One of the biggest takeaways from this project is just how embarrassingly little I know about the town I live in. Thanks to public schools, I know a tad more about the town I actually grew up in, but know not a darn thing about the historic homes, churches or building that I drive past everyday. New years resolution, maybe?
The Framingham History Center & I partnered earlier this year, which you can find out a bit more about by reading my post about the The Dexter Hemenway House, and I was excited to hear about their new exhibit that just opened up in October that featured the top ten most important artifacts from their archives. The word “archives” sends me immediately into two states of emotion, one of which is excitement because old stuff is cool, and secondly into panic because the thought of boxes and shelves and ROOMS filled with THOUSANDS of items to sort through is completely and totally overwhelming. So, kudos to the team for making what I know were some very tough calls to pair the exhibit down to ten items – and I’m going to share with you my top favorites of those ten!
This is a bit of a different post as I’ll be sharing my top picks from the ten – yet not another easy choice! But, I hope that you find some time over the next 19 months to visit this exhibit – or something similar to it right in your own backyard!
Favorite Exhibits (in no particular order)
Shoppers World Sign
For many of you that know me in real life, you know that I was a retail girl for 11 years up until recently. It was fun, always something exciting (yet ridiculous) happening, but completely and utterly soul sucking. Life is quite different outside that bubble, and I’m grateful for it everyday (and weekend that I have off, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas….etc). So, this original Shoppers World sign struck a cord with me.
Shoppers World opened in 1951 on Rt. 9 in Framingham and was the first regional mall East of the Rocky Mountains, and only the second in the country – wild! They have a great iPad kiosk right next to the sign that allows you to explore the map and stores of the mall from the 50s – the Jordan Marsh dome is something else. This sign was on Rt. 9 in Framingham for 50 years, and is quite something to see in person on your level. Lets just say when its turned on, the entire building glows!
View of the Centre Common of Framingham Painting
Painted by William Bell in 1808, this shows the center common as it would have been almost a century after the founding of the town. It is just quintessentially “New England”, and would fit perfectly inside the Cogswells Grant House! While I can certainly appreciate art (as someone with zero artistic talent what-so-ever), I really appreciate knowing what it is I’m looking at, and the context in which it was painted. Once again their awesome iPad kiosk was right there, allowing me to click on the different buildings in a virtual copy of painting and giving me more information on why they were included in the painting. Genius!
Bust of General George H. Gordon
While it may have taken 34+ years, a trip to Florence, Italy and a visit to Michelangelo’s David I now cannot stop but oogle at stone sculptures. General Gordon was one of those sculptures that stopped me in my tracks – the dude was looking at me. HOW in the world can someone chisel such a life-like face out of a hunk of stone? It’s mind boggling.
Daniel Chester French was the artist, who was also behind Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial and the Minute Man at the Old North Bridge (steps from The Old Manse) – so he was incredibly talented and well known. The fact that such a highly regarded artist would create a bust of a local Framingham General speaks volumes (and you’ll just have to visit the exhibit for more on General Gordon’s story!).
Jailed for Freedom Pins
These are two of eight-one original pins that were presented to American women who were jailed during the fight for women’s suffrage. Louise Parker Mayo & Josephine Collins, both of Framingham, received these pins in 1917. There are only five known pins to survive to this day – and the Framingham History Center has two of them!
Camera from the Nutting Studio
My dad started picking up old cameras at yard sales, so I have few on display in my home – but it surely doesn’t look like this one! The fact that struck me about this camera is that by 1925 it is estimated that there was one of Wallace Nutting’s prints in every American home, which was produced in his factory right here in Framingham.
The Framingham Top 10 Exhibit is open now thru April 15, 2021 – so you have time. But, we all know how these things go – so, plan your trip! You can find exhibit hours, directions and more right on their exhibit page!