Shrewsbury. December 18, 2022

Day/DateSUNDAY -12/18/22
Towns visited: Shrewsbury (+ revisit to Boylston)
Had we ever been to this town before?   No
Drive to town:   30 miles    Time spent in town:   5 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
It was a crisp day in December when we headed out to explore Shrewsbury, a town of about 40,000 people near Worcester. The old town center was still active, with many shops, a library, and an old church. We walked around this area and saw Santa taking pictures with local kids. After the sun went down, this area lit up with many festive holiday lights. We noticed small plaques on the ground by the sidewalk; one that talked of a “Shrewsbury Tea Party,” a protest against taxation that occurred ten months before the Boston Tea Party, and another that told about a history of watchmaking and tanneries in the town. 

Next, we ventured to Prospect Park, which used to be the estate grounds of the Matthew Whittall mansion. All that is left are some ruins, but it appears that folks are keeping up the surrounding gardens.  

Dean Park is another large park in town and one that seems like it gets a lot of local use with all of its ballfields and walking paths. There is also a beautiful large pond. After walking a bit, we stopped by the pond and communed with the geese for a little while. 

Just across the street from Dean Park is the Artemas Ward House and Museum, currently owned and maintained by Harvard University. This historic large plot of land with a stone wall and a big yellow house and barn is from the 1700s. It was closed for the day, but we did learn that Mr. Ward was a major general in the American Revolution and later a Congressman. He was in charge during the Battle of Bunker Hill, and he was later appointed to the Continental Congress and later became Speaker of the Massachusetts House. How was this guy not in Hamilton, the broadway musical?

To contribute to the economy and feed our cravings for sweets, we made our way to the Hebert Candy Mansion. We learned that the Hebert family has been making candy in Shrewsbury for over 100 years! The stone mansion has been the retail outlet and manufacturing sight since 1946. We bought a few delicious chocolates (for ourselves) and some stocking stuffers for the holidays and journeyed to our next destination.  

This next destination was quite a sight! Known as “The Secret Garden,” this area is a 1/2 mile or so trail through someone’s property across from a pond. Around every corner, there are statues, decorations, things to read, water features, places to sit and rest, and more! It was so eclectic and unique. Online, we read that it is the work of “Chief Joseph,” who lives on the land. We did a little digging to find out more about him, and it turns out that his actual name is Bob Terkanian, and he was nicknamed ‘Chief Joseph’ by some of his native American friends. Clearly, he puts a lot of work and heart into creating art and maintaining this space. We would love to come back in the spring or summer when the plants and trees add to all he has built.  

Finally, our last stop in Shrewsbury was at a small ski area called “Ski Ward.” This place has been in operation since the 1930s and even offers tubing in the summer. It is also the location of the Shrewsbury Farmer’s Market! They offer skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and dining, all in a small, low-key environment.

We had a great day exploring this town! As the sun set, we headed to dinner in Boylston (ramen and rice bowls at Maken Zii). Then, it was off to the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill for their annual “Night Lights” event. We already visited Boylston back in 2021 but wanted to come back when we heard rave reviews of this festive light show. It was well worth it – with a rainbow bridge to walk through, glowing mushrooms, a fake campfire made of lights, and many beautiful jellyfish in the greenhouse. It was a spectacular way to celebrate Jo’s birthday (#54), and discover even more about our state and Worcester County!  

Revisit to Boylston- Botanical Garden Light Show Pics

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Nipmuc, Agawam

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