This was my first National Park Service Blackstone Valley walking tour. I've driven past all the Mendon sites hundreds of times over the years but have never stopped to look at them.
I'd normally believe the most commonly cited date of 1772 but, the physical evidence of the stone itself casts doubt on this dating. Although not readable in my photograph, according to this website and my memory, the third line reads "T. H. 1785.". This indicates that someone with the initials T. H. commissioned this stone in 1785. Franklin's tenure as Postmaster General ended in 1775 so if the stones marking of 1785 is correct it was not erected during Franklins time in office. I'll have to check into this more to discover what the real story is.
Just before leaving Founders' Park I noticed an error on the "Mendon, Hilltop Village" BRVNHC sign (see top of page). The BRVNHC sign says "Settled 1667" but the Founders' Monument has what I believe is the correct information. Mendon was settled in 1663 and incorporated in 1667, I guess someone mixed up the two when they had the BRVNHC sign made.
Next up on the tour was the Ammidon Tavern directly across main street from the park. The tavern is well maintained and currently houses an antique shop. This tavern and the Middle Post Road mile stone are landmarks for the story of George Washington's trip through Mendon in 1789. Washington's diary says he passed through Mendon on October 6th 1789 and was refused lodging at the first tavern he came upon in Uxbridge. His party continued west on the Post Road finally obtaining lodging at the Taft Tavern in western Uxbridge.
Based on the route described in Washington's diary it is clear they left Mendon via the Middle Post Road . According to local legends Washington had stopped at the Ammidon tavern with the intention of staying the night. Colonel Phillip Ammidon owner of the tavern and possible acquaintance of the President was not at home. For some reason the President's party was turned away, the legends disagree on the reason. For more information about Col. Ammidon see here.
To commemorate the bicentennial of Washington's trip through the region the Massachusetts legislature created the George Washington Presidential Trail in 1989. Signs were erected to mark the route of the Post Road between Founders' Park and the Taft Tavern in Uxbridge.
Walking down Main street south of the park I saw the well preserved 19th century buildings mentioned in the tour brochure. The former Congregational (now Baptist) Church, Adin Ballou's house, The Record Room and the 1830's commercial building.
Walking up to the intersection with Route 16 I visited Mendon's Civil War monument. This carved black granite pillar honors the twenty men from Mendon who died in the Civil War. Heading back down Maple street towards downtown I was watched by a curious little resident as I passed by its territory.
Returning to the tour I parked at the Friends Cemetery on George street. The Mendon Friends Meeting House was located here but all that is left now is the cemetery. To the left of the entrance I saw the historical society memorial with a potted flower that had fallen over. I was going to stand up the flower and move away the wild plants obscuring the memorial for a better photo. That's when I realized the wild plants were poison ivy and kept my hands away. This is one of the very few plant hazards in the Blackstone Valley, learn to recognize it to avoid an irritating rash, leaflets three let it be.
The oldest grave markers here are simple upright fieldstones from the early 18th century. Later gravestones are flat monuments that maintain the simple open appearance of this fine old cemetery.
I didn't enter the George Cemetery across the street because I was afraid the gates would break if I tried to open them. This classic New England family cemetery was easily seen from outside the wall so entering didn't seem necessary. This was the last stop on the NPS tour but there was one other site mentioned in the brochure left to check out.
Lake Nipmuc Park is about a mile and a half west of downtown on Route 16. I drove out with the hope of seeing the remains of the old park. Unfortunately there is no public access to the old park and after driving all around the lake I could find no public access or good viewing spot.
There are two other unique places in Mendon that I learned of when reading the Natural Resources Inventory and Assessment, Listing of Valley Sites and the Heritage Landscape Inventory, Mendon Reconnaissance Report. The first is the Lake Nipmuc Rookery, "the second largest great blue heron rookery in Massachusetts, with between 60 and 70 nests. There is no protection for the rookery, which is on private land". I drove all around the area where the rookery is located but as I suspected there are no viewing or access areas.
I enjoyed my tour of Mendon, it is a pretty hilltop village with a long history. Someday I will get back there when the museum is open to see their collections, get a better photo of the mile stone and see the part of the Old Cemetery the dog kept me away from. There are also many outlying scenic vistas, farms and roads listed in the Mendon Reconnaissance Report that I hope to visit over the coming years. Here's hoping the town can keep its charming character intact in the 21st century.
More Information about Mendon
Annals of the town of Mendon, from 1659 to 1880 @ Google Books
Some other attractions in Mendon
Southwick' s Zoo, Seasonal.
Mendon Country Gift Barn, Route 16 downtown.
Mendon Driving Range & Miniature Golf, Route 16 1/2 mile west of downtown.
Mendon Twin Drive-In, Route 16 1/2 mile east of downtown, Seasonal.
George's Surf & Turf, an authentic drive-in restaurant, Route 16 1-3/4 miles west of downtown, check their web site for opening and closing dates.
Last Updated 03/31/2013