The Natick Historical Society is seeking a part-time Director. For a full job description, please visit our News page.
Our Museum is closed for restoration work. Please visit in the spring!
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).
Monday, March 19, 7 PM
Eliot Church, 45 Eliot Street, South Natick
Illustrated talk on the Englishman who championed and chronicled the Praying Indians of Natick.
The speaker, Thomas M. Paine, is a descendant of Daniel Gookin. Click for more info
Admission: Free for Natick Historical Society members and students; $5 for nonmembers
Tuesday, March 20, 1 PM
History Book Club discussion:
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
Discuss the exciting lives of four women who were successful spies during the American Civil War.
Natick Community-Senior Center, 117 E. Central Street
All are welcome, no admission fee
Jointly sponsored by the Natick Historical Society and the Bacon Free Library
Sunday, April 22, 2 PM
"Boston's Baseball History and Natick's Contributions"
presented by Herb Crehan
Location: Morse Institute Library, 14 E. Central Street
Admission is free, donations always welcome
Sponsored by the Natick Historical Society
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

On the morning of January 13th, 1874 the town of Natick experienced the most devastating fire in its history. By the time it was brought under control more than thirty 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 all completely destroyed.

Back on Main Street the fire raged on uncontrolled. North of Walcott’s block two adjoining buildings owned by Peter Hogan quickly were 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 St., Central Court (Now Court St.), and Washington St. was eventually ablaze. The Boston Globe’s January 14th 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, it’s wooden framework eventually consumed and its walls collapsing one by one.

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