Memorial Jr. High School Field
Built - 1919
Encompassing approximately 73 square miles, Middleborough ranks as the second largest township in Massachusetts and has the title of being the "Cranberry Capital of the World." Along with these distinctions, the residents feel that their South Shore town combines its excellence in education, a relaxing lifestyle and recreational opportunities to make their town a very wholesome place to raise a family.
The town is also just loaded with open space for jogging, hiking, public outdoor and indoor swimming pools and an advanced sports program. The residents still brag that Middleborough also had a Little League team that went to the National Finals in 1994.
Unfortunately however, their bandstand has been rarely used over the years but still stands proudly behind their Memorial Junior High School building since the 1930s as now just a reminder of great band concerts long passed. The bandstand is now an unfortunate recipient of careless handling and little use for over 50 years but continues to remain as a town landmark and the residents are hesitant to destry it since it had been a very prominent and important fixture in their community for many years.
The most highly anticipated evenings of each week in the early 1900s was Middleborough band concert night in the town where hundreds of people attended and would play on lawns or at other public functions. In July of 1908, two thousand people attended one of the band concerts in downtown Middleborough with the bandmen giving whatever money was collected by contributions or sale of tickets initially to purchase uniforms but they were donated by a local clothier so the money was put aside for a possible future bandstand.
Just before 1920, concerts in town became so popular that Local 491 of the American Federation of Musicians became interested in sponsoring the long desired permanent bandstand needed. Besides adding to the existing fund set up, the union ran dances in the town hall and a fair which opened May 16, 1919 with over $1,000 realized towards the estimated cost of $1,200 for the desired structure. An architect, Wilson G. Harlow and the builder, Elliott W. Harlow were hired and who then proceeded to erect a new bandstand on the lot beside the town hall. With the bandstand then completed on July 4, 1919, a dedication was held where it was presented to the town by the musicians of the union and accepted for the town by Selectman Bourne Wood. The bandstand bore a bronze plaque denoting it was erected through the efforts of the Local 491 union.
The bandstand served its purpose well until the 1930s when lack of interest in the concerts and the resulting small financial returns, necessitated their discontinuance and, through neglect, the structure fell into disrepair and was a grievous sight. In 1934, when it was decided that the structure would be useful at the playground off Lincoln Street, it was moved there from the town hall parking lot. The original round columns and the top were saved and placed on a new cement foundation. The bronze plaque was refinished and supposedly replaced in its former position, but disappeared and was thought to have been the victim of vandals. Happily, after several years, it was discovered that officials of the Park Department had removed it for safe keeping and they agreed to replace it in its former position.
There have been references to other bandstands, including one erected at "Depot Grove" in 1878, and another pictured in views of old Middleborough at the corner of Centre and South Main Streets before the Bank Block was built, but the bandstand that is remembered with many fond recollections by the older generations is this one.
INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY:
Betty E. Brown, Reference Librarian
Middleborough Public Library