New Thing #53: Framingham Timeline Exhibit

Framingham_HistoryI'm good with American history, and I really like Boston history. My town, Framingham, dates back to 1700, so I know it has a lot of history, but I don't know as much about it.

For a long time I've thought about exploring that history, starting with some of the exhibits hosted by the Framingham History Center.

That was one of the big goals of '365 New Things In 2013' - to take some of those things I've been meaning to do and just do them.

So on Thursday, I did.

The building above is an old schoolhouse that has been converted into a research center/exhibit hall. Its hours are very spotty - you can set up individual appointments, but it is open for a few hours Wednesdays through Saturdays.

One time I walked up to it, it was all locked up, so I went home to look up more information. It's been a couple of years, and I hadn't been back.

Thursday my oldest daughter and I walked up to it....and it was locked. This time (New Things!) I rang the bell. It took a couple of minutes, and we were on our way back to the car, before the door opened.

The woman who opened the door looked surprised to see anyone. She went to check whether they were available for tours. It turned out the scheduled tour guide was not there. Would we want her to give a tour? My instinct was to say we'd come back another time. But I went against my instinct (New Things!) and took her up on her offer.

I'm glad I finally got the chance to check it out. I didn't learn anything earth-shatteringly new, but I did get an idea of how Framingham fits into the larger history of Massachusetts. (It was an overnight stop for cannons being transported between Fort Ticonderoga and Cambridge in 1776!)

Best fact I learned: Thomas Danforth, Framingham's founder, came from Framlingham, England. The 'l' was dropped, and there you have it - Framingham.

The 'Framingham Timeline' is the permanent exhibit at this location - it takes you from the earliest days of the town (actually, pre-1700 with some information about Native Americans in the area) through the 19th century (Civil War artifacts and the rise of the railroad in Framingham), and 20th century (one of Christa McAuliffe's NASA uniforms - she was raised in Framingham - the famous Framingham Heart Study, businesses like Bose and Staples).

The original public library in town is another site that hosts exhibits. Right now the big attraction is a display about the original Shopper's World - an outdoor shopping area, dating back to when those were not exactly common. I'll be checking that out too sometime before that exhibit closes out in September...maybe as soon as this week.