Friday, May 13, 2011

In My Footsteps: Trip 115: Attleboro, Massachusetts

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 115:  Attleboro, Massachusetts
February 24, 2011

            Once known as the ‘Jewelry Capital of the World’ because of its many jewelry manufacturers the city of Attleboro is filled with amazing places to see.  Much like Foxborough the town’s name has been seen written two different ways.  It was incorporated as a separate town from Rehoboth in 1694 and was spelled as ‘Attleborough.’  It was reincorporated as ‘Attleboro’ in 1914 and ironically the town of North Attleborough kept the original spelling which I found a bit odd but it does keep the towns separate.
Falls Fire Barn Museum
            I began my trip in North Attleborough by checking out the Falls Fire Barn Museum.  Built in 1893 the building on Commonwealth Avenue was a fully operational fire station until 1976.  The pastel blue building is now a fire museum as well as town museum in general.
            Anybody that visits Attleboro quickly hears of the name ‘Capron.’  The Capron family is credited by some as being the first settlers of Attleboro.  Banfield Capron, listed as the Capron in the colonies is seen as the patriarch of the family that settled Attleboro; he arrived in 1674.  John Capron, born in 1797, seems to be the most well known member of the family.  He was a state legislator, military officer, and along with his two sons he established one of the first textile mills in the nearby town of Uxbridge.
Capron House c.1740
            The Capron House on North Street, built in 1740, was originally lived in by Banfield Capron’s son Joseph.  The red and yellow house though is only the tip of the iceberg of where the Capron name is seen throughout Attleboro.  Dennis Capron owned more than 100 acres of land that he farmed during the mid-19th century, part of this land would go on to become a big part of modern day Attleboro.
Heirs of Dennis Capron, descended from Joseph, donated the land for Capron Park in 1901.  In the 1920’s a fund drive was started to create a children’s zoo on the park lands.  Capron Park Zoo opened in 1937.  Of the thirty-three acres donated for the park eight of them were set aside to create the small zoo.
Entrance to Capron Park Zoo
In an ironic twist I spent a lot of time walking around the park grounds, so much in fact that when it came time to go inside the main zoo building it was closed.  Although I do regret not getting to go inside the zoo itself I did enjoy my walk around the park grounds.  There are many different statues and pieces of art that are hard to pass by.  I think a sunny, warmer day might have been better for the photos themselves but even on a cold, raw day I still found a lot to see.  I enjoyed the statues commemorating the Civil War as well as the pretty marble patterned one that featured the Spanish-American War.  The only bright side to missing out on going inside the zoo is that it gives me a reason to head back to Attleboro when I get the chance.
Angle Tree Stone
Saving the best for last is a unique spot back in North Attleborough.  If you don’t keep your eyes open you will miss it as I did a couple of times.  Set back a quarter mile from the road is the Angle Tree Stone.  In a nutshell it is the border marker between North Attleborough and Plainville.  Built in 1790 the term ‘Angle Tree’ comes from the fact that an actual tree once designated the border between the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies and was replaced by the slate pillar.  The ‘angle’ word is because the county border turns at an angle when it reaches the stone.
It is a cool walk back to where the stone resides.  In 1985 it was put inside a brick building with plexi-glass windows to save it from weather and vandalism.  The glass is a bit clouded which made clear photos a tough chore.  Also any straight on shot featured my own reflection so all of my good shots came from an angle, ironically.  Despite those problems the stone itself is an impressive sight knowing it is more than 200 years old.  I do wish I could have laid my hands on it, but what are you going to do?
The Capron name is well known in Attleboro to this day with the famous zoo but there is much more to see in this city.  After checking the zoo out take some time to visit the Falls Fire Barn Museum and Angle Tree Stone in North Attleborough as well.  The stone is a perfect end to a trip to the Attleboro towns.  Have fun and happy traveling!

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DirectionsCapron Park Zoo:  From I-495 take exit 10 for Rt. 123.  Follow Rt. 123 7.3 miles, turn right onto Emory St., continue onto County St., zoo will be on the right. 
            Angle Tree Stone:  From I-495 take exit 14B for Rt. 1, follow 4 miles turn right onto Fisher St.  Turn left onto N. Washington St., take 2nd right onto High Street, follow 1.5 miles, dirt road for stone is on right, keep your eyes open. 

            Capron Park

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