I haven’t lived in Plymouth long but, when I moved here last spring, one of the first things I noticed was this town’s living sense of history. Not everyone is fortunate enough to live in a place with historic turn-of-the-century homes that can be recognized in old photographs, an active historical society and museum, and a thriving park in the center of town that has drawn residents together to socialize in the same space, decade after decade.
The city website says that Plymouth was settled in 1825. The village was incorporated in 1867 and it eventually became a city in 1932. Photographs of Plymouth in the 1800s are plentiful at the Plymouth Historical Museum and my first visit there gave me a deeper appreciation for my new hometown’s deep roots.
While at the museum, I found a book of photographs called Pictures of Plymouth Past and Present by Dr. Sam Hudson. The photos in it remind me that, while time and progress bring change, basic human events stay the same. There will always be tragedies, accidents and fires. Plymouth has certainly seen its share. According to Hudson’s book, Plymouth’s downtown suffered through a major fire in 1856 that destroyed a stretch of buildings on Main Street, across from Kellogg Park, and another blaze in 1893 that again struck the businesses on Main Street.
As I flipped through the photo book, I also came across happier memories, including pictures from the first Rotary Club Chicken Barbecue held in Kellogg Park, on September 11, 1960, as part of the Plymouth Fall Festival. My family attended the fall festival here for the first time last September and the scene was surprisingly similar when compared with the pictures taken in the ‘60s, with rows of families sitting at picnic tables, listening to music and eating those signature barbecue dinners out of white boxes. Not much has changed, except the price of the dinner, which, 50 years ago, cost $5 for a family of four. The simple continuity of an event like this is reason alone to celebrate.
My first trip to the Plymouth Historical Museum yielded more than I expected. Besides giving me a window into the past, it made me appreciate Plymouth’s staying power and the city it has become. It made me proud to be a part of it and want to teach my children all I can about their hometown.
This week, I asked museum secretary, Erin Williams, what people are most surprised to learn about Plymouth and she told me, “A lot of people don’t know that the museum’s here.” If you have yet to visit, make the time and the trip, when it reopens at the end of the month. The staff is busy setting up its newest exhibit, “Rediscovering the Civil War”, which opens Jan. 28. And, that photo book I’ve been talking about, the one with all of the great snapshots from Plymouth’s early days? It’s for sale in the gift shop.
So, how much do you know about Plymouth history?
We want to put Patch readers to the test. Answer our trivia questions in the comments section of this article for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to one of this town’s institutions, the Box Bar.
The deadline for entries is midnight Jan. 26. The entry with the most correct answers wins or, if more than one person answers all of the questions correctly, the winner will be chosen at random and announced next Thursday at Patch.com.
The contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older. And this wouldn't be a contest without a complete list of official Patch contest rules; you can read them here.
Plymouth Patch Trivia Contest
1. What year did the Box Bar open?
2. What department store used to be on Main Street?
3. What was the name of the theatre in town that preceded the Penn Theatre?
4. What form of mass transit used to run through the streets of Plymouth?
5. What used to sit at the “center” of Kellogg Park before the fountain was put in place?
This contest is now over. Please click here to see the correct answers and the winner.