Our Museum will reopen on Sunday, October 21, 11:00 am-3:00 pm. More details coming soon!
Our new Research Library & Office is at 207 Union Street; please call for an appointment. Regular open hours will be announced soon. 
We are OPEN for public programs (see below).

NEW!! Voice recordings of two original Natick Historical Society books available on one CD in MP3 format.

History Book Club
Tuesday, October 16, 1:00 pm
Everyone welcome to join discussion of The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.
It's another dramatic take on the Salem Witch Trials in 1692-1693.
At Natick Community-Senior Center.
Sponsored by the Natick Historical Society and the Bacon Free Library.
Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 pm
Join us in the Morse Institute Library to hear Anna Fahey-Flynn talk about Best Foot Forward: The Shoe Industry in Massachusetts.
Sunday, October 21, 11:00 am-3:00 pm
Join us for a "Welcome Back Open House" to see our completely renovated museum on the lower level of the Bacon Free Library building, 58 Eliot Street.
Live artist demonstrations, new exhibits, and stuff for kids.
For more information on upcoming events, please visit our Events page.

The Fire of 1872

A fire broke out in the basement of I. B. Clark’s Dry Goods Store and William Edwards’ Clothing Store. In the basement L. A. Kingsbury operated a meat market, and E. Heuber had a barbershop. The fire destroyed the hotel of Goin Bailey, the property of William Edwards and I. B. Clark, and the “Old Tavern” (then called “Eliot House”) operated by Goin Bailey.

The alarm was given at 1:30 a.m. and by 3 a.m. the destruction was complete. The Post Office and Engine House on the west side of Eliot Street were only two of many buildings badly damaged during the fire. The Merchants block, which housed the Natick Historical Society Museum, was a total loss.

The Fire of 1874

In the early morning of January 13, 1874, Natick experienced the most devastating fire in its history. By the time it was brought under control more than 30 structures had been lost and the town center was in ruins.

The fire began in the cellar of F.E. Cummings drug store, located at the southwest corner of Main andSummer streets in what was known as Sherman’s block. When the fire was discovered at 3:00 AM it had already spread to the second floor of the wooden structure. The fire department responded quickly to the blaze but had problems getting their apparatus and hoses in place. Difficulty building a fire in the steam-powered fire engine and bursting hoses prevented the firemen from applying water to the burning building for at least twenty minutes. This delay would prove very costly, allowing the fire to spread to nearby structures.

From Sherman’s block the fire spread in two directions. To the north it engulfed J. B. Walcott’s block, a three-story shoe factory. To the south Clark’s block, a brick building containing several stores and banks, as well as a large concert hall, quickly caught fire. At this point the Natick firemen realized the potential of the fire to spread quickly to other blocks and called for help from other departments. Saxonville, Ashland, Newton, and even Boston sent men and equipment to help battle the flames.

Moving west, the blaze swept down Summer Street. A grocer’s shop, a provisions store, the old site of the Methodist church, and even the garage that housed the fire department’s Eagle steam engine were completely destroyed.

On Main Street, the fire raged on uncontrolled. North of Walcott’s block two adjoining buildings owned by Peter Hogan were quickly lost to the flames. The fire’s northward advance ended at Union Court, narrowly sparing Leach’s block. It was at this point, however, that the fire took a terrible turn.

Much effort had been made to prevent the blaze from spreading across Main Street, but a shift in the wind sent showers of sparks onto the fronts and roofs of Union block and the other buildings on the east side of the street. The entire block bounded by Main Street, Central Court (now Court Street), and Washington Street was eventually ablaze. The Boston Globe’s January 14 issue described the scene as “One of seething flame, the light of which illuminated the sky for a distance of twenty miles around!” Just across the narrow Central Court the graceful brick Congregational Church was slowly destroyed as its wooden framework was consumed and its walls collapsed one by one.

Six hours later the flames were finally under control, but not before virtually every structure between Main and Washington streets, and from Railroad Avenue (now South Avenue) to Central Street, was completely destroyed.