The Southborough Historical Society is launching a project to document the history of houses for the next generation of homeowners . To that end, they are looking for residents to share the info they have on their old homes.
SHS President Michael Weishan posted:
Over the last few months as we have been all hunkered down, I’ve received quite a few inquiries from residents in town asking whether or not we had information on their individual houses. The sad truth is that for most homes we don’t—not because that information doesn’t exist—but simply because individual homeowners, after researching their own properties, never thought to share that information with the Society, and until now, we never thought to ask.
So this fall the Society is launching its “Discover Your Old House” program. To make things easier, the Society has digitized and reorganized Southborough’s Historic Homes database so you can rapidly and easily find your home in a simple alphabetical list. This will allow you to quickly see what we already know about the history of your property. The next step is up to you! Send us your research, tell us your stories, share with us pictures of your home, and we will add them to our collections, so that the next generation of owners won’t have to begin from scratch as I did.
To participate, you can email email@example.com.
To inspire others to share their knowledge, Weishan wrote about his own experiences as the owner of an old home. He was fortunate enough to strike up a friendship with a previous owner who turned out to be a treasure trove of information on the house.
The SHS President explained that back in the 90s when he took on major renovations to his newly purchased home:
I saw a white minivan with three people in it, advancing at a snail’s pace down the road, obviously looking at my house. They pulled over. Curious, I went up to them and asked if I could be of service, and rather shyly they told me that they had lived in my house a long time ago. (More than sixty years earlier, as it turned out!) I said: “Do you want to come in? It’s a wreck, but I would be happy to show it to you!” At first they didn’t want to impose, but I insisted it would be a pleasure if they were prepared to wade through the destruction. Finally they agreed, and thus began my wonderful relationship with E. Warren Ward, his wife Edith and their daughter Beverly.
As it happened, I had struck the jackpot, because Mr. Ward wasn’t merely a former resident, but a retired engineer with a prodigious memory—at 88! As we toured the house, recollections flooded back (they literally hadn’t been back to see the place in 60 years) and this chance encounter turned out to be a gratifying, and rather emotional, visit for the Wards. (Mrs. Ward was particularly distressed to note that the huge old elms along what was then a gravel Cordaville Road had disappeared. “We had such lovely Sunday picnics under those trees!” she said, a bit tearily)
Weishan and the Wards kept in touch. He shared a letter from Mr. Ward with recollections including his family’s move to Southborough in 1913. You can read the full story here.