Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 65: Marion, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 65:  Marion, Mass.
July 22, 2010

            The tiny town of Marion is rich in history with the Native American Wampanoag tribe and Revolutionary War heroes having a huge stake in how the town is known today.  Marion was originally known as Sippican, the name for both the river which passes through the town as well as the Wampanoag name for the tribe of Native Americans who lived in the area. 
Marion Music Hall
            Marion became a town of its own in 1852 as a result of neighboring Mattapoisett attempting to redraw town lines so they would be able to take over the village of Sippican.  With help from a powerful ally in Boston Sippican became its own town but chose to change its name from Sippican to Marion in honor of Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion.
            Though the town’s name may be Marion the connection to the Sippican Native American tribe of the past is evident everywhere.  The Sippican River runs through the eastern section of the town, dividing it from Wareham.  The Sippican Elementary School is located next door to the Marion Natural History Museum and has a very nice little area on the left with a few benches to sit on in the shade and a pair of gazing balls which usher you inside.  The Sippican Historical Society as well as the popular Sippican CafĂ© also help to keep the Native American name fresh in today’s world.  The Historical Society building was the home of the village doctor, Walton Nye Ellis, and was built in 1834.
Next to the Sippican Elementary School
            Diagonally across from the Sippican Historical Society building is the Marion General Store.  It has all of the looks of a piece of old America in the 21st century and that could not be truer.  The building itself was built in 1794 and originally served as a Congregational Meeting House.
            Spring Street in Marion, where the Sippican School is located, is a great area for the town’s history and some beautiful scenery as well.  The Marion Town Hall, called the Town House, sits on the corner of Spring and Main Street.  It was built in 1876 and is decorated on one side with a pair of American flags which look like they are straight out of the time when the Town House was built. 
Marion General Store
            Directly across the street from the Town House is a beautiful little park which faces the Marion Art Center.  It was originally a Universalist Church built in 1830 and became the non-profit Art Center in 1957.  I got a great view of the Art Center looking through the opening of a nice gazebo on the park grounds.  On this warm, sunny day there were a few people seated on benches in the shade enjoying the park as well.  The smell of sweet flowers was a perfect final touch to a great little spot in Marion.
            Another spot to take in is the Town Music Hall located on Front Street across from the water.  The deep red brick building was a gift to the town from Elizabeth Taber a teacher born in Marion.  Ms. Taber’s name also adorns the town library and Museum of Natural History.  She also established Tabor Academy in 1876.  The Music Hall is still in use today and definitely stands out among the more classical-style homes located all around it.
            Out in the inner harbor of Marion is the tiny Ram Island which can be seen along Water Street.   It is only slightly larger than Meadow Island which from the shore appears no bigger than a large boat.  There is also Planting Island but it is technically connected to the mainland by a small land bridge.  Ram Island is a popular shellfishing location with many locals and folks from neighboring towns applying for licenses to allow them to capture their own bounty from the salty sea.
Washburn Park
            The final spot I visited in the pleasant little town of Marion was Washburn Park.  I missed the entrance a few times as it sits very close to I-195, but it was worth it once I found my way inside.  The road in is divided in the middle by a row of trees much like the Savery Road in Carver, Massachusetts from an earlier trip.  The park is a nice peaceful area complete with baseball fields and horse riding facilities as well.  There was nary a soul to be found here as I drove through but I am sure that is not the case on most days.  Washburn Park was a great way to end my stay in Marion.
            Marion is one of the smallest towns people-wise that I have visited.  I believe that is part of what made it such a nice trip.  The rural setting made for plenty of scenic views and the smell of fresh pine lingered in the air almost everywhere I went.  Anybody who enjoys peaceful drives and beautiful scenery needs to take the time to explore Marion.  Stop into the General Store, walk along historic Spring Street, and check out the Music Hall as well, it will all add up to a wonderful day.  Have fun and happy traveling!
DirectionsWashburn Park:  From I-195 take Exit 20 for Rt. 105.  Take Front St. south to Washburn Park Lane which is only ¼ mile from the interstate.
            Music Hall:  From I-195 take Exit 20 for Rt. 105.  Take Front St. south for a mile and a half, the Music Hall is on the right with a parking area across the street.
            General Store:  From I-195 take Exit 20 for Rt. 105.  Take Front St. south for 1.7 miles, the General Store will be on the right shortly after the Music Hall.
            Sippican Historical

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