Heritage Park is located on the corner of Chapel Street, Railroad Avenue, and Route 125 in Union, To access the site from Boston and southern New Hampshire, take Route 16 North to the Union/Milton Mills Exit 18. Then turn right and head north about two miles to the first railroad crossing where the station is located. Parking is available at the station, freight house, and Union Hotel (Greater Wakefield Resource Center) up the street. To access Heritage Park from points north of Union, take Route 16 South the traffic lights in Union near the Irving gas station, take a right on Route 125, and within 3/4 mile the station will be visible at the railroad crossing. The park and exhibits are handicapped accessible and parking is available immediately adjacent to the station and freight house.
The museum and gallery at the Heritage Center in Historic Wakefield Corner at 26 Province Lake Road in Sanbornville is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from late June to Columbus Day weekend.
BY THOMAS BEELER, Contributing Writer
The Wakefield Heritage Commission officially opened the restored East Wakefield Schoolhouse and invited all graduates to an all-class reunion held on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.
The one-room East Wakefield School was built in 1906 and for a time was one of 10 schools in Wakefield. It served the East Wakefield community for 35 years before being closed in 1941 at the beginning of World War II. The growth of the Wakefield after the war led to its reopening in 1953, and it stayed open until 1969. All students now go to the Paul School in Sanbornville village. The town continued to own the school and property. Most recently it leased the building to a church. The congregation shrank and the town repossessed the property in 2016. Selectmen considered putting the property up for auction last year, but the Heritage Commission persuaded the board to allow it to restore it and reopen it as a school museum, as long as its repair and maintenance would not cost taxpayers anything. As it turned out, there were few issues with the building. According to Rick Poore, who is an expert on old buildings and organized the work, “The building was in good shape.”
Last year the exterior was painted and the grounds cleared. This year the interior was painted, some plumbing replaced and setup of exhibits has begun. The Heritage Commission is still looking for a teacher’s desk, a school globe, more student desks and any other school-related items that residents may have. The commission would also like to record memories of students. According to a handout provided to visitors, “Future plans include expanded exhibits, more photographs of the school, classes and students, additional roll up maps, air conditioning, a new flag pole, window shades, buff the floor, replace the sink and”– last but not least – “establish a Friends of the East Wakefield School group.”
The reunion marked the reopening of the restored building and an opportunity for those residents who went to school there the gather and share memories. The oldest alumna present, from the first period the school was open, was Dorothy Wentworth. Lists of students and the years they attended were made available, as well as two notebooks with photos in them. Alumni were asked to correct any errors in the list, identify the photos and the people in them, and offer comments on the school, the teachers and what a school day was like.
If you would like to donate items, help financially, become a docent or a “friend,” please contact the Heritage Commission at 2 High St. in Sanbornville, call either Adele Schweizer at 522-3012 (or email her at email@example.com) or Pam Wiggin at 387-3698 (email firstname.lastname@example.org). The school will be open to the public beginning Aug. 1. Hours will be Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m to noon for August and September.
The Heritage Park Railroad Museum campus, which includes the Union Station, Freight House and 1902 Russell Snow Plow exhibit, a 1950s-era caboose, and a Boston & Maine Railroad water tower, is open for visitation Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m., from late June through Columbus Day weekend.
East Wakefield School graduates Johnny Blackwood and Clara Weeks reviewed the list of students and two notebooks of photos provided by the Wakefield Heritage Commission at Reunion Day held Wednesday, July 18, 2018.
The Freight House will be open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. through Columbus Day weekend. Come visit and see the H/O scale model of the Boston & Maine Railroad as it served Wakefield circa 1909. Built by a team of volunteers, the layout includes running trains, historically accurate scenery and terrain, and depictions of domestic life and industry of the time.
Located on Chapel Street in Union, is open most days and times when Heritage Park is open or if not ask a docent for a tour! Here, Commission member and docent Phil Twombley demonstrates a blacksmith's tool.
Photos courtesy of Thomas Beeler
East Wakefield School alumni who came to the reunion last Wednesday pose on the front steps (l-r): back row, Steve Mazza, Nancy Weeks Plybon, Clara Weeks, Obno Weeks Harris; middle row, Bill Blackwood, Bill Sparhawk, Forest Smart, Joyce Smart Grinnell; and bottom row, Adele Sparhawk Schweizer, Jana Chadbourne Mayotte, Dorothy Wentworth, and John Blackwood. Other alumni were present but not available for this photo.
The Wakefield Heritage Commission welcomes you to visit its historic sites during the 2018 season. Most sites open weekends through Columbus Day. Tours for school and community groups and individuals can be arranged by special appointment. Contact the Wakefield Heritage Commission Chair Pam Wiggin at email@example.com, or send a query via email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.