Title: Wakefield’s history is revisited in new book
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: Wicked Local: Wakefield
Just in time for the holidays, a new book on Wakefield’s history will be released this week. The new book, entitled “Images of America: Wakefield Revisited,” was written by Nancy Bertrand and is published by Arcadia Publishing. The book, a supplement to “Images of America: Wakefield,” published in 2000, is rich in never before seen photos and images of the town, including a series of photos produced from glass plate negatives from the archives of the Wakefield Historical Society, discovered during the Museum’s move earlier this year.
The book traces the evolution of Main Street from the grassy trail visible in nineteenth century paintings through the establishment of the village of South Reading, to the bustling, newly industrial town of Wakefield.
Some of the town’s most unforgettable characters stride through the pages of this book, from the nineteenth century house-painter Franklin Poole, who captured the character of the town in a myriad of rare, precise oil paintings, to the fascinating strong women who played a major role in forging the personality of the town now known as Wakefield. In these pages, the reader will also revisit almost forgotten landmarks, buildings and sites and will rediscover the long lost businesses and industries that made Wakefield “the most enterprising community north of Boston.” Capping it all will be images of celebrations, from Grand Army of the Republic marches to the High School relocation procession to the town’s trademark Fourth of July parade.
The sales of the book will directly benefit the Wakefield History Museum at the West Ward School, since all of the author’s royalties are being donated to the support of the Museum by author Nancy Bertrand.
The books will be available at the Wakefield Historical Society Holiday Open House at the West Ward School at 39 Prospect St. on Sunday, Dec. 12 from noon to 2 p.m., or can be purchased at “Wakefield Un-Common Antiques” at 306 Main St.
Title: Wakefield’s history ‘revisited’
Author: Wicked Local: Wakefield
Publisher: Beth Rodio
On Sunday, Dec. 12, an unseasonably warm and rainy day, the Wakefield History Museum flung open its doors to hold an open house. Amateur historians and interested townsfolk had the opportunity to acquaint (or re-acquaint) themselves with the pictures, tools, and textiles the museum displays.
And in addition to its usual display of odds and ends from Wakefield’s past, the museum, located at 39 Prospect St., and the Wakefield Historical Society had a special reason for the holiday time open house: the publishing of Nancy Bertrand’s latest book about Wakefield: “Wakefield Revisited.” Pre-ordered copies were held for those who eagerly anticipated this second book by Bertrand (president of the Historical Society) about the town, and copies were available for anyone interested in purchasing that day, all ready to be signed by the author. Bertrand will be donating all proceeds from the book to the Historical Society.
Before Wakefield could be “revisited,” it was first explored when Bertrand wrote “Wakefield” in 2000 for the Images of America series. You’ve probably seen this series in bookstores, lined up in the “local” section. In the series, local authors provide a concise history of towns, cities and special historic places or institutions.
While Bertrand’s first contribution is a traditional member of the series, her second is an image-heavy follow up, offering a visual tour through the town’s past. Excited local enthusiasts have been snatching up copies for their history-minded friendsand of course, for their own coffee tables.
The idea for this pictorial sequel came to Bertrand when she was going through images for the new Wakefield History Museum in the little red schoolhouse.
“While we were moving the museum we were carrying around these huge boxes of glass plate negatives,” she said. “And we were thinking, ‘what the heck is in here?’”
Of course “in there” were pictures now seen in “Wakefield Revisited,” many of which she had no idea existed. And to her surprise and delight, some of them had such detail that you could look into shop windows and, according to Bertrand, even “see how much Shinola shoe shine costs” at the time of the photograph.
As she uncovered and shared the images, Bertrand “noticed that people were really interested.” So while she set aside pictures for the museum and website, she mentally tagged some for another book about Wakefield. The book gives her “the opportunity to share more of them” than could be fit in the old schoolhouse’s display room.
The process of finding the photos and so much about the town’s past, while still organizing the museum, has been fascinating for Bertrand. She provided The Observer a peek at the upstairs of the old schoolhouse, which holds the collections not yet displayed. Among intricate clothes, wicker baby buggies and other domestic items, visitors to the museum can expect some tools that help reveal a little more of Wakefield’s past. Wicked-looking jagged ice cutting tools tell of the booming industry that provided ice beyond Wakefield, even beyond the United States, from Crystal Lake and Lake Quannapowitt. New displays will start after the new year.
Of course even more images fill the drawers designed for the old photos and ads. Bertrand proudly showed off handmade paintings and drawings, seeming to know the story of every one. It’s hardly surprising she found enough for a second book about the town.