History

Hanson Historical Society organized in March, 1961 with the following statement of purpose:

It shall be the purpose of this Society to stimulate interest in the history of the town of Hanson, Mass. by the collection, preservation and study of manuscripts, books, pictures, furniture and all other objects of historic value which shall be acquired by gift or purchase; to provide a suitable repository for such objects and records; to mark historic sites; to cooperate with other neighboring groups and perform such acts as may from time to time seem advisable to promote the aims of this society; to institute a definite program to acquaint younger members of the community with our local history and to encourage them to take an active part in the Society.

The Hanson Historical Society “Preserving our Heritage” by Bruce Young

This is the story of how the Hanson Historical Society came to be, from the histories compiled by Elsie Calder.

Forty-Four years ago, at the March 1959 Town Meeting, Article number twenty was voted in the affirmative by those attending the meeting that evening. It called for the Selectmen to appoint a Committee of five Hanson residents to make a survey of the history of Hanson and report to the town on the ways and means of some permanent method of preserving the same.

Daniel Lewis was voted as chairman of this Committee and in an open meeting held in Thomas Hall on December 7, 1960, explained that the History Committee had pointed out the need of for a permanent Historical Society to gather and preserve such articles of Historic value to the Town as are available. Elsie Calder made a motion that such a society be formed, Robert Rich seconded the motion and it was so voted.

Hanson’s Historical Society was thus formed on December 7, 1960 as an outgrowth of the Hanson History Committee and duly organized on April 5, 1961, with the following as its first slate of officers elected for two year terms: President, Daniel Lewis; Vice President, Karl Baresel; Secretary, Elsie Calder; Treasurer, Dorothy Appleton.

At first, the Society’s meetings were held upstairs at the Thomas Hall on West Washington Street, then later they met at the homes of the following members; Dorothy Appleton, Hannah Baker, Carl Bianchi, Raymond Hopkins, Daniel Lewis, and Delia Walkey. The Society would then receive a permanent home as a result of a recommendation from the History Committee to Town Meeting.

This came as a result of a study by the committee as to the disposition of former Schoolhouse #4, which was no longer needed by the Town. School House #4, the oldest remaining Schoolhouse in the Town of Hanson, was constructed in 1845. During the years it was moved three times. Originally it was on the east side of Elm Street, about one-quarter mile south of Main Street. At that time it was known as District #7 School. In 1867 the schoolhouse was moved to the north side of Main Street, just east of the intersection with Elm Street. At that time it became Primary #4. The School remained in that location until 1939 when it was moved to the east side of the L.Z. Thomas School on Main Street. In this new location the building was used for grade 4 students.

The History Committee made a recommendation that this building remain forever in the Town’s possession because of its historic value. It was also recommended that it be moved from its present site to the west side of the L.Z. Thomas School grounds, set in granite block underpinning as was customary in the old days, facing Main Street a suitable distance from the road, with lawn on all four sides, thus giving it a setting suitable for an historic shrine. It was further recommended that after relocation of this building, its use be donated, rent free, to the Hanson Historical Society for as long as that organization may endure, for a meeting place and museum; the society to be allowed to restore the interior and redecorate. The Society would provide their own heat and light; while the Town would continue to maintain the exterior of the building, including the chimney, and the School Dept. to continue mowing the grass. The recommendations were voted in the affirmative in 1962 at the Annual Hanson Town Meeting.

The moving and refurbishing of the new Society Headquarters was a real Community effort. Francis J. Kenneally of Whitman moved the building. Antone Slaney converted the girl’s coat room into an entry way and lavatory, and the boy’s coat room into a kitchen; Harold Brown obtained the wiring permit and wired the building; Henry DeMestico replaced 24 panes of glass; the Hanson Fire Dept. loaned a space heater which was delivered and installed by Irving Foster; Carl Bianchi painted the inside of the building; Elsie Calder donated a flagpole; Robert Rich made the building sign; and George Ford cut the numeral #4 which was placed on the front of the old School House designating the building as the original #4 Primary School.

The first Society meeting in the Schoolhouse was held on October 3, 1963, thus proving that many things are possible when members of the Community unite in a common cause to get things done.

The Historic Schoolhouse #4 remains the Headquarters of the Hanson Historical Society, where its monthly meetings continue to be held, always open to the public. Through the efforts of the Hanson Historical Commission and the Hanson Historical Society, the Schoolhouse has been officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Dept. of the Interior.