History of the Historical Society
The Town of Greenfield Historical Society began on July 26, 1983. A group of townspeople met on that date because Olive Dake, then widow of Charles V. Dake (one of the original owners of Stewart's Ice Cream) had provided money for the purpose of starting a society that would preserve and promote local history. Olive had a clear idea how she wanted to accomplish this and even had a list of townspeople she wanted to act as charter members. That list included Paul Robinson, Ralph Ellsworth, Windsor Cote, and Al Champagne. Paul Robinson served as chairperson during the first meeting and temporary officers were chosen. Other topics discussed included wording for a constitution and bylaws, and how to apply for a state charter (a temporary charter was granted on January 20th, 1987). In 1988, Olive Dake bequeathed a large sum to the society.
In 1991, with the assistance of William Dake (son of the late Olive and Charles V. Dake), the society acquired the Daketown School, an original one-room schoolhouse on Daketown Road. Much volunteer work by society members was required before the building could be used. Following its cleanup, it has served as the destination for local grade school field-trips. A more complete restoration under way will, it is hoped, lead to a much broader use of the structure for educational purposes.
From the beginning, volunteers in the historical society labored with the assistance of town historians to preserve and celebrate the town's history. Town historian and local author (Greenfield Glimpses), Clayton Brown, was involved with the organization until his death in 1984. Jayne Lynch then became town historian and spent much of her time and energy helping the fledgling society to develop. She remained in that post until her death in 1989 when Mary DeMarco took over. The current town historian is Ron Feulner, Although the town historians (paid employees of the town) have all worked closely with the all-volunteer and independent historical society, these represent two distinct entities. The Town of Greenfield Historical Society is funded by dues, private donations, and fundraisers.
In 1994, an open house was held at the former IOOF Hall in Middle Grove. Its acquisition by the society provided a place to house the society's growing collection of documents, photographs, and historical artifacts. Since then, the hall has also served as occasional meeting place for the society. Since the IOOF Hall has no bathroom and limited heat, most of our winter meetings are held in the Town Community Center (across from the Greenfield Center Post Office). Refreshments and a program follow business meetings, and guests are always welcome. Meetings are generally at seven p.m., on the third Tuesday of every month (September-May). Occasionally, we sponsor potluck dinners, field trips to local historical sites, and other special programs.
In 2003, V. Eugene Chatfield, a lifelong resident of the town and past IOOF member, bequeathed a large sum to the historical society, which will make possible the completion of many projects and perhaps the beginning of new ones.In honor of his bequest, the former IOOF Hall has been named the Chatfield Museum.