If the Town of Rochester was founded on June 4, 1679, then that can only mean one thing – Rochester has just officially turned 340 years old.
It used to be called “Sippican” by the Wampanoags, the Native American tribe who inhabited the land when the first English settlers arrived in the area and founded Rochester, naming it after their native home of Rochester, England.
Fast forward to June 4, 2019 to a Rochester that, although it is geographically smaller, still maintains much of its rustic charm 340 years later. To celebrate the 340 years of bucolic existence, third-graders from Rochester Memorial School helped the town celebrate this big birthday at the Senior Center by licking blue icing from a big beautiful birthday cake and enjoying a guided tour of historical Rochester, an event coordinated by Cathy Hardy.
Hardy, a retired fourth-grade teacher from RMS, decided this year was an ideal time to reinstate the guided tour originally created by Judy Gurney, a town historian and founder of the Rochester Historical Society.
“I just felt like this was a good year to start back,” said Hardy, who is looking ahead to the town’s 350thbirthday already. “Three-hundred and fifty is coming up and, if we educate the kids as to what’s in the town, and if we get them to have pride in Rochester, we should be able to put together a fantastic [350th birthday] celebration for the town.”
The students started the day in North Rochester, broke for a picnic lunch at the Dexter Lane ball fields, and then walked over to the Senior Center for a little celebration with members of the COA, Friends of the COA, and Selectman Woody Hartley and his wife, Sharon, a member of the school committee.
The students each received a free t-shirt courtesy of a grant provided by the Rochester Lions Club and an anonymous donor. A grant from the United Way of Greater New Bedford and the Friends of the COA helped pay for the busses for the tour.
“Everybody’s been so supportive,” said Hardy.
Where will you be on June 4, 2029? If you’re lucky, it will be in Rochester celebrating 350 years as a town. But if you happen to find yourself in parts of “Old Rochester,” you can consider that to be just as much of a blessing.
By Jean Perry