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Beth MacRury's stagecoach memorabilia finds a home in Wakefield



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BOARD OF SELECTMEN REPRESENTATIVE to the Wakefield Heritage Commission Connie Twombley (left) thanks local historian and author Elizabeth "Beth" MacRury for her contributions to and support of the Stage Stop exhibit at the Heritage Centre of Wakefield Corner. (Larissa Mulkern photo) (click for larger version)
August 07, 2014
WAKEFIELD — State and local dignitaries paid tribute to local author and historian Elizabeth "Beth" MacRury last Wednesday, July 30, during the open house of the new Heritage Centre of Wakefield Corner.

The Heritage Centre, located in the restored Lovell-Union Grange No. 178 building in the town's historic district, will house MacRury's extensive collection of memorabilia related to the Concord Coach. In 2007, at 92, MacRury published her last and seventh book, "Four Wheels and 24 Legs," telling the story of the Concord Coach and its role in American and local history. Her exhibit of Concord Coach memorabilia is called the "Stage Stop,"

Open house guest speakers included Wakefield Heritage Commission Chair Pam Wiggin, Executive Councilor Joe Kenney (a Wakefield resident and former selectman), and Board of Selectman Representative to the WHC and Grange member, Connie Twombley.

Kenney credited MacRury with preserving the town's past.

"Beth was the driving force to get our buildings in Wakefield Corner on the National Register of Historic Places, to create both the local and the National Historic District, and to institute the Heritage Commission," said Kenney. Over the years, MacRury and her sister Marney ran a craft store and developed the Museum of Childhood in Wakefield Corner, an attraction for people all over the world with its collection of antique toys and dolls. In 1983, MacRury published "Footsteps of Pride to the Past, a documented history of Wakefield from 1774 to 1974. The book had 1,149 pages," said Kenny in his remarks. "With foresight, Beth interviewed and gathered stories from the old timers in the 60s, 70s and 80s. This has become an invaluable guide for many families and particularly for the Heritage Commission," said Kenney.

"Without Beth's interest in preserving history and her Yankee determination, much of the heritage of Wakefield might be forgotten," he said.

Following the remarks, visitors toured the new exhibit and MacRury signed copies of her book, "Four Wheels and 24 Legs," for readers, including history buffs Diana and Michael Lebrun who were here visiting from Huntington Beach, Calif.

Diana said the couple learned about the event at an antiques shop and decided to come visit. "I love history," she said. "I wanted to be an archivist," she added, "but I had to pay the bills." The couple invited MacRury to dinner at the Wakefield Inn.

Twombley presented MacRury with a proclamation of gratitude.

"Dear Beth, today the town of Wakefield celebrates the opening of the Heritage Centre of Wakefield Corner. Phase One, the Stage Coach Stop, would not have been possible without your generous contribution of artifacts and financial assistance," said Twombley when presenting a proclamation from the town's select board members Twombley, Ken Paul and Charlie Edwards.

MacRury's Concord Coach collection includes an assortment of stage coach models, from hand made in wood to bronze replica of "The Concord Coach" by Jim Means.

Visitors can view the collection at the Heritage Centre of Wakefield Corner, located at the corner of Wakefield Road and Province Lake Road, for the rest of the summer on Wednesdays and Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m.

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