Maynard Sesquicentennial History Talks

Assabet River Floods and Droughts

Presented by David Mark

Monday, May 24

7:00 pm via Zoom

Click here to register.

Maynard author and historian David Mark will speak about how Assabet River floods and droughts have affected the town.


Floods, those more recent somewhat tempered by flood-control dams built upstream, have wreaked havoc on Maynard – washing out bridges and flooding downtown buildings, including the mill complex. These were often the results of spring rains combined with snow melt, or in the fall, torrential rains delivered by hurricanes. August 1955, the high water crest of 8.94 feet from Hurricane Diane was the highest the river has been since record keeping began in 1942. Children witnessing that flood were told be their parents of the flood of 1927 that had wrecked the Waltham Street bridge.


Droughts are never as memorable as floods, but every summer the river slows to a low, slow stream, and sometimes less than that. 


IMAGE: The Ben Smith dam with just a trickle of water flowing over the top

Digital Equipment Corporation

Presented by David Mark

Monday, June 14th

7:00 pm via Zoom

Click here to register.

Maynard author and historian David Mark will speak about the rise and fall of Digital Equipment Corporation, a 41-year arc that started in 1957 with Kenneth “Ken” Olsen and Harlan Anderson renting a bit of space in the mill buildings, peaked in size and sales in 1990 with the mill complex being the world headquarters of a 125,000 employee empire that reached $14 billion in annual sales, then as a result of management and technology missteps, repeatedly downsized, had a fire sale of assets, and was finally sold to Compaq Corporation in 1998. At one point, Governor Francis Sargent had declared Maynard the “Minicomputer Capital of the World.” All that remains is a modest marker next to the Assabet River that reads “KENNETH OLSEN PLAZA.”

IMAGE: Kenneth “Ken” Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, standing next to the DITIGAL sign at the Main Street entrance

And the Bands Played On

Presented by David Mark

Thursday, July 22nd

7:00 pm via Zoom

Click here to register.

The town’s first annual report included mention of a payment of $30 for bands hired to play at the celebration of the creation of the Town of Maynard, April 19, 1871. Music has been an integral part of local history ever since. Maynard author and historian David Mark will speak about evolution from competing local bands to the present-day Maynard Community Band; also about the various fife and drum corps, choral groups, glee clubs and school system musical opportunities through the years. He will also speak to musical groups hired to play for dance hall events, and the resultant attempts on the part of the Selectmen to prohibit lascivious “animal dances” such as the Boston Dip. Lastly, he will recount the brief period of time in the 1970s when Maynard was host to a professional recording studio, and bands, including Aerosmith and The Talking Heads, recorded here.


IMAGE: Main Street, looking east, with a bandstand (1904-15) at the corner of Main and Walnut streets. Note trolley (1901-23), and that the bandstand had electric lights.

Upcoming Sesquicentennial Lectures

FEBRUARY - Slavery in Massachusetts (Thu, Feb 25 at 7pm)

MARCH - Before the Europeans Arrived… and After (Thu, Mar 25 @ 7pm)

APRIL- How Maynard Became Maynard (Mon, Apr 19 @ 7pm)

MAY - Assabet River Floods and Droughts (Mon, May 24 @ 7pm)

JUNE - Digital Equipment Corporation (Mon, June 19 @ 7pm)

JULY - The Bands Played On (Thu, July 22 @ 7pm)

AUGUST - Thoreau Walked Thru

SEPTEMBER - Schools Through the Centuries

OCTOBER - The Maynard Family

NOVEMBER - Food Cooperatives

DECEMBER - Trains, Trolleys, Buses and Cars

Maynard Public Library 77 Nason Street Maynard, MA 01754 Phone 978-897-1010