Fifty Years Later, the Preservers of History Make History

            It was January 25, 1967 when the founding members of the Rochester Historical Society (RHS) met for the very first time inside the North Avenue home of Judy and James Gurney. The group of ten history buffs, “residents interested in studying and preserving the historical background of the town,” as it stated in its very first meeting minutes, were mostly Rochester housewives who caught the history bug after researching their own historical houses and others in town. Two years later in 1969, just as scores of hippies flocked to Woodstock and mankind placed its first foot on the moon, they had the Historical Society incorporated as an official non-profit.

            Now, 300 years after the town was settled and decades after the birth of the Rochester Historical Society, the group that has been preserving Rochester history is making history by planning a big bash for September to celebrate its golden anniversary.

            On Saturday, September 14, at 11:00 am, the RHS is hosting a party/reunion with a special lunch, array of raffles, live ambient music, and some other treats that are still in the works.

            In addition to the party, the RHS has partnered with the Rochester Land Trust to co-sponsor a fun photo contest titled “Fields, Forests, or Bogs of Rochester.” Anyone from any town and of any age is welcome to submit one original 5X7 color or black & white photo of a scene taken in Rochester. The rules are that the photo submission must be an original work created without the use of Adobe Photoshop or other photo enhancement software and cannot be matted or framed. Photo entries must be submitted by August 1 and accompanied by the following information on the back of the photo: Name, address, phone number, age bracket (Youth – 18 and under, or Adult – 19 or over), and the location where the photo was taken.

            The photos will be on display at the Rochester Historical Society’s station at the Rochester Country Fair, and will be voted on by Country Fair attendees until 1:00 pm on the final day of the fair, Sunday, August 11.

            Prizes will be awarded to the top three winners in each age group in the amounts of $75 for first place, $50 for second place, and $25 for third place.

            Entries should be snail-mailed to the RHS, PO Box 322, Rochester, MA, 02770. All photographs entered will become the property of the RHS and the RLT.

            Tickets for the Saturday, September 14, 50th Anniversary Party/Reunion are $20, which includes lunch and, of course, cake. The event will be held at the Rochester Senior Center, 67 Dexter Lane, from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Please RSVP by August 19 by contacting the RHS. Tickets will not be available at the door. Checks payable to “RHS” may be mailed to PO Box 322, Rochester, MA, 02770.

            The dozen or so devoted board members of the Rochester Historical Society are dedicated to continuing the work of the RHS for another 50 years, but they need help if they are to keep the tradition alive. Consider becoming a member of the Rochester Historical Society and ensure the future of preserving Rochester’s History.

            The annual Rochester Historical Society dues for membership are $12 for an Individual membership and $20 for a Family membership. The RHS also accepts donations.

            Prospective members, donors, or anyone interested in Rochester Historical Society events may contact the RHS by sending an email to or by calling Betty at 508-763-2724 or Sue at 508-295-8909.

By Jean Perry

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