Exhibits

The Westford Museum houses several permanent exhibits. Temporary exhibits highlight parts of our collections which cannot be displayed on a permanent basis. A large percentage of the collections are in storage and can be viewed by appointment if their condition allows.

Approximately 80% of the Westford Historical Society’s collections are in storage, not normally on display in the Museum. Each week we feature a different artifact from our collection.

Permanent Exhibits

Captain Peletiah Fletcher Doll House

The Doll House is no ordinary playhouse. After moving into the Captains Fletcher House (54 Lowell Rd), Mary “Marmi” D. Agnew decided to create a replica of the house. The Fletcher House has many aspects typical of a Westford House, but also many other unique details  Some features are, a …

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Home Life

Not so long ago, the average home was a very different place. Candles lit the rooms instead of light bulbs, fires were used to cook things instead of ovens and stoves, and people spent much more time at home with their families. This all changed with industrialization and electrification, when …

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photo of Franklin Trask

What happened to the Lake Shore Theatre?

Mural-sized painting of Nabnasset Country Club, ca. 1930 W.2017.24.1Photo by Rich McLaughlin We’ve been hearing lots about the Lake Shore Theatre in Nabnasset. It was run by Franklin Trask for 3 summers from 1934 to 1936. Trask had originally come to Westford as the principal at the Frost School around …

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Stone Circle at Grassy Pond

Many thanks go out to Cori Ryan and all the people involved in yesterday’s History in Stone program! Over 80 people visited the Museum to hear Cori’s talk on the Stone Circle at Grassy Pond, view the ancient artifacts found here in Westford, listen to Spirit Dancer’s stories and revel …

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Set in Stone~ History of the Quarry Industry

Westford has a long history in industry, with the earliest recorded granite quarrying beginning in 1826 on Oak Hill, near today’s Fletcher Granite company. Granite from here is known for its clean blue-gray appearance, “Chelmsford Gray.” The earliest operations occurred before the use of railroads, with the old horse and …

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Nabnasset

Nabnasset is the 5th and final theme in our Villages of Westford series. It started as a farming community and added the mills at Brookside. In the late 19th century the recreational land around Nab Lake was known as “Nabnasset Grove.” A summer community built up in the 1930s and …

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Image of the Westford Knight

The Westford Knight

The so called “Westford Knight” is a carving of unconfirmed origin in ledgerock on the hill approaching Westford Center from Stony Brook. Easily visible in contrast with the natural features of the rock is a man-made carving of what could be a medieval sword. The origins of the carving are …

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Westford Doctors

As in every town, disease and illness in Westford was inevitable. From 1850-1868 the #1 cause of death in Westford was consumption, the #2 cause was old age, and the #3 cause was Scarlet Fever. Life expectancy was approximately forty years of age. Fortunately Westford had a reliable doctor for …

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The American Revolution

Westford men served in various Colonial wars, and over 280 Westford men served in the Revolutionary War. They fought from the Battle of Lexington and Concord to the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Lt. Col. John Robinson was one of the first officers at the North Bridge in Concord on …

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Westford Academy

Westford Academy (WA) was founded in 1792 as a private secondary school for children “of any nation, age, or sex.” It was exceptional from its beginning, taking both boys and girls as students as long as they could read the Bible without sounding out words and pay 9 shillings per …

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Temporary Exhibits

Hall and McLaughlin – History of North Westford (Part one)

Westford Town historians, Geoff Hall and Rich McLaughlin, bring their knowledge and research of North Westford for an extraordinary presentation They will share highlights of North Westford’s history from the earliest known inhabitants of the town to the present day population growth. North Westford is often mention in the Westford …

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The Great New England Hurricane of 1938

Section headings were based on actual news headlines about the natural disaster. The captions were based on the text either written on or with the photos. Further text written as footnotes. Individual images may be clicked on for enlarged lightbox view. If you have any further info that could be …

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On the Farm

Westford Then Now Tomorrow

Connect the past, present, and future of the town!​

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The Many Colors of WA

The Many Colors of Westford Academy Originally Exhibited as The Other Colors of Westford Academy in mid to late 2019 Westford’s high school colors were not always maroon and grey (and sometimes gold) with a floating Grey Ghost. Into the 1950s, the school’s colors were less solid, as well as the …

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Past Eateries of Westford

Originally Exhibited Fall 2019 – Spring 2020 Westford saw many restaurants come and go. These eateries came in all sizes, while they were sometimes frequented more for atmosphere than their food. The Old Oaken Bucket, The Tiki Lau (New Tiki), and Polly’s were only a few examples. Smaller, lesser known …

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Ten District Schools

https://youtu.be/JrUsoRSYVLI Five school districts were established in 1787 with schoolhouses in each district.  New districts were added in 1806, 1822, and 1826.  Westford Academy was incorporated in 1792, and a two-story late Georgian style Academy Hall was built in 1794 to the west of the common. By approximately 1870 to 1908 …

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Fire Companies of Westford MA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkAnfAG2Aus&feature=youtu.be Westford Historical Society’s 2005 Calendar researched and created by Marilyn Day, Wesyford Town Historian  (2005) Slideshow, Alina Jeng, Westford Historical Society Intern (2020) The Center Fire Station  This fire station is particularly special to Westford and to the Westford Museum. The Museum building served as the Center Fire Station’s …

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Women’s Rights in Westford

Women’s Rights in Westford timeline 1780                   Massachusetts State Constitution restricts voting to males only but omits “male” as a qualification for holding public office. 1819                   Susan Prescott becomes the first woman assistant preceptor (assistant principal and teacher) at Westford Academy. c1833               Led by …

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The Atwood-Carlton-Millett Family

The Westford Family lived in town starting in the 1880s. Having left their mark on local medicine and art, members of the family lived in town until 2007.

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Online Exhibits

Hildreth Hills

Featured Artifact of the Week

Hildreth Hills Painting From the Collection Landscape watercolor of Hildreth Hills. According to the research of local journalist Gordon Seavey (1905-1996), it is in a so-called Primitive style, which tends to have a flatter appearance. It is a depiction of the Hildreth Homestead in the early 1700s, while the painting …

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Grace Atwood

Featured Artifact of the Week

Portrait of Grace Atwood From the Collection This portrait is of Grace Atwood Millett later in life. It was painted by her son William Atwood “Bill” Millett (1922-2007), who was the last of the family to live in Westford. The carved wood frame has gold leaf, and its aged appearance …

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Planter -- Corn Stabber

Featured Artifact of the Week

Seed Planter From the Farm Exhibit Seed planter used for beans, peas, and corn. It was also known as a “corn stabber.” The device was inserted into a tilled field, and would then release the seeds. This stabber was owned by Joel Alvin Blaisdell (1850-1921), and used on his farm off …

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Decorative Plaque

Featured Artifact of the Week

Decorative Plaque From the Collection Wooden plaque with family pictures made by Nancy Hall Bissell of Westford as a Christmas gift in the late 1960s. The plaque has six photographs from the early to late 1940s. Clockwise: (1) Freda Johnson Brown (1899-1980), Marjorie (Aldrich) Pearson (1933-2011), and Bill Brown (1887-1957), …

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December 2020 Museum Musings

A Short History of Christmas Lights on Westford Common The beginning is 1988.  Photo by Bill Peters (Christmas Lights on Westford Common, my 30th year Let us all shine some Hope and Goodwill, it’s been such a tough year Peace Everyone) Thanks to 13-year-old Mark Jarvis, the Westford Garden Club …

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Howard Homestead Painting

Featured Artifact of the Week

Howard Homestead From the Collection Painting of the Howard Homestead that once stood on Howard Rd. It was painted by Amelle B. Hand of Littleton, MA. Calvin Howard (1792-1883), a veteran of the War of 1812, built the house before 1853, and it sat on 105 acres. His son, Calvin …

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Ornaments Box

Featured Artifact of the Week

Ornaments From the Collection Christmas tree ornaments, nine of which likely made by Premier Christmas Tree Ornaments in 1942. They are made to look like golden pine cones, with each about 2″ long. Made in America, according to the box. This box of ornaments was donated by the estate of  …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Walking Automaton From the Industry Exhibit George Robert Moore (1817-1892) co-owned the Brookside Mill with is brother Seth (1820-1900). George also had multiple patents. One was for a Walking Automaton, patented 1891. It was made of wood and steel, and specifically made to work with a battery powered motor. It …

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Fletcher Granite Quarry

Featured Artifact of the Week

Fletcher Granite Quarry From the Collection Two black and white photographs of the Fletcher Granite Quarry from May 1949. The quarry is located off 534 Groton Rd in historically the part of Westford called West Chelmsford, a part of Nabnasset today. The Fletcher Granite Co. was founded by Herbert E. …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Toy Turkey Farm Sign From the collection Framed portion of the Toy Turkey Farm sign. The 15.5 acre farm was on Littleton Rd around where the Westford Valley Marketplace is today. This location was also the site of the District 6 Minot’s Corner School, which closed in 1909. The school …

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Past Exhibits

See highlights from past exhibits on our Past Exhibits page.