The Stoneham Historical Society is an all volunteer organization founded in 1922. Our mission is: To study the history of the Town of Stoneham; to collect and preserve articles of historic interest pertaining to the town; and to maintain a Historical Library and Museum.
The Society maintains two historic buildings at 36 William Street in Stoneham. The first is the Spanish War Hall which was established in 1903 as the quarters of United States War Veterans. It was later deeded to the society and now houses our museum and library as well as serving as our meeting hall. The second is a small Ten Footer - a building where shoemakers once worked and sold shoes prior to large scale industrialization. It serves as a reminder of Stoneham's historic shoe making industry which earned us the nickname of "Shoe Town".
Our museum collection includes many unique artifacts, documents, newspapers and thousands of photographs relating to Stoneham's past. We appreciate the many generous donations from local institutions and private citizens that have made it so remarkable. We encourage those who are interested in seeing our collection to visit us during our Open House days or make an appointment to tour the museum. You can mail us a letter or click here to contact us by email.
Each spring, the Historical Society is pleased to welcome Third Graders from the town's public and private elementary schools for a tour of the museum and brief presentation about the history of our town. The Third Grade School Program has been a great success and we look forward to its continuation. Recently, it has been expanded to include a traveling case of curriculum aids to help teachers prepare their young students for the days events.
On February 14, 1922, a number of local residents met in the High School Library on William St. (the brick building housing the former Central School). The Town's 200th anniversary was approaching and the need was felt for a Society to serve as the nucleus for the accumulation of valuable historical material, which might otherwise be lost. In addition, such a Society could assist in carrying out an appropriate anniversary celebration. After adopting by-laws and electing officers on February 24, 1922, the Commissioner of Corporations certified the group as the Stoneham Historical Society on March 31, 1922. The purpose of the organization was stated as follows:
"The Corporation is constituted for the purpose of the study of the history of the Town of Stoneham, Massachusetts, its societies, organizations, families, individuals and events, the collection and preservation of articles of historic value pertaining to Stoneham or elsewhere, the establishment and maintenance of an historical library, and the publication from time to time of such information relating to the same as shall be deemed expedient." - SHS Charter, 1922."
The thirteen founders who signed the charter creating the Stoneham Historical Society were: William B. Stevens, Oliver W. Richardson, Luther Hill, Ethel B. Davis, Claude E. Patch, Emma A. Steele, Charles J. Emerson, Harold C. Hurd, Cora E. Dike, Arminda Hill, Priscilla F. Bryant, George D. Connor, and Frederick Steele. Judge Stevens was elected the first President, and Luther Hill served as secretary.
For early meetings, members researched and reported on topics such as early Stoneham families and their homes, as well as early meeting houses, schools, roads, music, transportation, peddlers, etc. Members also collected artifacts and photographs to add to the Society’s collection. In July 1930, the Society placed tablets at several historic locations.
The earliest meetings were held in the High School Library on William Street (formerly Central School). In 1932, the Society began to hold its meetings in the hall of the “new” portion of the Stoneham Public Library on Main Street. A part of the Library’s vault was used for storing the Society’s records and artifacts. By 1939, the Society’s collection had increased to the extent it was housed in a room rented at the Library. Occasional supper meetings were held at the Congregational Church. The Annual Harvest Supper is a tradition begun in 1937.
The Society’s activities were placed on the “back burner” during World War II and efforts were directed toward helping the Red Cross, Civil Defense, and other wartime activities here on the Home Front. Although the war ended in 1945, the next decade found older members unable to offer leadership and younger people pursuing other activities. In 1956, the Society became “revitalized” and in May, 1957 leased the Spanish American War Veterans Hall at 36 William St. for its meetings. A “Treasure Room” was opened on the second floor to showcase the Society’s collection. The Spanish American War Veterans deeded the building to the Society in May, 1958, providing the Museum space needed and a Hall for meetings.
During the summer of 1967, the “Peter Doucette Shoe Shop” was moved from Pine Street to the Society’s property. Outfitted to represent the many ten footers, which once dotted Stoneham’s landscape, it was first opened to the public on May 24, 1968. This Ten Footer became the Society’s logo and was placed on the National register of Historic Places in April, 1984