Lawrence (Mass.) Anniversaries

anniversary                 The city has had occasion to commemorate its beginnings a  number of times over the last 150 years.  The library has kept a variety of ephemera from these events.

Semi-centennial 1895

The fiftieth anniversary of the construction of the dam was celebrated on September 16 and 17, 1895.  School and industry closed as the celebration began with the ringing of bells at sunrise.  Massachusetts Governor Geenhalge was greeted by a 17-gun salute on the Lawrence Common at 9:10 AM.  The parade took place the next day.  The Marshal and his staff were required to wear dark suits, white ties, silk hats, and buff gloves.

Semi-centennial 1903

Semi Centennial1The city started the 50th anniversary of Lawrence’s incorporation as a city on Monday June 1, 1903.  Homing pigeons were freed at the Dracut Car Barn at 7:00 Am to later come to roost in the Lawrence coops.  There were monetary prizes for the fastest birds.  For the next three days the hosted a variety of activities including athletic events, literary exercises, concerts, parades, and fireworks.  The athletic activities included conventional track and field, but also 3-legged, sack, relay, bicycle and whippet races.  Organized team competitions included American football, cricket, Gaelic football, baseball, and rugby.  Swimming matches took place in the Merrimack River above the dam.  A regatta on the river was accompanied by a band concert. Turn Verein performed gymnastic exercises.  A clay pigeon shoot was held on Merrimac Street.

Centennial 1947

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Lawrence’s founding was a week long affair from April 13 to 19 1947.  It started with religious observances at various churches throughout the city.  During the week there were special radio programs aired on WLAW, observances by clubs, societies, and fraternal organizations, an industrial exhibit at the state armory sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, and programs in schools for parents and students.  There was also a civic banquet at St. Mary’s auditorium, a band concert and fireworks at the stadium, and, on the final day, an all sports day, again at the stadium.  A special cachet was created and stamped on envelopes that celebrants could use to send letters to friends and family.

Centennial 1953

The 1953 centennial celebrated the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Lawrence as a city.  The city honored the event with 8 days of festivities (June 7-14, 1953).  Observances started with special church services and every afternoon there was a parade and a baseball game.  Other events included athletic activities, exhibits, dramatic presentations, fireworks and dances.  Individuals could get in the spirit of the celebration by joining the “sisters of the swish” where women could wear old fashioned clothes and continue to wear makeup.  Me could join the “brother of the brush” and sear of shaving for the week.

Stores rolled back their prices.  “Miss Lawrence Centennial” and “Miss Merrimack Valley’ were crowned at Memorial Stadium.  There was a forty-fives tournament on the Common.  On the final day there was a regatta on the river and a special Centennial dinner was held that evening at Central Catholic High School.

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