The Framingham History Center’s collections span the history and pre-history of the town, focussing on what makes Framingham unique, and on roles that Framingham people have played in regional, national and global events. Our collection of over 12,000 items includes artifacts, photographs, documents and a research library. They trace their origins to recorded dates from 1655 to the present, and dates suggested by archaeological evidence as early as 10,000 B.C. These treasures are housed in the Old Academy and Edgell Memorial Library buildings, clustered around the Framingham Centre Common. The collections are accessible through exhibitions, programs, onsite research, loan to other organizations, and, increasingly, virtual exhibits.
The chief importance of this ancient book is its history of ownership. Thomas Danforth, a dominant figure in the courts and governance of colonial Massachusetts, could be called the founder of Framingham. For his services to the colony he was awarded a series of land grants originally called Danforth’s Farms. With additional parcels he purchased, the land eventually totaled 15,000 acres. He named the settlement Framingham, after his birthplace Framlingham in England.
In 1692 Danforth presided over some of the witchcraft trials in Salem. After the trials refugees including Sarah Cloyes, Benjamin Nurse, and Benjamin Bridges and their families arrived in Framingham and built homesteads in an area that is still called Salem End.
Gifts from Roger Heinen
He has also brought us a collection of surface finds he gathered at the Rugg-Gates-Dennett house, near the intersection of Route 9 and the Massachusetts Turnpike. Built at the western fringe of the town for the Rugg family about 1774, the house was remodeled and expanded in the colonial revival style under the direction of architect W. Hartley Dennett and his brother J. Vaughan Dennett in 1906. Roger’s finds include fragments of ceramic dishes, glass bottles, wood and metal objects, giving us insight into the lives of the occupants of two centuries.