Our Town, Our Story…
Welcome! Located in north-central Massachusetts, Townsend is a community rich with history spanning more than three centuries of the American epoch. Our community was founded in 1732 and developed as a farming settlement. The hardworking efforts of farmers converting hardscrabble into fields, pastures, orchards and woodlots was matched by the industrial operations along the banks of the Squannacook River. Three hamlets developed and by the late nineteenth century, the speed of everyday life had increased. Changes, specifically the loss of tangible reminders of the past, prompted the formation of the Historical Society. Founded in 1896, the early membership sought to preserve memories and artifacts of the past. Erecting a monument on the site of the first schoolhouse was their first major accomplishment, but it certainly would not be the organization’s last. More than a century later, the Townsend Historical Society is still preserving our community’s history. We are headquartered in a historic Federal-era dwelling that is also a public museum. We own four other buildings of significance in Townsend Harbor. These, with the thousands of artifacts within, tell the many aspects of our storied journey into the present. We are entirely supported by our members and we encourage you to help us continue into the next century.
Visit Our Museum
The Townsend Historical Society is located in the c. 1790 Reed Homestead. Situated in the heart of Townsend Harbor and along the banks of the Squannacook River, the house was owned for five generations of the Reed Family. Oliver Reed was a tanner and together with his wife, Letty Wilson, raised five children. Five generations in total owned the building from 1809 until 1972, when the Historical Society acquired the property for a museum and central headquarters. The choice was an easy one, because the property not only remained unchanged from the early nineteenth century, but it also had its historic furnishings. The Reed family collection is one of the largest groupings of everyday items within their original context. Architecturally, the house is well known for its connection with Rufus Porter, who painted a vivid colorful mural with his nephew Jonathan Poor and matched it in stark contrast with a black and white display. They are among the best examples of his craftsmanship anywhere in New England.
As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Townsend Historical Society seeks to foster a deep discussion about our local history. Above and beyond operating a museum, the Society maintains four properties of historic value, is a educational and historical research center, and your forum for local interests. We host several events throughout the year, publish a newsletter packed with interesting tidbits, provide tours for our local schools and so much more. We can only do this with your contributions. Please consider donating, volunteering or, perhaps most importantly, becoming a member. Your contribution is tax-deductible and works directly to support our mission. Thank you for your continued support and we hope to see you soon.