History of Memorial

History of Memorial School

Memorial School, dedicated in 1968, sits on historic land across from the beautiful Charles River in South Natick. Research shows that this land along the Charles where the school and the Community Farm now stand, was first held by Thomas Waban of the Praying Indians. Over time the land became farm fields with dwellings owned by Peabody, Badger, Bacon, Brown, and Hunnewell families.

The entrance off of Eliot Street (route 16) was named Ailinger Drive, in honor of Memorial School’s first principal, Joseph Ailinger who served faithfully for almost twenty years. Later principals included Mr. Richard Grandmont, Dr. Kevin Crowley, Mrs. Beverly McCloskey, Matthew Joseph, Mrs. Susan Balboni and our current Principal Troy Holding.

Ailinger Drive was once the grand entrance to a large home near Woodland Street built by William S. Patten in approximately 1906. At that time horse drawn carriages traveled the still oak-lined path from Eliot Street, up the hill to the elegant Patten home with its grand view across the Charles. The Woodland Street area also included the apple orchards of the Patten estate. Later, the Oblate Fathers acquired the home for their seminary and occupied it until 1974. The robed seminarians are remembered walking prayerfully up and down the road that now serves as the entrance to the school and to our neighbor, the Natick Community Organic Farm. (A small portion of the seminary still stands and was incorporated by a developer into a larger condominium complex.)

The organic farm’s 27-acre property was purchased by the School Committee in 1974 and conveyed to the Conservation Commission for permanent protection in 2009. In the 1950s the NCOF land was called Elm Brook; the site of a small horse farm owned by Miss Jane Patten. The farm is a thriving operation that provides numerous educational programs, bountiful produce and resources to the Natick schools and surrounding communities. Memorial students are lucky neighbors who get to enjoy the annual rites of maple sugaring, sheep shearing and the birth of new animals.

At the far end of the school parking lot is the southern end and start of the Eisenmenger Trail. The trail begins at the end of the lot and crosses through several developments and parcels of town property. It was created by the concerted effort of the Natick Planning Board and other citizens to have a walking path that connected new developments and town property. Bob Eisenmenger, for whom the trail was named, was a member and chair of the Planning Board for over 35 years.

Information provided by:

• Harriet Buckingham, who lived on what is now the Community Farm

• Jim Morley, historian and President of Natick Historical Society

• Willard Hunnewell, always a source of good history.

• Dave Dimmick: Our sincere thanks to Dave for this research and for his many years serving the Memorial community; first as an enthusiastic parent, and later as the longest-serving member of our School Council. Dave also served the wider Natick community through his extensive work on the School Committee and numerous other boards and organizations. We thank him for his invaluable contributions to the preservation, growth and vitality of Natick.

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