Wakefield Landmark Turned 100 This Week

The former state armory, now the Americal Civic Center on Main Street, was dedicated on January 15th, 1913.

Earlier this week, Wakefield's Americal Civic Center marked its 100th anniversary. The former armory building was dedicated back in 1913 and now plays an important role in everything from the town's business community to its events calendar.

Looking back a century, the Wakefield Daily Item wrote in its January 16th, 1913 edition that "It may sound like a well-worn and in fact somewhat frayed assertion to remark that Wakefield probably never knew a more brilliant combined military and civic event."

The dedication was attended by Massachusetts Governor Eugene Foss and 500 people, including numerous military veterans, officers and public officials. The four surviving charter members of the Richardson Light Guard were also on hand, which was apparently a group of former soldiers who were renowned for their marksmanship. In fact, the Item noted in that century-ago edition that one of those men, Lt. Benjamin F. Barnard, was the "first man to appear at the Armory when Lincoln's call for troops was issued."

The building got its "Americal" name in 1976 and it has been run by the Americal Civic Center Association since 1983. It is currently home to the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce, the Interfaith Food Pantry, the Citizen's Scholarship Foundation of Wakefield, and other businesses. Speaking of the Wakefield Chamber, a big thank you to Director Kendall Inglese for providing many of the Civic Center photos that appear with this article.

"It's a place that really provides stabiliy and continuity for the community in so many ways. I hope they can keep it going another 100 years," wrote Inglese in an email to Wakefield Patch, citing the many family events and conventions and other gatherings and events that take place at the Civic Center - as well as popular town events such as one of her own favorites, the upcoming Citizen's Scholarship Foundation Trivia Team Challenge.

Inglese also reported that in February, a monthly lecture series about the history of the building, lasting six months or so, will get underway, including a tour of the building.


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