Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Maynard in Wikipedia

For those without access to personal computers, Wikipedia (launched January 2001) is a free, online encyclopedia. The English version has more than six million articles. Articles are created and changed (added to, subtracted from) by volunteer editors. With certain restrictions, anyone can edit any article. All that keeps this from becoming chaos is that when editors either in good faith or maliciously edit articles with not-true content, other editors reverse those edits (sooner or later). High profile articles often have a cadre of watchers who, when they log into Wikipedia, see articles they have chosen to watch if those articles have been edited since the last time they were online. There can be heated debates on the truth and verifiability of content. These take place on the Talk pages of articles – sort of a behind-the-scenes view.

Welcome to MAYNARD sign, near golf course.
Maynard, Massachusetts, population approximately 10,500 and clearly not a ‘famous’ town (say, compared to Concord), has a surprisingly large number of Wikipedia articles that in some way pertain. There are the expected: Maynard, Massachusetts; Maynard High School (Massachusetts); Maynard Public Library; Amory Maynard; Assabet River; Assabet River Rail Trail and Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge. There are locations a bit more obscure, yet articles in their own stead: Glenwood Cemetery (Maynard, Massachusetts); Presidential Village, Maynard, Massachusetts; Assabet Woolen Mill and WAVM. The Massachusetts State Police article mentions that the main Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab is located in Maynard.

Old Marlboro Road is an article because Thoreau wrote a poem by that name. It was incorporated into his lengthy essay “Walking,” published posthumously in 1862. In September 1851 he and a friend had walked through what was then Assabet Village, in part on the old Marlborough road, on his way from Concord to Boon Pond.

The reason that the town’s article is “Maynard, Massachusetts” rather than just “Maynard” is that there are articles for towns of the same name in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio. Similarly, Maynard High School (Arkansas) is an article, and there are several Glenwood Cemetery articles.

As for businesses once or currently located in Maynard, Digital Equipment Corporation is an article, as are almost every computer model it made. Other businesses no longer in existence or moved away include H.H. Scott, Inc.; 38 Studios, Iron Lore Entertainment and Still located in Maynard are Stratus Technologies, Powell Flutes, AquaBounty Technologies, The Paper Store and Wildlife Acoustics.

Amory Maynard
Lastly, there is a list of 15 “Notable people.” Wikipedia defines “Notable” as meaning a person who has a Wikipedia article about them. What defines their association with Maynard comes from having lived here before, during or after becoming famous, or else having a significant career here. Two of these, Tantamous and Luke Brooks, predate the creation of the Town of Maynard. Amory Maynard is whom the town is named after. That occurred while he was still alive. Given that in 1871 his woolen mill employed most of the people in what was about to become a new town, the decision to name the town after him was ‘unanimous.’

Hermon Hosmer Scott and Ken Olsen are listed because of the Maynard companies they founded, respectively, H.H. Scott, Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation. Julie Berry and William G. Tapply (are/were, respectively) authors who lived here for a time. Waino Kauppi was a renowned cornet player, John, “Red” Flaherty a baseball umpire, and Frank Murray a college football coach. Leo Mullen was CEO of Delta Airlines. Elizabeth Updike Cobblah is an artist and art teacher, Michael Goulian an airshow performer, Herb Greene a professional photographer and Jarrod Shoemaker a professional triathlete. Fifteen is a nice number, but it does not approach the 98 (!) listed for Concord.    

Wikipedia has an article quality ranking system. From the top down, Featured article, Good article, B-class, C-class, Start, Stub and not rated. The rating for Maynard, Massachusetts is B-class, there are a couple of C-class in the above mentions, and the rest are Start, Stub, or no one ever bothered to rate. The Stubs and Starts, especially, need work, so if any readers are either experienced Wikipedia editors or are willing to learn, these would make great summer projects.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

H.H. Scott, Inc., Maynard "Hi-Fi" company

Ken Olsen was not the only Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate who graced Maynard with a technology company in 1957. Hermon Hosmer Scott, 17 years Olsen’s senior, had received his Bachelor of Science degree in Course 6: Electrical Engineering, in 1930, and a Master of Science degree the next year. Scott went on to earn a doctorate degree from Lowell Technological Institute, and to have a long and glorious career in the field of consumer high fidelity and stereo equipment development, including amplifiers, preamplifiers, FM radio receivers, turntables and speakers. In addition, he patented technology that made possible the invention of television.

H.H. Scott, Inc. workers at 111 Powder Mill Road, circa 1960
Click to enlarge. From Maynard Historical Society Archive.
From one source: “The Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame, created in 2000, honors consumer electronics industry leaders who have made fundamental contributions to the products and services that improve consumers' lives and are a vital part of our nation and its economy. Hall of Fame inductees include inventors, executives, engineers, retailers and journalists who are selected annually by an independent panel of industry judges.” For the inaugural year, 50 people were named. Among them, names familiar to all: Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Nikola Tesla – and Hermon Hosmer Scott.

Early in his career, Scott worked on providing sound for motion pictures, and then on the broadcasting of music performances – live and recorded as record albums – to home listeners. In 1947 he founded a company he named H.H. Scott, Inc., in Cambridge. The intent was to create “high fidelity,” i.e., “Hi-Fi” equipment for consumers who wanted near-professional quality music at home. This involved developing radio receivers, record album turntables, amplifiers and speakers. The company was successful. H.H. Scott and Fisher Radio were two of the best-known brands in Hi-Fi and stereo sound systems. In late 1957, H.H. Scott built a new state-of-the-art manufacturing and research facility at 111 Powder Mill Road. The company continued to be an innovation leader during the transition from Hi-Fi to stereo, and from vacuum tubes to transistors. However, financial difficulties in 1972 led to the company filing for Chapter XI bankruptcy, and then being acquired in 1973 by Electro Audio Dynamics. Hermon Scott was not longer affiliated with the company. A few years later the company was moved to Woburn, and was subsequently acquired by Emerson Electronics. Emerson still has products branded “HH Scott.”

Advertisement for H.H. Scott stereo system
Hermon Scott lived in Lincoln from 1941 until his death in 1975, age 66. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren. Given MIT education, choice of career in electronics, working in Maynard and living in Lincoln, it is possible that Scott and Ken Olsen knew each other socially. And as they were both in business in Maynard from 1957 onward, their companies were hiring from the same pool of local workers.

A note on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: From the origin in 1865 to present, courses (later departments), were commonly referred to by number, despite having names. The original set was Course 1 (Mechanical Engineering), Course 2 (Civil Engineering). Course 3 (Geology and Mining), Course 4 (Architecture) and Course 5 (Chemistry). Courses 6, 7, and 8 (respectively Metallurgy, Natural History and Physics) were added a few years later. Over time, Course 6 was reassigned to Electrical Engineering (in 1975 belatedly became Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), and Course 7 to Biology. Splits occurred: 7 stayed Biology, but Course 9 is Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Course 20 is Biological Engineering. To further compound the numerical haze, buildings are referred to by numbers despite having names, and the building numbers have no connection to the course numbers.

As for the fate of Scott’s building on Powder Mill Road, at some point in time it was acquired by Digital Equipment Corporation, and then after DEC was purchased by Compaq, occupied by Stratus Technologies from 1999 to 2015. Stratus departed, to move into Building 5 of the mill complex. The current occupant at Powder Mill is Maynard Storage Solutions, with rentable space ranging from 5x5 to 10x30 feet.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Slavery in Massachusetts, and Afterwards

In this time of national introspection about prejudice against people of color, perhaps this is a time to revisit the history of slavery in colonial New England, and its aftermath. Massachusetts was the first British colony to legalize slavery. The year 1641 saw the passing of the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. This set of 98 rules established rules of law governing how men, women, children and servants had essential rights. Rule 91 stated that there shall never be slavery, serfdom or captivity "... unless it be lawful captives taken in just wars, and such strangers as willingly sell themselves or are sold to us."

And there it was: strangers sold to us could be owned as slaves. And de facto, their children.

Prior to 1641 there had been a handful of slaves owned by colonists. In colonial Massachusetts the real impetus for this part of the Body of Liberties document was wars with Native Americans. The colonists did not want to free their prisoners of war, but could not decide what to do with them. The decision was reached to sell them into slavery in the Caribbean colonies. Returning ships started bring back a few Negro slaves as cargo.

Slavery never took hold in the northern colonies as it did in the southern colonies mostly because there were no labor-intensive cash crops - no tobacco, indigo, rice or cotton. Instead, northern slaves were primarily prestige property for the upper class, especially for wealthy men who did not intend to have themselves or their wives do much physical labor about home and farm.  

These ministers, lawyers, doctors, judges and military officers typically owned one to three slaves. Increase Mather, President of Harvard College, owned slaves, as did his minister son, Cotton Mather, author of Rules for the Society of Negroes, and The Negro Christianized.   

By the numbers: 550 adult slaves in Massachusetts by 1708 grew to 2,720 in the town-by-town slave census conducted in 1754 (an undercount, as children under 16 were not included). This was a bit more than one percent of the total population, but heavily skewed toward higher percentages in Boston and coastal cities. For example, Boston was ten percent Negro in 1754 (counting both slaves and free). In that same census year Concord was recorded as having 15 adult slaves, Sudbury 14, Acton 1 and Stow none. Maynard did not yet exist.

The end of slavery in Massachusetts was hastened by the Revolutionary War. Many Loyalists fled to British-controlled territory, often abandoning their slaves. The Continental Army under the command of George Washington (slave owner), initially opposed enrolling any Negro men, but changed this edict in 1776. Slave owners received a cash compensation for any slave freed to serve in the Army. Massachusetts was the first of the newly forming states to end slavery. With the war still raging, Massachusetts passed a state constitution in 1780. Key wording: "All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."

The State legislature may not have intended this to mean the end of slavery; draft versions proposed in 1777 and 1778 had been clear that slavery would continue. But the 1780 wording was what became law. The right to vote in state elections was gained a year later, after black businessmen pointed out that “no taxation without representation” applied to them, too. The first United States census, conducted in 1790, reported no slaves in Massachusetts and a population of 5,463 people who were not white, out of a total of 378,787, or 1.4 percent. [Present-day, Black, 7.0 to 9.0 percent (conflicting reports) for the state, under two percent for Maynard, under one percent for Stow.]

Lucy Chester (1774-1849), daughter of Cate and Prince, is
buried in the north Boxborough cemetery. Her parents are
thought to have been buried in a different Boxborough
cemetery, but the markers and records no longer exist.
Free was not equal, neither legally nor economically. Freed slaves often continued to work in the households where they had been owned, basically accepting room and board in return for labor. Their children were unlikely to attend school, and once reaching adolescence, were often indentured until they were 21 years old. The book “Black Walden” describes the lives of former slaves and their children in Concord. Marginalized to poor-quality land in Walden Woods and elsewhere, succumbing to poor nutrition, disease and prejudice, former slaves died, their children too, or else moved to cities where there were larger populations of Black families. By 1880 there were no descendants remaining in Concord from the several score who had lived there as slaves and descendants of slaves. Concord’s “whitewashed” official history had become descriptions of white revolutionaries, authors and abolitionists.

The first mention of an African American living in Maynard is a photo caption in the Maynard Historical Society archive identifying John Adams as a chauffeur for Dr. Frank Rich, circa 1910. There is no mention of whether he lived on the Rich family property or elsewhere, or if he had a family. In Stow, on land that later became part of Boxboro, a woman named Cate was owned from around 1750 to 1772, when at age 31, she was declared free by her owner, Phineas Taylor. Cate married Prince Chester, also a freed slave, from Lexington. Their descendants include Chesters and Hazards, in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Digital Equipment Corporation - All Things DEC

On June 17, 7-8:30 p.m., I will be presenting an on-line talk titled “All Things DEC.” The talk’s description: “Digital Equipment Corporation (digital, DEC) had a glorious arc that started with some rented space in the mill complex in 1957, furnished with office furniture bought on credit from Gruber Bros. Furniture, then rising to make Maynard the "Minicomputer capital of the world," as a multi-billion dollar company second only to IBM. Mark's talk, with many images from the archives of the Maynard Historical Society, will span the origin, rise, peak and decline of DEC. He will touch on the work experience of women at DEC, and the company's commitment to diversity training.” Registration (free) is at the Maynard Public Library website, under Virtual Events. Refreshments will not be served.

With a bit of luck, AltaVista could have been Google.
After ten years of NOT writing about DEC, a company that was headquartered in Maynard for 41 years, and at its peak employed thousands of people in Maynard (a fraction of the 100,000+ employed worldwide), I finally started a series of articles about DEC in November 2019, with an origin story. All this stretched to a tenth article in March 2020, about DEC’s approach to anti-discrimination and diversity training. In between, the columns (all posted at covered not just the rise, peak and fall, but also DEC’s faltering and flawed efforts to be in the minicomputer business, and then the impact on Maynard once DEC was gone.

DEC’s demise was not unique. The myth is that DEC missed the advent of mini-computers because of president Ken Olsen’s blind spot, but in reality, there were multiple, major, corporate missteps. And not just at DEC. Just in the greater Boston area Data General, Wang Laboratories, Prime Computer, Lotus Development Corporation and Apollo Computer faded, and either folded or were acquired. 

This trend of short corporate lifespan actually continues today and extends beyond tech. An interesting report by Innosight [] observed that the average lifespan of large companies has been declining for decades, either because they lose to the competition (Monster, Yahoo) or are acquired by larger companies (Monsanto, Aetna, Time-Warner). Locally, our example is Acacia Communications, headquartered in Maynard’s mill complex (!), which started in 2009 with about the same building space as did DEC back in 1957, expanded, expanded more, went public in 2016 with a valuation of several billion dollars – and then was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2019, a deal that will be completed in 2020. What the future holds for the mill complex’s largest tenant is unknown. Will it grow in place, or will Cisco force a relocation?

For most of its history, Maynard has been a company town, in the sense that its survival and prosperity depended almost entirely on one company. From 1847 to 1950, that was wool. A period of diversification began in 1953 when the empty mill complex was bought and repurposed as Maynard Industry Incorporated, with dozens of industry and office space tenants. DEC started renting space in 1957, expanded over the years, until buying the complex in 1974, reverting Maynard to a one-company town again. DEC closed operations in the mill complex in 1993, then the Parker Street complex and the corporate headquarters on Powdermill Road in the years following. At the mill complex, Wellesley Rosemont (Clock Tower Place; 1998-2015) reverted to the practice of multiple clients, which carried over to current-day, Mill & Main operations. Looking forward, the Town of Maynard hopes to sustain the idea of being a commercially diversified community rather than hitch its wagon to one star. But it would still be helpful if the mill complex was 100 percent rented.   

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Swimming Pools

Using Google Maps aerial view, 141 swimming pools were counted in Maynard, a mix of above-ground (round) and in-ground (not round) pools. Assuming a few were missed, let’s call it 150 swimming pools. Equals 3% of Maynard's 5,000 housing units (includes homes, condos and apartments).

Swimming pool on the Titanic. Filled, would have been seven feet deep. Note
electric light bulbs. Men, women and children had separate hours. The ship
 also had a gymnasium that included rowing machines and stationarybicycles.
The very idea of a privately owned swimming pool is a relatively recent concept. For that matter, recreational swimming is a relatively recent concept. Wealthy people did not own pools, first, because rich people didn’t do that (swim), and second, because there was no pool water filtration technology. The lower classes did start taking trains or buses to beaches. Summers, the Maynard-based Lovell Bus Line (1923-1953) had a route to Revere Beach that was $1.25 round trip.

Municipal pools were built by cities to provide a safe place for people to swim. One account has it that the first public pool in the United States was in Brookline, in 1887. [England had already had pools for decades, and swimming competitions.] By the turn of the century, many U.S. cities had large outdoor and indoor pools. Hotels began to construct pools. The Titanic had a heated, saltwater, swimming pool, 30 x 14 feet, for use by first class passengers only. [It also had a gymnasium with rowing machines and exercise bicycles - separate hours for men and women.]

Not until after World War II did pool technology improve to the point that the middle class could aspire to having a home pool. One interesting catalyst for increased interest in having a pool is that starting for WWII, the U.S. Army and Navy incorporating swimming into basic training. Men were coming home from the war wanting homes, and in many instances, home with pools. A recent article in the New York Times estimated that in 1949, approximately 10,000 American homes had pools, a number that ten years later has grown to 250,000, and by today, more than 10 million. The majority of Maynard’s pools are in post-WWII developments that have larger lot sizes than the old factory-era properties. There are only three (above-ground) pools in the Presidential Village district.     

Bathing attire changed with the times. In England, until around 1900, there were separate beaches for men and women. Against vigorous protests, the practice of men swimming in the nude was banned in 1860. First, it was a requirement for wool shorts, a style that lengthened over time to knee-length. Next, wool shirts became required wear – initially long-sleeved, in time shortening to short-sleeved and then sleeveless. Coloring was mostly black or else horizontally striped. In both England and in the United States, it was illegal for men to expose their chests. Only in the 1930s did men start to go topless!    

Annette Kellermann, famous early
20th century swimmer, in swimsuit
of her own design, novel for the time.
Women’s bathing attire was designed to cover the entire body. During the 1800s, women wore long dresses or bathing gowns made of fabric that did not become transparent when wet, meaning wool or flannel. Design was basically a dress to the knees, over loose-fitting trousers, over leggings. Women would sew weights into the hem of the gowns to prevent their dress from floating up. A radical change took place on the turn of the century. Annette Kellermann, a young Australian woman, had taken up swimming as a child as physical therapy. She became a professional swimmer, doing swimming and high-dive exhibitions, swim races, and appearing in silent films of the era. In The Mermaid (1911), she was the first actress to wear a swimmable mermaid costume – of her own design.

More germane to women’s swimwear in general, Kellermann designed and wore a form-fitting, one-piece swimsuit. In 1907, preparing for a promotional coast swim, Annette Kellerman was arrested at Revere Beach for indecent attire. She argued before the judge that her swimsuit was practical, not provocative. She said that “…swimming in a Victorian swimsuit with its ‘shoes, stockings, bloomers, skirts, corsets and a dinky little cap,’ made as much sense as ‘swimming in lead chains.’” The case was dismissed, and her swimsuit became popular as "the Annette Kellerman". When female swimming was introduced as the 1912 Summer Olympics, all the women were wearing suits similar to Kellermann’s design.

Maynard, MA swimming program, Hansen's Beach, Stow, MA. Photo by
Samuel Micciche, 1954 (courtesy of Maynard Historical Society)
Competitive swimming went through a singular “not invented here” moment in 1844. British swimmers were competing using the breaststroke combined with a frog-like kicking motion. Two Ojibwe Native Americans were brought to London by the Swimming Society. Their swimming style, described as flailing at the water with arms in a windmill-like fashion and violently kicking feet, was much faster than anything the English managed. They were thanked, sent home, and the British continued with the non-splashing breaststroke. Not until decades later did Englishman J. Arthur Trudgen and Australian Frederick Cavill separately observe native swimmers elsewhere in the Americas and in the Pacific islands, and then copied and taught the much faster overhand stroke and flutter kick that came be known as the “Australian crawl.”

Aside from private pools, there was a time when Maynard provided children’s swimming lessons at Hansen's Beach, Lake Boon. Samuel Rosario Micciche (1915-2003), owner of Samuel’s Studio (photography), took several photos at Hansen’s Beach the summer of 1954. These are in the collection of the Maynard Historical society.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ecological Succession

In 1859, Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay called "The Succession of Forest Trees" in which he described succession in an oak-pine forest. "It has long been known to observers that squirrels bury nuts in the ground, but I am not aware that any one has thus accounted for the regular succession of forests." His essay was more about replacement than succession as that term had come to be used in modern ecological studies. He first observed the obvious – that many tree seeds are designed to be transported by wind, also that the small seeds of wild cherry, wild grape and various berries can be consumed by birds and other animals and defecated elsewhere. (We know that Oriental bittersweet berries are consumed by robins and spread that way.)

Wreath of Oriental bittersweet vines, with berries. In the
spring, returning robins perched on it to eat the berries.
Thoreau also described the less obvious, how, for example, oak seedlings might emerge from the soil after a pine tree forest was cut. Some botanists of his era took the position that acorns could lay dormant in the soil for decades, even centuries, but when the forest trees above them were cut, be viable, triggered by sunlight. Thoreau observed, rather, that even in a mature pine forest, there were oak seedlings amongst the underbrush the result of squirrels burying acorns or else dropped by blue jays and other birds. The same dispersion seen for beech, hickory, chestnut and other nuts.

Ecological succession is the process of change by all species (plants, animals, bacteria) of a community over time. During the first half of the twentieth century, succession theory was dominated by the idea that for a given location there was a convergence toward a climax community regardless of the starting conditions, that, for example, that moist-soil lowlands in eastern Massachusetts would always end up as a forest dominated by sugar maple and beech trees regardless of whether the starting conditions were abandoned farmland, fire, flood or hurricane. Similarly, a drier, hilly terrain would always end up being pine/oak. In this school of thinking, a climax forest was a stable, interrelated community with a near-constant total biomass – trees dying being replaced by the same species.

Current theory allows for more complexity and chance. In these models the finding of certain species being found together is because terrain and climate are beneficial to each species individually without ‘community’ interaction. In both models, prolifically reproducing and fast-growing species will populate a disturbed area first, followed by shade-tolerant, slower growing but more competitively successful species. American beech is an example of an extremely shade-tolerant tree that can abide in the understructure for years until a break occurs in the canopy.    

One point that has become clearer is that it is not just about plants. The local extermination of beaver changed terrain. The return of same created wetlands and flooded ex-forests. The local extermination of deer allowed for lush undergrowth and greater survival of tree seedlings. The present-day surfeit of deer in New England – now at a population higher than before the European colonists arrived – is denuding all the undergrowth. Trees that were part of the North American mosaic got diseases. American chestnut trees are long gone, native dogwood, ash and hemlock are struggling. Invasive species challenge the status quo. Climate change is affecting the entire biome.         

Dandelion: The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) was introduced to
North America be English colonists in the early 1600s as a medicinal plant.
In Maynard and Stow, some of the best evidence for ecological succession is abandoned farmland. Some of this was seized by the U.S. Army via eminent domain during World War II, subsequently allows to go to forest, now the Wildlife Refuge. The trees are all around 70-80 years old. There is not a lot of dead wood on the ground. Same for the Summer Hill forest. The woods traversed by the Assabet River Walk, once pasture, are older. There, there are many downed trees in varying states of decay.   

The greenspace bordering the Assabet River Rail Trail was cleared during construction. Dandelions, an exemplar of windblown propagation, are common, as are other early-growth perennials. Tree seedlings are present. Without maintenance of borders, our trail could become a green-flanked, green-roofed tunnel. An excellent report “Rail Trail Maintenance and Operation: Ensuring the Future of Your Trail – A Survey of 100 Rail Trails” suggests that trails need roughly $1,500 per mile per year in maintenance and operating costs. Maintenance tends to be a combined effort of municipal budgeting and volunteer organizations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Cultural Council & District

The Maynard Cultural Council channels thousands of dollars of state money every year via grants, to support arts, humanities and science programs benefiting the Maynard community.  The Council – our local arm of the Massachusetts Cultural Council – was also instrumental in applying our cultural district designation, which encompasses and supports cultural, historical and recreational facilities including the Maynard Public Library, Acme Theatre, ArtSpace, art galleries, the Fine Arts Theater and other performance spaces, several live music venues, and access to the Assabet River Rail Trail.

The state program had its beginnings in 1975 as Artist Fellowships, funded by the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities. The organization morphed into the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 1990. Going forward, MCC continued to award fellowships, but also expanded a Local Cultural Council program, which award millions of dollars every year to towns and cities that have their own Cultural Councils.

David Mark selfie with Babe Ruth
Maynard’s Cultural Council, a volunteer organization appointed by the Board of Selectmen, accepts proposals once a year. One of the better-known projects was “Maynard as a Canvas,” which hired mural artists to create murals on both sides of the one-time Murphy & Snyder Printers building at the corner of Parker and Waltham Streets. Two entries were selected as winners from 80-some applicants. Completed in 2018, one side hummingbirds, the other incorporating portraits of Henry David Thoreau and Babe Ruth. Why them? Because both had visited, in 1851 and 1917, respectively.   

March 2017 saw the culmination of a multi-year effort to apply for and achieve state cultural designation. The application process started years earlier, with the formal submittal of the application to the state Cultural Council in early 2016. This designation is seen as a tremendous boost to Maynard’s growing reputation as a cultural destination, a place where residents and visitors alike can stroll from venue to venue, whether their intent is dinner and a movie, a pub crawl, Maynard Fest, or other events. As an annual event, the Council and District join the Town of Maynard in sponsoring ArtWeek, held during the end of April into early May.

This logo can be seen on a sign between Route 27 and the
Assabet River Rail Trail, near the golf course. 
The district designation was initially as “Assabet Village Cultural District,” but in early 2019 was changed to the more easily identified “Maynard Cultural District.” The logo is a triangle, tilted, with the words MAYNARD and DISTRICT bracketing a multi-color script Cultural.  The footprint of the district encompasses Summer Street from Waltham Street Bridge to ArtSpace on the north side (with a bulge to capture the Library), then south on Florida Road and west on Railroad Street to gather in Main Street, the mill pond and the mill complex, and then east along the river to return to Waltham Street. Doing so captures the smaller triangle of Summer, Nason and Main Streets, within a larger triangle of the town’s central business district. Going forward, the Council, District and Town work jointly to enrich Maynard’s art’s experience.

Maynard’s last Master Plan, issued in 1991, was designed to cover 15 years, i.e., through 2006. After a long ‘oops’ hiatus, Maynard restarted a master plan process winter of 2017, resulting in a 2020 Master Plan that will serve as a roadmap for the next 20 years. This plan is Maynard’s vision for the future and strategic outline for getting there. Per state law requirements, it addresses natural resources, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, historic and cultural resources, open space and recreation, land use, housing, and lastly, provides for a periodically updated action plan to implement all the objectives. The plan calls for promoting a high density, mixed-use core while preserving greenspace as urban tree planting, parks and forests. The Complete Streets Policy that was begun in 2016 will continue to promote a street and sidewalk network for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. The town encourages housing growth that fits into Maynard’s core walkability and also contributes to Maynard reaching the state goal of ten percent affordable housing. The plan also recognizes the importance of Maynard’s arts, dining and entertainment businesses in making the town an attractive place to live and visit.

Challenges faced by Maynard include an aging infrastructure, potential limits on water supply, need for more services for the fast-growing senior population, a school system with capacity issues and an antiquated fire station. Completion of the 129 Parker Street complex adds to the traffic burden and town services burden.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Assabet River Revisited

Recently, the Assabet River has been deeper than its long-term average for spring the reason being more than average rainfall. April, for that matter most months, averages four inches of rain (or snow equivalent) per month, year-round. Eastern Massachusetts does not have wet and dry seasons typical of some other parts of the country, although in some years there can be lengthy summer droughts. Oddly, after an unseasonably warm and low-snow February and March, this April was one of the coldest on record.    

Kayaker enjoying the rapids between Main Street
and foot bridge, Spring 2014
In the spring the river is exceptionally clear. The bottom is stony, versus how green it will appear in late summer when grown over with water milfoil, filamented algae and other bottom-anchored water plants. Year-round, the water has a low sediment content. This is because the Ben Smith Dam traps all the upstream sediment. A U.S. Geological Survey study completed in 2003 estimated accrued sediment volume at approximately 20,000,000 cubic feet. If ever there was a decision to remove the dam, some form of sediment removal would be required, elsewise vast quantities of sediment would shift down river, increasing the risk of floods in Maynard, Acton and Concord.

This time of the year the river mid-town is also mostly clear of surface plants. By late summer, every rain event that increases volume over the top of the dam brings floating plants like duckweed, watermeal and globs of free-floating algae through the center of town. Upstream of the dam, the near-shore shallows, also currently clear, will be covered by these floaters plus the flat leaves of white and yellow water lilies. Luckily for boaters, most of the river is deep enough to not sustain the surface-leafed, bottom-rooted, water plants.

The kayak and canoe launch dock at Ice House Landing
is back in the water for 2020.
Come winter, the plants will die, returning phosphorus to the bottom sediment. Even though wastewater treatment facilities are enjoined from adding too much new phosphorus to the river, this growth/death process functions as a self-sustaining cyclical phosphorus source, promoting next spring’s growth. Bad now, far, far worse 40 years ago. Ann Zwinger wrote in A Conscious Stillness (1982) "...the reach above the Powder Mill Dam [Acton, next to Route 62] is closed by joint action of the Maynard and Acton boards of health...the river smell is nauseating, reeking like an unpumped-out campground outhouse times ten." The smell emanated from rotting of bacteria, algae and water plants, the consequence of eutrophic growth promoted by the excesses of phosphorus and nitrogen entering the water as either inadequately treated waste water or farm and golf course fertilizer run-off, raw storm sewer discharge, etc.

As for why “Assabet,” once upon a time the Assabet River was known as the Elizabeth River, alternative spellings Assabeth, Asabet, Elizbeth, Elizabet…all thought to be Anglicized versions of a Native American name. One colonial era map had it as the Concord North River, with the Sudbury being the Concord South River. There was a map consensus in 1830 that Elizabeth Brook flowed into the Elizabeth River, but by 1856 it was Assabet Brook flowing into the Assabet River, with the pre-Maynard community identified as Assabet Village. Nowadays it is Elizabeth Brook flowing into the Assabet River.   

Removal of the footbridge, August 2016, in preparation for the new bridge,
installed February 2017 as part of the Assabet River Rail Trail.
The river is 31 miles long, from headwaters in Westborough to its merge with the Sudbury River in Concord to form the Concord River. Seven towns draw their well water from within the Assabet valley watershed and five discharge treated wastewater into the river (Westboro, Marlboro, Hudson, Maynard, Acton). There are six existing, intact, historic mill dams, plus one breached (Damonmill, West Concord) and one flood-destroyed (Papermill, Maynard). And there are two twentieth century flood control dams: George H. Nichols, Westborough, and Tyler, Marlborough. By having limited egress, those function to blunt peak downstream volume during times of heavy rain.

Sadly, in this time when so many people are looking for places to hike, there are few in Maynard or Stow with an actual view of the river. A suggestion: drive west on Concord Road into Acton, south on High Street, veer right onto Old High Street, and park at the trail head. The trail goes west, with water views.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Music in Maynard

Music has been an essential part of Maynard before Maynard was Maynard. The town's inaugural parade featured the Eagle Cornet Band of Iola Lodge and the Amateur Brass Band. The Maynard Brass Band came into being in 1875, reorganized in 1884 as the Maynard Military Band. The Finnish Imatra Band formed in 1898, the Finnish National Band in 1910. Various fife and drum corps, choral groups and glee clubs also entertained Maynard during the first half of the twentieth century.

1914 Postcard of Main Street, Maynard, looking east. Bandstand at right.
Electric trolley (tracks, center) operated until 1921.
In 1904, Abel Haynes donated a bandstand to the Maynard Military Band. It stood at the corner of Walnut and Main Streets and was illuminated by electric lights – electricity courtesy of the woolen mill. Concerts were Wednesday evenings, June through Labor Day. Hundreds of people would stand (or sit, if they brought chairs) to listen to the music. This was not as traffic-disruptive as one might think, as there were fewer than a dozen cars in all of Maynard. However, the crowd did have to make way periodically for the electric trolley. Sadly, a feud erupted over which bands would use the bandstand. While MMB claimed it ‘owned’ the bandstand, it stood on town property. The town called for sharing. The bandstand was moved on June 4, 1915, to a yard on Acton Street until the dispute was resolved. It never returned. A fieldstone bandstand was constructed in Crowe Park in 1939, torn down in the 1990s.

The Maynard school system offers many opportunities for the musically inclined. The Concert Band, Pep/Marching band and Concert Chorus are credit-earning courses, while the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Honors Chorus and A Capella Choir are non-credit electives. The school functions are supported in part by the Maynard Music Association.

In addition to Maynard’s own bands, choruses and glee clubs, innumerable were the times that organizations in town brought in dance orchestras for dances. The Historical Society has in its collection posters for dance marathons, masked balls, and even “Battle of Music” events, at which two bands would play, and attendees would vote for the best.

At times, there were problems. November 14, 1913, the weekly local newspaper The Maynard News carried this item: “At the Selectmen’s meeting Wednesday evening, it was decided that the objectional dances which have been indulged in in the dance halls in this village must be stopped. All parties holding dances in the future will be notified that these objectionable and so-called animal dances are prohibited and must not be permitted in any dance hall in this municipality… in this action for a cleaner and better Maynard.”

The “Animal Dance” craze was directly related to the popularity of ragtime music, derived from African-American traditions, with a syncopated beat. Maynard was not alone in prohibiting provocative dances. In 1912, New York City placed the Grizzly Bear under a "social ban", along with other "huggly-wiggly dances" like the Bunny Hug, Turkey Trot, Texas Tommy and the Boston Dip.

Worth a mention: Once upon a time, gods and demigods of rock and roll walked the streets of Maynard. It was the 70s. Aerosmith, The Talking Heads, The Cars, Tommy Bolin Band, Johnny Barnes, Thundertrain... all recorded at The Great Northern Studio aka Northern Studio, Northern Recording Studio, Northern Sound or Northern Lights Recording Studio, upstairs at 63 Main Street. The studio was started by Peter Casperson and Bob Runstein, both out of Boston. Life at the studio must have been interesting. This from a forum post: "The first time I ever saw a 'beer machine' [soda machine stocked with cans of beer] was at Northern Sound in Maynard…I thought it was the coolest thing in the world!!!"

Maynard Community Band, 1918. Courtesy of  Jonathan Daisy.
Present day, the Maynard Community Band performs in Memorial Park. The band – all volunteer – was started in 1947. It was brought together when Louis Koski, an immigrant from Finland, a professional conductor and composer, invited musicians from the existing Maynard Military, Imatra and National Bands to become one band. In time, Koski turned over the reins to Ilmari Junno, in turn to Alexander DeGrappo, and then in 2003 to Michael Karpeichik. Musicians from surrounding towns are welcomed. The band plays a wide variety of band literature, focusing on quality concert music, standard band repertoire and modern compositions. A “Star Wars” medley is always a crowd pleaser. Performances include 10-12 annual outdoor summer concerts as well as spring and fall performances ending a Holiday Christmas concert at The Sanctuary in mid-December.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Maynard Schools History

Calvin Coolidge School was built as one story building
in 1906, second story and peaked roof added in 1910.  

Surprisingly, the two oldest school buildings – predating the creation of Maynard – are still with us. In the spelling of the era, the goals were to "teach children to rede and wright and cast accounts". Sudbury appears to have voted in 1779 to build a one-room schoolhouse for the northwest district, in 1871 moving that building farther north to what is now the intersection of Routes 27 and 117, where it served as Maynard’s “Turnpike School” until 1881. No longer a school, moved again in 1884 to corner of Concord and Acton streets – a distance of one mile – where it abides as a private home. On the Stow side of the Assabet River, District No. 5 had a school constructed in 1766: the “Brick School.” This was on Summer Street, hence became a Maynard school in 1871. It was closed the following year, auctioned for a sale price of $105, remained in place as part of the home at 101 Summer Street. Two other schools also pre-dated Maynard. One two-room building at the site of present-day Town Hall served until the town decided to replace it with its first multi-room brick school at the same site. The other, the first school on Nason Street, was lower grades, then first high school, then lower grades again.

At the time of the incorporation of Maynard in 1871, the new town was served by ten teachers working in four small school buildings. Salaries were in the range of $9-15/week. The high school was a two-room wooden building on Nason Street. Enrollment was 35 students. Six years later the high school classes relocated to a new two-room school on Acton Street, across from the east end of Main Street, leaving the Nason building to revert to elementary school.

Coolidge School when it was one-story Bancroft School
The year 1892 saw a consolidation of Main, Nason, Acton and Sudbury schools into a two-story, twelve-room, wooden building at the Nason Street site, on the same stone foundation that is now the first floor of the Maynard Public Library. For a time, this was Maynard’s only school building, serving all grades. The high school graduating class of 1892 chose orange and black as the school colors. Mr. E. Elmer Galger, principal and acting superintendent, was paid a salary of $1061.40 per year. At that time, state law required that a child shall go to school twenty weeks in each year until 14 years old (changed to 16 years old in 1913). Not until 1898 did state law prohibit children under 14 year of age doing factory work.

Big changes to Maynard impacted the school system. The mill went bankrupt in 1898, then purchased and reopened in 1899 by the American Woolen Company. Expansion added the very large Building No. 5 on the south side of the millpond in 1902. The workforce grew, as did the town’s population: from 3,142 in 1900 to 6,390 in 1910. The population explosion of school-age children, especially in the Presidential Village housing development of 1901-03, led to the construction of new, brick-constructed schools at the Main Street site (1903) and on Bancroft Street (1906). The first was renamed Woodrow Wilson School in 1932. The second had a second floor of four more classrooms added in 1910 and was renamed Calvin Coolidge School in 1932.        

Nason Street School after the 1916 fire. Stone arch at bottom
is now the entrance to Maynard Public Library.
September 20, 1916, a nighttime fire brought an end to the Nason Street School. This was attributed to arson, as there had been a less damaging fire at the school just a week earlier. All that was left standing were the two brick chimneys. For a disaster, the timing was good. Three years earlier the town had voted to build a new high school, the site later chosen on Summer Street. The two-story brick building – currently the east wing of ArtSpace, was built at a cost of $61,500 and occupied October 2, 1916. This was the high school through 1964. A new, brick, elementary school was constructed at Nason Street, atop the foundation of the fire site. It opened fall of 1918, named Roosevelt School 1919. It served as a school through 1988, stood empty almost 20 years, resurrected as the Maynard Public Library, July 2006.

Meanwhile, back on Summer Street, the Town of Maynard, in its wisdom, decide to redirect a stream that flowed next to the high school into an underground storm sewer and build a junior high school, auditorium and gymnasium atop it (probably contributes to why ArtSpace is flood prone). The junior high opened January 1926, named Emerson Junior High School in 1932.  After the high school moved to its new south-side campus in 1964, half the building became Fowler Elementary School and the whole complex became known as Emerson-Fowler School. In time, the junior high school took over the entire building as Fowler Middle School, remaining as such until the end of 2000.

Wilson School, Main Street, Maynard. Click to enlarge.
Courtesy Maynard Historical Society
Meanwhile, back on Main Street, Wilson School was closed in 1942 because the school population had decreased dramatically, reopened in 1948 when the post-war baby boom started to arrive, and then was destroyed when a pre-dawn fire on December 17, 1952 left only the scorched brick exterior standing. This left Coolidge and Roosevelt as elementary schools.
The next phase for the Maynard school system was to create three schools adjacent to each other, on the south side of Route 117, each to have adequate parking and adjacent fields for physical education classes. Green Meadow School was first. Land was taken from Crowe Park. The school opened for the 1956-57 school year. Coolidge was kept on until 1981. A major addition to Green Meadow was approved in 1986, completed for the beginning of the 1988-89 year, which led to the closing of Roosevelt in 1988. “Maynard High School” was completed in 1964 at a cost of $1,700,000. Fowler Middle School (leave the old building, keep the name) opened in 2000. And then, in 2013, the fifth Maynard High School was replaced by the sixth Maynard High School, at a cost of $42,500,000. Note that over the years, two schools were completely destroyed by fire (Nason 1916, Wilson 1952) and three were significantly damaged (Nason 1879, high school 1992, Emerson-Fowler 1978).       
Sign at the 1964-2013 high school.
Photo taken just before demolished.

Entering its 150th year, Maynard has two public schools under 25 years old and part of one (Green Meadow) approaching 75 years. The student population, which had peaked in the “baby-boom” years at 2,106 students in 1971, long-since declined back to the mid-teens. WAVM (FM 91.7) had its first broadcast on April 22, 1974. Near 50 years later, about 100 students from MHS and Fowler are active at WAVM and its cable TV and YouTube channels.

In 1965, Saint Bridget’s Parish had opened Saint Bridget’s Parochial School in a brick building on Percival Street, in a filled-in section of the mill pond. The school was staffed by Sisters of Notre Dame, who had a modest convent near-by. The building is now home to The Imago School, a private school offering a Christian faith-based education for grades prekindergarten through eighth grade.


SCHOOL                                YEARS                                   FATE
Brick School (Stow)               1766-1872                               Exists
Turnpike School (Sudbury)    1800-1881                               Exists
Main St.                                  1857-1892; 1894-1902           Moved
Nason St. (HS#1)                    1864-1891 (HS 1871-1877)    Fire/Moved
Acton St. (HS#2)                    1877-1892                               Moved
Sudbury St. (Garfield)            1881-1892                               Condos
Nason St. (HS#3)                    1892-1916                               Fire (total loss)
Main St. (Wilson)                    1903-1942; 1948-1952           Fire (total loss)
Bancroft (Coolidge)                1906-1981                               Empty
Summer St. (HS#4)                1916-1964                               ArtSpace
Nason St. (Roosevelt)             1918-1988                               Library
Summer St. (JHS#1)               1926-2000                               ArtSpace
MHS (HS#5)                           1964-2013                               Fire/Demolished
Summer St. (Fowler)              1965-2000                               Fire/ArtSpace
MHS (HS#6)                           2013-present                           Current
Green Meadow                       1956 & 1988-present               Current
Fowler (JHS#2)                      2000-present                            Current

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Depression Era Programs: Maynard, MA

During the depths of the multi-year Great Depression the federal government’s role in America grew more than in any era before. About thirty-two new government agencies were created. While many of the agencies formed have been abolished or replaced by another, some agencies still stand today. "The six years from 1933 through 1938 marked a greater upheaval in American institutions than in any similar period in our history."

Maynard was lucky in that neither of the local banks – Assabet Institution for Savings and Maynard Trust Company – failed. The town’s annual reports provide a description of how the worsening depression overwhelmed local efforts, and then how federal programs provided support. From the 1931 Report of the Public Welfare Board: “Nineteen Hundred Thirty-One has been a sad year for most of the people of Maynard…We sincerely hope the worst has passed and that we will never see as poor a year again.” [Ha.] Town programs included Mothers Aid Cases, Old Age Assistance and Temporary Aid. More of the same the next year, with able-bodied men on aid doing street and sidewalk work. The wool and gunpowder mills loaned land to be used for municipal gardens, providing both fresh vegetables, potatoes and beans. A canning operation was started.

Group of women on the steps of Coolidge School, WPA program, 1935.
Sadly, no mention of who is in the photo. From Maynard Historical Society.
The federal agencies most active in Maynard were the Emergency Relief Administration (ERA, 1932), which became the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA, 1993), to be replaced by the Works Progress Administration (WPA, 1935). Also active locally was the Civil Works Administration (CWA 1933). The CWA put able-bodied men and women on payroll. The ERA paid one-third costs of people on local welfare, also providing free food, coal and firewood for people in need. 

By 1934 some 100-175 residents of Maynard were on ERA or CWA payrolls. Labor went to sidewalks, storm drains and improvements at Crowe Park. The municipal gardens program continued. This was also the year that the woolen mill, operating at only 20% capacity, auctioned off 236 pieces of property – mostly single-family homes, but also business buildings and rooming houses. The average for single family homes was under $1,000. All properties were sold. Terms were 10 percent at bid, 15 percent at closing, buyers offered three-year mortgages on the remaining amount at 6 percent interest. The following year’s support continued to include Federal Surplus food and clothing. The Works Progress Administration implemented a Sewing Project that employed 30 women. The gardens canning project put up 30,000 cans of vegetables, helping support Maynard and neighboring towns.

1936 saw the start-up of the Social Security Act, which helped provide for the elderly. The Sewing Project, operating out of Roosevelt School, made dresses, shirts, pajamas, bedsheets, etc. More of the same for 1937, but toward the end of 1938 there began a trend of people finding private employment. WPA hires diminished by half. Some of the work in this and following years was first clearing and then planting hundreds of trees to replace all the damage wrought by the 1938 hurricane. The town’s annual report for 1941 mentioned that the woolen mill was operating at full capacity, filling military orders for blankets and wool cloth for coats. The Sewing Project was ended. The number of general relief cases was the lowest it had been since 1929.

Depression era Field House at Alumni Park, Maynard, MA. Building
still exists. Courtesy of Maynard Historical Society. Click to enlarge.
A website called “The Living New Deal” lists Depression-era projects by town. Many of there were routine construction or maintenance, but a few were interesting additions to Maynard’s ambiance (sadly, so many now lost). Under routine; painting, windows repair, etc. at schools, the poor farm and fire house, also streets, sidewalks, water mains and storm sewers. Under additions: The Mill Street bridge was rebuilt in 1937. Glenwood Cemetery gained an iron fence and the new section was created, and the northeast corner of Routes 27 and 117 was converted from a swamp to an ice-skating pond with an island in the middle and a pond in the middle of the island. (This since reverted to swamp/bog.) Crowe Park was upgraded in 1935. A fieldstone bandstand was constructed in Crowe Park in 1939, in disrepair and torn down in the 1990s. Fieldstone construction also graced the gates and fieldhouse at Alumni Field (still standing) and a ‘comfort station’ (public rest room) behind Memorial Park, removed to create a parking lot.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Woolen Mill: Booms and Busts

Factory towns go through boom and bust cycles. Maynard was no exception. The woolen mill operations that dominated the town for over 100 years began in 1846 under Amory Maynard and William Knight, in a single wooden building, 100x50 feet, producing wool yarn and carpet in 1847, incorporated as “Assabet Manufacturing Co.” in 1849. The simple [read: oft-repeated] story is that the mill failed in 1857, a consequence of the Panic of 1857, restarted in 1862. The truth appears more complex. Shortly after incorporation, Knight sold his mill and water rights interests to Maynard, the majority of the sale price of $50,000 as a mortgage. Knight – who had never relocated from Framingham to Assabet Village, and later in life resided at Beacon Hill, Boston – continued to own significant other land and buildings. Mill operations did stop in 1857, but Amory retained full ownership.   

Lorenzo Maynard was different
in appearance from his father and
brother, in that he was bald. He
had five children, but no living
In 1861 the mill failed. The judge of the probate court directed the assignees to sell Mr. Maynard's mill estate, in conjunction with William H. Knight the mortgagee. On October 14, the property was sold to George H. Preston for $71,000. The deed was signed October 26, 1861. T. Quincy Browne, one of the assignees of the Maynard estate, purchased on November 30, 1861, Mr. Knight's other land, buildings, etc., in Stow, Sudbury and Marlboro for $75,000.

On September 10, 1862, the Assabet Manufacturing Co was re-incorporated with a capital of $200,000 for the purpose of manufacturing cotton, wool, flax and silk in the towns of Stow and Sudbury. The officers of the corporation were Thomas A. Goddard, President, T. Quincy Browne, Treasurer, and Amory Maynard, Agent. September 30, 1862, T. Quincy Browne sold the property he purchased from William H. Knight to the Assabet Manufacturing Co. for $100,000 (a 33% profit). The net effect here was that William Knight was completely bought out and the business reincorporated a year later with Amory Maynard as a minority owner. The manufacture of French flannels and dress goods was substituted for carpets. Amory owned 20% of the shares. “Agent” was akin to what we now think of as Chief Operating Officer. Lorenzo Maynard, Amory’s son, was second in command as Superintendent. Separate from the mill, Amory owned extensive property in Assabet Village. A&L Maynard (a company named after Amory and Lorenzo) was created as a land-holding and construction company, building commercial buildings, boarding houses and homes.

Aerial view drawing dated 1922. The three largest buildings
were added by the American Woolen Company. Click on
images to enlarge. Courtesy of Maynard Historical Society.
The impetus for starting up again in 1862 was in part to meet Union Army demands for blankets and other woolen goods [some histories say cloth for uniforms] for the Civil War. The first brick building was erected about 1862. This was a structure 170x50 feet, six stories high, constructed over the original wooden building so that manufacturing continued uninterrupted. In 1866 a building 124x70 feet, four stories high, was erected, and in 1868 another 157x50 feet, four stories high.

In 1898 the mill complex, still operating under the name Assabet Manufacturing Company, Amory’s son Lorenza as Agent, failed again. Not entirely Lorenzo’s fault. In 1894 the federal government has ended protective tariffs on wool cloth entering the country as part of the Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act. Dozens of U.S. wool mills went under. The Dingley Act of 1897 restored the protective tariff – too late for Maynard.  In 1899 the American Woolen Company, a huge multi-state operation, bought the mill on the cheap. Over time AWC added the three large buildings facing the mill pond. The last required the pond be drained from 1916-18.

The partially drained mill pond in winter, with people walking on the ice. The
steeple of St. Bridget's Catholic Church is to the far right. Left side shows a
flume (large pipe) that brought water to the mill for wool processing. The
supporting trestle was left in place when the pond was refilled. 
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, labor unrest periodically closed the mill for short periods of time. In 1903 it was for a raise from $10.44 per week ($5/hour in 2020 inflation-adjusted dollars). In 1914, workers went on strike for a shortening of the 54-hour work week.

The Great Depression put everyone on short work weeks, then closed the mill entirely in 1931. Production slowly recovered during the latter half of the 1930s, then for World War II was operating around-the-clock, seven days a week, on military contracts for blankets and cloth for winter coats. After the war it limped on until 1950. The American Woolen Company did have government supply contracts for the Korean War, but it assigned those to other factories. After the final closing of the woolen mill, Maynard was quiet to the point that kids could play hopscotch on Main Street.