Saturday, June 17, 2017

Keep on Rollin' Down the Line

Today's ride is all about grabbing a particular historic spot in Monson, MA, which grabbed my attention reading about it. I blew these spots off in another ride and said I would pick them up another day. Well today is the day. Headed out toward Charlton versus thru Douglas State Forest to shake up the route a bit. Gifford is following me for part of this trip.

First stop is the Rider Tavern on Stafford St in Charlton.

Built as a hostelry in 1797. It is of the Federal period and was an important stop on the Worcester to Stafford Turnpike. The most famous person to have stayed here was the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825. It contains two kitchens, a wine cellar, nine guest rooms, a ballroom and a dining area. Rider Tavern is owned by the Charlton Historical Society today.

From here we zig zagged along some roads bordering the Hamilton Reservoir. I would have guessed at some point the roads were going to turn to dirt, however they stayed paved, well sort of. We came up on the Hamilton Reservoir, which is where Giff parted company and headed back home. I stopped for a picture of the dam.

In Wales I grabbed Dr. John Smith's House and Office built in 1840, which became the local post office

Riding along Wales Road, I initially stopped for the arched stone bridge on the right, but settled down behind the viewer and composed a shot of the whole scene.

Having nothing but time on my hands stopped for the Hillside Cemetery free standing arch for Waymarking.

This stop was the whole objective for the day, Monson Development Center. There are quite a few buildings on this site, many of which are fenced off from traffic. I did run across a Security Officer, who I spoke with briefly.

In 1854 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acquired 175 acres (71 ha) of land in Monson, on which it erected an almshouse to provide facilities for poor immigrants fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. In 1855 it was renamed the State Farm School, and later the State Primary School, and it housed children who were wards of the state. It served in this role until 1887. In 1898 the state's Hospital for Epileptics opened on the grounds, using the old facilities and building several more buildings. In 2012 the state relocated the last 31 residents, and began to consider the future of the property. Wikipedia

While the Development Center was the objective, I passed thru Palmer and specifically wanted to see Union Station, which was designed by HH Richardson in 1884. Richardson was one of the "Trinity of American architecture" along with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. His designs created a whole class of architecture called Richardson Romanesque. His most prominent work was Trinity Church in Boston.

Union Station was opened in 1884 and consolidated 2 stations into this location. Today it is a restaurant called the Steaming Tender.

On site is this 1915 Porter Steam Locomotive & Tender.

Outback is the more modern stuff.

While in Palmer picked up a couple more building in the Register, Memorial Hall and the Post Office. Palmer is the home of the Palmer Motor Sports Park opened for racing in May 2015. It is a 2.3 mile road course with over 190 feet in elevation change. Road & Track magazine named Palmer Motorsports Park one of the top 10 racetracks to drive in North America.

Right across the street from the post office is St Paul's Unitarian Universalist Church built in 1879. I was struck by how big it was and the architecture of the building, especially the two towers. Palmer is only 12,000 or so people and back in the late 1800's it was around 1,200. Religious history is quite interesting in New England. Congregational, Baptist and Unitarian are quite prevalent in New England towns, where many towns have all three churches surrounding the greens and commons. Universalism at it's origin was separate and distinct congregation. In the 1960's some Unitarian and Universalist formed a union creating Unitarian Universalist Association as a combined belief system. The merger created it's own controversy, since the two beliefs are not exactly aligned.

Passing thru Warren on Rt67 I caught the Warren Cotton Mills out of the corner of my eye and turned around and went back to investigate. This site has been used for industrial purposes dating back to 1812, when Mr Richardson began making scythes. The business was taken over by Mr. Taft who operated the same business until 1843. In 1854 Warren Cotton Mills was established, co-owned by Bliss and Fabyan. Four separate mills were built on this site dating from 1866 to 1912. While the dam did exist and may have been used to power one of the earlier dams, the mills were primarily powered with steam.

In Warren proper is the Boston and Albany Railroad Depot built in 1895. Inspired by HH Richardson the firm that formed after his death Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge designed the station.

Picked up the Grove Street School in Spencer built in 1876. This was my second time here. The first time the sun was so overpowering I could not get the camera to focus properly. Being in the Register, of course it was important to get some better photos. Kind of sounds like an obsession doesn't it, just ask Crystal.

Today's view of the trip.

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