Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Mary Frazier (above) being presented an appreciation award as Curator of the Braintree Historical Society for work she and others, there, did in conjunction with the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the American Legion.

Mary is shown with General Leonid Kondratiuk, Director of Historical Services and Militia Affairs for the Commonwealth of MA, and American Legion Commander Pedro Vidal. 

Bob Harris, (below)  Braintree Historical Society Board Member, received an individual Certificate of Appreciation for his efforts in doing research at the Society for the American Legion Post 86 “Braintree Remembers” Program, for providing access to documentary sources, photographs, and other artifacts in the Society’s collections, and for serving as a liaison between the Society and Post 86 to coordinate the inclusion of the “World War I Centennial Memorial Observance Honoring the Service of Three Noble Ladies of Braintree”, all nurses, held on the Braintree Veterans Memorial Mall in conjunction with the Society’s Annual Heritage Day in September 2018



At the beginning of the 2018.2019 school year, students from Braintree High School’s History of Braintree course visited Braintree Historical Society’s campus for an overview of the role of the Society in preserving Braintree’s history.  Students toured the Society’s Gilbert L Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center where more than 6000 historical artifacts rotate through topical displays and another 6000 or more books, documents and photos are available for exploration by Society members, researchers and other interested visitors.

One high school senior, Gerald Ridge, has taken his initial visit further in a major way.  Gerald has joined the Society’s volunteers working one afternoon a week on a variety of tasks vital to the Society.  While Gerald has committed to volunteering for the full school year, he chose to highlight items from the Society’s historical collections in his final course project.  In a large high school Media Center display case, Gerald has selected for display artifacts from the Society’s Native American past, items from the history of the Braintree White Sox baseball team and items from Braintree’s World War I and World War II soldiers.  

The Braintree Historical Society is excited to have this opportunity to support the High School’s Social Studies Program under the direction of Dr. Gorman Lee, to support Gerald in the development of his course project and to have Gerald as a valuable Society volunteer.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019
6:30 PM Social Hour
7:30 PM Presentation

A major literary moment: after being lost to history for more than a century,  

The Road to Dawn  uncovers the incredible story of the real-life slave who inspired Uncle Tom's Cabin

-He rescued 118 enslaved people

-He won a medal at the first World's Fair in London

-Queen Victoria invited him to Windsor Castle

-Rutherford B. Hayes entertained him at the White House

-He helped start a freeman settlement, called Dawn, that was known as one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad

-He was immortalized in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the novel that Abraham Lincoln jokingly blamed for sparking the Civil War

But before all this, Josiah Henson was brutally enslaved for more than forty years

Author-filmmaker Jared A. Brock retraces Henson's 3,000+ mile journey from slavery to freedom and re-introduces the world to a forgotten figure of the Civil War era, along with his accompanying documentary narrated by Hollywood actor Danny Glover. 

The Road to Dawn is a ground-breaking biography lauded by leaders at the NAACP, the Smithsonian, senators, authors, professors, the President of Mauritius, and the 21st Prime Minister of Canada, and will no doubt restore a hero of the abolitionist movement to his rightful place in history.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

There will be a member meeting .

The Braintree Historical Society invites you to an exhibit of American made hand-held fans on display at the Society’s Resource Center from 1 April to 31 May.  This exhibit, of over sixty fans, is in conjunction with the publication of our new book on the Manufacture of Hunt and Allen Fans.Ruth Powell and Mary Frazier will give a talk on the fans. Our publication, Hunt and Allen Fans, Revisited, is the summation of thirty years of research into the fan businesses in Weymouth and Braintree, the people, the patents, the factories and the designs.  You may purchase your own copy on site during the Fan exhibit.The Fan exhibit will be open Tuesday and Wednesday mornings 9AM to 12PM and  Saturday and Sunday afternoons 1PM to 4PM.

We hope you will come to see and enjoy these lovely examples of an accessory that was a part of every lady’s wardrobe  from the 16th century until the World War I.

Monday, May 13, 2019 

Annual Dinner Meeting at the Granite Grill, Braintree, MA

Sacco and Venzetti 

Presenter  Jon Curley -  poet and Senior University Lecturer of Humanities at New Jersey Institute of Technology will discuss the creative work of Italian anarchist Bartolomeo Vanzetti,  arrested, convicted, and executed for his alleged role in a 1920 South Braintree bank robbery.

Curley edited a short story by Vanzetti which was published in 2018 by PM Press. He will read an excerpt from the story and use it to reflect on both local and nationwide historical issues, past and present, including immigrant and immigrant rights, radical politics, prison literature, creative New England culture, and how we might reconsider the legacy of Bartolomeo Vanzetti's through his writing. 

PARANORMAL TOUR - November 18th, 2018

We all had an interesting time last night with the Unexplained Paranormal Research... Here are a few shots of the evening taken by Dave Crispin . 

There were several electromagnetic forces detected, some strange voice recordings and a flashlight placed on the mantle of the Thayer house that kept turning off an on as questions were asked, and a lot of inquisitive questions.

There were some strange happenings in the neighborhood! Hmmmnnnn!

Image result for wayne Miller - Quincy MA Shipbuilding Tradition images

Our Evening with Wayne G. Miller

It’s always nice when hearing a personal account of Braintree history.  While many know the names of those affecting town and country history, it is a bonus when exposed to a personal account.  And better still when audience members get to share their stories relating to that personal account.  Thus was it so when author Wayne G. Miller gave his presentation at the Braintree Historical Society regarding the history of shipbuilding in the region. 

After Mr. Miller spoke and shared his experiences growing up near the Fore River Shipyard, those present were treated to a tidbit of a personal experience of one of its oldest attendees.  Bill Varroso shared his story of working at the Quincy Shipyard at 17 years old.  He later served on a ship that he had helped build, the USS Underhill.  And he was onboard that same ship (and assisted with the rescue of shipmates) as it sank in the Pacific Ocean.

The meeting was very well attended was followed by lively discussions as others shared their stories of their own personal memories enlivened by the authors own reminiscing.


With over 100 guests attending, the Braintree Historical Society’s reopening of the Gilbert L. Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center could not have gone any better. There was a resounding air of positive energy, community and fellowship. Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan and several representatives of the Town Council and Civic Organizations graced us with their presence.

Mayor Joseph Sullivan praised the work of the volunteers and said he is committed to preserving the history of the town, “so we underline the importance of Braintree to the history of our nation.”

In reaffirming the continued contribution the Town makes, the Mayor encouraged and underscored the need for members of the community to also support the Society. This support is now coming in many forms: much needed financial pledges and contributions and  growing number of important historical items  being accessioned to our museum, a growing awareness by the public of the discoveries that can be made from the rich and unique resources available under our roof. Above all, the community’s support is echoed by acknowledgment of the now over 85 (and growing) Volunteer core, allowing us to further expand our activities and better serve Braintree.

Operating as a100% volunteer organization, our hard work and efforts over the recent period were on full display. These were supplemented by a team”of students from the local CATS Academy who are providing community service to the Society; they came and enthusiastically helped us set up the venue for our fantastic evening! If you missed it, you can capture some of it here:

Bob Harris, a member of the board of directors, shows a wooden medallion from the 1500′s at the Gilbert L. Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center,Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.Gary Higgins/The Patriot Ledger


A presentation made by past president Ronald Forrest Frazier. FULL TEXT

History revitalized in Braintree

By Fred Hanson 
The Patriot Ledger 

Posted Oct 19, 2018 at 12:10 AM Updated Oct 19, 2018 at 11:06 AM

Re-opening of museum and resource center result of a revitalized Braintree Historical Society.

An antique bicycle frames the gathering at the Gilbert L. Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center,Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.Gary Higgins/The Patriot Ledger

BRAINTREE − With an eye towards better displaying and preserving the history of the town and the world, the Braintree Historical Society rededicated the Gilbert L. Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Resource Center Thursday night.

Past President Ron Frazier shows personal artifacts from Gilbert Bean and Mary Bean Cunningham at the Gilbert L. Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center,Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.Gary Higgins/The Patriot Ledger

The barn displays a variety of artifacts, including ceramics collected by the Beans.“They traveled all over the world, and they picked up a number of things wherever they went,” said Ron Frazier, a former society president who was given a number of the items now on display by Bean Cunningham on her death. He loaned them to the society.

Frazier said she told him, “I want them to go somewhere where they will be taken care of.”

Gilbert Bean raised the money to build the barn behind the Thayer House, which opened in 1976. Mary Bean Cunningham, who remarried following Gilbert Bean’s death, raised the money for the addition, dedicated in 1995, which was intended to house a library and research facility.

Several years ago, a former executive director of the society decided to move much of the library to the Watson Building in East Braintree, which Frazier said proved to be a financial disaster for the society.

Bob Harris said much of the society’s collection was stored in an attic which was not climate controlled and left the items vulnerable to damage. The files were very disorganized, he said. Over the past two years, volunteers including members of the society and high school interns took on the task of moving items from the attic into the climate-controlled basement and organizing the society’s files and library. The job is ongoing.
In the process, the society itself has been revitalized. Cheryl Edgar, the society’s vice president and program chair, said the now all-volunteer society has seen its volunteer base grow from six a couple years ago to 87 today. The goal is to reach 100. The society is launching a membership drive and has a new web site, she said.With the added help, she said the group is hoping to expand the opening hours of the museum and the Thayer House, continue to expand its school programs, as well as offer rotating exhibits.
Harris said of the items now on display, “a lot of it was out of sight for 20 years.”
Mayor Joseph Sullivan praised the work of the volunteers and said he is committed to preserving the history of the town, “so we underline the importance of Braintree to the history of our nation.”

Cheryl Edgar, Vice President of the Braintree Historical Society officiated as the Master of Ceremonies  for the evening.


Braintree High School Social Studies Department/Braintree Historical Society Partnership 2018/2019

The Braintree Historical Society is happy to have the opportunity to partner with Braintree High School in support of this year’s History of Braintree course.  Students enrolled in this semester-long, research-based course will research and examine the history, geography, economy, government, and politics of the Town of Braintree, Massachusetts, from its founding in 1625 to the present day. Beginning with discussions in the 2017/2018 school year, Gorman Lee, Director of Social Studies for Braintree High School is partnering with Braintree Historical Society as a part of this year’s class. 

On Wednesday, September 26, 2018, students in the History of Braintree course, Mr. Lee and Bob Harris of the Society’s Board of Directors, met at the Civil War Monument on the Town Green.  After a brief discussion of the monument, Dr. Harris reviewed the Society’s three homes on Washington Street in a short walk to the Society’s Gilbert L. Barn Museum and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center at 31 Tenney Road.

Students had an opportunity to tour the Society’s newly relocated historical library and genealogical resource center, to look at historical items on exhibit on the building’s ground level, including a Roman oil lamp, circa 70 – 100 AD (currently on loan to the Society), and to look at some of the items in storage in the building’s newly restored lower level climate-controlled collections storage area and lower level library.

Students will be exploring, investigating, and analyzing various primary source documents and artifacts that collectively tell the story of their hometown, including items in the Society’s collection. Students will contribute in developing the primary text for this course and will also complete a culminating final research project (or paper). 

The Braintree Historical Society is pleased to support Dr. Lee, his students and Braintree High School in this initiative and in collaborative efforts in future years.

CATS Academy/Braintree Historical Society Partnership

The Braintree Historical Society is excited to partner with students from CATS Academy in their year-long initiative to support the Braintree Historical Society with community service. 

CATS Academy, an international boarding school with locations in Great Britain and Braintree, MA provides a college preparatory curriculum with an emphasis on academic rigor and English proficiency, drawing students from across the world.  (See July 2019 Lantern Online Then & Now article.)

 The Academy, located in the newly-renovated former Norfolk County Hospital for the Treatment of Tuberculosis, has reached out to the Braintree Historical Society with an offer to volunteer time and effort in all areas of the Society’s needs for volunteers.

Ms. Darcy Daniels, of the CATS Academy History Department, met initially with Society Board Members, Bob Harris and Aziz Karsan to explore the opportunity for CATS students to volunteer at least one afternoon a month over the course of the 2018/2019 school year.  Ms. Daniels offered to support a group of 10 to 12 students to assist the Society in tasks varying from electronically documenting collection items, to tech and social media support, to events preparation and to grounds maintenance – an offer that is welcomed with open arms!

Twelve students, Ms. Daniels, Mr. Karsan and Dr. Harris met for the first time on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 26, 2018, for the students to receive the Society’s recently-developed Volunteer Orientation presentation, to answer student questions and to tour the Society’s collection displays on the Barn’s ground level.  The students, from Asia, Mexico and South America, had many questions and ideas, including how to “hook us (BHS) up” with an Instagram account with which each of the students will share their 1000 followers (a potential total of 12,000 contacts for a BHS social media Instagram account).

The CATS students and Ms. Daniels will be volunteering once weekly to help prepare for the Society’s Grand Reopening of the Gilbert L Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Historical Resource Center.  The Society looks forward to energetic and enthusiastic contribution of these young volunteers.

HS - Thayer Academy - 2018 Intern Program:

BHS was pleased to host Senior Max Wagner from Thayer Academy during the month of May 2018 for a student internship as a part of his year-end senior project.

Max worked at the Society’s Gilbert Bean Barn & Mary Bean Cunningham Resource Center 5 mornings a week, supporting BHS Directors, Curators and Librarians, Bob Harris, Mary Frazier, Ruth Powell, Claudia Shutter and Claudette Newhall with a variety of tasks critical to the Society’s reorganization of the 31 Tenney Road location.

Max toured the Society’s General Sylvanus Thayer House & Museum and the Gallivan House, had the opportunity to view many of the Society’s collection items and had the opportunity to learn about both famous and infamous aspects of Braintree’s history. In addition to working to relocate and restore the Society’s computer and internet systems, Max played a major role in moving collection items stored in the Barn loft and the attic, in reorganizing spaces on the first and basement floors of the building and in repairing parts of the building and collection items.

Max’s efforts were central to making significant progress toward the Society’s goal of reopening to the public the Gilbert Bean Barn and Mary Bean Cunningham Resource Center in the fall. While those who worked with Max will miss him, they and the Society wish him the best as he graduates, enters college, and moves forward with the next major step in his young life.

Girl Scouts Program

Boy Scouts Program

In collaboration with the Braintree Historical Society and the Braintree Public Schools 3rd and 5th grade students will visit the General Sylvanus Thayer Birthplace during the first two weeks of June 2018 for their annual "Braintree, Our Town" field trip.           
Two other stops of this Tri-Visit Program include visits to the Braintree Fire Station for a tour and fire truck exploration and a visit to Braintree Town Hall, where they meet the Mayor, view the original Indian Deed to the Town of Braintree, and tour the operations of their local town government first hand.   
At the General Sylvanus Thayer birthplace, children will be greeted by a costumed volunteer and after a brief introduction about General Sylvanus Thayer and the 1720 home in which he was born, they will begin their educational tour stepping back to the period of 1785. 

 Through guided talks by volunteers and demonstrations of the crafts and chores necessary for everyday living, they will experience what life was like for Sylvanus as a little boy growing up in Braintree at that time.

What is it?   October

HINT: Made entirely of wood, probably elm, this item is  approximately 6” wide with a 5” handle.

What was it ?  September

This is a carriage jack.  The wood fame  jack with iron serrated edge was used to lift your wagon, carriage or cart when the wheel broke or fell off or the axle was damaged. They were in extensive use throughout the world until the beginning of the 20th century.

Go to Curator's Corner to see more of our collection:SEE MORE


On Sunday, August 26th, the Bowes-Andrews family of Braintree hosted a Graduation Party on the Society's campus for their daughter,  Alyssa, celebrating her graduation this year from Stonehill College with a major in history.
Fifty family members and close friends attended a delightful gathering featuring a catered buffet dinner with beverages and desserts. 
In addition to enjoying the ambiance of a historical venue, guests were able to see artifacts of local and national historical significance on display in the Society's newly reorganized Barn. And over 30 guests participated in guided tours of General Sylvanus Thayer Birthplace, an 18th century home and museum, with period furnishings that captures what home life was like for a middle-class family in the 1700s.
The 3 hour celebration took place under the shade of the campus's old trees, with a pleasant breeze and a perfect blue sky. The day and the celebration could not have been better!

John A. Dennehy was born and raised in Braintree. He is a former member and past chairman of the Braintree Board of Selectmen and past president of the Braintree Historical Society. He is an attorney and a history professor. On Thursday afternoon, August 30, 2018, John presented a Photographic History of Braintree to residents of Glen Manor Estates, an assisted living facility in Braintree, which offers activities at their location for residents. 
An enthusiastic group were reminded of how the face of Braintree has changed from its formative years to today.
First settled in 1634 Braintree was primarily a farming community for almost three centuries and home to a number of water-powered mills and businesses, which prospered along the banks of the Monatiquot River. Horse ridden paths gave way to trams and cable cars later to be replaced by classic motor cars for the wealthy until Henry Ford introduced mass produced vehicles that now smother our roads. 
With the arrival of the railroad in the mid-19th century, several manufacturing plants were built near South Braintree Square. Farming and manufacturing have since been replaced by white-collar businesses and retail establishments. Since World War II, Braintree has become home to a larger and increasingly diverse residential and business population due in part to its proximity to Boston and three major highways.
John painted vivid images of life then, supported by his photographs, stories and his passion for history. He included many previously unpublished photographs from the archives of the Braintree Historical Society. These sparked so many memories of life then by this retired community!

Over the last month, BHS launched a new Volunteer Initiative.  We hosted two very successful Volunteer Orientation sessions. We had a full house of Volunteers bringing new energy, ideas, enthusiasm, and learning about the incredible history and legacy of the Braintree Historical Society, founded in 1930.  Our goal for this Initiative is to increase our volunteers to 100 over the course of the coming year. Won't you join us? Volunteer  

Tours of The Thayer Birthplace
Available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 AM - 2 PM - BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

Appointments should be made at least two days in advance
by emailing BHS at to confirm availability. Group Tours are encouraged.

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