Medfield History Day this Saturday


On Saturday, June 13, MEMO, will have Harding 02042 as its theme for the annual Discover Medfield History Day. Boston’s Old Town Trolley with Town Historian Richard DeSorgher as tour guide will roll through the streets and history of “Harding,” visiting that north end economic center and section of Medfield and then driving through the campus of what was Medfield State Hospital.

 The buildings, homes, gas stations, post office, stores, etc that use to make up the distinct Harding part of Medfield will be brought back to life and those on the trolley will get to feel what it was like growing up there; and get to tour the hospital grounds and envision what the hospital grounds will become in the future.

 The six one-hour trolley tours will include a ride through the campus grounds as well as history and stories on the former Medfield State Hospital.

 The tickets for the annual event are on sale at Needham bank; $9 adults $6 seniors or students. Tickets may also be purchased on the day of the trip if seats remain. The trolley will leave the Hinkley Swim Pond on the hour starting at 9:00 am, the last trolley trip will depart at 2:00 pm

 Most people in Medfield today have no idea what you are talking about when you mention the Harding section of Medfield. But it is listed on all the old maps and it even had its own zip code: 02042

 When Medfield State Hospital opened in 1896, one of the first impacts it had on the town was the creation of a new economic center that began to develop its own identity. The north end of town; the area from Medfield Junction (West Mill and Adams Street), along Harding Street and Hospital Road and up to the hospital itself became known as the Harding section of Medfield. The large number of hospital employees and staff created an economic need. Built in Harding were a number of stores, tea rooms, lunch rooms, inns, reported houses of ill repute and later gas stations.  

 Their existence was dependent upon the hospital. Also to be built that same year the hospital officially opened was a post office for this new economic center of Medfield. It was established “for the convenience of the asylum and the neighborhood.” The office was given the name “Harding” in honor of one of the town’s oldest families who lived on what is today Harding Street. The original post office, made out of stone, is still standing today and is located at the corner of Harding Street and Hospital Road: 2 Hospital Road. 

 In 2003, the state hospital closed, large numbers of new residents have moved into the area and the Harding identity in the north end of town has faded. But for many, the 02042 zip code will always bring to mind the little rustic post office on Harding Street and for many of the old timers living along Harding Street and Hospital Road, their official address, when asked, will always be Harding, Massachusetts. Join the trolley ride and see what Harding was all about.

 

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