Sawin Memorial Building, which houses the Sawin
Museum, was a gift of Benjamin Nelson Sawin and his
second wife, Sarah Eudora Shumway, whom he married in
Sawin's first wife, Mary Jane Bacon, died in 1888. Both
Benjamin and Eudora were active members of the Dover
Sawin's were not wealthy for Benjamin was a farmer. They
were, however, generous with what they had and were concerned
about preserving Dover's history. They left the land
on which the museum sits and all of their property to
the Society for the erection of the Sawin Memorial Building,
which was completed in 1906 and dedicated on May 14,
Museum's collection policy stresses the material culture
and holds a strong farm tool collection (housed at the
Fisher Barn) as well as a fine children's clothing collection,
a kitchen collection, the beginning of a general clothing
collection and documents and photographs across the period
of the town's history.
Dover Historical and Natural History Society of Dover and
Vicinity was organized in 1895 and incorporated on September
The Sawin Memorial Building
was built by the Society in 1907, with funds from the bequests
of Benjamin Nelson Sawin and his wife, Sarah Eudora (Shumway)
Ben Sawin served the Town of Dover as Selectman, Asssessor,
member of the School Committee, Park Commissioner, and Cemetary
He was a founder of the Needham Farmers and Mechanics Association,
and was an influential member of the Dover Grange, Patrons
of Husbandry No, 177. He was, basically, a highly successful
and innovative farmer.
But Ben Sawin was famous beyond
Dover for The Grove, his property on the banks of the Charles
on Claybrook Road.
The Dance Pavilion was the main attraction of The Grove,
but one could also rent canoes or rowboats. There was a cook
house to warm up food brought to be consumed in the picnic
area. There were also playing fields on which to pass an
energetic summer day.
By 1904, people came from the surrounding towns and even
Boston on the Natick and Needham Street Railway, which deposited
them at the end of Turtle Lane. From there it was a half
mile walk to The Grove, along Main Street and Claybrook Road.
Both Ben and Sarah left their
estates to the Society for the benefit of the Town and its
citizens in the form of the Sawin Memorial Building, which
served the Society as a museum.
Ben designated a building committee, made up of Eben Higgins,
George E. Chickering, and George L. Howe.
At the dedication
of the Sawin Memorial Builiding on May 14th, 1907, Eben
Higgins handed the keys to the building to George Howe,
president of the Society.
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