Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In My Footsteps: Trip 98: Acushnet, Massachusetts

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 98:  Acushnet, Massachusetts
December 2, 2010

            Formerly a part of New Bedford and then Fairhaven the town of Acushnet may be small in size but it has a rather large link to the world of sports.  The name Acushnet comes from the Wampanoag word ‘Cushnea’ which means ‘peaceful resting place near water’ which is no coincidence since the town lies along the Acushnet River.
Acushnet Town Hall
            The link to the world of sports that Acushnet has comes from the Acushnet Process Company, now known as the Acushnet Company.  Founded in 1910 the Acushnet Company owns the Titleist brand name which is very well known to any fan of the sport of golf.  The Acushnet Company was founded by Philip E. Young and began creating their own rubber-based products after initially supplying rubber to other companies.
            I began my time in Acushnet by visiting the center of town which as I have stated many times is where my GPS tends to bring me.  I parked next to the Town Hall and took a walk.  Posted on nearly every telephone pole were signs celebrating Acushnet’s Sesquicentennial.  That means 150 years, I had never heard of that particular term before visiting Acushnet.  The Town Hall had a unique style to it with a stone face looking more like an old castle than an official building.
History outside Long Plain Museum
            Being that this trip came during the Christmas season there were decorations and lights everywhere that captured my favorite time of the year.  I really loved the set up in front of the local fire department.  There were nutcrackers, snowmen, white bears, and of course Santa on the front lawn.  I arrived as the winter sun was getting low and the yellow orange hue to the collection really made it a sight to behold.
            After leaving the center of Acushnet I took a drive out to the Long Plain Museum further out on Main Street.  This museum is also the home of the town’s historical society.  The Long Plain Museum was built in 1875 and was originally the Long Plain Schoolhouse until 1972.  Many of the historical photos and exhibits inside depict school life in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Long Plain Museum
            What I particularly liked about this museum was the fact that there were several pieces of significance outside lined up along the fence.  There is a horse watering trough from 1840 that formerly resided outside of the Whelden School on Middle Street.  Next to that is the front step of the one room ‘Bog School.’  This tiny schoolhouse was taken over from Fairhaven in 1860 and remained in operation until 1905 when it was closed and the students transferred to the Long Plain School.  To the right is a date stone from the Whelden Mill, one of the earliest cotton mills in the northeast.  It was built in 1814 by Captain Joseph Whelden near where Deep Brook meets the Acushnet River.  Finally there is the keystone of the Deep Brook Bridge built in 1845.  The old bridge crossed Middle Road over Deep Brook before being replaced in 1974 by the current bridge.  The old schoolhouse had a haunting presence in the fading daylight making it an image I will take from my time in Acushnet.
            The final place I was able to visit before winter took the sunlight away was the Long Plain Friends Meeting House and Museum a short drive away on Main Street.  The meeting house was built by the Quakers in 1759, the term ‘friends’ used in many of the titles of these religious halls was just another way of saying Quaker.  It is the oldest such meeting house in southeastern Massachusetts but is no longer actively used. 
Long Plain Friends Meeting House
Set back from the road it was a memorable walk to get to where the solo white building stood in the open field.  As is the case with every other Quaker meeting house I have seen in my travels there is a small cemetery of loyal followers not far from the meeting house.  I stayed on the grounds of the meeting house until there was only milky dusk remaining it was as if I was in the soul of little Acushnet at that time.  That is what I will take from my trip, being able to ‘feel’ what the town was about.
Acushnet is a small town with a big connection to the world of sports with its association with the Titleist company. It also has hands on history with the Long Plain Museum.  It absolutely lived up to its Wamapnoag name of being a peaceful resting place near water and I believe that any visitor will enjoy their time in Acushnet.  Have fun and happy traveling!

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DirectionsLong Plain Museum:  From I-195 take Exit 20, take Rt. 105 through Rochester.  Turn right at Cushman Rd., left at Robinson Rd., these are still Rt. 105.  Follow Robinson Rd. to Main St., turn right, Museum is almost immediately on left.  Quaker Meeting House is .7 miles further up on left.  

ReferencesLong Plain
            Acushnet, Ma. - Official Town Site


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the memories. I attended Long Plain School Grade First through Eight. A four room schoolhouse with two grades in each room. My eight grade class (1958)then attended Parting Ways for our ninth grade. Located next to the Town Hall. I am still in contact with many of my old classmates even though I now live in California.

Long Plain Alumni

Christopher Setterlund said...

You're welcome, I enjoyed getting to see all of the historic items outside of the museum even though it was closed when I got there. Thank you for reading!