Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 55: Pembroke, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 55: Pembroke, Mass.
June 3, 2010

            Nestled in between Brockton and Duxbury, Pembroke is a little town with a lot of great things to see.  Named for a town in Wales, the name Pembroke in Welsh actually means ‘land’s end,’ since the town in Wales is along the ocean this is the truth.  However, in Massachusetts, Pembroke is landlocked.  Despite not sharing the same approximation to water as its twin-city in Wales, Pembroke does share the charm.
            I began my trip at the Town Hall as I so often do on my excursions.  However, the building itself was only the tip of the iceberg as far as surprising sights went.  As I drove into the heart of Pembroke, where the Town Hall’s often lie, I noticed a strange sight on my left.  Being unpacked and set up on the grounds of the Pembroke Memorial Park across the street from the Town Hall was a carnival.  This carnival was the Old Home Days Family Fair and it was complete with rides and food stands and made for some unbelievable photo opportunities.
            The reason that these photos were of the ‘one in a million’ variety was the fact that sitting in and amongst the rides and food stands were some beautifully crafted war memorial statues(left).  It made for quite the dichotomy seeing the dedications to those who fought and died in our bloodiest conflicts standing side by side with the Fun Slide and fried dough stands.  It was something unexpected that made my time in Pembroke even more fun.
            After I was finished photographing the spectacle of the carnival on the park grounds I headed back across the street toward the Town Hall.  It was here that I noticed something out of the ordinary again.  It appeared to be a simple rock wall made into a square, the vines covered it almost completely but the shape was still obvious.  I thought it was unusual until I read the plaque on one of the faces of the square.
            The stone square covered with vines was actually a pound where an ox was kept(right).  This pound was the second, the first, built in 1712, was made of wood and cost a mere forty cents.  The twenty by twenty foot stone pound was erected in 1824 and cost fifty-five dollars.  It was a nice little story and a piece of unusual history that most visitors to Pembroke pass by without a second thought.  These are the places I seek out.
            I made sure to stop at one of the several great ponds to swim at inside the Pembroke limits.  Oldham Pond has a town landing for boats, a nice sandy playground for children, and of course beach areas for swimming.  It is one of a cluster of ponds in and around Mattakeesett Street.  The others feature names like Furnace Pond, Great Sandy Bottom Pond, and my favorite, No Bottom Pond.  I did not get a chance to see if it lives up to the name, but either way it was still an interesting site.
            Two historic buildings made up the remainder of my time in Pembroke.  The first one is now a piece of the Pembroke Historical Society.  The Adah F. Hall House(right), located on Barker Street is one of the oldest homes in the town.  It sits on a piece of land given to Pembroke’s first settler, Robert Barker, by Myles Standish.  The house itself was erected in 1685 and, as I have noticed with many homes from the 17th and 18th century, has color patterns not seen very much today.  The Adah F. Hall House has a yellow face with a red door which makes it very easy to spot from the road.
            The second building has even more history to it, but just getting to it was an adventure in and of itself.  The Friends’ Meeting House, built in 1706, is one of the oldest Quaker sites in the country.  The interior is split in half with men sitting on one side and women on the other.  Directly behind the large white structure is a small cemetery complete with many tiny white stones(left).  They were hard to make out due to tremendous age but one can only assume they belong to former members of the Quaker church.  Built by the afore mentioned first settler, Robert Barker, the Friends’ Meeting House stayed in operation until 1874 when the building was closed and the meetings were shifted to another spot.
            Now, the reason why I say it was an adventure just getting onto the grounds is the fact that the Friends’ Meeting House lies at the intersection of the busy Washington Street (Rt. 53) and Schoosett Street (Rt. 139).  There is a very small asphalt area, not even big enough for my small car, on the corner but it took me three passes before I decided to give in and park at the neighboring Itzaparty store.  I do recommend taking a walk on the grounds of this sacred Quaker spot, but please do be careful when finding a place to park.
            Pembroke may not have the seaside views of its twin-city in Wales but that does not take away anything from its charm.  Aside from catching the carnival as it arrived I found Pembroke to be a very quiet little town with many historical sites to visit and lots of beautiful ponds to swim in or simply relax by.  It is a great spot for a day trip, or to stay over if you are coming from further away.  I highly recommend taking the time to pay a visit to Pembroke.  There is a lot to see.  Have fun and happy traveling!
DirectionsTown Hall: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14, turn right at Congress St.  At rotary take 4th exit for Congress Street, turn right at intersection of Rt. 14 and Rt. 53 for Washington St.  Turn left at Barker St., turn left after 1.4 miles for Town Hall.
            Adah F. Hall House: From Rt. 3 take Exit 11 for Rt. 14, turn right at Congress St.  At rotary take 4th exit for Congress Street, turn right at intersection of Rt. 14 and Rt. 53 for Washington St.  Turn left at Barker St., the house is .3 miles down on left.
            Friends’ Meetinghouse:  From Rt. 3 take Exit 12 for Rt. 139.  Turn right at Church Street, take a slight left at Water Street.  Continue onto Schoosett Street, at intersection with Washington Street you will see meetinghouse.  There are places to park nearby, be careful crossing street.
            Oldham Pond: From Rt. 3 take Exit 9, turn right at Rt. 3A, continue onto Rt. 27 north for 7 miles.  Turn right at Mattakeesett St., turn left at Wampatuck Street.  The beach I visited is on left after .1 miles.  
            Pembroke, Ma. - Official Site

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