News Ashby Historical Society

Ashby Historical Society
News & Events

Two men discussing newspaper

2020 Events

  • Saturday, May 23rd, 10 - 2 pm Abijah Wyman Orderly Book presentation at the Old Engine House.
  • Saturday June 27th, Ashby High School Alumni meeting. Location to be determined.

Members will receive updates on these and other events through the newsletter and via email. Not a member? Join Here

Generous Donation of 1831 Map of Ashby

Judith Gilchrest holding the map

On June 7th Judith Gilchrest made generous donation of a framed original of the 1831 map of Ashby. The map, which was updated in 1844, is the earliest know map of Ashby to show the location of houses, mills and stores. The map is in excellent condition and will be on display at the Old Engine House.

Mrs. Gilchrest along with her husband, Dexter, lived on Mountain Rd. in Ashby for 42 years. For 20 of those years she was a science teacher, first at the Lyman School and later at North Middlesex Regional School. They later moved to Orleans on Cape Cod.

"It was in 1958 I was given the map." she said. "Mrs. Wellington, who lived down below us, called me and said she needed help. When I arrived she was in a frightful way. She had vomited and was bleeding. I cleaned her up, stoped the bleeding and got her into bed. She gave me the map as a thank you for coming to her aid."

The Society thanks Mrs. Gilchrest for her generous donation that will allow the map to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Historic Book Preservation Fund - Success

The fund drive to preserve the Abijah Wyman Oderly Book was a great success. Over $5,000 was raised to preserve this piece of Ashby history. It is currently undergoing preservation work at Northeast Document Conservation Center. We expect it to be back in Ashby in November. Thank you to all who contributed!

Hidden Messages in Quilt Designs, Underground Railroad

presentation by Cathy Foster at 2018 Annual Meeting

Hidden Message in Quilt Designe Underground Railroad from Ashby on Vimeo.

Video by Ashby PEG Department.

Ashby Academy, the Grange Building

A group of citizens is looking into restoration and use of the Grange building, formerly Ashby Academy. The building has been known by a number of names over the years. It was built in 1820 as the Orthodox Congregational Church. In 1836 it became Ashby Academy and in 1860 was known as Watatic Hall. Sometime in the twentieth century it came to be called the Grange Hall or simply the Grange. In 2008 the Ashby Grange disbanded and the building has remained empty since. History and photos of the Ashby Academy Building.

The group consisting of Jim Hargraves, John Mikkola, Rod Gaudreau, Alan Pease, Mark Haines, Doug Leab and others would like to see the building put to use. A community center is the most discussed but housing and a commercial use have also been brought up. The group is applying to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for a grant to set out the specifications for restoration of the exterior. If you would like to participate call Jim Hargraves at 7795. They hold monthly meetings at the Library.

Historical Commission

The Ashby Historical Commission authorized the release of money from the Old Engine House restoration account to assist with painting the Old Engine House. The account has a little over $1,000 in it. The progress painting the building to date has been done with volunteers and donations led by Doug Leab. We are now around to the side by the Ashby Market. Doug said, "Well, you know that side is almost three stories tall and I'm not going up that high. The same on the back too." A professional painter will be hired to scrape and paint the upper portions of those two sides. Donations are still needed to cover the costs of paint and volunteers are always welcome to help on the lower sections. The Ashby Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Flag Pole

The flag pole has been missing from the front of the building for a number of years. It was found in the engine bay of the Old Engine House several years ago. It is 25 feet long and made from a tall straight tree. It was missing much of its paint and the hardware on top was coming loose. It is held in place by 2 brackets, one on the roof and the other on the front wall. When the roof was redone 2 years ago the upper bracket was checked and is solid. Last year while painting the lower bracket was checked and it seems solid as well. Alan Pease took on restoring the pole, replacing the hardware and painting the gold ball. A flag has been purchased from the American Legion and with the aid of the Fire Department we hope to get the pole up in early March.

There is no lighting for the flag so it will need to be raised at dawn and lowered at sunset. It would greatly appreciated if anyone would take on the task to keep Old Glory flying every day.