Townsend Heritage Trail: The Preservation Collaborative

Townsend Heritage Trail

About the Townsend Heritage Trail

Townsend was founded in 1732 and named after Charles Townshent of England. Located on the Squannacook River, the town was home to early industry and later grew to be well known for coopering and tanning. B & A. D. Fessenden was one of the largest cooperage firms in New England. Spaulding Brothers Company was one of the largest regional tanneries. Both existed well into the twentieth century and play important roles in Townsend's rich and colorful past.

The Townsend Heritage Trail is a year long exploration of local history through three unique programs. A living history demonstration highlighted early life within the town. Two follow up walking tours discussed the rise of each industy and their impacts on the community. This sucessful program was a collaboration between the Townsend Historical Society and the Stow Minutemen.


Living History Demonstration: Members of the Stow Minutemen Company and our firm put on an afternoon celebration of eighteenth century life. From musket firings to crafts and cooking, costumed volunteers brought a turbulent time of history back to life for all ages.

The Harbor that Serves No Ship : An hour long walking tour exploration of Townsend Harbor. Home to early industry, the site was once the home of the Spaulding Brothers factory, a tanning operation. We stopped at sever sites including the Reed Homestead, Grist Mill, Cooperage and Conant House.

A Village Hooped in Steel: An hour long walking tour of the now deserted Fessenden Hill neighborhood. Once home to the Fessenden family, it was the birthplace of the coopering industry in Townsend. It later burned due to a large forest fire and has been abandon for nearly one-hundred years. We explored the archaeological remains on either side of the road through the site.

Event SponsorsThis program was sponsored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council through a grant by the Townsend Cultural Council.