Summer’s Last Hurrah

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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).

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Welcome Home from the War to End All Wars

For more on Kingston’s Welcome Home parade, see this post.

Marcher with Red Cross flag in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marcher with Red Cross flag in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Riders and marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Riders and marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Spectators at the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Spectators at the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Riders in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Riders in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers and cars in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Marchers and cars in the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Spectators at the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.
Spectators at the Welcome Home parade, October 18, 1919.

 

Source: Emily Fuller Drew Collection MC16. Negatives scanned with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and digitized at the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth)

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com

New Exhibit: Memorial Day

Memorial Day exercises on the Training Green, circa 1943
Memorial Day exercises on the Training Green, circa 1943

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.

Source: Mary Hathaway Collection MC21

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.co

“This place will suit you.” Kingston’s first hotel, 1854-1970

We’ve got a new exhibit in the Library lobby. Stop by and take a look.

Patuxet House, circa 1870
Patuxet House, circa 1870

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.

Kingston Inn, Flag Day 1915
Kingston Inn, Flag Day 1915

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.

Kingston Inn, Keith House and World War I monument, circa 1930
Kingston Inn, Keith House and World War I monument, circa 1930

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.

Guests on the lawn of the Kingston Inn, circa 1960
Guests on the lawn of the Kingston Inn, circa 1960

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.

Kingston Inn giant postcard, circa 1960
Kingston Inn giant postcard, circa 1960

Happy Blog-a-versary, with bonus maps

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.

There are either originals or copies in the LHR of these maps, but in some cases,  the images are also linked to terrific online collections like the State Library’s Real Estate Atlases and the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

Village detail from the “Map of Plymouth County," Henry Francis Walling. 1857
Village detail from the “Map of Plymouth County,”
Henry Francis Walling. 1857

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.

 

Source: Maps OC3

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

Super suave!

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.

Buddy Wrightington, "Another Fred Astaire???" April 1977
Buddy Wrightington, “Another Fred Astaire???” April 1977

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

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

Happy 4th!

In 1910, Kingston’s first 4th of July parade rolled through town.

Captain Jones in the Shallop float, 4th of July Parade, 1910
Captain Jones in the Shallop float, 4th of July Parade, 1910
Jones River Village Club float, 4th of July Parade, 1910
Jones River Village Club float, 4th of July Parade, 1910
Grand Army of the Republic float, 4th of July Parade, 1910
Grand Army of the Republic float, 4th of July Parade, 1910
Parade riders, 4th of July Parade, 1910
Parade riders, 4th of July Parade, 1910

More photos from this parade are here and here.

 

Source: LHR General Image Collection IC7

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

111 years ago next Wednesday…

The Liberty Bell came through Kingston!

The Liberty Bell on its flatbed, 1903
The Liberty Bell on its flatbed, 1903

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 Liberty Bell on its flatbed, 1903
The Liberty Bell on its flatbed, 1903

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.

The Liberty Bell on its flatbed, 1903
The Liberty Bell on its flatbed, 1903

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.

Spectators and a band, near the Cordage, 1903
Spectators and band, near the Cordage, 1903

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!

Band marching on Green Street, Kingston, 1903
Band marching on Green Street, Kingston, 1903

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.

 

Sources: Glass plate negatives from the Margaret Warnsman Collection MC30 (scans federally funded with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and digitized at the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth); “Seen by 50,000 on Common,” Boston Globe, June 19, 1903; Liberty Bell Timeline; National Park Service “The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon”

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.

 

Memorial Day parade

Another Memorial Day is upon us.  Here are a few photos from the Local History Room collections which provide a glimpse of one of Kingston’s Memorial Day parades sometime before 1961.*

Sailors from the U.S.S. Des Moines march on Main Street
Sailors from the U.S.S. Des Moines march on Main Street
Majorettes on Main Street
Majorettes on Main Street
Solemn moment on the Training Green
Solemn moment on the Training Green

 

*This date is based on a flag carried by the color guard, which reads “U.S.S. Des Moines.” This heavy cruiser was launched in 1946 and decommissioned in 1961.

 

Source: LHR General Image Collection IC7

 

For more, visit the Kingston Public Library, and the Local History Room, and the full blog at piqueoftheweek.wordpress.com.