News
JOB OPENING
The Natick Historical Society is seeking a part-time Director. For a full job description, please visit our News page.
********************
HOURS
The Natick Historical Society Museum is temporarily closed for restoration work and exhibit installation. You can visit our brand-new Museum in spring 2018!
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, as noted below.
********************
Monday, March 19, 7 PM
"LODGING IN WIGWAMS: THE REDEMPTION OF DANIEL GOOKIN"
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
********************
For more information on upcoming events, please visit our Events page.

The Bacon Free Library Building, built in 1880
at 58 Eliot Street, South Natick, Massachusetts,
headquarters of the Natick Historical Society


History of the Bacon Free Library Building and the Natick Historical Society


Located near the banks of the Charles River and at the crossroads of the scenic neighborhood of South Natick, where the Natick Indians first made their Christian settlement and where Harriet Beecher Stowe set her 1869 novel Oldtown Folks, the Natick Historical Society is perfectly situated to collect and share local history.

Oliver and Sarah Bacon, longtime residents of South Natick, were the generous patrons who willed part of their estate to Trustees of the Bacon Free Library to build this handsome brick edifice.  Sarah had run a lending library from their home, and after she died Oliver made sure their legacy would embody their values for the benefit of their community.  The building still keeps its original purpose: to house a neighborhood library on the upper level--the Bacon Free Library--and a museum and history research center on the lower level--the Natick Historical Society. 

The architect was Robert G. Shaw, who practiced only briefly in Boston.  He was married to Isabella Hunnewell of Wellesley, where the couple spent their summers.  The overall cruciform floor plan with a tower is reminiscent of H. H. Richardson's Trinity Church in Boston (1876), while the design details are Renaissance Revival, which add up to a handsome concept for this building dedicated to sharing knowledge.  The Bacon Free Library Building contributes to The John Eliot Historic District and is listed on the Massachusetts and National Registers of Historic Places. 

A decade earlier in 1870, local citizens had formed "The Historical, Natural History and Library Society of South Natick," now called the Natick Historical Society.  One of the first Society members was Oliver Bacon.  Two of the primary founders were William Edwards (a clothier and amateur collector of natural specimens) and Horatio Alger, Sr. (minister at The Eliot Church and a scholar of culture and genealogy).  They merged their interests in science and history to create a "cabinet of curiosity" that was housed in the rooms above William Edwards' store in South Natick, and they launched a popular lecture series.  The first speaker for the Society was Prof. Calvin E. Stowe, D.D., husband of Harriet Beecher Stowe.  This promising start was harshly interrupted by a devastating fire in 1872 that wiped out several blocks in South Natick, including the Society's collections.  Starting over in the Merchant's Block, the Society enlarged its collections, especially the natural history specimen,s from a South American trip by member A. L. Babcock.  Several of the birds he gave, along with many others from the Massachusetts region, are still on display in the Society's museum. The group formally incorporated with H. H. Hunnewell as president in 1873.

Today, the Natick Historical Society carries on the legacy made by people who loved learning and loved their community.  The museum at 58 Eliot Street tells many rich stories to visitors. We have established our new Research Library and Office at 207 Union Street. Walking tours of South Natick, illustrated talks, community events, educational programs for school children and families, changing exhibitions at the Morse Institute Library, and a traveling display kiosk share these stories with the community and with people who appreciate history everywhere.