Free Lecture Series Starts With 'The Remarkable Cyrus Wakefield'

Wakefield's Americal Civic Center celebrates its centennial. Free lecture series begins Wednesday, February 20th.

The following was provided by the Americal Civic Center Association:

The Americal Civic Center Association is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the historic building at 467 Main Street in Wakefield with several events throughout the year, including a free Wakefield Lecture Series, sponsored by the Wakefield Co-operative Bank,  that kicks off on Wednesday, February 20th.

Local historical aficionado John Wall will be the featured speaker at the series’ first lecture “The Remarkable Cyrus Wakefield,” which will highlight the man for whom the town is named. Cyrus Wakefield, an entrepreneur, settled in South Reading in 1851 and helped weave the fabric the town by bringing his rattan business and generosity to the community.

            The series will continue on March 20th with “The Richardson Light Guard” a lecture by Barry M. Stentiford, author of The Richardson Light Guard of Wakefield Massachusetts: A Town Militia in War and Peace, 1851 – 1975; and on April 24th with the presentation of “Our Artist … Franklin Poole” by John Wall. Wall will showcase several Poole originals and slides along with additional discussions about local artists Henry Cheever Pratt, Rufus Porter and Joseph Payro.

The lectures will be held in the Heritage Room at the Americal Civic Center, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is Free.


Americal Civic Center

Built as a State Armory, the Americal Civic Center was dedicated on January 15, 1913.  The building was used by a number of military companies during the first half of the 20th century, including Company A of the Richardson Light Guard, and the Americal Division, which fought in the Pacific Theatre of Operations during World War II.

The building later became a Massachusetts National Guard Armory until the Town of Wakefield purchased it in 1975. The building was officially rededicated as the Americal Civic Center on April 21, 1976 following a town-wide contest to name the building. The name was selected by townspeople to honor the Americal Division. 

            The building, long known as a ‘jewel’ in the Town of Wakefield, has undergone substantial renovations since 1975 and has become a meeting place and office space for local organizations, community groups, civic groups and other non-profit and profit groups and companies. Initially maintained by the Department of Public Works, the Civic Center closed briefly, from 1981 to 1983, and was reopened on a self-sustaining basis under the management of the nonprofit Americal Civic Center Association in 1983.

Although it was built as an armory, the Americal Civic Center still maintains its neo-Classical style of architecture, with its two-story portico and full-height columns.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, and is used for public meetings and events.

            Additional information about the 100th anniversary celebration and lecture series can be obtained by calling 781-246-5424 or contacting via email americalciviccenter@verizon.net.


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