New exhibit showcases Framingham residents who fought in Civil War

By Jeff Malachowski

Daily News Staff 

Posted Apr 21, 2017 at 8:04 PM

FRAMINGHAM – A small copper penny tucked inside the breast pocket of Lothrop White’s uniform saved his life in the fury of battle during the Civil War.

Aboard ship in the along the James River in Virginia, the 23-year-old Union sailor was hit in the chest with Confederate gunfire.

Fortunately for White – a Framingham native – the bullet ricocheted off the penny.

The penny is encased under glass in the Framingham History Center and is part of a permanent Civil War exhibit that will open Sunday afternoon. Laura Stagliola, museum assistant and education coordinator, said the exhibit puts a local face on one of the bloodiest wars in American history.

“We decided we should really keep it up because (the Framingham History Center) is a Civil War memorial building,” said Stagliola.

On display are several artifacts from Framingham residents, including Gen. George Henry Gordon, who fought in the war. Gordon, who grew up on Framingham’s Centre Common, commanded the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment during the war. A campaign chest featuring Gordon’s diary, officer’s sash, a Bible and other mementos, is featured along with the coat Gordon wore into battle.

Among the treasures is a bust of Framingham’s general sculpted by Daniel Chester French – carved the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C..

Stories of the town’s other Civil War heroes, including William Thompson, Theodore Russell and Zabdiel Boylston Adams will be shared during Sunday’s opening. A tattered flag flown during battle is also part of the exhibit, said Stagliola.

“It’s a great piece to have,” she said.

Most of the artifacts belonged to the Framingham History Center, however, a Confederate ornament that sat on the desk of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis is on loan from the Massachusetts Historical Society and will be displayed until June. Gordon took the ornament after the Confederates surrendered and brought it back to Massachusetts.

“We’re going to be sad to see it go,” said Stagliola.

A new mobile application will also bring the Civil War to life. The History Center’s new app offers a Gen. Gordon self-guided walking tour that highlights historic spots along the Centre Common area and is narrated by a cast of Framingham residents.

“It’s really cool,” said Stagliola.

The grand opening will be Sunday at 2 p.m. The exhibit will be available for viewing from 1-4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

For more information visit

Jeff Malachowski can be reached at 508-490-7466 or Follow him on Twitter@JmalachowskiMW 

My Research Journey and the Story of the Wedding Shoes

By Chelsea Hathaway
Framingham State University Class of 2017

Chelsea Hathaway and her new exhibit “Walking Through History: Framingham Wedding Shoes & Accessories”

When Stacen Goldman (FHC Curator) and Laura Stagliola (Museum Assistant/Education Coordinator) approached me in January about creating my own exhibit for the Historic Village Hall case I was very excited. At Framingham State University where I am a history major with a minor in museum studies, I have done many research papers and projects, but this would be my first research project where it would be on display at a museum – where visitors could actually see my work!

My initial research started with finding a theme I could construct the exhibit around. Stacen suggested looking at accessories, specifically for weddings or parties, because that would be both conducive to the space and it was something the museum has a plethora of. Ever since I started my internship here in September 2016, I had always been drawn to the collection of shoes sitting in the corner of the Upper Costume Level room. And after helping Katie Khanwalkar (Collections Manager) with the mounting of Anna Haven Foster’s wedding dress for the History in the Stitches: Framingham Fashion Through the Centuries exhibit, I wanted to continue my work on wedding attire.

After some initial research, I found that a lot of the wedding shoes varied from different time periods, all the way from the early 19th century all the way to the mid 20th century. From there, I decided the main focus of my exhibit would be surrounding the timeline around these gorgeous wedding shoes, and that each shoe would have a matching wedding accessory or item from around the same time period. Between other projects the FHC had me do, I spent my free time researching these objects and constructing my labels.

One of the difficulties I encountered first was trying to locate one of the pairs of wedding shoes that was listed on Past Perfect database where all of the collection is recorded but nowhere to be found with the other wedding shoes. It was the shoe from the 1920s, my all-time favorite shoe in the collection, with the pearl and silk square on top, and I was really disappointed I might not be able to put it in the exhibit. But after weeks of searching, Katie was able to find them for me! Another struggle became apparent as I was constructing the layout of my labels though. The program I used made the words pixelated and hard to read, so I needed to redo them.

After months of hard work, when I finally transported the artifacts to Village Hall and began to assemble them with their respective labels into the case, it was worth it. Looking at the finished exhibit case this past week, I felt accomplished knowing that my research, hard work, and dedication paid off. Now that my first exhibit case is completed, and as my senior year and internship at FHC come to a close, I will take the skills I’ve learned into the work force. I’ve realized that the field I want to go into is Curator work because I love the aspect of research and setting up an exhibit, more so than the administrative side of the museum world.

I would like to personally thank the FHC for the guidance and opportunity to pursue my love of history. The exhibit is titled Walking Through History: Framingham’s Wedding Shoes & Accessories and is currently up in the Village Hall, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Note: Chelsea’s exhibit is on display at the Historic Village Hall, which is open by appointment or for private and public events. 

Volunteer Opportunity! GRF Project

General Resource File (GRF) Digitization Project

The General Resource File is a collection of research materials of all Framingham topics A-Z. The goal of this project is to make this wealth of information accessible to all researchers through digitization.

Under the direction of the FHC Curator, the volunteer will scan topical folders, read materials and build a searchable index. This is the perfect project for the budding researcher and/or a passionate Framingham resident.  The ideal volunteer hours are Wednesdays between 10:00am – 3:00pm. 

Volunteer requirements include close attention to detail, familiarity with a scanner, knowledge of Microsoft Office, and the ability to climb stairs as this collection is located on the second floor of the Old Academy Building. 

If you are interested or would like more information, please contact FHC Museum Assistant Laura Stagliola at

Framingham History Center App

In the Footsteps of a Civil War Hero: General Gordon’s Framingham

A self-guided audio tour of the historic Centre Common

Although it was far removed from the heat of battle, Framingham’s Centre Common carries echoes of the Civil War to this day. Download the Framingham History Center app and get to know General George H. Gordon, a Civil War hero and commander of the Massachusetts 2nd Regiment. Raised in Framingham, Gordon’s life here revolved around the Centre Common, from his early days at the Framingham Academy, to his retirement in the family homestead on the Sudbury River.

The inaugural program on the brand new Framingham History Center app is a self-guided walking tour of the Centre Common as General Gordon saw it. See the houses Gordon called home, the church where he worshiped, even visit his grave at Edgell Grove. Other sites include Framingham’s living Civil War memorial, the Edgell Memorial Library, and the home of congressman Charles R. Train, Gordon’s childhood friend and eventual aide-de-camp. Professional audio couples with original images from the Framingham History Center’s collection to give you a truly exciting and immersive way to explore a side of the Common you’ve never seen before.

Also available on the app, especially for children and families, are 3 activities to coincide with the architecture of the Edgell Memorial Library and the Civil War Exhibit. Be a Building Inspector! and take a closer look at the details of the Civil War memorial built in 1872. Inside the building, go on a Civil War Treasure Hunt and take a Civil War Photo Challenge. 

The Framingham History Center App is available for free on iPhone and Android devices.  Please visit your iPhone App Store or Google Play to download the  app. 


This app is made possible by: