Vital records are the most basic paperwork of human life, the tangible evidence of the three most important events: birth, death and marriage. In Massachusetts, these events have been registered at the local level since 1635 and formally collected by the state since 1841. On display this month are a few examples of the forms that vital records take. Stop by and take a look.
Here is a recent acquisition, a fragment of the past that made its way into the Local History Room. This wallet-sized certificate attests to the speed and accuracy of the typwriting skills of one Esther De Marzio. Who was she, we ask?
A 1927 Kingston High School graduate, Literary Editor and writer for The Quill, the KHS literary magazine, a teacher at Kingston Elementary School for 38 years and Principal there for 34, Miss De Marzio (or Di Marzio, as sometimes appears) moved to Kingston at the age of 10 and spent the next 80 years here. She volunteered in the Local History Room, served on the scholarship committee of the Council on Aging, read for the blind, traveled the world and enjoyed Gray’s Beach and her garden. Here she is sometime in the 1930s.
Source: Kingston Reporter, “Florence DeMarzio, 90, school principal,” August, 17, 2000.
From the Local History Room
Two Valentines to light the gloom.
Another with a cherry tree,
From all of us to thee and thee!
Source: The Joseph Finney Collection: Postcards
The Local History Exhibit for February starts with the game of Kingstonopoly, a customized version of the classic board game Monopoly done for the PTO of Kingston Elementary School in 2000. Looking through the collections of the Local History Room, we find not only a pair of adorable wooden boxes fashioned after houses out on Wapping Road (buy a house), but letterhead from the Kingston Inn (build a hotel), stock certificates (collect $200), promissory notes (borrow from the banker), and foreclosure documents (don’t go bankrupt). Life imitates the game and our historical collections represent a slice of life.
Stop in and take a look!
The original Adams Block consisted of avariety of buildings picked up here and there by Horatio Adams, moved onto Summer Street and joined together in a new kind of retail conglomeration. A novel idea in the 1840s, the business block was a bold experiment. The nature of the structure, however, made it a fire trap and when fire did come, considerable damage resulted.
The main building shown here sat on the east side of Summer Street on the Stony Brook side of the railroad tracks. In the early part of the 20th century, the apothecary of H.F. Breach, Registered Pharmacist and J.P. Farrington, Watchmaker & “Jeweller” occupied the ground floor of what had previously been Samuel E. Cushman’s barn, previously located on the site of the railroad station (now Solstice restaurant). On the upper floor, Mr. Adams provided rooms for a number of small businesses including dentist Dr. George Baker and ladies tailor George Bradley. In later years, Miss Annie M. Marsh set up her dressmaking concern and Dr. Carl Stegmaier took over the dental office upstairs. Another building (formerly a blacksmith shop) housed the fish market with bins that drained directly into the Stony Brook which ran below the building. Later raised to two stories, this structure housed lawyer John T. Smith’s shoe store.
Harry West’s harness shop and a series of grocery and meat concerns later absorbed by Steele & Farrington, occupied additional buildings in the Adams Block. Upper rooms were rented to the Men’s Social Club and the Arrananuchs Club for boys. Beyond was the G.A.R. Hall, later Esther’s Restaurant and today a hair salon.
On the night of December 28, 1911, fire wrecked most of the buildings except the north end. The damaged stores were rebuilt into one continuous single-story building, still standing today. Despite the devastation, Mr. Adam’s experiment certainly proved a success as the “Block” has been the center of Kingston business through god times and bad for more than a century and a half.
Sources: Lantern slide card file, Emily Fuller Drew; Major Bradford’s Town, Doris Johnson Melville (Town of Kingston, 1976).