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AIB Participants Tour Holliston

by Paul Saulnier
October 10, 2017

Dressed in their best 18th Century clothes, volunteer tour guides and a few of the speakers pose for a group photo before guests arrived on Saturday morning, October 7, 2017. All photos contributed by Cherry Fenton.

All photos contributed by Cherry Fenton

Guests were greeted at their buses on Washington Street by the Holliston High School Panther Band and marched down Green Street to Goodwill Park where they were entertained before and during the luncheon by the High School Chorus.

After the chorus sang the National Anthem, HIB co-chairman Mark Ahronian asked for a moment of silence in memory of HIB member and founding member of, Bill Tobin, who died unexpectedly last spring.

Then guests were thrilled to see Paul Revere and William Dawes ride in shouting "the Regulars are coming, the Regulars are coming". Paul Revere, above right, played by Paul Tobin and William Dawes, played by Andrew Tobin, left, reenact the famous ride of the evening of April 18th from Boston to Lexington and Concord as members of the National Lancers. The Lancers have been reenacting "the ride" every year since 1904. Below Anne Tobin is justifiably proud of her boys.

Later that evening at the Sheraton Tara in Framingham former America in Bloom President, Marvin Miller, remarked that the tour of Boston was mystical as the visitors from across the country were able to visit the grave of Paul Revere in Boston and then saw him alive and well in Holliston. After lunch guests were divided into 8 groups and headed out to see and learn about Holliston's history and horticulture.

At Goodwill Park, Stephanie Collier, above left, explained that the playground was reconstructed in 2012 by a volunteer group that called themselves Mission Possible, established in 2006 to advocate for improvements to recreational spaces in Holliston for individuals of all ability, a sensory garden that promotes play. Mark explained that the plantings are specifically chosen to thrive in the two rain gardens designed to handle storm water runoff or on the dry sunny areas. Both Stephanie and Mark were instrumental in the design and construction of the playground.

 At the Library, built with a donation from Andrew Carnegie in 1904, Toni Neal, above left, and Joan Butler told guests that the Garden Club maintains the landscape and gardens, including the Secret Garden and Pollinator Garden in back, designed to be a learning experience for children as it is visible from the Children's Room in the Library. Guests were impressed with free passes available to museums and gardens funded by the Garden Club and the Newcomers Club.

At the Central Street Fire Station, Chief Michael Cassidy, above, enlightened visitors about Holliston's on-call firefighting department with over 50 people willing to serve and be on-call 24/7. The Chief explained that, when the fire station needed to be expanded, the antique home that occupied the space was relocated to Mudville rather than be torn down, another example of Holliston's history preserved. The wall on the left behind the Chief was the first major project of HIB. It was designed and constructed by volunteers, creating a safe pathway to the municipal parking lot behind the station. The mural behind the Chief was painted by Samantha and Madeline Tate and is a wonderful example of public art that includes the rail trail and honors two Holliston students who died very young.

At the corner of Exchange and Union Streets, above, visitors saw the bronze plaque marking the location of Holliston's shoe factory, built in 1879. The Mudville Free Public Library occupies a small space on the opposite corner. Also at this intersection, are the home that was relocated when the fire station was expanded and two other antique homes recently preserved. The owners were on hand to speak of their love of the homes and the neighborhood.

The Mayor's house was the next stop on our tour. Bobby Blair's history with Holliston goes back several generations, many of them having lived on School Street. This is also the location where Holliston asserts its lineage with Casey at the Bat, Holliston's old style baseball team and joy in Mudville.

On the way to the next stop, visitors walk under the arch on Arch Street and learn that volunteers constructed the deck and railings that allow users of the rail trail to pass safely.

Up the hill from Arch Street to the rail trail where Robert Weidknecht was on hand to provide details on the history and construction of the trail as we walked down to the next stop.

The Historical Society displayed some of their artifacts that best represent Holliston's manufacturing history. Above, left to right Joanne Hulbert, Terri Chamberlain and Joanna Hilliard greet arrivals.

Nancy Lamb, hatted above, maintains the society's collection. Nancy described the pieces on display  and items invented right here in Holliston, including the steel toed boot and the wax paper cuter box, both of these in use today. Did you know that at one time Holliston produced more cranberries than any other town in America?

Terry Chamberlain describes the society's 18th Century days where 3rd graders live for a day in the 1700s, making a candle, learning to cross stitch, making and eating the food of the period and playing the games of that era.

While on Water Street, visitors were told about the history of the factories that produced all those boots and straw hats in what was considered modern at the time in that each work station had a window to light their work with natural light. The buildings have been saved and adapted to use for businesses and a thriving artist colony.

At Blair Square, Town Planner Karen Sherman, above left in a straw hat (appropriate after the previous stop) and Mary Greendale, right, describe Holliston's open space and our mechanisms for saving farms and open space. Handouts included information that will be helpful to attendees who want to preserve open space in their communities.

The group next boarded a bus for a short stop in front of the 8 Arch Bridge to learn of Holliston's plan to make it safe for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to cross as part of our 6.7 mile rail trail which will eventually be part of a 26 mile loop with no hills.

The bus took us to Pinecrest Golf Course where Deb Moore told of her quest to save the course from development by purchasing and improving it to provide income to the town, Purchased in 1986 for one million dollars, it now returns about $250,000 per year to the town.

With over 181 acres for the 18 hole course, the course maintains its own water supply for irrigation. The practice driving range is sodded and the course is dotted with labeled specimen trees and flowers planted and maintained by Deb and husband John. They also talked the company that manages the course into investing in an aggressive invasive species control program.

Above Deb answers questions from attendees as Gina Stucchi manages the displays.

The last stop on the tour was in front of Town Hall. Town Clerk Liz Greendale, above left, related the history of the establishment of Holliston in 1724 and displayed several volumes of town records being restored and preserved for generations to come.

On the way back to the waiting buses, Tour Group 8 wanted one last picture of their tour guides, Yours truly and "sweep" Cherry Fenton, These folks were truly interested in Holliston, We  hope that they take back home a few ideas that they can use to improve their communities and maybe even host an AIB Symposium. See you all in Lexington, Kentucky during next year's symposium. We promise to wait until the end of the symposium to hit the famous Bourbon Trail.


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Comments (3)

What an amazing and unforgettable event the HIB committee created for Holliston's guests. Imagine, a marching band, a chorus, AND a cameo by Revere and Dawes. My father would have been so very proud of the whole week. The entire presentation was suffused with imagination, joy and love, and took Herculean amounts of work to have pulled it off so well and look so impressive. Absolutely inspiring, and the very thing that makes Holliston the wonderful Massachusetts town that it remains.

- Dave Tobin | 10/24/17 12:30 PM

Thanks Carmen, Cherry Fenton deserves all the credit for the photos. I wish she worked for HR all the time

- Paul Saulnier | 10/10/17 9:20 AM

Paul,you did an excellent job with your photos and explanations at each stop of the tour that you were guiding around town.

- Carmen Chiango JR | 10/10/17 8:00 AM



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