Preview: Cohasset’s Soon-to-Open Beechwood Meetinghouse and Museum

By John Galluzzo

The South Shore has been blessed by more than a century of preservation efforts by local historical societies. Every so often a new historic property becomes available to exhibit local artifacts. Such was the impetus for Cohasset’s Beechwood Meetinghouse and Museum, expected to open soon.

Seeking a permanent home for two newly restored antique hand tub pumpers, the Cohasset Historical Society sought to create a museum that will tell the stories of the Cohasset police and fire departments, as well as the Beechwood Congregational Church and the farms that once existed all over town.

In the early days, firefighting was conducted by volunteer groups who held dinners and dances to raise funds for their equipment. Eventually, the occupation became a hirable position through the town government. This group poses before the Beechwood Fire Station, sometime before 1926.

Not much has changed with firefighting through the years. Better building codes have made major fires less frequent, but once the fire breaks out, it takes technical know-how and a bit of brute strength to beat down the flames. Here, in a picture taken by Dana J. Salvador, Cohasset firefighters tackle a blaze at “The Shack,” Hugo’s Lobster Shop by Cohasset Harbor.

Whether raising cattle or growing crops, Cohasset farmers were good at what they did. At Cedar Acres, located at 376 North Main Street, near the North Main-Forest Street-King Street intersection, the proprietors dealt in poultry.

Responsible for the safety of the town are Selectman Gilbert, Selectman McGaw, Chief of Police Hector Pelletier, Selectman Herbert Brown and Patrolman Earl McArthur. Standing in the town hall parking lot, they’re celebrating the installation of the first two-way radio in a Cohasset police cruiser, in April of 1936.

The Beechwood Congregational Church was built in 1886 during the aftermath of the Civil War, and served the community for a century and a half. It closed in 2016 and the following year the Cohasset Historical Society purchased it in order to turn it into a museum. It will also act as a venue for community meetings and gatherings.

A mustache was a sign of the times in the early 1900s. From William Howard Taft to Teddy Roosevelt, all men of importance wore one, like these four members of the town’s night patrol, captured around 1913.

Each neighborhood had its general store, Beechwood included. Howard Pratt owned this store on Beechwood Street, shown here around 1880. Stores such as this one sold everything from food to hardware.

Like most American communities, Cohasset subsisted for centuries on farming. The Industrial Revolution changed all that. The town is so forested now, it’s hard to imagine the treeless landscape that appears in the old photos. Here, four men working for Clarence Barron pose at his dairy farm on Sohier Street.

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