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Museum in the Streets planned for downtown

Museum in the Streets planned for downtown

Signs of varying sizes will be erected at historically significant locations 

MAIN STREET JOURNAL – The historical assets of the Downtown Marlborough District will soon be on full display with the creation of a Museum in the Streets. The museum will be comprised of more than two dozen signs at various historically significant locations, with each telling a story about Marlborough history.

The Museum in the Streets is a joint committee effort between the Marlborough Historical Society, the Marlborough Historical Commission, Marlborough Downtown Village Association, Marlborough Economic Development and the City of Marlborough.

Marlborough Historical Society Vice President Bob Kane came upon the idea around two years ago when he began making inquiries to a French gentleman by the name of Patrick Cardon.

Cardon, who lives in Maine and Paris, created this concept in France, Italy and other European countries and has installations in the Maine cities of Augusta, Biddeford and Kennebunkport, to name just a few. He’s also working with towns in Illinois and New York. His company, The Museum in the Streets, located in Cushing, Maine will fabricate the signs.

There are approximately thirty signs planned. They will be installed as far west as the library and as far east as the intersection of Hildreth Street  and Maple Street.

The majority of the signs will be twenty inches wide by twenty inches tall. Four double-size signs will feature two separate subjects each.  In addition there will be two larger “map guides” with one located at the library and one in front of City Hall.

Included with the map at the library will be the history of the rise and fall of the apple industry in Marlborough. The large guide in front of City Hall will focus on the accomplishments and waning of the shoe industry in the city.

Five signs will be located in the vicinity of the Walker Building, which as Kane stated, is “where it all started in Marlborough.” At one point the Walker Building site was known as  “The Common.”

Another will include the history of Crystal Eastman, who was born in Marlborough but only lived her first five months here before her family moved to upstate New York. Some of her achievements include being co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and co-author of the first Equal Rights Amend­ment. A eulogy written in The Nation said, “When she spoke to people – whether it was to a small committee or a swarming crowd – hearts beat faster. She was for thousands a symbol of what the free woman might be.”

Then there’s the story of William Dawes, the ‘other guy’ who rode and warned the minutemen of the oncoming British Army. He also played a major role as a spy during the Revolutionary War. Dawes moved to Marlborough after the war to join his sister and brother in-law who had a general store where the Vin Bin is currently located. He built a home where the Verizon building currently stands at the intersection of Hildreth Street and Maple Street.

Fundraising efforts for the project is ongoing with about half the money raised through grants from different foundations including the Foundation for MetroWest and the Brigham Family Trust. Main Street Bank and Avidia Bank have also donated to the effort. Marlborough Economic Development is currently waiting on a special programs grant it filed with the State of Massachusetts.

It is hoped that the museum will have a connection with the school systems of Marlborough, Southborough, Westborough, Northborough, and Hudson. Back when Marlborough was established in 1660, the town encompassed all of those communities. Southborough and Westborough broke off in the 1700s. Northborough eventually ceded from Westborough. Later, Hudson broke away in the 1800’s.

Overall, Kane said that plans have been moving forward smoothly. The biggest difficulty has been in selecting sign locations. Due to insurance purposes they need to be installed on city-owned property. Due to snow clearing procedures signs cannot be erected on a separate pole in some locations. For the time being, Kane had to cancel a couple of subjects because the signs would have needed that accommodation.

Completion is being targeted for the spring of 2019. As it stands now,  Marlborough would be the first city or town in Massachusetts to adopt this type of educational walking tour.

This article by Tony Nesbitt originally appeared here.

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