Historical Society prepares move to new home

One of their many ongoing projects, the Historical Society is seeking donations to find a period correct frame for this turn of the century Mary Brewster Hazelton painting. Photos by Alex Oliveira

By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter

After nearly 45 years in its current residence, the Wellesley Historical Society will begin moving into its new home at 320 Washington Street in the spring of 2019.

Currently residing in the Dadmun-McNamara House just off Route 9, the Historical Society and its boundless collections of Wellesley town, club and family records, locally made artwork, historical clothing, photos, postcards, and even insect collections have begun to burst at the seams and studs of the historical house.

“We’ve really exceeded our space here. The other building is meant to be an extension as well as help minimize and mitigate some of the storage issues,” said Executive Director Amanda Fisher.

After forty-four years, the Wellesley Historical Society prepares to expand its space.  Photos by Alex Oliveira

After forty-four years, the Wellesley Historical Society prepares to expand its space. Photos by Alex Oliveira

That need for space is evident. Throughout the building, cryptic eyes peer out from the oil paintings and portraits that cover every wall. The corners of each room are stacked tall with document laden shelves. The small basement feels like an endless catacomb of leather-bound volumes and treasure-filled wooden cabinets; maps and more paintings peer out between all.

“We’re basically hoarders here,” Fisher said with a laugh.

Perhaps and probably.

But the clutter is a testament to the impressive vastness of the Society’s collection.

When Town offices move and can’t bring their archives with them, they go to the Historical Society. When garden clubs, racquet clubs or any other local organization disappears or can’t keep track of their records, the Historical Society will take them. There’s an entire row of historic clothing - like old police uniforms and local regiment colors from numerous wars - and drawer upon drawer of spectacularly preserved insects and butterflies.

Just a few of the thousands of treasures within the Wellesley Historical Society.  Photos by Alex Oliveira

Just a few of the thousands of treasures within the Wellesley Historical Society. Photos by Alex Oliveira

The collection has grown so large at this point, Fisher says they’ve been forced to put restrictions on the artifacts they can accept.

“There’s a collections policy at this point. It has to be significant to Wellesley, that way it’s somewhat contained.”

Transferring these collections is a process that will take time, Fisher says. Built in 1960, the Society’s new home at 320 Washington Street has been a family residence for years.

“The space was not meant for collections. It’s going to require several modifications.”

In addition to preparing the new building for the myriad needs of the Society’s collections, the house needs to be made ADA compliant, which will require modifications, like the construction of a concrete entry ramp and an expansion of the driveway.

“It will be a phased move. I have no idea about the finish date, but the offices should be in place by spring 2019.”

The Historical Society isn’t letting go of the Dadmun-McNamara house, though - it will continue to house parts of the collection and will remain home to the Society’s for-sale antique collection, The Tollhouse Shop.

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