As we enjoy the last week or so of summer, take a look at this fantastic image taken by Kingston historian and photographer, Emily Fuller Drew, showing the Bearse and Drew families enjoying a clambake. It was taken around 1925 and gets even more interesting the longer you look at it. Many of the people here are looking in down toward the right, and the man in the center is reaching his arm down as well. Could he be offering up a table scrap to the family dog? What do you think? Let us know.
Source: Image from the Emily Fuller Drew Collection (MC16).
Decoration Day, which we now know as Memorial Day, started in 1868. Kingston’s first documented observance was 1879, with formal Town funding starting in 1881. Stop by the Library to see photographs of Memorial Day parades dating back over a century.
We’ve got a new exhibit in the Library lobby. Stop by and take a look.
The spot where the Kingston Public Library stands was once the site of Kingston’s first hotel, built in 1854, just nine years after the Old Colony Railroad first chugged through town. Former boarding house proprietor Josiah Cushman bought the land from Spencer Cushman, and immediately borrowed $1500 from the seller to finance the building. Josiah ran the hotel, known as the Patuxet House, for the next 25 years, until another of his creditors, merchant Henry K. Keith (listed in the 1888 publication Twenty Thousand Rich New Englanders), took over the property, though Keith did not run the Inn himself.
Sometime around 1900, the hotel’s name had changed to either the Hotel Kingston or, the better known Kingston Inn. In 1921, right in the thick of Prohibition, crime struck. The double-crossing rum runner murder happened after hotel proprietor Richard Rowland (or Roland) ordered 26 cases of illegal Scotch from a well-known bootlegger. According to the Boston Globe, “Rowland had a good market for liquor at the Kingston Inn,” which had a reputation as a sporting house with a regular dice game, but he didn’t want to pay for the booze. Rowland plotted with two local thugs to fake a robbery in the hotel garage, but the bootlegger fought back and his driver, Edward Cardinal aka Eddie Gardner, was gunned down. The bootlegger escaped with the liquor, and Rowland, “the debonair blond gambler,” was eventually convicted of manslaughter, but his accomplices were never caught.
By 1927, the hotel was known Bay View Inn, and served as the grand prize in a raffle advertised by the Plymouth chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The brochure described the Inn’s
“28 rooms, including reception parlor, one large and three small dining rooms, hotel office and billiard parlor. It is situated on over 1 acre of land and the beautiful trees and lawns add to the enhancing surroundings. In addition to the main Hotel, there is a 20-car garage, with a cement floor, with an accessory store and office included in the buildings.”
For reasons unknown, the raffle never happened. The Inn sat empty and changed hands a few times until 1953, when Coley and Lillian Mae Hayes bought the property. Originally from Georgia, the couple worked together as chauffeur/butler and housekeeper/cook in the 1930s and 1940s in private homes around New York City and Boston. Between 1933 and 1941, they spent summers at Twin Oaks, the Duxbury camp they owned with Lillian’s two sisters and their husbands. The camp was a great success among its African-American clientele, but when one of the sisters died, another took over, and the Hayes went back to private employment, until 1953 when they bought the Kingston Inn.
The Hayes advertised in publications like Ebony and the Amsterdam News, and focused on African-American vacationers from Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The promotional materials produced during the Hayes’s tenure emphasized the near-by sights of Plymouth, the delights of Cape Cod, and the comfortable family atmosphere at the Kingston Inn, where “you don’t have to dress for dinner.” Coley Hayes ran the Inn until his death in 1966; Lillian appears to have predeceased him, though her death date isn’t known. In 1970, Hayes’ executor sold the vacant hotel to New England Telephone, which razed the building and constructed the long-distance equipment facility, which eventually became the Kingston Public Library in 1995.
This blog started six years ago this week with this post. Thanks for reading!
And it’s a great time to announce a new page Maps of Kingston on the Local History Room Online site, which (as the clever title suggests) has links to a nice bunch of maps of Kingston from 1795 to 1903. Click on a thumbnail to open or download a pdf copy of a map.
In the case of this 1857 wall map, the LHR has this detail and the full Town depiction only; these pieces were found in a local flea market after someone cut up the map! If you’d like to see the whole thing in person, we’re lucky to have a beautiful copy of the full map hanging in the Selectmen’s Office over in the Town Hall.
One of the most fun things about working in a local history collection is that sometimes people just show up with things to add to the collections. This week, a former member of the Kingston Mother’s Club dropped off three scrapbooks of Club activities 1965 to 1978, full of membership directories, newspaper clippings and photos.
The Club hosted lectures, auctions and fashion shows; sponsored Boy’s Baseball, vision screenings and Candidates Nights; and held banquets and dinner dances.
As I browsed the scrapbooks, I thought “These parties look like a blast,” and then one photo from the Scholarship Dance in the spring of ’77 just about jumped off the page.
It’s Buddy, our library custodian, out on the floor of the Hilltop Club, dancing to the Hour Glass! I only wish we could see his shoes.
When you’re cleaning out your attic, keep a sharp eye out. History is everywhere.
Source: Kingston Mother’s Club scrapbook, 1975-1978 Acc.20014-22
Yes, THAT Liberty Bell! And we have five glass plate negatives to help tell the tale.
Between 1885 and 1915, the Bell gallivanted around the country — down to New Orleans, across to Chicago, all the way to California — on a special flatbed railcar. In 1903, one of those trips brought the famed Bell to Boston for a commemoration of the Battle of Bunker Hill, then south to Plymouth on June 18th.
The Boston Globe proclaimed the event “one grand ovation.” After an estimated 50,000 people saw the Bell on Boston Common, hundreds more lined the tracks and thronged the stations as the train carried this most American symbol from South Station to meet its less-travelled cousin, Plymouth Rock.
On its journey, the Bell was guarded by patrolmen from Philadelphia and Boston — “their work was not arduous” said the Globe — watched over by GAR veterans and active military escorts, and accompanied by politicos and tycoons who “scattered flowers and other Liberty Bell souvenirs” to the singing, flag-waving crowds at each station stop.
The celebration in Plymouth included a sumptuous banquet at the Hotel Pilgrim, patriotic tunes, and speeches galore. The sizable Philadelphia delegation even got to stand on Plymouth Rock!
Though Kingston was not specifically mentioned in the Globe, we know the Bell came through on the way to Plymouth and back. This last image gives some idea of how Kingston celebrated. [If something about this image seems strange to you, you’re right! It’s reproduced in reverse, as is the third photo above.]
The Liberty Bell’s last train trip was to San Francisco in 1915. Officials determined that in 30 years of crossing the country, the Bell had lost 1% of itself along the way and this American icon has remained home in Philadelphia for the last 99 years.