Programs and Events

2020 Schedule

Unless otherwise noted, all events are free to the General Public. In lieu of a fee, the Society asks you to join or donate instead and help us grow our organization. Please check back often as events are subject to change.

Spring Events:

Annual Potluck Dinner and Program ***Postponed for Covid-19, future date TBD by early summer***

Friday, May 1 – St. John Catholic Church Hall, 1 School Street in Townsend Center. 6 PM.

Join us in kicking off our annual season of events. Everyone is invited to bring a favorite dish to share, a good appetite for food, conversation and a bit of curiosity. Our featured speaker is Volker Nahrmann, the principal bassist with Symphony New Hampshire and professional luthier. He will be providing insight into Abraham Prescott, his basses and their local and regional connection. ***Note the event venue change***

American Innovator: Abraham Prescott and His Instruments 7 PM.

New England in the nineteenth century must have sounded beautiful with the music of instruments hand crafted by local artisans. Abraham Prescott was a noted American luthier from New Hampshire. He is particularly well known for his double bass, one of which survives in the collection of the Townsend Historical Society. His pieces are now prized possessions of museums and musical institutions across the country. Join us for an interesting investigation into the life and legacy of this important Yankee innovator. This event is sponsored by the Amanda Dwight Fund.

Abraham Prescott advertisement for his instruments. The Townsend Historical Society owns a large bass which is expected to undergo restoration this year.
Museum Summer Weekend Hours

Please note that the all open houses are Postponed for Covid-19 and we will open the house an additional weekend in the fall.

Saturday, May 2, June 6, July 11, and August 8 – Reed Homestead, 72 Main Street in Townsend Harbor.  9AM-1PM

The Reed House will once again be open for select Saturdays throughout the summer for archival access and tours. If you have yet to come or have not visited in a while, we have updated the tour and put out new artifacts for you to see. The dates are: May 2, June 6, July 11 and August 8 from 9AM – 1PM. Be sure to look for a schedule of available offerings closer to the event date. We update our social media regularly or feel free to give us a call!

Walking Tour of the Old Burying Grounds and Hillside Cemetery

***Postponed for Covid-19, future date TBD by early summer***

Saturday, May 2 – Hillside Cemetery and Old Burying Ground on Highland Street in Townsend Center. 2PM. Rain Date TBD.

May is preservation month in Massachusetts and we’re stepping off for an afternoon exploration with local historian Lee McTighe as she guides a tour of the Old Burying Grounds and Hillside Cemetery in Center Village. Lee will lead a discussion about the gravestones of early New England—the materials, motifs and mottos that were popular through different time periods—while showing examples of each. As we walk the grounds, Lee will point out the resting places of past notable citizens of Townsend, as well as unusual stones, markers and epitaphs. This event is sponsored by the Amanda Dwight Fund.

Summer Events:

Declaring Independence – Then & Now ***Postponed for Covid-19, future date TBD ***

Thursday, July 2 – United Methodist Church, 265 Main Street in Townsend Center. 6 PM.

Come and join the Townsend Historical Society and hear the echoes of the past in this riveting performance about the Declaration of Independence. Costumed performers will tell the story behind the struggle to define freedom. The reading will take place in the same structure where the document was read before the congregation, 245 years ago. Declaring Independence is presented in partnership with Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area. The event is immediately followed by concert on Town Common by the Townsend Military Band. 

Members of the Townsend Historical Society, with assistance from the Townsend Minutemen, deliver a performance of Declaring Independence, Then and Now.
 Leisurely New England: A Nostalgic Look Back at How We Had Fun

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 – Location Townsend Public Library, 12 Dudley Road in Townsend. 6:30 PM.

New England is vacation land. Now, more than ever before, we are on the move traveling to places near and far. As we explore our surroundings, we often take them for granted. Sure, they have a history but how well is it known? Few have looked back to examine the history of regional tourism and how it relates to the local narrative. Fortunately, we live in the birthplace of this industry. Townsend was on the crossroads of travelers heading in all directions and influenced by regional and national movements. From notable firsts, short-lived trends, long-established destinations and everything between, this program will dive deeper into the history of having fun. Some locations will be active and known to all ages. Others might look back on long-gone landmarks with a twinkle of nostalgia. You won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to connect with memories, old and new. Presented by Historian Ryan D. Hayward of The Preservation Collaborative, Inc. and Taber Morrell.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Townsend Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. It is also sponsored by a generous grant from the Amanda Dwight Entertainment Fund of Townsend

Fall Events:

39th Annual Fall Arts and Craft Fair ***Cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns***

September 19 9 AM-4 PM and 20, 10 AM-4 PM on Townsend Common in Townsend Center.

Save the date and prepare for another fall favorite! Come support our annual fundraiser by attending the Arts and Craft Fair. The Common will transform into a marketplace filled with colorful and creative works by talented artists and crafters. We anticipate over fifty-five vendors, more music, food and fun. This event is great for all ages so please be sure to bring the family. We will have our usual petting zoo, fudge and face painting booths. Spread the word and we’ll look forward to seeing you in the fall!

Virtually Vintage: A Live, Online Antique Appraisal Event – October 10th

The Townsend Historical Society is excited to be bringing back one of our most popular types of programs! On Saturday, October 10th from 10:00 – 1:00, the Townsend Historical Society will be hosting “Virtually Vintage: A Live, Online Antique Appraisal Event”.

We’re thrilled to be partnering once again with Wayne Tuiskula of Central Mass Auctions, Inc. Mr. Tuiskula brings three decades of professional appraisal experience, has been awarded the General Personal Property Appraiser designation from the National Auctioneers Association, and has even appeared on PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow”, which in appraisal terms makes him a sort of combination of The Beatles and Indiana Jones! If you’d like to learn more about Mr. Tuiskula’s adventures in antique appraisal and about the outstanding Central Mass Auctions, Inc., you can follow this link to their website:

We’re inviting members and friends to join in the fun by purchasing tickets online through a simple website called Eventbrite. You can find ticketing options for our event by following this link:

The cost is $10.00 per item to be appraised or three items for $25.00. The option to purchase tickets for second and third items should be available during the online ticketing process on the Eventbrite website under “Add-ons”.

Ticketholders will then be able to send the Historical Society digital photographs of the items they’d enjoy having appraised, along with any known history pertaining to the pieces. Please be sure to include images of markings, decorations, or unique features which could help Mr. Tuiskula in his evaluations. Once you’ve purchased tickets for up to three items, please include your photographs and any corresponding background information in an email to us at:

Then, on October 10th, everyone will be welcome to view the live broadcast of Mr. Tuiskula’s appraisal of each of the antiques. Join just to see your own items appraised or feel free to relax and enjoy the entire show! We’ll all be able to view via the easy-to-use video chat program “Zoom”. There’s no need to create a profile, password, or go through any hassle, the Historical Society will simply send you a link to view the program on your home computer.

We know 2020 has brought a lot of changes to how events are held, so if you have any questions about online ticketing, emailing your photographs, or using Zoom, please feel free to reach out to us by telephone at (978)597-2106, or email at We hope to see you soon!

Walking Tour of Riverside Cemetery

Saturday, October 24, 2020—Riverside Cemetery on Dudley Road in West Townsend. 2PM.

If you’re looking for the perfect fall outing, join us as local historian Lee McTighe guides a tour of Riverside Cemetery in West Townsend. Similar to the spring event, Lee will guide us through the various notable stones and residents found within. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore this local treasure. Sponsored by a generous grant from the Amanda Dwight Entertainment Fund of Townsend. 

Townsend Historical Society Fall Open House and Encampment

Saturday, October 3 – Reed House, 72 Main Street in Townsend Harbor. 10 AM—4 PM.

Please join the Townsend Historical Society as we welcome the Stow and Townsend Minutemen companies for a Saturday step back into the American Revolution. The Reed homestead will come alive with the sights and smells of the 18th century. There will be musket demonstration and drills, hearth cooking and hands on crafts. New this year, a number of additional artisans and craftsman (and women) will be on hand to demonstrate historic crafts and a few will be selling wares. Be sure not to miss this exciting opportunity to connect with our rich local history.

Members of the local militia being trained in the military arts on the grounds of the Reed Homestead. This year’s encampment will feature more artisans and crafters.

Winter Events:

The Power of the Zodiac? Some Townsend Notables and their Signs

Sunday, November 8 – Memorial Hall, 272 Main Street in Townsend Center. 2 PM.

Be ready to hear about the full range of activities the Society accomplished throughout the year. This will be followed by a presentation by Dee Morris who will delivering The Power of the Zodiac? Some Townsend Notables and their Signs. Most people know of the twelve sun signs but their meaning and relevance has been lost. Like so much around us, their history has been forgotten. Does the sun’s position influence personalities? Perhaps the zodiac can offer insight. Ithamar Sawtelle, our first historian and avid humanitarian, was an Aquarius (February 2). Elsa Williams forged an empire as a Gemini (June 9). We’ll explore these two and more.

Townsend Historical Society Holiday Open House

Sunday, December 6 – Reed House, 72 Main Street in Townsend Harbor 11 AM—4 PM.

You’re invited to partake in merriment during this festive gathering. Christmas cookies and punch will be served. Decorations in seasonal spirit will be set to liven the mood. Tours are provided to help you step back in time and escape the holiday rush. See you there!

The Great Snowstorm of 1717 buried New England in several feet of snow. We’ll hope for a light dusting to make our Holiday Open House magical and festive.