house was built in 1698 by Jacob Leonard, a fifth-generation descendant of Mayflower passenger James Chilton. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, the house was owned by a Tory sympathizer named Colonel Josiah Edson (who at that time was the head of the local militia). When Josiah sided with the British, the house was confiscated by the Continental Congress.  Before the outbreak of America's Civil War, local Bridgewater residents established the building as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Slaves William and Ellen Craft were sheltered here on their way to freedom.  Today the building is a private home, and not open to the public. But the house and the historic marker located on the side can be viewed by the public from the sidewalk out in front.

Did you know that a Tory is a political party in England?  During colonial days, a Tory was a colonist loyal to the King of England.

5.  Stop in front of the Central Square Congregational Church.  What is the object at the top of the church's steeple?  And what is its use or purpose?
Central Square Congregational Church
On top of the church is a weathervane.
A weathervane tell the direction of the wind.

Did you know that this weathervane was made by Jonathan Howard?  Mr. Howard made many beautiful weathervanes before the Civil War.  Later, he opened a vinegar mill and made pickles.  This weathervane is worth about $60,000 today!

This church was built in a Gothic style.  That means it was built to look a special way.  Many cathedrals were built in a gothic style, the most famous one being Notre Dame in Paris.  Gothic features might includes pillars with decorations on top, circle windows, windows that have a curved panel or an arc, a vaulted ceiling, decorative patterns such as flowers or leaves and religious statues or gargoyles.  Draw some of the gothic features below.

Did you know that this church was originally built in 1836 but burned to the ground in 1860?

6.  Walk to the Bridgewater Public Library.  Walk into the alcove on the front left side of the building.  There is a plaque there in memory of the people who donated a million dollars to build this library.  Who are they and when was the library built?
Bridgewater Public Library
Walter & Flora Little donate One Million Dollars to build the library.

7.  Continue on to the Memorial Building.  
Memorial Building
Currently used as offices for the Town Selectman

What are the dates on the plaques at the front of the building?  How many names are on the marble tablets? What is the building used for now?

These are the dates that the Civil War was fought.

Did you know that this building was built in 1881 as the town's first public library and as a memorial to the men of Bridgewater who had died during the Civil War?

Atop this building, near the apex of the roof is the date 1881, with a pair of the numbers on either side of a brickwork wreath with a star inside. Bellow that are the words "A MEMORIAL"  There is then an arch way to the front door. On either side of the door is a large ornate tablet with "In Memory of" and the names of locals who fought in the Civil War. There are a total of 37 names between the two tablets.  At the bottom of each are the dates 1861 and 1865.

Cross carefully on the crosswalk to the Common.

Did you know that this area was once a cow pasture for Mr. Leonard who owned the Tory House?  In the late 1800's, there was a gazebo on the Common where bands would play on summer evenings.

8.  Walk over to the American Veterans Memorial.  There are four wars listed on this monument to honor the Bridgewater soldiers who served in those wars.  List the four wars. 
Vietnam, Korea, World Wars I & II

9.  Face the building in the photograph.  What is the name of this building?
Bridgewater Academy
Did you know that the first Academy building was on the opposite side of the Common?  It was built in 1799 but burned down in 1822.  The new building was built on the south side of the Common and was used as a private High School.

10. Walk to the opposite side of the Common and find the stone structure.  When was it erected?
Drinking Fountain
Erected 1912
Did you know that this structure was originally a drinking fountain?  It was given as a gift to the town and built with money raised by public funds.

Long ago, people used to stop here to let their horses drink from the town water pumps.

11.  Walk over to the Gordon "Mickey" Cochrane Memorial.

12.  Face east and look across the street at the gas station.

Did you know that there used to be a three story inn here called the Bridgewater Inn?  Abram Washburn brought part of it here from East Bridgewater.  It was known for "fine food, lodging, and dancing" and was torn down in 1930.

13.  Walk carefully across the street to the Bridgewater Town Hall.  What year was the Town Hall built?
Bridgewater Town Hall
Built in 1843
Did you know that the Town Hall has been used as a movie theater, for plays and operas, and political rallies?  It was even used as a roller skating rink!
Bridgewater Town Hall in 1918

Look at our town seal in the sidewalk in front of this building.  It has the aboriginal name of the land and water for the colonial grant in 1645.  What is the Indian name written in the town emblem?  What pictures are carved into the seal?
Bridgewater Town Seal
Nunkatateset & Saughtucket
Arm with Hammer, Oil Lamp, & Castle
First settled in 1650 as Nunkatateset, part of Duxbury, it was officially incorporated in 1656 as Bridgewater.  Both Nunkatateset & Saughtucket were the original names of the villages that existed before the town was called bridgewater in 1656. Nunkatateset refers the the Great Pond and Saughtucket refers the the plains around the pond.

Did you know that the castle on the seal is a copy of the coat of arms for Bridgewater, England?

14.  Continue around the corner onto School Street.  Stop at Dr. Albert F. Hunt Hall.  Look at the stone book on the left side of the building.  Who was the architect that designed this building?
Dr. Albert F. Hunt Hall
Architect: Frank Irving Cooper

Did you know this building used to be an elementary school but is now owned by Bridgewater State University?  Dr. Hunt was the doctor for the college for many years.

15.  Continue down the street to the First Parish Church.  When was the church organized?

Did you know that the church once had a steeple the contained a bell made by Paul Revere?  The steeple came down during Hurricane Carol in 1954.
First Congregational Unitarian (First Parish) Church Bridgewater
In 1930s
16.  Cross School Street and look for the memorial stone next to the college bus stop.  

Did you know that this was the original name of Bridgewater State University?  It began as a school to train teachers.

We completed our walking tour!  Now it's time to celebrate with yummy frozen yogurt at Just Yo-Way, the newest store to open in Central Square.

PS: One last tid bit of history.  The building below is the first Train Depot for Bridgewater.  In 1995 I helped to open it as a Burger King and I was a Manager for three years.

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