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Sunday, July 18, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 56: Marshfield, Mass.


In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 56: Marshfield, Mass.
June 3, 2010

            My trip to Marshfield, or as it is called in the summer, ‘Marsh Vegas,’ due to the massive influx of visitors, centered around two very famous people.  These two people are famous for very different reasons but their names are synonymous with Marshfield: Daniel Webster, and Steve Carell.  Before I get to those two famous names let me give you a little history of Marshfield.
            The history of the Wampanoag tribe in Marshfield has been traced extensively back up to 10,000 B.C.  Many of the town’s main roads are the same ones created by these Native Americans long before European settlers arrived.  First established as a separate town from Plimoth Plantation in 1640, Marshfield was founded by Edward Winslow who served as the town’s governor.    
            Daniel Webster was a leading statesman during the United States’ Antebellum Period.  This is the period of time defined as the country’s westward expansion from 1789 to 1849.  He was also an attorney as well as Secretary of State during the presidencies of William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore.  His name and places he once lived and worked are dotted all over Marshfield’s landscape.
            The first such place I visited was actually by chance.  I stopped by the Hon. Isaac Winslow House, the home of the founding family of Marshfield.  On this day there was actually a meeting going on in the house so I kept my distance.  This led me to the small white house that served as the law office of Daniel Webster(above) during his time in Marshfield from 1832 up until his death in 1852.  It is a very unassuming building but the history that it represents is incredible.  I did a few laps around the grounds before heading to the next Daniel Webster site.
            The Daniel Webster Estate(left), the home where he lived on Webster Street, is a truly spectacular piece of architecture.  The driveway is a long, scenic route leading to the house.  You can’t miss it with its huge wrap around porch.  The view from the porch is inspiring, a large green field with trees sprinkled in here and there.  I can only imagine the inspiration Mr. Webster got as he sat on this porch and gazed out upon the natural beauty laid out before him. 
            The original Webster Estate was 1,800 acres of land encompassing present day Marshfield landmarks such as the Winslow House I had previously visited and the Green Harbor Golf Course.  The irony being that Webster called his estate ‘Green Harbor.’  It has since been reduced dramatically in size, much of land was sold off within the last fifty years for private use but the Webster Estate itself is a great legacy of the Webster name.
            The journey through the life and times of Daniel Webster could only end with a visit to the Winslow Cemetery and his grave(right).  Located on Winslow Cemetery Road this burying ground also houses the founder of Marshfield, Edward Winslow, as well as many of the original settlers.  The Webster family plot is surrounded by an iron fence which makes it look and feel much more important than all of the other gravesites.  His grave sits on a small hill overlooking those of his family.  During the time I was there the sun sat in such a way that the other stones were in the shadows while that of Daniel Webster was in the bright sunshine.  I felt that to be sort of fitting being that he was such a tremendously important individual in American history.    
            The Marshfield Hills General Store(below) is a piece of history just as important to locals as any of the Webster sites.  The village of Marshfield Hills had grown accustomed to visiting the quaint little store on Prospect Street since 1853, though it has not always been a general store.  When the store went up for sale in the fall of 2008 it was up to a very famous Marshfield resident to save the beloved store.
            Actor Steve Carell, well known for his role as Michael Scott on The Office, as well as countless memorable movie roles, made a bid and purchased the store in November 2008.  His sister-in-law oversees the day to day operations with Mr. Carell vowing to be hands-on in the store when time permits. 
            I found the store to be a slice of old-time America with a lot of homemade jellies and sauces for sale on the shelves.  True to his word the store has not been changed from what locals have always remembered.  In fact the only proof that the store had been purchased by Mr. Carell was the small section of The Office merchandise located at the end of one of the aisles.  Even when I mentioned that I made a point to visit the store the clerk played it coy and would not mention Steve Carell by name.  I did, however, get a receipt as proof that I was there.
            Finally for those who enjoy fishing there is a great little spot at the end of a road called Damon’s Point Road.  I first discovered this spot when driving over Rt. 3A on a bridge that separates Marshfield and Scituate.  The road is a dead end but there is a red building across the river that is likely only accessible by boat.  I cannot find out much about it and am very intrigued by this building. 
            The fishing area is small at the end of the road, there were several people making use of a small dock when I arrived.  The area is filed with amazing views and beautiful homes along the water.  It was a great way to end a great trip to Marshfield. 
            It is hard to miss all of the connections to history located in Marshfield.  Whether you like the distant history of Daniel Webster, or the saving of history such as Steve Carell’s purchase of the Marshfield Hills General Store, you are certain to find so many spots that fit the bill.  I highly recommend taking a tour of Marshfield, and don’t forget to stop into the Marshfield Hills General Store, you never know who might be working on that day.  Have fun and happy traveling!
DirectionsDaniel Webster Estate: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14.  Turn right, at rotary continue straight to stay on Rt. 14.  Take a slight left at Rt. 139, turn left at Webster St.  Estate is .6 miles up on right.
Winslow Cemetery: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14.  Turn right, at rotary continue straight to stay on Rt. 14.  Take a slight left at Rt. 139, turn left at Webster St., right at Winslow Cemetery Rd.  Follow half mile to cemetery on left.
Marshfield Hills General Store: From Rt. 3 take Exit 12 for Rt. 139.  Turn left at Church Street, take 1st left onto Old Oak St.  Continue onto Union St., turn right at Oak St., continue onto Highland Street.  Turn left at Old Main Street, continue onto Prospect Street.  General Store is on right, #165.
            Marshfield.net
            Daniel Webster Estate

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